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Old 02-16-2014, 03:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have 3 kids--I'm a single mom, full time student (graduating in May!) and the kids' dad lives 2 hours away.

 

I am having the worst time disciplining my kids.  Last fall I got really depressed and that sort of spiralled me into bad discipline technique, but the other part of the problem is that my older 2 kids (11 and 7) never required much discipline.  They were always easy going and willing to please.  They pretty much still are that way.  My 4 year old daughter is another story.  Her awesome characteristics are that she is motivated, fun and funny, creative, smart, engaging, and cute as a bug.  My trouble is that she is moody, sometimes difficult, has a sense of believing the world revolves around what she wants.  Not in a huge way, I think her behavior is pretty typical for a 4 year old who is the youngest of 3.  She has been hitting her brother (7yr old) when she doesn't get what she wants, screams at the top of her lungs, sticks her tongue out at me, throws a huge tantrum over little things that she would willingly do in other situations.  Example, she wouldn't clean up her orange bits off the couch and started crying and yelling "nobody likes me! I can't do it! My fingers don't work! I don't have enough hands! etc.etc.)"

 

The other part of this trouble is that I really don't handle these little explosions very well.  In hindsight it's rather funny, but I'm already so stressed out that when these scenarios pop up, I start out really nice and "Parental" and it ends up a screaming match.  I end up putting her in the bedroom for time out, but all that does is cool her (and me down).  I don't feel like I'm teaching her anything -- or a better way to respond/act.  Come to think of it--that is a general problem in my discipline--that I don't feel like they are learning more adult ways of acting--they just are getting punished (sometimes) for bad behavior.  I tell them what I expect but it falls on deaf ears.

 

I'm open to suggestions, good books, good websites (better because I don't have money for books and I have a library late fees right now).

Thanks! IT's good to be back!

Sarah


Mama to girl (11), boy (7) and girl (4).  "Can't we all just get along?" joy.gif
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Old 02-16-2014, 09:07 PM
 
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Playful Parenting is a great book that comes to mind.

I love her tantrum.  "My fingers don't work!"  Oh no!  If you can find the humor at that moment, that's a great time to jump in with "What?  Your fingers don't work?  Oh no!  Call the doctor!  Look!  Now my hands don't work either.  Ahhhh!" becoming sillier with the goal of getting her laughing instead of tantruming.

 

Ross Greene's collaborative problem solving approach is another good one.  See http://www.livesinthebalance.org/parents-families

 

It sounds like you're doing a good job of helping her calm down with the time out.  I find it helps to have the teaching conversation later, maybe in the car, or in some quiet moment when the problem's not so fresh.  

 

A few basic breathing techniques (smell the flowers, blow out the candles) are good alternatives to screaming.  Daniel Tiger's "When you feel so mad that you wanna roar, take a deep breath, and count to 4" song works well for my 4-yr-old.  Does she go to school?  They might have some calming techniques that they use.

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Old 02-17-2014, 06:41 AM
 
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Well, at least it's good that you can look back on the situations with a sense of humor!  I think that's a big plus in any parenting dilemma.  I agree that Playful Parenting is a good book.  So is How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk (I think that's the title.  It's been a while since I've read it).  My kids are 12, 10 and 9 right now and my youngest can also be pretty, um, passionate about things.  We're really past the age of hitting.  Sometimes they were in the mood to talk things out when they argued.  But sometimes I would call out "separate!" and they learned that meant they needed to all chill out in different rooms for a bit.  It got so they would decide their own rooms (DD1 might call out "I've got the basement!" DD2 would say "I want the bedroom!" and my son would say "OK, I'll stay here.") but originally I had to assign them different spaces.  It wasn't a punishment, though they sometimes saw it that way.  I always made sure they went somewhere where there was stuff they could do- like read a book or play with Littlest Pet Shops, etc.  I don't think having a time out is a bad thing, really.  If they learn to use them as a space to calm down, then they can take a break and them come back out with a clearer head.  They might need help with that at 4 years old, but they get better at it as they get older.  

 

It's also much easier to talk about things when emotions are not so high.  I sometimes echo what I think they're feeling.  In the case of the orange bits I might have said "Wow, you really don't want to pick these up.  Maybe the mess is too much?  Here, I can help you." Then, when she was feeling less emotional I might talk to her about her behavior and how I expect that either things get cleaned up or they cannot eat on the couch (I'm assuming orange bits are pieces of orange?).  Then, if she has a good sense of humor about things like this, I might mention how funny it was that she didn't have enough hands.. and we might imagine what it would be like to have tons of hands for picking up things (heck, sometimes I don't feel like I have enough hands!  lol!).

 

It important not to play into their feelings.  I talk to my kids about how they own their own feelings and I refuse to own their feelings, too.  If someone's emotions are too overwhelming for me (as in they are having a fit about picking up something or they are being really super grumpy about something I can't control, like whether or not they have a snack during an outing), I step back- I don't always leave the room.  But sometimes I sit nearby until they are finished ranting. Oranges on the couch isn't enough to make me angry, too.  If she doesn't want to help me pick it up and continues tantruming, I would leave it and the situation for a moment.  When she had calmed down, we'd revisit the issue of cleaning up.

 

Good luck!  And, really, are there ANY kids that love picking up and do it willingly?  lol!  My kids will pick up their rooms now, but there is always lots of eye rolling and complaining about it.  I ignore the eye rolling and complaining.  I will have to tell them to do it, they rarely clean up on their own.  And now that DD1 is old enough to bake on her own, I'm constantly having to tell her to please clean up her baking mess.  


