when the consequence is really a punishment for you - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 05-16-2012, 06:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Before I start: I have five kids, all under eight, and my husband is away and won't be back for several months. We all live in a 1600 sq ft house with no storage so things are cramped. It's military housing so I can't drill into doors to put locks on or anything like that. Every non permanent child latch is defeated in a matter of minutes.

 

Ok, the kids make messes. All the time. 

 

The boys share a room, the girls share a room, and the baby is in the master bedroom. The bedrooms (and everything else) is always a mess. Always. I was so fed up with the mess of toys that I boxed everything in the girl's room up and stacked the boxes in the closet. After I finally got to bed at midnight the kids got up and pulled most of it out. If I leave it out then it's a mess, if I keep boxing it up then I'm punishing myself.

 

They really don't have many toys. Every toy from the entire house, except for the dollhouse and play kitchen, could fit in three rubbermaid storage bins.  If I take more toys away they get into everything else.

 

It's not just the toys. They get into everything. They pull food out of the walk in pantry. They rip open bags of flour. They pull out rolls of toilet paper and shred them into a million tiny scraps. When I was giving one child a bath tonight (about five minutes) the others pulled all the cushions and pillows off both couches, found a marker in one of the couches, and drew on the walls. If the throw away all the coloring implements in the house (they would all fit in a shoebox) the older kids can't do their homework and none of them can color or draw, a punishment for me since it will occupy them for 20 minutes.

 

The kids never put their clothes in their hampers. I've tried packing up most of their clothes but then I'm stuck scrambling to do laundry so they have clean uniforms for school the next day. I tried letting them go to school in dirty clothes (not filthy but worn the day before) but the school called me to either pick them up or bring clean clothes. 

 

The older ones have to wear pull ups to bed and they leave the gross wet pull ups all over their rooms. If I take the pull ups away (which I've tried) they pee their beds every night, creating piles of laundry for me.

 

They're all stir crazy in the house which I think is a big part of the problem. I can't take them outside even though there is a playground next door because the three year old runs off or tries to jump off the high equipment. I've tried finding babysitters but they're hard to come by. I have a maid come in once every two weeks, the house only stays clean for a day or two and I don't like the older kids thinking they can make a mess and mom and dad with hire someone to clean it up for them so I don't have the maid pick their rooms up. They don't care if their rooms are filthy but it's embarrassing and unsanitary.

 

I've tried not taking them places but I NEED the adult interaction that I get at these events. Once I had one of the kids sit alone in the corner after not cleaning their room but after an hour of crying that annoyed everyone else I had to let her join in (she's old enough to clean up her own messes).

 

Sorry, that came out really long. I hope I illustrated how any consequence for the kids ends up being a huge hardship on me. Any advice?

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#2 of 16 Old 05-16-2012, 09:48 PM
 
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How old are your kids? 

 

The pull up issue would have me asking for them every morning so that I could throw them away for them.  I have found most of the messes that are not cleaned up are a result of me not showing them exactly how I want things picked up. 

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#3 of 16 Old 05-16-2012, 10:44 PM
 
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It's hard to know where to start. You seem stressed and tired of the current situation, so 'resolve for change' looks like as good a place to start as anywhere; kudos to you for posting!

There's no way I can offer anything but sympathy for most of the troubles you describe, but I would like to quickly comment on a few things that caught my attention:

 

Quote:

"Once I had one of the kids sit alone in the corner after not cleaning their room but after an hour of crying that annoyed everyone else I had to let her join in (she's old enough to clean up her own messes)."

I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding, or maybe it's a typo, but...an hour?! Isn't that a time out for a 60-year-old woman?! (1 min per year of age) ijs

 

As for being old enough to [insert here anything we moms would like our kids to do], most often from what I've seen, "able" doesn't equal "programmed." There's a great deal of consistent coaching, repetition, and, of course, lapses before my kids do something on their own that they might have been old enough to do by themselves for years.

 

"Playing the movie forward" has served me well in the course of thinking on my feet for many "do this or else _____" moments. I try to think through what will actually happen if they don't listen/stop/start - worst case scenario. If an ultimatum/discipline measure might result in a consequence I am willing to take on, it's OK; if an ultimatum/discipline measure might result in a consequence I am not willing to take on (i.e. crying in a corner for an hour at an event with other adults), I try to think of another one (i.e. you didn't clean your room before we left, so later when everyone else is [doing fun thing "x, y, or z"], you will have to stay in your room and clean). ??

 

A tip for laundry for kids as young as yours: have a centralized dirty laundry zone and a centralized clean laundry zone; be the boss of the dirty laundry yourself, guiding the kids to put their dirties in the right place. (If you continue prodding and staying on top of them about it - not picking it up yourself but rather having them stop what they're doing and take care of it immediately upon your notice - it's likely they'll get annoyed with your stopping them all the time to have them put things in the dirty laundry and start doing it themselves.) Then once the laundry is cleaned, let the older kids take care of putting it away. That way if they don't fulfill their duties, the clothes are at least clean and in a centralized location, if not a little wrinkled.

 

Also, I've found that when I give my kids a consequence that's "taking away" a privilege, a toy, or event, they can busy themselves quite readily if given an opportunity to "earn it back" (extra chores, giving up something for another, extra schoolwork, etc.).

