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Never mind

post #1 of 285
Thread Starter 
Okay, you know what?

I have had a LOT of good ideas here, especially playful parenting strategies. I'm super grateful for that. I guess it was not obvious to some people because their own ideas got shot down, and all I can say is, if it sounds like nothing works for us after all these suggestions, you are missing a lot.

I also vented a lot because this is the ONLY place I was speaking to adults at night and decompressing here. So the hyperbole and frustration is not representative of my entire outlook on life. It is certainly not evidence of how I'm speaking to my child. I also posted that I had a very early miscarriage (so early I never would have known if not for the fact that I'm taking p. tests monthly) and there was a lot of moodiness. Those two together, along with the fact that I don't mince words, appears to have convinced some that I need therapy. To which I can say... I see a number of people who work with our community daily, including a counselor, and if they suggest something, I will go.

I am amazed that people think that asking for specific help means asking for people to tell you you're mentally ill or that your child has a developmental disorder. I think the fallacy is, "My child didn't do that, so you must be doing something majorly wrong." Which is not true. My child can't run the track five times, but that doesn't mean that the parents of the child who can are keeping theirs locked up the rest of the day.

Certainly, we do not have a perfect life which is why I posted. Yes, we have problems--sleep without rewards, a hitting phase (hitting is physical violence, and must not be encouraged, regardless of whether you address the root cause), and she is three. And no, those problems will not go away overnight.

BUT! I am going to stop coming here because the daily insinuations that because what worked for you is not working for us means we are mentally ill is really hard for me to take. It makes me less confident as a parent ("What if I really am that screwed up?"), it makes me more irritated ("They don't even know me and they're suggesting I have a mental illness? WTF!"), and it makes me lonely ("People do not understand what I am talking about.").

So, again, thanks to those of you who get it. Who get that life is not perfect, that sometimes we need help but we don't need suggestions that we're beyond screwed up and that drugs are the answer. Who can accept that I was trying GD as in no consequences, but that it was really hard for us given our life, and who let it go. Who have stated that it's okay not to do the hard-core GD but that's still gentle. Who have empathized instead of judged.

I really, really needed it and I will update... in another thread. Things are going massively better thanks to the playful suggestions and I'm going to try more planned rewards for sleep, rewards I can live with, and we'll see how that goes, combined with ignoring hitting and then other playful stuff, and we'll see.

(Incidentally... I read the spirited kids thread... that's not my kid. So... not sure I'm going to get RYSC from the library, though it sounds like playful parenting is a must.)
post #2 of 285
Read Playful Parenting.Lawerence Cohen. My 3 year old was very much the same way, for a time, but its my reactions to her and my moods and tones that spur it all on. This book and taking time to enjoy her really made a huge difference in our dynamic.
Its hard having a really smart, really tenacious and articulate kid,people think you can't complain when you've got a 3 year old that understands EVERYTHING.but its hard really I've been where you are AND my baby is exactly 3 years younger than my 3 year old.
My best advice is that book, smile have fun with your kid, even pretending will turn real, and a nice ice cold beer right around dinner time.

The best way to win an argument with a child IS not to argue with the child, esaier said than done, but its a habit that really grows. There are some great articles on the natural child project site too.
post #3 of 285
My ds was like this until age five (older five, not five-and-one-day). I have no words of wisdom, and can only offer my deepest sympathy. It is so hard to deal with when things arise that MUST be done (getting out of the house with a time limit for ex.). He is very, very much better now, but I don't feel that good about it because he only complies because he "wants to make (me) happy" (his words!). How bout making yourself happy, kiddo, and not starting a war at every minor decision making moment?
I don't know how things are for you, but around age four my ds started being a lot less oppositional IF we were alone. He is still, much more difficult if there is an "audience" as I call it- grand ma, papa, anyone other than just the two of us. Luckily, the baby seems too young to count as an audience, plus he actually became super helpful and agreeable when she was born.
Just not bothering didn't work for us, because he would go out of his way to create new and innovative ways of beginning new battles. Never major ones, either, always about minor things but just one thing after the other continuously.
post #4 of 285
I found this works with DS. Every night is a nightmare about brushing his teeth. Last night I told him that he didn't need to brush his teeth. He got in bed quietly and then started screaming "I wanna brush my teeth!!!!!"

