Unschooling a challenging child (update in post #186) - Page 3 - Mothering Forums
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#61 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 12:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree with all of this. The situation sounds dire, and I hate to say it, but it sounds like OP is enabling her DD. Not only putting up with the behavior, but perhaps even encouraging it by giving in, not setting boundaries, by asking questions that the DD has no real choice about (you were going to go to the concert anyway, so why did you even give her the choice? Just say "Go put on your shoes, we're going to a concert, and you'll either enjoy it or pretend to enjoy it, I don't care which"), and letting her hold your entire family hostage.
Her behaviour is something I can't control. I always let her know how she affects others. I hope it will eventually sink in. I don't give in to tantrums, and she never has them to "get" things. they are like volcano eruptionsm though.
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#62 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 12:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We are friends with a family who's oldest DD sounds like your child. In some ways, she shares certain personality traits with my oldest child; sensitive, somewhat introverted, likes to be in control. But the biggest difference between Friend's Child (FC) and my DD is that FC has the most negative outlook of any child I've ever met. Her natural reaction to anything new or novel is "No" no matter how much the average child would eagerly plow into the activity.
yes, that's her.

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Here's an article about inborn temperament characteristics and their effects on children and child rearing. Your daughter sounds like she's fairly high on intensity and withdrawal from new activites, plus negative in mood and irregular in rhythmicity. It's a very difficult combination to handle.
thanks, i will research.

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I salute you for your commitment to establishing a strong attachment for her. Now you need to establish behaviors from her that are supportive of your entire family remaining connected. Your commitment to her little brother cannot be any less than her commitment to her.
thanks, i'm mindful of my son's needs. his needs are easier to meetm too.

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It goes against my natural parenting instincts to approach a child who's freaking out with a hard-and-fast rule, but we've discovered that for my DD, offering sympathy when she's in a negative spiral only prolongs and provokes the spiral. My husband and I must disallow further discussion, repeat that we have already made the decision, and squelch any further debate or yelling. The security that DD gets from hearing that the entire situation is out of her hands is more important than any feeling of powerlessness that goes along with that.
we do similar things. i agree--sympathy prolongs her tantrums. i wonder though, if sympathy prolongs, maybe there's a need for this? like puss needs to come out? I've been thinking a lot about this. True, if I disengage, and state the rules, she calms down faster. But is it better long term? I have no idea, I'm just thinking out loud. What if this is like a "good cry?" Like you know, when you are sad and a really good cry, when you cry until you can no longer cry, makes you feel better? Does this make sense?

When she spirals down (And this is the right word, spirals) i can almost see two minds in her--a rational mind that realises the absurdity of it, and then her emotional mind, and she just can't stop.

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You are an important person. Your emotional health matters. And if your daughter's behavior is damaging your attachment to her, than you have an obligation to stop that behavior, even if the parent of a more positive or easier child would not recognize your punishment as ultimately supportive of attachment.
thanks.
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#63 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 12:27 AM
 
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Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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#64 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 12:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks
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#65 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 01:07 AM
 
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Hi, we've been unschooling all along. I love unschooling. I don't think anything else would work with my daughter. She's soon to be seven, in a few weeks, actually. I know it is the best thing for her. But I have hard times coping with my daughter's negativity and explosiveness. I avoid sharing things, because of her reactions. I don't want to take her places. I don't feel like starting new projects, even if she asks. I feel like sending her to school, but I know she will hate it, and she says she will hate it and doesn't want to go. But I don't know how to deal with having her at home.

Example. My son wanted to attend a community concert. She didn't want to go. For over an hour she whined and cried that the concert would be boring, that she wasn't going to go, and if she goes, she was going to "ruin" it for us. After about 1.5 hours she collected her dolls and said she'd find a way to entertain herself there. After the concert she kept complaining, for several hours, about how boring the concert was.
Example: Walking with her on the street, I see a pretty cat. It would be natural for me to say something like, look what unusual coloring. And yet I bite my tongue, because this is what's going to happen: "No, not unusual at all. And I didn't get a good look. Let's go into their yard and see it again. You never show me cats in time, they always disappear. And it wasn't even a cat."--all of it is whining and lasts for a long, long time.

