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Old 05-11-2010, 12:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Old 05-11-2010, 12:39 AM
 
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Wow. I have no advice as I am a newbie parent myself, but I can hear your desperation and sadness. I want to send you hugs and best wishes.
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Old 05-11-2010, 12:51 AM
 
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I'm here because I'm anxious to hear some answers. We do GD and unschool and you always hear the positives of how that plays out and the bright, intelligent, self governing children it produces but I'm wondering what you do when they seem to turn on you and there is a good amount of time spent wishing you could just hide from them.

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Old 05-11-2010, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you both for your support. I think reality is a lot messier when you have more than one kid or a kid without your typical "example" personality. My oldest is a gleaming example of how unschooling or GD work (usually) but with the other kids' personalities...I look like some crazy person who doesn't know how to parent sometimes. I'm just stumped.

And sorry about the novel! I tried to cut it down but was upset when I wrote it and I get wordy when I get upset.

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Old 05-11-2010, 12:11 PM
 
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I'd put 8 and 5 in school for a year. Then, you can concentrate on 2.5 and your new baby. 2.5 might even like going to daycare in the mornings to play with some new kids, and then you can have more time to indulge 9 and bond with baby.

My reason is this: if the situation has become too much to handle, it is not going to get better on its own. Perhaps the younger kids have gotten so used to having every whim fulfilled that they truly don't realize there are other people in the world who also have needs and wants.

This is not suggested to be some type of "punishment", but a much needed break for mama. If 8 and 5 don't like public school, then maybe you can sit down with them and formulate what their expected rules of conduct will be. Then, you can all agree on how they are to behave. I don't mean a laundry wish list of items, but things like (for 8) must clean room once a week, and keep a path clear every day for through traffic; must participate in the agreed upon activity or at least sit through it quietly if he changes his mind about wanting to do it; must strive to be a good role model for the younger children; etc.

Is your local school a good one? Is it one that you would be comfortable using for a year?
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Old 05-11-2010, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Old 05-11-2010, 01:14 PM
 
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Daycare is not an option. We don't vax and had major issues with that last time I needed to find help to take a class. My kids are absolutely against going to school. My oldest attended Kindy and it was terrible. And here, (in IL) our tiny tiny school district (town of 6000 or so?) they cut 90 personnel from the district including 27 teachers and special ed. There are severe funds shortage statewide right now. So sending my two sensory kids to a district severely lacking in teachers, funding, and special ed would be a real punishment. If I could send them to private school-across the street-I'd consider it, but I'd have to get 2 jobs to pay for it, not counting daycare costs, etc.

Plus if I even bring up going to "school" they totally lose it and cry and then I feel terrible. After my dd's experience, I've tried to tell them not all schools are bad, they might make friends (no homeschool support here or playgroups or...anything), etc. and it's a definite "You can't make me go!".

We do have family meetings and I talk to the kids about my feelings and what we all need and they all agree...and then fail to follow through. We'll agree on something like ds needing a path through his room and then he will utterly refuse to pick up a single thing when it comes time to doing.
One thing I'm trying to realize with my willful and passionate child is that her big feelings don't always mean I'm doing something wrong. I try so hard to work with her for a mutually pleasing solution but over time I realize she has BIG FEELINGS about anything and always wants it her way. I'm trying to spend time figuring out when her BIG FEELINGS are simply an expression of how she feels and when I'm actually being unjust or when it points to a better solution.

It sounds like you might be in the same boat with a few of yours so I'd encourage you not to rule out certain solutions because they have big reactions. Especially if you offer an alternative and they consistently don't follow through.

About your ds room and picking up, is it possible to give him a time limit. "You need to clean your room. I'm going to set the timer. Anything that is left out I will pick up. And if things are left out it shows me that it is too big a job and we need to pack up/get rid of/donate some things."

With dd we have a rule about getting her room clean before we get something else down to play with (I keep lots of things high in the closet to switch out).

Maybe pick certain activities for the week (for unschooling, since they seem to be unable to focus) and let them know you will complete these activities before you move onto a new list or buy anything new?

Just trying to think of some ideas to help. They may be completely off base.

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Old 05-11-2010, 01:23 PM
 
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Oh, mama, that's brutal! It really sounds like your school district isn't a happy option for you.

