8-year-old not keeping up simple responsibilities, freaking out a lot - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 37 Old 09-16-2013, 03:06 PM
 
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and i meant to say, this was a really good point:

"Around the time children begin to talk, they become more able to conceive of and express desires that are not needs. That's when we begin teaching them about balancing their needs and desires with those of other people"

my (very anxious, high-strung, high-needs) 6-yr-old nephew (i see SO much of myself in him, it's remarkable) has given me this lesson in some pretty comical ways! haha... he is the kind of kid who needs pretty much constant attention, but that's not the same as needing all the things he asks for, and he is deviously clever at exploiting my lack of familiarity with their routine! i love that kid to death, and (granted, it's in part b/c i'm not around him 24/7) usually manage to muster all my patience when i'm around him, and i can usually redirect tantrums & whining not by giving in to his specific demands, but by tuning in to the fact that he's asking for some intense attention, and suggesting alternative ideas to what he at first seems fixated on (for instance, waking up his little brother). my sister is not an attachment parent, though she does some of the things like cosleeping b/c they feel natural to her. and her husband gets annoyed if my nephews are playing at a volume that competes with his near-constant sports watching on the TV. so i feel like there's perhaps an especially sharp contrast to observe there, as i don't think they always utilize very effective (or, frankly, healthy) tools in dealing with the ways he is challenging (or even just being a normal kid). he gets told to shush WAY too often & it breaks my heart. but he still responds very well to my methods, so that's encouraging, at least.

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#32 of 37 Old 09-16-2013, 05:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by EnviroBecca View Post
 

 

I do feel like the sheer volume of homework (especially now that it's daily) is excessive.  When I was in 3rd grade, all "homework" could be completed during the school day if you were diligent; I had some left to do at home maybe once a month, aside from reading book report books.

 

I recommend Alfred Kohn "The Homework Myth". It was an eye opener for me.


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#33 of 37 Old 09-17-2013, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It seems that TV is like the easiest thing he can think of to do, but when we limit TV so that he has to come up with other ideas, he rarely has any trouble doing that.  He often has ideas for contraptions he wants to build and will come up with ways to make them from things he can find around the house, and he's got pretty good sense about not using stuff we'd object to (if it isn't pulled from the recycling bin, he uses it in a way that allows it to be cleaned off and returned to service afterward), not hurting himself, and not damaging the furniture or floor--so the only problem we have with this is getting him to pick up the scraps and put away the markers and such when he's done; the regularly scheduled chores are addressing that.  He would LIKE to have someone to talk to while he's working, but working alone doesn't harm his creative process and may even help it because he's using his own brain instead of demanding that we solve problems for him.  Here's an example of how he made a wind vane with minimal help.  As an extravert myself, I can understand being happier when you are working alongside someone and wanting to talk to someone about your progress, but I also think that at this age he can start learning to resist the urge to interrupt his dad every few minutes.

 

By the way, I relate pretty strongly to his situation because I grew up with an at-home mom who prefers to be alone, was working on a lot of writing projects, and had a serious spinal pain problem.  Most afternoons after school, either Mom was excited to continue the writing she'd started while we were at school and didn't want to be interrupted, or she was in pain and lying down.  She did everything she could think of to arrange for my brother and me to be independent, because she preferred to interact with us as little as possible until dinnertime.  It's not that she didn't love us or wasn't interested; she just wanted to wait until dinner to talk, unless it was important.  I coped with this pretty well, although it wasn't really what I would have preferred.  I had lists of my morning and afternoon tasks and my weekly chores, like I set up for my son this year, and enjoyed the sense of accomplishment in a way he doesn't seem to have caught onto yet.  It wasn't until two years ago, when I asked my mom what she remembers about being the age I am now, that I realized how much she is like my partner!  Same introversion, same sense of her work being very important even though it's unpaid unless/until a finished project sells, same desire for the kid to just stay happily occupied and not interrupt.  So I've thought about what parts of her treatment of me did any harm vs. just making me wistful.  I remember being sad about walking into the house and having nobody to greet me, being expected to get my own snack, and if I went down the hall to my mom's room to say hi she'd barely look up from her typewriter.  So when my partner stopped walking the kid home from school every day (thus losing the 15 minutes they used to spend walking together, with dad telling a story) I asked him to come downstairs as soon as he hears the kid come home, greet him with a hug, and spend at least a few minutes talking and getting the kid settled before he goes back to work.

 

Quote:
 we were actually discussing just yesterday how, if the kid was in school, they'd feel punished and isolated if we didn't let them watch the shows/films that most of their peers watch & talk about constantly, and "how would we deal with that?!"

My dad's solution was to ask which of the shows sounded most interesting to me, and arrange for us to watch it together.  Usually we'd find that the show was dumb, and when it was mentioned thereafter I'd shrug and feel I wasn't missing anything.  Occasionally we'd find a show like "Three's Company" that was entertaining enough that I was then allowed to watch it with parental guidance.  While my dad might have preferred that his third-grader not know about prostitution or drunkenness or homophobia or other subjects that came up in these shows, it was great that he got to be the first to explain them to me, instead of my learning about them from my peers or from the TV without parental guidance.