 

I like implementing natural consequences, but sometimes matching a child (with a particular personality, like, or dislike) with a particular carrot or stick works better. For example, when my son repeatedly ignored my instructions to get ready for his martial arts class yesterday, I drove him to class (not far) telling him that if he were more than 10 minutes late then he would have to miss the class that evening. "It's rude to come in late (after warm-up) and interrupt others' instruction." He'll get a reminder of the consequence the 'next time(s),' - and there will be a next time - and that would likely be enough to curb the behavior.

My daughter, on the other hand, would just as well finish doing what she was doing than bat an eyelash at missing her martial arts class for an evening. We would likely find better success for the same 'ignoring instructions to get ready' in having her get ready 5 minutes early for her next class and wait in the car, buckled and alone, before we all head out on time (she would hate that). As well, gentle prods and reminders at the first sign of 'ignoring instructions to get ready' would probably be enough to get her going more quickly the next time she's told.

 

It's those 'gentle prods and reminders' that leave me feeling like quite the broken record player, but I'm hopeful to be raising kids that will eventually 'get it' on their own *someday.  

 

Sorry I can't be of much practical help for you. But hugs; there's a lot on your plate, and you seem to be trucking through as best as anyone could expect - including yourself. Your kiddos will certainly see your loving influence later in life, if not now.  

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#4 of 16 Old 05-16-2012, 11:01 PM
 
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Honestly, if you've got 5 kids under 8 and you're parenting solo, I think the best you can hope for is controlled chaos. I've only got 2 and my house wasn't very clean for many years.

 

It works well in our house to have a family "chore" time. We do 15 minutes or so in the evenings (dh and I do more, but at other times). In your position, I might do 2-3 10 minute times - maybe one in the morning where the kids are expected to pick up their clothes, put their dishes in the sink and pick up 5 toys or something like that. When we started when my kids were ~ 3 I used popsicle sticks to write out chores. They were very very specific and do-able. I would write things like "pick up 10 toys in the living room". "Pick up 10 pieces of paper to put in the recycling". "Put away all the shoes in the shoe rack."

 

The other thing I'd suggest is a pretty clear schedule -- if they know what's coming and when, it's easier to get them to do it. So, for example, chore time in the morning can be before anyone gets to watch TV. Then you can have another right after lunch, and another right after dinner. You might even think of doing a visual schedule and putting it on the fridge. After breakfast, we get dressed. The steps to getting dressed are: Taking off your pjs, throwing away your pull-up, putting on clean clothes. OK, that's probably overkill for the 8 year old, but not for the younger ones.

 

I would also make sure you take the kids to the park daily. If your 3 year old runs, then s/he gets to stay next to you. Buy a leash or one of those backpacks with a leash if you have to. He can EARN time away from you. Every time he runs away, he gets to spend 3 minutes next to you.

 

Good consequences would be ones where they have to help clean up the messes they make. NOTHING fun happens until all the marker is off the wall. NOTHING fun happens until they pick up every little scrap of toilet paper. And then you put the toilet paper up really high and dole it out by the square when they have to go. If they don't pick up their clothes, then you direct them to do it.

 

but as a pp pointed out, your kids are really very young. You may be expecting them to do too much on their own. Really, my daughter just turned 8, and it's just in the last 6 months or so that I don't have to really closely monitor her during chore time. In order to get them to help around the house, you have to be very specific. My 8 year old and 11 year old can now do things like vacuum, scrub toilets and fold laundry. But I had to start by telling them "Pick up ALL the stuff on the living room floor." "Now get the vacuum out. Plug it in." I still need to remind my 11 year old how to fold laundry, and that when he scrubs the sink, he actually needs to clean BEHIND the faucets and around the outside of the basin. It's a slow process.

 

I don't know if you have time to read, but something like 1-2-3 Magic might be a good place for you to start. It's not my favorite parenting book, but it's clear, easy to read with and easy to implement. It'd be a place to start.

 

I can't help on the childproofing, but I'm thinking there's got to be a way. What are the consequences for drilling into doors? Is it worth paying it?


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#5 of 16 Old 05-17-2012, 07:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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user_name -

Thank you for all the suggestions. The hour long 'time out' wasn't really a time out. She had been told over the course of the day that if she didn't pick up the things on the floor of her room she would not be able to participate in the games at the party that evening.  I've tried just giving her seven minute time outs but she could care less. The six year old doesn't care if he gets a six minute time out either. Those are the two oldest and I really need their help. I guess time outs are another thing that become a punishment for me. They get up no matter how many times I take them back to where they're supposed to sit. The other kids make a mess while I'm supervising time out for one of them. Honestly, I think they like time out (we don't do it often) because they get attention the entire time, if I don't give them attention by standing there they run off and do what they want. 

 

LynnS6 -

When I try to get them to clean up their own messes they don't. Hours will go by where they just sit there refusing to do anything. If I don't let them do anything at all until it's cleaned up and they will wait it out. The longest we went was from 3:30 (when they get home from school) to the next morning when they left for school at 7:30. They did nothing but sit silently on the floor of their rooms. They were allowed to go to the bathroom and have water. No snacks, no dinner, no anything. I checked on them every couple minutes to make sure they weren't doing anything else. They finally fell asleep there on the floor. They won't clean things up. I don't understand it. What kid would rather spend eight hours sitting on the floor hungry than spend 20-30 minutes cleaning up. The rooms weren't even that messy! It's like they know there will eventually be something I have to do instead of trying to make them help and they will be off the hook.

