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getting walked all over. they completely ignore me.

post #1 of 71
Thread Starter 
I"m so frustrated. I have always tried to set reasonable limits, save the "no" for when it's really necessary, give them explanations when it's appropriate. And it's always been important to me to mean what I say and not meaninglessly throw out punishments and threats. But it really seems to have backfired because my kids pay zero attention to what I say, and push the limits at every single opportunity. I hate walking around and being a mean mom all the time.

Examples from today: 4 yo accidentally spills snack all over the ground. That's fine. Then he thinks it's funny so purposely dumps it again and again. That's not ok because I don't want to needlessly waste food, money, or litter the playground, and we don't have any other snacks with us. I ask him nicely to please pick them up, and offer to help. He gleefully ignores me and runs away. Because I"ve asked him to pick them up, I can't just ignore it, so that leaves me to chase after him all around the playground while he runs away from me, and it's hard for me to catch him because I have a sleeping baby on my chest. He refuses to come with me so I have to pull him. I hate depending on physical force to get them to comply - I know that's not the answer but he simply won't do it. I pull him over and he refuses to clean up the snacks, even with me helping. I can't physically do it b/c of baby sleeping on me. He completely refuses, so my only recourse is to leave the park immediately. Meanwhile, he's happy as can be, doesn't mind a bit, has gotten nothing out of it and I look like an ineffective idiot.

Earlier, same child grabs another kid's kite and runs away with it, the other kid is crying. I once again kindly try to have my son give it back, and give an explanation for how we take turns, ask permission to use people's things, etc. He happily runs away, doesn't give it back, ignores my explanation, keeps playing. My only choice is to wrestle it away from him and give it back. I feel horrible because I don't feel right overpowering him, but he won't do it on his own. He then hits the other child, runs away, I'm again looking like an idiot b/c I can't catch him, and he ignores all of my pleas and threats to come back and make amends to the other child. So now the other boy is crying and I've done nothing to address my kid's behavior. Again, my only recourse is to leave, but that doesn't help the other child, or teach him anything about respecting other people's things or hitting.

Pretty much every day, they completely ignore me when it comes time to get dressed, leave the house, sit down for meals, go to bed, clean up after themselves. I try to say things once and then make them do it, but how do I MAKE them do anything? They simply won't, and I can't physically force them to do everything, I don't feel it's right, and I am caring for a baby so most of the time I'm nursing her or my hands are full.

I have tried natural consequences, such as if they won't get dressed they wear their pajamas out. They love it, it doesn't bother them one bit. If they won't sit down to eat and I put their food away, and they go hungry, their behavior is miserable and it is actually a punishment on me. if they complain about snacks so I don't bring any with us next time, same thing. If I forget the bedtime routine because they won't settle down, it again is a punishment for me b/c that means they stay up till all hours and I get no alone time at all. If they wont get ready to leave despite my cajoling, laying out their clothes and toothbrushes and offering to help, I get myself and the baby ready, and go out to the car, and then they act surprised and scream and cry that I'm leaving them, we are late to where we're going- sometimes that's ok, but other times it's not, like a doctor's appt we need to get to on time.

I feel like they don't respect my word one bit. Like I've been too nice and they walk all over me. But now I find I am parenting by constantly threatening taking away of privileges and fun things to do and leaving wherever we are, b/c I feel like I have no other options. I hate to use those as my main tools because I don't think it gets at the root of the behavior.

What am I doing wrong??? Or do these sound like normal kids. I feel like I've completely messed up somewhere along the way, or my kids just simply do not respond to gentle measures.
post #2 of 71
I won't be able to write (no time right now) until later tonight, but I did want to chime in and say that your situation is very understandable and totally solvable, and without resorting to force. But I would need more time to put my words together intelligently.

