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Learned behaviors, how to change them

So, SD has some learned behaviors that we aren't OK with. They've never been acceptable in our home and she's always done a fairly decent job of following the rules with EOWE, alternating major holidays, and half of summer. She got into trouble here and there, but nothing that wouldn't be typical for a kid. Since June DH has had custody and starting in July BM stopped about 60% of her visitation.

School started in September and SD was doing well, but struggling here and there. SD is 12 and in 5th grade, due to her disorder causing developmental delays she's about 3-4 years behind her age group developmentally, and 2 years behind her age group in school. We got an IEP established (she gets extra time for major projects and testing, and 80 minutes each week of specialized instruction for writing and 80 minutes each week of specialized instruction for math).

Every Friday her teacher sends home a newsletter that the parents are supposed to sign if the kids have missing assignments from that week. SD has brought home some that needed to be signed, and we always made sure she also completed the missing assignments before returning to school Monday. I just found two weeks worth of newsletters showing missing work that SD had hidden. I know part of this is mine and DH's fault for not doubling checking and making sure she showed them to us, but she's also old enough (even with her disabilities) to be honest when she has missing work. We've been super busy with therapy (occupational for SD and DD 5, and physical for SD), specialists for both SD and DD, and the rest of life. So, I'd say 50% of this issue lies on mine and DH's shoulders. Regardless of how busy we were, we should have made sure to see the newsletters.

SD has very poor homework and study habits that were allowed at BM's. Projects were always completed at the last minute and turned in late, homework was rarely finished when it was turned in. This is all information that DH has received directly from previous teachers. BM has also admitted to DH and I that she didn't follow up with SD's homework or projects.

We've been really working on establishing a good homework routine for SD, and her Occupational Therapist has been helping us out with ideas to help get SD on a better routine and re-learn some better habits. So far we haven't been able to make much change in the habits.

Right now, SD is doing her homework at a desk in the living room so that DH and/or I can ensure that she stays on task and gets her work done. The problem is that she isn't always honest about what work needs to be done. BM has stated to DH and I that she just punished SD by yelling at her and sending her to her room. SD said she's scared she's going to get yelled at if she tells the truth. However, in the past when she's brought home newsletters that needed our signatures she hasn't gotten into big trouble or been yelled at. We've talked about why it's important for her to do her assignments and turn them in on time, then she was "grounded" until the assignments were completed that weekend. Once the assignments were done, she was able to enjoy the rest of her weekend. It worked for about a month. And then the first two weeks of November she messed up and didn't complete the assignments.

She also lies a lot. About little things that she'd never get into trouble for. But, I'm not sure that she cognitively understands the lie issue... Her developmental assessments show that she's quite delayed in a lot of areas.

Anyways, if anyone has suggestions, I'd be open to them. The hope here is to help SD gain better habits and not to make her feel as if she's being punished.

by on Dec. 4, 2012 at 8:38 PM
Replies (11-14):
by Platinum Member on Dec. 5, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Quoting sassy711:

Time will help your SD overcome her "bad" habits.  That and your constant and positive reinforcement.  Maybe buy a large calendar just for her and put it in a visable area of the kitchen, or living room.  As you and DH check her work and if she doesn't lie give her a gold star on the calendar.  If she lies, but does her school work then maybe a silver star.  Then post a reward list next to the calendar.  3 silver stars equal 1 gold star.  5 red stars  equal 1 gold star.  10 gold stars "earns" a movie.  15 gold stars earns ___.  The point is that you are combining school work and lying into a point system and in time she will equate not lying with a reward.  She will also equate completion of school work with a reward.  If you stress the positive behavior she will get it.

Hats off to you for being such a good role model and undertaking this challenging situation.  HIGH FIVE!

I think the most frustrating part (for me) is how busy we all are, Middle DD has behavior therapy every Monday, SD has physical therapy every Friday, every other Wednesday they both have occupational therapy, plus all the other appointments we have for both girls thrown into that here and there. I have to make sure DS gets his homework done (not nearly as much of an issue, but he likes to try and slide on the writing parts), and youngest DD who's 4. Then there's dinner and baths, and I swear to you there is NOT enough time from the time school lets out until bed time to get that all done!

Anyways, I think this is a great idea! I think she'll respond much better to rewards than punishments. And the visual chart is perfect for her. Her occupational therapist and I are working on a lot of visual charts and schedules for her. Plus, it's really hard to "punish" her, as nothing really phases her. BM's go to punishment was to yell a lot and send her to her room alone (SD, BM, and BM's ex-husband have all told us this). So, I'd really like to focus on rewarding the good rather than punishing the "bad" or not so good.

by Silver Member on Dec. 5, 2012 at 1:49 PM

Consistancy, consistancy, consistancy.  = )

by on Dec. 5, 2012 at 2:05 PM
Don't trust your SD to write down homework. Have the teacher send home print outs of what homework is due when. It isn't such a big deal for a teacher to do, my son's teachers do it every week (he is nine and has autism and add ) and we usually get all his homework done.
by Platinum Member on Dec. 5, 2012 at 7:21 PM

Well, as of right now all of the missing assignments have been completed. She was grounded from all electronics until it got done. She and I are going to make a reward chart tonight, and that will be started tomorrow.

I'm really hoping that focusing on the good, and praising the good behavior will help. 

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