Example. She wants me to start a craft. I start the craft. At first she's whining that I'm not doing it right, then she's whining that she isn't doing it right. For a long time.
Any outing which is not specifically for her, is HELL. She whines before we leave, she whines there, she whines afterwards. Going to a grocery store is a nightmare. She's bored, bored, bored. Anything I suggest "won't work." Even if I arrange the day that we can have and have hot chocolate and cookies after grocery shopping--she won't be happy with anything. She says things like: "I will be terrible in the store, unless you give me $10." She does not like her brother, who's 4. She finds him boring, mocks him, is often mean to him, and is grossly unfair. They do get along sort of okay, because he's very accommodating, but she still does not like him. She often verbally attacks him and teases him. Even in her good moments she's extremely bossy with him, and not at all fair.
She's terrible at taking direction, thanks God we are unschooling. But even something like, "Do you want to hear how I'd do it?" which I try to never say, can provoke hours of frustration from her. She was cooking today, a soup. Self-initiated, her own idea. Then she wanted to put whole potatoes in it. I gently asked her if she wanted to hear my idea. She said yes. I told her about how different veggies have different cooking times etc. She agreed. Started cutting potatoes. Got frustrated that she couldn't make the cubes straight. Started screaming that I ruined it. She was upset for so long. Then she demanded unreasonable things--pour what I have out, let me start again etc. I was calm and reasonable for thirty minutes and then I just couldn't take it. I know I'm an idiot for suggesting things, I should've just let her make the mistake. Not a big deal. Normally I just let her do things. I don't even know why I offered my idea, maybe because she was so happy and we had such a good day, I felt almost normal. I felt like I could be myself.

She wakes up and she's upset with something from the very first moment. Today my son woke up first and was playing with her old inflatable bed, the one she didn't touch for 2 years. He even asked me if he could play with it, if it was his sisters. I said he could. He was just sitting on it, pretending he was on a raft. Her first words? It's MINE! Don't touch it, put it back, you are terrible, you're awful! And so on.
Her mornings are negative 80% of the time. I can't stand it. I try and divert, and empathize, and try to calm her, but I hate my mornings.

She's extremely possessive. Of me, of her belongings. She hates sharing. She was never forced to share, we've always been so respectful to her stuff. And now her brother is very generous and shares easily, but she clings to things. If something "hers" she won't allow anyone touch it. She categorizes the world into HERS and not hers and is all about material possessions.
I find it very difficult to find things to do with her or alongside her, that I enjoy. Lately I've been avoiding her. I know she notices. I know she thinks that I like her brother more. He's curious and easy going, and loves to do new things with me, and I can just talk with him and laugh with him and have fun. I feel awful about it.

She's fiercely dependent on me. She won't do things on her own. She wants to be with me all the time, but won't behave in a more appropriate way. If I tell her that if she wants to stay up with me when I'm up, she needs to be quiet, she simply won't agree. I guess it is good that she's uncompromising Yet she refuses to fall asleep on her own. And if I stay with her, it takes her literally HOURS to fall asleep. Her brother is not enough companionship for her. My husband is, but he's rarely home.

I feel when she's home, she makes my son's life miserable. He's very goodnatured and forgiving, but it is not fair that she attacks him verbally so much. And it is very difficult for me to remain neutral. Today she yelled, "Mommy, tell him that it is rude of him to ask me what's my doll's name!" And she was about to push him away. She was not understanding when I tried to explain that objectively speaking there was nothing rude in what he did, he even said "please", and even though she might not like it, I can't tell him that he was rude. He simply wasn't. She misinterprets like this a LOT. A LOT.

I feel so helpless. How can I unschool her and my son if I find her presence so toxic? My only idea is to hire someone to stay home with her for when I take my son out. Has anyone done that?

Other ideas?
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Soon to be seven. You guessed right. I know for certain that school will make it worse, for her. But my selfish reasoning is that at least I will have some normal time with my son while she is at school. I feel terrible just for thinking this. But here it is. And I do know that the follout will be huge.

I read the book. Everyone says how helpful it is. I couldn't relate to it. I don't know why. I need to reread.

Most of the time I don't volunteer any information, but this makes me sad. This is not who I am. I'm a sharer. I want to share what I learn, my discoveries. This make me feel like a prisoner in my own house. There's no joy to being around her. I constantly have to be on guard--not to say things, not to share, not to comment. I hate this existence.
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Originally Posted by choochootrain View Post
It might not be an unschooling issue per se, but on the parenting board I might hear more of "just send her to school" advice. I guess I know I don't want to hear this, even if I'm tempted.

She's not terribly extroverted.

she IS jealous of her brother. I've been working very hard since the very beginning--tandem nursed until she was 5, for example. She has a jealous personality, she gets jealous easily.

I've read so many books on parenting. 90% of the time I remain calm, and respectufl, and help her deal and cope. I know she appreciates this. She's very self-aware. But there are times when i just can't handle this. This negativity gets to me. My head explodes. I feel like my life is torture.

I have a feeling she doesn't get enough sleep--but she says she's never sleepy, and it takes her a long, long time to fall asleep. She's always been like this, since she was a baby.
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I do know that she's highly sensitive. This is what keeps me sane most of the time--I can relate and empathize. But like today, when she freaked out over the soup--she was becoming hysterical. She was totally losing control. I had to threaten to dump her soup in order for her to start calming down. I hate that I did it, but I was her sounding board, her cushion, her understanding mommy for 20 minutes of yelling and screaming and kicking (out of frustration. She wans't kicking me, just the air.) Then I couldn't take it anymore. She wouldnt' let me leave--followed me everywhere. So taking my time out didn't work. Asking her to leave and calm down didn't work. Hugging her didn't work. Reasoning didn't work. Then when I said I was going to dump it, she snapped out of it.

