Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Little Math

Yesterday I mentioned that I found something that helps curb some of the crazy behavior I deal with at the beginning of an older child adoption.

I have used it with three kids and have found great success each time.

What is it? 

Math.

Really.  It is.  



When Hannah first came I felt there was little I could do to curb her screaming fits and lying. I had time-outs, lost privileges, and early bedtime, but that was pretty much all I was working with. And, frankly, those things weren't working.

One reason was that Hannah loved to sleep. Still does. So putting her in her room for ten minutes would usually result in a nap, which is something she enjoyed. Taking away toys, sweets or special treats really didn't make an impact on her either. Mostly because I think she was used to not getting those things. I was at a loss. What else could I do?

Enter math.

Hannah was not a fan of math. It was her least favorite subject. She didn't know her math facts and was very slow at working problems. That is one of the reasons my new system worked so well.

Here's an example. Let's say Hannah is caught in a lie. I've said before that lying was a way of life for her in the beginning and they rolled off her tongue quickly and easily. So Hannah finds herself in a lie. Rather than sending her off to a time-out location or taking something away, I sit her at the kitchen table with a page of math and ask her to do the first row of problems. It's about ten minutes worth of work.

This helps in two ways. One, she is right there with me. I'm not sitting at the table with her because I've made sure the math I handed her is something she can do without assistance, but I am up and about in the kitchen. Secondly, she now has something she has to do. That's the part that makes this system work. Hannah doesn't want to do math, but she didn't mind sitting or even losing out on something with our previous system. Now her misbehavior is costing her some work.

And work is something that all three avoided like the plague in the beginning.

Here's a couple of helpful tips. Make sure the math is something she can do without you. If she can't complete the work on her own than this system will be more work for you than it will be for her. Also, she might not get right to work on those problems the first few times you give this system a go. If crying and carrying on happen, then wait it out and let her do the math when she's finished. Either way, she'll do ten minutes of math. It's her choice whether she throws a fit before she does it.

Hannah loves math now (well, geometry not so much). A big part of that is because during those first two years when math was helping her make better choices, she became really good at it. It's easy to like things you excel at and she excels at math.

Is my system perfect? Probably not.  But each time a new one came, their behavior and math skills needed some work. This system helped me work on both at the same time.

And when a lot of other things weren't working, finding something that did was a huge blessing to me. 

A little math never hurt anyone.

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