Ok, let's see... How about a private, in-home daycare? I just started dd at a new in-home daycare, and they haven't asked for her vax record yet. (she is vaxed, though, just saying that they might not ask)

Do you have any books on manners? Maybe reading about manners from a book will make them seem more important than hearing about them from mom? I was heavily into manners when I was a kid. I got so far into researching them that I eventually knew all the protocol for meeting and dining with royalty... for several different cultures. Ha! Anyway, if that doesn't work, how about keeping a mirror in your back pocket, and then whipping it out whenever they sneer their "appreciation"? Maybe if they actually KNOW how silly and awful they look, they will practice smiling instead? Or, how about refusing to take them to a restaurant (or gifting situations) until they act appropriately?

I saw that they call you names. I'd seriously put a stop to that. Them saying that you are a horrible mother is calling you names. In my book, that earns a time-out at least. You don't go around calling them names, do you? I didn't think so! Mama deserves that same respect. You can help them learn alternatives (gleaned from a year in marriage counseling - a tip to fighting fair) such as, "mama, I feel that you are being mean to me" or "mama, I feel *whatever*".

For the 8 year old not getting to do anything... how about a reminder board? Each day, write down what he wants to do when he asks, and note that you did it. Whenever he says he never gets to do anything, point at the board and tell him to be grateful that he got to do such-and-such. When he says he is bored, point to it and remind him of everything you have already done today, and tell him that it is now his job to fill some time with an activity.

When I was a kid, we had a little farm (for self-feeding, not corporate), and my brother and I learned VERY quickly not to say we were bored, because we got assigned more chores!
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Old 05-11-2010, 04:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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About your ds room and picking up, is it possible to give him a time limit. "You need to clean your room. I'm going to set the timer. Anything that is left out I will pick up. And if things are left out it shows me that it is too big a job and we need to pack up/get rid of/donate some things."
You're not off base!

We do this now, but he'll just hide under his blankets until the timer/song goes off and then refuse to do anything. I do put things up if they're left out sometimes, but we don't have much storage so he knows where to find them.

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When I was a kid, we had a little farm (for self-feeding, not corporate), and my brother and I learned VERY quickly not to say we were bored, because we got assigned more chores!
LOVE the reminder board idea. I will have to make one up.

Daycare-there really are not any AP friendly ones around here. Plus I don't really know anyone for recommendations. And we can't afford it unless I work while she's in daycare, so that rules that out with no jobs open right now I can take. I almost got a census job but they changed the training times/dates to when dh had to work and a decent drive away for over 9 hours (and I'm breastfeeding still). Luckily, dh teaches and will only be gone about 2-3 hours a day 4 days a week most of this summer, so he can handle my 2 yo a lot. They're buddies and he does all the crazy stuff she likes and keeps her entertained. THAT will help a lot I hope. Plus if we get a fence, going outside will be easier-she runs off right now quite often.

We've tried manners books and to no avail. We have an American Girl one and a couple from the library. Do you know any good ones?

I would keep them from gifting situations but then my in-laws freak out on us or it's unexpected, like going to town to cash a check and voila! MIL has a bag of gifts for them.

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Old 05-11-2010, 05:25 PM
 
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I think in a situation like this you have to help us understand where you can make changes. It sounds like there are some rather severe limitations here in terms of options. If I read your post right you have no homeschool support group which I'm guessing means no friends and families to share kids with? No good schools, no daycare options...this is tough since it sounds like the situation is overwhelming you and help is needed. It is hard to discipline your way out of a situation that really needs other adults/schools/families involved as support and relief for you.
The question is whether you think this is a discipline issue, or a situation that is just not meeting your needs/ the kids needs and resulting in the chronic unhappiness and defiance you described.

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Old 05-11-2010, 05:46 PM
 
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I have a friend with some really spirited children and I suggested to her that she should very openly and privately speak to them one on one about her frustrations and ask them what they would suggest. It's amazing what they come up with. I don't know if you tried anything like this before or if it worked or not but sometimes just that one on one time helps. I know you have a busy household but finding the time might make a difference.

Also, I find unschooling very interesting and am seriously thinking about it with my DD but I think some children really need structure. Since public school isn't an option for you maybe going back to a more structured homeschooling cirriculum would help?

