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Paradigm shift (rather lengthy)

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Okay, here goes. I SO don't get how to use GD. I mean, I get it in theory (I think), but in practice? I'm totally blowing it. Or maybe it's just the transition from where I am to where I want to be that I don't understand how to maneuver. I was raised with corporal punishment, time outs with our noses on the wall and our hands up high so that our arms got tired, cold showers, and a mismatch in love languages. I knew my parents loved me but didn't always feel very loved. There was very little decision-making allowed by the kids. Parents said jump, we said how high. We were good little robots too. Until the teenage years hit. Then things didn't go so well for any of us. Bunch of delinquents.


I see families around me who use GD, but to be honest, I don't much like to be around their kids. Maybe they aren't really using GD and are a bit more in the permissive category. Maybe it's a temperament issue. Whatever the case, I rarely come across kids I like whose parents use GD. Maybe it's just my area or something, but it creates a hang up for me because, while I feel like GD is the "right" way to discipline (if there is such a thing), I don't want my kids to by tyrannical, tantrum-y and disobedient, which is usually what I see. 


I started off not wanting to be my parents, but wanting to have well behaved, obedient, confident, and happy children. I offered lots of choices, tried to be consistent (which gets much harder with more kids), used inductive reasoning, and lots of hugs and high fives, but also time-outs, and, I'll admit it, the occasional spanking (Please don't throw stones yet. See the title of the post). Initially, that was only for dangerous behaviors, my reasoning being that I'd rather they experienced a swat that a severe burn or being hit by a car. Then they got older and I got stumped.


So that's the background. Where are we now? Well, I have a 7 yo who is typically well behaved but she struggles a lot with self esteem. I think I put too much on her and didn't make enough allowances for mistakes. There is also a heavy temperament component; she's rather pessimistic by nature and thinks the world is against her. This victimhood thing creates a lot of trouble when it comes to division of labor or equality about anything (who gets the favorite bowl or the biggest cookie). I also have a 6 yo who has some sensory issues. This is where it gets really sticky. As much sensory input as we can get into that little body of his, there are times where he will be completely non-compliant and ornery and will pester everyone in the house. Or he will go on a destruction rampage and ruin all sorts of things for reasons I can't seem to figure out. We have tried everything to coach and teach respect, self-control, and responsibility, but we still struggle. When he gets in those modes, it seems like he's literally begging for a spanking. When nothing else works, that will. He will push and push and push, and no matter what we try, only a spanking will curb the behavior and help him get control of himself. I hate it. I feel like he's being unfair to us when we are trying desperately to avoid spanking him but he refuses to modify his behavior until we do.


Neither of them are very good at pulling their weight around the house. They fuss about chore time consistently and the more I try to use GD, the more they think they can just sit around and continue to MAKE messes rather than clean them. It's not until my DH gets home and threatens them (which I hate because I've just spent the last three hours trying NOT to threaten but to persuade, be patient, reason, and guide them) and suddenly, before you know it, the chores are done! I hate this dynamic. It makes me think I should just throw in the towel with this gentle parenting thing and just be a dictator. Apparently it gets results (though I know, not the long term kind I'm looking for. No internalization of morals is happening that way). The harder I try to do what I think is the right thing, the more they walk on me. And frequently, I try for a good two hours to keep it together and use gentle methods, but in the end, I'm just so frustrated that I start yelling and threatening. I hate losing control like that and I know that I'm perpetuating the cycle, but I quite honestly don't know how to get out of this rut! How do I be the kind of parent I want to be when I've already established myself as a totally different type of parent? How do I internalize this new set of parenting values to the point that the answers are just there for me (I spend a lot of time mulling over what to do and I often come up with squat) and I instinctively know what to do? Currently, the instinct is to get mad and yell and treat them punitively, which I hate. I really want to change and to break both the cycle we are in and the one I inherited from my parents. I don't really know how to transform myself but maintain some semblance of cohesion in the family in the meantime. How do we get things accomplished with GD when they are used to more heavy handed parenting and really only respond to that? How do we get chores done, homework done, rules followed (I try to have very few rules, mostly about being helpful/responsible and respectful), and a general feeling of peace in our home? Currently, there's lots of disrespect between siblings (I also have a 2 yo and a 10 month old, but, while they take up much of my time, they aren't really causing any discipline difficulties; we've pretty much only used GD with the 2 yo and except for a whining phase of late, she's mostly wonderful), disrespect to parents, bad attitudes, and general non-compliance with things that just plain need doing (I refuse to be a maid and I also refuse to live in a pig pen, which is to say I'd like to be able to walk around my house without having to watch my every step for fear of twisting an ankle, but it certainly doesn't have to be spotless).


