Trying to teach the lamb to roar…

How do you teach a lamb to roar? I suppose that its just as difficult to teach a wild cat serenity.

Here is my dilemma..

My first son is definitely a lamb. Not a sheep mind you, as he doesn’t necessarily follow the crowd, but definitely a lamb in temperament. He is intelligent and does incredibly well in school in the subjects he applies himself in.  He is incredibly observant and intuitive. So much in fact it can be maddening to even me, as he will tell me how to do things, and he’ll be right.  That is not how its supposed to work right? The parent who has “lived longer” should have the experience to teach the child, not the other way around.. not at this point in time anyway..but Haiden challenges me every day, not really in a bad way. He just seems to be the one that naturally keeps me on my toes.

The kid can remember the brand name that was listed on the  paper backing of a sticker he got at the dentist’s office over a year ago.  The “throw away” piece that most people (including myself) probably wouldn’t take a second glance at.  Yet he studies everything and can identify the brand image in a total different context with no hints or clues around it, and still remember where he’s seen it before. He really amazes me sometimes.

He’s also an incredibly loving child. Too much maybe for some peoples taste, he loves hugs and to sit cuddled up next to you and have conversations. He loves to sing and dance (or do motions anyway), and has a natural flare for dramatics, much like his older sister. Does well at speech presentations at school, and surprises the teacher with his comfort level at doing them. The more excited he gets, the louder his voice becomes (which is an inborn family trait). He’s pretty easily inspired and loves to make friends. Like many boys his age he is immature, however with him, his heart is very much on his sleeve, and there is no mistaking his feelings about any given situation at any time. He doesn’t get angry, he gets sad.

These traits, while they aren’t bad, and while they may bounce between endearing and aggravating, end up leaving him pretty open to insult from his peers lately. We’ve been trying to help him know that he needs to “grow up” a little more right now, especially before he enters middle school next year.

Its hard to know what to suggest to a child like this.  He has been having the beginning of what seems to be a recurring issue with one of his classmates at school.  The other child calls him names like “Retard” and “White Chick” and flicks things at him. Occasionally the teacher will catch it, but my son says it starts back up once the teacher moves on.

Despite being heatedly argued with some of my family members about correctness of the approach, I’ve always felt driven to teach my children take ownership and responsibility in all aspects of their lives. In my view, it is my responsibility to teach my child to become an mature adult, and to use their own reactions as tools to deal with situations. I don’t think this disallows childhood, because I believe you can still have a fun and rewarding life while being respectful and responsible. That said, I still encourage my children to reach out to others for help when they need it, but I tell them that their best hope is in their own resourcefulness.

When we first learned of his food allergies to wheat/gluten & dairy, we taught him recipes, and to dissect in his head what basic ingredients went into certain foods. This was an issue that he was going to live with the rest of his life. This approach was taken also because it was becoming increasingly clear that the adults in the cafeteria at his old school at that time didn’t know the first thing about what they were putting out there. When the cafeteria worker told me that he can still eat peanut butter sandwiches at school  because “Its made with white bread, not wheat”, I knew that my son’s best form of defense was going to be his own knowledge. Its an undisputed fact that no one can do everything for you. You can’t always rely that someone will come pick you off the ground, so you have to be able to do it yourself.

Another point we’ve try to stress to our children is that respectfulness will often lead you to the correct answer.

Since he had said ignoring the other child hadn’t seemed to be working, my second suggestion to my son in dealing with this other child, was to first ask him nicely to stop.  If the child continued, then for him to look the child in the eye and firmly tell him to “stop now”.

Deon & I both  tried to get him to practice the reaction with us. This child,  who has been known as rather vocal, actually finds it incredibly difficult to raise his voice in a firm manner. It was painful to watch how uncomfortable he is with it.  I asked him what was wrong and he told me that he didn’t want to use the suggestions because he was sure he’d get in trouble at school if he did it, and he didn’t want to be mean or disrespectful to the other child.

What a quandary!..   So since he has internalized the thought that its important to be respectful no matter the situation,  it makes it hard to bring himself to be able to stand up for himself in a firm manner? I’m at a loss as to what to suggest to him now. Have we messed up?  Some kind of reaction is needed, especially if the other child still proceeds despite being ignored. Now I don’t know what to tell him. I don’t know what coping strategy will work for my son. He isn’t aggressive and when he tries it comes off as goofy instead of serious..

What now?  Any suggestions? please feel free to comment..

I’ve contacted his teacher, just to let them know but not necessarily to act as if our son “told on them” because I think its a hard balance. We don’t want to add fuel to this other kids fire.

Its got me stumped…

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