Just my two cents. I hope things get better for you soon!

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Old 05-11-2010, 06:13 PM
 
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I second the idea of more structure -- most people (not just kids!) benefit from a routine of some type. Unschooling can still be done within a routine schedule so that everyone knows what to expect at what time of day.

Also, is everyone getting enough sleep? So much surly behavior could be a sleep or food issue -- look into sleep and nutrition for clues. Also think about exercise -- if they're running around outside a lot that may be enough, but perhaps some kind of organized exercise class (dance? martial arts?) for some of them could help get them some time away from you and each other, as well as a physical outlet.

Finally, it's not your job to "make them happy." You mentioned that a couple of times in your first post, and I have the feeling that your sense of that obligation is being communicated to them, and they are now expecting you to bear the burden of making life wonderful for them. Your job is to help them learn and grow and find ways to make their own lives wonderful. There will be days that they're mad at you and don't like you, and that has to be okay with you. You have to be able to keep your own desire to be loved out of it and have a clear picture of what limits you're enforcing. I believe in nonviolent child-rearing, too, but there have to be limits and they have to be enforced.

One other thought: you really do need a bit of time to yourself. Is there any way to at least hire a babysitter for an afternoon every week so that you can have time away? It will be good for your kids, too, and you need the quiet time to sort yourself out and get perspective on everything.

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Old 05-11-2010, 06:24 PM
 
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I feel for you and don't know how you've managed so far - I would seriously consider the more structured homeschooling thing - I work professionally doing positive behavior support (I basically do professional gentle discipline - it's great!) for kids with autism spectrum disorders - not that yours fall into this category - but you did mention the sensory issues and my experience has been that those with sensory issues also tend to do best in highly structured and predictable environments and routines....
On top of this it sounds like some of them are doing some things for attention? I liked the pp suggestion of the 1:1 time for problem solving -

I know we don't like to go over board with rewards here, but maybe your 8 yo needs a combination of rewards/consequences for the room issue - and in your 1:1 session see what HE comes up with as a fair consequence if he doesn't follow through?

Putting more structure into place may seem like a huge amount of work but it might save you some sanity in the long run...

HTH
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Old 05-11-2010, 06:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Old 05-11-2010, 06:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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On top of this it sounds like some of them are doing some things for attention? I liked the pp suggestion of the 1:1 time for problem solving -

I know we don't like to go over board with rewards here, but maybe your 8 yo needs a combination of rewards/consequences for the room issue - and in your 1:1 session see what HE comes up with as a fair consequence if he doesn't follow through?
I think some of it may be from attention. My toddler demands so much of my time, and I'm sure that's at least partially my 5 yo's issues.

That's a good idea about the room. He doesn't come up with fair consequences at all, though. He just jokes through it or comes up with something like "give me a cookie if I don't clean my room?".

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Old 05-11-2010, 09:16 PM
 
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Before we went to unschooling, my kids were happy and well behaved and made life fun. Now they have major attitudes and act as if I'm some demon woman out to get them. It's probably just coincidence, but it's really starting to poison my outlook.
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From the section I pulled from your opening post, it sounds like your kids may benefit from more structure. I say this as another unschooler who is dealing with some similar issues. I think sometimes some kids cry out for more structure and attention. My own DD seems to be this way. She seems to do better with some regulated activities (bedtimes are our current issue) but she also fights the structure she says she needs. Unfortunately, so do I.

Right now we are trying to figure out how to put in just the right amount of structure to our lives without becoming rigid. (I'm not talking curriculum type structure - I have no desire to sit down and teach DD this way.) But I am trying to figure our how to give her enough expectations that she can make it through the day without looping out. She has anxiety and while she resists structure - when DH and I are dependable with it (for us, a regular bedtime routine) things seem to flow better. It's just really hard to make it happen between the 3 of us because we like flexibility. None of us like to stop what we're doing and start up some routine. DD seems to need 2 hours of regulated activities before bed to make bedtime smooth and pleasant - so this is very frustrating and time consuming. She will be 7 next month. (We've been doing a more RU approach lately, but it's not really working for our family at this point.)