Someone please teach me how to transition from the heavy-handed parent I'm trying not to be to a more kind and loving parent without becoming a doormat living in a pig sty with piglets who rule the roost! (too many barnyard analogies?)


You may commence throwing stones for the spanking thing now....

post #2 of 18

Have you read How to Talk so your Kids will Listen and How to Listen so your Kids will Talk?  My kids aren't as old as your oldest, but I have found the techniques and ideas set forth in that book to be fairly effective.



post #3 of 18

I understand where you are coming from. Your first paragraph describes my family of origin.


You said this: "The harder I try to do what I think is the right thing, the more they walk on me."


I think that your title of this post says it all. You are in need of a paradigm shift. Your language throughout still indicates sort of a sense of opposition and struggle, like you're on one side and the kids are on another, and also that you want them to comply and obey and do this or that, and how are you going to get them to do it.


I am not criticizing; I was there too. The only way it can change, I think, is a total shift of how you see them. That is how it worked for me. Not as sort of on opposing teams, but as fellow travelers through this life of yours. The whole "power-over" dynamic has to be questioned. It is SO HARD TO DO. But once you see them in this new way, things will begin to change. They won't always "obey" and that will be OK because you aren't always trying to force them to. You'll be seeing them as separate people and seeing things through their eyes (i.e. how life, and parents, look to them at that age and how often confounding and nonsensical we seem! haha) Not to imply that you abdicate being the final authority in matters where it is necessary, but that you just make less demands because you learn to see that they don't all matter in the long run. It is a total shift of perspective.


Maybe just in the beginning (since this is a HUGE topic and time for me is short....bedtime soon), try just noticing the number of times during the course of the day that you TELL your children to do something. When I am out in public and see other parents they often seem to be micromanaging every move the kids make. Ask yourself if each command was truly necessary (OR, as it was with me, you felt that it was your job as parent to give the command). Because believe me, if they're on the receiving end of a lot of commands all day long they are going to resist, and not all battles are worth having. Examples of things you can ease up on: say they choose clothes that don't match. so what; they look a little funny and may get comments from other kids; it will self-correct. Say they choose to go out in the rain without a raincoat. so what; they get wet; they learn. Say they don't eat all their dinner; so what; they might be full and it's good to let them listen to their bodies (not other people).


The one with the sensory issues who gets ornery....why is he ornery...has he been eating foods that set him off, or has he been on the receiving end of one too many commands that makes no sense to him.....maybe it's that he doesn't feel respected or trusted. In my family of origin (like yours) it was preposterous to think about terms like respecting and trusting the kids, but IT IS KEY. If they don't pick up after themselves the minute you tell them to; so what, maybe instead of you telling them to, you guys can decide a better time for them to clean up the toys or let them help you work on a different system to keep the place moderately picked up but not obsessively perfect.....say they have things that are non-negotiables, well you make certain fun things contingent upon those things getting done. i.e. "no books at bedtime until the teeth are brushed" or "we can go to the park after the homework is done" .


