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#1 of 19 Old 09-23-2011, 09:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What about slamming doors?  When I was this age if I slammed m door it was taken off the hinges for a month (after warnings).  I did and it was.  Once.  In our old house we had to implement this rule at 10.  As well as if you STOMP up the stairs you will (later when calm) walk up and down them appropriately 5 times.  The door was taken off the hinges once.  The stairs took a couple of times.  Honestly, I was afraid about the way the OLD house shook when she stomped up stairs or in her room.

 

Now.  New house, and we have custody full time.  I've been thinking about these rules.  Is door slamming a sign of disrespect?  I mean, yeah it is kinda, but a mild one.  Do you let it go or no?

 

Recent scenarios:  after a really pleasant evening at a movie in the park on the walk home she and DP were joking around.  She made some joke about his age (neither DP nor I are sensitive about this, and never have been).  But she kept insisting that he must be mad at her and escalated it until she had convinced herself we were mad at her (we weren't. confused maybe not mad).  She walked ahead of us.  Then she walked behind us.  2 blocks from home she stopped following us.  We went into the house, got the dog so we could walk her, went back out ... DSD nowhere to be found.  Not answering phone or text.  We walked dog while looking for her and I turned to go home in case she came back.  DP must've sent her a strongly worded text, I saw her heading up our street.  She slammed her door pretty hard.  We've already discussed the incident, but ignored the slammed door.

 

Big current scenario:  Finally got a look at her grades.  2 Fs.  1 D.  Not because she is having trouble in school.  Because she doesn't do the homework or if she does, she doesn't turn it in (same problem when she lived with mom).  The aid graded it wrong, the teacher lost it, etc.  She has some pretty bad luck with teachers - they are ALWAYS losing her work.  Amazing they have jobs! </sarcasm>  We already have started putting procedures in place with her teachers to make sure this doesn't continue.  What I'd love advice or BTDT about is the consequences she was given.  She already had to start homework when getting home and no computer until it's done.  We tried a half hour break, it was a bad idea.  Now we will know she does have homework (no more "we had x but we did it in class" or "it's not due til next week") and how much.  We've tried blocking her acess to the router but she always finds open networks, so her computer (an old laptop) and iPod were taken away completely daily until homework is done & checked and at bedtime.

 

Of course we are mean and evil, etc.  This morning was .... trying.  Supposedly she was running late because she doesn't have her iPod.  Despite DP waking her on time.  Apparently there aren't any other working clocks in the house.  (we don't use sarcasm towards her so you'll have to forgive my getting it out here)  She flew into an absolute rage about making her lunch because she was going to be late (still had 15 minutes at this point).  Then yelled at DP about the location of the snacks she puts in her lunch.  They are on top of the fridge.  There really is no other place.  Yes, we've discussed making lunch the night before multiple times.  She doesn't like it.  We've discussed getting her things together for school the night before multiple times.  She still doesn't.  Leaves everything out all over the place and I'm hard pressed to make sure DS doesn't grab papers and rip them or try to eat her hair clips.

 

OK, this has gotten way longer than I meant it to be.  I'm still fuming a bit.  The homework thing is insane.  It took her an hour to find 5 words in a word search last week because of all the whining, crying, and tantrum throwing.  If you made it this far, thanks!  We're still in the realm of normal for this age, right?  What about tantrums?

 

 


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#2 of 19 Old 09-23-2011, 10:16 AM
 
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An alternative to taking the door off the hinges is to take the knob off the door. That way, DSD still has a decent amount of privacy, but the door won't slam. We learned this after DD actually broke her doorknob slamming her door. I think it was right to let the door slamming go after the disappearing act, at that point she probably wasn't going to hear a word either of you said, anyway.

 

For homework, I don't know if this would help, but my kids have a planner. They have to write their homework into it each day, and the teacher initials it, then they bring the planner home, do their work and I initial it. My kids are  younger, so we haven't run into too much opposition on home work yet, but DS told me that he's allowed to use a calculator. I asked what his teacher will say about it if I write a note in his planner, and he stopped asking for a calculator. Curiouser and curiouser!