Also, I got a book from the library that might be helpful for your DS who complains about everything. DD has been reading it and seems open to the ideas. It's called "What to Do When You Grumble Too Much." It describes hurdles/obstacles in kid-friendly examples and how people handle them. Some people jump over them and move to the next thing. Some go around. Some stop and complain and yell and have a tantrum and get stuck. Then it goes into some brain shifting exercises.

I am also noticing with my DD that sometimes she complains the loudest when we're on the right track. She also seems to be worried a lot about separating from me. She has a lot of difficulty with transitions. Lately, she's been driving me nuts (I am an introvert so I need space and I have sensory issues) and the more she tries to glom onto me the more I feel myself pulling away. I know she feels me doing this and she is probably reacting to it. I am trying to just give her the attention right then because I have noticed that if I take the time to really give her my full attention regularly, we get along so much better. But it's very hard for me - and I only have one. (This is actually why I only have one. I know I couldn't do well with more even if they were all well-behaved 90% of the time.)

Also, since you are pregnant, perhaps your kids are also reacting to perceived changes that will happen when you have your baby. And it sounds like you recently moved as well? That could also be setting them off. In that case, from everything GD I've read, setting up some gentle structure may be very helpful for them.

And now that I have written all of this, I see that I am also answering some questions for myself and my family.

I hope this makes some sense. It's a bit scattered.

I am a 40 year old unschooling, belly dancing, artist-mama of one almost 8 year old. I just had brain surgery and blogging.jpg about it a bit because it's just so surreal.
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Old 05-11-2010, 09:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It does make sense, thank you. And off to ILL that book!

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Old 05-11-2010, 10:58 PM
 
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My daughter is a lot younger so I can't speak from personal parenting experience, but from my experience working with kids in the past, I was also going to say more structure might help. And as another big fan of Alfie Kohn, I just wanted to remind you that GD and UP are both about meeting YOUR individual kids' needs--NOT following an "ideal" of what it's supposed to look like. It sounds like what your younger kids need might look different from how you imagined the ideal, based on your first child, and that doesn't mean it's not UP. They're just different kids.

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Old 05-13-2010, 05:49 PM
 
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Somehow I missed the comment that life was much better before unschooling.

If that is the case I would stop unschooling. Everyone sounds miserable and if unschooling brought that negative change--then I would switch back to more structure asap. I certainly don't think GD means you must unschool. GD is a spectrum. Some families function better with more structure, others with less. Do what makes your family happy and peaceful.

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Old 05-13-2010, 06:34 PM
 
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1) Take a long look at your children and figure out what works best for each of them. This year, I've been really laidback about structure, because that's how I work best, and dd1 thrives on it. However, ds2 (who sounds a lot like yours, btw!) does not. He really needs structure. Next year will be...complicated. (DS2 has been in preschool this year, to give me a break, but will be homeschooling with dd1 starting in September.)

2) I second the person who mentioned sleep. DS2 will be five in July. He still needs a good 8-9 hours at night, and a nap most days. That nap is frequently 2.5-3 hours long. He needs far more sleep than either of my older children did/do. He needs more sleep at almost five than dd1 did at 2!

3) The poster who said it's not your job to make them happy nailed it, imo. You can't make anyone else happy, not even your kids. That's not our job, anyway. Of course we want our kids to be happy, but neglecting our own emotional needs to give them everything they say they want isn't going to do that. Do not guilt yourself over this one.

4) Re: The toys in your ds's room. I really think that if you put them up and he gets into them, you need to donate them. Tell him upfront that if you put them away, they're put away, and if he disregards that, they're going to be donated, instead. I don't believe in throwing/giving away a child's toys as a punishment, but I certainly support reducing them if they're out of control and causing problems!

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Old 05-15-2010, 10:04 PM
 
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Plus if I even bring up going to "school" they totally lose it and cry and then I feel terrible. After my dd's experience, I've tried to tell them not all schools are bad, they might make friends (no homeschool support here or playgroups or...anything), etc. and it's a definite "You can't make me go!".
.
My previously unschooled dd did the same thing until I made her go and now she loves it so much she cries if she has to miss a day. Trust me, your 8 yr old isnt going to want to embarass himself in front of a classroom with an 'i dont wanna' tantrum.
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