Totally lost when it comes to parenting a preteen - help please! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 28 Old 07-16-2013, 02:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am the mom of one, my son is turning 10 in the fall. I feel like I've fallen into a bad rut of constantly nagging & lecturing my son and I hate it. He does everything slowly... giving him loads of time to get stuff done just means he takes that time plus more... He's very sweet and engaging... always SAYS the right things, but his follow through is... non-existent.

 

There was an incident where he stole a very good pokemon card from a friend while at a birthday party a few months ago... worked through that... He confessed on his own initiative (was having trouble sleeping due to a heavy conscience and a friend at school was getting blamed for stealing)... he apologized to the boy (his teacher acted as mediator at school), returned the pokemon card, made amends. He was really upset because his friends didn't trust him anymore, but we just kept reminding him that the natural consequence of being untrustworthy is that he won't be trusted. A good reputation is a precious thing to have, and regaining it after losing it is very difficult and takes time and effort. He seemed to really "get it". He was restricted from all media while he was rebuilding trust with us as well (there was a rather complicated lie that spiraled out of control that involved us as well). We consider media (movies, computer games, DSi, iPod Touch, etc to be a privilege, not a right). At the end of the school year we felt he had earned back our trust and got limited media access back. 

 

Just in the past few weeks he seems to pick lying over the truth more times than not and I'm constantly frustrated with him... which leads to the nagging and lectures. *sigh*  He has a few chores/responsibilities that he does in order "earn" media time each day... he lies constantly about whether he did something, even though I'm standing there looking at it and can see it wasn't done. It just boggles my mind. It's like he's reverted to 4 yo behaviour! We've talked to him about family's working together to contribute to the family duties, and us working together because we love each other... also building good work ethic so he does well when he has a real job outside the home, etc... I can't seem to get through to him. :( 

 

Is this just a normal developmental thing? Am I doing something "wrong"? Any suggestions for instilling trustworthiness and a work ethic in our son? I believe it's maybe the #1 most important quality I want him to develop because it bleeds into almost every aspect of life... work, play, personal growth... 

 

Thanks...

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#2 of 28 Old 07-16-2013, 04:55 PM
 
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Just a question, do you give him time to come clean? My 12-year-old went through a couple lying stages. I want to say around 6 and then again at 9. He was always scared to get in trouble and the lie was coming out of his mouth before he could even process what I was asking. So, I started saying "OK, I'm, going to give you a few minutes. I want you to think about your answer before we figure this out." If he came clean, there was no consequence for the initial lie. I also would go a little easier on the consequence for the offense. If he continued to lie and I was certain it was a lie, then he'd get two consequences. 

 

This worked for us. DS always came clean after having a few minutes to think about it and I'd thank him for that. The times he stuck to his original story were all times we found he was being honest. It took a few weeks but eventually, the "instant lie" stopped.

 

You may have already tried this but thought I'd through this out.


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#3 of 28 Old 07-16-2013, 08:32 PM
 
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My DD was going through a lying stage and I started calling her on it by reminding her she didn't need to lie because I always love her no matter what. I don't know if that made her feel safe enough to tell the truth or annoyed enough but she has come out of it.
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#4 of 28 Old 07-17-2013, 11:54 AM
 
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My DD pulled a couple of lies on me involving money. My temptation was to nag and lecture but instead I just told her how hurt I was that I had trusted her and she had betrayed that trust. I explained that it was a real drag I would have to give her exact change from now on b/c I couldn't trust her to give me back my change, etc. I was not mean or preachy, just matter of fact and told the "story" from my own perspective, leaving out the judgement calls and criticisms. It had a huge impact on her, one she has never forgotten. She was truly remorseful and by not getting on her case I allowed her to feel that. 

 

My gentle advice is to consider ditching the idea of punishing by using media time (or anything else they like) as currency. You are just encouraging your son to lie and hide things from you. Instead, if you treat it as a problem that the two of you need to solve together, letting him brainstorm on how to make amends, then he sees you as a trusted ally who is "on his side". Now, when DD screws up or isn't being responsible, etc. I wait until we are having a good time together and then bring up the subject and ask her to help me find a solution. I'm always amazed at how well this works, and it is so great for our relationship as she sees that, no matter what, I am there to help and guide her, not sentence her, kwim?

