Thursday, March 8, 2012

Red Card, Green Card

Woohoo...Puppy had a super great day yesterday!

I'm leaving that sentence out there all by itself so it stands out. Something worked.  This time I'm giving credit to my sister-in-law Esmer.  We had lunch on Tuesday with my brothers and sister, and I was showing them the text Puppy's teacher had sent that morning detailing his meltdown.

It was pretty bad, too. He now has more scars on his face from scratches and punches he gave himself. Here is a direct copy of the text I received from his teacher afterwards.

"He started with bad words again. We got to hold his arms before he tried to scratch but then took the opportunity to try and bite his upper arm that was close to his head.  He then knelt and was trying to bite us and when that didn't work, he bit a piece of his pant.  He spit on the TA, kicked me, scratched other TA and then spit on the rug.  This went on for about 50 min. There wasn't anything that was said to him.  Each time we would try to let him go he would try to scratch himself.  Both securities, Asst. Principal had to come in as well b/c he was yelling and crying. He was also trying to hit his head on floor. He was trying anything to hurt himself."

I spoke to his teacher and we talked about how he has been having increased anxieties, but they are directed with her in mind and he is seeking her approval for every action he is doing. Whether it is doing homework, chores, showering, going to bed, feeding the dog or just sitting at the table, he will ask..."Is Ms. B happy?" Strange part about it is that even if I answer "yes" he doesn't believe me, go figure.

We discussed that home visits improved his behaviors but it seems like he is nervous about her dropping in unannounced and catching him in the act of misbehaving. So we threw that idea out the window.  I suggested that maybe a phone call from her before bedtime will give him the re-assurance he needs to know she is happy.

So all this happened before lunch time. Then after talking with Esmer she brought up the idea of sending a color card such as GREEN for happy and RED for unhappy so that he didn't have to guess. I sent a text to his teacher and she agreed with us that he might just be needing a visual indicator to calm his anxieties. So the first colored paper came home. In his communication folder was a RED paper. But I think that he misinterpreted to mean that his behavior was so bad it required a red card. He may have remembered we used colors to rate his behavior in the third grade and at my parents' during the summers a few years ago.  So this RED card made him nervous because now he thinks his teacher is angry that he got the RED card to bring home.

In the morning, he was still as nervous as when he went to bed. I went to pull out a GREEN construction page and wrote on it, "Eloy at home - GOOD".  Now he needed to take this back to school and show his teacher he had no tantrums at home the night before.  I sent her a note explaining the switch of the meaning of the cards from her to him. Well it worked like a charm. He worked towards getting that GREEN card to bring home.  Home is where we are keeping count of the good behavior days until he can have his wallet returned by the teacher.  He needed to get 100 points and with this GREEN card he is at 98 as of March 7.  He has turned around and is so excited to reach 100 points that he was radiant with joy this morning. That's the beautiful young man I love to see so happy. I'm so glad we found the right medium to communicate with him before it was too late.