How can I approach these situations in a "Radical Unschooling" manner? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 01-17-2011, 08:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I usually adopt a natural concequences approach.  We will be unschooling and I've been reading about RU so I'd like to see how that works out for us (in some aspects anyways.  My daughter likely has sensory issues that call for a set bedtime, some routines, etc.  which she is completely okay with and can't function without).  I put this in the gentle discipline subforum but I'm mostly looking for the RU approach to all of these.

Here goes...

 

My DD can be really sweet.  I have for a long time attempted to convince myself that she was a typical 1yo/2yo/3yo.  I however am confident that she has some sensory issues.  She's currently eating like four teenage boys, and we're getting that looked into as well.  I'm just really at a loss about how to deal with some of her isses.  Here they are:

 

-Cleaning up her messes.  I think I model pretty good housekeeping for her.  Our living space is open and she has a little "nook" behind the couch (well, really a 6x6ish area) and a rug for her toys.  Everything is easily organized.  She has baskets for her stuff, hooks to hang things, shelves on her kitchen for the play kitchen stuff.  Although she usually centers her play around her play area, it somehow spaces out and there are blocks and cars and play tomatoes everywhere.  I don't really care about this while she's playing, but once she's done, wants to go to bed, wants to eat, go out, etc, the mess remains.  I don't care about the unsighltiness of it, I really am concerned about tripping over it, my DH tripping over it, and more importantly, my 1yo tripping over it.  We all have.  We have stone floors placed over a concrete slab, so falling is no picnic here.  My 3yo trips less frequently (and she's the most clumsy out of all of us) so it's hard to make that "click" in her head.  She really doesn't get that toys all over the floor=someone could trip and fall.  Any advice?  She just refuses to pick up her stuff and actually tells me "you do it".  I guess I should, since I'm the one taking issue with it.  I do help her if she asks, but it doesn't sit well with me when she demands that I clean up the mess that she made.  Idk.  Maybe it's really petty.  I clean up her food messes, etc.  I really don't know.  It's just that people are getting injured because there is stuff all over the place.  In the real world, if someone were to do something that inadverdently caused others danger of being injured, they'd probably go and fix whatever it is.  Right? Hmm... Insight please!

 

-Chewing with her mouth closed.  She will refuse to do it, and actually chew LOUDER.  It's a huge pet peeve of mine, and this morning while she was eating and I was nursing the baby I got the words creepy crawly feeling.  It took everything I had not to scream and run down the block.  When can I expect her to do this?

 

-Inside/outside voice.  I cannot concentrate on whatever when she's SCREAMING in my ear, just having a normal conversation.  Nothing gets done when I can't concentrate- it's my own flaw, but I'd like for her to work with me on it.  I think that's fair.  Any ideas?

 

-Running inside of the house.  As I mentioned, we have stone floors.  She's very clumsy.  She does trip on her stuff when she runs.  She just runs back and forth, she could do it all day.  She always falls and gets hurt and it ends up being a huge deal and then she gets back up and keeps running.  I guess I shouldn't mind if she doesn't mind getting hurt, but she trips over her sister, runs over her sister and hurts her, breaks things when she falls on top of them, etc. 

 

-Allowing her sister to play.  She just won't and I feel so bad.  I often have to separate them and take a toy for my 1yo to play with because my 3yo refuses to let her play with "her toys".  My 3yo snatches toys from her sister and pushes her out of the way (often hurting and scaring my 1yo).  All of the toys we have are age appropriate for both of them (most of our toys are "waldorf" toys and could really be anything and everything.  Nothing chokeable either).  She has toys that are "hers" and those I'm fine with her not sharing, after all, I'd like her to have ownership over some stuff, kwim?  But if she's playing with blocks and her sister wants to sit in front of the play kitchen and open and close the cabinets, her sister should be free to do that, kwim?  The only time she will "play" with her sister is when she wants to involve her in her play (because she NEEDS someone to be involved).  This is usually when she makes a big pot of "soup".  She gives us each a bowl of soup.  Other than that, she plays very independently and just doesn't want to be bothered.

 

I think there are some more issues but for right now that's all I can think of.  I have my 1yo on the couch with me and when I was typing this up, about halfway through, my 3yo came and snatched a toy that my 1yo was playing with over here and the 1yo got upset and headbutted me in the ribs.  OUCH.