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#5 of 28 Old 07-17-2013, 02:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, he definitely gets a chance to come clean...  And will INSIST it's the truth even when I present him with proof it's not. :( It was encouraging that he came to me about the stolen card... but then he came home and lied to me about how things went down when he apologized... I emailed his teacher cause he told me this big story about how the other boy stood on his desk and announced to the class what he had done, and how upset he was, etc... I was very calm and matter of fact about it and told him that a good reputation is hard to regain and he'll just have to prove himself trustworthy to his friends again... I emailed his teached to debrief, and turns out he had lied to me again. The boy had accepted his apology gracefully and my son had made up the part about standing on the desk. :( 

 

I'm very gentle in my approach. He's a very sensitive kid, so I'm careful not to "wound" him... I don't believe in punishing... I guess I don't present it as a punishment as much as a lost privilege, a natural consequence of lost trust... part of the "complicated" lie was him complaining he was overtired because of his guilty conscience and then catching him playing his DSi in bed after lights out (he's not allowed to even have it in his room). That's where the media part came into it as a natural consequence of his choices. Does come across as a punishment when you read it here though for sure... 

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#6 of 28 Old 07-18-2013, 07:30 AM
 
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Originally Posted by LittlePlumHill View Post
 

There was an incident where he stole a very good pokemon card from a friend while at a birthday party a few months ago... .....At the end of the school year we felt he had earned back our trust and got limited media access back. 

 

Just in the past few weeks he seems to pick lying over the truth more times than not and I'm constantly frustrated with him... which leads to the nagging and lectures. *sigh*  He has a few chores/responsibilities that he does in order "earn" media time each day... he lies constantly about whether he did something, even though I'm standing there looking at it and can see it wasn't done.

 

 

Did you take media access away for MONTHS as a punishment? I think that is too long, and that harsh punishments cause problems between parents and children. I suspect that you need to lighten up your reaction to make it safer to be honest. It doesn't matter what you label it  -- its a punishment, and a harsh one. I think one week would have sent a clear message.

 

One of my DD's went through a stage where her devices needed to be stored in my bedroom at night because she just hadn't developed the self control to make good choices. I think it is completely normal for children to lie and say that didn't do something they know they aren't supposed to do. I find it more helpful to not ask them questions that I already know the answers to -- just to spare us both the drama. Your son saying he was tired but then not being able to sleep makes perfect since -- I felt like that when I am stressed. Haven't you ever felt exhausted and drained but not been able to sleep? I thought that was a common reaction to stress....

 

I also think that you need to cut down on your son's opportunities to lie. The way we do the daily chore thing (usually, our system has fallen apart this summer) is that I have a list in a sheet protector that the kids use, and then they let me know when it is done, and then I check the items. If something isn't done, I just say so. If they said they already did it, I think I would tell them to do it again and then end the conversation.

 

Due to his age and the current issues, I would stick with just a two or three items that he could quickly do, and then make sure there is something fun for him after wards (like his DS). Get out of it being about how much time you "give" him, and how quickly he wants to get to his DS. But because focusing and just getting things done isn't a skill he has, keep it really short and simple for now. Realize that he is building a new skill, and he needs to take baby steps.

 

During the school year, my kids aren't allowed media until their chores are done and approved. It isn't so much that they "earn" media time, it's just first things first.

 

I'd find the fewest number of words you can use to convey the issues (How to Talk so Children will Listen has a chapter on this).

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#7 of 28 Old 07-18-2013, 09:53 AM
 
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I'm very gentle in my approach. He's a very sensitive kid, so I'm careful not to "wound" him... I don't believe in punishing... I guess I don't present it as a punishment as much as a lost privilege, a natural consequence of lost trust... part of the "complicated" lie was him complaining he was overtired because of his guilty conscience and then catching him playing his DSi in bed after lights out (he's not allowed to even have it in his room). That's where the media part came into it as a natural consequence of his choices. Does come across as a punishment when you read it here though for sure... 

 

I think kids vary a great deal on whether "punishment" is a good idea or not. I really like the notion of natural consequences and I think, for the most part, it's the way to go. However, over the years, I found my own kids did much better emotionally with some punishment for the big infractions than just natural consequences and our being disappointed. It helped them keep things in perspective. My eldest would mess up, we'd use a stern voice or show displeasure on our face and she'd actually recoil like a beaten child.... like we'd actually hit her or something (and no, we'd never even spanked or slapped her hand or anything like that.) DS didn't physically recoil but he would emotionally badger himself for his mistake for months when WE as parents were over it in a few minutes. They couldn't differentiate between an irritating infraction like leaving the milk out and a breaking of trust by telling a lie. For them, getting in trouble without a punishment turned "I made a mistake" into "I'm a bad person" and it just wasn't working for us.