I am just randomly throwing out ideas here. But the basis of all of it is to start looking at them differently. This place where we come from a place of authoritarian upbringing and we try and raise OUR children differently is HUGELY hard. Search on my name and see my many posts in the Mothering forums. What you are doing, and what I am also doing, is trying to cross a bridge that hasn't been built yet.....each plank of the bridge only appears under our feet as we take each step. It's downright baffling and terrifying. Coming from an authoritarian background we are constantly judging ourselves against the only parenting model we have, but it's one we don't want to use. It is at times like this that I rely so strongly on other moms here and other moms in real life who I can see have the qualities that I seek in parenting. I watch and learn.


My path to change started with reading Alfie Kohn, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Haim Ginott, John Holt, Faber and Maslish (sp?), and the Parent Effectiveness Training book whose author escapes me at the moment. Also Barbara Coloroso. At first some of them may make you want to rip your hair out, it may all sound so preposterous, but you put it all together and start trying what they say, and the next thing you know you're having little successes left and right and you're turning the whole relationship around!


There's a web site called Hand in Hand Parenting that I also found helpful; search the archive of articles.


Best of luck! I've already typed too much. It is late and I am sleepy. Hope I made sense.

post #4 of 18

What are you envisioning GD to be?  When you say you spend hours on trying to get kids to clean up with persuading/reasoning, are you involving them in the decision making process of cleaning?  Do they have a plan on what they are to do/what you expect?


As for your son, when you say he is being unfair to you and pushing you to spank him, I think you may need to take a shift in your thinking.  You are in charge of your reactions, not him.  Perhaps there is something else going on besides his sensory issue-is the behavior you describe daily?  less frequent?  If he is in school, how is the behavior there?


Switching the way we view discipline and children when you are raised a different way is so hard.  Since you are working on changing, don't expect changes from the kids overnight.  Read GD books/ websites to keep you focused.  If you are on facebook there are many GD groups on there as well-Purejoy Parenting, Attachment Parenting International, Positive Parenting are ones off the top of my head.

post #5 of 18

I think you are expecting way too much out of your children as far as compliance goes.  I was raised in a household with a lot of hitting, a mother who expected 100% compliance always, and not being allowed choices and we still always grumbled about chores, had to be coerced heavily into even cleaning our rooms, whined, ignored, etc...  These are really normal kid things and most parents struggle to find a way to motivate their kids to do what they don't want to do.  There are a lot of things that motivate kids though besides hitting them.  Using a when/then statement to let them know what they can do after the toys are clean, and only after the toys are cleaned up, may work.  Having them pay you for cleaning up the toys may make them think about whether they really want to leave the mess out.  There are a couple books that take a sterner view on parenting than I am comfortable with but that still can be used in a gd way.  Bagging toys and taking a privelege away can also be effective one time measures for some children. 


There are some books that lean more towards the type of discipline style you seem to have in mind while also being ones you can use with gd.  You might like the Love and Logic books and your school district may have a series of classes where they teach parents how to put it into practice.  123 Magic can also be a good book to use when you are struggling with finding a balance between being gentle and also being consistent.  I enjoyed The Discipline book by Dr. Sears when I first discovered gd because I was still leaning towards his type of discipline style then. 


For a good guideline of developmentally appropriate expectations I suggest the book series that is based on kids ages.  The first is Your One Year Old and it goes up from there (Your Two Year Old, Your Three Year Old, etc...).  These can give you an idea of how realistic your expectations are right now. 

post #6 of 18

So, in the past, you would say, "don't x" or "please y" and when they did or did not, respectively, you'd spank?  Right?


And now you ask, but don't make them.  Their dad comes home, and makes them, and you don't like that, but the kids do it and all is happy again?


I think they need to know what happens.  Nothing happens when mom asks, something happens when dad does.  Especially since you have 2 older kids, I don't think you can just switch cold turkey and not say anything about it.  Maybe you should have a heart to heart with your kids about your beliefs, and what you need from them.