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#2 of 10 Old 01-17-2011, 10:03 AM
 
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I suspect it's the rare 3 yo that cleans up after him/herself...  What I did when ds was that age was to try to have the toys decluttered to the extent that I didn't mind them strewn around and they were easy to pick up.  No way was he one to do what was asked.  He was very sensitive to the slightest hint of coercion.  We'd clean up together.  He usually faded from helping pretty quickly at that age but he was always much better about working together than having his own "job."  He still prefers doing things together which is rather sweet.  

 

What helped a lot was changing the way I talked.  Saying "remember to walk inside" worked much better than saying "don't run."  The other thing I'd do is say "when we're done picking up, it will be time to (something fun)."  I would say yes as much as possible to his requests but sometimes it was "yes, as soon as we pick these toys up we can do that."  It made such a big difference compared to using phrases like "no, not until you clean up."

 

Just having one child, I possibly don't have any good sibling advice.  Plus, ds likes to share more than many and would rather the interaction of a playmate to playing by himself.  I did teach him to always trade a toy with a baby, that he could never take something from them without giving them something else first, even if he was taking back his toy (which would have been the only time he'd do that).  He got to practice on cousins a fair bit.  I know it helped that he did not want the baby to cry.  I did have some toys I considered household toys.  I didn't see the point in encouraging him to feel ownership for things that weren't really his specifically so I can see asserting that the toy kitchen was everyones to use and younger dd can certainly work the doors while older dd is doing something else.  But kids can be so different temperamentally.  Some are more territorial for some reason...  I've heard Siblings without Rivalry is a good book though I haven't read it myself.


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#3 of 10 Old 01-17-2011, 10:03 AM
 
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I'm not in your home, so I can't speak to the question about sensory issues. If your gut is telling you that she's more intense than the average 3 yr-old, then definitely talk to a doctor about it and see what you can find out.

 

With that said, I don't see anything in your post that is abnormal for a 3 yr-old.

 

To address your questions:

 

 

Quote:
Cleaning up her messes.

I've never met a 3 yr-old that can consistently clean up after themselves, or that will even try it at all. My 8 yr old will now sometimes remember to do it on his own, but will definitely do it willingly if I remind him. My 6 yr-old never remembers on her own, but will do it after a reminder or two (or ten if she's really into something). The best way to stop knocking heads over it is to just make it into a game. Drop the requirement that she do it on her own--teaching a child a habit like this takes a long time, it does not happen instantly, nor even within a couple of years. So play a game-- I'll do the blocks, you do the kitchen stuff, let's see who finishes first (letting her win is important, of course). My 3 yr-old loves counting, so I say, let's count all your blocks as we put them in their bin.

 

 

Quote:
Chewing with her mouth closed.

 

This is typical of a child any age. The thought process is, "Mommy has such a strong reaction to this. It's funny/scary to see her react, so let me do it again and again so I can laugh more/test whether I'll be safe even if I do it." To say this as gently as possible, this is *your* issue not hers. Since it doesn't bother me in the least for a child to chew with their mouth open, I've never had an issue with it. I'm sure my kids have done it at some point, but since there was no reaction (I honestly wouldn't notice), it's never stuck. On the other hand, whining is my achilles heel. It gets a strong reaction out of me every time, and so it's the thing that I can't get to go away... If there's any way for you to get past the ick factor and just let it go, I'm willing to bet she'll stop doing it eventually.

 

 

Quote:

Inside/outside voice

 

Running inside of the house.

 

Allowing her sister to play

 

All typical of 3 yr-olds, and not things that will be resolved right now. All you can do is continue working on them consistently, use playful approaches or flat-out ignore the behaviors until they go away.

 

A 3 yr-old is still very much a baby, but I know with my oldest it was hard to see that when he seemed so big compared to my 1 yr-old daughter. Now that my current 3 yr-old is the baby of the family, it's much easier to see those behaviors for what they are--a baby experimenting with independence--and let them go.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by WindyCityMom View Post

I usually adopt a natural concequences approach.  We will be unschooling and I've been reading about RU so I'd like to see how that works out for us (in some aspects anyways.  My daughter likely has sensory issues that call for a set bedtime, some routines, etc.  which she is completely okay with and can't function without).  I put this in the gentle discipline subforum but I'm mostly looking for the RU approach to all of these.

Here goes...

