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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
DD (4.5) has been having extreme meltdowns lately. She's started hitting me, kicking me, calling me "bad mommy," spitting at me, and growling at me. If I weren't with her 24/7 I'd think someone "did" something to her-- abused her in some way. This has been very out of character for her, IMO, though DH thinks that he has seen evidence of it brewing all along, as "we've never given her consequences."

Anyway, this has become a tough time for me. I keep looking at how I can change, not at how she can change. I keep wondering how I can accept her behavior . . .because I have no idea how to change it.

Today, however, I felt like a complete AP failure. My DD was having a meltdown at the zoo (again-- she had one on Friday there, too). She was kicking, hitting, spitting, etc. Granted, she WAS very tired (fell asleep in the car) but unfortunately, her angry faces and spitting had been going on all day, and this behavior has been going on for weeks.

So, after hearing DH talk about his sister (who uses a reward chart) I said, OK. We are going to do a reward chart. She'll get a material reward based on her behavior. Anyone who knows me (inc. DH-- he is shocked that I agreed) knows this is so not me . . .I have been a firm believer in most of what Alfie Kohn writes, partly by instinct and partly by research.

However, I have no answers. I have no idea what is happening to our family, other than that I feel like a failure. It is SO HARD for me to hear about my (FF, maybe CIO) niece who sleeps through the night at a year and is happy as a clam during the day. . .while my 15 month old wakes up hourly (with no end in sight-- it's been going on since she was 6 months old). Or how my other niece and nephew are so easy to be with (now that SIL is using a reward chart). It makes me question everything I've done . . .WHY have I done this? Why I have I gone against the norm when the norm seems to be working while my way produces misery?

Anyway, since I am typically so anti-reward, I feel like I have to confess to the board.
I am just so upset!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Mizelenius

However, I have no answers. I have no idea what is happening to our family, other than that I feel like a failure. It is SO HARD for me to hear about my (FF, maybe CIO) niece who sleeps through the night at a year and is happy as a clam during the day. . .while my 15 month old wakes up hourly (with no end in sight-- it's been going on since she was 6 months old). Or how my other niece and nephew are so easy to be with (now that SIL is using a reward chart). It makes me question everything I've done . . .WHY have I done this? Why I have I gone against the norm when the norm seems to be working while my way produces misery?

Anyway, since I am typically so anti-reward, I feel like I have to confess to the board.
I am just so upset!

I feel the need to comment on this part, you have to put blinders on to the other peoples kids, easier said than done I know. I'm having to learn that with my "perfect" nephew. He is 10 months old happily plays, coos, sleeps through the night, eats anything you offer, easily goes to and smiles at anyone ect....... My sis CIO, puts him on the floor/in the stroller so she "can do her own thing" you know the type, anyway it's so frustrating I constantly feel like I've done something wrong.

As for the reward chart, well I confess we did one for a while, ds wanted these specific dinosaurs and was having behavior "issues" I was getting tired of correcting (hey we are confessing here right), it worked really well for a while. We made the charts based on things that worked for us, he'd get a sticker if he stayed in his room for quiet time (I need my alone time) if he tasted dinner (note I didn't say eat, just taste), you get the idea, anyway when he got to a certain number of stickers he got a dinosaur. I didn't make a big deal about the chart, when we'd do the stickers it would be mater of fact, not some big deal about bad/or good behavior.

If what you are doing isn't working, then try it.
 

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I've wound up doing things I thought I wouldn't, and feeling guilty. But I didn't just decide to do it out of the blue. You get there and do something like reward charts for a reason. Give yourself the credit to make that decision without guilt. I think some kids just need more. I'm sure that won't be popular, but oh well. If you think it isn't working, then go back to no reard charts.
 

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Originally Posted by Eman'smom
I feel the need to comment on this part, you have to put blinders on to the other peoples
My grandmother always told me to remember that I was comparing the INSIDE of my family to the OUTSIDE of other's. Unless you live with someone 24/7 you have no idea what really goes on (and even if you do live with them you still may not know!)
 

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i agree, reward charts are that bad, if they work great! if they don't, go back to your normal way. Some kids need a goal IMO (i may get flamed for it, but hey).
 

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The thing I think that *can* be good about reward charts for some kids is that it just gives them a visual so they can see how they're doing. Some people are just visual learners. I know the charts cross the line into the "punished by rewards" issue, but in my opinion, not all kids are easy to communicate with or need to be able to focus on something else (earning some toy or something) to help take their focus off their own negative behavior. I know that a lot of people wouldn't agree with me on that but, I just see some kids who get so overly focused in the negative of the situation, that having a positive goal can help them focus in the right direction. I wouldn't use it all the time though.

