or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at Home and Beyond › Unschooling › Ugh....course correction....state of emergency: UPDATE
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Ugh....course correction....state of emergency: UPDATE - Page 2

post #21 of 33
Thread Starter 

I think I do need to pay more attention to that, Miranda.  That's something I need to observe in myself-- trying to see myself through their eyes. I have been vocally baffled, and dd1 at least "tries" really hard, and I need to show a bit more confidence in her.  Hard, very hard considering all I've written about and the time I have dedicated to working through this.  


I'm interested in reading your thread, but I've spent more than enough time in front of here today.  Time to shut this thing down.

post #22 of 33
Have you tried separating them? Perhaps having a place the younger can go to get away from the bullying? If she had her own room put a lock on the door so she can go shut herself in. I think letting kids take ownership of their things and their area is really important. If the younger child doesn't want to be bothered she can go to her area, if the older child wants her to open her area up to her she'll have to be kind of else her sister won't want her in her space. Fact is you can't be a jerk to people and expect them to want to be around you....but when it's your sibling it's hard because they happen to live with you. If it was just a friend she could say "I don't want to hang out with you anymore".
post #23 of 33
Thread Starter 

All excellent ideas, SpiderMum.  That was how I dealt with my older sisters when I was growing up.  My room was my sanctuary, mostly.  At first, I was practically driven there to get away from them, but I loved being in there, I loved the freedom.  I read, I drew as I told stories to myself, I acted out scenes over and over again, I played with my "figurines".  It was a rich life and I was supremely happy to be left alone in there.


My girls are another story.  They want.... need to be in the thick of it, and being how I was when I was younger I have a difficult time wrapping my head around this (to say the least!)  We have held this conversation many, many times, and they both choose being in the fray rather than being in the bedroom.  When dd1 is frustrated and grumpy, she has a hard time tuning out any noise, and as someone who is the same way, it makes it doubly frustrating for me why she would choose to be "pestered" by (the existence of) her sister than retreat to the solitude of a bedroom.  Why dd2 would rather be near her sister instead of that same solitude-- I know why I just don't particularly don't understand it.


That is the last reason why a TV in the bedroom just won't work (for now).  The bedroom (and yes, for now it is ONE BEDROOM!) is Siberia.  We moved here from a house with 3 bedrooms last year, and we were still all in one room, and there was a least one other perfectly good bedroom to play in that was never played in or slept in.  We still all lived in that one bedroom, so the fact that we don't have the extra space doesn't for now play a big role in either causing nor solving our problems.


It is a painful process in a way, but we are adjusting.  This is becoming a conversation, and they are good ones.  The girls have mostly been getting along today again, and we have worked through some righteous anger quite smoothly (caused by some "ungraciousness" on the part of dd2, and some accidental "miscoloring"!)  DD1 and I discussed that while I want to work on graciousness, right now I am focussing on simple civility.  Then.... after the selfishness from dd2 comes a request from her that is firmly denied by dd1.  I sensed an impending implosion from dd2, but, just as I was about to suggest it, dd2 had an idea that not only resolved the current problem, but resolved the previous one.  Graciousness!!  And I wasn't even pushing for that right now, though I always try to help them take that path.


Of course, dd1 and I had that same conversation.... choosing to be in the thick of it, even though her sister annoys her (by moving and breathing, often) she wants to be there.  She has some extra work to do today to "earn back" her treats due to some "minor" orneriness late in the afternoon--being helpful, being gracious as well as being civil.  But she is really, really trying.  She hates it, but like Miranda pointed out, kids are often baffled as to change their behavior themselves, and this is true of dd1.  DD2 preempted some screaming she was starting with a warning.  Oh, thank heavens!


I hate to say it, but it's working so far.  I'm going to give it a couple of months or so to give these habits a chance to slough off before revisiting this with the girls to find out if we can change how this is approached.  Sooner if I feel that it is starting to cause more problems than it solves.  But right now?  I'll take that chance.

post #24 of 33
Thread Starter 

WE had a perfect day yesterday.


DD1 is motivated by rewards-- she loves the idea of badges, ribbons, pins (she was surprised and thrilled when she received her first-year pin for 4-H), money, and little rewards like candy and toys.  She has been at her best when she has been earning her treats and videos back. So, I'm going to take it one step farther and do a reward chart for her-- something that focusses on the positive rather than the punitive (which will still be there).  I'm mulling over the specifics, but the idea is that if she makes it the whole day without even a warning that I'm going to take away treats, she gets a gold star.  (Warning her when she is in "that mood" which tends to lead to her getting in trouble doesn't count against it).  Accumulating 7 stars or so and she will earn an extra treat.  28 (?) stars in one month or consecutively will give her (them--both girls fall under this system) an extra 1/2 riding lesson, assuming her instructor has time.  


