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<p>My son is 8 1/2 and started 3rd grade on Monday.  We have been having a number of problems with discipline and keeping his stuff neat (most of which have been intermittent problems since he was 3 to 5 years old) so we started planning a few weeks before school started to get off on the right foot.  When I say "we" I mean that my son and I talked about what he can do now that he is a big 3rd grader and at what times of day he likes to do things, my partner (his father) and I talked about what we'd like to have him do on a daily basis and how best to approach it, the 3 of us talked together and agreed pretty easily on the general outline, and then my son and I worked out the specifics and made 3 neat, colorful lists: What to do in the morning, What to do in the afternoon, and Chore for each weekday.  I had told him how I followed lists like these each school year and each summer when I was a kid and I really liked them (true) and he seemed enthusiastic.  He took down some of his drawings from the dining room wall to hang the lists in a place of honor. </p>
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<p>Background: He is attending the same school as the previous 3 years.  Most weeks of the summer he went to day camp and was away from home 8:30-6:00 every weekday, so the 8:10-2:50 school day (plus about 20 minutes walking each way) actually gives him <em>more</em> time at home than before and more time with his dad, who works from home; I work in an office and get home at 6:00.  He does have to get going about 45 minutes earlier in the morning than he did in the summer; he's slept through his alarm some mornings, but once I wake him he gets up just fine.  His bedtime has been 8:30pm since first grade, and most nights we do get him to bed on time and he goes to sleep easily.  Everything he says about school so far is positive.  He's getting to see his friends more than he did in the summer and very happy about that.  His diet has not changed.  In some ways he's becoming very responsible and independent; for example, we recently expanded the small area of neighborhood in which he's allowed to take a walk alone, and he's been very diligent about learning the street names, telling us where he went, coming home promptly, etc.</p>
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<p>Our big, persistent issues with him have been that he speaks disrespectfully to us, he sometimes refuses to do what we tell him, he leaves his stuff lying around all over the house, and he leaps at the slightest provocation into really lengthy arguments which will go on one-sided if he can't provoke us into arguing with him.</p>
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<p>Another problem has been that he wants a lot of screen-time but often asks for it very rudely, resists turning it off when time's up, and behaves badly afterward especially if he watched a long time.  Occasionally he wants to play on my iPad or do something at the computer, and on weekdays he likes to watch PBS Kids shows, but much of the time what he wants to do is watch the same taped episodes of "The Simpsons" over and over again.  Since kindergarten we've had a limit of 90 minutes of screen-time per day and none before school, which he used to accept.  This summer he was constantly pushing it, nagging about wanting to watch, trying to bargain for more time.  His TV-related behavior has seemed increasingly irrational and desperate.  Often he's left the TV on <em>while</em> he follows a parent from room to room arguing for extra screen-time, actually missing his show while trying to get another!  And there was this incident last weekend that I described in the thread about time-outs:</p>
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<div>Friday evening, I had explained that because of the previous Saturday's misery when he chose to use all his screen-time for the day first thing in the morning and then refused to turn off the TV and threw an enormous screaming tantrum, on this Saturday we would not allow any screen-time until after lunch.  I made this very clear and confirmed that he understood.  Saturday morning early (10 minutes before my weekday alarm goes off) he bounded into my room without knocking or saying, "Good morning," and immediately launched into a long long explanation of why he wanted to watch "Good Morning America"; each time he paused for breath and I attempted to respond, he shrieked, "Quit interrupting!!!"  Meanwhile he was leaping on my exercise ball and rolling around the room repeatedly smashing into the corner of the bed and shaking it--a behavior he is very well aware upsets me, and I began making "stop" gestures the first time he did it, but he ignored me.  After a few minutes I got out of bed, grabbed him by the shoulders, made him stand up from the ball, looked into his eyes, and explained firmly, "I told you there would be no screen-time until after lunch today, and I meant it.  You know that I do not like being waked up early on Saturdays.  You know that I do not like you bouncing off the bed when I'm on it.  In ten minutes we will start again on this morning.  Go back to your room and stay there for ten minutes.  Don't even mention screen-time until lunch."  Ten minutes later, I got out of bed, he came out of his room, and we said, "Good morning," hugged, and moved on in a normal way. </div>
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<p>I was able to resolve that particular situation, but he does something like this several times a week.  It's often connected to asking for TV, but we're thinking it's not really about TV, but what is the real problem???  Several times in the past, his consequence for persistent really bad behavior has been a period of time with no screen-time at all, and every time we've found that his behavior improved somewhat.  We have considered getting rid of the TV altogether...but it <em>is</em> fun to watch sometimes, and we don't want to turn it into "forbidden fruit" that he'll be eager to get wherever he can.</p>
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<p>Anyway, because of the recent TV-related problems and past experiences, this is what we all agreed: For the first week of school, he could have 30 minutes of screen-time per day and could choose which show he wanted to watch (between getting home and getting ready for bed), while also making sure to do all the other things he needs to do.  If he did all the things each day, the next week he could have 60 minutes per day.  If not, we'd need to stick with 30.</p>
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<p>His morning list of responsibilities is just getting dressed, eating breakfast, and brushing teeth.  In the afternoons before dinner, he is supposed to:</p>
<ul><li>take his lunchbox out of his backpack and put it in the kitchen.  This is a new thing.  I asked for it because I was sick of his dad (who packs his lunch) waiting until the next morning to look in the lunchbox and then complaining that it was difficult to clean because food had dried onto it or that there was leftover food that was no longer in edible condition.  Now I clean out the lunchbox in the evening.</li>
<li>do his homework.  This first week, of course, homework has been light, but there has been <em>some</em> every day.</li>
<li>do one chore.  There is one for each weekday, things like "pick up your things in the living room" and "sweep the floor in your room".  All of these are things he knows how to do and has done independently before; only the scheduling of a specific chore for each day is new.</li>
</ul><p>As I said, he cheerfully agreed that these were reasonable expectations and that he would decide in which order to do things and make sure they all got done.  He also informed his dad that he would walk himself home Monday-Thursday (it's a short and familiar walk; he did it alone many days in the spring) and then minimize interruptions of his dad's work after he gets home, but on Fridays he wanted his dad to meet him at school and come with him (and friends and their parents) to the park; his dad agreed.</p>