 

I'd probably up the ante with regard to the electronic devices... if she doesn't get her work done, properly, in a reasonable time frame she doesn't get them back today at all. She might not do any homework or use her computer for a week, but she'd get tired of it eventually, right? I've had pretty good results with outlining the consequences of certain actions and then not caring less which choice the kids make, knowing the consequences will only be 'worth it' for a short while (but this only works when you can absolutely enforce the consequence)

 

It sounds like she's overwhelmed. Is it possible that she needs more downtime? Or a little more guidance in getting tasks done? What about making lunch right after supper, before she leaves the kitchen? Do the school snacks have to be in the kitchen, by the way? Maybe there's a spot near where she keeps her back pack, or by the shoes/jackets? 


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#3 of 19 Old 09-23-2011, 10:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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An alternative to taking the door off the hinges is to take the knob off the door. That way, DSD still has a decent amount of privacy, but the door won't slam. We learned this after DD actually broke her doorknob slamming her door. I think it was right to let the door slamming go after the disappearing act, at that point she probably wasn't going to hear a word either of you said, anyway.

 

For homework, I don't know if this would help, but my kids have a planner. They have to write their homework into it each day, and the teacher initials it, then they bring the planner home, do their work and I initial it. My kids are  younger, so we haven't run into too much opposition on home work yet, but DS told me that he's allowed to use a calculator. I asked what his teacher will say about it if I write a note in his planner, and he stopped asking for a calculator. Curiouser and curiouser!

 

I'd probably up the ante with regard to the electronic devices... if she doesn't get her work done, properly, in a reasonable time frame she doesn't get them back today at all. She might not do any homework or use her computer for a week, but she'd get tired of it eventually, right? I've had pretty good results with outlining the consequences of certain actions and then not caring less which choice the kids make, knowing the consequences will only be 'worth it' for a short while (but this only works when you can absolutely enforce the consequence)

 

It sounds like she's overwhelmed. Is it possible that she needs more downtime? Or a little more guidance in getting tasks done? What about making lunch right after supper, before she leaves the kitchen? Do the school snacks have to be in the kitchen, by the way? Maybe there's a spot near where she keeps her back pack, or by the shoes/jackets? 



The doorknob huh?  I'll suggest that to DP.  I think we'll let it go for the moment until things settle down again though.

 

Yes, the planner and initializing is pretty much what we are going to do.  We already have one of her teachers on board with it.  Supposedly this was implemented at the end of last school year, but somehow she always forgot it and her mom always forgot to look at it, etc.  We already had to verify with the school what time we could come back for "forgotten" things.  Now she knows she won't get away with that.  Since then the planner has had very little written in it, so we move on to the initializing thing.

 

I don't know if she's overwhelmed so much as just hasn't ever really had anyone making her do anything.  I'm not sure.  She likes her lunch "fresh".  We have a dog and a toddler (and 2 cats but they are irrelevant) so nothing is really safe.  The whole first floor is open and I honestly can't think of anywhere else it could go.

 

Truly it's crazy.  When she sits down and does the work it's done pretty quickly and usually mostly right.  She asks for "help", but it always turns out what she's looking for is someone to do it for her.  How do you help with a word search???  2 nights she HAD to do her math without help because DP was working.  Well gee.  She only got 2 wrong on something that was "so hard I can't do it by myself".

 

And really, a big part of this is just being TIRED.  So tired of her tantrums.  It's like I have 2 toddlers.


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#4 of 19 Old 09-23-2011, 11:18 AM
 
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Hi Neonalee!  I have seen you around LWAB & Toddlers (I think), but I didn't realize you had a teen in the house...like me!  I have a 16 year old son.  And, yes, whew.  It is so hard sometimes.

 

A woman in one of my mom's groups, upon learning I had a toddler & a teen, said "Oh, you're doing the two most difficult stages at the same time!"  It really helped me to know that it wasn't just some weakness of mine--that this parenting of a teen can be so hard (I've posted on it before).  Another mom said "Parenting a toddler is the most physically exhausting, and parenting a teen is the most emotionally exhausting.  You must be really tired!"  Indeed, I am.

 

I would probably ignore a slammed door, but everyone has the right to decide what they can tolerate in terms of that kind of thing and what they can't. 

 

As far as the phone/text thing?  My son no longer has text.  It was almost a relief when he did something he shouldn't have with it (he's a teen boy, so take a guess) since I wanted to take away his text so badly.  He's a much nicer person to be around without text.

 

The only suggestion I have is a book suggestion.  It was recommended to me by a wonderful mom of five and is called How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Kids Will Talk.  Let's hope it does wonders for us both.  Honestly, I checked it out from LLL a couple months ago and it is still on top of my fridge (out of the reach of my toddler, of course).  I MUST open it!