 

By the end of elementary school, I'd learned that most of the shows "everybody" watches and talks about are crap, my tastes are not mainstream, and that's okay.  But I also was familiar with some of the mainstream stuff, and that was helpful for getting along.  So far I haven't found this a very difficult issue with my kid.

 

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 but then i wonder, what about books? do they carry any of the same potential pitfalls?

Having been able to read at a 6th grade level by kindergarten, I can assure you that books can frighten or corrupt a child with ideas she's not ready to handle.  The effect is different from TV, but it can be vivid in its own way.  Here again, one of my options was to share the book with my dad so we could talk about it.

 

Quote:
 (we spent no less than 2 hrs chasing topics of discussion spurred by the initial discussion of your post & ensuing thread).

That's great!  It's so important to have these discussions before parenthood--later, too, but before you have a child it's easier to talk it through and think about all the possibilities.  I joined MDC when we were first TTC, and we had so many great discussions based on threads here!


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#34 of 37 Old 11-08-2013, 02:41 PM
 
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Hello, I finally have a moment to reply to this thread. I identified so, so much with the difficulties you are having with your son. I was so relieved to read your very detailed thread and to know I am not alone. My daughter is 9 and behaves very similarly. I find it intensely frustrating, but even more heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking because it seems like I can't get through to her at all. Her behaviour, and my responses, led to quite a negative relationship -- more heartbreak.

 

What I have learned:

* With homework, she needs me to sit with her every step of the way. This is not how I think it should be. It is how it is. Once I accepted reality, I became willing to do what is needed.

* She seems to need an enormous amount of attention, maybe just because she's an only child and I'm a single mother. I constantly work with balancing her need with my introversion. These days, she is with her dad about half the week and with me the other half. During "my" half, life is far more serene if I surrender to my parent identity. I live my own life (i.e., work) the other days. This is working for all of us (it helps that her dad is older, and retired, and can spend all day with her.)

* My expectations cause us both a lot of misery. Lowering my expectations significantly, while still having expectations of her, has been necessary and helpful.

* Boundaries: I have to be extremely clear with her -- black and white, even. And OFTEN (several times per week), enforcing my boundaries in a firm but kind way means that life becomes highly inconvenient. I've learned to accept and prepare for the inconvenience. It still bugs me, but the form of love that she needs (as opposed to the form of love that's easiest for me to give) means I take a lot of steps back, a lot of deep breaths, and attempt to remember my priorities all the time. I tried it the other way and it was hellish.

 

Regarding your situation, I agree that the main after-school issue is that it's unrealistic to expect an only child of 8 to not only amuse himself alone but also to do his homework and chores alone. If you husband needs to get real work done during those hours, then he is not available to look after the child. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been able to get work done during the day when my child was in the house -- and those happened in the middle of days when she had my full attention for a couple of hours in the morning and knew she would have my full attention again afterwards.

 

Regarding the disrespect: when my daughter started with the tweeny attitude, I was horrified and came down hard -- time outs, etc. It failed totally and miserably. Now I ignore what I dislike and notice (aloud) the behaviour I like. At first, her behaviour was no better, but both our stress levels were lower. (Biting my tongue turned out to be less stressful than fighting a million lose-lose battles.) Several months later, the disrespect has lessened quite a lot.

 

Screen time: obviously there's a wide range of opinion on this. For what it's worth, I think 30 minutes/day on a weekday and 60 minutes on a weekend is plenty. My argument is always, there's so much else to do in the world!

 

For perspective: I am now home schooling my daughter, for a combination of reasons. It took several months of 'unschooling,' but our relationship is way, way, way better. She knows I am on her side. Letting her know I am on her side is one of my major parenting goals. I have been much too critical of her, and had far too-high expectations in the past. It helps enormously that we don't have to be anywhere before 10 a.m., even on my work days. It helps enormously that she doesn't have homework. (Homework is a nonsense at this age, IMHO.) It helps that she's not exposed to quite so much mainstream materialistic boy-band-focussed silliness from school. And we still struggle with her unwillingness to do any formal learning.

 

Over and over again, I discover that consequences for poor behaviour, time outs, etc. etc., backfire. I've read lots of books and attended parenting classes, so I think I'm implementing them OK. It's just that for my daughter's personality, consequences & time outs are like red rags to a bull. When I can, I bring in humour (not my strong point). I constantly tell her that although I may hate some behaviours, I always love her. Although I am a very straightforward, literal person, I'm learning to dodge and weave and even manipulate to avoid conflict and to get her to (happily) do the right thing.

 

One of the things going on for my daughter is that, developmentally, she is at her age level in some areas, way ahead in others, and way behind in yet others. With the home schooling, and spending a lot more time with her, and surrendering to her needs a lot of the time, I can meet her wherever she's at, and support her there. This is better than what I used to do: expect her to behave at age level in all circumstances. Not possible, and therefore unfair to her. My intention is that with this extra attention, she'll even out a bit, or at least have the tools to support herself better in a range of circumstances.

 

This is getting way too long, but I've got more to say about tantrums, too. There are so many similarities between our households.