It turns out all that "You need to brush your teeth so they don't rot" finally got to him. It worked again tonight. I told him he didn't need to brush his teeth, that maybe some new ones would grow in. This time, much calmer, he said "No! I want you to brush them."
post #5 of 285
If you read my latest post in the thread I started in this forum, "My 5YO is driving me crazy," you'll see I *kind of* tried this w/ bedtime last night. I don't think it really worked, but I guess he *is* in bed earlier tonight (9:00) than last night (after 10:30). I feel for you, mama! My DS is older than yours, of course, but I'm dealing w/ a similar behavior from him recently. UGH! I'm sure the other moms here will have some good advice for you. I'll be watching this thread, hoping to gather up some more tools for my GD arsenal! Good luck to you! I am tired of arguing too. It's exhausting!
post #6 of 285
Thread Starter 
Weird that there are moms of 5yos here. My child tends to exhibit "shadow" milestones a year or two before she actually reaches them. Perhaps this is that? (E.g. exhibited early letter / sound recognition then dropped it for a year and is now learning them more at a normal time, used perfect grammar early then stopped with proper tenses, did the whole "why" thing, dropped it for EIGHTEEN MONTHS and then started full-force right on target.) Though I don't find that encouraging, because that means I'm in for it even worse later. Ugh.

I should be more playful but the problem is I am not naturally playful at all. Like at. all. People would describe me as "intense" or "strong" or "serious". I get "serious" a lot. I'm sad to be the wrong mom for my child but I will try to be more playful. Being playful takes 1000% of my energy, though, so though I will check it out, I don't foresee it being an answer to my problems. Sorry. I envy playful people. Maybe therapy could change me? However two counselors I have seen both told me my goal to be less serious, more playful and to have more of a sense of humor told me they'd never changed anyone's temperament before.

Last night she went to bed at midnight. No brushed teeth, nothing. This morning, didn't eat breakfast. The only thing I require is that I'm not giving into demands. She MUST treat me like a human.

Of course, she can always go hungry.

Sigh.
post #7 of 285
I have no advice, just wanted to send you Hugs and tell you to hang in there I have a difficult kiddo, but it seems like you are dealing with WAY more than I was. I started using Melatonin with my kids, they were exhausted and it made their behavior HORRIBLE. After we started giving the Melatonin they ALL were suddenly so much Happier, and Easier! I'm not saying that's the solution for you, but it's what worked for my family. FWIW my kids are 8yr, 6yr, 4yrs and 3yrs and they are all on 3mg of Melatonin.
post #8 of 285
Thread Starter 
I dunno, she's not hard in some ways, but she is just sooooo argumentative. Argh. She sleeps well after I go through a sleep routine that takes an hour even though it's three simple steps: jammies, teeth, story, sleep. I mean for crying out loud.

I should mention that she went to bed late and didn't eat because I did not argue about it. It's like she thrives on arguments. If I argue with her for about 10 minutes, she does it just fine. Wheee. Because that's how I want to spend my life. She actually demands that I "do it the wrong way" so she can correct me. I mean WTH is that about?!? I have to do it two or three times before she can show me the right way. Otherwise--freak out. I mean, there is a fake argument while we do it but it's not a genuine tantrum.

Is she the only child who does that? Is that bizarre or what? Is that normal for three? Will it end or am I encouraging her by giving in? But if I don't have the fake argument, she starts a REAL argument, so anyway she gets her way. (!!!!) So how can I avoid an argument with someone who wants one?
post #9 of 285
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
Is she the only child who does that? Is that bizarre or what? Is that normal for three? Will it end or am I encouraging her by giving in? But if I don't have the fake argument, she starts a REAL argument, so anyway she gets her way. (!!!!) So how can I avoid an argument with someone who wants one?
Hah, interesting, I am the mother of a 5 y.o. and I am here to answer too. Just throwing in my two cents worth. Things I have tried that have worked sometimes (not always, sometimes, but I had to be consistent):

