School has started and getting back into the swing of things has definitely been a challenge. The biggest challenge of all is my son’s sleep schedule. Now that school has started, he will come home and immediately take a nap. Sounds good? But wait! Taking a nap at 5 or 6 pm means waking up at 10 or 11 pm, then staying up for the rest of the night. What happens next is falling asleep during class. When approaching this issue, I first tried providing reinforcers for going to bed early, but that did not work. No matter how many things I suggested, nothing worked. Then, I decided to understand what was keeping him up so late. That is when I discovered ‘A Whole New World!’
I learned that he has created his own website (actually 3 websites) and a YouTube channel which has over 250 subscribers and over 70,000 views from around the world in over 50 different countries! Can you see what I mean by ‘A Whole New World’? Last night, instead of bargaining for bedtime, I asked him why he needed to stay up so late. He said, “Because I have a lot of work to do.” When I asked him to show me, he went to his website and showed me his list of W.I.P. (Works in Progress). I now understand. There was no reinforcer that I could have given him greater than the joy of creating his animations, uploading them to his channel, and getting the likes, views, and subscribers. Still, the fact that he made his own website (self-taught), created a YouTube channel (self-taught) and continuously creates video animations (also self-taught) that received massive views is blowing me away!!
At the same time, I have learned something. I have learned to get out of my own way when thinking about what I want him to do. Sure, bedtime and staying awake in class is a valid wish of any parent. However, I had to push past what I wanted to better understand why he was fighting against it so hard. Once I did that, a whole new world opened up to me – HIS WORLD opened up to me. When I complimented him on his creations, his subscribers, and his views, he gave me the best eye contact and smile and said, “Thanks Mommy.” That’s all he wanted – for me to let go of my wants long enough to understand HIM and the things that were motivating HIM. With this newfound information, I need to change my approach and make sure that it includes an acknowledgement of what is important to HIM.
So, to parents who are struggling to implement a house rule or life rule and your child is strongly resisting, stop and ask yourself why. Investigate to better understand what is motivating them. In doing so, you just might discover a whole new world!
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