She's adamant that she doesn't need sleep. I talk to her about recognizing her body's cues. I talk to her about how her body needs rest, even if her brain is active. She actively keeps herself awake. Through yawns and rubbing her eyes.
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I haven't asked lately, but we talked about it several times before. The reasons is, she says, not being able to control herself. That she feels so frustrated that she can't hold it inside.

Solutions--she wants complete, uniterrupted mommy time, always, forever and ever, she wants to nurse again, she wants to be carried in a sling (she's 50lb and very long), she doesn't want me to do anything that doesn't involve her or for her. "You gave birth to me, mommy, so you need to play with me ALL THE TIME."
I try so hard to fill her cup, but it is never enough. And lately we've been in this viscious circle where she's so toxic that I can't force myself to spend more time with her. I know I have to, I must. I have to be the one to break out of this, but as I said, I can barely stand her now. Because when I do spend time with her, she doesn't mellow down, like my son. When he needs me, and I spend time with him, I can see that he enjoys me and he calms down with me. When she is with me, she is as edgy, as difficult, as challenging as always, and this drains my energy so much.

So yes, I know, she needs more of ME, and I don't know how to ease into this while staying grounded myself.
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Thank you.

She does have friends, but she overreacts to them. Things that they do and are normal and not intended to hurt anyone, she thinks that they are intended to hurt her. She gets offended easily. She said herself that she can't forgive easily and that it takes her a long time to forgive.

She gets very excited to play with kids, but her social skills are not that great. Actually, her social skills are probably typical for a 6 year old, but she expects others to behave like adults, and thus has difficulties dealing with them.

I should try tiring her out in the park for hours a day. As I said, I've been avoiding taking her places, because of her complains, but I do know that this can't last forever. I just need some hope and encouragement.
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Not to say that I won't seek help, but she's wonderful and gentle with pets and animals, is respectful to other children and tries to be a mediator if they argue (and gets very drained emotionally if she isn't successful, and she is almost always not very successful mediating other 5 and 6 year olds).

She is not mean to anyone but her brother, and this is very hard, of course. She can also be very protective of him and supportive. If he gets hurt, she is the first to help and is very attentive.

I believe her issues are extreme sensitivity and when she gets frustrated she is not able to snap out of it. But most people find her to be a total delight to be with.

These are your very painful words describing the dynamic your daughter brings to your family and to her peers. I don't know exactly what you are looking for to help with this situation. But, don't send her to school may cover it. I don't think you are open to hearing that this may be beyond your ability to fix. I hope you find something that will not only benefit her but everyone else around her.
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#66 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 01:10 AM
 
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I know a child kind of like this. She's a middle child, older sister has Wilson's Syndrome, very sweet and acquiescing, younger brother not special needs but a similar personality to the oldest daughter.

This little girl has been holding her family hostage for years. She's ten.

FWIW, her family homeschools, too, though I don't think that's here nor there.

EVERYTHING is ALL ABOUT HER, ALL THE TIME. And if it isn't, there's he!! to pay. I like children as a general rule, and this little girl is the most difficult child to be around that I have ever encountered.

Her parents used to have me babysit her because no one else could handle her. (This has stopped during my current pregnancy- I'm just too wiped out.) Because I would watch her with my DD (who is just a toddler), and she would be mean (MEAN!!) to DD with no provocation whatsoever, I had to be much more rigid and authoritarian with her than it is my instinct to be with any child.

("We are doing X. You will go along, and be pleasant, or you will face severe consequences. Immediately." Once, at the park, when she was being hideous, I took her shoes away. She flipped out- tried to hit me to get her shoes back. I physically restrained her by sitting astride her and holding her arms until she calmed down enough to understand that I am bigger and thems the breaks. She tested me MUCH less after that.)

But... it worked. According to her parents, her behavior with them was basically unaffected- her time with me made her neither better nor worse with them, but she was far better behaved with me once she became convinced that there was a new sherriff in town.

It is not my business to parent this child, but I have let her folks know that while I do think there may be some sort of underlying disorder there- be it emotional or allergy based or a sleep problem or whatever- the basic solution to the behavioral problems that I have witnessed, IMHO, is boundaries. I think this girl is SCREAMING for rigidly enforced boundaries.

Once she started puberty a few months ago, her negativity and hysteria racheted up further. Her parents finally got her into counseling. She is also on some herbal stuff (to help her sleep- she is much worse when she hasn't slept, and has trouble sleeping and generally has unhealthy sleep patterns), and I know they are considering drug therapy.

If I were faced with a child like this, I would be terrified at what the future held. Not for me, but for her. :

There is a whole world full of people out there, and nobody's going to be as nice as mama. Very few people will tolerate someone who is- and I mean no offense, but this is the best way I can describe this girl I know- an emotional extortionist. Because of my fear for the future, all options would be on the table. I definitely would pursue therapy, and I wouldn't rule out drugs or very extreme diets.

