Thursday, April 11, 2013

Positive Affirmation...10:1

Years ago, we were given a piece of advice that we will never forget by my brother-in-law(We miss you Brent!): For every negative admonition there should be ten positive affirmations. We took this advice to heart. When we first heard it, we thought, of course...piece of cake. It's not as easy as it sounds folks. It seems that it is easier to find faults rather than positive affirmation, especially when it comes to training up our children. After all, we are just trying to correct all the unwanted behaviors right? That is only part of what we are supposed to be doing as parents, it's more than just correcting. It's about training AND building up their confidence to see themselves in the way that God created them to be!

Raising a child with High Functioning Autism may make this task seem even more difficult, but it is possible. We have found ourselves, many times, trying to come up with those positives. I have learned that even the smallest of things becomes a huge deal with our son. He looks for those moments, even though he does not express it, we see it when he smiles over the praise. When he was younger(and sometimes even at his age now), it may have been exclaiming over how he had buttoned his shirt all by himself without getting angry or actually trying to tie his shoes before asking for help or not throwing a fit if his Lego creation fell apart. It may seem petty to make those things a big deal, but it is instilling confidence in him to try it again and not just give up on tying his shoes because he already knows he can't tie them.

Recently, after cleaning his room one day, I went to check to see that it was finished. When I went in I was pleasantly surprised and exclaimed over his tidiness. I then pointed out several specific things, how neatly he had made his bed and how organized and neat his bookshelf was. I made a very big deal over it. The look on his face was so awesome! It's rare to see him beaming as he was, it made me overjoyed to see him like that. I love trying to bring that emotion out in him. Another cool moment was just this last Sunday. We had just found our seats at church after getting our kids settled in their classrooms when our son appeared next to my husband. I later found out that he had enough confidence to know he could come and ask dad to help him with something. He had come in and told his Dad that he was sorry for interrupting, but he had left his backpack with his bible in the van and could he please go get it. My husband gladly walked out to the van with him. On the way, our son again apologized and thanked his dad for going with him and then was back on his way to class. My husband and I were truly amazed at this young man our son had showed us! This is a rarity as normally there may have been anxiety over leaving his backpack and crying would have ensued. It was a moment that both my husband and I noticed as a huge accomplishment. I can assure you that on the way home from church we talked about that experience with our son and told him how proud of him we are and how polite and respectful he is!

We really believe that by building up our son that he will really begin to see who he really is and that he can do things on his own and when he's tried and needs help, he can ask confidently and he will get the help he needs. We want our kids to feel confident and not feel like they can't get anything right. If we are constantly trying to correct the unwanted behaviors and not giving the positive affirmation our message comes across as they have to be perfect to have our love. I will be the first to say that we are not perfect and don't always get it right and have gone to apologize to our kids when we don't get it right. Kids on the spectrum can already be overwhelmed by anxiety and perfectionistic qualities. So, as long as we discipline and admonish in love and find every positive thing to affirm him, he will become more confident as time goes on and hopefully and prayerfully we will see more and more of those glorious moments as this boy grows into a young man. It is a long, hard road, but worth every step of the way to look back along that road and see all of the accomplishments.

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