Monday, October 22, 2012

Great Expectations

This past August, I was given about a week's warning with the news that I would be one of the caregivers for a boys' dorm at Casa Hogar Douglas.  My boys were also given about a week's warning.  I was moving in and I'm sure they had a lot of high hopes and expectations of how they assumed life in our dorm would be - whether it was different, easier, more fun, more food, something.

It became apparent rather quickly that their new reality with me wasn't meeting what they had envisioned.  Several were very vocal about this at first - yelling about why wouldn't I just give them another sandwich or more snacks or why did they have to do their homework.  They yell things like, "I thought when you moved in we'd get _______ or it'd be like ________!!!"

We seemed to have clashed or well... a guess a 'head on collision' describes our lives a little better.  It's been hard for them and for me.  I'm exhausted.  The actual daily schedule is hard enough but it's something entirely different when half of your kids are in tantrum mode and are extremely defiant.  My boys cry A LOT - seemingly at the drop of a hat.  They are extremely sensitive.  They have NO idea how to manage their emotions.

Several weeks ago, Sammy and I started behavior charts with our 7 boys to help the boys gage how they were behaving and to help them understand exactly what my expectations are for them each day.

They try to argue EVERY SINGLE day as what is "mandatory" and what is just something I said they had to do.  They argue as to whether or not they have to eat, bathe, brush their teeth, do their homework, go to their sports class, etc.  So we made a chart with all the things they have to do every single day.  If between Monday through Friday - there are 60 possible points they could earn - we've offered to take them on a field trip friday night for each boy who meets the minimum requirement for the field trip that week.  This past week - they had to earn 50 boys out of a possible 60 in order to go out for ice cream.  2 of my 7 did not earn the minimum 50 points so they didn't get to go.   Think about that for a minute - if my categories are the bare-minimum that they have to do everyday and 2 of my kids didn't do a required activity like eating breakfast or doing their homework or brushing their teeth 10 or more times in a 5 day period - can you picture all the frustration on my end and theirs for days and days?  It's painful to even think of - let alone live through.

On a positive note - these behavior charts are helping my kids learn that their actions have consequences - good actions have good rewards and bad actions have bad consequences.  This is a completely new concept for them unfortunately but little by little - they'll catch on.  As a result of these charts - my kids are brushing their teeth usually twice a day.  They are eating more because they want their point.  They are at least pretending to go through the motions now with their chores.  And our boys have gone to school every single day since the first day of school with their homework completed for the first time in their lives.  They are getting more sleep too because they are starting to respect our bedtime simply because they want to earn their point for bedtime.

Pray for my boys to begin to understand that they are responsible for their actions.  They are responsible for how they react to what life throws at them.  Pray for them to improve in literacy skills - reading comprehension, words per minute, and in math.  Pray for improved attitudes at school.  Pray that God graces our entire dorm with patience - patience when we are frustrated or angry - patience and grace before we speak.

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