One aspect of parenting a child with fetal alcohol syndrome that is the most frustrating is the number of times our children must experience a negative consequence before they learn to change their behavior. A child with FAS will need to get it wrong 100x before they learn to do it right. Because kids with FAS learn through repetition, it is counterproductive to impose lengthy consequences for misdeeds. Yes, there must be consequences, but they should be immediate and brief.
It is this last qualifier that I struggle with the most. I prefer to dole out long drawn out punishments. A consequence that is only 10 minutes in duration hardly seems worth imposing, yet is the standard around our house when it comes to E’s misdeeds. Disrepecting me while playing on the computer is an automatic log off. As much as I would like to say “you’re off for the whole night” I know that the ten minutes of agony I just imposed (seriously, he reacts as though I just cut off his hand) is as powerful as a 24 hour respite from watching You Tube videos.
Most of E’s misdeeds are caused by his impulsiveness and impaired judgment both of which are hallmark symptoms of FAS. Lacking the ability to filter his thoughts prior to verbalizing them makes E’s mouth his worst enemy. For this reason, technology is not his friend. For instance, E had his FB account shut down for one week last year due to his use of horrific language towards one of his “friends.” Within 24 hours of reinstating his FB privledges, E challenged a peer to a fight. The fight was to take place after school at a rec center near our house. After this latest error in judgement, we took E off of FB for good.
This morning before work, E was working diligently on setting up a Yahoo account. He told me that he needed the account to download BMX videos to You Tube. On a hunch I searched for him on FB and low and behold a new profile popped up. He changed his first name to his nick name, but the picture gave him away. I sat wondering how long he thought that he could get away with it before Tom or I found out. Friending his brother certainly didn’t help keep me in the dark. Remember when I mentioned impaired judgment? Identifying cause and effect is also a hallmark effect of FAS. If you have ever seen the dumbest criminals videos, you know what I am referring to. It wouldn’t surprise me if most of the people showcased in the videos suffered from FAS.
Confronting E about his FB account wouldn’t lead me to anywhere that I wanted to go this evening. I will save it for another day. Thus far, he has no privacy settings enabled so I can lurk on his site to my heart’s content. I am beginning to wish that I lived during the 1800’s. Parenting had to have been easier back then.