Last year, on three occasions, over two weeks my husband was engaged in conversations about our son’s disruptive behavior at day camp. Including one occasion where our son had bitten another boy’s face.
We had registered our son in a two week camp for 4 to 6 years olds the week of his fourth birthday on a whim. The two week camp started the next week.
He was little. His emotions were big. A group of boys teased him about his size, his speed and his age. He didn’t have anything in his toolbox reassembling resilience.
There were discussions and tears.
A young counselor in training made him an anger cushion to wear around his neck.
We spent the last year talking a lot about how we treat others and how we respond to stimuli from others that doesn’t align with our expectations.
Preschool was stressful. We know our son kept the teachers busy. Was kindergarten going to be a disaster?
We cautiously enrolled our Bean in three weeks of camps.
We talked a lot about managing expectations, emotions and our responses.
We talked about responding to bullying.
We talked about losing.
We talked about not biting other people’s faces.
The YMCA includes value beads as part of their day camp delivery. Each day a head ceremony is held and kids are awarded beads based on the values they exhibited that day.
In Edmonton Value Beads are
awarded to individuals for demonstrating
friendship, caring, honesty, diversity, social inclusion, responsibility, respect, leadership, and excellence.
On day 1, our kiddo was already glowing with pride. First of all, he hadn’t bitten anyone’s face and second instead of struggling to find a reason to give him a bead, he had already earned him self several beads.
On day 2, he decided he was going to actively try to earn beads. “Mom, I am going to be extra kind and listen and start cleaning up crafts before anyone asks me to.”
By day 4, he had received an excellence bead and had demonstrated every value.
He was abundantly filled with joy.
I told his counsellor of last year’s challenges. She shared what a delight he was. She let me know she never once needed to assert any kind of corrective discipline.
We phoned The Undad and shared the good news.
We phoned Grandma and Grandpa.
We discussed the hard work that went into earning each and every bead.
We high fived.
I exhaled air I have been holding since the day of the face biting incident.
He explained to his sister the types of things she will need to learn if she also wants to earn beads of every color, including an excellence bead.
Watching these little ones grow up, take shape, and take flight, is amazing.
I can’t wait for the wild ride ahead.I am not saying we are done with face biting. I am just saying we know we can get through a day without needing to, so kindergarten looks a whole lot rosier.