 

I've also tried paying them for helping. I won't pay them to clean up their own messes but I will for cleaning up messes the younger kids made or the kitchen or whatever. There was only one day where they cleaned up after themselves and were able to do extra chores for money. One of them earned $1 for sweeping the kitchen and wiping the table. The other earned 50¢ for taking two bags of garbage out and dragging the can to the curb. The spent the money on junk food at school the next day and decided it wasn't worth it. Part of the problem is that their grandparents give them whatever they want and never ask them to help clean when we visit there. They both want to live there, 1000 miles away, so they won't have to do work. Why is minimal effort so very difficult for them? I've sat down and explained that when DH isn't here I really need their help, they don't care. I've offered huge rewards for minimal effort. I offered to take them bowling if they spend five minutes helping pick up the living room. They choose not to then wailed because I wouldn't take them. We've never given them much of anything beyond necessities and birthday/Christmas gifts without them having to do some work for it. The younger kids, except the new baby, are asked to help. It's not just the older two that are expected to do chores. I really feel that a six and seven year old should be able to go in their rooms and pick up the clothes, toys, and any garbage from the floor of the room without me standing over them saying "now pick up those two legos, now put them in the blue bin, ok, now the shirt, take it to the hamper, no, don't stop and look at the book, just put it on the shelf, we can sit and read together when you're done". I don't have time for that, am I being unreasonable? 

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#6 of 16 Old 05-17-2012, 07:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I want to add that they both do very well in school. Both of their teachers say they help all the time and pick up whatever they're asked to. The six year old even won a school wide award for Christian values because he's always so quick to help others. I've thought maybe they're just done cleaning by the end of the school day but they don't help on the weekends or vacations. 

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#7 of 16 Old 05-18-2012, 05:10 AM
 
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wow. i can't write much at the moment but i've got an idea that might work.. it requires you to be kind but very assertive. remember that children need guidance and firm boundaries - not a free pass to drive mama crazy. i feel so sorry for you mama. i was going through something similar with my kids (4 kids seven and under) and i was ready to check myself in at a mental institution. will be back later...
 


 

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#8 of 16 Old 05-18-2012, 06:00 AM
 
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If your DH is military (?) can you get some help? Maybe some counseling for the kids? Having a parent away due to deployment is really hard on kids, and they may benefit from counseling, and being able to talk about that with a third party.

Hugs. You've got a lot on your plate.
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#9 of 16 Old 05-18-2012, 07:24 AM
 
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ok i'm back... nak so please excuse any spelling/grammar errors..

 

first - you need to think of your home as a school - a place that needs rules, direction, a purpose and a 'principal'. it isn't a place of anarchy where 'anything goes' - it's a place where children and adults can come together to do great things.


i need you to write up a set of rules, print them out and put them on the wall. it doesn't have to complex, just basic stuff that *everyone* needs to follow.. similar to rules you would find in a classroom except these are adapted to home life.
'NO PINCHING, PULLING HAIR OR FIGHTING'
'PUT YOUR DIRTY CLOTHES IN THE HAMPER'
''PUT YOUR DIRTY PLATE IN THE SINK'
'PACK UP YOUR TOYS WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED PLAYING'


make sure you put these signs up on the wall - one in every room. use blutak to hang them.


formulate some consequences for breaking these rules. they can be strong consequences. you know your kids best and if they don't respond well to nice nancy then it's time to dish out some real stuff..
'if you don't pack away your toys at the end of each day, you are not allowed to play with them the following day'
'if you dont put your dirty clothes in the hamper, then they won't be washed' (with the exception of uniforms)
etc etc


you said that your kids behave at school - this means they are fully capable of behaving themselves at home, they just choose not to. let's not beat around the bush - kids are NOT stupid. they know when they're likely to get into some serious trouble and when they're not. my 7yo was exactly the same.. perfect student at school and a very unhelpful, uncooperating child at home. i realized that she *knew* that there was no real consequence to her behaving that way at home, unlike at school. after all, what's mama going to do about it? yell at the top of her head or put me in time out for another 7 minutes? she knew that at home, she won't be berated by the teacher, sent to the principal or humiliated in front of her friends and so as far as she was concerned, she was SAFE regardless of her behaviour. now, don't get me wrong - it's a good thing that your child DOESN'T FEAR YOU. i never want my child to fear me, i think that creates such an ugly relationship.. but, in terms of discipline, it's also a bad thing. they should have what i call a healthy fear.. or moreso, a healthy level of respect for the parent. the parent should also reciprocate that respect.


anyway, what you need to do next is write out age appropriate chore charts for all kids. good examples are here:

 

http://www.homeschoolcreations.com/files/Preschool_Chore_Cards.pdf

http://www.beginnerbeans.com/2011/08/start-em-workin-while-theyre-young.html

 

 

it can also include basic things like finishing your food and reading a book, so the chart is not associated with negativity.. kids get a kick out of marking things off thier chart.. it gives them incentive to complete a task.
you could put on it:
put your dirty clothes in the hamper
read a book
brush your teeth
hug mummy
play with a sibling nicely
taste test mom's cooking
complete homework or draw a picture (for the younger kids)
.. and so on and so forth ..


decide on a daily and weekly award if the charts are completed.


one saturday morning after breakfast, gather all your children in one room and sit them down. point to the brand spanking new rules poster that is hanging on your wall. use a whistle to get their attention if need be. i get the impression that the kids simply don't give a toss if you say anything in general and often ignore, so you need to be a bit LOUD and attention seeking in your approach. :)


calmly but FIRMLY explain that there are new rules that this family has and explain why the rules are put into place. use examples 'timmy, do you like it when katie pinches you if you don't give her something' 'molly, is it easy to find your toys when they are not packed away in the same spot?' and so on.. pretend to be that teacher standing at the front of the classroom at the beginning of a new school year. prompt them to answer your questions so that they aren't just sitting there blankly staring at you. make it a little fun and say 'i can't hear you! louder! give me a yes - com'n shout it out'.. get them involved and get them laughing so that you have their undivided attention.


