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Gentle parenting help please.(22 Posts)
I have two girls, aged 6 & 9, I have nursed them beyond toddlerhood, worn them in slings, and generally parented them in as gentle and respectful way as I can. I work three days a week, and they go to school, so our day has to run to a certain imposed structure, so sometimes they have to do something and there's no flexibility.
I am finding it increasingly difficult to get them to do basic daily routine stuff. As littleys they were easy to distract and bring around to my idea, I could get them to do stuff without being authoritative or dictating, but I'm finding that as they get older no amount of explaining what we need to do and why actually makes any difference. I ask them nicely, I explain, in terms they understand, why we need to do stuff, I ask nicely again, I remind them that the deadline (ie: for leaving for school on time) is approaching, but nothing makes any difference.
The only thing that actually gets them to shift and do what's
being asked of them is when I yell. And I mean really yell. Then they jump, and cry and get angry with me for shouting at them and scaring them. But over and over again I ask them nicely and they just ignore me.
I'm really struggling. I've removed all privileges, tv, computer, even tried taking away certain toys, but I find these types of sanctions counter productive, Not only do they shout and rage at me for "being mean" and taking these things away, but I then find they fight and argue more between themselves, and pester me when I am trying to get household chores done.
I don't want obedient, unquestioning little robots, I want them to be free thinking and independent individuals. But I also need them to accept that bedtime is bedtime, teeth need to be brushed morning and evening, and school starts at 9, no matter how much they "just need to do XXXX" at 8.45. I don't want to bark at them like a Sgt Major, but it's the only thing that actually gets through to them. Why, now that they are actually old enough to reason with, do they ignore all reasoning??
Does anyone else have children of this age or older, and how did you deal with this kind of thing?
use star charts etc reward good behaviour - focus on good and rewarding that - eg ready for school on time five days in a row gets a magazine on the weekend etc
At that age they can be confused with questions like
Do you want to put your shoes on?
You think you are asking them to do it, they think er no I don't!
Keep everything to a schedule
At that age they can have alarm clocks, and get themselves dressed
No tv until breakfast is eaten
Lots of prompts not questions
It's 8 o'clock coats on now please
They are old enough to experience natural consequences - if they are not ready for school when you have to leave, take them in their slippers/pyjamas/without breakfast. (Make sure the school are aware in advance that this is going to be your approach and they're usually supportive)
If they won't brush their teeth unsupervised - then supervise them: my DP still supervises his DS washing/showering etc because left to his own devises, he won't do it!
Choices have consequences is the mantra in our house and as many as possible are the natural consequences rather than punishments.
I do all of those things. They ignore me, the only way I can get their attention is when I shout.
I do give them deadlines, and rewards, they know what time we have to be out the house, what time bedtime is etc, but they seem to think they can magically stretch time and fit in all the things they want to faff around with, and then, oops! we are late!! I tried star charts, they didn't care. For a few days they would feel good about getting a star, but the novelty wore off after that and they were ignored again.
I ask them to do these things, but they know I'm not giving them a choice, I don't say "would you like to put your shoes on?" or "why don't you get dressed?" I say "It's time to get dressed/Put your shoes on" and I'll say it two or three times in a nice voice, giving them a few minutes grace each time to give them the chance to actually start doing it, and as the time ticks forward, and the need to do what I've asked becomes more pressing, I become less "nice" but they still ignore me, and then, because we have to go asap I then yell at them, which does get their attention, but then they cry or get angry with me for shouting. It doesn't matter how many times I point out to them that if they did what I was asking the first time I asked I'd not ever haveto shout, this logic is lost on them, and they do it again and again.
It's soul destroying, we all end up upset, and it could be so easily avoided if they would just not ignore me the first couple of times I ask them to do stuff. (I accept that sometimes they may genuinely not hear me if they are doing something or it's noisy) I tell them to get ready for bed (because they are both old enough to be abe to get pyjamas on by themselves) and they'll say "in a minute" or "I don't want to" WTF?? They know this will lead to a telling off, or loss of something, but they just back-chat me, or even shout at me (which I know is them copying me because I shout at them). Why do they do things that they know will result in a telling off or punishment? I don't ignore them, we read together, talk a lot, cook together, and so on, it's not a lack of attention from me, they get lots of positive attention from me, so bringing negative attention down on themselves makes no sense at all.
They are with me 12 days out of 14, they spend every other weekend with their dad, and these constant battles make me look forward to the time they are away. That's horrible, I hate it. I hate that I look forward to them not being here because it means I won't have to spend every evening in constant conflict. By the time they are in bed I am exhausted from the stress of getting them to do these basic, normal every day things. I've tried leaving them to decide when they are tired and want to go to bed, this results in shattered, cranky, upset children. Bed time (and going to school) has to happen every day, it's not like they can 'put it off' til tomorrow. I don't get it, they are driving me insane.
Has the school got a family support worker? If you're regularly arriving at school with one or both in their nightwear, I'm surprised they've not offered you support already tbh.
I've not actually taken them to school in PJs, but we are regularly late. My eldset sees the school counsellor as she has had some problems dealing with the changes of the last two years since I split with their dad (he's already married and has a new baby) and when I talk to the kids about the situation they are very remorseful and say they will listen more etc etc, and then don't.
Until there are consequences for THEM, there is no motivation for them to change their behaviour - out the door in jammies or slippers a few times and they'll soon realise that THEY benefit - at the moment, it's what you want them to do and that's not a big enough motivator for them.