Just as a side note, I've found that low blood sugar is often the cause of my dd's tantrums. I've found also that a bite of something sweet/ higher sugar (applesauce or raisins or something) followed by a protien snack can alter behavior quite a lot. Making sure my dd gets a steady intake of protien and carbs throughout the day (as well as iron) as well as making sure she's worn out enough to sleep well at night seems to be a big ticket for our tantrums. May not apply but it's my recent discovery in our home.
 

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I don't think reward charts are the worst thing ever. I think AK goes way overboard on his feelings torward them. But I am not sure they work for long.

What exactly is going on? What starts the tantrum and exactly what are you and she saying? Can you give specific examples?
 

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With my ds, the issue is usually hunger or fatigue, not that he will neccessarily eat or sleep if given the opportunity. I know he gets rough by 2 in the afternoon, so I try to make sure we are in the car going home by then. I keep "treat" type food in my purse when we go out and pull something out if he is heading downhill.

I think it is a hard age because the child really starts exerting his/her independence and are actually big enough to pull it off. I wouldn't be able to tell my ds "no" about something because he can do it himself. I would have to physically restrain him! If I don't want him to do something, I have to explain and hope he sees my point of view. And I have to see his point of view, as well.
 

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I don't know if my story would help, but my son at that age went through a HORRIBLE time. The aggressiveness started after the birth of his sister. It took me a long time to figure out why (duh, he didn't feel I was giving him enough LOVE and attention).

http://tinyurl.com/gkcy4

He is 6 now and things are muuuuuch better. I don't "reward" him with a chart or gifts (and that one is hard), but I do give him lots of positive feedback (I acknowledge you, I see you did X & Y and thank you for being so kind, that was really great...) to give him a good positive self image of himself. It took me a long time to accept that this was NOT false and manipulative (I hope not at least.)

Aletha Solter has great articles on her website.
http://www.awareparenting.com/misbehav.htm

Her Understanding Tears & Tantrums are good too.

(As far as being an "AP failure" I felt like that too. My problem also was that I was a permissive parent for a loooong time.

http://www.devpsy.org/teaching/paren...nd_styles.html

I don't know about you, but in my case, the lack of "emotional regulation" I clearly see was directly due to my permissiveness.
 

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Mizelenius, my dd is the same age as yours. I was always anti-rewards too, but we actually just started a reward chart with our dd was well. We started because we were literally at the end of our rope. In our case, the main issue we were having with dd had to do with leaivng places...leaving the playground, the beach, friend's houses, even the store and the dr's house. She would just say no, run away, refuse to come with us, scream, cry, etc., etc. We literally had to pick her up and carry her out....and she is quite big for her age..50 lbs and tall..so that is no small feat, especially with dd2 always with us. The advice you always get for this, is to pick them up, emphasize and carry them out. We just can't do that anymore...we NEED her to walk with us. We also CAN'T just not take her places.

Anyway, it really came down to a reward or a punishment..honestly we were just stumped...and all in all I do think a reward is better than punishment. DD LOVES her star chart, and really is excited about the idea. So far, she has 2 stars, and is really happy about the star chart. I still don't think rewards are the greatest thing...but I do strongly disagee that rewards are as bad as punishments. I really just look at it as a way of helpng her do something which is very difficult for her until she really understands the need for it. I was used to have lots of problems with this as well. I would be the one crying at the end of friend's visits (even as a much, much older child than dd is). I always had a hard time leaving friends or leaving places where I was having fun
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
These replies have been so helpful!

Re: Not comparing others . . .yes, I agree, it's a BAD idea. Normally, I can avoid doing this, but what has affected me this time is how DH sees things . . .I feel like I've let him down, messed things up, cannot be trusted to make parenting decisions-- because HIS family seems to have their act together (and normally, I'd disagree with this) and I do not.

I am glad to hear that reward charts aren't all evil. Thank you for the reassurance that it's more important to do what works for us vs. trying to fit into an ideal. And Hazelnut, you are right-- we aren't going into this willy nilly-- there is thought behind it.

sophmama and 4evermom, I have no doubt that her diet could be affecting her. However, I have NO idea as to how to get her to eat better or even eat regularly. Her list of foods she eats gets smaller weekly.

maya44, I'd give you examples, but honestly, at this point it seems to be a habit more than anything else (not the full out tantrums, but the spitting, angry faces, and name calling).

Tanibani, thank you for the story. It was helpful to see I'm not alone. (BTW, LOVE the name Marlena . . .I wanted it for our DD, and coincidentally, DH is Mark and I am Elena . . .I thought it would be a cool combo).

ameliabedelia (DD adores Amelia B. books!!!) I agree, rewards cannot be as a bad a punishment! However, I did threaten today (see below).