I agonize over losing intrinsic motivation and resorting to bribe-style tactics I am so critical of, but I am reconsidering this in this situation.  For one, they are older and are more likely to see this for what it is: a trick of sorts to help them act appropriately.  For similar reasons, I also have nixed the idea that this isn't helping them intrinsically motivate themselves. Especially dd1, she knows what she is doing, but doesn't know how to help herself.  Then she feels bad about herself compared to her little sister, who "never gets in trouble" (ahem!), making dd1 the "mean one" and that is all her sister's fault.  Which, in an odd, roundabout way, it is caused by her sister.  If together we can combine her motivation to behave better (which, because the trouble occurs when she is angry, is hampered by emotion and lack of self-control) along with her energetic motivation to earn rewards, I think we can cinch this.


I predict what will happen is, the more she minds her behavior, the better she will view herself.  THe better view she has of herself, the less need she will have to "blame" her sister for her inability to behave.   The more she can relax and like her sister more of the time.  I realize now how much this cycle is the driving force behind the storm that has raged for years.  She started to really get in trouble when her sister was born, and therefore it has always been her sister's fault that I've ever gotten angry with dd1 (the girls are 21 months apart in age).


I think what will be important is to make sure she understands that the source of her civil behavior is still coming from within herself, even though I am using carrots and sticks to guide her to the right "gate", as it were.

post #25 of 33
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

This thread reminded me of my Emergency Course Correction moment three and a half years ago, so I went back and read the whole huge thread over again. 




Miranda, I've been reading your "whole huge thread", though I've been skimming a bit, focussing on your own posts and your responses to certain statements.  Very helpful.  I have a few more posts to finish up, but later today.


I especially enjoyed the conversation about self-regulation.  This post from Piglet68 (where are you these days????) stood out to me, especially the paragraph I bolded:

I've thought alot about the issue of self-regulation, too. I can only say from my own family's experiences, but it seems to me that young children cannot truly self-regulate because their view of the world is rather restrictive. They cannot see the "big picture". For example, I can tell my son 'till I'm blue in the face that not brushing teeth will lead to cavities and a lifetime of dental work. He understands the words, but thinking in that context is so far outside his current realm of experience that he just isn't able to self-regulate based on that info (info that hasn't been gained by his own repeated experiences and consequences). He does not like brushing or flossing and, if left to his own devices, simply would choose not to. He may SAY he understands the consequences, but in his world he cannot visualize them enough to make them real and worth considering. I *could* just let him find out himself, but ruining his teeth and oral health for the purposes of "teaching him" why teeth must be brushed doesn't seem the act of a responsible parent. Ultimately, teeth brushing is something he has to do, and by making it part of a routine there is less conflict than if I just randomly stepped in every now and then and insisted I take over his program, kwim?

With screen time I've found that my kids are actually pretty good at self-regulating. I watch it closely and have seen no evidence that it is interfereing with their other forms of play or activities. However, I'm quite certain that there are kids out there who cannot self-regulate in this regard. I think about those odd days when I get sucked into my own computer in the morning, and before I know it the day is half gone, the kids haven't been fed, I'm still in my jammies....I feel crummy and the day is not satisfying. I can only imagine how much harder it must be for a child who can't really figure out their emotions enough to connect them to the screen time, or who may not be able to identify the problem (or even then, convince themselves enough to make a real effort to stop). Again, it then seems to be that a responsible parent will step in and make some rules or structure around those activities.

I unschool, but I do not RU for reasons I've just described. I'm sure it works great for some kids and some families but it doesn't for mine. One thing I'd like to emphasize in this thread is that there is a difference (IMO) between one and the other. It is perfectly possible to unschool but still have parents setting boundaries and making rules that the kids may not agree with. The tricky part for me is figuring out when the kids really need us to step in, and when we are doing so too much and robbing them of their ability to problem solve and gain life experience by doing and seeing what happens. Definitely family harmony is one reason I'd feel the need to step in, but other issues aren't quite so clear to me. Which is one of many reasons I'm really enjoying this thread!


post #26 of 33

My older son, 6 going on 7, is also very intense and controlling, and can get rather obsessed over getting screen time (minecraft and certain youtube channels mainly). I've set a certain 2 hours daily they can use screens if there's nothing better to do, and if they act out especially related to screens but with a warning it can be for any reason, they loose screen time for a day. If it continues it might be multiple days. Natural consequences make more sense but once you've set the rule and told them the consequence for x is y, there it is. Keep it clear and constant. Arbitrary punishment is one thing, following through fairly with what you have explained is another.