They have consequences: I've locked all the kids tv channels, they are banned from the computer. They know they can get these things back if they behave differently, they just don't seem to care. And don't seem to hear me unless I yell at them.
We are only on time for school etc if I run the morning like a military parade, all barked orders and aggression. I don't want to bully my kids like this. There has to be another way, surely?
get them up an hour earlier on school days.
My 6 yr old still wakes at 6.30, the 9 year old wakes not much after 7. They are early risers, they just have an incredible talent for time wasting and procrastination. They have plenty of time to o everything, they just spend that time ignoring/arguing with me about doing it.
I took my daughter to school in her PJ's one day because she wouldn't get dressed, I told her what would happen and I followed through with it. I handed her over to a teacher in the office with her clothes in a bag and she was dressed before I could blink. She has never done it again but my response would be exactly the same except I probably wouldn't take her clothes with me and she'd be stuck in her PJ's all day. They have to be at school on time it isn't a choice they just have to go. They do not have to wear uniform though so if they turn up in their PJ's and the other kids laugh at them and the teachers ask them what on earth is going on they'll quickly get the message that uniform is best.
They can only waste time arguing with you if you engage with them - your home is not a democracy and there are some things they are expected to do without questioning and challenging.
The consequences you have put in place clearly aren't working, they obviously don't care if they can't watch TV - why would they if they get their entertainment from arguing with you instead?
Stop negotiating with them, tell them what is expected (we've found a to-do list works well) and don't keep moving the goal posts - once they've been told what you expect, stick to it.
Your DDs sound just like mine (who's 9). My elder DC (12) now makes his own way to school, which makes the getting ready in the morning thing so much easier as she's only making herself late, not him too. Before that it was really hard, and she would quite happily have gone off to school in PJs or with no shoes or coat if I'd let her.
She responds brilliantly to 10p fines though. She always gets a threat first - "stop that and put your shoes on now, or you'll get a 10p fine" and then she knows I fine her if she doesn't. We keep track of how much money I owe her (pocket money) on the fridge door and I deduct 10p each time she is fined. At first she was losing about £1 a fortnight, but now it's very rare as she always responds to the threat.
The only times she doesn't get a threat are if she does something dangerous - then I tend to give her a bigger fine straight away, but that's rare too.
I would try and separate the need for them to do as they're told sometimes out from any bad feelings you or they have over the split. You don't want to start feeling guilty over that and excusing bad behaviour. And don't feel guilty about looking forward to the break - everyone needs a break. Do you ever have any one to one time with either of them? That's hard to achieve when you're separated, but if you can work it out with your ex to have the odd bit of time in the holidays, or whatever, then it can be lovely time together. My DD always seems so easy when she has my undivided attention - it's when she's fighting for it and I'm juggling her and other tasks that she's hard work.
I might try the pocket money fine. Although this will mean implementing pocket money first place! Perhaps money is what they need to motivate them. <sigh>
I struggle too. It does help that we have the rule that breakfast can not be eaten until you are dressed. If the getting dressed is late then he gets handed a roll to eat on the way or has to run to school. My DS does not yet seem to be motivated by the rewards/star charts/pocket money sort of thing. I do wonder if it doesn't quite sink in as an only child because there is no one else to compete against. Hmm, maybe we'll compete with a neighbour and race them to school.
I found this very helpful. It is packed with strategies, ideas, really practical stuff.
I've always kept them in PJs until they've eaten their breakfast, it saves spills going on school uniforms!
I could never get out on time if it wasn't for the dressed before breakfast trick. Oh and a special breakfast ie pancakes, boiled egg if ready on time helps and a mother tucking into a special breakfast but promising a bit of bread and butter on the way to school if not dressed quick enough works a treat if I'm quick enough.
I now tell my DS that if he does not get dressed he will be going naked/no shoes etc and because I have done it once he is now better not perfect but better.
Mine doesn't hear me unless I shout either and that is with using star charts and rewards. He has the attention span of a squashed gnat!
Mornings in the Lemon household as follows:
Alarm goes off, Lemon gets up at 6.20am, calls DS to wake up and put his lamp on. Lemon goes down and makes coffee and feeds the cats. Back upstairs, radio goes on, Lemony goes into the bathroom and gets ready. Back out of the bathroom, calls in to DS "Come on, time to get up" and puts top light on. Lemony goes into her bedroom, main light on and DD (who has been hibernating in Lemony's bed, wakes up). Lemony dresses, and while dressing, sticks head out of the door to DS "Come on, time to get up and get in the shower". DS either gets into shower or puts uniform straight on <boak>. Lemony gets DD showered and ready for school and while doing that calls to DS "Come on, time to get ready".
Lemony and DD go downstairs, DD puts shoes on, Lemony makes packed lunches for everyone. Calling on the odd occasion to DS "Come on, time to clean your teeth and get downstairs".
Lemony continues to make packed lunches and clear dishes from the draining board. And Lemony calls again to DS "Come on, time to get downstairs". Which he does. Eventually. The "coats on" point is reached and we're usually out of the house by 7.30am at the latest, DS dropped off at the bus stop on the way to the childminder's where DD is dropped off.
Our mornings are punctuated by barked orders. There are definite advantages being the grand-daughter of two sargeant majors.....
Well, I went into school and spoke to the teachers and the counsellor that DD1 sees, this morning DD1 was up, eaten breakfast (which she made herself) dressed etc, school bag packed and ready to go by 7.55. <faints>
(DD2 is off school with a foul cold, so she's still in PJs)
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