 

While we really don't have things to punish the kids for now, in the younger years, we found that a punishment for big infractions (namely dishonesty) helped the kids put some perspective on the offense, pay their price, learn their lesson and then move on. When they stopped imagining they'd get beaten for leaving the milk out, they stopped lying about it. Certainly seemed healthier to us. Maybe this is just true in perfectionist kids or maybe it's just mine but I know in parenting circles, "punishment" has become a dirty word of sorts and I don't think it should be.

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#8 of 28 Old 07-18-2013, 10:39 AM
 
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What is this aversion to using the word punishment?  Seems like semantics to me.  You do something bad, something bad happens to you.  Call it punishment, discipline, consequence, the end result is all the same.  I don't know why some people on here get so hung up on that word.

 

Anyway - OP, I'm curious to know same as Linda if your son was punished for months.  I agree that is too severe and would probably have given your son incentive to lie instead of telling the truth.

 

What I've always done is make the punishment for lying WAAAAY more severe than telling me the truth and it always works.  I started this when my kids were very young and it only took one lesson with both kids and after that they never lied to me again.  LOL, I remember my 7 year old even saying once "I told the truth because I knew I would get in trouble if I lied."

 

You have to do this when you have certain proof that they are lying, and I always praise them when they do tell me the truth.  They still get punished, mind you, if they did something wrong, but they know the punishment is not even close to being as bad as if they had lied to me.

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#9 of 28 Old 07-18-2013, 10:50 AM
 
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They couldn't differentiate between an irritating infraction like leaving the milk out and a breaking of trust by telling a lie. For them, getting in trouble without a punishment turned "I made a mistake" into "I'm a bad person" and it just wasn't working for us.

 

 

Thinking about it more, I don't think it is a great idea to use the same punishment/consequence/whatever for everything. It sounds like not doing a chore is treated the same way as lying. To me, finding simple systems for day to day events (a first/then approach) and then pulling out heavy guns for major offenses makes more sense, because we that we help our children understand the difference between:

 

  • being conscientious (sp?) and doing what they need to do, when they need to do it
  • being trustworthy

 

I think these are completely different traits and that we help our kids develop them in completely different ways.

 

I also think that possessions such as gaming devices that have been given to our children belong to them and that we should only take them away in extreme circumstances. Setting limits is sometimes necessary, but that is different than saying "I gave this to you for Christmas, but you don't really have any right to use it unless I say you can use it"

 

I also totally get what you are saying about punishment -- sometimes it lets a child feel like they have paid up, and therefore it lets them move on emotionally.


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#10 of 28 Old 07-18-2013, 10:57 AM
 
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It sounds to me like he is in a constant state of anxiety about having to prove his trustworthiness. If it were me, I would wipe the hwole slate clean. Seriously- the parents should be the ones supporting the kids confidence- not making a 10 yr old have to constantly earn his rights and privelages, in my opinion. It sounds like he is lying because he has to walk such a fine line to get approval- I would just say to him- I know this may be just me, but I personally would say- dear son, I love you so much, You are a good kid! I wipe your slate clean of all the past things you have done wrong,. You don't have to be afraid of me or worry that if you tell me the truth you will get punished,

I think it is more important or a kid to feel safe in their own home- safe to make mistkaes, to be fog=rgiven, to not have past mistakes held against him-.

I am not for letting a kid run the household and do whatever they want with no consequences- but when I read threads like this I tend to feel sorry for the kid! HE is just a kid who made some mistakes like everyone does, If you set up a dynamic where he is "bad" and has to prove he is "good" in order to get things he enjoys, well that is just a twisted and tricky path for a kid to try to maneuver. Of course he will lie- the howle thing is off.

He should feel that he is fundamentally a good person who sometimes makes bad choices. Sounds like he had enough punishment already- can you just forgive him, tel him he is good, and not use the threat of taking away things he enjoys to try to get him to prove he is trustworthy? Just trust him. He is a kid.

by telling him he is not trustworthy you might be creating that deep seeded belief for him to carry. Better to trust him and teach him he is already good. He will carry whatever message you give him about himself into his adult life.

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#11 of 28 Old 07-18-2013, 12:06 PM
 
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I know the lying really bothers you, which it should.  However, have you assessed what you are asking of your ds and if it's reasonable?  Chores are important but some kids really struggle to do them, so maybe you're asking him to do too much?  I have two kids, and my 11 yr old is completely spacey about chores.  It's not that she won't do them, she forgets or goes to do them and only half does them b/c her mind wanders off and she doesn't finish.  It's truly not deliberate, it's just her.  When my older dd was 11, she had no problem with doing stuff.  But my younger one does.  Always has.  So with her, we've scaled back what we want her to do (compared to what we wanted her sister to do) so she's successful and as time goes on she's getting better at doing stuff.  She doesn't lie about not doing it, but perhaps it's b/c we don't get angry b/c something isn't done.  We point out she forgot to do xyz and go from there.  No anger, no disappointment from us.  No loss of privileges. She'll get there, she's just slower in the process.  