And, they are going to need some boundaries, they are going to need to know how things work.  I get really annoyed when I try to spend time with people who are wishy-washy about their preferences.  How can I please them if i don't know what they want?  Our kids deserve to know what we like and don't like, too.

post #7 of 18

I hate to be a broken record, posting here about this book, but please check out The Explosive Child for your middle son.  DD had these tantrums from 3-5 when she would just scream in my face and hit and be destructive.  It was almost impossible to get her to stop and I did lose it and smacked her-and she was so shocked that she stopped, but obviously, that wasn't an answer or a way of dealing with it that I was willing to accept.  And I hated being driven to that point.


The Explosive Child will freak you out, because among other things, it will say to simply open your arms and give him a hug when he starts to tantrum.  That being affectionate and loving when they are tantrumming isn't going to guarantee them a cell in juvie down the road.  The book is very reassuring on that point!   My mom was also very strict--and she came to visit and "coached" me on how she handled tantrums, (timeouts and basically just walking away and ignoring the meltdown) and with DD that ended up with her screaming and pee-ing on the floor in the my living room. WHEN SHE WAS FIVE. The basically says that some kids will learn how to handle themselves with time outs and other kids really need to be led through their emotions, and figure out how to handle them and ignoring them or sending them into time out just doesn't help.  I highly recommend.


Now we're over the tantrums and life is much smoother, but for me, I have some rules for me and how I want to parent.  I don't use abusive language.  I will tell my DD I don't like her actions, but I won't tell her that I don't like her, or that she is bad, a brat, etc.  I don't hit. (It's happened, but it's not how I choose to parent, and I acknowledge it as a mistake) I try REALLY hard not to scream.  I do try to engage DD, now that she is six, in solutions.  If she's not cleaning up, I ask her why.  I tell her that I need help and ask her to solve my problem.  Her attitude is good, so I rarely get a blunt no, usually she's "doing xyz" so I get a pinkie promise that clean up will happen when that is done.  She is really good when I engage her in problem solving. 

post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your comments thus far. Your insights have been a useful tool for me these past few days as I've contemplated where I want to be as a parent and how I can find peace in my parenting methods.


I think I made myself out to be more of a hard a** than I actually am. I never have spanked as an immediate consequence for anything except dangerous things when they are around 2yo (touching the fireplace, running in the road). Typical interactions that end up needing discipline often look like this: "Okay, guys, chore time in 5 minutes!" "Awww! I hate chores!" "I know; I do too, but we all have to work together in a family so we can have a nice house to play in and a peaceful feeling" (I know, sounds SO hokey, but I really do say that.) Five minutes later, "Okay, guys, time to do our chores. C'mon." "Uuuugh! I HATE chores!" "I know. Let's go get 'em over with." I start working, they sit around or wander around or work at a snail's pace. I often offer them to trade me chores if they don't like theirs. If I ask what chore they want to do, they will always choose "none" so I assign. "Guys! C'mon, get to work please!" Moping. "Right NOW, please!" Nothing. "Wow, I really hope you guys get your chores done today so you don't lose your privileges!" This is an area that could use some work. I have yet to find a privilege that I can take away that they actually care about. We don't watch much TV (one movie a week if their lucky; I've contemplated letting them watch more just so I can have more leverage for chore time), they don't care about losing toys/paying me with toys, they don't really even care about not getting dinner, which I know many would disagree with as a consequence, but sometimes saying "I will give some of this dinner that I've worked hard on to others who have worked hard" will yield some results. Not lately though. I've tried letting them earn things for working even though the idea that they should have a prize or treat for pulling their weight kind of bothers me, but depending on the prize, they typically seem to find the prize not worth the effort. I've worked on making a schedule and sticking to it and things do work better when they know what to expect after school, but sometimes life just gets too busy and then the routine falls apart and we're back at square one. My son likes to pull an "I'm too tired" card. He has naptime every day, but doesn't always choose to sleep. And even on days when he does nap, he'll still say he's too tired to try to get out of working. I don't really think that he should be able to avoid contributing to the family work because his choices make him too tired. How do you moms handle that sort of thing? Anyway, I often get to a point where I talk to them about how we all need to help in our family and how they made a LOT of mess (this is another factor in the equation--they are HUGE mess makers!!! Do you find it better to have clean up time or have your kids clean as they go? What tactics do you use here?) and it's not kind to others in the family or to themselves for us to live in the mess. They still just mope around and don't do anything. Over the course of the afternoon, my blood pressure is going up and up and up as I try to keep it together and think of ways to gently but firmly establish that cleaning is non-negotiable (is that wrong? I mean, I know GD advocates maximizing choice, but they still have to clean, right?), but eventually I almost always lose it (it's SO HARD to keep it together for so long when they are consistently balking at doing chores that should only take 10 minutes! Not a good excuse, I know, but it's nonetheless the case--I lose it). Then I yell. I might get a two minute stint of working out of that. Then the moping and dawdling recommences. I yell more. They work a little. Occasionally if they do this moping thing for long enough and then add some fighting or back-talking ("Well, YOU should have to clean this mess because the baby made it" or what have you) I will spank or not-so-gently haul them off to their room because I'm just too angry to deal with them right then. But usually I just yell more. I don't think my daughter (the 7.5 yo) gets spanked by me more than twice a year. 