explain what the consequences are for breaking the rules. explain that more than one reminder won't be given for the older children (5+) and 2 reminders will be given to the younger children, then the appropriate consequence will be dished out.


show them their daily chore chart and explain that this is also part of the rules system and is to be completed everyday.


then stop there and start a fun activity to get them feeling like part of a team. my suggestion is making popcorn: 1 child to fetch the popping corn, 1 child to fetch the butter or oil, 1 child to pour it all in, 1 child to sprinkle the salt and one child to put them into bowls when they're done. if your children have trouble taking turns then it make so painfully clear whose turn it is next, even if this means going slower than normal.. 'first we gather the corn and butter - WHO will do it for me?' pick 2 children and say 'okay everyone, molly and peter will be gathering the corn and butter'.. then when they've done so, tell them that it's time for the other children to take a turn in doing something and repeat. keep your voice a little louder than usual (not yelling, but perhaps an over enthusiastic volume). i find when i speak in my usual non attention seeking tone, the kids regard my talking as background noise.


once it's all done, sit down popcorn in hand and go back to the rule chart. explain it all over again, this time to allow more of it to sink in. explain that today we will be practising the rules and also practising receiving the *rewards* for a job well done. then ask 'what are one of the rules with dirty dishes?' and get them to respond.. so what do we NOW do with our empty and dirty popcorn bowls? we put them in the sink. com'n everybody, show me how it's done!' with a big, encouring smile on your face. if they don't want to cooperate, chase them around a little or get them to march... lol.. i am not kidding.. be very playful about it and they will WANT to please you just so they can have a chance at joining in some of the fun. i sometimes sing the song from peter pan 'we're following the leader' when i need for them to do something that requires going from one spot to another. i march and sing like a 5 year old. they find it funny, sing and end up doing what i originally asked for. sometimes i'm the scary witch and chase cheeky little girls who don't put their dirty clothes in the laundry.. the magic way to get the witch to stop is by putting all your clothes in. the more clothes that go in, the slower i get in chasing them and they love being able to say 'ner ner ner witch, you can't get me!'
i must admit that my approach is a little childish, but kids do love it. i'm the whacko parent at the park, the one that you see playing with all the children instead of sitting down talking to the other parents. i've never had a child complain that i wasn't mature enough for them. orngbiggrin.gif


you mentioned some examples of messes:
*drawing on the walls with a marker. from now on, i would remove all markers from the house. the school aged children can have markers to use at school only, but not at home! washable pencils and washable crayons ONLY. if they seem a little annoyed, explain your reasons and tell them that they can pick a packet of 'special markers' to take to school to thank you for their understanding and cooperation e.g stamp markers, color changing markers etc i'm sure they won't turn your offer down.


*not putting wet pull-ups in rubbish. make this one of the chores and make it so that even if EVERYTHING ELSE IS COMPLETED but not this one chore, the others become null/void for that day.. it's not asking too much of a 5, 6 or 7yo to put their pull-up in the bin.

 

*pulling pillows and cushions off the couch. explain to the children that you understand pulling pillows/cushions off the couch is fun for them, because of the mess it creates, it is not fun for mama. suggest that if they can manage to keep the couches in good order on the weekdays, then on the weekend you'd be willing to let them:

A) build a fort using the couches and

B) have an awesome pillow fight to boot

 

i know that building forts should not be seen as a 'priviledge' but when things are very chaotic with many young children, you need to make that distinction between playing and plain old mess making very, very clear to children.

 

your goal is to get the older kids to behave and cooperate, so that the younger ones will follow suite. and even if the younger ones don't behave, then at least it will be more manageable overall. plus the pleasant-ness from having some children behave well may be enough to help motivate you when the younger ones don't.

 

i'm not sure if you do this but set aside special times like 'story time with mom' after dinner where you pick a book and they sit down on the rug and listen..

also, give them specific tasks to do.. when mom is washing dishes after dinner, child A will take care of and play with child B and child C and D will do this together etc etc. include this on the chore chart and call it 'after dinner' activity.

 

not sure if it is financially feasible but is your housekeeper able to stay back for a paid hour after she comes to clean your place every fortnight and you use that hour to take the kids to the park? she can mind the 3yo and you mind the other children..

 

hugs mama. i hope my advice helped some. apologies in advance if i've come on a little strong. after reading your post, two thoughts came to mind: one was the way my house used to be and i know how hard it is to be stuck in the middle of such chaos and two was the movie nanny mcphee.. with the kids running riot in the kitchen.


 

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#10 of 16 Old 05-18-2012, 07:35 AM
 
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Originally Posted by elus0814 View Post

 I really feel that a six and seven year old should be able to go in their rooms and pick up the clothes, toys, and any garbage from the floor of the room without me standing over them saying "now pick up those two legos, now put them in the blue bin, ok, now the shirt, take it to the hamper, no, don't stop and look at the book, just put it on the shelf, we can sit and read together when you're done". I don't have time for that, am I being unreasonable? 

