Typically, people say "Pick your battles." I've used this statement time and again to explain why my children were not chastised for some behaviors, but they were for others. However, it recently occurred to me that really what my husband and I did was “Pick OUR Wins”.
As a parent or teacher of a child with Learning Differences, you will be asked to tolerate some behaviors that you might not tolerate with a child that does not have Learning Differences. By taking the time to decide what behaviors you value and are important for a child’s success in life, everybody wins when these behaviors are adopted.
One of the life skills my husband and I decided to “fight” for was doing chores. Doing chores teaches a myriad of important lessons that impact how a person approaches tasks throughout their lives. We felt that it was important for our children to learn:
In life there are things that you have to do that you don’t want to do. Every job/class has things that you don’t want to do, but have to.
When you are given a task, do it to the standards you have been given. Many people lose their job because they do not complete their tasks as their boss/supervisor has asked them to.
If you don’t finish a task, you will be asked to finish it.
If the task is not complete to the standards requested, you will be asked to do it over.
These are maxims that were worth “fighting” over. We had strong consequences if chores were not done as asked.
On the other hand, my husband and I decided that getting into a battle or control issue about cussing* and calling us names was not going to benefit anyone. When my children gave my husband the finger, he would retort “Oh, I’m number one! Thanks!” When my daughter came home from school and called me a “stupid a%% b%%%%,” I laughed and asked her, “Who taught you that one?” At some point, we sat our children down and talked to them about appropriate language and what was appropriate in other settings. Believe it or not, they rarely used inappropriate language in school, church, etc. On those rare occasions, they were chastised by their peers and that was more powerful than anything my husband and I could have said. This was a win for all of us.
For children with Learning Differences it is important for parents/guardians to work with the school/teachers to agree on the important, long-term issues to address. For these issues make sure that there is consistency and no mixed messages. For children with Learning Differences, you want to ensure that the child understands ahead of time the issue being addressed and the consequences (good and bad) associated with that issue. For some children, you may need to use pictures or have them visualize success before they begin.
Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? Trust me, there will be times when your child/student does something that pushes all your buttons. Take your time to deal with the issue. Calm down. Do something to help you relax.** Determine if your reaction is just that, YOUR reaction or whether the you are concerned because the behavior is one of the important, long-term issues. Take time to think through the situation, plan what needs to be done, and work with your child or student to help them understand why this is important.
Bottom line: Choose what is important for life, pick your “battles” carefully, and everybody WINS!