Help me get back to gentle discipline! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 10 Old 04-15-2014, 10:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi, all.

 

I am a long-time Mothering user (had another username before this) and mom to two little girls. My DD1 is 5.5 (6 in August) and my DD2 is 10 months. 

 

I have always tried for gentle discipline/peaceful parenting. Did AP with my older and now with DD2. Andd 85% of the time, I've been a wonderful mother. But I've had my lows. I've struggled with depression, anxiety, and rage, and dealt with relationship issues with their father at times, which didn't help. I've been far from a perfect mother. My children are my first priority, and I have truly given it everything I have. But sometimes it hasn't been enough. I know my guilt isn't serving me, but it can be hard to release amid the "should-haves" and "wish-I-didn't"s.

 

My older DD is strong willed, energetic, sometimes explosive. She knows her mind and isn't afraid to fight for what she believes in- literally. She's smart, artistic, and extroverted. She has a lot of good qualities.

 

She can also be mean-spirited, rude, disrespectful, unkind, spoiled-seeming, and VERY LOUD. Like, split your eardrums loud. People can find her difficult- family members, and especially her father. She is forever bouncing off walls, loves to play and roughhouse, and if she can't find a proper outlet, it can easily become negative for her.

 

Right now, I am having a lot of trouble with her noise level. She will randomly begin SCREAMING song lyrics as they pop into her mind. She shrieks and hollers. She is just so full of energy, it pops out of her, and she's told me as much. Unfortunately, we live in a townhouse, with no privacy, tons of neighbors who are older or don't really like kids very much, and not much room to run at all. We are working on a move but it's slow going. We do TONS of stuff but NOTHING seems to "wear her out". She actually seems to gain momentum (though lose self control) as evening approaches.

 

Evening is our real issue right now, though she can be difficult at other times- throwing massive, loud tantrums over sweets or privileges or getting things in stores, or just getting her way. But in the evening, if she had her way, she'd NEVER go to bed. She wants to play play play. By 7pm, I'm exhausted. So is DD2, and her father. We do a few books, a tub if she needs it, PJ's, bathroom and teeth brushes, then kisses goodnight. Dad lays down and tells her a story and falls asleep with her, and I go to bed with the baby. But there is always some part of the routine she ends up tantruming about. And she and her father do not have a good foundation- she will scream at him, say awful things, he gets mad, and I have to intervene. It's exhausting and stressful.

 

Tonight, after a very  long day of playing, we went for an evening walk all together after dinner. When we got home and went upstairs, baby was so very tired, she was crying. She needed to go to bed, and DD1 was trying to 'help', getting in her face and kissing. She meant well but I needed her out of the room. I asked her several times. Finally Dad moved her physically out- not my druthers, but he'd heard me ask and ask. She took offense and started complaining, threw a 'shut up' in there, and then he got mad... I directed her into the bathroom, where the toothbrushing became a power struggle- she wanted to do it, he wanted to put t.paste on- I went over to talk to her and she suddenly screamed in my face and without thinking I grabbed her jaw. She was PISSED, began screaming absolute bloody murder, raging so hard there were veins sticking out on her forehead, and all right next to the open window. We have had noise complaints before due to her screaming and door slamming and I am terrified of CPS involvement- she is LOUD. Meanwhile the baby, who is a love and hardly ever cries, bursts out in horrified tears, and DD1 is still screaming, "GET OUT, GO AWAY!!!" Utter chaos, and me heartbroken. Just horrible.

We got it squared away. She laid down with DD2 and I and then I got her into bed and got her water. We talked about better choices and hurting people and I told her tomorrow was a new day, and that I loved her no matter what. 

 

Then I went downstairs and ordered $50 worth of gentle discipline/peaceful parenting/spirited children books, and read about underdeveloped frontal lobes.

I am sad. It breaks my heart every time these whole-family mega-meltdowns happen. And I am so sad for baby- she was truly upset. She ADORES her sister, and to see her so upset clearly terrified her. She was fussy and hard to get to sleep (easier once DD1 laid down with us) and today when DD1 stubbed her toe and cried loudly DD2 burst into tears too (she is not normally a crier). I want to help my family. Where best to begin?