 

He's 10.  Drop the chores he has to do.  Or give him only one or two at most and make them easy.  Like clear the dishes from the table after dinner.  Not "clear the dishes, and load the dishwasher".  One fairly easy thing.  Let him succeed at that for awhile and I'll bet he and you will be happier. 

 

And focus on all the good aspects of your ds.  

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#12 of 28 Old 07-18-2013, 01:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm at work and reading/posting on my phone so sorry for being brief...

No, it wasn't months...

I guess what I'm looking for is less critiquing of what I've already done (obviously it's not working, which is why I posted) and looking more for suggestions of positive ways to instill trustworthiness and a good work ethic... I'll weed through the replies when I have more time and see what I come up with... I'm sure there are tons of hidden gems that I'm not picking up on at the moment... Thanks for all the thoughtful responses... smile.gif
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#13 of 28 Old 07-18-2013, 01:25 PM
 
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1. only one chore at a time, and then something he enjoys. When he gets good at that, make it two chores. Chores need to be written down, may be with a picture. Keep it simple.

2. His possessions are his, and not yours to dole out in pieces.

3. Let him know that everyone makes mistakes, and that you love him anyway. Create a safer space for being imperfect.

4. Read "how to talk so children will listen, and listen so children will talk"


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#14 of 28 Old 07-18-2013, 04:46 PM
 
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..he lies constantly about whether he did something, even though I'm standing there looking at it and can see it wasn't done.

 

One small positive thing to instill trustworthiness and a good work ethic:  If you know he's lied about something, be straight and to the point with him.  Don't hand him rope to hang himself.  If you see it, say something to the effect of, "I see you didn't finish thus and such.  Go get it done, now."  Or something like that. 

 

Like others said, lying is normal.  It's not okay, and you're right not to let it slide.  But understanding lying in context of what is developmentally normal helps take the pressure off both of you, so it's less mind-boggling when he lies, yet again.


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#15 of 28 Old 07-18-2013, 08:11 PM
 
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 He has a few chores/responsibilities that he does in order "earn" media time each day... he lies constantly about whether he did something, even though I'm standing there looking at it and can see it wasn't done. It just boggles my mind. It's like he's reverted to 4 yo behaviour! We've talked to him about family's working together to contribute to the family duties, and us working together because we love each other... also building good work ethic so he does well when he has a real job outside the home, etc... I can't seem to get through to him. :( 

 

Is this just a normal developmental thing? Am I doing something "wrong"? Any suggestions for instilling trustworthiness and a work ethic in our son? I believe it's maybe the #1 most important quality I want him to develop because it bleeds into almost every aspect of life... work, play, personal growth... 

 

Thanks...

 

You asked for suggestions, so here are mine. Keeping in mind that each kid is different and what works for me may not work for you, just some things to consider....

 

On the one hand you say you have talked about how families help each other out around the house because they love each other and work together for a clean, tidy home, etc. But then on the other hand his chores are tied to a "currency". This is almost contrary to what you are saying about why we do chores, and also sends a message that it is different for you than for the kids (e.g. if you fail on a chore does your DH take away your responsibilities?). I'm not saying this to rag on you, but to contrast it with the following:  I much prefer approaches like a previous poster said where you may say "sure, you can go on your computer, but I need you to [insert task here] first". Now I confess, I don't have to do this very often anymore, because DD is much better at helping me out if my requests are reasonable and within her level of tolerance (she has Asperger's so she gets overwhelmed with a long list of instructions). But if there is the odd time when she refuses to do something I've asked (take your artwork back to the cupboard - "but mama I'm too tired!") then I will often wait until such time as she makes a request, whether it's asking for my help, making her something to eat, etc. and then I'll say "sure honey, but I need you to pick up your art stuff first, okay?" and she will do it. I do not phrase this in a "hey, I'm not going to help YOU unless you help ME" way, I keep my tone light and friendly. 

 

Another tip is that I pay attention to how much my kids can handle at one time. When faced with a big mess I will often offer my help. DH used to complain, suggesting that somehow I was not teaching them how to be responsible, etc. As if helping them was somehow "caving in" and "letting them off the hook". But boy has it ever paid off. By modeling helpfulness I have not only instilled that attitude in the kids when it comes to chores (not by any means perfectly, but it is there for sure) but also they know that if the task feels overwhelming to them (either because they are tired, don't know where to start, etc) I am there to help and it makes them so much more willing to do the task. As they get older and more competent they don't need my help for those things but by then they are used to doing them. 

