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#1 of 15 Old 06-03-2009, 10:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My 8yo has me knocking me head against a wall. One minute he is a sweet, caring, responsible little guy. The next minute he is doing something that he knows specifically he is not supposed to do. We'ved talked. We've explained. We've brainstormed together. He just does it anyway.

Examples:

We have some plants in our backyard that send up long shoots and then bloom. We have been tending to them, waiting for the bloom. Ds chopped some off one time. We explained why not to do that, how important it was to us, etc. We gave him other options of things he could cut in the garden. Then one day he does it again.

We have big pruning shears that he loves to play with. We have gone over the safety aspects, and told which things outside are okay to cut and which aren't. Dead branches, brown leaves, etc., those things he can cut. Limbs of the fruit tree, no. Today I look out and he is in the chicken run with the shears. He had cut several holes in the hardware cloth (the very expensive, stronger than chicken wire stuff that we bought and put up to keep the chickens safe from predators). He helped built the coop. He knows exactly why we used that material and not other material. He knows it's expensive. It's put on in huge sheets, so it's not like you can patch small pieces.

We had a few weeks of him calling people "moron." I don't know where he learned this word, but I'm assuming Calvin and Hobbes or a tv show (we limit a lot of shows, but he saw Powerpuff Girls with his cousin, maybe it came from there? It's not a word we ever use.). I talked with him over and over about how that is not okay. I told him why. We talked about how it makes people feel. It happened over and over and over. Finally, in desperation, I told him that if he uses that word again, no tv for a week. Surprise surprise, I haven't heard it since. So apparently he can control himself if there's a reason to.

I have talked with him about how we don't want to use punishments. But I'm feeling backed into a corner. I mean what, he just cuts holes in the chicken run, and then goes on his merry way? Destroys our plants, and nothing? Apparently our being upset or hurt doesn't deter him.

Really, what am I supposed to do? I am completely out of ideas.
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#2 of 15 Old 06-04-2009, 09:03 AM
 
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Hi there,
I have an almost 8 year old as well, and I was wondering what restitution your son had to do for these actions? Did he have to plant new plants? Did he have to fix the holes in the chicken coop?
I also was wondering when he did this sort of thing, and how much structure does he have to his day? I mean, was this sort of thing like when he came home from school and has a lot of energy to blow off and then seems to get into trouble, or are you homeschooling and he is doing this while you do something with the four year old?
More questions than answers, but maybe we can all brainstorm some help for you!

Warmly,
Carrie
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#3 of 15 Old 06-05-2009, 02:05 PM
 
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I can't offer any advice, but we are dealing with problems with our 8 year old too. Honestly I feel like GDing him for 8 years has been a total failure, I just feel out of "gentle" ideas. I don't mean to hijack your thread, but some kids just don't get any easier do they.

Mom to ds 9 dd 7 : and dd 3/08 : if I can I go to
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#4 of 15 Old 06-05-2009, 02:33 PM
 
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I know that not everyone here agrees with this, but I really do think there is a difference between a consequence and punishment. Especially for bigger kids who can understand, from a cognative level, the connection between action and consequence. Time-out probably equates with punishment for a 2 YO, but things change as the kid gets older.

Personally, I would definitely have required child to plant new plants and to repair the chicken coop. If you needed money to do that, he should either pay for it with his allowance or do extra chores to earn the money. But then again, I know I am at one end of the GD spectrum and I confess to being baffled by the other end of the continuum.

And, at the risk of sounding critical, your 8 YO is allowed to play with pruning shears that are strong enough to cut tree limbs? Without supervision? I'm guessing by your description that you are in a much more rural area than I am and maybe that is necessary to your lifestyle. To me is sounds like a guaranteed recipe for disaster. If he can't be safe with them he shouldn't have access to anything of that sort. Can you lock the tools in a shed or something? Will he comply if they are simply off limits?
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#5 of 15 Old 06-05-2009, 04:56 PM
 
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I would start by taking away the pruning shears and I would start to keep them in a place that he is unable to have access to them. 8 years old is definitely old enough to understand that his actions are not acceptable.
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#6 of 15 Old 06-05-2009, 05:59 PM
 
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I don't think you have realistic expectations of him. He is 8, not 18. His judgment is not that of an adult. His foresight is not that of an adult, his impulse control is not that of an adult. I'm not saying you should baby him, but I do think you're unrealistic in your expectations of him.

re: the pruning shears. He's 8, these are tools which can remove fingers. He should not be using them without supervision, period.


Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post

We had a few weeks of him calling people "moron." I don't know where he learned this word, but I'm assuming Calvin and Hobbes or a tv show (we limit a lot of shows, but he saw Powerpuff Girls with his cousin, maybe it came from there? It's not a word we ever use.). I talked with him over and over about how that is not okay. I told him why. We talked about how it makes people feel. It happened over and over and over. Finally, in desperation, I told him that if he uses that word again, no tv for a week. Surprise surprise, I haven't heard it since. So apparently he can control himself if there's a reason to.
This seems unfair to me. He used it over and over and over with no consequences, then all of a sudden there's a massive, huge penalty just BAM! on him. Have you tried using more reasonable penalties consistently instead of ignoring a behavior and then overreacting massively? Instead of no penalty but talking about it (which would go in one ear and out the other with most 8 year olds, just like that far side cartoon with the dog), you would explain the first time why you don't use the word, and what will happen when he does use the word. Not at length, maybe three or four short sentences. The second time you would warn that this is his warning and the next time he'll have the consequence. The third time and every single time thereafter you unemotionally carry out the punishment/consequence, with a single sentence statement like "we don't use that word, because you used that word you won't xyz". Make it something small, not least because once TV is gone for a week you don't have it to take away any more. If taking away TV is your thing, make it 15 minutes or half an hour of no TV. Or institute time outs.
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#7 of 15 Old 06-05-2009, 06:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan&Anna's_Mom View Post
I know that not everyone here agrees with this, but I really do think there is a difference between a consequence and punishment. Especially for bigger kids who can understand, from a cognative level, the connection between action and consequence. Time-out probably equates with punishment for a 2 YO, but things change as the kid gets older.

Personally, I would definitely have required child to plant new plants and to repair the chicken coop. If you needed money to do that, he should either pay for it with his allowance or do extra chores to earn the money. But then again, I know I am at one end of the GD spectrum and I confess to being baffled by the other end of the continuum.
ITA, this is a great idea.
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#8 of 15 Old 06-05-2009, 07:52 PM
 
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DS is 9, and he has gotten progressively MORE spacey in the last 15 months. He has actually fewer privileges in some ways, not as punishment, but because they were more than he can currently handle. However, I did give him more time to read, wander freely, make treks outside my sphere of influence more. These things he appreciates, as he seems to have a heightened need to dream and reflect.

For the privileges he lost (mostly related to tools), we make an effort to be available to supervise more so he can still do the work he wants.

We do consequences, not always natural, but mostly logical. He seems to be more repentant (I can't think of a better word). He seems to also have a heightened awareness of having made the mistake (AFTER the fact). He is genuinely sorry, genuinely apologetic, and with that attitude, we can problem solve. Our problem solving does not look to the future because I can clearly see he is not able to predict his behavior. We only address this specific situation this specific time. He totally shuts down if I get mad and run through my laundry list of all the times I have to repeat myself.

We do more time outs, which have NEVER worked before this past year. The time out is not a punishment per se; it's about ME needing to calm down before I can problem solve when I have TOLD him... You get the idea.

Good luck! I actually believe there's no malice. It's just like they regress to their 4yo ability to control an impulse.

OH- One more thing, we have lots of talks about "things that are funny to talk about, but we would NEVER NEVER do them" (like throwing a rock at a window to see it break or jumping off the roof). My two examples are impulses I have occasionally that I catch myself pondering.
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#9 of 15 Old 06-05-2009, 08:41 PM
 
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Honestly, it doesn't sound like he's mature enough for the shears. Put them away and you won't have a problem with him cutting inappropriate things.

Mama of three.
 
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#10 of 15 Old 06-05-2009, 11:28 PM
 
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You could, you know, not allow him to play with potentially harmful sharp objects. Two year olds can have options. 8 year olds can be told, sorry dude, shears can hurt you and other things, you don't play with them. I assume you want him to respect potentially dangerous household objects? Also? Natural consequences are not now and never have been evil or bad. Generally, they are USEFUL teaching tools .
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#11 of 15 Old 06-06-2009, 11:13 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post
I have talked with him about how we don't want to use punishments. But I'm feeling backed into a corner. I mean what, he just cuts holes in the chicken run, and then goes on his merry way? Destroys our plants, and nothing? Apparently our being upset or hurt doesn't deter him.
What is it about using punishment that bothers you? I mean, I know all of the theoretical reasons, but specific to your situation and your child? GD can def include appropriate consequences (helping to fix the coop, reduced freedom, losing access to shears all seem appropriate here).