This is just my experience, just my opinion. Take whatever works, ignore the rest. Except for this last part, OP: You deserve to be happy. Do whatever it takes to be happy yourself. You are good mama now, you'll be an even better one if you are happy.

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#67 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 01:10 AM
 
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I have to say my DD was like this before she began school. She had been great with HS for PreK and K, but became this way for about 6 months. She was super controlling to the point of being OCD, once she started school she was no longer able to control every situation so she gave up. She also became a model big sis and has treated us all better now that she gets some other social interactions throughout the day. We still live an unschooled approach even though she now attends a classical charter school, and we may in the future go back to HS, but I am a firm believer in doing what is personally best for a family as a whole (along with the child of course). Right now, she wants to go to school and I see the benefits, so we will continue. If school is what is best, do not feel guilty about it. However, if you still feel US is what works best for your family, I am sure it will turn out alright. Either way, if a change does not occur in her behaviour to prove it is a stage, I would suggest some professional help. I would hate to see a child who had true emotional/psychological issues not be diagnosed and not get the specified help/modifications they needed. Good luck. I remember how hard it was for me when I could not stand being around my DD. One time it was on vacation with my GILs. I swear I thought we would never be invited back. Just saying, it could be just a stage like what happened to us.

BTW the Love and Logic discipline plan worked for us very well. It was what OUR daughter needed and gave us our relationship back.

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#68 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 01:39 AM
 
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I've read a lot of the responses and it sounds like you are a great mother who is in a very difficult situation. You dd reminds me a little bit of my older sister who made life a living hell for my parents, and to some extent her 5 siblings, for years. No one could ever really explain it, she just couldn't/wouldn't control her rage and frustration and any reason was a good reason to fly off the handle. Eventually she got better, she even joined the marines and married a navy man. But to this day she's a little funny in the head, like some of the wiring wasn't wired up just right. I'm not exactly suggesting that there is something wrong with you daughter, but it is possible. The one thing I do know is that you can't let it ruin your life and you cannot let her abuse your son. I think that some family counseling might be a good intro into getting her some help. She needs help. A good therapist will be able to steer you in the right direction in regards to her. She may need someone to work with her one on one helping her to deal with her impulses and emotions.

The sleep thing really rings a bell with me too. If she is not getting adequate sleep then she will not be able to function normally. You could talk to her doctor or therapist about sleep aids and techniques.

I do not think that any of this is your fault, but i do think early intervention is needed.

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#69 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 01:55 AM
 
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Knowing my child and a couple others, I know enough that outsiders can't make the judgment about whether therapy is the way to go. Maybe she could use it, maybe not.
Or, maybe people on the receiving end of years of verbal assault and walking on eggshells, may actually have a less accurate perspective. It is easy when you are in survival mode day to day to not see clearly the absurdity of a situation. What the poster is describing really is far, far out of the norm and far, far out of the way a family should operate.

Every bit of the poster's situation to me screams THERAPY NEEDED. As our family has benefited greatly from therapy I don't consider it at all an insult to suggest therapy. I see therapy as offering some good possibilities here. It may help in identifying the source of this difficulty - if it is personality helping all involved better understand that and know to deal with it. If it is something else - again more information is better. Also, it simply can't be good for anyone involved here to feel the way they are feeling. Mom is unhappy and kid is unhappy and no doubt picks up on mom's upset. Clearly, to me anyway, mom is trying hard and just feels backed up against a wall and out of ideas. Some counseling may help offer some new ideas and certainly offers the possibility of everyone understanding each other better.

One thing I wondered reading the post is if the kid is possibly anxious. Anxiety in kids often looks different than it does in adults. Needing to occupy all of a parent's time, feeling out of sorts about new experiences, etc. can all be anxiety symptoms.

A couple of books that might help:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1591474507

http://www.amazon.com/Optimistic-Chi...3486451&sr=1-1
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#70 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 02:00 AM
 
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I have a child like this--my middle daughter. She has been seeing a therapist on and off for several years. About a year ago she was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. I always knew there was something going on, but I felt like it was a combination of her learning disability mixed with anxiety.

I worried about sending her to school as well, but honestly--it has been good for both her and me. We had one year (4th grade and some of 5th) where she begged me to homeschool her, but I felt like it was the wrong choice for both of us. I need to have some separation from her, or I would collapse under the pressure.

Now she says she likes school (she started middle school in the fall, and I dreaded it--but it has been fine), and she gets out each day and interacts with other kids her age. She doesn't really have "friends" in the traditional sense, but she does talk with kids at school. When she gets home we sit down together to do her homework and I give her lots of one on one time. It is babysteps to putting a little distance between us, as well as giving her lots of loving care.

She is 12 now and has always been this way, and I do worry about her in the future, but I am always there for her.

I know this must be so hard for you. Having a child like this is so incredibly exhausting and can make you feel hopeless and burned out. Take time for yourself and try to keep some balance there for YOU, too.

