By K. Hecht, A. Hosack, and P. Berman
I want my mommy!
Davy was tired after school. On the long bus ride home, he kept thinking about getting a story from his mommy. Now, he as he stepped off the bus and eagerly looked around- she wasn’t there, it was just Mr. Carson. Claire had put Davy on the bus like she had for months but had forgotten to tell him that Mr. Carson would be getting him from now on. She had been so nervous about going to her own school that she had put all her energy into appearing happy for Davy as she got him on the bus.
Davy loved Mr. Carson but he didn’t read stories like his mommy did. Where was she. Mr. Carson walked over and took Davy’s hand. Davy pushed him away and demanded his mommy. Mr. Carson patiently explained that Claire was at school now but would be home for dinner. Davy screamed, “Mommy, where are you? Mommy!”
Davy was ignoring Mr. Carson who was trying to calm him down. He was whispering to Davy that everything was alright. He was suggesting that Davy take a deep breath. Davy sometimes calmed down when Mr. Carson helped him like this but not today. He was too tired and too mad to calm down even though he loved Mr. Carson.
Where is my mommy? I want her. I need her.
Davy’s frustration had been building up all day. First, he could tell something was wrong when his mommy put him on the bus. She kept saying the same things over and over, “have a good day, have fun at school.” Davy could tell something was wrong. Mommy’s voice didn’t sound right. He gave her a big hug to help her. She liked it and hugged him back. But he still felt uneasy when he got to school.
Then, he hadn’t been picked by the blue team on the playground. He didn’t want to play on the red team. His favorite color was blue, and his friend Marty was on the blue team. His teacher kept telling him “no” when he said he wanted to be on the blue team. When he didn’t listen, he ended up sitting in the “time-out chair” so he missed the game altogether.
Later, the teacher took the snack his mom made away from him because it had peanuts in it and some girl in class was allergic to nuts. The teacher gave him a bag of pretzels instead and they tasted good but not as good as his peanuts and Chex mix. This was his favorite snack at home and his mommy had made it for him special!
He did count all the way to ten later and got a ribbon for it on that was pinned to his shirt. He had been excited about taking it home but then it got all spattered and gooky during finger painting time, so he sadly threw it in the trash. He almost started falling asleep on the bus but the kid next to him pinched him hard to wake him up and tell him to get off the bus. Davy told the bus driver about the pinch like his teacher told him to; this boy was pinching him every day on the bus. But, the driver didn’t tell the other boy he was not to do it again. Why had the teacher lied to him?
Davy stepped off the bus wanting a hug from his mommy. She would make the pain in his arm go away. But, she wasn’t waiting for him. Davy was so mad. He refused to walk down the street with Mr. Carson. He sat on the walkway and screamed for his mother. Mr. Carson was embarrassed but recognized the signs of a “too tired” Davy. He stood by patiently waiting for the temper tantrum to end. He looked around at the cars passing by, pretending he didn’t notice Davy was yelling and screaming.
Mr. Carson knew that Davy loved cars, so he was using a child management strategy called distraction. He was ignoring Davy but saying things he thought might grab his attention. “Oh, look that yellow car looks like a squashed bug. That black van is huge! I bet you could fit ten kids in that backseat! Wow that car looks like your favorite color blue!”
That did it, Davy jumped up and said where? Mr. Carson pointed at it and Davy was smiling again. Now that the storm was over, Mr. Carson said, “you look tired, I am tired too. Would you like a horsy ride home so Mrs. Carson can read us a story?” Davy almost jumped onto Mr. Carson’s back. All thoughts of Claire were gone. He was riding a horsy back home!
There are a lot of good resources out there for parents who want to learn methods for teaching children how to control themselves. Some that are based on research that shows they work even with children with serious behavior problems. One book is written by Alan Kazdin, Ph.D. and is called, “The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child.” Check it out if you could use some more ideas for the children in your life.