I've had several conversations with them about how I want to be a more gentle and loving parent (oh yeah, I've also started adding to our chore-time charade lots of hugs and I love you's and commiserating about how much it sucks to do chores) and I've asked them why they obey Daddy and not me. Today the answer was "Because we know the consequence. He spanks us and then I feel scared so I do my chores" That was the almost 6 year old. Insightful and useful information. But also sad. I don't want him to be afraid of his parents! And apparently I need to pick a consequence and stick to it so they know what to expect? I talked with them about how much easier it would be to do the chores when Mommy asks nicely than to put it off and feel yucky  and get lectured and have Mommy get mad and then Daddy come spank. Wouldn't it be easier to just do the chores before any bad stuff happened? Apparently not for my son, but my daughter seemed to respond. She took about 5 minutes to get started, but she got to her chores. My son, on the other hand, laid on the floor and sucked his thumb. I'll admit that eventually I lost my temper with him and yelled at him. He ended up going upstairs under the auspices of putting something away and he took a nap. And now I feel like a horrible mother on Mother's Day, spiteful towards my husband for having errands to run and leaving me here to get them to clean up in preparation for company coming over when he knows that's about my least favorite thing in the world. By day's end I usually feel exhausted, angry, flummoxed, bitter, and like I failed. Even if I did a good job of not yelling or anything, I'm still wiped out from the energy it took and bitter at the kids for being so difficult (I know, not a reasonable emotion because they are just kids and I'm the adult and obviously I'm not connecting with them in a way that works for them so it's not really their fault, but I still feel angry with them. Just being honest).


So that's the chore scenario. Property damage and abuse is the another problem we have that I lose my temper over. My son has issues with ruining things and I can't seem to figure out how to teach him not to. Despite offering him appropriate outlets (boxes, a real workbench of his own, a stump to beat on, scrap wood, etc.) for this impulse, he almost daily ruins something. Sometimes it's something little, but sometimes not (I wasn't so happy when he took a pocket knife--all of which are now kept in a locked safe--to the headrest of my car, but you see the magnitude of what we're dealing with. I did manage to keep my cool over this offense, amazingly, but caught him with another pocket knife the next day, before we'd bought the safe). They both have an issue with climbing on furniture even though I let them jump on their beds and my son has monkey bars and a swing in his bedroom for cryin out loud.


Really, the only other "rules" we have besides chores and respect for people (which they are mostly good about) and property are about food. Since they have such a hard time cleaning up after themselves, I've limited when and where (kitchen or outside) they can eat. They have to ask if they want food. If they didn't leave such a mess, I'd have fruit and healthy snacks like that available to them anytime. But they disobey this rule constantly, sneaking snacks to their rooms and such.