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<p>Well, here's how it's worked out: Monday, he did his homework and chore.  When his dad started making dinner, he asked about the lunchbox, and our son got it then.  That was fine.  But the next 3 days, I came home from work at dinnertime to find that his lunchbox was still in his backpack and his chore was not done whatsoever.  His dad says that when he reminded our son to do these things, our son claimed he was "just about to" but didn't, and on subsequent reminders he yelled that his dad shouldn't nag him.</p>
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<p>Tuesday, his homework was done but scattered across the dining table.  (We got him a desk last winter--and we put it in the dining room because he prefers to work near us instead of alone in his room--and he'd neatened it up before school started, so there's no reason not to do homework there.)  He argued that it's parents' responsibility to get "paperwork" back to school and tried to shift the focus to my not yet having filled out all the school forms (which aren't due back for 3 weeks) but when I showed him his teacher's letter saying students are responsible for their homework, he crammed it into his folder.</p>
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<p>Wednesday, he was doing homework when I got home, and his dad told me he'd asked if the afternoon tasks were done, and the kid said, "Well, I did my homework...no, wait, I'm not done...." and it seemed he hadn't even started.  He demanded that I look over his homework, which was fine--I'm interested, and I had time then--but I didn't like his yelling about it as he shoved the pages between my face and my plate.  I said, "This part is still blank."  He claimed they could choose which side of the page to do.  That could be true, so I decided to leave it up to his teacher.  (I wonder, though, if he was making me look in hopes that I would make him actually complete his work?) </p>
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<p>Yesterday afternoon, he interrupted his dad's work about every 10 minutes with questions about a craft project--not homework, just something he'd decided to do.  When asked, he claimed he'd already done his other things, but he hadn't.  His dad got him to do homework while dinner was being cooked.  Some of the homework is not due until next week.  During dinner I explained that this long-term homework cannot be left on the dining table; he can keep it in his folder or on his desk.  He moved it off of the corner between his placemat and mine and said it was now out of my way and that was good enough.  Before I could respond to that, he started nagging for extra screen-time after dinner.  I said no because that wasn't our agreement, he hadn't done his chore, and also his teacher's letter said he should read at home 20 minutes a day so he needed to allow time for that.  He quickly spiraled into a gigantic screaming tantrum about how he has RIGHTS as a member of this family, both parents HATE him and scream at him EVERY DAY, and I'm LYING about the 20 minutes of reading needing to be at home because he reads for at least 20 minutes at school and that counts.  I said I would email his teacher right now for clarification.  I went upstairs to get my iPad (yes, in the middle of dinner--I wanted to escape the screaming!) and he followed me, yelling in my face, blaming me and his dad for all kinds of unrelated almost incoherent things.  I told him to get out of my room until I was done with the email, and then we would talk.  He got louder, angrier, and more panicked-sounding, and kept trying to grab the iPad.  I said, "Since you won't give me privacy in here, I'm going into the bathroom."  He grabbed the bathroom door and literally would not let me close it--he's getting strong!--and I was afraid I or the iPad would get smashed.  His dad intervened, and between the two of us (with some yelling, I'll admit) we got him into his room for a ten-minute time-out.  I sent the email.  He came out calmer but still glowering.  We spent the rest of the evening trying to get him to do his chore or read (he wouldn't) while we did some other tasks. </p>
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<p>He demanded (nasty voice; "You have to" instead of asking) that I read him a story on the porch; this is something we often do in the evening, but I told him I would not read until he was in bed with teeth brushed.  This was partly because I just didn't want to, partly because he needed time to do his chore and read (which, as I said, he didn't), partly to invite him to go to bed early in case more sleep might be what he needed, and partly because I felt it was important not to cave to his demands but to state conditions and stick to them.  He followed me around whining that a story on the porch would help him relax.  This might have been true--I felt guilty and wondered if he was just asking for some love--but he has sometimes dragged out a pre-bedtime story into resisting bedtime, refusing to go inside, etc. and I didn't want to get into that.</p>
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<p><img alt=":blah" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/blahblah.gif" style=""> If you're still reading, here's what I'd like help with:</p>
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<p>Our inclination is to stick with the daily lists of responsibilities.  If the teacher confirms that 20 minutes of daily reading is to be done at home, we'll add it to the list.  (Otherwise we'll let it go for now, although we do want him to read more--we both enjoyed reading so much at his age!)  We've told him that responsible behavior today will allow him to keep 30 minutes of screen-time next week, but we're not going to increase it, and if today goes badly we'll have no screen-time next week.  Does that make sense?  Are we being too easy on him for this week's behavior, or should we consider this normal rebellion as he adjusts to new expectations?</p>
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<p>Do you think he needs some type of reminder other than the lists to get him to do the things?  Is he truly forgetting, or is he testing us to see if we really mean it?</p>
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<p>Do you have any sense of what is REALLY going on here?  Is something wrong with my kid?  Are his dad and I making some kind of huge mistake in the way we handle him?</p>
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<p>Should there be any additional consequence for his refusal to leave me alone in my room or the bathroom and his struggling with the door in a way that could have hurt me (but didn't)? </p>
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<p>What do you do <em>in the moment</em>, when a child who is big enough to physically interfere with your actions is doing so?  His dad and I were genuinely afraid he was going to hurt me.  I wanted to let go of the door suddenly and let him fall, but because this is what I always did to my little brother when we used to get into door struggles, I know a person can be seriously injured by that, and as an adult I don't feel I can justify purposely letting it happen.  I don't like that my partner had to "rescue" me from this situation or that we ganged up on our kid and physically dragged him into his room; I don't want this kind of thing going on in our family!  And I want to feel safe when I'm alone with the kid.  <img alt="help.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/help.gif"></p>
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<p>Do we need to get rid of TV?  Is there a better way we might manage it?</p>
 