I only have two boys, age 5 and 7, and I DO have to give step-by-step instructions on what to pick up, what to do next, where to put things. My 7 year old just doesn't have the common sense or attention span perhaps? And he has a strong need for my personal attention. The 5 year old is better at it and can do things a bit more independently, but with my older son I know that not every kid is that way at all!

I'm not the best one to give you advice, but it does seem you are at the end of your rope and have a very difficult situation!  Sounds like it's time for an overhaul of how things are done. Figuring out a way to get the kids outside as much as possible is important. And I like the advice to only give consequences that you will be comfortable with following through on.  The afternoon they sat in their rooms doing nothing actually seems like a success story to me.  You followed through.  They weren't trashing the house. Maybe they started to learn a lesson that day by choosing to take that consequence.   One other question - are they bored? You said they don't have a ton of toys - do the ones they have really engage them, or is it time for some more grown-up toys, like more complicated building sets? 

I believe at 6 and 7 they are not old enough to already behave properly in all situations or do things very independently, but this is a good age for them to start to learn.  I look forward to hearing others' advice as I could use some new techniques and attitudes myself in getting the kids to clean up after themselves too.  Hang in there, your kids are very young and underneath it all I'll bet they do aim to please.

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#11 of 16 Old 05-18-2012, 09:16 AM
 
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Originally Posted by reezley View Post

I only have two boys, age 5 and 7, and I DO have to give step-by-step instructions on what to pick up, what to do next, where to put things. My 7 year old just doesn't have the common sense or attention span perhaps? And he has a strong need for my personal attention. The 5 year old is better at it and can do things a bit more independently, but with my older son I know that not every kid is that way at all!

I'm not the best one to give you advice, but it does seem you are at the end of your rope and have a very difficult situation!  Sounds like it's time for an overhaul of how things are done. Figuring out a way to get the kids outside as much as possible is important. And I like the advice to only give consequences that you will be comfortable with following through on.  The afternoon they sat in their rooms doing nothing actually seems like a success story to me.  You followed through.  They weren't trashing the house. Maybe they started to learn a lesson that day by choosing to take that consequence.   One other question - are they bored? You said they don't have a ton of toys - do the ones they have really engage them, or is it time for some more grown-up toys, like more complicated building sets? 

I believe at 6 and 7 they are not old enough to already behave properly in all situations or do things very independently, but this is a good age for them to start to learn.  I look forward to hearing others' advice as I could use some new techniques and attitudes myself in getting the kids to clean up after themselves too.  Hang in there, your kids are very young and underneath it all I'll bet they do aim to please.

 

i do the same with my 5yo and 7yo. i think sometimes it's a bit overwhelming for a child when they are faced with a huge mess like their room, even though to us, it is obvious as to what needs to be done. i think it's akin to an adult sitting in a cluttered house and wanting to de-clutter.. they look around and just feel overwhelmed. they want to start but don't know WHERE to begin, even though to an outsider (or a minimalist or an organizer) it's painfully obvious.

 

going for several hours without anything instead of cleaning their room does sound like you've got a case of the stubborns winky.gif that's hard to deal with! my 5yo is was like that. i found the way to get her to cooperate is through heaps of encouragement and step by step instruction. she also craves a lot of personal attention like the mama above mentioned. when asked, she now does most things happily and independently. now i have to work on my 3yo as she has a mixture of stubborn and strong willed, all wrapped up in cute.


 

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#12 of 16 Old 05-18-2012, 09:49 AM
 
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Maybe you just need a new organization plan.  

 

I have no idea how you can do that in such a small house.  It sounds crazy.  (because obviously what you really need is a full size unfinished basement and a large yard with a fence to let them run, play, ride....)  But, I bet it can be done one step at a time.

 

I've seen parts of the Duggars show where they explain how they organize such a busy home.  I know they keep all the clothes in the laundry room, each kid has one bin for their clothes.  The clothes are not put away in their bedrooms.

 

For getting food out and making a mess, I'd have a serious consequence for that.  But, I'd let other things slide.  (like messy toys)  For the wet pullups, that would be the first thing I expected of them in the mornings.  "go find your wet pants and throw them in the kitchen trash..I'll make breakfast as soon as everybody has done that".

 

I have a daycare, and I have seven kids under the age of four.  It works out for us (mostly because they don't LIVE here) But, I have certain expectations before we can move on to the next fun thing.  I won't serve lunch until they have cleaned up the toys.  They don't do it the way I want them to... but, it's good enough for a three year old.  I make it very easy to pick up.  

 

As for letting your three year old jump.... can't he jump?  If he hurts himself, maybe he won't do it twice.  I'm not suggesting he jump from 8 feet... but, if he jumps from four or five feet.... it might hurt, but it's a lesson better learned at 3 instead of 12.  I'm not sure what to do about the running away though.  Maybe a stroller with a good strap and let him scream.  (if he runs off)  Or if it's a reasonably safe area, let him run...... does he run down the street?  Or just running around the park?  I don't chase kids.  So, once a kid runs away from me, we let him run... he eventually comes back when he realizes he isn't being chased.   However, I've never had a kid who ran just to run... most kids run, then look behind them to see who's going to chase them.  When they look back at me, I'm sitting down enjoying the playground.  Then they come back, because the fun is only in the chase.  Eventually they learn the joys of "Playground tag".  

 

Enlist your older kids with your three year old.  "I need you to help him learn how to use the equipment right, and how to have fun...or we can't come to the park".   Have them give you two or three days of spending time on the playground focusing on the three year old, and showing him how to play right... then once he has the hang of it, they can do what they want.  There's no reason to be held hostage by one three year old.  

