Riding Out the Storm
“We learned that it wasn’t Dylan who needed to change as much as it was us and how we responded to him that needed to change.”
Approximately a year and a half ago, our son Dylan was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) at the age of 5 ½. While he was attending preschool, he began having tremendous behavioral/emotional problems. In attempt to alleviate the situation and help our son, we worked closely with the staff at school to come up with a behavioral management program. We tried using both positive and negative reinforcement programs, but nothing seemed to work – the behaviors only became worse.
Dylan was very impulsive and struggled in dealing very intense aggressive, emotional outbursts. They seemed to come out of nowhere! We were always walking on eggshells, not knowing exactly when or what was going to trigger another episode. It began to affect our whole life, and the most devastating part of it was watching our son struggle with such emotional turmoil.
Eventually, it got so bad we had to pull him from school and begin searching for help. We started him on medication and got involved with other parents who shared our struggles. It appeared to work – within three months, things seemed to get back on track.
Dylan’s behavior was a bit more manageable, and he was starting to get along with other children.
When he started kindergarten in the fall, he had some struggles, but nothing compared to what he had experienced in preschool. He seemed to be doing pretty well; he was no longer exhibiting any of these behaviors in school.
At home – that was a different story. Things were still chaotic. Dylan ran the house! Everything we did revolved around Dylan’s schedule and needs. He had no set routine, and we had not given him any rules or expectations. He continued to throw major temper tantrums when he didn’t get his way. We tried going to support groups, and we even went to two different psychologists to get help for our son, and to help us cope with our son’s behavior.
My husband and I came from very different backgrounds and upbringings; I tended to be the permissive parent, easily giving in just to avoid conflict. My husband on the other hand, was much more authoritative. And caught in the middle was Dylan, not knowing which way to go. Before we knew it, the clouds rolled in, hovering over our home and our lives. During this time, we were losing each other, growing farther apart. The walls went up between us as we tried to find comfort within ourselves.
One day, our clouds collided and the storm hit, turning our home and our lives upside down. Desperate to save our family and our home, we sought after Grandmaster Hyong, whom we had met with briefly with about a month before to get our son involved in Tae Kwon Do. We had hoped to provide Dylan with an outlet for his energy and frustrations to help him develop some self-control and improve his self-esteem.
Once my husband and I decided we needed to get help, we got back in touch with Dr. Hyong and set up a time to meet with him to begin working on rebuilding our lives.
The first time we met with Grandmaster Hyong, we were overwhelmed with his perception of our son and ourselves; he was just great! He was so accurate at identifying exactly what had been happening with our family, it was as he was there himself!
The Doctor began first by counseling my husband and myself. He helped us see how our current thoughts and patterns were having a negative effect on our son as well as on our relationship. Instead of making mere suggestions, he took over our problems and guided us through solving them step by step. It was very comforting finding an expert who could supervise our family’s situation. We though we had exhausted all of our options.
He continued to work with us to identify our problem areas and helped us develop some goals, house rules/guidelines, and a mission statement for our family. After two counseling sessions, we had started our son on a positive reinforcement program. We were instructed to focus only on the positive behaviors and ignore the negative. This was extremely challenging.
Initially we thought “no way.” Throughout the years, we had both developed such poor and negative behavior patterns. However, we were willing to try anything to put our family back together; we were on a mission. Through his counseling and support we began the program full force.
First we began to praise Dylan for all the little positives. We then started having weekly family meetings to discuss and review our family mission statement and house rules. We met with Dr. Hyong weekly for counseling to discuss our program. We were also encouraged to use different strategies and techniques to help keep us on track.
It was also during this time that Dylan began his Tae Kwon Do lessons. At first, he was somewhat hesitant to join the class, but within a short time he was participating in all the activities with the others. Initially, the program had an inverse effect. Our son’s emotional outbursts intensified, as we began to ignore his negative behaviors. He had gotten so used to “getting our attention” with these episodes, but we were determined to make this work. With each other’s support, my husband and I stuck together and rode out the storm.
Little by little, the clouds began to disappear and the sun started to shine through. Dylan was saying “Please” and “Thank You” without being reminded, he had a consistent bedtime routine, his frustration level began to improve, and he was starting to develop his own self-control. Things were looking pretty good.
One afternoon, Dylan had a meltdown and totally lost control. My husband and I looked at each other and held on for the ride. It took all of our will power and energy not to respond or react and let Dylan work through this on his own. As Dr. Hyong advised, within just a few minutes things got quieter and Dylan ran into the room and hugged us both….It was over! Just like that!
It has been almost three months now, and we continue to work the program. At times, we start to get off track, but since we have seen such a remarkable difference in Dylan and our lives, we never stray too far. It feels so good to have peace within our home and ourselves. Most importantly, it is seeing our son change into such a happy and self-confident boy.
Dr. Hyong’s program taught us how important it was for us to work on our own behaviors, instead of pointing fingers.
We learned that it wasn’t Dylan who needed to change as much as it was us and how we responded to him that needed to change. Once we learned this, everything fell into place. We not only helped our son, but we have reconnected with each other again and now value the positives in life, both big and small.
As Louisa May Alcott so eloquently put it,
“We are no longer afraid of the storms for we have learned
how to sail our ship.”