Frazzled over the same, constant, groundhog day battles ...

(21 Posts)
superfluouscurves Mon 22-Apr-13 09:47:24

Please can some more experienced parent tell me where I am going wrong? Tearing my hair out here.

I am having constant (and I mean constant) battles with DD (9yrs) over the same, very basic, non-negotiable issues: ie bathing/showering, teeth and hair brushing, homework, getting things school books/bag ready the night before.

She does anything and everything to wriggle out of doing the above and then when challenged, immediately switches to "massively defiant" setting - with no opportunity for reasonable discussion in between.

I've tried understanding/calm persuasion/reward charts/consequences etc etc NOthing seems to work. I've resorted to shouting which is horrible and stressful for everyone but is the only thing that seems to work blush

We always have a calm discussion after the disagreement; I tell her the reasons why I got so cross etc and she appears to understand. And then, the very next time, she does exactly the same thing. Arrrrggghhh!!!

What gets me is that these are just the basic things. I have got to the point where I hesitate to ask her to do anything to help me around the house (however small a task) because it causes such horrible rows.

And we often don't get to the "fun" stuff - because we are still battling over the basics

I loathe ineffectual parenting (esp. with only one child) but it appears I am practicing exactly that!

Does anyone have any ideas/advice please?

carriedawayannie Mon 22-Apr-13 09:55:35

What would happen if you let natural consequences happen?

For example late homework means getting in trouble which she won't like so maybe would learn to do it in time in future?

Sparklymommy Mon 22-Apr-13 10:04:00

Oh the joys of 9 year old DDs! I have a 10 year old DD and although bright, even her teachers have told me how hopelessly disorganised she is! I blame myself, because basically it is sometimes easier to just do it myself than have the argument!

That said when it comes to showering and things that she absolutely must do herself I have found that just not having the discussion works quite well. I now get her up half an hour earlier and expect her to go straight to the shower. She normally grumbles about it but then does as she is expected. If she doesn't do something and then it isn't done I will not accept the blame. If her homework isn't put back in her school bag that's because she hasn't put it there and therefore she must accept the consequences. It frustrates me because she is very good at sitting down and doing the homework but then 'forgets' it at least 20% of the time!

I have also (only since Easter) brought in a new rule. Sweets only on a Saturday, and then only a packet, not going wild. This has made a noticeable difference in DDs attitude and whilst we are still having the odd tantrum she is finding it easier to stay calm. She also then appreciates the sweets when she does have them.

superfluouscurves Mon 22-Apr-13 10:15:31

Thank you for your replies carriedawayannie and sparklymommy - much appreciated!

I think you are both right. Reading your replies - and my op again - has immediately clarified the fact that I have fallen too much in to endless discussion/arguing mode and the issues have become encircled by a big ball of unnecessary stress as a result.

Need to switch to "action" mode and natural consequences. No discussion. Just calm insistence etc etc. No 'engaging' until the task is done. Then immediately switch focus to something more enjoyable (ie complying has its own rewards!)

If she doesn't comply with hwk, then she will have to take the consequences and will hopefully learn to be more responsible and independent in the process. I'll have a word with her teachers about this too.

The consequences of not washing are less clear. I may have to introduce artificial ones (ones that she cares about this time!)

Thank you so much. Mnsnet is brilliant for this sort of thing! (Esp. if you are the parent of an only - no siblings or experience to rely on!!)

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 22-Apr-13 16:09:57

Have you tried the "We have a problem. What shall we do about it?" thing? Let her come up with a plan. I do that with my 9yo and 7yo and though their plans are not always to my liking they do tend to solve the problem. Eg. we had the fall-on-each-other-and-get-really-cross problem when we get in the door from school and they drew (literally - picture of persons sitting in different part of stairs grin) up a plan and it seems to work.

superfluouscurves Tue 23-Apr-13 08:06:52

Thanks Uptoapoint and arf at the "fall-on-each-other-and-get-really-cross problem" smile

Yes, I have tried the "can you think of a solution"/"if you were Mummy what would you do?" approach. It works for about one or two occasions but then fails because dd doesn't stick to the "agreed contract" (even when it is written down and even if she loses priveleges as a result). That's the worrying thing - she's much more interested in the 'here and now' rather than what lies around the corner.

I've tried to lighten the atmosphere in the house since yesterday, as it does no-one any good to go from one battle to another. DD did have a shower without complaining and (eventually) settled down to do her hwk reasonably well last night. Dh and I are very much working on this together - trying to be consistent - difficult for him because he is such a softie when it comes to dd. And difficult for me because I get so impatient/lose my temper too easily. We're trying though ...

ItsRainingOutside Tue 23-Apr-13 17:06:32

In the main, they're all the same to a lesser or greater degree. I still have to tell my 12 year old to wash and brush her teeth in the morning. Every day, I stand at the bottom of the stairs and shout up "teeth, face, deodorant, hair, shoes". Have done for 6 years and found that without it, she just doesn't do it. Claims to 'forget'. Used to drive me insane but now it's just part of my routine. Only last Sunday, after agreeing she could spend the day at her friend's house, I found her dirty uniform screwed up in the corner of her bedroom. We now have a new regime, next time there's a single item of dirty clothing left on her floor, she does her own washing - all of it, forever. Funny our family washing basket has never been so full!

specialsubject Tue 23-Apr-13 18:36:23

stick with the consequences. Carry on without and you get the spoilt 18 year olds that I've had to carry work with, and it isn't pretty.

and with the teamwork, showing a marriage as a united front is a wonderful example to her.

good luck!

superfluouscurves Wed 24-Apr-13 16:08:35

That's reassuring It'srainingoutside thank you - it's a relief to know I'm not alone ... . I don't think I am patient as you though!

