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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
DH and I have had it. Our children have become disrespectful and bratty. They expect to be catered to and refuse to help out.

Some examples:

~ DD1 frequently says things like "Mama! Bring me a water!" And if the water isn't brought to her immediately she's say, with attitude, "I TOLD YOU to bring me a water!"

~ DS and DD1 completely ignore any requests from me to clean up or put away their toys or even close their dresser drawers or put up their shoes

~ Both DDs will not eat. DD1 plays this irritating game where she asks for something, I make it for her, then she says she doesn't want it and asks for something else. Repeat...

I can trace their behavior problems to a couple of things:
1) Not enough sleep. Neither DD naps and they tend to go to bed too late and wake too early. I need to get them to bed earlier.
2) They've been watching too many DVDs
:. We were TV free all summer, but I relapsed with the cold weather by allowing them DVDs. This is entirely my fault.
3) They don't eat enough, even though I provide healthy snacks. Both DDs are VERY picky.

So what else can I do to improve their behavior? Tonight DD1 refused to eat a single bite at dinner, asked for 3 different plates, slid her chair far across the room to be away from the table, threw her chair at DH
, and bit herself hard on the arm out of anger. It's gone too far.
 

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Oh god I really feel for you. But I think you have pretty much figured it out. There are two things at play here, one, they dont' eat enough food so they are hungry and cranky. Two, they dont' sleep. Hunger and fatigue are an evil combination. I have had this very badly from my DS from 18 months till 26 months.

You could see his ribs through his t-shirt, he was so skinny, and his eyes had dark circles underneath them, it drove me crazy but it also freaked me out.

It was non stop tantrums. I would cry myself to sleep at night.

However, the breakthrough came when someone told me to stop feeding him snacks. They said, when he's hungry, he WILL eat. This of course let to more tantrums becuase in between his ridiculous non-eating mealtimes, I withheld the snacks. It was horrible, really horrible. But it worked. At meal times, he eventually stuffed food in his mouth. Now at 34 months, he eats all the time. It was hell, but it worked.

And now that he eats properly, guess what....he sleeps better. Not great, but better.

The trick with the eating was to find something he could like. Unfortuantely he does not eat the food I eat. I found very simple things that he liked, such as rice with butter and a little salt with some pieces of freshly cooked ham. ANd I would put a mountain of butter to help him put on weight coz he was so skinny. Sometimes for meals he would just have toast with mountains of butter, followed by a yoghurt. It got to the point that I didn't care what he ate, as long as he was taking in some carbs and some basic protein from the meats and yoghurt.

I basically had to teach him how to need food and eat food and enjoy food. Its still an ongoing struggle at times, but withholding snacks really made the difference.

You just have to be as calm as possible in the transition and control yourself when the howling and bad behaviour starts. Its a nightmare, but it WILL get better.

Best of luck. XXX
 

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Well, when one method isn't working (and I'd say from your post that it isn't working), its try to try something else.

What sort of discipline are you using? What are the consequences when they talk disrespectfully, throw things, bite, don't listen, etc?
 

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It sounds like you are having a tough time!
s:

Quote:

Originally Posted by BoringTales View Post
What sort of discipline are you using? What are the consequences when they talk disrespectfully, throw things, bite, don't listen, etc?
That would be my question as well. If my son asked for something to drink as you descibed I would calmly respond "I don't respond to rude demands. Can you use your manners and try again?" If he refused to pick up his toys, he would lose his priviledge to play with those.

Depending how old your children are, removing snacks could work. As well, I wouldn't offer different choices at meal time. Sort of like "this is what we are having for dinner. You don't have to eat it but that is all there is until breakfast".

Good luck!
 

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My dd can be pretty demanding. She wanted pancakes instead of the toast I made. I told her I was too tired and wouldn't make pancakes but she could- if she cleaned the frying pan, etc. She whined and cried for about 30 mins and then did it! She was so proud of how clean she made the pan and making the pancakes that I shudder to think I might have denied her this if I had given in. I really need to remember this in the future. Just thought of this reading your story about all the food demands...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by BoringTales View Post
Well, when one method isn't working (and I'd say from your post that it isn't working), its try to try something else.

What sort of discipline are you using? What are the consequences when they talk disrespectfully, throw things, bite, don't listen, etc?
And here's where the problem comes in. I don't have good consequences. I grew up in a home where I would have gotten my mouth smacked for talking disrespectfully, and that's not an option here. DH grew up in a home where they were threatened with a switch if they misbehaved. Also not an option. It's like I'm frozen when these things happen. Basically, I'm ashamed to admit, I do nothing other than seethe.
 