 

I've tried to have discussions with my kids about why I need their help around the house, I try not to react if they refuse, but then I'll wait until we are having a close moment and then I will bring it up. Like I'll say "remember today when I asked you to take the dishes into the kitchen and you refused? well I had to go and do that and I was already really tired from doing A, B and C for you, your Dad, etc. and it really hurt my feelings that you wouldn't help me out. When that happens I feel bad inside because it's like everybody just expects me to do stuff for them". I choose language that is non-judgemental and focussed on MY experience, and I make certain that I am not heaping a guilt trip on them, either. If its a consistent problem then I might ask them to identify the roadblock (if they can) and then together we work on a solution. 

 

I do think that this sort of thing you are describing is pretty normal. I think it is their way of making sure your unconditional love is always there, by seeing how you respond when they screw up. Perhaps they are realizing just how much trouble they can get into as they gain independence and want to see whether you are going to have their back or what. Just my own theory, of course...

 

In all my dealings with my 11 year old DD I ask myself this question about how I"m going to respond "how is this going to affect my relationship with DD", will she see me as being on her side or against her? (I can be on her side and we can still find a way to "make it right" and assume responsibility for our mistakes). Am I helping, or am I adding to her stress? Even though it sounds counter-intuitive to "ignore" something in the moment, I've found I get the best resolutions to the issue when I do and then choose to address the issue at a later time when everybody (including me!) is calmer. My attitude is one of "hey, life is hard sometimes and we all mess up, let me help you make it right". It's by no means perfect, but I started out heading down the wrong path with DD when she hit the tween phase and these changes have made all the difference in the world.

 

HTH!


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#16 of 28 Old 07-19-2013, 09:32 AM
 
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mama i am going to say this gently.  please know i say this not to criticize you but to share with you my own lessons as i have walked in your shoes.

 

let go of the control. i think you are controlling too much.

 

also is your son really lying all that much? personally i dont think so. i think both of you speak a different language and you guys are having a hard time communicating.

 

mind you i know what its like to have a super sensitive, creative child. 

 

i think your rules are 'forcing' your son to lie. this is what i 'think'. i may be wrong. but i want you to go back and at least figure out what is going on.

 

being the mother of a pretween - the biggest lesson i learnt - was not that my dd was being difficult. what i discovered was that "I" was being difficult. i wasnt changing and i was being a tyrant and a bully playing a heavy hand. i discovered this whole pretween thing is not about my dd. it is about ME.

 

she is changing and she needs a different treatment. and i wasnt changing myself. 

 

when i realised that and changed myself totally - boy oh boy did things change. 

 

first things first.

 

- talk less. no lecturing. NO lecturing. absolutely not. you are pushing him further and further away. stop now to save your relationship with your child. wasted energy. let it go. 

 

they are getting lazy, forgetful and wanting more media. you are writing this now. i find summer holidays make all those things worse. 

 

being a sensitive child i think your son is trying to express what life feels like to him. so he is using bombastic language and embeleshing the truth. like the standing on the desk episode. it did not happen but being a sensitive boy it certainly felt like that i am sure. 

 

please mama go back in time and recall your days. remove that iron hand you wield. set up boundaries. give him CHOICES. for instance dd has a list of chores to help me with it. but they are on her time. i tell her when i want it finished by but whether she does it at 2 am in the morning or 3 pm that is totally upto her. 

 

4 year old was the first phase of puberty. 

 

i would focus on building your relationship with your son first. sit with him where both you and him can freely talk. that his feelings and opinions matter. YOU have to be open to his needs to (you will be SOOOO surprised how hard that is to do, yet so easy to say). please forget about the future. just coz your son is a lazy slob now doesnt mean he will be so for the rest of his life. what he is now DOES not define his future. 

 

i make a big distinction between requests and commands. i issue more requests and very very very few commands. a command is she HAS to do it. no choice involved. a request is she has the choice to say no. when a child has a choice of saying yes or no, you will be sooo surprised how often they say yes. i get a LOT of 'aaaaaaaaw mom i dont want to do it NOW'. reminds me so much of myself. and if indeed it does not need to be done now i remind her as long as she does it by this time she doesnt have to do it now. or i explain why it has to be done now. 

 

dd and i sometimes watch wife swap this summer. and the one thing we talk about - or she brings up how in almost all the families it is the parent laying down the rules and how the children dont have a say in the matter. 

 

the biggest and hardest lesson to learn is to trust my child. to understand that she is not a 4 year old anymore. 

 

and it blows me away how sometimes dd makes better decisions than i do. 