That's what I am finding so hair-tearingly frustrating. I think if I could understand why I have to repeat the same thing, over and over and over again and why dd does the same things over and over and over again I wouldn't mind - if there was a logical explanation ifysm - but there doesn't seem to be.

That's good advice about stepping back and making it 'just part of your routine'. Hopefully can distance myself a bit that way.

Thanks specialsubject - agree - going to have to just stick with the consequences - and be very consistent and firm (without losing my temper!).

It's a question of energy with me I think (although I know how pathetic this sounds with just one dc)

3littlefrogs Wed 24-Apr-13 16:28:05

I don't know if this example would be helpful.

One particular day Ds1 refused to go to school. (No good reason, just idleness).

I phoned the school and asked if his tutor would be kind enough to ring me back.

When he did, I handed the phone to DS, so that he could explain to his tutor why he wasn't in school.

The point is that unless they face the consequences themselves, they continue with the same behaviour.

So - homework not done? Ok. But I would email the teacher and say: "Sorry - homework not done because DD refused to do it." Then the conversation about it takes place between the child and the teacher.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 24-Apr-13 17:21:11

Agree with 3littlefrogs approach on this - "You will have to explain to your teacher yourself why you didn't do the homework/didn't practise/think this is a bore/think this is unfair". I don't make it sound like a punishment, just a reasonable thing to do, like I'm on DC's side, which I normally am. I think this is a fair thing, seeing that I can't really explain these things even if they are legitimate complaints.

hattyyellow Wed 24-Apr-13 17:26:16

Oh my goodness. My 8 year old DD exactly the same. It's driving me equally mad and frazzled. Trying to explain, trying to be calm, she questions everything - "but why do I have to go to stupid school?" "why do I have to be patient with younger DD"? I guess they're learning lots of things at once, with lots of neurons connecting ie " I don't always have to do what I'm told" and "I want to have a choice".

I'm trying to give her a bit of control where I can - ie if she wants to leave her drawing stuff on the floor of her room - not the end of the world. In fact if she wants to leave her room messy, not the end of the world. As the health visitor used to say when mine were babies, pick your battles. Is there anything you can perhaps give her a bit more say/control over?

I do sympathise massively. Mine missed the school bus this morning as she was taking so long to stomp upstairs to get something - but the consequence of that made my life difficult rather than hers as I get told off more for being late for work than she does for school! sad

MusieB Wed 24-Apr-13 17:29:42

It sounds as though the problem is not just that you have to ask/remind DD to do these things, but that she doesn't then just go and do them and you have to nag again or have a battle.

We have this problem with DD (10) who's naturally very disorganised and forgetful. It has got a lot better over the last few months. She really wanted an incubator and some bantam eggs to hatch out and I said she could have them in 6 months time if she had earned enough "chick points" by then. Points were lost for not doing as asked and awarded for prompt response or even more if she managed to do something without being asked. Incubator and eggs are now installed in her room and she hasn't relapsed yet...

So maybe find something she really really wants - and especially if she knows its something you'd rather she didn't have, make her earn it?

superfluouscurves Wed 24-Apr-13 19:27:21

Goodness - more really helpful replies! Some really good advice here - thank you everyone!

Uptoapoint and Threelittlefrogs - Funnily enough I have just been translating a letter to dd's two form teachers (we live abroad) explaining the situation and saying that we are having a bit of a crack down at this end, and could they continue to do the same at theirs. Hopefully, then dd will start to "own" the problems a bit more. I like the idea of being able to "side" with her in that way too, instead of me always being the "opposition".

Thanks Hattyellow it is frustrating isn't it - especially when you suffer the consequences more than them! Am noting that one down about letting them have control where they can - esp. in this instance as the schooling over here is very rigid indeed; the children aren't even encouraged to ask questions. Also useful to bear your point in mind about the developing mind etc - they just don't think the way we do, do they? I remember as a child being in a complete dream-world of my own with everything somehow "floating by me" - with completely different concerns and priorities to those of the adult world. I didn't really get to grips with reality until much later (some would argue I still haven't!! grin)

MusieB I'll think about the "big reward" scheme - thanks - dd desperately wants a goldfish!! (She would love some chickens but sadly we live in a very urban setting.) The frustrating thing is that dd can be very organised when she wants to be - it justs seems like she can't be bothered/it isn't a priority!

hattyyellow Wed 24-Apr-13 21:52:31

Have you recently moved abroad? It couldn't be her kicking back against all the changes/new environment?

superfluouscurves Thu 25-Apr-13 15:40:45

No Hattyellow she was born here. Thanks for thought though! smile

superfluouscurves Thu 25-Apr-13 15:43:25

Thinking about it, school regime is extremely rigid. Frankly, it is daunting for even the most well-behaved, conformist of children. (There is much more emphasis on what is best for the group as opposed to the individual - which has its good points as well of course.) But it also possibly results in her kicking back at everything else (ie everything we have to do at home!) in a "safe" environment.

dimsum123 Thu 25-Apr-13 18:08:29

Thankyou for this thread. Very very very good to know I'm not alone with my 9 year old DD!

superfluouscurves Thu 25-Apr-13 19:57:27

A problem shared and all that Dimsum

Is your dd an 'only' by any chance?

I have a theory that she is being difficult because it is only her: washing at a certain time, going to bed at a certain time, having to do homework etc and that all would go swimmingly if she had siblings with whom she could share all that sort of thing. But maybe I am looking through rose coloured spectacles ...!!

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 25-Apr-13 21:14:38

Hahaha (hollow laughter) superfluouscurves. DS1 and DS2 are going through a phase of winding each other up. They do get along quite well most of the time, but when they are winding each other up, well!

superfluouscurves Fri 26-Apr-13 11:34:06

Ah well, the grass is always greener and all that Uptoapoint smile

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