 

Good luck.  Feel free to PM me if you'd ever want to.


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#5 of 19 Old 09-23-2011, 11:36 AM
 
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In terms of brain development, you do have 2 toddlers. There's a massive spurt of brain development around puberty that parallels what goes on in toddler brains.

 

More directly: I'd let the door thing go. As a(n unreformed) door slammer, I view this as minor. It's not disrespect of you, it's anger and frustration. Our ds (10) got mad the other day and slammed his door 5 times (in a row, just to make the point). But that was better than his previous response (kicking his sister, "I didn't kick her, I just touched her with my footeyesroll.gif). What I WOULD do is tell her that if she breaks the door, then she gets to fix it. Dad can be there guiding her, but she's going to have to buy the supplies and do the labor. A friend of mine has 2 kids who had explosive tempers at this age. They both learned to fix holes in drywall at an early age. It's a useful life skill.

 

How much 1-1 time does she get with dad? Could she and dad do a daddy-daughter event once a week to connect? It's really important for her to connect with her dad at this age, and since it sounds like you're the SAH parent, he probably has less time with her.

 

Does she get enough sleep? Tired kids have trouble keeping it together.

 

How does she respond to rewards? One of the 'problems' I see is that you're taking things away, which is punishment, but it's just making her mad, and it's not teaching her the skills she needs. It sounds to me like she needs to work on:

Homework and organizational skills at home.

A bedtime routine that involves at least deciding what she's going to wear and what she wants for lunch.

A morning routine that involves making her lunch and getting out the door with a minimum of drama. (I HATE sandwiches packed the night before; they get gross and soggy. But I can pack my apple, my carrots, my yogurt the night before because they don't change.)

 

Each of these skills probably needs to be broken down into very clear steps for her, because she didn't get the scaffolding that she needed at her mom's. She needs to LEARN these skills. So, instead of 'taking away' the computer and the IPod, how about she can earn time with those by doing each of the steps in her routine. Something like 5 minutes for every step (so if it's a 6 step task, she earns 30 minutes. If she forgets a step, oh well, she only gets 25 (after she goes back and does the needed step), but she doesn't lose all time.)

 

I would not work on more than one of these skills at a time. So once the homework routine is down, then you can tackle bedtime/morning or whatever.

 

While these kinds of routines may seem obvious to you, sit down and really think about all the steps. Heck, the whole reason that FlyLady.com exists is because some of us have trouble breaking down our housecleaning into manageable steps and we need to learn/relearn those skills.

 

Has she been tested for learning disabilities? Does ADHD run in the family? Learning disabilities show up at predictable times: 1st grade when kids can't learn to read; 3-4th grade when kids can decode, but not understand, or don't advance in reading; 6-7th grade when the workload increases and more independence is expected of them.

 

Is counseling for her an option? It sounds like she's had a lot of upheaval lately. Moving from mom's to your house, moving up grades with more academic expectations. It sounds to me like she was picking a fight with you that evening. She 'needed' to fight. That suggests she has a lot of negative emotions she needs to get out, but doesn't know how to do it. You might be able to head her off with some playful parenting techniques (Playful Parenting is a great book). One way my ds (10) gets out his need to argue with me is by playing sports with me. (I suck at sports, just FYI, but I play with him because he needs it.) We'll argue (loudly) about a call - "Foul!" "No way, that wasn't a foul, I barely touched you!" "You did too! I get two shots." "nuh-huh, no way!" Back and forth like that for 3-4 minutes does both of us a world of good. (And ds is very quiet and mild mannered most of the time. But I can tell that as he approaches puberty, he needs to get some of these 'big feelings' out in a safe place.)

 

But if those kinds of things don't work for her, I'd seriously look into counseling. It probably doesn't have to be long term. Just something to help her self-esteem and give her some new strategies (and maybe an outside voice) to listen to her woes.


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#6 of 19 Old 09-23-2011, 12:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by neonalee View Post
And really, a big part of this is just being TIRED.  So tired of her tantrums.  It's like I have 2 toddlers.


 

You DO have two toddlers. wink1.gif

 

I'm more of a trouble shooter than a punisher -- so I would focus on helping her find appropriate ways to express strong emotions. What can she do when she is angry or frustrated? Can she say so? Can she throw stuffed animals? Go ride her bike (exercise is a good way to release)? Zone out to music? What are her options?