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<p>Well, I don't really have much advice, but the 20 minute reading thing, we do as part of the bedtime routine, so it is not really looked at as homework. Once teeth are done, the kids lay in bed and read for aobut 20 minutes on their own, then I come back for lights out.  It is just a normal part of going to bed and is not viewed as school work in any way. Once they could read independantly ,  bedtime story changed to reading by your self in bed time.  I think I would make any TV at all that day dependant on whether the chores that day got done. No reminders. If he asks for TV, ask if chores/homework are done, and check, and if not a reminder that no tv until done, and not get into an argument or discussion about it. I'm not sure about the temper tantrums, it seems a bit extreme to me.</p>
 

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Is his behavior at school the same as his behavior at home? If not I think he may need a much more structured approach with less choice and clearer consequences and quicker follow through. Some children really do thrive on structure and consistency whereas others need a more laid back approach with a lot of options. If the behavior is the same in both settings I would suggest talking to his pediatrician about having him evaluated.<br><br>
I think getting rid of the TV for a while or limiting the shows to specific ones may be very helpful. My DD had a lot of behavior problems after watching Wizards of Waverly Place on weekends at that age and when I stopped letting her watch it her attitude and behavior improved within a week. She is able to handle it now that she is older without letting it affect her but she doesn't enjoy the snotty attitudes on it now so it isn't one she chooses often.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
<p>Thanks for the ideas!</p>
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<p>I don't think he would give up his storytime with me--and I think it's an important time for us to be together, since I'm at work all day; it was sweet even after last night's chaos--but maybe we could shift it earlier in the evening and then he could read to himself in bed.  It sounds nice to me.  I'll see what he thinks. </p>
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<p>His dad was hoping to avoid having to come out of his office and check on whether the homework and chore are done.  It seems like that may be necessary, though.  That will prevent watching of TV shows that are on really soon after school, so maybe the kid will be motivated by the idea that increasing his responsibility will earn him more flexibility in the schedule.</p>
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<p>His behavior at school is very different from his behavior at home.  He had no disciplinary issues at all in 2nd grade and only a few minor ones in prior years.  In general, since he was a month old, he's behaved much much better in public than at home.</p>
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<p>So, a more structured approach... I guess "quicker follow through" means that failing to do his things today would bring a consequence tonight or tomorrow, rather than (just) affecting how much TV is allowed next week?  Any suggestions of a <em>natural</em> quick consequence for not doing homework before dinner or not doing his chore?  At this point I feel like the consequence is, "Mom and Dad are annoyed with you, and then you use that as an excuse to throw a fit," which comes out as a worse consequence for us than him, so I want to change it!</p>
 