Married, part time work from home mom to DS (13 and homeschooling), DD1 (11) and DD2 (9) and a giant dopey newfoundland, a crazy border collie mix, 3 black cats and a cute rat.
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Old 02-17-2014, 06:44 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ThreeTwoFive View Post
 

 

I love her tantrum.  "My fingers don't work!"  Oh no!  If you can find the humor at that moment, that's a great time to jump in with "What?  Your fingers don't work?  Oh no!  Call the doctor!  Look!  Now my hands don't work either.  Ahhhh!" becoming sillier with the goal of getting her laughing instead of tantruming.

 

 

This would have worked great for my son.  For DD1, she would NOT be amused.  She did not have a sense of humor in the moment AT ALL if she was angry.  Neither would DD2- she might actually haul off hit me and say I was making fun of her.  heehee.. 


Married, part time work from home mom to DS (13 and homeschooling), DD1 (11) and DD2 (9) and a giant dopey newfoundland, a crazy border collie mix, 3 black cats and a cute rat.
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Old 02-17-2014, 07:01 AM
 
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This would have worked great for my son.  For DD1, she would NOT be amused.  She did not have a sense of humor in the moment AT ALL if she was angry.  Neither would DD2- she might actually haul off hit me and say I was making fun of her.  heehee.. 

My DS is like your DD2. Exactly.
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Old 02-17-2014, 08:06 AM
 
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Example, she wouldn't clean up her orange bits off the couch and started crying and yelling "nobody likes me! I can't do it! My fingers don't work! I don't have enough hands! etc.etc.

I agree that the "humorous exaggeration" approach mentioned above is great for some kids but makes others feel disrespected.  Here are a couple of other approaches that might help:

 

Show that you hear her feelings: "It's a tricky job.  The bits are very small."  Wrap up with some encouragement: "One by one, you'll get it done!"

 

Affection: [After "Nobody likes me!"]  "I like you! [hug for a good long moment] Okay, let's get that orange cleaned up."
 

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I'm already so stressed out that when these scenarios pop up, I start out really nice and "Parental" and it ends up a screaming match.  I end up putting her in the bedroom for time out, but all that does is cool her (and me down).  I don't feel like I'm teaching her anything -- or a better way to respond/act.

Work on what you do when YOU are frustrated and want to throw a fit.  Talk out loud about some of the things you're doing and thinking to keep yourself calm and resolve the problem.

 

Example: "Oh!  The kitchen is a big MESS!  I feel so discouraged.  Let's see, what space do I most need to get dinner started?  This part of the counter.  Deep breaths...and now I can stack up these dishes and put them in the sink.  Now there's a space that I can wipe clean.  Ahh, that's better!  Now I can set up the casserole and know that it's cooking while I'm cleaning up the other stuff.  You know, being hungry feels scary sometimes, especially when I still have work to do before dinner will be ready.  I'll have a bite of cheese so I won't be so crazy hungry.  [Eat cheese, then offer to child] Want some cheese?"

 

I find that this kind of thing can get my son involved in helping me with my feelings, spotting quick fixes similar to those he's seen me use before and maybe even offering to help.  Sometimes my doing this will lead him to realize that he too is crabby because he's hungry, or whatever, and take action or ask for help.  It also models skills he can use in his own frustrating situations.


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Old 02-17-2014, 07:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Work on what you do when YOU are frustrated and want to throw a fit.  Talk out loud about some of the things you're doing and thinking to keep yourself calm and resolve the problem.

 

Example: "Oh!  The kitchen is a big MESS!  I feel so discouraged.  Let's see, what space do I most need to get dinner started?  This part of the counter.  Deep breaths...and now I can stack up these dishes and put them in the sink.  Now there's a space that I can wipe clean.  Ahh, that's better!  Now I can set up the casserole and know that it's cooking while I'm cleaning up the other stuff.  You know, being hungry feels scary sometimes, especially when I still have work to do before dinner will be ready.  I'll have a bite of cheese so I won't be so crazy hungry.  [Eat cheese, then offer to child] Want some cheese?"

 

 

Everyone posted really great support and ideas.  I particularly liked this last one because I feel like controlling my own anger/irritability is the biggest issue.  I really think the sourness of our house right now is because I haven't maintained any real joy in life so why should they?  I am so easily fumbled by their bad moods.  For example, every morning I listen to Jason Mraz while I get ready, make lunches, etc.  So very often they will wake up and at least one of them is foul.  Foul kid A attacks kid B and now I have 2 foul kids.  Sometimes I intervene though I try to let them work it out.  More often than not, it escalates and then I am equally as foul, lol.  I think this suggestion of talking myself down out loud is a great idea as much for me as it is for my kids.  I'd be willing to give bonuses to any kids who use that technique instead of lashing out, lol.

 

Thank you so much.  I love this place :)

Sarah


Mama to girl (11), boy (7) and girl (4).  "Can't we all just get along?" joy.gif
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Old 02-18-2014, 01:36 PM
 
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I'm glad this is helping!

 

We saw a counselor a couple years ago who didn't work out so well overall but had one really good point that has stuck with me: "The key to family harmony is emotional self-regulation."  It is easy to say to yourself, "His nasty behavior put me in a bad mood!  I shouldn't have to be nice when everyone's being so awful to me!" but then you are putting the other people in charge of your feelings and actions.  This is particularly problematic when the other people are children and you're supposed to be their role model.  You have to snap out of the "person who has been treated badly gets to treat others badly" cycle and set a more positive tone.  It is HARD, but in my experience it pays off.  Feeling like my family members are constantly ruining my day and I'm powerless to stop them is hard, too, and really wears me down in the long run.


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