 

one of the things i have learnt is now to speak. how to speak in such a way that dd can make a decision of how to respond. i discovered i dont know how to talk. i would tell her half the story and then get mad at her response. then i discovered we have so much peace at home if i really explain the situation and express my own feelings. 

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#17 of 28 Old 07-19-2013, 05:51 PM
 
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Just wanted to say that I could relate to so much of what you wrote, meemee. Lots of wisdom there. 


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#18 of 28 Old 07-19-2013, 06:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The one thing that I'm really struggling with from almost everyone who has replied is the concept that I"m expecting too much, lower my expectations, give him less responsibility, let him decide what he's able/desires to do. I believe in gentle discipline, I've never hit my son, I speak to him respectfully and with kindness, we have excellent open communication and are very closely bonded (yay for AP!)... He has LOADS of fun time and lots of passions that I encourage and provide opportunity to develop - soccer, friends, video games, reading, art, summer camps, sailing, kayaking, swimming, lego, grandparent time, bike riding, beach time, etc, etc...

 

That said, I think kids step up to your expectations and are generally eager to please by nature. Why on earth would I let him just play, play, play? How is that preparing him for building good habits that develop work ethic, reliability, trustworthiness by not giving him opportunity to practice responsibility in a reasonable loving environment? We all have things we have to do in life that we don't want to do, even kids! Of course he has the CHOICE to not do his responsibilities, and the consequence of that is that fun time is delayed... We're living real life here... I think kids need to feel involved in the day to day household routine and upkeep... My husband and I both model working hard, playing hard... and taking down time too... I think we have a very balanced life...

 

I understand the mindset of "set them up for success" for a toddler, preschool, and even earlier elementary... Totally do that, I don't set him up to lie... but at some point you have to start giving them more responsibility and setting them up for success in life by challenging them to press through unpleasant activities, do them well, be accountable... 

 

Am I missing something here?? 

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#19 of 28 Old 07-19-2013, 09:49 PM
 
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What I am going to say may be sort of radical compared to your style, but here goes...

 

I don't think you can "instill" trustworthiness, a work ethic, honesty, or much of anything else. I believe you teach it by modelling. Living your life to display your values. The lessons will take years to learn. Discipline, whether you call it consequences or punishment, has little effect. In fact, the word "discipline" means to teach. Clearly, your son already knows the lessons, if he stays awake with a guilty conscience. If he doesn't always remember to do the right thing (that he already knows is right), it is because his executive function features of his brain have not fully kicked in yet - they won't until he is around 25. Stealing a desired Pokemon card, when he knows that stealing is wrong, lying to get out of trouble, when he knows lying is wrong, are signs that executive function is not yet trumping impulse. It really will come. This is a matter of maturity, not discipline.

 

I am not suggesting totally ignoring bad behavior. Express your disappointment if he has made bad decisions; expect him to make amends if he has wronged another person. Help him figure out how to "make it right". Remind him to do chores that are left undone. But no amount of removal of video games will speed up the process of brain maturation. I have expected YoungSon to mow the lawn for years. Really, his vision is as good as mine, and I swear he can see the length as well as I can! For most of those years, it took reminding him, and sometimes serious nagging, to make that happen. Now, at 17, he finally sees when the stupid lawn needs mowing, and simply does it. He has even gotten to the stage where he remembers to take out the trash most Sunday nights, but I don't think he has ever yet remembered to bring the cans back in on Monday afternoon. Someday...

 

Really, time is the greatest teacher. ElderSon was as lazy as any teen, and totally irresponsible, in my view at the time. But today, at 31, he is a great father of 2 adorable grandchildren, working his butt off to provide for them. He compliments me on showing him what sacrifice it takes to be a dedicated parent. I didn't know he noticed at the time. But somehow he absorbed a work ethic, honor, loyalty, caring, and trustworthiness - just by living in an environment that included those values.
 


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#20 of 28 Old 07-19-2013, 09:54 PM
 
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LPH - i hope i can articulate what i want to say. 

 

what i want to say is lower your expectations but not the responsibility. 

 

what you have so far built up is a very strong foundation. to my horror i have discovered that my suspicions have come true. what i thought was the test of parenting is JUST starting with my dd. before this - compared to the lessons i am learning now - parenting was a dream. if i want to continue the close bond i have with dd now in adulthood, then the true test begins now. for the next few teenage years. 

 

i want you to know fun times are NOT just those things you write. fun times are also vegging out on the sofa watching back to back movies or an 8 hour stint of video games with your friends. 

 

look at your language "He has LOADS of fun time and lots of passions that I encourage and provide opportunity to develop" check on that. is it really that fun for him. you will be surprised just as i was this summer with what i thougth were fun activities for dd.