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My third grader still needs me to be around when he does his homework and would never think to do a "chore" if I didn't remind him. He's just not ready for that. And for a long time, we had a password on our tv and still do on my phone and tablet. He needs that external support and takes me out of the middle.
 

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I find that restructuring the day works better than consequences with my dd. Chores are our area of complaining so they come before computer time and I phrase it as a when/then. My DD doesn't do anything except eat a snack until homework is done so I haven't had to deal with homework not being done. It sounds like your ds needs more supervision to get organized enough to do work without a specific timetable and parent support. I have just started reading Smart but Scattered and recommend looking into it.
 

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<p>I think the natural consequence of not doing homework and chore is no TV, because there is no time. If you finish it up quickly, then you have time to watch TV, if you take 4-5 hours to do it, it will be  bed time and TV time is gone for the day. I'd make the consequence be for that day, not the following week.</p>
 

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Sounds like a typical 8 yo to me... isn't this age fun?<br>
We tackled some of these behaviors with my own 8 yo, although not all at the same time. Here are some of the solutions we reached:<br><br>
FIrst of all, I've read somewhere that you should never argue with someone over the age of two, because you are going to lose. So I'm sticking to that rule. If I see that ds really needs an explanation for something I decided, I will gladly explain... but if he's haggling with me just for the sake of arguing, I don't engage. I just tell him: this discussion is over, and walk away.<br><br>
When ds was younger we had this issue of screen time and what worked for us was setting one hour of screen time a day (two on weekends) and allow him control over it. He was able to set up a kitchen timer for half an hour or an hour at a time. The result was that, as he was in control of his own screen time, he had no one to argue with when the time was over.<br><br>
As for chores and homework, I find that at 8 yo, they still need a lot of guidance and supervision to get them done.<br>
I tried to give ds a chore or two to do every day, but it didn't work. He ended up hating his chore, me nagging him and being frustrated that I couldn't do my own work because he didn't finish his chore (which was emptying the dishwasher). What worked for us was having ds "help out", for example, when I'm finishing dinner, he sets the table. When I'm cleaning the living room, he cleans his own room etc.<br>
As for the homework, he's doing it at the kitchen table while I work in the kitchen. I also limit his homework to 3 days a week - I find that he already spends a lot of his day in school, no need to spend all of his evenings on school stuff as well.<br><br>
Hth
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the further input!<br><br>
This week he will have no TV on school days. His dad is going to check on the status of homework and chore every so often and remind him about using his list. We have been trying to talk about working reading into the day, but the kid is very resistant still, although his teacher confirmed he needs to read outside school. At least he seems pretty accepting of the idea that he will be having no TV on school days until he gets the other stuff down, and that when TV is allowed again he will have to do the other stuff first.<br><br>
His school give homework starting in kindergarten. The change this year is that instead of a weekly packet to be done when you have time, there are assignments due the next day and others due a few days or a week later. (This means we can't limit homework to 3 nights a week like Nightwish unless we are willing to have him skip some of the due-next-day stuff and bring his grades down--seems like a bad idea!) With the packets, by the middle of first grade he was able to work alone for a while and do the easy parts, then ask a parent for help with spelling practice and anything he did not understand. We found that if I am nearby, he will ask me about every single question and try to get me to feed him the answers, although he can do it himself. The new schedule is something of an adjustment, of course. I can understand that he might like having a parent nearby while he is working just so he isn't lonely, but past experience implies he does not need to be hovered over the whole time--once he gets into the habit of doing homework again.<br><br>
We can't put a password on our TV, but we can take away the power strip such that it can't be used, if necessary. He has rarely been sneaky like that--he can use a timer like Nightwish suggested and be trusted to stop on time pretty much; occasionally the "just until I finish this game" has gotten out of control--it is very unusual for him to turn on TV or computer when he knows he is not supposed to, and he does not use my iPad without permission.<br><br>
When we tell him a discussion is over and walk away, he follows us from room to room shrieking his arguments, whether we engage or not. <img alt="greensad.gif" class="bbcode_smiley" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/greensad.gif">
 