 

I have even strapped a carseat to the wagon to ride to the park, but then strapped an older child in the carseat if he couldn't play safely.  He can watch from his carseat while you hold the baby and his siblings play on the playground.  It only takes a few times until he learns that you are serious and you won't allow him to run away.

 

Pick a few battles, and be consistent.  Then when you have conquered those, pick a few more.

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#13 of 16 Old 05-19-2012, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by LoveOurBabies View Post

ok i'm back... nak so please excuse any spelling/grammar errors..

 

first - you need to think of your home as a school - a place that needs rules, direction, a purpose and a 'principal'. it isn't a place of anarchy where 'anything goes' - it's a place where children and adults can come together to do great things.


i need you to write up a set of rules, print them out and put them on the wall. it doesn't have to complex, just basic stuff that *everyone* needs to follow.. similar to rules you would find in a classroom except these are adapted to home life.
'NO PINCHING, PULLING HAIR OR FIGHTING'
'PUT YOUR DIRTY CLOTHES IN THE HAMPER'
''PUT YOUR DIRTY PLATE IN THE SINK'
'PACK UP YOUR TOYS WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED PLAYING'


make sure you put these signs up on the wall - one in every room. use blutak to hang them.


formulate some consequences for breaking these rules. they can be strong consequences. you know your kids best and if they don't respond well to nice nancy then it's time to dish out some real stuff..
'if you don't pack away your toys at the end of each day, you are not allowed to play with them the following day'
'if you dont put your dirty clothes in the hamper, then they won't be washed' (with the exception of uniforms)
etc etc


you said that your kids behave at school - this means they are fully capable of behaving themselves at home, they just choose not to. let's not beat around the bush - kids are NOT stupid. they know when they're likely to get into some serious trouble and when they're not. my 7yo was exactly the same.. perfect student at school and a very unhelpful, uncooperating child at home. i realized that she *knew* that there was no real consequence to her behaving that way at home, unlike at school. after all, what's mama going to do about it? yell at the top of her head or put me in time out for another 7 minutes? she knew that at home, she won't be berated by the teacher, sent to the principal or humiliated in front of her friends and so as far as she was concerned, she was SAFE regardless of her behaviour. now, don't get me wrong - it's a good thing that your child DOESN'T FEAR YOU. i never want my child to fear me, i think that creates such an ugly relationship.. but, in terms of discipline, it's also a bad thing. they should have what i call a healthy fear.. or moreso, a healthy level of respect for the parent. the parent should also reciprocate that respect.


anyway, what you need to do next is write out age appropriate chore charts for all kids. good examples are here:

 

http://www.homeschoolcreations.com/files/Preschool_Chore_Cards.pdf

http://www.beginnerbeans.com/2011/08/start-em-workin-while-theyre-young.html

 

 

it can also include basic things like finishing your food and reading a book, so the chart is not associated with negativity.. kids get a kick out of marking things off thier chart.. it gives them incentive to complete a task.
you could put on it:
put your dirty clothes in the hamper
read a book
brush your teeth
hug mummy
play with a sibling nicely
taste test mom's cooking
complete homework or draw a picture (for the younger kids)
.. and so on and so forth ..


decide on a daily and weekly award if the charts are completed.


one saturday morning after breakfast, gather all your children in one room and sit them down. point to the brand spanking new rules poster that is hanging on your wall. use a whistle to get their attention if need be. i get the impression that the kids simply don't give a toss if you say anything in general and often ignore, so you need to be a bit LOUD and attention seeking in your approach. :)


calmly but FIRMLY explain that there are new rules that this family has and explain why the rules are put into place. use examples 'timmy, do you like it when katie pinches you if you don't give her something' 'molly, is it easy to find your toys when they are not packed away in the same spot?' and so on.. pretend to be that teacher standing at the front of the classroom at the beginning of a new school year. prompt them to answer your questions so that they aren't just sitting there blankly staring at you. make it a little fun and say 'i can't hear you! louder! give me a yes - com'n shout it out'.. get them involved and get them laughing so that you have their undivided attention.


explain what the consequences are for breaking the rules. explain that more than one reminder won't be given for the older children (5+) and 2 reminders will be given to the younger children, then the appropriate consequence will be dished out.


show them their daily chore chart and explain that this is also part of the rules system and is to be completed everyday.


then stop there and start a fun activity to get them feeling like part of a team. my suggestion is making popcorn: 1 child to fetch the popping corn, 1 child to fetch the butter or oil, 1 child to pour it all in, 1 child to sprinkle the salt and one child to put them into bowls when they're done. if your children have trouble taking turns then it make so painfully clear whose turn it is next, even if this means going slower than normal.. 'first we gather the corn and butter - WHO will do it for me?' pick 2 children and say 'okay everyone, molly and peter will be gathering the corn and butter'.. then when they've done so, tell them that it's time for the other children to take a turn in doing something and repeat. keep your voice a little louder than usual (not yelling, but perhaps an over enthusiastic volume). i find when i speak in my usual non attention seeking tone, the kids regard my talking as background noise.