 

Homework I would continue to trouble shoot how to help her get it done and get it turned in. This is an EXTREMELY common problem for kids starting middle school. Going from one teacher to a bunch of teachers is an organizational nightmare for a lot of kids. It's really normal for homework to get left in a locker or just get lost before getting turned in. Some schools require teachers to post the assignments on-line or in a voice mail system, so you might check with the school and see what they have in place. I've also found that teachers like to communicate via email - much easier than voice mail and our experience has been that they want to help, they like involved parents, and desire to work as team to get the kid on track.

 

She is learning a new skill, and just like you wouldn't punish a toddler for following over when learning to walk, I don't think it is helpful to middle school students to be punished for struggling to adjust to middle school. though I freely admit to emailing some of my DD's teachers nearly every day for awhile and sitting with her to get her work done. We also did a "morale support" system for homework, where I was in the room, sometimes even sitting right next to them, but doing something else, like reading a book. I understand that might not be possible with a toddler to care for.

 

As far as refusing to make her lunch and lay her things out the night before, I would tell, not ask. I'd also turn every single thing in the house off (tv, radio, computers, phones whatever you have) at a set time. At our house it is 9, but depending on what time she needs to be in bed, it could be earlier. Then there is nothing to do but make lunch.

 

And I don't discuss very many things multiple times -- they just quit listening. Turn everything off and say "it's time for you to make your lunch and get your school things together" She says blah blah blah, and you say, "fine, then go to bed now so you can get up and do this in the morning."  She's says blah blah blah, and you say "you can either make your lunch and get your school things together, or go get ready for bed"

 

Also -- my one parenting "trick" for this age, which I can't remember if I'm mentioned recently, is to read a chapter of a book outloud to them at bedtime. I know it sounds hokey and they can all read for themselves, but some days, it's the only pleasant moments I have with my DDs. Just a fun book -- nothing heavy or good for them. Just to love on them and have a few quite minutes together.

 

This is also the time when we have our best conversations. It also really softens my rather cut and dry style with much of their drama.


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#7 of 19 Old 09-23-2011, 12:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi caedenmomma!  Yep, that's me!  Thanks for the support and book rec.  I'll get that one from the library next.  I'm currently working on Happiest Toddler lol  I get about 1 chapter a day, and I also keep the books up high, otherwise they get ripped apart!  I think your toddler is close in age to DS?  He's a bit over 13 months.  I think I need to find a mom's group here.  You ladies are awesome, but I need to get out of the house!

 

Lynn, thanks for all that thought!  I'm going to have to read through it a few times I think.  I like the 'you break it you fix it' approach.  I had to fix a hole in drywall when I was younger as well Sheepish.gif

I actually work from home (until December anyway) while DSD is at school and DS is at daycare.  DP often works evenings/nights, which, TBH, leaves me saying "it's not fair" in my head.  We used to focus on her getting 1 on 1 time with dad, but now that I'm thinking about it, we haven't gotten back to that since the move.  I will try to make sure that happens this weekend.  Part of the problem here is that I'm not holding up well with toddler-hood teething right now, but I'll work on a plan.

 

Nope, doesn't get enough sleep.  Seems like no matter what we do we can't seem to fix this one, though she says it's better than at her mom's house.  We even bought a king sized bed so she could come in our room when she's scared or lonely, which she does a minimum of once a week.  I can't tell if this is better or not since DS is up frequently with the teething right now.  No TV/computer/iPod in her room.  Partially I think she needs more activity to be worn out to sleep.

 

We did try rewards, didn't work.  Maybe time to try again.  It does seem more related to needing to learn skills than any learning disability honestly.  She has no trouble actually doing the work, she just doesn't want to and I guess she doesn't know how to deal with the emotions of HAVING to do something she doesn't want to.

 

We did get her a year of counseling before we moved (it took a LONG time for her mom to agree to it, and then we had to find someone available on weekends because we had to be the ones to take her).  It did help.  And we did talk a lot about rewarding, not taking away, responsibilities w/out rewards tied to them, oh all kinds of things.  It makes my head spin sometimes thinking of all the emotional etc damage we are trying to heal.  I haven't been able to get a good rec now that we've moved, and am worried about setting it all up then taking it away in December when we lose this insurance.