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<p>I frequently delay any school-day tv time until after dinner (this is so I can have time to check that there aren't extra messes or regular tasks that haven't been done).  IF people are really on the ball, not needing my reminders for homework/school-day chores I MAY allow tv while I happen to be cooking dinner (1 show, I do step in and just turn it off if they push this limit - we've been having a lot of the same kind of tv battles you describe actually . . . no brilliant insights on those yet, just mom stepping in and turning off the tv <img alt=":eyesroll" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/eyesroll.gif" style="">). </p>
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<p>This year I am making dd's new requirement to clean out her own lunchbox AND wash her containers herself right after school.  This is partially because she has these special lunch containers that match her best friend and I don't want to get flack if they're not clean by whenever we need to make her lunch (I do help with this on the one school night we have a 3 hour afterschool activity, that would be tough to fit everything in otherwise).  She slacks a little, but I try to realize it takes 2-3 weeks to develop a new habit and we didn't used to do this daily.  Plus, I feel like she's more motivated to remember because of her special matching containers.  </p>
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<p>I don't push for too many weekday chores, but everyone helps with clearing dishes, etc. and keeping things like shoes/socks/bags picked up at certain parts of our day.  I know we'd have a tough time with this, even having lists (we've tried it before).  I find the kids need me there to be accountable, and to feel like we're doing things together (so they're supported - oldest dd1 is 7, so a bit younger than your ds).  I usually do more of a clean up time just before bedtime (where we make sure beds were tidied and pick up stuff in their room, or a messy room downstairs instead of anything right after school).  </p>
 

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I'm not sure I understand the whole 'screen-time limit' thing. Why can't he watch tv whenever he wants? Won't that allow him to develop his own self-control instead of always having to look for external cues from parents? When will he be given unlimited screen-time? Age 12? 18...or when he moves out? I assume at some point in time, he will be left home alone, and then he will make his own 'rules' about tv. There may also be some peer pressure in this area. DD's friends in the 2nd and 3rd grades don't seem to have any rules about tv time limits. I believe they are generally expected to complete homework though.<br><br>
My DD (8 in Dec) has decided that homework in the car on the way home from school works best for her. Sometimes we will wait in the car until she is finished. It is always her choice, though. In fact, she always has the choice of whether or not to do her homework. A 'no' choice will be followed up with a long conversation about the repurcussions of this choice (i.e., lost recess at school, poor grades, minimal college choices, and few job opportunities). She always chooses to do it, but it is up to her to decide when and where. This give her control over her own actions and develops decision making/executive management skills that she will need later in life. This works really well for us. She 'owns' all of her excellent grades and behavior, because they are decisions she made, rather than behaviors we imposed.
 

