The Trouble with Avery

We’ve been struggling with Avery’s behavior for a while now. No discipline method we’ve tried seems to work, and it can get very frustrating at times. I discussed the concerns with his pediatrician, who suggested we have him talk to a therapist. The therapist could evaluate and work with him and make suggestions on how to proceed. Through research before his appointments with his therapist, and discussions with the therapist, we’ve come to the conclusion he very likely has ADHD. We’re getting him set up with a specialist to have him evaluated so we can proceed accordingly.

Even if he has ADHD, I’m not one to just jump right into the medicine “solution.” I don’t believe it’s always necessary, and I don’t want him to have to be dependent on a drug if he doesn’t have to be. I’m hoping we can find other techniques and solutions that will help him. I’m not opposed to medication; I just don’t want that to be what we automatically turn to. I found a book in the library, which I subsequently purchased, that is all about helping kids with ADHD without using medication. I started reading it, and it seems like it will be useful. I guess only time will tell.

In the meantime we’ve had some struggles. Having an explanation for why he behaves the way he does doesn’t make things easier — in some ways it makes it harder, because there are things I strongly suspect he just can’t stop himself from doing, at least not yet. I’m hoping with the right tools he’ll be able to control himself a little more, focus a little more, and behave a little better. He’s a good kid inside; we just want him to show who he really is, not who he acts like.

With any child I know finding the right discipline tactic can be tricky, and with extra challenges added, that task becomes even trickier. But I’m trying. I already know yelling doesn’t work (though it’s so easy to fall back to that in times of stress and frustration). Time outs and taking things away sometimes work — but sometimes they don’t faze him. Ignoring him sometimes works — sometimes not. Talking it out sometimes works — sometimes he just seems to tune me out.

Last night I tried a little bit of a different tactic. We had had a particularly difficult day, and, while Avery is a very smart kid, sometimes I don’t think even he understands why he does what he does, or acts how he does. He hasn’t been sleeping well, which makes the problem even worse. And when he misbehaves over and over in a short period of time, we get frustrated, which means we often resort to yelling — which, as I mentioned above, doesn’t work. It just gets everybody even more frustrated. So I decided to simplify things and try to connect with him on an emotional level.

I talked with Avery about good days and bad days, about how at the end of the day when I look back at what happened, I remember the good stuff that happened and the bad stuff that happened. If the good stuff outweighs the bad stuff, it was a good day. Good days make Mommy happy. If the bad stuff outweighs the good stuff, it was a bad day. Bad days make Mommy sad. We talked about how that day had gone, and I asked Avery what kind of day it had been. He said without prompting that it had been a bad day. We discussed some things that were good, and some things that were bad. He really seemed to understand, and I’m hoping we can use this reference point to get him to view individual actions and their overall impression. It’s worth a shot, anyway.

I love my little boy more than anything. I know he’s a good, sweet boy. He loves us, loves his sister. Most of the time he’s more than willing to help me if I ask him. He’s quick to giggle, and smart as a whip. If we can just get rid of the destructive behavior, I think he would be even happier, more successful, and more confident. And that’s really all I want.

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