But I just wanted to say "take heart! your kids are normal, you're normal and trying real hard, and there IS a solution" . And you're not alone. More later....
post #3 of 71
Thread Starter 
thank you, NellieKatz, you have been very helpful when I've asked questions in the past, so I appreciate it! I'm glad to know this isn't too far outside the realm of normal!
post #4 of 71
Waiting for NellieKatz's return...
post #5 of 71
nak

I feel the same way lately, with my 3yo. We have those types of situations often. So at least I can tell you that you are not alone. Looking forward to others responses...
post #6 of 71
I too am awaiting NellieKatz return.
:subbing:
post #7 of 71
OMG you guys...waiting for my return? The pressure! I am still working on paintings and trying to meet a deadline. Let me see if I can think about this while I work. :-)

Actually I think I am going to print your message out so I can look at it later and pull out the points and answer them. My mind is mush when I am on this stupid laptop. I like to write my ideas down as I think .

But an early tidbit of advice would be: pull back a bit from the demands and commands, if only so you can save face & regroup for a bit. :-) And also, you are looking for respect and if there is one thing I have learned the hard way (and I've heard it elsewhere too) it's that the more you talk, the less people respect you. (which should slow me down somewhat on these message boards, come to think of it....but as you can see it doesn't!!)

But really. Less words/threats/instructions/warnings for now. Let your actions speak. It will feel a thousand times better too...if you are anything like me you get SO sick of hearing yourself!

Seriously though I can't respond in depth to the stuff in your post until later. But I SO can identify with what you are going through!!
post #8 of 71
Sounds a lot like my 4yo. How old are your other children?
post #9 of 71
It can be so frustrating when you feel you are doing your best and your children *still* won't cooperate with you! I have had periods with my children where I felt the same way you do: that nothing works and I'm constantly threatening to take things away and do nothing fun. It's not a good feeling and I really sympathize!

Now that my oldest is older (7 years and very high-need) we've been through the good-bad-good cycle a few times together, and there are a few things I've observed. One is that my children (DS1, 7 yrs, DS2, 2 yrs) tend to behave undesirably when I am very busy, whether it's a project I've involved myself with or am just taking too long checking my email. I wonder if your 4yo has (unintentionally) found that mischief gets mommy's undivided attention -- my kids do this sometimes too when I am concentrating on something else, especially if I've been busy with that something else a lot lately. Maybe using a sling or other type of baby carrier would make it easier to keep your baby close and even nurse while engaging with your older children, lessening the opportunity and need to get your attention.

Another thing I've noticed is that my boys become "mother deaf" when I fall into a habit of barking orders at them. I have learned to stop and ask myself whether I *need* them to do something, or do I feel like I should? Depending on the situation, I remind myself to take a deep breath and watch to see if DS does what I'm itching to tell him to do -- it's usually something like cleaning up a spill or closing the door all the way. Often, when I give him a chance to do it without being nagged, he does it on his own. Unfortunately we also have those days when it seems like everything my kids do is on purpose to make the biggest possible mess in the shortest amount of time, like the day recently when DS1 made himself an extremely messy peanut butter & jelly sandwich, getting jelly all over the counter and himself. He was not very cooperative in dealing with the mess and I'm sure, in retrospect, that my angry reaction only made the situation worse. My son could probably have cleaned up all that jelly with no extra commentary on my part, but all I could think about was how hard it would be to get out of the carpet! We all mess up sometimes, and we have to be willing to forgive ourselves and recognize the fact that we will have another chance to respond more positively the next time. So, the thing that I have learned to effectively deal with "mother deafness" is to first stop and ask myself if I really need to be demanding that my child do whatever it is that seems so urgent in the moment. The answer is often no; when it's yes, such as when something can get broken or someone can get hurt, I physically stop the activity if necessary (banging on the window with a stick, hitting another child), put my hands on my child's shoulders and make eye contact, say his name, and tell him he *may not* continue doing whatever it is, and that if he does, the consequence will be...whatever (I will take the stick away because I don't want the window broken; we will leave the park because hitting is not acceptable). I ask if he understands and if not I clarify. Sometimes, it turns out that the hitting was due to another child calling names or taking something from him, and then I encourage him to talk to the other child instead of hitting. Often, it seems that destructive (or potentially destructive) activities happen when I am busy, and that fighting with other kids tends to happen when they have been playing together for awhile and are tired, hungry, in need of a change of scenery, etc.