 

This is absolutely true:  "She 'needed' to fight. That suggests she has a lot of negative emotions she needs to get out, but doesn't know how to do it."  It's one of the things we were working on with the counselor.  She's also accustomed to negative attention and not positive so when things are too good she seeks out the negative to go back to her comfort zone.  Man, maybe DP and I need the counseling more than she does so we can remember all this!  Are you a therapist?  Cuz you've reminded me of all the things we are supposed to be remembering to help her heal.  orngtongue.gif

 

I'll look into Playful Parenting as well.  As for skill building/rewards ... any thoughts about structuring this around homework?


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#8 of 19 Old 09-23-2011, 01:10 PM
 
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We did try rewards, didn't work.  Maybe time to try again.  It does seem more related to needing to learn skills than any learning disability honestly.  She has no trouble actually doing the work, she just doesn't want to and I guess she doesn't know how to deal with the emotions of HAVING to do something she doesn't want to.

 



This is something you can model for her... "UGH! I hate doing dishes! Look at this disaster, it's going to take FOREVER to do!! This sucks! *sigh!* I guess I may as well get it over with..." stomp. stomp. stomp. And then "There, that didn't take as long as I thought it would. I'm glad I got that done, now I can forget about it." If you're like me, you probably think like this anyway, right? But there's actually a few steps there that if she hasn't seen it demonstrated, she might not fully realize. There isn't going to be less homework later, and it isn't going to be easier. If she  gets it over with, she can move on to more pleasant things and enjoy the rest of her evening... it seems simple, but it IS something you have to learn. Even a lot of adults have a problem with procrastination.


~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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#9 of 19 Old 09-23-2011, 02:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Teresa - I might give that a try.  She might look at me like I'm crazy though since I NEVER emote like that.  I'm the calm one in the family (meaning I lock it all inside.  unhealthy I know).  You are right - that's exactly what's going through my head though (and more) LOL


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#10 of 19 Old 09-23-2011, 03:04 PM
 
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I'm a big fat whiner, so the kids hear me talk like that a lot. DS grumbles "I may as well get it over with..." I don't know if it's from exposure to me, or if he'd be like that anyway. 


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#11 of 19 Old 09-23-2011, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hmmm  ...  maybe if I were "a big fat whiner" too someone other than me would do something.  I always swore I wouldn't be a martyr, yet here I am...


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#12 of 19 Old 09-23-2011, 09:11 PM
 
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Sounds like you've got some mood swings going on, in addition to testing behavior.  Happy one minute, slamming a door another minute-yup, sounds about par for the course.  I'm not saying it's right, but it happens.  

 

I saw the question re: counseling, but not your answer, so I don't know if this is something you're doing or not.  If you can, it might be a good idea for you and your dh.  You have big changes going on in your family, and it sounds like your dsd is going to push some boundaries in order to find out whether she's secure with you guys, and also, just because kids her age push boundaries!

 

Remember, pick your battles.  Know what the big stuff is for your family, and hold on to that.  The smaller issues--walk away and breath deeply.  She may need to push a lot right now, so your ability to flex enough not to break, yet keep her within your circle is going to be really important.

 

Good for you for coming here and letting it hang out and get some support!

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#13 of 19 Old 09-23-2011, 10:37 PM
 
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DSD has a tendency to accidentally slam doors. She doesn't really realize how much strength she's putting on it much of the time, and so has a tendency to get pretty upset when I tell her to stop slamming the door, because it was an accident. We live in a single-storey house, so I couldn't speak for the stairs, but I figure it would be similar.


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#14 of 19 Old 09-24-2011, 03:38 AM
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I would probably ignore a slammed door, but everyone has the right to decide what they can tolerate in terms of that kind of thing and what they can't. 

 



It's probably fairly easy to ignore a door-slamming that occurs every so often. My son went through a period where he slammed the door every time he was miffed, which was often. Sometimes 2-3 times per day.

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#15 of 19 Old 09-24-2011, 05:03 AM
 
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neonalee (OP):  I am in a couple mom's groups with my toddler, LLL, two park & rec. classes (very cheap--$15 for 8 sessions), and a toddler group at the hospital (free).  These groups, plus a couple playdates with friends, are kind of what keeps me sane as a SAHM.  However, I have said many times that I need a mom's group for my teen!  I don't have hardly any mom friends of teens, and I am always wondering how off the mark my feelings or behaviors are towards him.  Good luck in finding some local support.  It has been invaluable for me.  I am shy and not comfortable with anything new, so doing these activities has stretched me considerably.