 

I sincerely hope 3rd grade is going a little more smoothly now than when you started the thread. And I'd love to know how it IS going.

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#35 of 37 Old 11-08-2013, 07:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for sharing your perspective!

School is going well. We love his school and see no reason to change it. We think the amount and type of homework are within reason.

I hsve become more convinced that the real problem here is conflict between father and child, and that I can't do a whole lot to fix it--I've become more and more aware of how often they put me in the middle, each of them complaining to me about the other and demanding that I explain to him how he needs to change! So, we are seeking family therapy. We hope to find a counselor who will work with all of us together, and with the two of them in particular, on better communication and realistic expectations.

At this point, my partner is way off the end of his rope in dealing with the kid and often, in my opinion, is not reasonable in how he expects the kid to respond to his approach. Many days, I come home from work to find the kid happy enough doing some craft project while his dad sulks upstairs and has no idea whether or not kid has done his homework or chore. I have to make that happen--and I am not having a lot of trouble getting him to do stuff using positive parenting strategies, but the limited time between my getting home and bedtime and the fact that he's already tired make it tricky--and I resent being treated as if our child is my sole responsibility, especially while I am pregnant with another! I think my partner may need individual therapy to get himself together; looking forward to seeing what the family therapist says about that.

We have been doing no TV on school nights, but some on weekends and days off, for a few weeks now. I think that's helping our son get stuff done with less struggle. Even on days when he has not done his homework or chore, he has been doing something interesting instead of staring at the screen. Today he made a giant paper pencil for every member of his class, for example, and he has been doing jigsaw puzzles and such.

His behavior is still horrible at times, though. It's much more directed at his dad than me, but it's sometimes at me. He talks in a nasty snarling voice, makes everything sound like an argument, goes into crisis shrieking mode at the slightest hint of anything going wrong (for example, spilling a small amount of water on the bath mat), interrupts a lot, and generally is just really aggravating a lot of the time.

Hoping for progress...soon!

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#36 of 37 Old 11-10-2013, 04:37 PM
 
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I am so glad to hear that school is going well!

 

And I'm right there with you regarding crisis shrieking mode. I have to keep reminding myself that when she panics, I panic (because I don't know how to control the situation, as if that were even possible). So I'm trying to work with MY panic first, and then (BIG lesson) trust her. If she's in shrieking mode, it may be partly bad behaviour, but it's also partly real distress.  Figuring out which is which is way beyond my (maybe anyone's) skill level. And figuring out a healthy response to bad behaviour and distress is tough, too. I bumble on....

 

Family therapy sounds like a great idea!

 

You've got a lot going on, between working, supervising your son, and being pregnant. Do you get any nurturing yourself? Sometimes when I haven't been able to look after myself much, I lie in bed and imagine having a massage. Not as good as the real thing, but it does help me relax!

 

I'm sure they grow out of this aggravating stage. They've grown out of other difficult stages!

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#37 of 37 Old 11-11-2013, 08:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a crisis shrieking mode myself--though it happens a lot less often--so I have thought about how I need people to treat me when it happens.  If they panic, that's like evidence that this REALLY IS a big problem, which is not helpful.  Directly telling me that it's not a big problem or "calm down" also is not helpful, as it insults my judgment and hurts my feelings.  What I need is for them to SHOW me that it's not a big problem to them because they know what to do and that I'm okay and they still love me.  So, that's what I try to do for my son.  When he freaked about the bath mat, for example, I said in my calm voice, "It's okay for the bath mat to get wet.  I'll put it on the edge of the tub so we don't step on it and get our socks wet."  After that I gave him a hug.

 

Yes, I do feel like I could use more nurturing!!!  I try to ask my partner to do specific things for me, because he says he's happy to help me if I only just ask--but the thing is, maybe about half the time he is, and other times he responds with, basically, "How dare you ask anything of me when I'm already overwhelmed?!" or he'll say he's going to do it later in the day but then doesn't get around to it for days and days and expects me to understand and not nag, and both things are really hard for me to handle.

 

A couple of weeks ago, I finally insisted that he call his parents and tell them we've been having a hard time.  His father is a therapist and sometimes helpful.  This time it did seem that my partner listened to his father's advice more than he does to mine (though it was basically the same advice) and he's coping a little better as a result.  His parents live hours away, but his mom is now visiting his grandfather who's only an hour away.  She suggested that, in addition to coming over there for lunch yesterday, we leave our son with her overnight and have her bring him back today (a school holiday that's not a work holiday).  This is a huge help for us, not having to keep him busy on his day off!  It's also a big step in that he never spent a whole night away from us (he's been put to bed by grandparents or sitter, but we were there in the morning) and this is actually at a distance--but there was no middle-of-the-night phone call, so it must have gone okay.  We never feel much need for "date night" on any fancy scale, but it was nice having an evening when we didn't have interruptions from the kid or a bedtime routine to do on time.  I asked my partner if he would be willing to rub oil into my legs after I shaved them (or would he consider that kind of a hygiene thing, rather than sensuous?) and he was, so we did that, and I enjoyed feeling cared for and being touched.  There's been too little of that lately.  I was glad I'd asked.


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