 

My DD can be really sweet.  I have for a long time attempted to convince myself that she was a typical 1yo/2yo/3yo.  I however am confident that she has some sensory issues.  She's currently eating like four teenage boys, and we're getting that looked into as well.  I'm just really at a loss about how to deal with some of her isses.  Here they are:

 

-Cleaning up her messes.  I think I model pretty good housekeeping for her.  Our living space is open and she has a little "nook" behind the couch (well, really a 6x6ish area) and a rug for her toys.  Everything is easily organized.  She has baskets for her stuff, hooks to hang things, shelves on her kitchen for the play kitchen stuff.  Although she usually centers her play around her play area, it somehow spaces out and there are blocks and cars and play tomatoes everywhere.  I don't really care about this while she's playing, but once she's done, wants to go to bed, wants to eat, go out, etc, the mess remains.  I don't care about the unsighltiness of it, I really am concerned about tripping over it, my DH tripping over it, and more importantly, my 1yo tripping over it.  We all have.  We have stone floors placed over a concrete slab, so falling is no picnic here.  My 3yo trips less frequently (and she's the most clumsy out of all of us) so it's hard to make that "click" in her head.  She really doesn't get that toys all over the floor=someone could trip and fall.  Any advice?  She just refuses to pick up her stuff and actually tells me "you do it".  I guess I should, since I'm the one taking issue with it.  I do help her if she asks, but it doesn't sit well with me when she demands that I clean up the mess that she made.  Idk.  Maybe it's really petty.  I clean up her food messes, etc.  I really don't know.  It's just that people are getting injured because there is stuff all over the place.  In the real world, if someone were to do something that inadverdently caused others danger of being injured, they'd probably go and fix whatever it is.  Right? Hmm... Insight please!

 

-Chewing with her mouth closed.  She will refuse to do it, and actually chew LOUDER.  It's a huge pet peeve of mine, and this morning while she was eating and I was nursing the baby I got the words creepy crawly feeling.  It took everything I had not to scream and run down the block.  When can I expect her to do this?

 

-Inside/outside voice.  I cannot concentrate on whatever when she's SCREAMING in my ear, just having a normal conversation.  Nothing gets done when I can't concentrate- it's my own flaw, but I'd like for her to work with me on it.  I think that's fair.  Any ideas?

 

-Running inside of the house.  As I mentioned, we have stone floors.  She's very clumsy.  She does trip on her stuff when she runs.  She just runs back and forth, she could do it all day.  She always falls and gets hurt and it ends up being a huge deal and then she gets back up and keeps running.  I guess I shouldn't mind if she doesn't mind getting hurt, but she trips over her sister, runs over her sister and hurts her, breaks things when she falls on top of them, etc. 

 

-Allowing her sister to play.  She just won't and I feel so bad.  I often have to separate them and take a toy for my 1yo to play with because my 3yo refuses to let her play with "her toys".  My 3yo snatches toys from her sister and pushes her out of the way (often hurting and scaring my 1yo).  All of the toys we have are age appropriate for both of them (most of our toys are "waldorf" toys and could really be anything and everything.  Nothing chokeable either).  She has toys that are "hers" and those I'm fine with her not sharing, after all, I'd like her to have ownership over some stuff, kwim?  But if she's playing with blocks and her sister wants to sit in front of the play kitchen and open and close the cabinets, her sister should be free to do that, kwim?  The only time she will "play" with her sister is when she wants to involve her in her play (because she NEEDS someone to be involved).  This is usually when she makes a big pot of "soup".  She gives us each a bowl of soup.  Other than that, she plays very independently and just doesn't want to be bothered.

 

I think there are some more issues but for right now that's all I can think of.  I have my 1yo on the couch with me and when I was typing this up, about halfway through, my 3yo came and snatched a toy that my 1yo was playing with over here and the 1yo got upset and headbutted me in the ribs.  OUCH.


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#4 of 10 Old 01-17-2011, 03:06 PM
 
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Yep, she sounds like she's three all right!  I've a 4 yo who's interest in cleaning is nil (although his 2 yo sister will always join in, thus proving that modelling a clean environment works early for some people), who often runs screaming through the tiny house brandishing long sticks and riding a bicycle (whispering back at him sometimes helps the volume come down a notch) and will wrench a previously unused toy out of his little sister's hands leading to unholy shrieks of rage (this has improved a lot over the course of the last year).

 

I think it's important to figure out what issues are actually your issues and deal with those accordingly... Tripping over toys and looking around at complete visual chaos makes me feel sort of chaotic and messy inside.  Shifting to cleaning up because it makes me feel better has helped me a lot... and I have to say, I put stuff away really frequently.  I'll explain as I am picking up that the room has reached my limit and that I feel better when most things are in their pace.  Same with noise... some of them drive me over the edge in two seconds.  I'm honest with the kids about which noises I'm really sensitive to and will ask them to take them to another space, give me a chance to move or change them/lower for something I can handle, but it's really my problem.  I think being honest and sincere goes a long way.  Our goal is for everyone in the house to feel as good and comfy as possible and that happens by all of us taking care of each other to the best of our ability.  I feel like the kids understand that and are more often than not, willing to make an adjust to for that reason whereas, my blanket "no bikes in the house, the space is too small" falls on deaf ears. 