I have found that my 2yo ignores me entirely when I don't connect with him. It makes a huge difference to get on his level, make eye contact, speak calmly, clearly, and simply, and above all, not be dramatic no matter how upset I am. If I allow myself to get emotional and yell, he thinks I am playing and laughs and runs away. If I calmly say, "Please put the apple slices back in the bowl" and hold out the bowl, watching him and doing *nothing* else, he usually says, "Okay!" and does it. I believe that it makes all the difference in the world for him to hear my request and see me right there next to him, ready to help if needed and also expecting that he'll do what I asked.

It really helps to consciously connect with my children when they are already behaving well. It's the last thing you want to do when you are irritated with their behavior sometimes! But it can make a big difference. Spending some time, even just a few minutes, making eye contact and smiling while we do something enjoyable together can really help me feel more positively about them. Then, if I *have* to do something, it helps to say, "I have to do this really important thing. It will take me 10 minutes. I am going to set the timer, and when it goes off we will read a book (make muffins, play trucks, build a castle...)." Then I have to really stick with it, and be done when the timer goes off; however it seems to help when it's a finite amount of time that I'll be busy, and they know we'll do something fun when I'm done.

This is totally off the wall, too, but I thought I'd mention it...my kids always act out more when they are in the process of coming down with a cold or something! We have sometimes had a very bad couple days, and then someone wakes up coughing and sniffling, or throwing up. I've heard this from other mothers too! I've also heard others say that kids feel sort of rough when they're working on learning a new skill or dealing with a new situation, and that's been my experience too.

Good luck! Your kids are lucky to have a mom who cares so much about their feelings. Hang in there!
post #10 of 71
OK I can say one more thing that popped out at me as I re-read your post, and that is that you can only control what YOU do. What YOU are going to do. You cannot MAKE someone else do something....you can force them of course, but understandably this is NOT a desirable option for you (or anyone). Who wants that kind of relationship? You want them to grow up to want to do these things on their own, not because someone stood over them and forced them.

I think that realizing this was revolutionary for me.

My child is an individual. He is a separate human being with his own interests, feelings and perceptions. He is not an extension of me. He is not here to serve me. His wants are not my wants. And not all my wants are mandatory. And I only "pull rank" when I need to. This sort of realization made a big difference.

And it's hard, because unless you are homeschooling like we are, there are a lot of "have to's" that you seem to find yourself up against on a daily basis and they are oftentimes quite arbitrary, or at the very least they are imposed on you based on someone else's wants and schedule (I am thinking in particular of the school system and the daily school schedule, since that's the big one. The school sets the agenda and forces the kids to do XYZ and the parent is forced to force the kid to do XYZ, whether or not any of it makes any sense. So the system is full of coercion.) So if I decide that I am not going to pull rank ("because I'm the Mom and I said so, that's why!") and I let some things go because I value the relationship more than the arbitrary have-to's that I put on him, then it's OK because we are not bound to a schedule. (My son does stay in his PJs all day if he wants. I only ask him to get dressed if (a) we are going out or (b) the weather will destroy his PJs if he goes out to play in them. It's pretty cute to see him running around the back yard talking to imaginary friends, waving a nerf gun around, with his PJs and a raincoat on. Yes, I let him play in the rain too. Again, why not?)

Anyway, I was just trying to say I am lucky in that I can let things go if I don't deem them important, and let him work them out on his own.

I am digressing....Where did I begin this? OK, I was saying that you only can control what YOU do. So, if you want cooperation from your kids, rather than badger them about stuff on a regular basis, why not only ask for help if you really NEED help? The rest of the time, generously do it yourself. And say No to them once in a while too if you need to. You're a human being too...not an automaton with unlimited energy and resources and patience.

I firmly believe that if kids are treated kindly and respectfully, they will return the favor. No offense, but badgering, threatening and grabbing don't probably feel respectful to your kids. They don't know the kind of crazy pressures we moms are under. To them it just looks like we're insane when we do that!

And if cooperation is one of your family's core values, explain to your kids that this is the case. They probably really want to please you. And that bit where they run away, OMG that happened to me and I will never forget that day in the grocery store!! Chasing him was my first mistake, seriously. He ran, he laughed at me. It was mortifying to me, but to him it was more of a game. That was before our relationship was improved, to say the least. I don't chase any more. :-)

I have SO much I want to say, but I may say it in a separate post and I am already up way too late. I have to go to bed. But you have raised so many different issues in your post that I just want to write and write and write!