We do have multiple screen options so both kids can use one - there's TV with netflix, an iPad, and a computer. They share sometimes but usually use computer and iPad simultaneously.


Another thing I have to remind him is he needs to control himSELF not his brother, and if his brother is doing wrong tell me, don't try and stop him unless it's immediately dangerous. He's big on trying to discipline his little brother, as well as setting the rules for their games.

post #27 of 33

My 8 year old dd has also required me to change my approach to meet her needs.  I do not like punishments or rewards and I really tried to avoid taking something away for mean/destructive behavior or just not cooperating.  It has been a long learning curve and I have to say that I'm still learning . . . .but my dd is now behaving and also showing genuine empathy.  I've had to do away with the idea of letting her discover good behavior for herself (it worked so well for her older sister).  My younger one really needs modeling and expectations.  She has responded to this so readily that I am sad I didn't realize it sooner - but we can only do what we can . . . parenthood is quite the adventure!


Here is what I found out:


DD comes across as outgoing and wanting to be the center of attention . . . needing to control everything from what she eats to how play happens.  She insisted on choosing her own clothes at 18 months when she realized she could take her clothes off if she didn't like them.  What we finally learned (because dd was able to finally put it into words) is that she is really shy and really wants someone else to take a strong lead so she can melt into the crowd (or to melt into clear expectations).  Her shyness makes her feel very uncomfortable and when she's uncomfortable or doesn't not know the expectations or boundaries in a situation she will manically take control to get a sense of boundaries.  


So we did an experiment and removed many choices so that boundaries and expectations where solid.  She tested them at first, throwing some awesome fits and being quite mean to her older sister but she very quickly relaxed into being the kid and not trying to control everything. When I see the behavior come up I know it's a sign I'm not "holding" her as firmly as she needs.  This has been very uncomfortable for me . . . but we have very different personalities and I've needed to be the mom she needs me to be.  It's getting a whole lot better!  We had only 1 fit in the last 7 weeks.  It used to be multiple fits a day.  Here is some of what we did:  


- Dessert is only on Fridays only - if she and her sister agree, they can request a particularly favorite dessert.  When I'm asked if she can have dessert I get to say yes!  "yes, on Friday . . . maybe you want to talk with your sister about what sounds good".


- Clothes follow the Waldorf colors of the week (reducing the dressing overwhelm . . . just find your purple outfit for tomorrow because it will be Monday) and must be chosen the day before or earlier if she wants to have choice is what she wears.  Otherwise I set out her clothes.


- Meals follow a pattern (Tuesday is sourdough pancakes for breakfast, leftovers for lunch and a pasta meal for dinner).  I particularly don't like this one because I like to be inspired by the day or the grocery sales, but for some reason this patterning has really helped.  I give myself some leeway - pasta dinner could be spaghetti with meat sauce or bow ties with dairy-free pesto but it's still a pasta dinner.  Evening meal does not always happen at the same time, due to an older sister with some late afternoon/evening activities, but there is still a pattern that seems to help our 8year old relax.


- We found stories about bravery and helpers and read them so dd could have someone to look to as an example when she starts feeling overwhelmed and wants to start controlling things.  Quiet time, 3 deep breaths, etc. did/do not work for her . . . she needs calming tools that are more active - like drawing or repeating something from a story where someone had a similar conflict and had to be brave and remain calm, or the opportunity to punch couch pillows.  As she has been able to read independently she has found reading helpful.


-I found that low blood sugar affects her moods in a major way.  I've had to reduce sugars so she doesn't go through the sugar high/low roller coaster.  Sometimes, if I'm late on a snack or didn't get enough protein in her breakfast and she starts swirling into a mood I've found a half spoonful of honey, followed by "we are not doing anything until we have snack" has helped to completely reverse a breakdown.  We've gone through this enough that she now is starting to recognize when she feels weird and probably needs some food.