Hugs,
Lisa
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#71 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 02:03 AM
 
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I just realized this is the unschooling forum, and I hope my mention of sending my girl to school doesn't bother anyone. It is just what works for my particular situation.
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#72 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 02:14 AM
 
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#73 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 07:04 AM
 
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OP, first I want to tell you that I agree with the PPs who have said you sound like a great mother and very open to ways you might help your dd. I hear you on it being hard to find a therapist that is going to work. Obviously you need one who is not opposed to unschooling, who is respectful of your dd and who your dd will like well enough that it won't feel like a punishment to go see.

I know you mentioned that you have read a lot of parenting books but have you read The Explosive Child by Ross Greene? If you have, did it resonate at all with you, or not really? Also, I think if your dd would be happy with having a babysitter sometimes you should definitely do it and, at least for awhile, I wouldn't give your DS the option of staying at home with the babysitter if your DD will be upset by it. Let it just be her babysitter, at least for now (IMO until it won't upset her greatly for him to stay home).

I agree with you that she is not being manipulative. She is extremely frustrated and doesn't know how to handle it. I also don't know how you make a child like that go to school when she doesn't want to. Sounds like a recipe for hellish mornings.
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#74 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 09:08 AM
 
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i haven't read all the replies, so forgive me if i am repeating.... you used the words "intense, negative and explosive."

sounds like you need to read "the explosive child" by ross greene.

my almost seven year old can be maddening. homeschooling him can be a real PITA. but i think school would be a nightmare. allowing him to have as much control over his own life works the best for him. even then he is so uncooperative sometimes! but i have learned the more inflexible he is, the more flexible i need to be, so when he is being obstructionist, i leave him home or out right bribe him. none of my approaches are perfect and he has taught me so much about patience, compassion and respect.

there is a GDing your explosive child thread in the GD forum.

"Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift." -- Mary Olivercoolshine.gif

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#75 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 10:14 AM
 
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You sound like a wonderful mother, and my heart goes out to you for what you're dealing with right now! I have a 4 yo that has some similar personality traits, and I so understand the feeling of walking on egg shells around your own home. I also know that it is almost impossible for people that have never experienced a child like this to understand what it's like. : I hope you feel you're getting some support and love and understanding here, on this thread.

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I do know that she's highly sensitive. This is what keeps me sane most of the time--I can relate and empathize. But like today, when she freaked out over the soup--she was becoming hysterical. She was totally losing control. I had to threaten to dump her soup in order for her to start calming down. I hate that I did it, but I was her sounding board, her cushion, her understanding mommy for 20 minutes of yelling and screaming and kicking (out of frustration. She wans't kicking me, just the air.) Then I couldn't take it anymore. She wouldnt' let me leave--followed me everywhere. So taking my time out didn't work. Asking her to leave and calm down didn't work. Hugging her didn't work. Reasoning didn't work. Then when I said I was going to dump it, she snapped out of it.
This post in particular jumped out at me. One thing I found with my son was that all the accomodating and consoling and trying to support him really wasn't helping things, as he couldn't even hear me through his screaming and tantruming. But when I started to turn to things like threats and bribes (such a far cry from my ideal!) he suddenly found a way to more self control. Basically, it's like he needs some incentive to gain control that outweighs (for him) the benefit of allowing himself to keep losing it.

I do sometimes dislike the thought that I am manipulating him to control his behaviour. But when I look at it as modeling opportunities for him to think about consequences of behaviour (even contrived ones) before he steps off the edge of the cliff, it feels better and more like a gift I can give him. After all, this is how things work for us as adults... we weigh out our decisions and think about the various consequences any choice might present us with. And the more he sees the boundaries, the less he seems to need to push to figure out where they actually are.

This just brought up another thought for me... perhaps people who need a great deal of control (which is the issue for my son) feel best when they experience the feelings of control externally as well. I know that I like to be in control (one of the reasons this is difficult for me!), and that goes beyond just me needing to control what goes on around me, to actually enjoying understanding the patterns and boundaries and rhythms of the Universe. I take great personal pleasure in knowing how things work. I suppose that must be the same for him!

I'm not sure if my rambling will help you at all, but reading your thread has most certainly helped me. Thank you for sharing here. I wish you and your entire family the very best. Sending you much love and light.

Melanie
Magical Mama, joyfully home educating my three wonders: FR (12/02), EG (05/05), DK (06/09)
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#76 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 10:55 AM
 
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I haven't dealt with the extremes the OP is seeing, but the only thing that got my negative child to stop taking every mood out on the rest of us was to send to her room when she wasn't able to treat us decently. Her behavior improved dramatically once there was a concrete reason for her to try. No amount of talking had any noticeable impact.

I also think I would brainstorm appropriate consequences for typical behavior problems ahead of time, so that I had a plan if/when the situation comes up.

