He feels big giant feelings, and doesn’t always know how to express them in a socially normative/acceptable way. Part of his struggles, were due to the lack of us giving him strong enough boundaries, and the structure that he needed at the time. He has struggled sometimes at school, when he would get angry, and the dreaded color chart that had shamed him from being a happy go lucky, loves to go to school little boy, to someone who hated going to school, because he was convinced that he was never going to be good enough.
He has been subjected to bullying, and teasing, and then got in trouble for defending himself. Sometimes, that’s just how it plays out. He’s always been a brilliant boy, usually at the top of his class surpassing expectations with his academics. It’s navigating this world, and interpersonal relationships that has always been his struggle.
We have done a lot of work, in our family, starting with us as parents first. I looked at my life, and saw that I was pouring out so much in my church, and the lives of others, that I was neglecting the ones closest to me. The way my son reacts, is very much reflective of what happens in our home when I don’t slow down and respond and just react. So we went to counseling.
Each of us had our own at first, and then we did our family counseling for everyone together. We have learned strategies for how to slow down, breathe, and allow the emotion to pass through without having to allow it to explode or take over. We have learned how to step back from the current issue or problem, and be grateful for all the other things that are going right in our world not just focusing on the negative. We have been taught how to identify when certain thoughts are trying to take over, and lie to us, and to speak truth over ourselves. It’s been a journey. We’ve had to stop a lot of things, change a lot of things, and it hasn’t been easy. We needed help on how to express our feelings and feel them without shame. It’s okay to ask for help. No one has been taught everything that they need to succeed at life, there’s no shame in getting more resources, skills, and education to make your own life better!
After conferences this past year, I am so proud of the boy he is and the man he is becoming. Not only has he not had a single “behavior” this year, but the one time that he got angry, and frustrated he walked himself to the cool down space in the classroom, took some deep breaths, and calmed himself down and went back to his desk ready to work. He has been utilizing and using his strategies to help him be successful in his classroom and at home.
But here’s where my Mama heart explodes and my eyes overflow with tears. His teacher informs me that Isaiah, has been purposely seeking out other kids that don’t have many other friends. Some of these kids, like him, have some problems and issues with not having the strategies to handle their emotions well. So Isaiah, has been coming along side these kids and being a friend to them and teaching them the strategies that he has learned. He knows, that these kids, sometimes labeled as “bullies” are not bad kids, and they are kids that are making some bad choices, either because they don’t know any other way, or that negative attention is the only attention they know they can get. Isaiah is super positive and excitable and encouraging, and he is changing his classroom one kid at a time, by loving them and showing them what has helped him. He has helped other students integrate back into the community of the classroom and helped them to feel like they belong. Something I am sure he would have liked more kids do with him, when he was struggling.
So from a boy who never seemed to get the “Green” on the color chart, to getting thrown off the school bus for hitting, being grounded all the time, and getting so focused on the behaviors of others and dwelling on “being bullied” that he talked about ending his own life…has now learned his worth, he’s regained control over himself, and has a good understanding of what he can and cannot change in his classroom and in his life. He can never make other people’s choices for them, but he can have compassion and understanding of why someone may be making the wrong choices.
Parents, it’s so important that we invest in the change that needs to happen. When my son started spiraling, and everything that I “knew” to “fix” the problem wasn’t working. My old mindset was that bad behavior just needs punishment, grounding, and taking away everything that was dear to him. You know discipline. It didn’t work. What did work was me admitting, that I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t know a better way to teach him.
I had to go fix my reactions, my boundaries, rearrange my priorities, and do the hard work. You know discipline. I went to the school and met with his teachers, his counselor, his principle, and I took us all to a therapist. Someone who has dedicated their time and energy learning strategies, for communication, coping, and behavior modification. Sometimes, loving them at home is not enough. Sometimes, you need a team to show them, show us, that we believe in them, and that we don’t have to do it all alone! I had to sacrifice my time, that I was giving to so many other things, to have hard conversations, and look at myself to find the things that I needed to change in me first, and then help and admit to Isaiah that I was wrong in the ways that I have reacted, the ways that I cope with my feelings sometimes, and that we would be all learning new things together.
At the root of it all, when you can climb out of the shame, the labels, and the fear that you aren’t enough, that you are weak, and that you are bad if you behave badly….those are all lies. All of us are capable of change, you can do it. You are already worth so much more than you can think or imagine! You and the people in your life are worth it! Every hard conversation, every apology, and every new learned skill is worth it. Every night on your knees in prayer, tears shed, boundaries placed, and hugs and kisses are worth it.
Love covers a multitude of sins! Love never fails! Love wins!
Thank you for being a part of our team, House of Hope. For equipping me with the skills and tools from the classes, counseling, hugs, and just the unshakable support and love I’ve been given by you and others there has made all the difference in the world!