 

Last night I brainstormed. I came up with- less TV (it seems to hyperstimulate her mentally), earlier/more structured bedtime. I also need to come up with ways o not get sucked in to the drama myself and become emotionally volatile. I was able to do it with a tantrum as we were leaving- lots of "you're the worsts", "I wish I wasn't even born"s, and I stayed above it and din't get stuck in the mire and so she was able to move on quickly too, and it felt so good. But sometimes, that girl pushes my buttons, and I am so weak! How to be stronger there?


treehugger.gif earth-loving, whole-foods-loving, frugal young mama to one sweet, crazy, Leo (DD1) and my new little Gemini (DD2). always aiming to love more, argue less, and keep things in perspective. 
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#2 of 10 Old 04-15-2014, 05:21 PM
 
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Have you tried really noticing and attending to all her positive behaviors and all the times she handles things without melting down? Sometimes we forget to notice these things. What we attend to will increase. What we discourage will decrease.  Discouraging sometimes means turning away, ignoring, which is still gentle.

 

Limits are not anti-gentle. Limits communicate that the grown ups are keeping everyone safe and they are strong and in charge. We sometimes reason too much with our children who are not ready for this. Explanations are fine. But sometimes a limit is a limit.

 

I would read your grab of her chin as a wake up call that you are ready to help her address her challenges and you are very frustrated by her constant challenging of your guidance. It is o.k. to be an authority figure without being authoritarian.  Not addressing it could provoke your rage further, because you will feel more out of control if she gets bigger and doesn't get a handle on her stuff. Patience, patience, patience! 


 
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#3 of 10 Old 04-15-2014, 05:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by lauren View Post
 

Have you tried really noticing and attending to all her positive behaviors and all the times she handles things without melting down? Sometimes we forget to notice these things. What we attend to will increase. What we discourage will decrease.  Discouraging sometimes means turning away, ignoring, which is still gentle.

 

Limits are not anti-gentle. Limits communicate that the grown ups are keeping everyone safe and they are strong and in charge. We sometimes reason too much with our children who are not ready for this. Explanations are fine. But sometimes a limit is a limit.

 

I would read your grab of her chin as a wake up call that you are ready to help her address her challenges and you are very frustrated by her constant challenging of your guidance. It is o.k. to be an authority figure without being authoritarian.  Not addressing it could provoke your rage further, because you will feel more out of control if she gets bigger and doesn't get a handle on her stuff. Patience, patience, patience! 

 

I was actually trying this today. I do, but perhaps not as much as I should. She is a super big helper and I ask a lot of her, and I know it irritates her sometimes. (Please grab this, close that, throw that away.) I also try very hard to respond to her needs- she has a voracious play drive and tbh I do not really find most of her games enjoyable, but I push myself to participate because it makes her happy. Today was a better day.

 

I read http://www.pendletonpsych.com/doc/parent-child-coercive-cycle.pdf as posted on another thread as well as an accompanying link and am finding it very helpful.

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treehugger.gif earth-loving, whole-foods-loving, frugal young mama to one sweet, crazy, Leo (DD1) and my new little Gemini (DD2). always aiming to love more, argue less, and keep things in perspective. 
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#4 of 10 Old 04-15-2014, 06:26 PM
 
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Also when thinking of attending to her positive behaviors, think about times you see her asking nicely, not being rude, playing well with her sister, using gentle hands and words. So not just the big stuff, like helping with chores, but the teeny little things, like when she asks for something and you aren't able to give it to her and she handles it alright without blowing a gasket!!


 
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#5 of 10 Old 04-16-2014, 04:47 PM
 
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I would try several things:

 

1. give her as much control as possible. If she tantrums over sweets and things in the store, I would ask her to buy them from her allowance. (This works very well with my kids; they have their own allowance that they can spend how they wish, or save for bigger items.)

 

2. make sure she has enough time outside (I'm aiming for an hour in the evening with my kids). Also, is her bedtime 7pm? IMO, it's early for a 6 y/o.

 

3. I would let your dh to impose some limits. Limits are not anti-GD, quite the opposite. Limits make GD possible. I wouldn't interfere when he handles the situation (easier said than done, I'm guilty of interfering too, and my dh is the gentlest soul).