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I have a couple ideas. Sorry if any of it repeats above posts.<br><br>
I think this would be the structure I would set up if this were our situation.<br><br>
1. Upon getting home from school- have a healthy snack ready and use the first 30 minutes as snack and silent (or aloud by him) reading time. Reading is a great way to unwind after school, and he'll likely be ready for a little downtime since he walks home. (Otherwise I would suggest some active play first thing for letting out pent up energy from sitting at school). He could nibble while reading or have 10 minutes to snack before beginning the 20 minute reading session. I would let him choose reading location (and material, if applicable) so he could sit under a tree or on a porch swing. Or sprawl out on floor/bed/couch. Wherever he'll be comfortable with little distraction. Maybe he could read in dad's office.<br><br>
2. After reading, he may need some more active energy use, so this could be a good time to do a chore, followed by a walk or playing outside a bit.<br><br>
3. Once he's had a bit of activity and completed his chore, he could settle in at the desk with some soft music (no words, steady rhythm, like new age spa type stuff) to complete homework. He will likely need to get assignments from backpack, so he can take lunchbox to the kitchen at this time. If you are still at work, maybe he could have desk in office with dad while he works? It sounds like he doesn't like to be alone (without watching TV), so I would try to make structure conducive to being productive while others are quietly and I interestingly occupied. I'm sure he'd much rather be engaging with you and dad than trying to focus on homework while you guys are bustling about getting dinner ready or what have you. Hopefully that would serve to give him optimum focus, accomplishment, and quality time without being too disruptive to dad's work.<br><br>
4. After homework, his responsibilities are accomplished, so he can go chill in front of the TV until dinner. If his TV time is interrupted by dinner, he could watch the rest after (especially if it can be paused until later). Or he can help with dinner prep or go get his things in order for the next day (lay out clothes, prepare book bag), then watch all of his TV after dinner.<br><br>
I struggle with how to handle violent outbursts, so I don't have advice there. Perhaps a PP was right that your son will be better with a structure, such as mine, and would have far less tantrums as a result.<br><br>
Good luck! I hope this helps!
 

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<div class="quote-container">Quote:
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>KSLaura</strong> <a href="/community/t/1389143/8-year-old-not-keeping-up-simple-responsibilities-freaking-out-a-lot#post_17449214"><img alt="View Post" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I'm not sure I understand the whole 'screen-time limit' thing. Why can't he watch tv whenever he wants? Won't that allow him to develop his own self-control instead of always having to look for external cues from parents? When will he be given unlimited screen-time? Age 12? 18...or when he moves out? I assume at some point in time, he will be left home alone, and then he will make his own 'rules' about tv. There may also be some peer pressure in this area. DD's friends in the 2nd and 3rd grades don't seem to have any rules about tv time limits. I believe they are generally expected to complete homework though.<br><br>
My DD (8 in Dec) has decided that homework in the car on the way home from school works best for her. Sometimes we will wait in the car until she is finished. It is always her choice, though. In fact, she always has the choice of whether or not to do her homework. <strong>A 'no' choice will be followed up with a long conversation about the repurcussions of this choice (i.e., lost recess at school, poor grades, minimal college choices, and few job opportunities). She always chooses to do it, but it is up to her to decide when and where.</strong> This give her control over her own actions and develops decision making/executive management skills that she will need later in life. This works really well for us. She 'owns' all of her excellent grades and behavior, because they are decisions she made, rather than behaviors we imposed.</div>
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<p>This seems more controlling in an emotionally manipulative way than actually clearly setting an expectation.  It isn't a real choice if what happens when you decide not to do something is a long conversation where the possible negative consequences are brought up, that is just a situation where the illusion of choice is created.  This is really classic passive-aggressive behavior that makes life very miserable for the person on the receiving end because they have to constantly guess which choice the passive-aggressive person wants them to make and are never really free to choose for themselves.</p>
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<p>If there was real choice involved a parent would may lay out the choices and their possible consequences when first presenting it as a choice but then their child would be free to learn about the consequences at school when they happen and would then learn from, she wouldn't need a conversation after making the wrong choice from the parent (especially not before she has had a chance to really make the choice) though she may want to talk about what she discovers the consequence after making a choice that leads to a consequence she doesn't like.  There is no natural learning from choices when we tell the child what the consequence will be or when we point out what the consequence was.  I think that there are many situations where kids should have total choice and homework can be one of them, but to give real choice you need to truly be fine with whatever choice happens without judgement.</p>
 