My dd found this website very helpful (it's about dealing with anger, but it works for all intense negative emotions): http://www.cyh.sa.gov.au/HealthTopic...np=287&id=1505

ZM
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#77 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 10:59 AM
 
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This post in particular jumped out at me. One thing I found with my son was that all the accomodating and consoling and trying to support him really wasn't helping things, as he couldn't even hear me through his screaming and tantruming. But when I started to turn to things like threats and bribes (such a far cry from my ideal!) he suddenly found a way to more self control. Basically, it's like he needs some incentive to gain control that outweighs (for him) the benefit of allowing himself to keep losing it.
I would say for my DS support and comfort go a long way many times, but there have been plenty of times he's been threatened with something to get him to stop doing something. It's not been a matter of him actually losing something but it was more like "OK if you want us to go to (wherever we are headed, movies, pool, etc) and not turn around right now you need to stop kicking Papa's seat". I don't necessarily think it's the best or most creative thing in the world but it has worked for us and since he doesn't lose the privelege he's better able to calm down. I try not to do it unnecessarily, only when he's really doing something he needs to stop doing and we are somewhere like in the car or train where there is not much chance of redirection.

eta: also he's nearly 8 now and has become much easier than he was even a year ago.
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#78 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 11:01 AM
 
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Example. My son wanted to attend a community concert. She didn't want to go. For over an hour she whined and cried that the concert would be boring, that she wasn't going to go, and if she goes, she was going to "ruin" it for us. After about 1.5 hours she collected her dolls and said she'd find a way to entertain herself there. After the concert she kept complaining, for several hours, about how boring the concert was.

Any outing which is not specifically for her, is HELL. She whines before we leave, she whines there, she whines afterwards. Going to a grocery store is a nightmare. She's bored, bored, bored. Anything I suggest "won't work." Even if I arrange the day that we can have and have hot chocolate and cookies after grocery shopping--she won't be happy with anything. She says things like: "I will be terrible in the store, unless you give me $10."

Solutions--she wants complete, uniterrupted mommy time, always, forever and ever, she wants to nurse again, she wants to be carried in a sling (she's 50lb and very long), she doesn't want me to do anything that doesn't involve her or for her. "You gave birth to me, mommy, so you need to play with me ALL THE TIME."



These are manipulative behaviors.
OP - I hear you when you say she does not start a temper tantrum to manipulate - but when she is in the throws of a temper she certainly does say some manipulative things. At 7, she must be getting these ideas from somewhere. I do not think it is typical for children to say "give me 10$ or I will ruin things". I wonder - did someone bribe her at some point? Alternately, at some point did you say you feel compelled to play with her because you gave birth to her? Is she throwing your own words back in your face?

It sounds like you talk/share a fair bit - and now she is turning around and using your currency against you (not necessarily in a manipulative way - but in a learned way). I would take excessive talking out of the equation.

I am suggesting this from a place of btdt - I have tried to share and reason with my children about their behaviour to the point I felt exhausted. I would literally go on and on trying to get them to see the light (so to speak) and it did not work. Now I explain things once, clearly, ask if there are questions - and that is it. I also regularly say: "you do not have to agree with me. None-the less we are going to ......".

In the beginning I felt like a bit of a dictator and cold when I did this. However, it has worked - and I think our lives are the better for it. As time has gone on, I have had to do this less.

I agree that as the adult you have be the one to stop the viscous circle. I do not think staying centerred is the only way to do this (although it is important for you to remain calm). It hasn't stopped her before - has it? Some other action needs to be done to stop the behaviour. I wish you the best of luck in figuring out what that is.

Kathy
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#79 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 11:04 AM
 
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This post in particular jumped out at me. One thing I found with my son was that all the accomodating and consoling and trying to support him really wasn't helping things, as he couldn't even hear me through his screaming and tantruming. But when I started to turn to things like threats and bribes (such a far cry from my ideal!) he suddenly found a way to more self control. Basically, it's like he needs some incentive to gain control that outweighs (for him) the benefit of allowing himself to keep losing it.

I do sometimes dislike the thought that I am manipulating him to control his behaviour. But when I look at it as modeling opportunities for him to think about consequences of behaviour (even contrived ones) before he steps off the edge of the cliff, it feels better and more like a gift I can give him. After all, this is how things work for us as adults... we weigh out our decisions and think about the various consequences any choice might present us with. And the more he sees the boundaries, the less he seems to need to push to figure out where they actually are.

This just brought up another thought for me... perhaps people who need a great deal of control (which is the issue for my son) feel best when they experience the feelings of control externally as well. I know that I like to be in control (one of the reasons this is difficult for me!), and that goes beyond just me needing to control what goes on around me, to actually enjoying understanding the patterns and boundaries and rhythms of the Universe. I take great personal pleasure in knowing how things work. I suppose that must be the same for him!

I'm not sure if my rambling will help you at all, but reading your thread has most certainly helped me. Thank you for sharing here. I wish you and your entire family the very best. Sending you much love and light.