- when she's argumentative like that, NOT ENGAGE - "I'm not fighting with you, this is what we're doing"
- "I'm asking for your cooperation"
- it's sad that sometimes yelling works
- "I don't like the way you're speaking to me right now. You can have your feelings about what I said and you don't have to like it, but please go have your feelings in your room." and then I WALK AWAY
- DISTRACTION (tv , or changing the subject and engaging her in conversation that is totally different but interesting to us both)
- simply not taking any drama/tears/time wasting - walking away
- knowing that THIS WILL PASS
- making sure she gets out and has plenty of stimulation outside of the house with friends, going places, park - honestly, for my bright 5 y.o. I see a lot of argumentativeness when she's bored or discouraged by a problem outside the home

Just some thoughts. Hang in there Mama, it will pass. I am a more serious person too and although I try playful parenting, my style seems to mesh well with dd2 but not so much dd1. If we're not getting along I try to sit down and do something that we CAN connect on like offer to read a book, or bake/cook something, or take a walk or something..............

THIS IS JUST A STAGE AND WILL PASS!
post #10 of 285
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Surfacing View Post
Hah, interesting, I am the mother of a 5 y.o. and I am here to answer too. Just throwing in my two cents worth. Things I have tried that have worked sometimes (not always, sometimes, but I had to be consistent):

- when she's argumentative like that, NOT ENGAGE - "I'm not fighting with you, this is what we're doing"
- "I'm asking for your cooperation"
Sometimes these work. However, they often don't. I think that is what comes with being three.

Quote:
- it's sad that sometimes yelling works
It doesn't work very often with us. I have to yell a LOT or really loud to have any effect. I hate it. I'm done with that.

Quote:
- "I don't like the way you're speaking to me right now. You can have your feelings about what I said and you don't have to like it, but please go have your feelings in your room." and then I WALK AWAY
But then we go back to three and she doesn't stay in the room.

- DISTRACTION (tv , or changing the subject and engaging her in conversation that is totally different but interesting to us both)
Quote:
- simply not taking any drama/tears/time wasting - walking away
Sometimes this helps, but I mean... when I go back, problem is not solved and then it just takes forever.


Quote:
- making sure she gets out and has plenty of stimulation outside of the house with friends, going places, park - honestly, for my bright 5 y.o. I see a lot of argumentativeness when she's bored or discouraged by a problem outside the home
We do spend a lot of time outside (2 hrs / day on average) and she goes to 5-day-a-week preschool "summer camp" which she seems to love. She genuinely likes arguing. I don't know how to explain it. SHe will CHEERFULLY ask me to argue with her.

Quote:
If we're not getting along I try to sit down and do something that we CAN connect on like offer to read a book, or bake/cook something, or take a walk or something..............

THIS IS JUST A STAGE AND WILL PASS!


Thanks. I think I'll do the dishes with her now.
post #11 of 285
What is her sleep schedule like? Is she napping and then sleeping well through the night?
post #12 of 285
Thread Starter 
Mom2grrrls, until this week, when I totally gave up, it was "perfect" if I struggled: in bed by 7:15-30, stories until 7:45-8:00, asleep by 8:30. One nap between 12:30 and 3:00 not to exceed one hour.

But I am so tired of the struggle. (Oh, she didn't want to do the dishes with me.) Maybe it's too much sleep for her, too much nutrition. Maybe she just needs to sleep less and eat less? Honestly, I don't know. I'm so through. Tonight I did ask if she planned to go to the dentist with me, since she wasn't brushing. She said yes, and I told her how upset the dentist would be, but that was her choice, I didn't mind. She brushed her teeth herself. She didn't want to go to bed herself but I had her do it.

She seems more relaxed. I guess the whole routine is too much stress for her. It makes me sad to think I can't provide for her basic needs and safety without screaming or going insane, though.
post #13 of 285
Have you read "The Secret of Parenting" by Anthony Wolf? He's got a technique in there that I think he describes as "waiting for the bus". It's a bit like what you're doing, only with slightly different expectations. You ask your child to do something and you wait, as if you're waiting for the bus. The key is to not get flustered and upset. You act as if they're going to do it, and you have got all the time in the world to do it.

And I have to say, you sound very burnt out. It's hard to parent when you're at the end of the rope. How can you do some good self care so that you have more energy? Have you been taking care of yourself?