Other than that, I don't find myself instructing them to do or not do much. I mean, there's the usual be nice to your brother/sister kind of squabbles that I try to coach them through, but if their clothes don't match, I tell them so but that they are welcome to wear them if they want. Rain gear is optional. Mud whomping is encouraged. Hammer and nails? Go for it (just not near the car). Herping (hunting for reptiles and amphibians) and bug collecting? As long as you show me what you catch! I feel like I really give them a very loose leash and I guess that's part of why I get so frustrated when the few things I do try to enforce, they rebel against. I will try to take a good inventory of how much micromanaging I do and I'm sure I'll find areas I could loosen up on. But I guess I'm just so tired of trying everything and not getting a positive outcome that I've given up trying to be consistent or methodical and I'm just flying by the seat of my pants. 


I will look into the books/authors you have recommended and I appreciate your input. One day, when they are grown and gone, I might have this parenting thing figured out. Thanks, all!

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 

I just read madskye's post (after I posted my response) and that's another good one I'd like some input on. My kids, particularly my son, are terrible about being engaged in their problem solving. I'm met with lots of I don't knows and none (when asked if they want option A, B or C). Thoughts? I've wondered if this has perhaps stemmed in my daughter from her responses being corrected or being told they were incorrect or something in the past rather than acknowledged, which I do better now. 

post #10 of 18

Oh, OP, classic GD is really hard when you have more than 1-2 kids. Someone mentioned the Hand In Hand parenting site. Yeah. Great idea but I had to BEG for someone there to help me figure out how to use the techniques they advocate when there's more than one child involved. It's like there's this unwritten (well, I've actually seen it written in one book) rule to AP: thou shalt not space thy children any less than 3 years apart. Um, yeah. Whatever. So, there we are. 


This isn't going to help you get your kidlets to do their chores (I'll come back to that in a minute as I have a thought or two from my own childhood), but I've found it most helpful to focus on the relationship. I'm not always proud of my parenting (yelling? Yep. Threatening? Yep. Spanking? Done that.) but I do think knowing the theory helps and keeps my bad parenting moments somewhat under control. I don't make excuses to them when I've screwed up, but I do apologize and try to "work the relationship" (see Gordon Neufeld's Hold On To Your Kids) after particularly bad moments. 


I also agree with PP that you don't have to be sunshine and roses all the time. Things tick you off for legitimate reasons and kids need to know that as part of setting boundaries. Being honest in your reactions without going overboard is a very valuable skill for kids to learn. 


But it sounds like you know all this already and the chore thing is driving you crazy. I hated chores as a kid because it seemed like endless hours of drudgery all by myself. "Sweep out the garage" was the worst thing I could hear. All alone in the garage for what seemed like a long, long time. Now I try to make chores a family affair where no one has to do it alone (unless they want to). Working together whenever possible seems to make it more palatable for everyone (granted, my kids are much smaller than yours). 

post #11 of 18
Originally Posted by mosomers View Post

I just read madskye's post (after I posted my response) and that's another good one I'd like some input on. My kids, particularly my son, are terrible about being engaged in their problem solving. I'm met with lots of I don't knows and none (when asked if they want option A, B or C). Thoughts? I've wondered if this has perhaps stemmed in my daughter from her responses being corrected or being told they were incorrect or something in the past rather than acknowledged, which I do better now. 


Read the book, but what I took from it was to monitor my DD a little more carefully and she started to get upset, casually ask "Hey, what's going on?  You seem frustrated." Hang in there and probe for them to give you their own answer, and their own solution.  If they start to get more upset, open up your arms and give them a hug.  This has worked wonders with my DD. And honestly, I did it consciously for about a week, and then after that either she made the emotional leap or it became more unconscious on my part, but it doesn't feel like something I have to force myself to do.


