Originally Posted by neonalee
Nope, doesn't get enough sleep. Seems like no matter what we do we can't seem to fix this one, though she says it's better than at her mom's house. We even bought a king sized bed so she could come in our room when she's scared or lonely, which she does a minimum of once a week. I can't tell if this is better or not since DS is up frequently with the teething right now. No TV/computer/iPod in her room. Partially I think she needs more activity to be worn out to sleep.
We did try rewards, didn't work. Maybe time to try again. It does seem more related to needing to learn skills than any learning disability honestly. She has no trouble actually doing the work, she just doesn't want to and I guess she doesn't know how to deal with the emotions of HAVING to do something she doesn't want to.
Several more thoughts:
1. have you tried melatonin for the sleep? It works wonders with my dd. Without it, she's up until 11 or later. With it, we can get her to sleep by 9:30. (She really needs to be asleep by 9, but we can handle 9:30).
2. Is there any way to increase the amount of exercise she gets? Exercise does do wonders for mood. Could you take a walk together before her dad gets home? Sign her up for a swim class? or some other class where she gets movement?
This is absolutely true: "She 'needed' to fight. That suggests she has a lot of negative emotions she needs to get out, but doesn't know how to do it." It's one of the things we were working on with the counselor. She's also accustomed to negative attention and not positive so when things are too good she seeks out the negative to go back to her comfort zone. Man, maybe DP and I need the counseling more than she does so we can remember all this!
Are you a therapist? Cuz you've reminded me of all the things we are supposed to be remembering to help her heal.
I'll look into Playful Parenting as well. As for skill building/rewards ... any thoughts about structuring this around homework?
Am I a therapist? No, I'm a slightly obsessive mother with children with slightly quirky personalities. I'm also an academic so I've read about a gazillion parenting books. I've also got a fairly strong personality myself, so I understand the "need" to fight sometimes. I'm often much better at giving advice to others than taking it myself. And then there's the several hours a month I spend 'counseling' my college students without a license. My colleagues and I joke about practicing without a license. We get a lot of students who come to us overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, etc. etc. We're the first stop before the student health center for many of them, and sometimes all they need are a few new strategies.
Two thoughts on dealing with the emotions of having to do something you don't want to do: Model for her your thoughts. Yes, it will feel weird (OK, it probably IS weird), but it might (emphasis on might) help her see that other people have to do this too.
My other thought is the kitchen timer. It's my favorite parenting 'tool'. How long do you think it would take her to do her homework if she sat down and did it? 15 minutes? 30 minutes? Our son is usually done in 10-15 minutes with his 5th grade homework, but I have no idea how much time middle school homework is going to take. If it's taking her longer than 30 minutes, then I'd do two 30 minute sessions. So, she comes home, has a snack (with protein and some fat!), you set the timer for 30 minutes. If she works steadily for 30 minutes, and gets her stuff done for the day, and can have her TV/computer time. If not, she gets to take a 15 minute break (without electronics), come back and work some more until it's done.
We use the timer for chores, reminding us of when it's time to go/transition, etc. Sometimes the kids use the timer with us to remind us to do what we promised. That keeps the "I'll be there in a few minutes" to a concrete time. So, the timer applies to everyone in the house. We do 15 minutes of chores. Until recently, my kids got to stop when the 15 minutes were up. Now I'll ask that they finish the chore. So, ds was vacuuming the living room and the steps last night. It rang while he was on step one, and I asked him to do the other 4. Dd was cleaning the bathroom sink. She wasn't close to being done when the timer went, and I asked her to finish. I'm not sure how it took her 25 minutes to clean a single bathroom sink, but it did (and that's with me helping at the end!)
What steps does she need to do for her homework?
1. Clear off a workspace.
2. Get her backpack and take her planner out.
3. Look up her first assignment and read the directions.
4. Get out the materials she needs for her first assignment.
5. Complete first assignment.
6. Put assignment in a folder to return to school.
Repeat steps 3-6 for each one. Maybe you can make a checklist for her to make sure she goes through the steps.
FWIW, my daughter is also completely unmotivated by rewards. What does help her though is one-one time with me. I'm her rock. When she gets enough 'momma time', she's more cheerful, able to handle ups and downs and complains less. The other thing that helps is sleep. When she's overtired, the world comes to an end.
The negative attention thing: What if you say that you'll stay in the room with her while she works on her homework (my kids often like company), but when she whines, you'll leave the room. You can give her one chance before you go: ask her to take several deep breaths and say it in a normal voice. (This will also teach her some self-calming techniques.) This sometimes works with my 7 year old (who's also difficult).
Counseling: It sounds like you got some really good ideas from the previous counselor. What if you spend the next 3 months really trying to implement those ideas. Are you getting new insurance in January? Then you can call around for some therapy for y'all.
Originally Posted by beanma
Some of the best advice I got (which I frequently forget, too, or get too exasperated to use) is to try to take a "working with" approach to your dsd (let's figure it out together) rather than an adversarial approach (you vs her) and get pulled into a power struggle.
Two books I like are "Kids, Parents and Power Struggles" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka -- it's about avoiding power struggles and recognizing your trigger points and your child's trigger points and is definitely not a one-size fits all approach, and "Get Out of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl To The Mall" by Anthony Wolfe. He has a lot of different parenting books and another might be more appropriate, but they're all slim and easy reads and funny.
I really like Kids, Parents & Power Struggles too. I need to re-read it for dd.
Another really good book is "The Challenging Child" by Stanley Greenspan -- it actually lays out a whole program that you might be able to follow. He talks about several different types of challenging children (my dd is a combination of the "highly sensitive" and "defiant" child, oh joy). One of the things I like about this book is that it talks about the importance of connection -- time where your child directs the 'play' (I don't know what that'll look like with a 12 year old), and problem solving before limit setting. Only after you've got a strong connection and skills for problem solving does the limit setting come in. (And by virtue of setting up that connection time, and the problem solving, you often need less limit setting.)
I'd also recommend "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It talks about precisely the kind of collaborative problem solving that beanma mentioned.
Finally, is there a way to give your dd responsibility for something that matters? That might help her feel more competent. Could she plan 2-3 meals a week? Cook one of them? Help decorate a room in your new house? (i.e. choose the paint color/furniture placement). Methinks this child hasn't experienced a lot of feeling competent in her life.