 

back off on the encouraging. usually kids think they have to keep doing it to please us. i know. its crazy isnt it?!!!! it may, let me say again, not true in your case. but i would say scratch a little under the surface and see if indeed that's what they are all about. my almost 11 year old is almost a stranger to me so i have stopped speaking on her behalf. i knew the little girl she was but am discovering in the person she is growing into.  

 

 "I think kids step up to your expectations and are generally eager to please by nature."

hmmmm. yes and no. they struggle to live up to your expectations at this time and ARE NOT generally eager to please by nature. or should i say not eager to please parents but anybody else they admire. hey i accept that and actually see that as a compliment. they should  not try to please me. i should know them well by now.

 

How is that preparing him for building good habits that develop work ethic, reliability, trustworthiness by not giving him opportunity to practice responsibility in a reasonable loving environment? We all have things we have to do in life that we don't want to do, even kids! Of course he has the CHOICE to not do his responsibilities, and the consequence of that is that fun time is delayed... 

is that what you are doing? building good habits, work ethic.... or are you laying down your power as a parent and telling him what to do and if he doesnt do it then he is not being responsible. check with yourself. seriously. i check with myself all the time - what my intentions are. and i discover how often i lie to my own self. i have found myself using bullying tactics and then emotionally blackmailing my child. i tried a week of punishments till i discovered how foolish of me. "I" wasnt getting it. i wasnt punishing my child. i was totally doing the power play. i was turning into a parent i swore i would not be. 

 

does that mean you let him play, play, play? you ask. 

the answer is yes and no. i shout a resounding yes because these are the last summers of playing. our children will soon be going to middle school. lots of homework, projects, activities. they are barely going to have time to play. their fun carefree times are moving into other times. so yes. please let him play. for hours. whether it is on the rope swing outside, watch tv or read a book or play video games. do you remember that one time your parent let you do something you generally werent allowed to do. 

 

but i also say a no. with a catch. is the help around the house for their character building or is it now you have free labor. at this age children LOVE responsibility. they live for it. as long as you are strong enough to give it. can you? if he wants to walk to the corner store alone can you say yes. i cant tell you how hard it is to truly give them responsibility. how hard it is to let my dd cook a full meal by herself and me out of the kitchen not being able to make sure she is ok.

 

my dd does a lot of things in the house. and they change. she tells me where her boundaries are and what she wont do. mom i hate washing the rice before i put it in the cooker. would you do that for me. or i cant cut onions or stand their smell. would you chop them and then fry them for me and then i'll take over. 

 

or i agree with her. ugh i hate, hate, hate sweeping and swabbing the kitchen floor. she'll say ok mom you sweep and i'll swab. 

 

there is a subtle difference - i dont quite know how to articulate it. but its huge. makes a huge difference.

 

our children want to know they matter and we have to discover ways of showing it that is meaningful to THEM, not to us.  huge lesson. huge. and its hard. i discovered starting her periods was no big deal to dd. and she wanted to celebrate because its huge for ME, not for her. 

 

i try to see dd as an adult. it helps me so that i am not disrespectful towards her. its so easy to play the power game. 

 

mainly coz i remember my childhood and how i felt about my parents and their actions. the hardest thing i have done is kept my mouth shut and let dd make her mistake which i saw coming a mile back. 

 

i am learning that my dd doesnt need my hand anymore to walk. she is walking tall by herself and i have to let her go. but i also keep in mind she needs hugs and cuddles. lots and lots of them to go through the tough times of life right now. just hugs and cuddles. no lecturing. no telling her how to live her life. no giving her the answers or trying to fix her problems. unless she asks for help. 

i hope i made some sense. 


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#21 of 28 Old 07-19-2013, 10:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thats a really great point... I agree to a large degree and can see how my parents modelled these values for me... But they also taught me how to do a lot of things that have benefited me in my adult life... They had high expectations of me and held me to a high standard... I'm really grateful they trusted me and challenged me to always try a little harder than the time before... It has served me very well.
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#22 of 28 Old 07-19-2013, 10:46 PM
 
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I really highly recommend the book Raising a Thinking Pre-Teen. It has a lot of wonderful family activities that raise emotional awareness as a family but specifically for preteens. It sounds like some of your worry is based on your DS not seeming to.get that his actions affect how other people feel about him and he only seems to care in the short term and the strategies in this book may be very helpful for that. I felt that it was much more helpful than How to Talk so Kids Will Listen ... because it goes beyond just conversations.
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#23 of 28 Old 07-20-2013, 07:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Not so much how people feel about him, but how to be successful in life so he can accomplish his life dreams. My hubs and I are living our dream life... we take risks, but we are also good honest hard working people who enjoy a simple life. It's not about materialist gain... but about knowing what you truly want in life and going for it. 