 

As for the sharing thing, it helped me to check mainstream developmental milestone information found through google... nowhere you will find that three year olds are expected to share well.  I remember secretly wondering if my DS was some sort of monster and harboring some deep suspicions about this whole not making kids share things.  Now sometimes he's ready and he's definitely much more ready to problem solve.  In our house it is clear that some things are his, some things are his sister's and somethings are for everyone.  We try and make it a practice to ask before using someone else's stuff.  Obviously, I needed to help DD with this last year, but she's pretty good with it now.  Another thing that has helped is to make sure that some of the cool stuff is hers or making sure that she receives some gifts that let her into joint ownership (this has happened with duplos and playmobil stuff, shifting them from being DS's to everyone's).

 

I think talking through a lot of stuff with my DD in a place where her older brother could hear it was helpful... things like "ooops, lots of stuff here makes it hard to walk.  Let's make a clean space for you to move in!" or "oh you want to use X.  That belongs to J, let's ask him" (and giving him the right to say no here).  Also giving your 3yo language to use so she can communicate her frustration or simply stating the situation... "You're playing here and you want to play alone.  Little sister wants to play with you.  What can we do?".  Another thing I've noticed is that while my DS often gives what seems to be a raw deal to my DD, she's perfectly content with the solution... my idea of fair and her's can be quite different and I think it helps when I am able to keep my own agenda out of the way.  Lastly, the more I am able to focus on the lovely, amazing being my son is, the better our day flows.  Like if I can really remember to believe with all my heart that he's just great, then that's more of what happens.  If I get stuck in the rut of "defending" his "poor, helpless little sister", things get progressively worse.  Scott Noelle's Daily Groove newsletter has helped me a lot with tweaking my daily attitude... rolls into my inbox right after lunch here, often when I most seem to need it. 

 

For what it's worth, I liked Siblings without Rivalry

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#5 of 10 Old 01-17-2011, 07:06 PM
 
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She sounds like a very typical 3 yr old to me.  I have found with my kids that 3 is often much harder than 2.  There isn't anything in your post that sounds like a sensory issue.  But like the other poster said, go with your gut and take her in.

 

With sharing, it's hard, but I will let the kids choose toys that they don't have to share during that playtime.  Or if it's a very popular toy, we will set a timer. 1 and 3 is hard.  2 and 4 will be much easier!

 

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#6 of 10 Old 01-17-2011, 08:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, no I left the sensory stuff out of the post.  She has auditory issues, issues with water touching her face, issues with heat, issues with icky stuff... not your normal kid stuff- this stuff actually interferes with her life and we are most certainly getting it checked out :)  She also suffers from dermatillomania and we're going to get that checked out as well.

 

I really appreciate all of the responses.  I understand that she's 3 :( I just wish 3 wasn't so difficult, lol. 

 

One more question- How do you let your kids self regulate bedtime?  Especially when you have something to do in the morning.  As I said, she does have a set bedtime but she has major insomnia and nightwakes frequently.  How do you all get your kids to sleep?


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#7 of 10 Old 01-17-2011, 08:55 PM
 
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I've only scanned the replies.

 

For the clean up, I am modeling that families work together. "It's time to clean up. We're a family. I'll help you." Has worked well for me. Often I do most of the work, but as my son gets older, he is doing more. And he will often clean up without being told. (He just turned 5.) Then there's the times he won't clean up. I just keep the attitude of families help each other. This also benefits because he will offer to help me when I am doing something.

 

For the mouth chewing and running and screaming and such: Ignore it. Then, when she does something you like, even if it's only for a moment, immediately say, "What nice manners you have chewing with your mouth closed" or whatever. She wants your attention so will do whatever she has to in order to get your attention. Give her attention for the positive things she does.

 

For the screaming, I'd sit her down and tell her, "It hurts my ears when you use your loud voice indoors. From now on,  my ears will turn off when you get too loud. When you talk in a normal voice that doesn't hurt me my ears will turn on again." And follow through on this. I did this with whining with my son. It was REALLY hard. Naturally, he whined more for a couple days after I started this. Then the whining went away. He was pretty melodramatic about it, "Mommy, I need you to listen to me," while hanging on me. Over and over. It was hard, but his whining was so bad he was alienating my parents (and me) so I had to do something and ignoring him when he whined took care of it pretty quickly.