This is very interesting to me. I have been a no threat/no bribe/no punishment parent since day one...up until my son started having the problems dealing with things, too. And I found the firmer (but not mean) I am, the more he responds. I've battled with myself thinking, "am I making him stuff his feelings, or am I helping him get control?" and I'm not quite sure. A case in point, we were supposed to be going to a playground, and something happened that threw him into a hysterical sobbing fit, but he was still trying to get ready to go out the door. I was trying to comfort him, trying to be hands off, trying whatever to help him get over it, talking to him about deep breathing to calm down, focusing on having fun at the park, etc. Then I finally said calmly and quietly, but firmly, "Look, D. I absolutely cannot take you to the park until you get calmed down and under control. It would be distracting to the other kids." and within 30 seconds, he was completely calmed down and had a GREAT time at the park. So did I make him stuff his feelings, or did I give him a concrete reason to control them that he wasn't able to come up with on his own?

I'm so glad we're getting him some help. I have an intake appointment tomorrow to talk with the therapist on my own about the situation without him around, and then he'll start his own sessions.

Heather, WAHM to DS (01/04)DD (06/06). Wed to DH(09/97)
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#80 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 11:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all the replies. I still want to respond to some indivisual ones, hopefully later. Posting here and reading the thread has already helped me to recenter and become more positive in my own attitude. Today started well, and I hope to be "present" and focused and I will let you know how it went. Small steps. We will be getting her to a therapist in the late summer, when my husband starts his new job.
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#81 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 11:52 AM
 
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OP:
This has turned out to be a bunch of random thoughts that I hope are helpful in some way...

A site that I find extremely helpful when trying to parent consensually is joyfullyrejoicing.com. Here's a snippet about what she has to say about tantrums:

Quote:
Maybe you mean when I point out that a tantrum is the last resort of a child who isn't being heard. They've gone through the skills they know trying to tell us they want something and we're ignoring them or not taking them seriously or not understanding. They don't have anything left but to melt down in supreme frustration.

...

(Which doesn't address the highly sensitive child who may have frequent meltdowns because of frustrations with life in general. In which case I'd say "Raising Your Spirited Child" and "The Explosive Child".)

I think that goes to what many PPs are saying: you are not dealing with normal tantrums of a child who is not being heard. You need some new tools to deal with your dd's extreme sensitivity.

I've had one thought throughout this thread--you need a new way to communicate with your dd b/c your usual way isn't working.

There's a thread going on on a consensual living list that I'm on around releasing our expectations of others.

I believe that this need to test their power over others is perhaps appropriate for certain 7 yr-olds (it seems to be for mine!). A lot of the time I react with the feeling of "you don't control me!" But I've noticed that when I am able to push past that, tell myself this is something he's trying on for size, then I am more able to help him find a way to hold onto his personal power while not imposing it on others.

I wonder if this dynamic where your DD is the party pooper for you and DS has become self-fulfilling? Perhaps she's not happy about being that person either, but she's stuck in the role?

Here's another quote from joyfullyrejoicing:

Quote:
If a child has a temper that seems to go from 0-100 instantaneously, if we see the temper as something that must be eliminated for them to function we will see and make decisions about them differently than if we see that temper as part of who the child is and our job is to help them do what they want to do.

We can train them to act as though they don't have a temper. They can stuff it down inside and look like non-tempestuous people from the outside. Or we can help them learn how to recognize the signs of impending blowup and help them with ideas on what to do with the situation and what to do with the emotions.

What can she do when she's feeling all mixed up inside? What about some of the other things she feels?
I hear you saying that on the one hand you're trying to do what this quote suggests, but on the other hand feeling exhausted--depleted--by her constant demands.

I think I'd do a few things in your place:

--I'd look at dietary reasons for the "stuck" feeling. Dairy and grains would be my first suspects.

--I'd try to find a way to change the dynamic so that the "stuckness" can be avoided. I don't know what that might be, but I have found that if I sit with my own feelings for awhile, and allow them to be valid (it's OK for me to not be able to stand DD right now) sometimes I am able to see a way through and beyond those feelings.

I hope there's something in my ramblings that helps in even a small way.

FWIW, I don't think that school is the solution, and I don't see how punishing or isolating her would really be helpful either.

Hugs and good luck, OP.

DS1: 2/02 ROTFLMAO.gif DD: 9/04 blahblah.gif DS2: 9/07jog.gif and EDD: 11/13 belly.gif

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#82 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 12:05 PM
 
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I
My dd found this website very helpful (it's about dealing with anger, but it works for all intense negative emotions): http://www.cyh.sa.gov.au/HealthTopic...np=287&id=1505

ZM
This site is absolutely wonderful. I'm printing out pages to read with my son. Thank you so much!

Heather, WAHM to DS (01/04)DD (06/06). Wed to DH(09/97)
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#83 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 12:14 PM
 
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I think the temptation to "send her to school" is much like the momentary fits of "sending you to live with your father" that divorced moms have. It's not the solution and would only make things worse but it can be soooooooooooo tempting in the moment! You're human, it happens.