Anyway, here is my plan until we get the chart set up OR in lieu of the chart (if my plan works).

(1) We are staying HOME this week. This helps me monitor everything about DD more, esp. her energy level, sense of personal control (she has more of it when we are home), and being able to focus on her while easily keeping younger DD safe. Today was a much better day.

(2) I AM going to use time outs for totally unacceptable behavior. I tried it today, and the warning of that was enough to get DD's attention and refocus. I did it twice (for 2 different behaviors) and it put a stop to them.

(3) I have been talking with DD about substitute behaviors . . .when she wants to call one of us "bad," she can talk about her feelings instead ("I'm mad" or whatever). However, she's too smart for this! When I did it today (after she called her sister bad) she said, "Well, I am HAPPY that I said she was bad." ACK! When she wants to kick or hit, we have practiced doing jumping jacks or arm circles (I saw this on another thread) instead. We are practicing these skills while she's being cooperative vs. waiting for a meltdown.

DD knows we are staying home this week and why. And, I suppose I am going to give her a reward . . .if she can keep using her new ways of managing anger/expressing herself, I'm taking her to a fair at the end of the week.

One day at a time!!!!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Mizelenius
. . .when she wants to call one of us "bad," she can talk about her feelings instead ("I'm mad" or whatever). However, she's too smart for this! When I did it today (after she called her sister bad) she said, "Well, I am HAPPY that I said she was bad." ACK!

I'm sorry for laughing, but I can so see dd saying something like this. I have a feeling the next few years are going to be a bit...interesting.
 

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My kids go through bumps and experience behavioral glitches whenever they experience a cognitive "leap." Whenever their ability to understand the world around them expands very suddenly. It is as if they can't cope with their new perspectives and new levels of understanding. Too much information to process, and their feelings and reactions are so strong. But then after a few weeks they "grow into" their new way of experiencing the world and things calm down.

I do remember that they took temper tantrums to a new level when they were four years old! Spitting sounds very familiar! We began working on using words, constructing sentences that express strong feelings, rehearsing them, etc. Just like what you are doing already. Except that it takes a long time. In the heat of tantrum, its hard to do what you know you are supposed to do, esp. when you are small and only four! Its hard to gather those resources and follow through. It takes time, practise, consistency, encouragement, etc.

As far as comparisons..... yeah, me too. Somedays I wonder if I just make everything harder than it needs to be out of some deep seeded masochistic inclination. Other days, I'm glad that my kids express what they feel. I don't know how to measure things like who is right and who is wrong. At my deepest level, I hope that all these kids turn out okay no matter how they are raised. Thats what matters most!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by mamaduck
My kids go through bumps and experience behavioral glitches whenever they experience a cognitive "leap."
I don't lnow if this is what you mean, but now that you mention it, I have notice that DD has "upped" her vocabulary even more in the last few weeks. She's using words like "replied" and "inclined" these days-- correctly . . .things I don't even say! (We just read a lot.)
 

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She sounds exactly like my daughter when she eats certain foods. The screaming, spitting and crazy night waking. That is EXACTLY what my dd does.

When kids react to foods, their choices get smaller and smaller. Once thier guts are ok, they will usually eat a wider variety of foods.

An elimination diet is a very good thing.

IF you dont buy the food, they cannot eat it. My dh has to buy his own crap and has to eat if after bedtime. We are all healthier for it.
 

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Wow Mizel. I feel for ya.
I don't have a four year old, but I rememer doing a lot of this with my GD'ing mother in the '60's, 70's. There were times when I just needed to know there were some boundries in this world, that I wasn't freefalling through space in a hole where everything goes. It's hard to say what would of worked. Did I want a spanking? No. I just wanted a different mother. One who made the world seem as if it made sense. One who could stop me from feeling so out of control. So in this case, even thoug I don't have a four year old, I'd say listen for what it is DD needs. Don't be so concerned with whether it fits this parenting theory or that. Just be more concerned with whether it fits your specific child. We all only get one go round at this. I always think it's a shame when parents do what my mom did-- which is pay more attention to what "the book" says than to who in heck I am as an individual.

Faith
 

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About a year ago we were having a unusually difficult time getting simple every day tasks accomplished, teeth brushing, clothes on, bed routine, etc. I talked to the kids and printed up a chart with pictures on it. They added help feed the animals and read books to what I already had on the chart. They were quite excited and loved it. It was amazing how great they felt about getting to check items off on the chart when they were finished. I know I will occaisionally go through times when it helps me to make a list of things to do that day or week, and check them off as I go. After a couple weeks they lost interest but the habit of doing those things stuck around for a bit. I'm not sure what types of things your dd is having trouble with. Every day things, transitions? The charts were a positive experience here. They really loved getting to check off the thing they had accomplished!
 
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