Recently it has seemed that we have a lion at our table one or two times a day. See Zeeky, who loves to eat by the way, has begun to want to slouch down at the table. It started with him wanting to do that so that he would be able to "scoot" the food in his mouth. (Now mind you, he is very good at feeding himself, but just wanted to be lazy.) I was certainly not going to allow that behavior from anyone, let alone Zeeky who has a history of not chewing his food well and needing me to Heimlich him. Once Zeeky realized that I wasn't going to allow it, he just proceeded to do it more.
Now somewhere along the way Zeeky got the nickname "Zeeky Monster". There are many reasons for this name. One of those reasons would be the behavior that he exhibited when not allowed to slouch down like that. See a "Zeeky Monster" is known to have outbursts where he slaps his own head (times past have also seen him to bang his own head on glass, brick, or anything else he could) HARD. Zeeky would never hurt anyone else really, but his own head is another story. Our medical provider told me awhile back that I needed to get a papoose board (for those who don't know what that is - it is about the size of an ironing board and has velcro to hold him tight which is very calming for children like Zeeky and are often used in medical instances to restrain children for procedures where they must hold still for their own safety - they are very expensive, but have helped him so much) for him to keep him safe during these episodes. It worked wonderfully and the instances of him doing such things was greatly reduced. It now seems that these episodes only occur just before a huge gain in the speech arena, which is what I keep hope of the entire time we have these weeks of behaviors.
I have tried everything to stop the behaviors at the table. I have offered special treats, bought a booster seat to strap him in, sent him to a safe room, and even used the papoose board to stop him from slapping himself. Nothing helped and he would slap himself so hard upside the head and face that I thought we may have to go ask for medication. I am VERY opposed to medication unless they are a NECESSITY, but I thought that they might be getting to be one for him. I really felt that he was in control and doing it all on purpose though, which is why I haven't yet gone for medication and have continued to try behavior management instead.
Today after the morning church services we came home and had dinner. He immediately started the "lion roaring" so to speak. I decided to put him in a safe room and not let him disrupt dinner, but listen to make sure he didn't continue to slap himself too much either. I returned to dinner and reminded everyone to not comment or give him any feedback for his behavior. Shortly thereafter, he began to open the door and yell "Mom, . . . . . " and slam it back. I have no clue what came after "MOM" because I don't think he really has those words yet. I also believe that his frustration is due to that. The poor kid wants to back talk and can't so he is talking with his behavior instead.
The yelling and door slamming was getting old. I made a comment that I wished I still had "the bunny". (The bunny was an animated toy that he HATED and the kids use to put it in their rooms to keep him out.) I then remembered that the "lion" in the sensory room that sung and moved was another thing that I made the kids not get near him for the same reason. I went and dug it out. The next time he opened the door and screamed, I hit the button just in front of him. He immediately screamed and went and hid his head under the covers. He didn't make another sound!
After the rest of the kids were done eating, I went and told Zeeky that he needed to come finish his food. As soon as we got back to the table, he went right back to it. I hit the button on the lion and he immediately quit worrying about fighting about sitting up! I sat the lion on the table and told him to sit up and eat his food nicely. He did! He also did so the rest of the day!
Needless to say, that LION is going to be invited to our meals for awhile. I think once he gets back into the habit of eating nicely, then we will be able to take the lion away and continue to have our normal peaceful meals.
So the "roaring Zeeky" has been tamed and THE SINGING LION has been invited to the table. The best part is that knowing that lion could sing is all it takes to tame Zeeky and I don't even have to listen to it sing! Remember that "discipline" is about TEACHING and not about punishing. I think that Zeeky just learned that he isn't the only thing that can "roar" and that eating nicely and safely at the table is a good choice. Different kids have different currency, but once you find it you can use it to help shape their behavior. I don't thing THAT LION will have to stick around for long in order to turn a bad habit into a good one. Sometimes its all about breaking the pattern of bad behavior.
God is good! I'm glad that He made things that "roar" whether they are children or lions (even fake ones)!