Sick of being on a constant war footing(33 Posts)
DW works and I have to drop off and pick up the kids (5 and 7) from school each day (I am self-employed so I can work around the times). I am sick and fecking tired of having to chivvy them every morning to get themselves ready in the morning and dealing with them fighting with each other and shouting at me in the evening when I tell them it's bedtime etc. I have never ever hit them so I cannot understand why they hit each other (and me), but sometimes I feel my blood rising and shout at them so hard it makes my head rattle. Then they have to spend time on the naughty step and I have to keep taking them back there when they cheek me and come back. This isn't normal - and it happens every blasted day. I never used to be like this when I was a kid. What am I doing so wrong?
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Loads better these days. My "bored policeman" act works v. well along with enthusiastic administration of rewards and calm and consistent administration of forfeits (albeit more seldom that rewards) and ultimately the threat of telling their teacher (the threat of humiliation before a respected authority is very much the last saloon). All of the above seems to have had a Deepwater Horizon effect on the troubled waters of the household flashpoints.
I owe you all a debt of gratitude - your collective wisdom continues to delight and surprise me.
Calling UrbanDad how are you getting on with this? I really struggle on this front. 4 children - 8 down to 4. I do all the mornings and some bedtimes and find myself in exacly the same situation virtually every day.
All the replies above are great by the way. I'll be following up on the advice......
great advice there Xenie:
"Be calm, Be firm. Have fun, smile, say 5 positive things to them for every negative."
Your epiphany was really what I was about to post. (I am in year 28 of being parent, 5 children, work fulltime). What I have increasingly learned is that children mirror your mood. Mine are very peaceful clam and I'm very lucky (and they're teenagers). We have no trouble ever with the school run. Why is that? it may just be their personalities. We have the same routine and always have - they are twins so have always been like a little army really with set routines.
We allow enough time. We always get everything ready for school the next day the night before, never on the morning. They eat breakfast. They get enough sleep. I never get cross these days. I get lots of sleep. May be you need to look after yourself better. If children reflect your mood, the answer might be that you try to get to bed by or before 10pm every night and sleep. I have never done naughty steps, punishments or anything like that in my life actually. I don't think you need it. Just have fun with them but stick to the routines. So if bed time is TV off at X, always switch it off then. Then story time in bed after baths is usually something children like to they are fairly keen for that at the age of yours.
Say very little. Don't shout. Be calm, Be firm. Have fun, smile, say 5 positive things to them for every negative,. Works for us anyway. Also look at diet, drink only water, only eat whole foods, avoid sugar and E numbers etc.
Cut the clubs we do 100% no clubs ever and it's wonderful, just hours every night of doing whatever you like. Relax. Be slow. Smile.
I agree with AuntySib - tiredness can lead to naughtiness.
I alter bedtimes when the moods and arguing increase.
Original Poster - are kids getting a proper breakfast? My 8 year old is unmanageable EVERY morning until he has been fed. Routine now.
Cupcake78 - wise words indeed (tips cap).
Monty - you are a genius and thanks so much for the input (Pranamasana smiley). That is clearly hard-won experience and it works like a charm. I'm still knackered morning and night (cannot change much there) but now have a little sheet at adult height next to their bedroom door reminding me: (a) of the approx. timings for bathtime/bed etc. and (b) of the things I can do to keep them on the straight and narrow.
The threat of telling their teachers is especially effective - like letting the finger hover over the nuclear button. In terms of escalation of punishments it's:
1. take away fun things at weekend (which they can earn back),
2. confiscate/bin minor toy (which they can earn back),
3. make them write a letter to the teacher explaining what they've done wrong (never had to use it so far...)
This site is like having your own guru with a detailed and wise knowledge of all things child-related (with the occasional mad ranty person just to balance things out - happily not on this thread, though!)
My kids are much older than yours, but with 3 boys there was an awful lot of arguing etc. What worked to some extent (and still does with youngest, now 11) was telling them their bad behaviour must be due to tiredness so therefore they would have to go bed early. And then put them to bed early. Funnily enough, they wouild often go to bed with much less fuss than I was expecting, so maybe tiredness really did lead to naughtiness!
And if you need time in the evenings to work/organize yourself, then they are old enough to understand that. They could go to bed a good hour earlier than they currently do, and have a quiet time in their room, reading or listening to a tape, no disturbing daddy!
Sounds like you have too much on your plate, and your priority is keeping your sanity and a roof over your heads!
Been there mate (in almost exactly the same circumstances; wife in rat race, me self employed) and I truly know what you are going through. Not easy and the enemy changes it's tactics and defences daily (they learn.........)
Of course, if you and the wife argue in front of the kids they will just copy that and display aggressive behaviour to you expecting rewarding hugs and love for it.... Assuming you keep the marital mash ups away from the offspring my advice is this.
1) yes, sort yourself out so you are on always top of your game. Major amounts of patience are required but you can put things in place which give you the advantage. The thing to remember is that you are not always necessarily their best friend but that you are always their parent. This can cause tears and minor heartache on each side but you are not there to make them smile 24/7 - you are there to make then incredible - long term...
2) give the older one a notion of responsibility for the younger one (with rewards on offer and promised if things go well). Otherwise they play off each other, riff off each other and accelerate into mayhem. Offering the older one a reward for helping the younger one into "good behaviour" or (whatever label you'd like to put on it) will a) have the older one looking to you for approval rather than playing silly buggers and b) actually have him/her pulling the younger one into line with whatever rules / guidelines you have tried to put in place. "you know the rules - I want to see you helping him to learn them".