You may or may not continue doing the 'waiting for the bus' routine once you've got more energy. But it would be nice to have it be a decision that you've made based on what works, rather than a wholesale abdication out of pure exhaustion.
post #14 of 285
Age three was the worst age for me and my dd. I think that letting go of what you can and just sticking to a few expectations, like safety and respectful tones is a good thing. I think not having so many expectations would have helped me a lot when my dd was this age, I went to the opposite extreme and had too many that were too high and it didn't work well for either of us. I think this plan is fine, but I encourage you to get time to yourself (maybe by putting her in Head Start or preschool a couple days a week) so you have the energy to push the things that matter for her health. At this point sleeping doesn't if you can stay home or she can nap as long as she needs to at daycare. When she eats isn't important either because she will do it when she is hungry, and if you have only healthy food in the house what she eats isn't going to be a big issue. Whenever I can drop requirements for bed, eating, etc... I do and it helps my dd feel control over her life and me feel peaceful and recharged.
post #15 of 285
Very well said LynnS6.

Hmm this whole discussion is now reminding me more of the 3 y.o. stage. My 2.5 y.o. is heading more and more into this territory, and I sure remember dd1 going through it. I think it's about wanting more independence and control in their lives. Giving her a chance to make some choices, and picking your battles comes to mind.

I remember talking to my doctor in frustration at how dd1 would always oppose me and argue with me. I was flabbergasted that other adults would say how cooperative and eager to please she was, how friendly and sweet. Not with me! I got the other side of her at home. I wondered what I was doing wrong. The doctor said she gives me the hardest side of her because she trusts me that I can handle her. She pushes my buttons and tests my limits and shows a range of feelings and behaviours, good and bad, that might not be socially appropriate or acceptable elsewhere. She feels comfortable enough to let it all hang out with me. I was like, "Oh, great, thanks. That's a real compliment." But it did put it into perspective a little bit.

Just putting that out there in case it helps. I agree that you sound very burnt out and need some time to refresh and regroup, take care of yourself.

Sometimes a very small tweak in our behaviour and style can make a big difference.

I certainly don't have all the answers either. Take care.
post #16 of 285
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
She genuinely likes arguing. I don't know how to explain it. SHe will CHEERFULLY ask me to argue with her.
Oh I just wanted to add one thing here. Is it possible that she wants to connect with you but doesn't know how, and this is one way to engage attention and intensity? I wonder if there is something else that you both like to do together.

I remember in some of the darkest times, when I thought I was going crazy and we were arguing all the time and I felt like dd1 hated me, I would take her for ice cream a couple of times a week, even in the winter, because for 1 hour we would have some peace and quiet, and a positive relationship experience.

Okay, just tossing these into the ether. Take care EdnaMarie, it's not easy. Get a rest and recharge, you'll have energy to climb back on the horse again.
post #17 of 285
Learning how to avoid power struggles is a great skill. But, it feels different than avoiding your child because they are overwhelming and you feel burned out. It sounds like you are doing the latter and you need a break and a new plan. I hope someone can give you space to regroup and refresh your energy to deal with your spirited dd!
post #18 of 285
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heartmama View Post
Learning how to avoid power struggles is a great skill. But, it feels different than avoiding your child because they are overwhelming and you feel burned out. It sounds like you are doing the latter and you need a break and a new plan. I hope someone can give you space to regroup and refresh your energy to deal with your spirited dd!
Oh, absolutely. I am not avoiding power struggles because that is not possible with DD. She loves power struggles. It is her raison d'etre. She goes to pre-school five days a week, plus time at the park with friends (during which I do not monitor her except for safety) five days a week... you'd think that would help, but it's more or less the same (though she loves it).

I have been on the net avoiding reality because of this, LOL. Yes, I should probably do more positive stuff, but when I tried to involve her in what I'm doing, she still acts out making it impossible or just plain refuses.

Sigh.