- I had to find out what her "currency" is.  Currency is something she values and would be very upset if it were taken away.  This has changed over time, but it was eye opening to realize that her currency has usually been very different than what I would have thought.  It turns out that the length of story time at bedtime is really important to her, so reducing that for misbehavior has been a very strong motivator.  (yuk, I hated taking that one away)  Taking away her favorite toys for a day at a time has also been in the rotation.  Sounds like treats and screen time are important to your dd. 


- Play dates with friends who are comfortable within their own skin and can happily say "no I don't want to play that, how about we do this?" and then are open to compromise.  Friends who never stand up for what they want and friends who only want their own way are too much of a trigger for dd, so we've reduce our exposure to them so dd can experience positive play dates.


- I given myself timeouts.  When I find myself yelling I stop and tell the girls I need a time out for a few minutes because "this is not working for any of us".  I go to my room and endure 3 minutes of chaos and door pounding.  I don't say anything back unless it is to say I'm extending the time because it seems we need more time to quiet down.


- A family calendar and charts for expectations have been very helpful.  It has removed the potential for direct conflict.  Rather than "I said you need to do this"  it's "Let's see, it's 4:30pm what do we need to do?  Let's go check the chart!"  


Hang in there!  Spring is well on its way.


: )

post #28 of 33
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by JamieCatheryn View Post



Another thing I have to remind him is he needs to control himSELF not his brother, and if his brother is doing wrong tell me, don't try and stop him unless it's immediately dangerous. He's big on trying to discipline his little brother, as well as setting the rules for their games.

We struggle with this as well.


I think the big, red herring in this thread is the screen time, which is not a big issue anymore since--why, yes-- since we relaxed restrictions on the TV.  The girls are better able to self-regulate their activities in regards to screen time now they are older, and since I no longer limit their viewing to one video or set of videos (totaling about 1.5 hours, once upon a time) I no longer have to have strict video days "belonging" to one girl.  Because they can choose another video after the girl whose "day" it is (old habits die hard) tensions are diffused.  


So, while I can learn a lot by hearing how other people handle screen time as an example, screen time in and of itself is not an issue here anymore.

post #29 of 33
I am also constantly reminding my daughter to call us for help when her brother is into something rather than try to handle it herself....she often ends up hurting him trying to "help" him. Her intentions are GOOD, but it's really not her job.

Also I have to remind her that insta-meltdown isn't helpful...if there is an issue, ask for help rather than freaking out immediately.....ask for help before yanking something from another child.....ask for help before hitting another child, etc. It gets old....but I guess it will sink in? lol
post #30 of 33
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by SpiderMum View Post

 It gets old....but I guess it will sink in? lol

Oh, brother!  Do I wish I had an answer for you on this one.  I can't even think how many times I have been through that spiel!

post #31 of 33
Thread Starter 

So a few weeks into this, and it has gone really well.  DD1 is getting a handle on her actions when she is angry.  DD2 is having a harder time, and I think that is actually working in dd1's favor as she sees that she is not inevitably the one to get in trouble.  DD1 sees her stars adding up, and she is earning her extra treats for the short term (7 stars) and now she is looking forward in another week to earning an extra riding lesson.  It has been an amazing transformation, and the best is that she is *talking* about her emotions and seeking more help when she is up against a wall.  She is looking for solutions and truly trying to make things easier for dd2.


DD2 is still getting the hang of things, but it is sinking in.  I thought she'd pitch a fit when the time came to tell her she had lost one of her treats because the previous day's behavior, but she didn't.  She earned her star that day.  We are working on ways she can feel like she is being heard, because that is the source of her screaming rampages, but I think we will see some progress.


We are sticking with only certain areas for the sticks and carrots.  Even dd1 told me about tidying up something that it was enough for her to work on keeping her actions under control, and I don't blame her.  Fights still happen, or course, but they are getting better, more civil.


I was also pleased that dd1 was learning to sing the Girl Scout Law from youtube today.  "I will do my best to be: honest and fair; friendly and helpful; considerate and caring; courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to: respect myself and others; respect authority; use resources wisely; make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout."  I'm hoping Girl Scouts will help her articulate these things.  I'm happy for all the help I can get!

post #32 of 33
Wonderful news, sweet silver! Thank you so much for the update. High five!
post #33 of 33
Wonderful news, sweet silver! Thank you so much for the update. High five!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Unschooling
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at Home and Beyond › Unschooling › Ugh....course correction....state of emergency: UPDATE