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<p>KSLaura, we have screen-time limits for these reasons:</p>
<ul><li>Our son has often shown addict-like behavior related to screen-time (TV more than computer).  Given the option of watching as much TV as he wants, he will watch constantly.  He will not turn it off for a meal or bedtime but eat in front of TV and continue watching until he cannot stay awake.  He responds to any encouragement to turn it off by shrieking as if we're trying to kill him.  The more he has watched recently, the worse this is; sometimes when the TV is finally off he can't walk past it without stopping to look longingly at the blank screen.  We find this frightening and have often considered getting rid of TV entirely because of it.</li>
<li>After watching TV, especially for long periods, he is often irritable, defiant, bossy, and irrational.  It doesn't seem linked to any particular show--he's not imitating behavior he's seen--but seems to be the way he feels after an hour or two of staring at a glowing screen.</li>
<li>His dad and I don't like to have the TV on all the time.  Because of the layout of our house, we cannot escape its sound and light when we are at the dining table or in any part of the living room.  I am prone to migraines that can be exacerbated by moving light.  Even when I'm feeling fine, I believe I have a right to say that I want to be downstairs and do not want the TV on.</li>
<li>We know several adults who grew up with unlimited TV and now seem like they cannot function without TV and cannot have conversations in which they don't constantly mention things they saw on TV.  It's pathetic and scary.</li>
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<p>It would be great if he could "develop his own self-control instead of always having to look for external cues from parents," but it seems that in this area, he can't, yet.  Also, because TV affects other people who are in the space with you, we think it is totally appropriate to look for cues indicating whether or not those people want to watch TV or would mind having it on in the background.</p>
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<p>Mama Amie, I really like your suggestions!  They sound so mellow. </p>
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<p>I've been strongly encouraging him to read while snacking or even during meals--his dad and I often read while eating (the only rules are, listen if someone wants to talk to you, and don't leave your reading material on the table) and expected him to pick up this habit by preschool, but I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen him do it.</p>
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<p>He might like being in his dad's office for reading or homework, but we doubt that he'd actually focus--because dad's office doubles as his "den" where he keeps all his Legos and fun stuff, so the main time the kid has been in there is when they are playing together, and it seems likely that he'd be distracted by wanting to play or that he'd just chatter at his dad and keep him from working.  More feasible is for his dad to bring his laptop downstairs and work near the kid--he has done this sometimes.</p>
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<p>Yesterday went well.  Lunchbox, chore, and homework were completed within 90 minutes of coming home, and then his dad got out a modular castle paper thing and let him set it up in the living room, where he played with it for hours.  He did claim he hadn't been told that there would be no TV this week, but we reminded him and held firm.</p>
 

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Others have suggested it, but I really think having to get lunch box, homework, chore & reading done before any TV is the way to go, at least for awhile. Once he gets in the habit of doing everything, he could be allowed to switch it up. I know having to get work done, then play as a kid, made it easier to get things done, though I agree that snack after school is totally fine, I know I wouldn't have made it without one as a kid either, as are occasional exceptions to work then play.
 

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Personally I would completely drop TV from the weekdays. It sounds to me like it is causing a fair amount of stress. We don't do TV at all during the week, started doing that when DD was in kindy, and it has just been a good policy. She comes home at 3 as well, but often has sports or other activities that make it hard to fit in TV. I don't think kids need TV or get much out of it, so it is kind of a relief to just have it off the table. She will watch a movie or some cartoons on the weekend, but it is pretty uninteresting to her by now.<br><br>
Is part of the issue that he needs to entertain himself which his dad works in the afternoon? That would be sort of tough for my DD to handle.
 

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<p>His dad would like him to entertain himself so that his workday can be longer.  However, we don't see TV as crucial to that--there are plenty of other things he could do.  He likes to watch PBS Kids shows that are on TV only on weekdays, but we could tape them (still have a VCR!) or he could watch them online on the weekend.  I have explained to his dad that we have an extroverted kid who dislikes being alone and that it may not be developmentally appropriate to expect him to hang out alone for 2 hours; he understands that but is tired of the disruption at the time of day when he gets his best work done if not interrupted.  (I've told him that if his work ever earns enough money to pay for after-school care, we can do that, but as long as my salary is virtually our only income I will not be paying for it.)</p>
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<p>We are leaning toward allowing TV but not until chore and homework are completed, as many people have been recommending here.  One of his dad's big complaints last year was that the kid would want to watch TV for 90 minutes straight while snacking the entire time--and while his snack choices were healthy, he was not able to get all of them himself, so he would bother dad for that AND to ask about each new program he wanted to watch, not seeming to get his head around the idea that he could watch any 3 of the half-hour shows--so this resulted in his interrupting his dad's work every 10-30 minutes and sometimes not eating dinner because he was full of fruit and cheese and such.  I had recommended a structured schedule, but I was trying to leave it up to them to work it out; when that never happened, I decided to get involved in structuring it for this school year even though I'm not home in the afternoons.</p>
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<p>Yesterday was a day off school for Rosh Hashanah.  Kid wanted to come to work with me and bring his homework and reading.  I had a dentist appointment in the morning, so dad brought him over later.  He "forgot" to bring anything to read but did bring the homework.  Then he spent the first hour trying to get me to hold his hand through every bit of his math worksheet; it was very frustrating because he didn't seem to be listening to anything I said about how to work the problems, only wanting me to tell him the answers, and he was using a harsh whining voice!  Then he had one excuse after another about why he could not do the other parts of homework.  I finally gave up in order to get my work done, and he did crafts.</p>
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<p>When we got home, he made progress on the homework during and right after dinner, but suddenly he had a headache.  We don't think he was faking this at all; it really seemed to hurt and not just as convenient.  At the worst he was shaking and thought he might vomit.  We took care of him with ibuprofen, ice pack, lying down in the dark.  He was "about half better" when it was time to go to sleep, but he was upset about the unfinished homework.  I reassured him that I could write notes to his teachers explaining that he'd had a headache and would turn it in Monday.  This morning, he was feeling fine, got up early, and finished the homework during breakfast.  I'm impressed that he was that diligent and taking it as a good sign!</p>
 