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We're kinda at our limit right now too and this is what we are trying:

The kids start the day at zero. All their needs will be met, etc., but extra things like TV, video games, have to be earned. My kids can't handle "amounts" (like you do this and you gain 10 minutes) and I HATE reward systems. I'm doing it more as "your family can help you when you help your family." So a hit is "you are heading back to zero," and a kind gesture is "you are earning it back."

We are *really* GD with natural consequences as a rule, but things have gotten out of hand here and it is too challenging for everyone. I hope we don't have to do this long, but I need to get them out of these patterns.
 

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The TV, food, and sleep issues are one set of problems.

The disrespect, the bad manners, and the refusing to comply with simple requests are another set.

The second set is the one that requires "discipline" or "guidance." You can't "trace" their behavior directly to things like TV. You said it yourself---when they behave that way, you do nothing. That's a huge issue.

I'd start by deciding what is and isn't acceptable in your home. Just in your head. What are the rules? It can as simple as using polite voices, not throwing things, etc. Then get some books about gentle discipline and learn strategies for getting kids to cooperate with the rules.

You're all on the same "side," you and your kids. Everyone wants happy mealtimes and respectful speech. It is YOUR job to help them learn how to give it and get it.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by waiflywaif View Post
The TV, food, and sleep issues are one set of problems.

The disrespect, the bad manners, and the refusing to comply with simple requests are another set.

The second set is the one that requires "discipline" or "guidance." You can't "trace" their behavior directly to things like TV. You said it yourself---when they behave that way, you do nothing. That's a huge issue.
I agree -- there are several problems here and they are going to take different approaches to solve. Sleep I think probably will depend on your ability to modify your evening routine. Lots of us can probably help brainstorm solutions if you provide more details.

Disrespect, manners and not helping probably are related. Its great that you have rejected physical discipline as the solution. Now you need to come up with alternatives though. Remember that Gentle Discipline is not the same as NO discipline. You and DH should talk about what you want and come up with a plan to get there. If you have trouble talking through these sorts of issues, I highly recommend finding a good parenting class you can take together.

There are lots of different approaches to GD here, so you might find that you get very conflicting ideas and suggestions. Sort through things and find the way that makes sense for you. Also remember that you cannot solve everything at once, so pick the one or two things that are the biggest problem and work from there.

Our household is not a consensual living environment -- I expect my children (5 and 9) to cooperate with me. Not necessarily instantly, but I do expect them to do what I ask or RESPECTFULLY explain why they cannot. I expect them to ask for things nicely.

I believe is really important is modeling what you want to see. So, if you demand water from your child or your DH, they will feel they can demand from you. Likewise, if they ask for something nicely and you ignore them, they will ignore you as well.

I set up my house so that my kids could do most things for themselves as early as possible. So they wouldn't ask for water because by the time they were 2 or 3 they could (and did) get it for themselves. But if they were to demand something, I would definitely say "That is not a polite tone of voice. Please try again." I would never, ever actually do what they asked if they approached it like that.

There are lots of consequences short of hitting a child. I am comfortable with natural consequences as the first choice, logical as the next. Not everyone here does consequences at all, but I find these approaches fit for me.

So, the natural consequence for not picking up toys when asked is that they get broken or lost. The logical consequence is that parent picks them up and they are no longer available to play with for a set amount of time.

For food, I cook one meal. Generally I take requests at the time or when I'm planning the week's meals. If the kids decide that is not what they want, they are free to get something else of similar nutritional value. I, however, do not fix anything else. They have been able to pour cereal and milk since they were 2 and make a simple sandwich since they were 3. Of course, I set up the kitchen so they could access things for themselves and taught them how to get snacks they wanted. But I do not get up once I have sat down for my meal.

So, there are some ideas for some places to start. I think I would start with sleep first, then food, then everything else. Because well rested and well fed children are naturally more cooperative. Good luck!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by JayGee View Post

So what else can I do to improve their behavior? Tonight DD1 refused to eat a single bite at dinner, asked for 3 different plates, slid her chair far across the room to be away from the table, threw her chair at DH
, and bit herself hard on the arm out of anger. It's gone too far.

what did you and your husband do when your daughter threw her chair at her dad?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by dougandsarah View Post
what did you and your husband do when your daughter threw her chair at her dad?
My husband really didn't have a chance to do anything. At that point I picked her up and carried her upstairs. We talked quietly on her bed for a few minutes about what she had done and she fell asleep before 7:00pm. Obviously, completely and totally over-exhausted.