once it's all done, sit down popcorn in hand and go back to the rule chart. explain it all over again, this time to allow more of it to sink in. explain that today we will be practising the rules and also practising receiving the *rewards* for a job well done. then ask 'what are one of the rules with dirty dishes?' and get them to respond.. so what do we NOW do with our empty and dirty popcorn bowls? we put them in the sink. com'n everybody, show me how it's done!' with a big, encouring smile on your face. if they don't want to cooperate, chase them around a little or get them to march... lol.. i am not kidding.. be very playful about it and they will WANT to please you just so they can have a chance at joining in some of the fun. i sometimes sing the song from peter pan 'we're following the leader' when i need for them to do something that requires going from one spot to another. i march and sing like a 5 year old. they find it funny, sing and end up doing what i originally asked for. sometimes i'm the scary witch and chase cheeky little girls who don't put their dirty clothes in the laundry.. the magic way to get the witch to stop is by putting all your clothes in. the more clothes that go in, the slower i get in chasing them and they love being able to say 'ner ner ner witch, you can't get me!'
i must admit that my approach is a little childish, but kids do love it. i'm the whacko parent at the park, the one that you see playing with all the children instead of sitting down talking to the other parents. i've never had a child complain that i wasn't mature enough for them. orngbiggrin.gif


you mentioned some examples of messes:
*drawing on the walls with a marker. from now on, i would remove all markers from the house. the school aged children can have markers to use at school only, but not at home! washable pencils and washable crayons ONLY. if they seem a little annoyed, explain your reasons and tell them that they can pick a packet of 'special markers' to take to school to thank you for their understanding and cooperation e.g stamp markers, color changing markers etc i'm sure they won't turn your offer down.


*not putting wet pull-ups in rubbish. make this one of the chores and make it so that even if EVERYTHING ELSE IS COMPLETED but not this one chore, the others become null/void for that day.. it's not asking too much of a 5, 6 or 7yo to put their pull-up in the bin.

 

*pulling pillows and cushions off the couch. explain to the children that you understand pulling pillows/cushions off the couch is fun for them, because of the mess it creates, it is not fun for mama. suggest that if they can manage to keep the couches in good order on the weekdays, then on the weekend you'd be willing to let them:

A) build a fort using the couches and

B) have an awesome pillow fight to boot

 

i know that building forts should not be seen as a 'priviledge' but when things are very chaotic with many young children, you need to make that distinction between playing and plain old mess making very, very clear to children.

 

your goal is to get the older kids to behave and cooperate, so that the younger ones will follow suite. and even if the younger ones don't behave, then at least it will be more manageable overall. plus the pleasant-ness from having some children behave well may be enough to help motivate you when the younger ones don't.

 

i'm not sure if you do this but set aside special times like 'story time with mom' after dinner where you pick a book and they sit down on the rug and listen..

also, give them specific tasks to do.. when mom is washing dishes after dinner, child A will take care of and play with child B and child C and D will do this together etc etc. include this on the chore chart and call it 'after dinner' activity.

 

not sure if it is financially feasible but is your housekeeper able to stay back for a paid hour after she comes to clean your place every fortnight and you use that hour to take the kids to the park? she can mind the 3yo and you mind the other children..

 

hugs mama. i hope my advice helped some. apologies in advance if i've come on a little strong. after reading your post, two thoughts came to mind: one was the way my house used to be and i know how hard it is to be stuck in the middle of such chaos and two was the movie nanny mcphee.. with the kids running riot in the kitchen.

 

These are some great ideas, thank you for typing all that out!

 

My big problem isn't creating rules, charts, or what have you it's getting the kids to do it. I can take the markers away but they climb the shelves of the closet and get them out while I'm feeding the baby. If I try to involve them in anything productive, like making a snack, they argue, push one another, throw the food, and whine when it's not their turn. I end up biting my tongue not to lose it and scream at them. I really want to scream constantly, it's like it bubbles up from being so frustrated with not having any help and not being able to get anything done without a huge effort.

 

Here's an example:

I decree that nothing else will happen that day and any other chores they might do will not count if they don't pick up the pull ups. I can (and have) write it down, put it on chart, have a sit down talk about why it needs to be done, take away privileges or belongings if it's not done, give rewards for doing it (even though I don't think I should have to reward them for tossing out their own pee), have my husband talk to to them, have their grandparents/aunts/etc. talk to them, but they won't do it and I physically can't stand over them for hours listening to them screaming and crying and trying to keep myself and the younger kids safe if they decide to throw things at me or hit me (they've never been hit/spanked by an adult, just kids getting mad while playing). Then what do I do? I can tell them they can't read a book but unless I physically take the book away over and over and over they'll still do what they want, eventually someone else will need something and I'll have to tend to them. I can't pack the books or whatever up because they get them out. I can't lock them up without getting stuck with an $1800 bill next year for a house full of new doors.They've figured out that I essentially can't do anything if they decide not to do what they're told to do. I can't force them. No reward is enough to motivate them to do it. No punishment is enforceable. On top of all that things need to be done out of the house and they know they'll go along since I can't just not get groceries or take them to school or spend time with someone older than seven for months on end so they know they'll eventually get to do something else no matter if they do the work or not. Even if I wait them out for a day or two we have to leave the house sooner or later. I want to yell and scram but it won't do any more good than what I'm doing now. 

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#14 of 16 Old 05-19-2012, 09:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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As for letting your three year old jump.... can't he jump?  If he hurts himself, maybe he won't do it twice.  I'm not suggesting he jump from 8 feet... but, if he jumps from four or five feet.... it might hurt, but it's a lesson better learned at 3 instead of 12.  I'm not sure what to do about the running away though.  Maybe a stroller with a good strap and let him scream.  (if he runs off)  Or if it's a reasonably safe area, let him run...... does he run down the street?  Or just running around the park?  I don't chase kids.  So, once a kid runs away from me, we let him run... he eventually comes back when he realizes he isn't being chased.   However, I've never had a kid who ran just to run... most kids run, then look behind them to see who's going to chase them.  When they look back at me, I'm sitting down enjoying the playground.  Then they come back, because the fun is only in the chase.  Eventually they learn the joys of "Playground tag".  