Lots of people here have much better advice and way more experience with this issue so I won't try to problem solve. I did want to tell you I sympathize and totally get the temptation to make an aggravating child just go be someone else's problem for a little while. Hang in there.
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#84 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 12:54 PM
 
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Reading some of the more recent posts reminds me of a woman I worked with before my daughter was born. She was an intelligent, talented woman - and she was *miserable* in our office. One of her biggest issues (and the issue our boss had with her) was that she wasn't happy without very specific direction combined with a lot of personal control. She needed expectations very clearly laid out for her to feel comfortable. Yet she also needed to feel like she was in control of her own world within this bigger environment. And when she didn't feel like this, she was seriously horrid to be around.

Thinking of her gives me another outlook on the internal workings of my own son. This seems to be exactly what he needs - lots of control over his own experience, combined with very clear understanding and expectations about the boundaries. Of course, this is what all children need to one extent or another... it's just that some of them are more able to adapt to variations than others, I think.

Melanie
Magical Mama, joyfully home educating my three wonders: FR (12/02), EG (05/05), DK (06/09)
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#85 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 02:58 PM
 
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OP, your daughter may not start a temper tantrum in order to consciously manipulate you, but with your behavior and actions you are teaching her that it is OK to behave that way, that she neither needs, or is able to learn to control and deal with disappointment. And I'll bet she's not stupid. She will learn that she can do whatever she wants and no one will stop her, and that she never needs to do what she doesn't want to do. These are not behaviors that are going to allow her to function in society.

You need to teach her how to deal with her emotions, how to compromise with others, how to delay gratification. Pretty much how to be a decent person. Those skills don't come naturally, you need to teach them. And it's not just to make your life easier, it's for her sake too. As unassited mama said, it's pretty damn stressful for a seven year old to run a house! No wonder she explodes all the time. She needs boundaries and to know that the adults are in charge.

This link has is all about emotion coaching. That's how you can teach your child to manage their feeling without dismissing them or being ruled by them.
http://www.talaris.org/spotlight_emocoaching_steps.htm
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#86 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 03:24 PM
 
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Another thought... I think children respond to our emotions, or vibrational output, (whether it's hidden or not) more keenly than they do our actions and words. So when we are seething inside and put a happy face on it, they get more confused than if we were being authentic and letting them know exactly how we feel about what is happening. I know when I'm trying to swallow down how I really feel it never works around here. They just keep pushing and pushing until we all end up exploding. This is where the whole idea of being centered (mentioned earlier) comes in. But if we're not feeling centered, I think it's better to come out and say "I feel really frustrated right now, and I need some time to go and calm myself" than it is to soldier through, thinking we're doing something positive for our children. That type of authentic response can make more sense to them, and it models appropriate behaviour.

I'm not sure if this is an issue for you or not, OP, but your thread is on my mind a lot today, so I hope you don't mind my continued ramblings on the subject. :

Melanie
Magical Mama, joyfully home educating my three wonders: FR (12/02), EG (05/05), DK (06/09)
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#87 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 04:45 PM
 
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We will be getting her to a therapist in the late summer, when my husband starts his new job.
Glad to hear she'll be starting counseling soon. In the meantime, you may want to consider guided imagery or meditation to help her regulate her emotions. Here's a link to some kid's products: http://www.healthjourneys.com/MainCategory.aspx?mcid=13.

Also, have you tried yoga, or anything similar?

And, speaking of your dh, how has he been handling all this? Has he been a source of support for you?


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#88 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 05:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We're having a very balanced day, and I will share more of my thoughts later. :
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#89 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 06:16 PM
 
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Could be totally wrong...
But, I thought the poster was saying your daughter has the mistake impression that she's the one who should decide how you talk about the cat, decide to go to the park, etc. She doesn't seem to have a good understanding of the boundaries of where her responsibility for making decisions ends. I'm not suggesting this is a product of something you have said...but rather that somehow through personality and the evolution of behavior she feels like she has an immense amount of power/responsibility not just for herself but for what you say and do. That's a lot to be on a kid's shoulders even if you didn't intentionally put it there.
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#90 of 188 Old 05-28-2009, 06:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Could be totally wrong...
But, I thought the poster was saying your daughter has the mistake impression that she's the one who should decide how you talk about the cat, decide to go to the park, etc. She doesn't seem to have a good understanding of the boundaries of where her responsibility for making decisions ends. I'm not suggesting this is a product of something you have said...but rather that somehow through personality and the evolution of behavior she feels like she has an immense amount of power/responsibility not just for herself but for what you say and do. That's a lot to be on a kid's shoulders even if you didn't intentionally put it there.
Are you coming to this from the unschooling perspective? I know that currently she's might be manifesting her decision making in a rather unhealthy pattern, but generally, we strive for letting her make decisions about her life.
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