behavior issues we have never had before - too much idle time? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 02-18-2011, 08:02 PM - Thread Starter
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well i am not sure where to post this.

parenting has been more or less a happy adventure - mostly smooth sailing and whatever rough patches we encountered, we always could rise to the challenge and emerge stronger.


now dd is 7.5 and i feel very lost.  failure is a word that comes to mind often.


i can't help thinking that we would not have these problems if she went to school.  i guess it is always easy to think that school, this huge thing that we dont do in our lives, would be the answer to such problems as


- needing "something to do" all the time

- expecting to get her way  (never had this at age 2-3-4 ...)

- wanting attention for every little thing she does.   She just started to roller skate and she puts on performances in which she goes from one side of the room to the other.  we are supposed to make a big deal of it, clapping etc.  I could do this if she were 3 or 5 but 7???

- provoking fights - "what did you say?"  she will ask of some incidental comment and then take issue with it. 

- shouting, abusive language, hitting.  so far the hitting is not hard, but i don't see why it would not escalate.  neither dh or i has ever shouted or done anything apart from gentle discipline and democratic communication.   so where did she get this from?


so far her rage is directed only at us, her parents.  but we have no way to deal with it.  generally it passes and she is fine - for a while.    and she has moments where she is caring, helpful, cooperative, etc.  i have been looking up the descriptions of various "disorders" such as bipolar, etc.  i don't want to think she has any of these, but then these days it seems so many do and maybe we have to face up to it.


apart from enrolling in school, a thought that does often come to mind, i am thinking of looking for classes she might want to take.  she is kind of resistant to classes, i don't know if this comes from my influence too much, she will say things like "what is learning?  you don't need a class to dance, you just dance.  I dont want someone to tell me do it this way, etc"  (not something I have ever said, but she may be picking up on other things I have said).    But I think we need to do something.  we have no hs group near us either. 




oh - also we tried to have a family meeting the way moominmama talks about.  We all sat down and I tried to describe the meeting as well as I could, then we went around to "check-in" with how we were doing.  After that dd walked out and did not respond when we called her.



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#2 of 10 Old 02-18-2011, 08:24 PM
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How much of her day is spent doing activities with you and others? Does she just fill her day as best she can or do you provide stimulation as well?

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 and living as gluten, dairy, and cane sugar free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.
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#3 of 10 Old 02-20-2011, 11:23 AM
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Yeah, that. It also sounds like she's kind of going stir-crazy at home with just you. If there's no homeschool group near you, have you thought of creating one? Or maybe there's one some distance away that might also be drawing from your area? Or would she like to join something like a sports team, something not structured as a class? Or some sort of club? Volunteer work? Community theatre? Playdates?


Some kids need a lot of stuff going on to be happy. My kid hated days spent at home, so we were usually on the go a lot...

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#4 of 10 Old 02-20-2011, 11:22 PM
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I second the pps.


My first was in school for two years and believe me, you'd be having either the same issues or a whole different set of issues if she were in school. School is not the answer to every single question. In fact, when she is already unwilling to consider classes, school would likely complicate your life further. It is easy to think of school as a quick fix, after all it is what society is telling is.


No matter how good of a job you're doing at unschooling, your kids will have good days, bad days and horrible days. It's just that it is much more apparent to us who hs or us because they are around us most of the day. We can "guess" if she is having too much idle time, but in the end only you can really answer that question.


Do you provide enough stimulation or maybe too much? That happens too and generally kids react to it the same way they would to too little of it. How many outings do you take her on? How much social interaction (with people of whatever age) does she get? Also ask her what she would like to do more often. Also consider that this behavior could be completely unrelated to unschooling. Not wanting to meddle but is the possible something else going on in the family that might affect her current behavior?


I could see how getting her involved with other kids could be tricky, since there isn't a HS group and schooled kids have very little if any time for playdates during the week. And it doesn't sound like just playing with schooled kids on the weekends would be sufficient. But maybe there are other homeschoolers closer than you think? Or if you have any relatives living close by, maybe she could hang out with them more often?


I intended to simply drop a line and this ended up being a novel devoid of any real advice

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#5 of 10 Old 02-21-2011, 01:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi folks.  

Does she just fill her day as best she can or do you provide stimulation as well?


I think there is a bit of both.  I thought by this age she should be able to occupy herself pretty well.


Though we have no hs group, we have a playground nearby and kids are there almost every single afternoon / early evening and we go there for 1-2 hours every day that we are at home during those hours.  (It is warm all year round here.)


At one point I was encouraging her to go over to other friends' houses to play or have them over, but what became apparent is that the kids who had more time to play were not necessarily the best company for my dd, and the very fact that my dd had more time available seemed to be read (by the parents) as meaning she was not bright/studious/well-parented.  I was getting subtle messages.