 

I really feel for you on the DSD issue because, though my feelings towards my teen are sometimes very negative, there is an underlying love since I am his mom.  I can't imagine dealing with him as a step-child (and, to his credit, I would say that most parents would describe him as a very good kid).  Also, he has lots of characteristics from his dad (my exH), which grate on me like mad.  Of course I realized that this is 100% MY issue, but it makes it so hard sometimes.  And you are helping parent a child who may remind you of your DH's ex, a person you're likely not a fan of.  I hope your DH appreciates you a whole, whole lot!

 

When I was pregnant (DS2 is almost 18 months) and dealing with all the insane hormones, I thought it'd help me better related to DS1 (16 years old).  I sometimes try to remember that in my dealings with him, but I can assure you it doesn't really work like I thought it would.


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#16 of 19 Old 09-24-2011, 07:05 AM
 
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Some of the best advice I got (which I frequently forget, too, or get too exasperated to use) is to try to take a "working with" approach to your dsd (let's figure it out together) rather than an adversarial approach (you vs her) and get pulled into a power struggle. I have a 10 yr old dd and she sounds similar to your dsd. It's hard. My dd does have some issues (one therapist thought she met the criteria for ADHD and gave her some other labels, too, but I'm not really so sure about all that). She definitely does have issues with organization, and I never would expect her to make her own lunch every day. Maybe in two years, but I'm doubtful. I'll probably still be making it, or she can take some money for the cafeteria. If your dsd and you definitely want her to be the one to make the lunch I agree with the PP, that she should pack what she can the night before (the dry snacks, whole fruit, etc) and save only making the sandwich/wrap/entree for that morning. 

 

As far as things like how do you help with a word search, well, you've got to break it down. "Oh, you're looking for 'antidisestablishmentarianism'? Well, let's look for the As and see if we can see any with Ns next to them." If she give you sass about this I would tell her that I'm here to help if she needs it, but if she doesn't want my help she needs to take her moaning and groaning back to her room.

 

There are times when my dd1 just completely shuts down over her homework and it drives me up the wall. One day this week I was helping her with a math problem (if you could fold a piece of paper in half 9 times how many sections would there be when you unfolded it? If you could fold it 20 times?), and it was going fine and we were figuring out the pattern and then she suddenly shut down and was all "I can't, I can't", and crying, etc, etc. I basically told her she was wasting her time with that. She needed to approach her homework with a "I can figure this out attitude" or just not do it and take a 0 on her homework and get on with doing something she enjoyed, but that if she spends her time complaining and moaning and groaning and dreading things that she's neither (A) getting on with getting the work done, nor (B) moving on to something fun and enjoyable, but she's (C) stuck in a pool of misery groaning about stuff she's not even doing. I used the example of doing the dishes or cleaning the toilet, too. Those aren't always my favorite tasks, but I don't waste my time moaning or groaning about them. I either knuckle down and do it (and it usually doesn't take that long) or I just live with a pile of dirty dishes or a dirty toilet for awhile. There's no point in dreading it and whining about it, though, as I'm just using my valuable time to be miserable when I'm not even doing the task that needs doing.

 

So with the math homework she went in her room for a bit and then came back out and was ready to work. She was still upset, but the big thing is she was willing to try to figure it out and she did figure out the pattern and was able to continue it on to get the answers. I told her that I am willing to help her when she is willing to work, but I'm not going to help her if she's not going to try.

 

I have also timed how long it takes to unload the dishwasher and shared that with her and showed her that it really only takes about 5-10 minutes to do it. A lot of homework is like that. It's not a task that she looks forward to, but if she focuses on it and knocks it out it only takes 5 or 10 minutes and she can go on to something fun. If she spends 45 minutes whining about it first, though, then it's closer to an hour.

 

I'm not a fan of rewards or punishments (taking something away) although I have done both on occasion and I do think they work with some kids. I hated them, though, and felt manipulated so I try not to go there unless I'm at my wit's end.

 

Two books I like are "Kids, Parents and Power Struggles" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka -- it's about avoiding power struggles and recognizing your trigger points and your child's trigger points and is definitely not a one-size fits all approach, and "Get Out of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl To The Mall" by Anthony Wolfe. He has a lot of different parenting books and another might be more appropriate, but they're all slim and easy reads and funny.

 

Good luck, and I do agree that you have quite a challenging situation with a toddler, preteen, and step daughter. Whew!!