3) 3rd party authority is priceless. Your kids are much more scared of their teacher's disapproval than they are of your dead arm or spanking. So you DON'T need to hit them, hurt them or indulge in the "naughty step" nonsense. Simply walk them all the way into the classroom ONCE and (out of earshot of any other kids) say to the teacher "Jack (or Jill) has been very naughty this morning and I would like to report that to you so you can bear that in mind for the rest of the day. His / her behaviour needs to improve and he/she is quite aware of it". The teacher will give you a knowing wink and the threat of being reported to that teacher again will become a HUGE weapon in your arsenal. It's not humiliating and it's not a torture - it's just you letting them know that you are in charge and someone who can be easily in touch with their authority figures.
4) If you promise to take them on a steam train then take them on a steam train - equally, if you say "do that again and you'll go to bed" then if they do it again they HAVE to be sent to bed. No questions, no arguments. YOU have to stand firm by what YOU promise and what you threaten. Boundaries, deadlines, rules - these things work very well for kids because children NEED certainty and if you introduce them you have to stick with them and stand by them. No matter what no matter when.
Confusion and chaos came out of your original post and order and planning seems obvious to solve your woes.
I'm no expert - I scream at my kids more often than I'd like but I try to realise (and bear in mind) that they're not finished and that it's my job to bring them to fruition.
ah, not a baby
but how do you give a dead arm/leg "playfully" ?
what is a "playful dead arm/leg" ?
and on a baby ?
that is "admit to giving my 8 year old the occassional PLAYFUL "dead leg/arm"
Similar probs here. Used to be so much easier (and fun)
Agree with "one warning then punishment."
I admit to giving my year old the occassional PLAYFUL "dead leg/arm" and this seems to reset his mood back to calm again. It build sup again, so timing important to get them to bed or get them out of door again before next blow up.
I liken it to a volcano ready to spill.
Oh and in our house, hitting and being cheeky = one warning then naughty step/confiscation. The declaration of 'I dont care' means they really do care but are trying to wind you up and it appears to be working. Your dc are very bright by the sounds of it.
Punishment is really quite simple, take away from them something they love and make them earn it back by good behaviour.
Can be anything from, after school activites, bedtime stories, tuck in's, favourite toys, trips to the park, tv, computer games, later bedtimes for the eldest one, days out with friends, sleep overs, one on one time with mum or dad etc etc. It can be anything, it will bother them eventually if they keep losing things they love.
Dont get angry with them, just be firm with your requests, warn them once and then carry it out! You must carry it out.
Its exhausting for the first few days but you'll be amazed at how fast they'll pick it up. Basically let them know that dad doesnt mess about.
If people think your too strick then your doing a great job ;) Oh and get some me time, find your 'man cave' and spend some much needed time their. Put your kids to bed by 7.30 and have an extra 30 mins for you.
By the way, anyone got any suggestions for punishment for a defiant, "I don't care", hitting, shouting, obnoxious child in the evening (without getting physical, which I def. don't want to do)?
Had another thought. Bedtime's getting too late. They need to go to bed before they get overtired. Also I need to stop and count to 10 before I yell at them (and boy, do I yell - the whole street must hear it!).
"but they enjoy all of their after-school stuff, so difficult to take any of that away with it feeling like a punishment."
Then take it away as a punishment! Try stepping up the negative consequences. Maybe a short time out isn't enough? Make it 3 time outs in a day and miss an after school thing?
Also, why argue with the children? If children do something that they know they shouldn't do why argue? Arguing is a 2 way thing. Just go straight to punishment.
Ah well - you need some rest and rebate, is there responsibility that your dc can take on?
Ours have to help sort the clean washing and put their own away (3 girls close in age with all those socks and knickers their help is essential). We make them get dressed before they come downstairs etc etc
Get your DW to order you to bed earlier too
how much child care and daily routine does/is your dw able to contibute to, could she do more?
sorry that ment to say my dd wakes at 7.30, not that your should.
I would put them to bed at different times and definatly before 8pm i would say 6-6.30 for youngest and 7pm for oldest and wake at 7.30 am. do they need to be up at 6am also i leave my dd with only enough time to get up eat dress and leave. I am up at 6 - 6.30 and get what is needed ready, so maybe they have too much time in the morning. also recomend no tv, toys, games etc in the morning.
My dd 6 and has a busy schedule also and monday and tuesday she is in bed 6.30- 7pm and weds and thursday she is bed 7.30pm as she has two activities both nights so it is straight in and straight to bed after eating between both activities. It is often a wrap and chicken and veg as no time to cook, so do before school pick up.
I've just had an epiphany - they eat well, have enough sleep (10 hours is OK) and are not overscheduled.
It's me - I'm overtired, overscheduled and my mealtimes/exercise are very irregular. They're not worse. I am. I used to take this stuff in my stride, but now I have to think about clients and new contracts and getting all my paperwork in the right place morning and evening on not enough sleep. God, I really need to get some stuff off my plate.
My 6yo needs 11.5-12 hours sleep, honestly! Full-on school, and after-school activity would leave her in a complete state, leading to rattyness, stubborness, ill health.
Set the clocks earlier? I set a 'go out of the house' alarm... for 15 minutes before we have to leave. Once that's sounded, it's everyone scramble to leave...
I don't think letting them be late is right with a 5 and 7yo- it's the parents' responsibility at that age.
One of mine at 5 was sleeping 6pm-7.30am...
Who do you think is the main instigator? Also would the younger one benefit from going to bed before the older one so he gets some one on one time?
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