I have also started a weekly theatre group and the neighborhood kids, even though they are not hs, have joined in that.


Incidentally the other day she called a family meeting and we had one.  We planned one activity for each day of the week.  So far we have been doing that.  She seems interested in having another meeting sometime as well.  I am glad about this.


She used to be very well-mannered and perfectly behaved, at home or in public.  She took mistakes and mishaps in stride.  She listened patiently to explanations and also calmly explained whatever she wanted.  I never had to worry about this.  Now I do.  Anything goes wrong, she flies into a temper.  I think that maybe I have catered to her wishes too much all these years, and rather than outgrowing it she is demanding more of it.

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#6 of 10 Old 02-22-2011, 05:51 PM
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My 7yo ds sounds a lot like your dd. He was always the easy, well-behaved, cooperative, helpful child. Recently, though, he has started having more and more outbursts. He demands things (like a cell phone) and has a screaming fit when he doesn't get them. It seems as if he expects everyone else to do or give him whatever he wants and does not take anyone else into consideration. I'm at a loss of what to do as well. Just now he started screaming and crying because neither I or my dh would take him to the toy store right now. It's 8:30 at night and we are both exhausted. I told him that I would take him tomorrow no matter what but that wasn't good enough. He wants to go now and nothing else will do. Now 2 minutes later he's off to his best friend's house right next door and so pleasant about it as if the screaming and crying never happened.

He takes a couple of classes in the evenings. 2 nights a week he takes Tae Kwon Do and he just started a hip hop dance class once a week. There isn't much to do during the day, though. All the other kids in our neighborhood go to school. We had one family that homeschooled for a year but they did school at home so the kids weren't allowed to hang out during school hours. Going to the park by ourselves is only fun so many times. Everything else to do either costs too much money or is too far away to go regularly. There are several homeschool groups around but all but one are Christian and we are not. The one secular homeschool group has weekly or bi-weekly get togethers but they either cost money or are too early in the morning for us. A lot of mornings my 7yo doesn't get up until after 9 am. If I wake him up earlier for anything, he is very grumpy and unpleasant.

Oh, we did go to a Lego club at the library for the first time on Saturday morning. It just started and was only the 3rd meeting so far. We tried to go twice before but kept getting the wrong dates. (Apparently, the online newsletter published the wrong dates.) DS enjoyed himself for a while once we got there but he wasn't happy or pleasant about going. He also didn't stay for the entire thing. He wanted to leave early because it was so noisy. He's never liked a lot of noise and commotion and crowds.

There really isn't much of anything to do around here during the weekdays. It's can be frustrating. I am planning to try to get a couple of afternoon playground meet-ups with other homeschoolers going once the weather is consistently warmer. I tried that a couple of times last year but no one wanted to come out in the afternoon because it was too hot. We're just odd ducks, I guess.

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#7 of 10 Old 03-01-2011, 08:45 PM
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Maybe there's some type of volunteering in your city or town you guys can do which occurs during the day? 

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#8 of 10 Old 03-01-2011, 10:14 PM
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Just wanted to throw out there that some of this may be developmental--IME with my own kid and others that I know, 7 is a tough age.  It's a transition between being a little kid and being a bigger kid, I think.  Anyway, my generally VERY easygoing now almost-10 y.o. was an unbelievable handful at 7-8ish, and it sort of freaked me out.  And then I learned that all of her friends seemed to be having similar struggles with their parents.  And with time they all mellowed out.


I'm realizing writing this that I'm probably on the verge of going through this again with my younger daughter, yikes!

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#9 of 10 Old 03-04-2011, 02:26 PM
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Hi there! 


My thoughts:  If it was my DD, my first thought would be that she is going through a developmental or emotional phase and from the outside, it looks like her behavior has gotten worse.  'Bad' behavior is a need that is not being met. What she needs is just your love and support and total acceptance and she'll come through. With the roller-skating thing--how about telling her that you'll have 15 minutes to watch her show.  Then, sit down, and give her your full attention until she's done. You could even ask her if she feels like she isn't getting enough attention from you.  Ask her if anythings bothering her or if she's upset about anything, and be ready to hear whatever comes up.  Even just feeling heard may completely change her behavior.


I think what some others were saying about more planned activities is great too, and your family meetings sound excellent! 

Marja: consensual-living, unschooling, piano-teaching, doula and mom to 3 creative, independent people:
DD, 8, DS, 6, and Baby DS born July 1, 2010 Married to DH for 10 years!
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#10 of 10 Old 03-06-2011, 12:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Just popping in to say that things have improved considerably, though I can't necessarily pinpoint why.  dh and I have been trying to give more attention and also arrange more activities.  We have been having the family meeting at least once a week.  Thanks everyone who replied, rereading them I see a lot that rings true.  






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