Today has been MUCH better, especially considering that DD1 got 11 hours of sleep and DD2 got 13 last night
. I tried to make it very clear to the children this morning that I expected certain things from them ~ pleases and thank yous, staying with me when we're out, putting coats and shoes where they belong. Aside from DS throwing his coat in the middle of the livingroom when he got home from school, they all did really well with it.

The crazy thing is that both DH and I grew up in houses where manners were serious business. Neither of us would have dreamed of speaking to our parents the way our children frequently speak to us. And DH and I are very kind to each other, and I feel, exhibit a loving, caring and respectful relationship.
 

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Here's what I'd try to start with:

1. Getting the sleep thing worked out. "Sleepless in America" is a good book, and it's where I'd start. When dd was having sleep issues, what I learned was that having a consistent WAKE times was as important as consistent BED times, and that sleep begets sleep. Move their bedtimes back by 15 minutes a day until they're IN BED at 8 pm or so. I know it cuts down on family time in the evening, but it's totally worth it.

2. Reducing the options at mealtimes. I am not a short order cook. (My mother said that over and over again, and I didn't get it until I was a parent.) Breakfast and lunch are more flexible, but basically they have a choice of 2-3 things for those meals. Dinner is not something they get a choice about. I certainly take their input, and mostly I cook things they eat. I fix at least one thing that I know each child will like. That one thing might just be rice, but I know they'll eat it.

In our house, we allow snacking, and in general I think it's a bad idea to restrict snacks for kids under 5. I know that when ds (age 7) comes home from school, he's really hungry. It's hard for him to eat enough at lunch.

3. No TV/DVDs after about 5 pm. My kids have a hard time falling asleep if they watch TV in the evening. Maybe it's just my kids, but I find the evening runs more smoothly if we're not watching. FWIW, my kids have the pattern of not watching TV much at all in the summer and more in the winter when it's cold and rainy and hard to play outside. I'm OK with it. If you think the DVDs are contributing to their behavior, then reducing/eliminating it would be a good idea.

I'd work on manners and helping after I got the basics of sleep and food taken care of. We have a family 'chore time' every evening after dinner where we ALL do something. the kids do much better helping when we're right in there with them.

Starting about age 3, we worked REALLY hard with our kids on phrasing things politely. "Give me water." was met with "that's not polite. Try "can you give me some water please?" After I knew they'd mastered that, I would say "I don't bring water to kids who aren't polite. Try again." Sometimes "that was rude. Try again." works too.
 

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a small note here:

Quote:

Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
Here's what I'd try to start with:
Starting about age 3, we worked REALLY hard with our kids on phrasing things politely. "Give me water." was met with "that's not polite. Try "can you give me some water please?" After I knew they'd mastered that, I would say "I don't bring water to kids who aren't polite. Try again." Sometimes "that was rude. Try again." works too.

sometimes the polite options are so many words that it confuses a toddler
if they say "gimme water", offer the alternative of "water, please?"

"can you give me some water please?" may be just too many words for some tired toddlers!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bremen View Post
a small note here:

sometimes the polite options are so many words that it confuses a toddler
if they say "gimme water", offer the alternative of "water, please?"

"can you give me some water please?" may be just too many words for some tired toddlers!
True, which is why I said we started working on that at age THREE. At least for both of my kids (one who was just average in terms of verbal development, one who was ahead of the curve), they were certainly able to say "Can I have water please?" or "Can you get me water please?" by 3.

They'd already been introduced to 'please' nad 'thank you', but the 'demands' were starting to get irritating, and I needed to teach them the more polite way of doing it.

FWIW, I recommended this for the OLDER child, who's 4ish. Plenty old for that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
True, which is why I said we started working on that at age THREE. At least for both of my kids (one who was just average in terms of verbal development, one who was ahead of the curve), they were certainly able to say "Can I have water please?" or "Can you get me water please?" by 3.

They'd already been introduced to 'please' nad 'thank you', but the 'demands' were starting to get irritating, and I needed to teach them the more polite way of doing it.

FWIW, I recommended this for the OLDER child, who's 4ish. Plenty old for that.
Luckily, language is not an issue. Both DD1 and DD2 are very well spoken. In fact, the 2.5 yo, just asked me, "Can you open this, please?"
. Things seem to be improving a bit, although it's only been a few days. Sleep seems to be a major factor.