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#24 of 28 Old 07-20-2013, 08:17 AM
 
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So what specifically are you trying to figure out about it?  I mean, what aspects of parenting are you trying to work on and seeking advice about?

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#25 of 28 Old 07-20-2013, 09:12 AM
 
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I wouldn't say that the suggestions you got were to "lower your expectations" or to "just let him play", etc. I can only speak for my own remarks so I'll stick to that. 

 

My daughter does help out around the house. And I expect her to do so. By "expect" I mean that if she doesn't help it's time to have a talk, figure out what the problem is, and solve it. We don't attempt to do this when she has just failed to do something I've asked her to do several times. Instead, I wait until it is a good time, we are both calm and happy and preferable while we are connecting with some joint activity we both enjoy. She is always very receptive. As you said, kids raised AP naturally want to preserve that close, trusting relationship they have with you. 

 

If I ask her to do something and she says "not now" then I let her know a time frame. Some things really can wait, other things I need done pretty soon. So I will tell her "I need this done in the next 15 minutes" or "I need this done before bedtime" and then I ask her to pick a time and tell me when. She may say "right after I'm done with this drawing" or "how about when I have to get up to go feed the cats?" or "I will do it before bedtime but can you please remind me again so I don't forget?". By letting her choose the time to do it *within the time that I need it to be done* it saves an awful lot of nagging. And it is very rare that she goes back on her stated time.

 

It's not that I have low expectations for my daughter, it's that I trust if she is not doing something, "rebelling", and we are getting into arguments about it, then obviously something is not working for her. Maybe the task is too much for whatever reason. When I take the time to ask my kids to explain why they are balking, resistant to something, etc I am often very surprised at the very legitimate reasons why; or sometimes they don't actually know but over the years of doing this they are becoming good at self-exploration and figuring out what the issue is within themselves. 

 

I also try to avoid, at all costs, the "what if they never learn to BLANK" dialogue in my head. Honestly, this line of thinking is like making up stuff to worry about when we parents have enough to worry about already! :) 

 

Here's one example to hopefully help you feel better: my mother did not grow up here; she was raised in a family with servants and she never did chores as a child or teen. consequently, I never did them either (she did them all b/c it was a foreign concept for her to have kids doing such things). She was a tireless homemaker who could cook and keep a clean house and when we were a bit older she went back to work full time and managed that as well. When I had my kids I left my full time career to be a stay home mum and now I work part time from home. Despite both my mother and I never having been made to do chores or take on much responsibility as kids, we became adults who could do so readily.  

 

It sounds like you are a great mum who is close to your child and I think you need to trust that that, plus the modelling of the values you want for your kids, is enough. 


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#26 of 28 Old 07-20-2013, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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On reflection... I think part of my "fear", if you want to call it that, comes from owning my own business and dealing with the ongoing challenge of finding staff with the good work habits we value... And not wanting our son to fall into that gap...
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#27 of 28 Old 07-20-2013, 03:02 PM
 
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My advice wasn't so much to lower your standards for where you would like him to end up, but rather to be realistic about where he is right now and give him tasks he can succeed in, and give it some time before trying to move him to the next level. Keep him him moving along with more difficult task and more responsible, but start with where he is right now.

 

I'm sure his writing level isn't any near ready for college, or even high school. But by doing work that is appropriate for a 10 year old, he is very gradually getting better and better at those skills. It's the same kind of thing.
 

Also, I sense a lot of fear in your posts about him. Fear of him being lazy, being a lair, etc. Could you pivot that to having him confidence in him? What are his strengths? What do you really like about him?


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#28 of 28 Old 07-24-2013, 05:08 AM
 
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I think it is great that you are wise enough to want to equip your son with skills that will help him in life. I just think there are different approaches to doing this. I think it is more effective to be the source o praise ond confidence in a child's life. They will have many challenges to face and I think to hear form their parents that they are good strong and trustworthy will instill that inner confidence in them. I think it is fine to give them chores and responsibility but maybe not at the cost of taking away thins if they don't do it how you want them to. It is a confusing subject and hard for me to really explain my position other than that I think by modeling you and your husband's good work ethics and good values, that will naturally become a part of his life as he gropw up- from watching you be that way. At the same time if he is already worrying if he is okay as he is, and having to find ways to seek and get approval, that could set up a confusing internal dialogue for him. I think it is better to try to tell and show your kid how good they are already. To practice prescence and mindfulness and kindness in themoment and to reall give them a strong sense of self approval.

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