Chores, I don't know much about--we're not very successful with that here and DD is 6.  One thing that is better for her is having one or two defined tasks (she always puts out the silverware and napkins, and always helps bus the table when we are done) then getting help with something on the fly, like cleaning up a room or feeding the dog when I ask.  What kind of chores do you want them to do?



post #12 of 18

Here is one of the people whose writings helped upend my parenting ideas:




It'll get you thinking, for sure.

post #13 of 18

We don't have chores. My 5 year old likes helping around the house. She does have some things she likes doing more than others, but she'll usually help with most things. I don't pretend cleaning up is fun like the lady in the blog, but I don't grump about it either.


Another thing is obedience isn't one of our goals as parents. We'd like our DD to respect others, be empathetic, be able to make good choices, and control her impulses so she can choose her behavior instead of just react. We've taught respect and manners by modeling the behavior we want our DD to have. You said you've tried everything to teach respect, self-control, and responsibility, but are you and your DH using the behaviors you want your DC to use? How can your children tell which of your own behaviors you want them to emulate? We try to always model the behaviors we want our DD to use, so if I lose control and shout I apologize because I don't want her to think shouting at people is a good choice. If she's upset or being rude I talk quieter and quieter and repeat myself until she listens. It's weird but kids pay more attention to a whisper than a loud voice.


Your 6 year old with sensory issues probably needs to construct and then destruct something. Building toys, painting, sand and modeling stuff (like Playdoh) can help. My DD does a lot of painting and water play. Even wiping the table after putting up her paint is a tactile sensory activity. One of the ways we encourage my DD to clean up after herself is letting her have free access to things as long as she picks up. Also sometimes 6 year olds are just non compliant or seem to need to be abit wild. Have you tried having him go outside, paint or water some plants when he's getting out of control. Punishing will not help him learn to gain control over himself or help him learn to calm himself down. The fear and or pain is just distracting.


I can see how it would be confusing for your older children. They are used to ignoring requests until there's a threat. They are used to there being different types of respect and rules for the adults and children. It's great you're trying to change your family's discipline style. The words paradigm shift are appropriate because you need to see your DC as regular real people, deserving the same amount of respect and courtesy you would give a co-worker or any other person. You need to change the relationship that you have with your children from adversarial to co-operative. It's not you and your DH vs the kids but all of you together as a family trying to enjoy life.

post #14 of 18

Well-put, ssh!

post #15 of 18



A lot of kids are well behaved despite their parents - easy wired. Many change dramatically in the teen years because the methods of control don't work and kids whose parents did not talk with them when they were small , won't talk with their parents when they are big.


Collaborative problem solving is tough , a procees  - not a technique 


there are good sites  - http://livesinthebalance.org   and http://thinkkids.org  check the videos , also the forum of think kids http://thinkkids.org/mythinkkids


When a kid says I don't know - there can be many reasons . We then need to start the process of drilling down for the child's concerns


focusing on talking with your kids , perspective taking, identifying concerns - getting them to speak and we listen - general chatting is the easiest 


I hope this helps 




post #16 of 18

My ds is the king of "I don't know."  He is painfully shy, and "hides" his true self in a lot of ways.  But, when things are on his terms, he can be remarkably bold.  I have found that, for him, it is better to just say, "I think you feel x way, and we should do y about it," goes the best.  I will later hear him telling his older sister, "I needed to x, and so we y."  But, it will turn into a big power struggle if I try to get him to fill in the blank.  Later, in a non stress time, I can talk with him about how "sometimes little boys"  and "it's okay to be scared" and it' "usually turns out to be a lot of fun" or "when Mama is SO mad (or tired)...", do you feel ______when YOU are mad (or tired)?  and he is a lot more receptive.