Thanks so much for all the input.
 

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I am glad things are better on your house. However, I still think it wouldn't be a bad idea for you to come up with a better solution to undesirable behavior than to just "quietly seethe." As well as defining for your own family (even if it's in your own head) what constitutes unwanted behavior in the first place.

We don't have written-down family "rules." But I can't tell you how much it helped me to get MYSELF clear on what my expectations are for my child. Before I did that, it felt like I would react differently at different times---sometimes mommy can deal with this, sometimes she just can't---and a lot of emotions got mixed up with the "discipline." With expectations in mind, it's very clear when behavior is okay and when it isn't, and I'm able to be calm about consequences and verbal redirection.
 

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OP I think that fixing bedtimes will go a long way. In my house, I don't bite on the king tut behaviour of dropping everything when summoned. : I tell them they need to come to me if they want something or want to talk. And if I'm too busy at the moment I tell them when I'll be able to do it. End of story. But it also helps to have things accessible to them so they can help themselves as well.

If they don't eat dinner (and I know it's something they like) they are welcome to stick it in the fridge until later when they're hungry. But that's their food for the night.

They also have a snack cupboard that they can access whenever they want unless it's when I'm actually cooking. Limiting snacks for about an hour or so before dinner has helped.[/i]
 

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This is kind of where I am at also. I LOVE Alfie Kohn and AP/CL princaples but for us it is just not working so I am branching out!


I also can see that my allowing the kids to create their own boundrys, that I thought was a good thing, is actually a very very bad thing. I can remember being a kid and just wishing my parents would create boundrys for me. Boundrys = Love, and IMO, kids don't come equiped to make their own boundrys.

I dont want to pendulum swing to the other side like Ezzo and people like him but there has to be freaking middle ground! LOL.
 

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I have removed some posts from this thread that either contained user agreements or quoted them.

Please remember the guidelines of the Gentle Discipline Forum particularly the following:

Welcome to Gentle Discipline. This forum has a specific aim: to help parents learn and apply gentle discipline methods in raising their children. Please appreciate that this forum is not a place to uphold or advocate physical punishment of children.

Thank you
Allgirls
 

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Jaygee...may I ask the ages of your children? They may or may not be developmentally able to do as required yet. Eta..never mind I see them in your siggy.

The biggest factor I have noticed in encouraging and inspiring manners is the modelling of them. My children are very very polite(not 100% of course but who is) and "I" get complimented and asked all the time.

I have never actively "taught" manners however everyone(adult) in our family goes out of their way to be polite and thus exhibit the manners we want to see from the little ones. It seems to be working quite well. Of course there are tantrums and issues with frustration but these are usually from known causes..hunger/sleep etc. and their own particular personalities...some kids take disappointment in stride, some are devastated by it


As to cleaning up...I find that getting children to clean up on their own is also something that has to be inspired in them once they are old enough. My 5 year old has a regular "job" and she takes it very seriously. I never have to give her consequenses for it. It's been her "job" for 2 years(making hers and her sister's beds) and she does it. I never nag or remind and I do it if she forgets(to set the example of helping others when they can't do something for themselves) but because she's taken ownership of this particular job she's proud of herself for doing it almost every day for 2 straight years. My younger(3) daughter puts the little soap thing in the dishwasher..it's her job right now.

We clean up toys together. I will assign each child a job in the clean up "sophia you take books, Martina you take dolls I'll do all other toys. We do a big clean up together. This is less overwhelming and encourages cooperation. They are 2.5 and 5. They are being taught how to tidy/clean up but I don't expect them to be good at it yet or want to do it on my schedule. We do however have a routine of cleaning up before bed and before we go anywhere. They happily help(if they are well fed and not over tired)

I also try to model happiness/cheerfulness in my own responsibilities and express my frustration in the context of how I'm feeling rather than how I don't like the job. For example there are days I am fine cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids..most of the time..but on days where I am over tired, hungry, stressed about something I may grumble about the dishes or making beds or laundry but I make sure to explain to my kids that "I don't feel like doing laundry today because I'm tired, not because I hate doing laundry".

I also ask for help with things when I'm tired like that. I will say "kids, mommy's tired, can you help me with the laundry today" and they will help because they love to take care of me sometimes.

I don't know if any of that helps but it does help around here.

Good luck!
 
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