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#17 of 19 Old 09-25-2011, 03:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neonalee View Post


Nope, doesn't get enough sleep.  Seems like no matter what we do we can't seem to fix this one, though she says it's better than at her mom's house.  We even bought a king sized bed so she could come in our room when she's scared or lonely, which she does a minimum of once a week.  I can't tell if this is better or not since DS is up frequently with the teething right now.  No TV/computer/iPod in her room.  Partially I think she needs more activity to be worn out to sleep.

 

We did try rewards, didn't work.  Maybe time to try again.  It does seem more related to needing to learn skills than any learning disability honestly.  She has no trouble actually doing the work, she just doesn't want to and I guess she doesn't know how to deal with the emotions of HAVING to do something she doesn't want to.

 

<snip>

 

Several more thoughts:

1. have you tried melatonin for the sleep? It works wonders with my dd. Without it, she's up until 11 or later. With it, we can get her to sleep by 9:30. (She really needs to be asleep by 9, but we can handle 9:30).

2. Is there any way to increase the amount of exercise she gets? Exercise does do wonders for mood. Could you take a walk together before her dad gets home? Sign her up for a swim class? or some other class where she gets movement?

 

Quote:
This is absolutely true:  "She 'needed' to fight. That suggests she has a lot of negative emotions she needs to get out, but doesn't know how to do it."  It's one of the things we were working on with the counselor.  She's also accustomed to negative attention and not positive so when things are too good she seeks out the negative to go back to her comfort zone.  Man, maybe DP and I need the counseling more than she does so we can remember all this!  Are you a therapist?  Cuz you've reminded me of all the things we are supposed to be remembering to help her heal.  orngtongue.gif

 

I'll look into Playful Parenting as well.  As for skill building/rewards ... any thoughts about structuring this around homework?

 

Am I a therapist? biglaugh.gifNo, I'm a slightly obsessive mother with children with slightly quirky personalities. I'm also an academic so I've read about a gazillion parenting books. I've also got a fairly strong personality myself, so I understand the "need" to fight sometimes. I'm often much better at giving advice to others than taking it myself. And then there's the several hours a month I spend 'counseling' my college students without a license. My colleagues and I joke about practicing without a license. We get a lot of students who come to us overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, etc. etc. We're the first stop before the student health center for many of them, and sometimes all they need are a few new strategies.

 

Two thoughts on dealing with the emotions of having to do something you don't want to do: Model for her your thoughts. Yes, it will feel weird (OK, it probably IS weird), but it might (emphasis on might) help her see that other people have to do this too.

 

My other thought is the kitchen timer. It's my favorite parenting 'tool'. How long do you think it would take her to do her homework if she sat down and did it? 15 minutes? 30 minutes? Our son is usually done in 10-15 minutes with his 5th grade homework, but I have no idea how much time middle school homework is going to take. If it's taking her longer than 30 minutes, then I'd do two 30 minute sessions. So, she comes home, has a snack (with protein and some fat!), you set the timer for 30 minutes. If she works steadily for 30 minutes, and gets her stuff done for the day, and can have her TV/computer time. If not, she gets to take a 15 minute break (without electronics), come back and work some more until it's done.

 

We use the timer for chores, reminding us of when it's time to go/transition, etc. Sometimes the kids use the timer with us to remind us to do what we promised. That keeps the "I'll be there in a few minutes" to a concrete time. So, the timer applies to everyone in the house. We do 15 minutes of chores. Until recently, my kids got to stop when the 15 minutes were up. Now I'll ask that they finish the chore. So, ds was vacuuming the living room and the steps last night. It rang while he was on step one, and I asked  him to do the other 4. Dd was cleaning the bathroom sink. She wasn't close to being done when the timer went, and I asked her to finish. I'm not sure how it took her 25 minutes to clean a single bathroom sink, but it did (and that's with me helping at the end!)

 

What steps does she need to do for her homework?

1. Clear off a workspace.

2. Get her backpack and take her planner out.

3. Look up her first assignment and read the directions.

4. Get out the materials she needs for her first assignment.

5. Complete first assignment.

6. Put assignment in a folder to return to school.

Repeat steps 3-6 for each one. Maybe you can make a checklist for her to make sure she goes through the steps.

 

FWIW, my daughter is also completely unmotivated by rewards. What does help her though is one-one time with me. I'm her rock. When she gets enough 'momma time', she's more cheerful, able to handle ups and downs and complains less. The other thing that helps is sleep. When she's overtired, the world comes to an end.