 The playground next door is open, no fences or anything, and has two play equipment sections. One if for younger kids and is fairly low to the ground. He can play on that one all he wants and do whatever. The issue is that he won't stay there. He wants, understandably, to play on the larger equipment. He's one of those kids that has no fear of anything until he learns about it firsthand. He used to want to play with the stove all the time. Finally I stopped hovering over the stove to keep him away, he got a small burn on his finger, and he never did it again. I can't play that game when he's trying to jump off a 10' play platform. It's wood chips underneath but he could break his arm or leg or hit his head of the metal post. The other parents in the neighborhood and I have put in a request to create separate play areas so families with small kids won't have to deal with little ones climbing on the huge play equipment.

 

The playground is maybe 20-30' from the street and is on a corner. It's a quiet area and people on base generally obey the speed limit (15 mph) but there is that occasional car that speeds by at 40. He will run off into the street. Once he ran right out into the street, ran through someone's backyard, and rang the doorbell of a general's house several times before I got there (it was right after halloween so I think he thought he would get candy). Things like that are not only unsafe but embarrassing.

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#15 of 16 Old 05-19-2012, 11:41 AM
 
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When I was growing up, if we didn't clean up our toys, it was trashbag time for the toys (lock them in the trunk of your car and hide the keys). Sometimes we got them back, sometimes we didn't; it depended on our actions trying to earn them back. I don't think having kids should mean mama gets to be everyone's slave, and that seems like what is happening in your house.

 

I do think you have to take responsibility for clean school clothes, but other than that, let them wear dirty clothes!!! Do the older kids have friends over? Leave the pullups on the floor for their friends to see. I bet that will get them cleaned up right quick once they get made fun of.

 

My daughter has a sweet disposition to begin with but she already realizes that life is give and take. Earlier she wanted to change into a different dress but I wouldn't help her until she had cleaned up her mess from her snack. She's already in panties overnight too. She's not even three.

 

These kids are really making your life hell. I would not be nice (polite, but still...do not make deals. Just do what you say you are going to do and don't argue with them) about trying to turn things around. And I'd involve your husband too. If daddy calls from being deployed and is PISSED at them for what they are doing to you, I bet that will make a difference. My dad was not the best example of a disciplinarian growing up (very harsh) but if we pulled the crap your kids are pulling he would be taking heads off. Not necessarily for what we did to misbehave, but for disrepecting our mother.

 

I'm sure some people might think this is harsh. But I don't spend my day cleaning up other people's messes if they are capable of cleaning them up themselves, and I never will. This is how college-age man-babies are created and people like that drive me insane.


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#16 of 16 Old 05-19-2012, 06:15 PM
 
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 The playground next door is open, no fences or anything, and has two play equipment sections. One if for younger kids and is fairly low to the ground. He can play on that one all he wants and do whatever. The issue is that he won't stay there. He wants, understandably, to play on the larger equipment. He's one of those kids that has no fear of anything until he learns about it firsthand. He used to want to play with the stove all the time. Finally I stopped hovering over the stove to keep him away, he got a small burn on his finger, and he never did it again. I can't play that game when he's trying to jump off a 10' play platform. It's wood chips underneath but he could break his arm or leg or hit his head of the metal post. The other parents in the neighborhood and I have put in a request to create separate play areas so families with small kids won't have to deal with little ones climbing on the huge play equipment.

 

The playground is maybe 20-30' from the street and is on a corner. It's a quiet area and people on base generally obey the speed limit (15 mph) but there is that occasional car that speeds by at 40. He will run off into the street. Once he ran right out into the street, ran through someone's backyard, and rang the doorbell of a general's house several times before I got there (it was right after halloween so I think he thought he would get candy). Things like that are not only unsafe but embarrassing.

Well, obviously he can't be allowed to run in the street.  Run around....but, not in the street.

 

I would still let him jump though.  Stand with him, and talk about it... let him jump from four feet and see how he does... then maybe let him jump from five feet, and make him understand that five feet is too high, lets go back to the four foot one.  Let him get on the monkey bars and drop.  (when you hang from them for a minute, then drop it hurts your feet really bad, but it's not permanent)

 

He's THAT kid.  He's the kid who doesn't just use common sense, he learns by doing, and he learns the hard way.  He's the future Olympic athlete.  Nurture it.  Let him have accidents.  Let him learn limits by testing his limit.  But, impost strict rules.  At age three, a typical kid KNOWS he is not allowed to run in the street... he CAN control that urge, but he wants to push the limits.  So, if the consequence is always the same "You will be strapped into this stroller where you will stay for our entire walk the instant you step into the street".

 

Just let him jump.  Not from 8 feet... but, let him do the mildly dangerous things.  Some kids really, really NEED to do those things.  I don't know why... but, where would we get our extreme athletes if there aren't those extreme kids?  (my child wouldn't even climb those toys at age three, much less jump...yet she had three broken bones by age six.)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xx6iN-fyxnY&feature=related  <--I can't even do this on the Wii.  

 

Anyway... I think you can get them out more if you can get the three year old to focus his energy into more appropriate skills.   The running off and the running in the street would be a deal breaker for me too.  But, I'd allow jumping, and I'd allow dangerous tricks within reason.

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