 

4. Re: screaming. I would tell her the truth. I would tell her people had made complaints, and what consequences that might have on you and your family if she continues with this behaviour. A 6 y/o is quite capable of understanding that her screaming could affect others.


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#6 of 10 Old 04-18-2014, 06:17 AM
 
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You may find it useful to skim through this article, which specifically deals with strategically diffusing a temper tantrum.  The mindset isn't necessarily to be disciplinary or gentle, as though it's a black and white decision, but rather to address the root-cause of the tantrum itself.  I hope it helps:

 

http://chriscamaro.hubpages.com/hub/Toddler_Tantrums

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#7 of 10 Old 04-18-2014, 09:57 AM
 
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Sounds like there's too much emotion all around. Emotions are healthy, but we need to learn to use them, instead of just feel them and be driven by them.

For both of you, I recommend disengaging. When she screams at you, send her away and ask her to come back and ask again when she is ready to talk nicely. When she is loud and.crazy, send her back to walk instead of run or whatever. Don't give an explanation beyond "that isn't okay", and keep your cool. To any response, just reply, "I told you I am not having this discussion in this way. You know what needs to happen.". To the next response, raise your eyebrows, purse your lips a bit, and walk away with a "you've got to be kidding" air.
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#8 of 10 Old 04-20-2014, 05:50 PM
 
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This reminds me so much of my household! My son is only 4 but I believe kids need as much sleep as they can get so I don't think her bedtime is too early if she's getting 10-12 hrs sleep. My son goes to be shortly after 6 some days because he's a non napping early riser who go go goes all day long.

I love the idea in that link posted about finding something mildly interesting to focus on to diffuse the situation and distract them from their tantrum. Going to try it tomorrow!

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#9 of 10 Old 05-09-2014, 12:13 PM
 
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The fact that she is so wound up all day long makes me think you should look into perhaps her diet... I have seen a few articles on how what we eat can affect behavior, and it is possible that she is acting out in these ways because she is uncomfortable, or is on a sugar rush of some type.  Continue to attempt gentle discipline, but also look into changing her diet, and see if that has any effect.

 

I would like to add that I am a face-grabber when the face/mouth is doing the offending (pretty much unconsciously, my hand just jumps out there), and it is common for children to panic when their face has been grabbed.  If you can explain to her that you turned her face towards yours in order to help her focus on your words, because she clearly was only thinking of herself and not of the rest of the family, she might not freak out so badly if it happens again.  My SIL uses the phrase "Look at Mommy's eyes", and waits for the child to make eye contact, before trying to explain anything to her children, because it is very common in children that if they aren't looking (and especially if they are still talking/yelling) they aren't listening.

 

*** Soapbox rant begins here! *** 

 

I agree with transylvania_mom that you should not interfere when your husband is doing his share of the parenting.  All your interference says to your daughter is that Mommy/Daughter gets the final say and Daddy doesn't need to be respected.

 

 I also would like to add an opinion (and only my opinion, certainly not a fact) on this statement:  "she has a voracious play drive and tbh I do not really find most of her games enjoyable, but I push myself to participate because it makes her happy".  My interpretation of this statement is "I don't like to play with her because I don't like the games she makes up, but I let the child order me around and force me to do things I don't want to do."  I feel like it's almost no wonder she screams at you in the evening, because you do what she tells you to do all day long, and then in the evening all of a sudden you become a parent instead of a playmate.  I'm not trying to offend, but I think you should stop letting your daughter control you during the day and see how it translates over in the evening.  And I would get on it soon, because it seems like your younger daughter is learning from the older daughter that her kind behavior is absolutely acceptable.

 

*** End soapbox ranting *** :)

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#10 of 10 Old 05-11-2014, 11:52 AM
 
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The play thing jumps out at me, too. Pretend play is boring for adults. What about more active play in the eveninings? Dancing to music, hide and seek, push up contests, jump rope, or pretend to be animals across the floor (pretend to be crabs, have a crab-walk race across the floor, then substitute with another animal). The baby might like this, too. If you are prone to anxiety/depression, your daughter may be as well. The more active you can both be, the easier it will be to manage. smile.gif


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