I'll be back....
post #11 of 71
OK that response of mine was so all over the map, I apologize. You have raised many points and they each deserve so much attention. I look forward to giving each one more attention tomorrow, hopefully.
post #12 of 71
ok; it's the morning now and my son is still in bed, so I will tackle one issue from your post. .

Here is your comment:
"Examples from today: 4 yo accidentally spills snack all over the ground. That's fine. Then he thinks it's funny so purposely dumps it again and again. That's not ok because I don't want to needlessly waste food, money, or litter the playground, and we don't have any other snacks with us. I ask him nicely to please pick them up, and offer to help. He gleefully ignores me and runs away."
Here is my idea:
You could just pick them up and silently put them away. End of story. If you wanted (since this is new to him) you could say "the snacks are for eating" as you scoop them up.

I think what might have tripped you up here is that you had a scenario of obedience and regret that you wanted to see him act out, AND you also saw it as your job to make those reactions happen. And since that sort of thing is impossible (controlling someone else's feelings and reactions) you decided to enforce it and, as they say, "let the games begin!"
:-)
post #13 of 71
Here is another one I want to make a suggestion on:

Your comment:
"Earlier, same child grabs another kid's kite and runs away with it, the other kid is crying. I once again kindly try to have my son give it back, and give an explanation for how we take turns, ask permission to use people's things, etc. He happily runs away, doesn't give it back, ignores my explanation, keeps playing. My only choice is to wrestle it away from him and give it back. "

My reaction:
No, that's not your only choice. I cannot emphasize this enough. (and I realize that a whole new way of looking at your child might be needed here; this is NOT easy, I know) I might have done the same thing, too, once....but nowadays I take a different approach. It all involves teaching your child and TRUSTING him that he will learn. He will. Maybe not in one day, but he will learn. And that, I presume, is the goal, more than force-induced compliance.

In the kite scenario, since force is not the right thing to do, and you know that he loves the thrill of "the chase" so that is also ineffective, you could try just waiting till he returns with the kite. In the meantime, turn to the crying child and kindly say that you are sorry that your son did that; he is still learning how to share. [your son will likely see you acting with kindness toward the child; I will call him Johnny] I am guessing that if you aren't involved in the "I make a command and you run away giggling game," your son will return with the kite sooner than later, and his defenses will NOT be up. When he comes back with the kite, if you want to get the kite from him before he puts it down, you can say "You made Johnny pretty sad; look at how he cried when you took the kite. It is better to ask for the kite. Let's rewind this like a DVD. May I have the kite please? [when son gives it to you, you hand it to Johnny] OK now, can you say "Johnny, can I play with the kite?" Your child is not threatened in this scenario. His dignity is still intact AND you are giving him a chance to "do it over" and correctly, no less! A way to make Mama happy! And since Mama is not a growling chasing bear at the moment, your son can see a way to do this without the win-lose dynamic.

Later, when things are calm, like when you two are home enjoying a happy moment or tucking him into bed, you can revisit the issue and say "I was glad when you hit the rewind button today and asked Johnny nicely for his kite. Next time, maybe you can do that the first time. Do you think you can share better next time? (Yes, Mama). Good. Then, In the car on the way to the next playdate with Johnny, you say "Now remember how we discussed that you are going to ask before taking Johnny's toy from him? Let's practice so this will be a great play date and you will be a great friend! Show me how you ask for the kite. "Johnny, can I have the kite?" Good! That's terrific. You will need to use this new way of asking, or else we won't be able to come to play dates with Johnny for a while. Can you do that? "Yes, mama"

And then if he doesn't do it, and if he instead grabs and makes Johnny cry again, you wait until you are IN THE CAR going home (i.e. calm, no chasing required). "I noticed that you grabbed toys from Johnny again. This made Johnny upset, and I need for our playdates to be friendly, safe places for all the kids. So we won't be going to Johnny's house again until I can see you asking first, not grabbing,.

end of story

Yes, that is HUGE amounts of work. And that is why I am exhausted most of the time. LOL. But my relationship with my son has never been better since I started with this. Also, he goes to a democratic free school (basically a bunch of homeschooling kids that learn together) and it REALLY REALLY helps that respect is not only taught, but LIVED in that school. No one is more important than the others, and the children get equal votes with the adults. So when he is being treated as an intelligent good person at home, and as an intelligent good person at school, they reinforce each other, and he rises to the occasion.