We'll just plow through. I thought I had requirements down to basic human respect, nutrition and sleep but we are cutting down on those. Though she just invents more reasons to fight. Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhh. RIght now she's watching some really weird cartoon with talking animals. I should get something done.
post #19 of 285
DS is only 2 years old but I do not fight with him over food nor sleep. It makes us both miserable. He sometimes stays up late (10 pm), but is happily playing. He's fine with me laying down and finds me when wants to sleep. And is asleep within 10 mins (this includes teeth brushing, potty and nursing). Naps are the same, but with the difference that he's not allowed to nap after 3pm. Then we just do fun things together to keep him awake until 7pm. More days than not he asks me at a reasonable time (8pm) to go to bed. Eating is the same. I offer him healthy options, if he eats it I am happy, if not, I assume he won't starve himself.

He has tantrums, and the last days he's been going through a growth spurt, which multiplies the tantrums. But I expect him to be his normal self again in a few days. Today was better already. I just go with his flow. There are boundaries (no hitting and kicking) of course and tooth brushing is one of the few things I make him do. But there are ways to make it fun. (His stuffed animals brush his teeth when he's very uncooperative, I have brushed his teeth with him laying down, upside down, etc)

Good luck!
post #20 of 285
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
teeth."

Incentives, punishments, guidance, nothing works.

Maybe she will start to be kind and friendly if I am totally, entirely indifferent? Or it may never happen no matter what. What do you think?

I'm so tired of arguing.
Incentives, punishments, guidance and arguing are attempts to get a child to eventually agree.

I'm sure I will come across as old-fashioned and harsh. However, this is how I handled this with our DS1 and I have no regrets about it at all. He tends to be extremely argumentative and want to control situations. When he was three I read a book called "Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child". It was a lifesaver for me -totally turned things around at our house, ending up with all of us happier. Anyway.....

I chose only a few things that were really important to me...so overall, he had a lot of freedom and control. But, on those few things.....I never argued. Never. I also never let him successfully oppose me. There was never any discussion or argument, because I would not discuss it. I told him once what was happening, and then I carried it out, regardless of what he did. I realized that I do not need a 3 yo to agree with me. I realized I would wear myself down to a quivering nub if I tried to get him to agree with everything I wanted him to go along with, and that he fully grasped the dynamic and it was a game to him. I decided not to play anymore.

When he had choices or complete freedom about something, I made sure he knew that so he could fully enjoy it. And I really was and still am very flexible in most areas. But when it was one of the few things I was taking charge of, I made sure he knew that, and there was no negotiating it. This decision was sanity-saving for me. He also got with the program pretty quickly and the struggles evaporated. Really. After a couple of weeks he figured out the game was over and wasn't coming back.

I have an acquaintance who went the route of leaving it all up to her 3 yo. She would make suggestions but felt that she should never "force" anything. Watching this unfold was alarming. This child would stay up until 1 am...kept her waiting in a parking lot in the heat for over an hour while she waited for him to decide to get into his carseat...and beat holes in their walls with a hammer. I know many here are into consensual/non-coercive idea, but having witnessed this, I know without a doubt it is not for me and never will be. Deep down I really do believe that parents are in charge, whether we choose to claim that or not. What works for me is to give the kids a lot of freedom in all areas that I can, but in some key things I am in charge and they know it.

I came back to add.....I realize what I did may sound harsh/controlling/etc. However looking at the before and after of the situation....before I was frazzled, resentful, exhausted, and almost constantly angry. It's tough to feel close to your child in an AP way when that is your state of mind. After establishing control of the few important things, letting the rest go, and extinguishing the struggles, we enjoyed each others' company and our days together. We had fun. I enjoyed my 3 yo and my baby and most of the time he was (and still is) sweet and affectionate. From any perspective it was all way better. I think from an AP perspective especially it was also much better because we had a positive attitude towards each other and were much closer. We are still very close and affectionate. I think all kids need limits, and some kids need them to be very firmly set. IMO that's what our DS1 needed, and we were all happier after I did that.

One more thing I want to add - I never told him how he should feel. I made it a point that he was welcome to feel however he felt about something. I was not "mad" at him for not wanting to do something or being upset about it...in fact I dispensed with getting mad or being reactive at all. I just took care of business without any emotion about it. For example, with his teeth - he had early childhood caries and weak enamel and had three fillings and a crown at age 2, so to me the care of his teeth at age 3 was absolutely not optional. He could be in charge of his feelings and be mad or whatver, and I was in charge of his teeth. He was welcome to his own feelings about it though. So there was never any emotion-laden struggle over how he "should" be okay with it.
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