For general behavior, with him especially, we talk a lot about needing to take care of your body.  He gets over tired, or hungry or something, and then can be a basketcase.  I've worked a lot with him to recognize that about himself, and to take steps to fix the problem.  And, to encourage him to wait to act until his body has been cared for properly.  Like...he wants to fight with his sister, but really he needs a nap.  Instead of getting after him for fighting, I separate them, and have him lay on his bed and look at a book, or maybe even read to him.  By the time his body has had a break, he isn't in a fighting mood anymore.  He can go back in the other room and just ask nicely for his toy back, or whatever.

post #17 of 18

I don't know if this applies to you but your mentioning that you ask your kids for input on discipline and what not reminded me of my own mom doing that when I was a kid (and through my teen years as well.)  I almost always said 'I don't know' when asked why I did/didn't do something and I usually didn't help with discipline ideas.


The reasoning was because she'd ask me so aggressively... she never seemed to actually want to hear my reasoning, and when I actually gave my reasoning, she'd often have something negative to say about it.  even if she didn't say 'why would you DO that, are you STUPID?!'  her tone of voice would imply those words.  If I gave my reasoning rather than just backing down and saying 'I don't know,' she'd often be like 'you know better than that' blah blah blah anger and more implied idiocy.  Asking for input usually meant that she just wanted to shoot down my ideas ("really, you think that is all you deserve for xyz?")  there was no true working WITH me and trying to come to actual solutions.  she was just aggressive and I had no desire to participate.. I just wanted to sit quietly and wait for her to dish something out so I could go away.  It was easier to just let her be angry and give me a punishment than it was to try to speak for myself.  I'd go away feeling unloved, misunderstood, and with a feeling of being treated unfairly.


I'm not saying this is what you do of course, but if you are being more aggressive than you realize, it might help you realize it.  Kids know when you actually want to hear them out and help them vs just wanting to shove their faces in what they did wrong.  And honestly?  Sometimes kids really DON'T know why they did something and I think it is important to accept that answer once in awhile too (and maybe you do.. I don't want to imply that I have assumptions as I've never seen you interact with your kids.)  I know that when I was in your kids age range though, I often did mindless things that I realized were wrong after the fact but too late to avoid.


I don't have much advice for anything specific, but I thought I'd share my perspective on my mom asking me about why I did something and for input on how to deal with things.  We had chore battles as well and nothing ever worked effectively for me (my kid is two.. we'll see how much better I do with her as she ages... ) and my main problem was that she was too aggressive and I never felt she wanted to listen anyway and that she wouldn't accept what I said with any belief.

post #18 of 18

Reading your post, OP, I feel excited for you that you're yearning so clearly for a gentler, more peaceful way to relate to your kids.  I think that's great!  It's an interesting journey, for sure.  I think others have covered this part more eloquently than I could.


I wanted to speak to the chores issue.  I lean more toward the "no mandatory chores" end of the spectrum partly because I recognize that my desire to have a clean house is mine, not my kids.  The kids could not care less whether there are toys, books and dress-up clothes all over the floor.  Hey, it makes it easier to see what they've got!   I'm the one who has a need for order and cleanliness. But, I will say that when I want the kids to help me clean up, I do give them the option to do so in the time frame that works for them.  "Not now?  Okay, when would work for you?"  I also find it very useful to give them tiny (and I mean TINY) goals to accomplish.  Rather than asking them to "clean up," I get very specific and ask them to pick up any books they see and put them on the bookshelf. Then, "Where do the Legos go?  Pick up any Legos you see and put the in the bag."  If even that seems like too much on any given day, I could even go so far as to point to a specific item and tell them where to put it.  Or, "Who can pick up all the green things?  The blue?  I'll pick up the yellow things!"  The general "clean up!" request can be daunting to a child faced with a truly disorganized room.


I also second the idea that others have put forward, that if we're grumbling about how horrible it is to have to clean up, nobody in his right mind would voluntarily join in!  I don't get all Mary Poppins on them, but I try to be neutral about it.  It's not fun, it's not terrible, it just is.   

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