Your son will not change right away, but over time he will improve; I am sure of it. He is a person just like you who enjoys being respected, and who enjoys happiness. So how could he not come around? :-)
post #14 of 71
this is an interesting thread as we are having some similar experiences lately with our five year old, due in large part I'm sure to our reactions to her. I find it so, so hard to let go of my internal tape loop that wants obedience! now! and to move into a less confrontational space. She is a bright, intense kid who is doing her best to express her needs, get her needs met and co-exist in her family in her own way, but it seems like lately it so often clashes with what we want, and I so often find myself falling into using shaming phrases like "you're 5, you're old enough to understand/behave etc."

I also now that I am not getting nearly enough rest and personal time to be able to be as zen as I need be to not engage with her. I can try really hard to be positive and notice good things and five minutes later she screams in my ear and off I go again....

Sorry! Not trying to hijack this thread, more just to commiserate and to let you know that I am reading the advice here with interest.

In the scenario you describe Nellie, where the mom quietly puts away the snack, I know that I would be seething underneath, thinking to myself 'she needs to learn to help, to take responsibility etc." sigh. I know this is not productive!
post #15 of 71
Wow. He is sleeping late today so I have time to answer more things....here is another one:

Your comment: "Pretty much every day, they completely ignore me when it comes time to get dressed, leave the house, sit down for meals, go to bed, clean up after themselves. I try to say things once and then make them do it, but how do I MAKE them do anything? They simply won't, and I can't physically force them to do everything, I don't feel it's right, and I am caring for a baby so most of the time I'm nursing her or my hands are full."

When there are things that are non-negotiable, like teeth brushing, I would put them in an order-of-events where one thing is contingent upon another. For example, his daily routine was he likes to watch a tape or DVD in the morning. He LOVES that. It is very important to him. So there was a rule....1st he gets dressed, then he brushes teeth, THEN he can watch a tape. Now that he is older (7) and I can trust him and reason with him, I tell him flat out that the reason I used to set out that order of events before is so that these things would be sure to get done. But that if I can trust him to get dressed and brush teeth sometime in the a.m., then I really DON'T care what order he does them in. And so now he does them in whatever order he wants, and keeps his word and does teeth and dressing (if we are going out, that is) afterward.

I keep my eye on the long term goals (healthy teeth, trustworthiness, learning to handle his responsibilities, etc), so that rigidity and order-following are NOT my emphasis. In fact I do not WANT a child who follows orders all day long from mama and/or school. He will arrive at adulthood not knowing how to make decisions and live with their consequences. So in any area where I see an opportunity to build his skill and preserve our relationship in the process, i'm going to DO it! :-)

Oh! And one other face-saving thing. Don't say No so much...switch to Maybe. Seriously. That buys you some time to think about whether you really NEED to say No, which often sets up an oppositional win-lose dynamic. Maybe you don't need to say No after all, but if you have already said it, you do NOT (understandably) want to go back on your No, so then you needlessly dig in. So saying Maybe first and then thinking about it helps with that.
post #16 of 71
But proudmamanow, she DOES need to learn responsibility and to learn to help. I am with you on that. Absolutely!! But I am just suggesting a different way to get there. And I say this with all earnestness and heartfelt feeling ....there IS another way to get there. The seething tells you that something is wrong. And it might not be her. It might be that the way we were brought up...all the forcing, threatening, coercing, punishing....it may teach outward compliance but I can tell you from experience that the resentment will build up powerfully inside the child.

What will they do when you aren't there to see what they do? What will their inner dialog be? "Ha ha, now I don't have to pick up anything because Mom's not here to bug me about it." or "I feel good inside when I do my very best. My friend (or teacher, or Sunday School teacher, or Grandma) would pick this mess up; so I can, too!"