IME, equivocal parenting confuses kids (I don't want to use punishment, but I will this time....etc). I hardly ever need to use punishments with my dc, but when I do, I do it with confidence.
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#12 of 15 Old 06-06-2009, 07:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We definitely took away the shears. He had always used them safely and responsibly in the past (and they could only cut tiny tree limbs not huge ones, they are used in the garden), but I explained to him that since he was no longer being responsible with them that he couldn't use them. We don't live rurally, but ds1 in particular has always been very safe and competent with tools in general, and we do allow him a lot of leeway as long as the safety rules are being followed.

Unfortunately there was no way to have him repair to the coop or replant the plants. With the coop he made three cuts in different places, and the only way to fix it would have been to take all the wire off and replace it. We can't afford that much new wire (we're talking close to $100) and there is no way ds would been physically able to replace it. The cuts were small enough that the chickens are still safe, so it's just going to have to stay as is. The plants are ones that were here when we moved. They are big bushes that shoot up pretty flowers. He didn't kill the whole plant, he cut off some of the flower buds. So replanting, even if I knew where to get new plants, wouldn't really solve anything.

I am uncomfortable with punishment because I think it is a power struggle with no end in sight. The kids get older, and at some point they aren't going to care about the punishment you're using. So you have to keep upping the ante, so to speak, and I don't want to go to far down that road. I remember vividly when I realized as a kid that I was too old to get a spanking, and it was a huge weight off my shoudlers. I don't want my kids obeying out of fear, I would like it to be out of mutual respect. Plus, I think it somehow establishes a selfishness, like the only reason they have to not do something is because something is going to happen to THEM. I want them thinking about how their actions affect others, not just themselves.

And yes, I agree it is unfair to out of the blue throw out a punishment. It was not my finest hour. It's just frustrating that he responds to that but not to the other things I have to say.

I do think that ds1 is going through a transition. Both dh and I feel like he is starting to grow out of the "little boy" stage, and is struggling with how to do that appropriately.
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#13 of 15 Old 06-07-2009, 04:53 PM
 
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It's just frustrating that he responds to that but not to the other things I have to say.
But he's 8, you know? I have an 8 yo. She cares, but isn't always internally motivated to put others needs before her immediate wants. I feel perfectly ok about stepping in and motivating her as needed. She won't always need me to do so.

Really, I don't need to often. But the name calling example is a time when I certain would. I remember my own mother using a (rare) consequence to stop me when I was in the habit of calling my little sister a brat--and I was 13! It worked. It didn't change our parent-child dynamic overall. It just ended the problem, thus improving our relationship.

I share your concerns about punishment, and don't aim for a relationship heavily dependent on them. But taking parent-imposed consequences out of the toolbox completely could be throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
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#14 of 15 Old 06-08-2009, 11:54 AM
 
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I'm not reading that the OP is not doing consequences at all, just not random punishments. It is a family choice and one that I respect because I see that punishments here don't work, and consequences *sometimes* do (and hopefully do more good in the long term). I have her flavor of boys though, so I do understand . . .

I also have a boy (just turned nine) who does off the wall things sometimes. Most of the time it is benign (and sometimes NOT!!), but it is really frustrating and we need to decide whether we are going to ride him all day long or let somethings flow. I try to remind my DH that, although he is really intelligent, our DS is very often a space cadet.

I think natural consequences are great for these kinds of kids and sometimes the best you can do, in the moment. For the chicken coop, I would have him spend extra time checking on the chickens to make sure they are OK, and maybe making a safety book with do's and dont's for the cutting tool. Then, in general, working with him to stop and think before taking actions.

We've gone through a period recently of resorting to punishments trying to get him to stop and think ("remember, you need to stop in order to get what you want because I will be too frustrated to take you/work with you/etc") and have watch it fail often. Lots of kids it would work for, but not mine.
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#15 of 15 Old 06-08-2009, 12:41 PM
 
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With the coop he made three cuts in different places, and the only way to fix it would have been to take all the wire off and replace it. We can't afford that much new wire (we're talking close to $100) and there is no way ds would been physically able to replace it.
Did you engage him in figuring this out? I think there's a lot of value in a kid understanding the work that goes into determining how you're going to fix what he's done, even if the end result is that it's unfixable. My kid is also 8. I would have asked him to sit down with me and try to figure out a solution. Personally, if he had any money source, I would expect him to contribute to the fixing of the fence, even if it took quite a long time. This isn't punishment so much as it's life. As they grow into adulthood, they need to learn that they're going to be expected to clean up their own messes.

This doesn't have to be an adversarial situation. It can be matter-of-fact and collaborative. Much the same way you would toss a 4-year-old a towel when he spilled something and say, "Oops! Looks like a mess! Better clean it up!"

I also agree with the person who suggested having him check on the chickens more frequently. What a great idea for impressing on him the concern that comes with messing up the fence.
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