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<div class="quote-container">Quote:
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>EnviroBecca</strong> <a href="/community/t/1389143/8-year-old-not-keeping-up-simple-responsibilities-freaking-out-a-lot#post_17453014"><img alt="View Post" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br>
 
<p>His dad would like him to entertain himself so that his workday can be longer.  However, we don't see TV as crucial to that--there are plenty of other things he could do.  He likes to watch PBS Kids shows that are on TV only on weekdays, but we could tape them (still have a VCR!) or he could watch them online on the weekend.  I have explained to his dad that we have an extroverted kid who dislikes being alone and that it may not be developmentally appropriate to expect him to hang out alone for 2 hours; he understands that but is tired of the disruption at the time of day when he gets his best work done if not interrupted.  (I've told him that if his work ever earns enough money to pay for after-school care, we can do that, but as long as my salary is virtually our only income I will not be paying for it.)</p>
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Sounds like my DD is very similar to your son.  She's an extrovert and loves legos and PBS kids too.  I cannot imagine her spending the afternoon on her own with me working, on a regular basis.  I can relate to all you said about the homework - it goes a lot like that at my house when she needs my help.  Good for him for getting up early to work on it!  </p>
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<p>Maybe the school year is settling in he will start getting used to the routine.  We also had a lot of fun camps all summer that were longer than school and so school is an adjustment.  </p>
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<p>I wonder if you could hire a neighborhood kid to come hang out with him and build legos for an hour or so while dad works?  It would be tough for me to work while DD is here.  It sounds like timers were tough, but I wonder if he could watch one cyberchase episode or whatever, then start on his homework or reading.  My DD is really happy with structure, we would make a little sign showing her schedule so she could keep track.  </p>
 

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<br><br><p>When we got home, he made progress on the homework during and right after dinner, but suddenly he had a headache.  We don't think he was faking this at all; it really seemed to hurt and not just as convenient.  At the worst he was shaking and thought he might vomit.  We took care of him with ibuprofen, ice pack, lying down in the dark.  He was "about half better" when it was time to go to sleep, but he was upset about the unfinished homework.  I reassured him that I could write notes to his teachers explaining that he'd had a headache and would turn it in Monday.  This morning, he was feeling fine, got up early, and finished the homework during breakfast.  I'm impressed that he was that diligent and taking it as a good sign!</p>
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That's great he finished it up in the morning! <img alt="smile.gif" class="bbcode_smiley" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/smile.gif"><br><br>
I understand afterschool care costs quite a bit, but it must be hard for him to to entertain himself all afternoon (especially as an extrovert!). I wonder if there are any low-cost after school activities or sports he could participate in. I know a lot of the local schools have after school music lessons, basketball, running club, etc... After I thought about it, my kids don't have any tv restrictions because they aren't home very often.
 

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<p>Most days he stays in the schoolyard for up to 45 minutes after dismissal playing with his friends.  I'm really glad that he and his dad have been able to agree to this, the crossing guard's on duty until 4:30 (because a nearby private school gets out later), and he's been diligent about getting home by 4:00, because the social time and physical activity are important to him but his dad was getting tired of hanging around waiting for him every day and trying to make conversation with the other parents.  There aren't many formal after-school activities at the school, but a lot of kids hang around to play.  Fridays, some of them go to the park together with their parents; his dad has been quitting work early on Fridays for that.</p>
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<p>His friend across the street also has a work-at-home dad and work-outside-home mom.  She is responsible for keeping her little brother busy so their dad can work.  My son has been going over to their house some days.  We confirmed with her dad that it's okay as long as everyone is behaving.  He encouraged my son to bring his homework over and they can do homework side-by-side (they're in different grades) which I think is a great idea.</p>
 
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