 

The negative attention thing: What if you say that you'll stay in the room with her while she works on her homework (my kids often like company), but when she whines, you'll leave the room. You can give her one chance before you go: ask her to take several deep breaths and say it in a normal voice. (This will also teach her some self-calming techniques.) This sometimes works with my 7 year old (who's also difficult).

 

Counseling: It sounds like you got some really good ideas from the previous counselor. What if you spend the next 3 months really trying to implement those ideas. Are you getting new insurance in January? Then you can call around for some therapy for y'all.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

Some of the best advice I got (which I frequently forget, too, or get too exasperated to use) is to try to take a "working with" approach to your dsd (let's figure it out together) rather than an adversarial approach (you vs her) and get pulled into a power struggle.

 

<snip>

 

Two books I like are "Kids, Parents and Power Struggles" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka -- it's about avoiding power struggles and recognizing your trigger points and your child's trigger points and is definitely not a one-size fits all approach, and "Get Out of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl To The Mall" by Anthony Wolfe. He has a lot of different parenting books and another might be more appropriate, but they're all slim and easy reads and funny.


I really like Kids, Parents & Power Struggles too. I need to re-read it for dd.

 

Another really good book is "The Challenging Child" by Stanley Greenspan -- it actually lays out a whole program that you might be able to follow. He talks about several different types of challenging children (my dd is a combination of the "highly sensitive" and "defiant" child, oh joy). One of the things I like about this book is that it talks about the importance of connection -- time where your child directs the 'play' (I don't know what that'll look like with a 12 year old), and problem solving before limit setting. Only after you've got a strong connection and skills for problem solving does the limit setting come in. (And by virtue of setting up that connection time, and the problem solving, you often need less limit setting.)

 

I'd also recommend "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It talks about precisely the kind of collaborative problem solving that beanma mentioned.

 

Finally, is there a way to give your dd responsibility for something that matters? That might help her feel more competent. Could she plan 2-3 meals a week? Cook one of them? Help decorate a room in your new house? (i.e. choose the paint color/furniture placement). Methinks this child hasn't experienced a lot of feeling competent in her life.

 

 


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#18 of 19 Old 09-25-2011, 07:00 PM
 
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Have you guys sat down with her when she is calm and told her what you notice then asked her how you can help her.  Picking one issue at a time to help her focus on may help a lot.  I have my dd make plans and follow through with them with the understanding that I will step in if she doesn't and it works really well.  I think that just letting my dd know that I see what is going on and that I trust her to make a plan helps her to also notice the pattern that is occurring, it allows her to talk about her feelings, and it lets me identify the root of the problem so I can work at fixing it.

 

I will say that when my dd is angry a lot and expressing it through stomping and yelling it is usually because I am putting too much pressure on her or allowing my stress to come out as anger too often.  Being more aware of my interactions with her helps me change what I need to change to ease some of the stress off her shoulders so she can cope with the little things without getting so upset.

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#19 of 19 Old 09-26-2011, 07:09 PM
 
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I second the advice from previous posters about the modelling breaking down tasks into smaller steps.  Just because she can do the homework doesn't mean that she knows how to organize going about the homework.  And while from the sound of your post this is a simple matter of her not having been made to do things before, it is possible that she also doesn't have great executive functioning for whatever reason.  I have a close friend who's son has an executive functioning disorder, and he has a lot of trouble getting started and also organizing and breaking down tasks.  Probably not your DD, but still possible.

 

I don't punish or reward much (past efforts mostly backfired, and I was actually following professional advice).  What does help is "When this gets done, you can do ..."  As in, I don't take or add computer time, but it's for after the homework and chores are done. 

 

I think scheduling some semi-active family time helps, too.  We make sure to go out swimming at the pool, or go on a hike every so often.  Everyone cheers up from the exercise and we're together.  And like Linda, we also read together nights.  Find whatever works for you, but having something positive helps.

 

And I wouldn't take the off the doors.  DH went through a fit of this several times over (we have one 11 year old and a near ten year old year old who is definitely hormonally and physically entering adolescence, and there has been a lot of door slamming, the youngest won't be there for a few years, thank heavens) and all it achieved was making the house look weird and escalating the behavior.  We are now in the wait till they are calm and then discuss mind set!


Busy keeping up with three children and an awful lot of chickens!

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