 

Regarding bedtime: We let our son self-regulate for bed and he was staying up until 9:30 to 11. I got no down time, he slept in so late it messed up our schedule. I hated it. Then one night while I was nursing the baby to sleep (we all sleep in a king-sized bed) he came in and lay next to me and fell asleep. The next night he did the same. It was great. I got some down time, he started getting up early. Best of all, he fell asleep next to me. Now the three of us go to bed together every night (then I get up and get on the computer or watch a movie or read a book or whatever.) Bedtime is snuggle time for all of us. He and I tell each other we love each other. Tonight I told him, "You're my special kid" and he told me, "You're my special grown up." On the rare time he doesn't fall asleep before the baby, I roll over and rub his back until he falls asleep. On very rare occasions he still doesn't fall asleep so he can turn on the light and read books after I get up. He falls asleep quickly. Again, I think this is really supporting strong family bonds. And it is so fulfilling to have my kids end their day snuggled next to me. Sometimes when we're laying there my son will say, "I'm scared." I tell him, "I'm here to take care of you." That settles him. So, this may not address self regulation of bedtime, but I think it is a wonderful solution to bedtime for our family.


Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#8 of 10 Old 01-17-2011, 09:43 PM
 
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Most of these things might be really annoying for you, but they're still your issue.  Don't like the mess?  Clean it up.  If you aren't bugging her to do so she will probably join in and help.  And I totally get that toddler "help" is often not helpful at all...but don't correct her if she doesn't clean up in the manner you wish.  My 2.5-year-old likes "helping" with the laundry.  It is NOT helpful at all, but I smile, thank her, and fix the mess later when she's not around to see.  Cleaning becomes no fun when it's forced or judged.  If you do it and go about it in a cheerful or at least not rawr-ish fashion she'll see it as the normal and obvious thing to do and will most likely do it on her own when she's older.  The chewing thing I'd just ignore.  Mentioning and correcting it is just going to turn it into a fun game.  I'd tackle the screaming thing in a fun manner.  Perhaps have a whispering contest or just ask her to speak softer because you cannot understand when she screams.  The running I'd leave alone.  If she's knocking over another child I'd ask her to please try to go around her sibling.  Perhaps make a game involving detour (uh oh!  Someone is in the way!  DETOUR!!!).  Then you get the desired result and she gets a fun game out of it.  I don't have a 2nd child yet, but my toddler has a friend her same age that we see a lot and they fight over toys....at times it's a real problem so we've stressed things like taking turns and trading instead of sharing.  Kids that age often don't understand sharing.  They see it as giving their things away for good...so "taking turns" means they'll get it back later.  Trade-offs are really helpful though.  For sleep it just kinda happened.  We used to stay up super late because of the baby...but then she started putting herself to bed at 9 or 10 and that has stuck.  Getting up early on occasion doesn't seem to be an issue, but I'm on a similar schedule to her so I don't like getting up either.


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#9 of 10 Old 01-18-2011, 02:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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You mamas are so wise!

 

The screaming issue is now resolved :)  If I quiet my voice down (instead of trying to talk over her) she will too.  Amazing, huh? :)

 

As for the other stuff, it's 3yo stuff.  And mostly my issues that I need to work around!  I would like to do something about the chewing thing.  She's just the loudest eater I've ever known.  My husband is a loud eater and she got it from him.  He finds it incredibly rude and immature of me to bring it up to him (after the fact of course) that he slurps everything very loudly, crunches things unnecessarily loudly, etc.  :) But in the end, what can ya do.  I love 'em both.


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#10 of 10 Old 01-18-2011, 02:50 AM
 
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Those are all normal three-year-old behaviors. To touch on the dermatillomania, I had that as a child. It was caused by stress in the home, and I didn't stop picking until I was around twelve. My mother constantly was annoyed w/ me and it felt like she was constantly putting me down. I would try and make your home as stress free as possible. My advice is, leave it all alone. Pick the toys up for your daughter, or only give her five toys at a time (so it's not as chaotic). Get a book about table manners, read it to her, and then leave it alone. If you want to radical unschool, then you are going to have to make some adjustments to you your lifestyle. You can get a babysitter/mother's helper to come to your house in the mornings (if you have somewhere to go early) while dd sleeps. If it's your dd that has somewhere to be, then I would cancel it and schedule it for a time later in the day. I hope that helps a little. : )

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