I was parented rigidly, with criticism, punishments, spanking, the whole bit. My hypocritical parents preached one thing and lived another. (for example, we do that when we preach kindness, patience and generosity but don't show it toward our kids). Well, long story short, I left home at 16 just after graduating high school and had a crappy relationship with both parents until they died. And I promptly rebelled and did every single thing they told me not to do. You name it, I did it.

I want my kid to live his life from a place of happiness and emotional safety, not grudging angry compliance. But don't think that I don't agree with you that the goals of teaching responsibility, cleaning up messes, etc. are not also my goals.

There's so much more to what we all do on the surface. Underneath are our powerful emotions motivating us....it's valuable to explore them. Both ours AND our children's.

(can you tell I think about this stuff 24/7 ?) :-)
post #17 of 71

worry over saving face

I'd like to chime in here in my small way. I've been dealing with some similar issues and I've noticed that one of my triggers (for getting angry, for feeling resented, etc) is when other parents are around. When I announce that it's time to leave the part, for example, and then I'm ignored, I start to feel really angry when there are eyes on me. Looking like an idiot whose kids don't listen is hard for me. In those moments, I try to pay extra attention to how I'm feeling and sometimes I try to do the opposite of how I feel. A lot of this comes from pride: if my children are "obedient", if they "behave," somehow this is a reflection on me. This pride is totally unfair to the kids. Also, ultimatums & commands end up setting ME up for a fall in those situations, so I try to avoid them. I hope that helps a little.
post #18 of 71
Yes--Nelliekatz, you're right, it really realy helps me to keep my eyes focused on the long term...I don't know, I found it easier to do this when dd was an only and I was home with her, now that I work and she has a two year old sister, I find myself so much more reactive. But obviously this MY issue more than hers, and one I need to work on.

Good food for thought!
post #19 of 71
activemomma, truer words were never spoken! (the "all eyes on you" feeling). Everything tends to go out the window in those moments, doesn't it?
post #20 of 71
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for all your thoughtful responses! NellieKatz, thanks for taking the time to write your ideas! I really appreciate that people can have a dialog here, and recognize that we are all trying to do our best with our kids but facing some real challenges!

I pretty much agree with you on all points...just getting there is the hard part. I really don't say no a lot or make them clean up tons- I just think they should participate in cleaning the especially gratuitous, messy messes!

Re: baby carriers, yes, my baby is usually in the moby wrap so I do have some mobility, but even so, I cannot climb under a picnic table to clean up his snack, or chase a fast running 4 yo with her sleeping in it!

A lot of my problem is that it's hard to do all this when I have two active boys to keep track of in public spaces, and a baby who needs nursing, or for me to bounce her to sleep, or is crying. It's hard to have a big dialog with my kids and/or help facilitate interactions with them and other kids while doing this. I think that's why a lot of times I do need (want?) compliance right away because my mind is on 3 kids at once and usually calming and feeding the baby takes precedence so I'm not able to spend the needed time on having a conversation about why such and such needs to be done, or wait the extra time for them to come around and do it on their own initiative.

Quote:
Originally Posted by activemomma View Post
I'd like to chime in here in my small way. I've been dealing with some similar issues and I've noticed that one of my triggers (for getting angry, for feeling resented, etc) is when other parents are around. When I announce that it's time to leave the part, for example, and then I'm ignored, I start to feel really angry when there are eyes on me. Looking like an idiot whose kids don't listen is hard for me.
YES, exactly!! this is usually all playing out in front of a group of other parents, so it does make me a lot angrier to look ineffective. LIke, look at her kid run away, what's she going to do about it?" That's why my go-to tactic is normally to leave- it's the one thing I can do to end it- but I see that's an easy way out and isn't teaching them much!

I completely agree about their behavior being worse when we don't connect- I actually just finished Connection Parenting and have been trying to keep that in mind. And you're right- it doesn't take hours, just a few minutes of really getting into what they're interested in and having a conversation really helps. I usually have so much going on and am crazily trying to get stuff done, that it's easy to put them off, and I realize their behavior is a way to get my attention!

you're right about the colds- they actually did all have colds this week!
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