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To give dt1 more attention...

(75 Posts)
twintroubles Thu 03-Mar-16 11:13:03

I'm so fed up of thinking about this issue. I'd love another perspective, or several. Dt1 (6) is very challenging and needy. Dt2 on the other hand is relaxed and not needy at all. Therefore i find a lot of my attention goes on dt1.

Example: dt1 cried all morning because she didnt want to go to school. I tried every tact. Nothing worked. inevitably a lot of my attention was on her. She was a puddle of utter misery. To complicate matters, i was desperate for her to stop crying partly because dt2 gets really upset when dt1 is upset. This is the only thing that does get to her. Dt2 also hates it when I'm firm with dt1 and send her for time-out in her room or tell her off.

This happens all the time, whether its at school or during the extracurricular they do together or at home. Dt1 is frequently upset and that upsets dt2.

Another example of dt1's behaviour: i told her to stay in her seat when i was making pancakes, multiple times. She keeps getting up and comes to cling on me. Makes pancake-making very difficult, especially as my other children are talking to me all at once. I raise my voice and tell her to sit down. She punches me in the stomach. I send her to her room for ten min.

So consequently i try to help dt1 with her behaviour both for her sake and for her twin's sake. But this puts a lof of my attention her way. Any tips or common experiences?

I do do special one on ones with dt2, but the problem is dt1's issues are almost constant the rest of the time.

twintroubles Thu 03-Mar-16 11:27:42


twinkletoedelephant Thu 03-Mar-16 11:45:21

I share you dilemma I have an older dd with suspected ASD and twins one with severe ADHD and one with autism.
Dd us incredibly demanding in time an energy if she doesn't get thing done her way on her time she kicks off... Dt1 (ADHD) is busy and full on all day he flits from thing thing and place to place I need to make sure he is safe and occupied which leaves dt2 who has ASD he is a lovely compliant little lad who wants to sit cuddle play a quiet game with me but I can't when ds is in the kitchen doing god knows what and dd is threatening to run away and trashing her room.

I try and build time in every day to have 121 time for everyone but it just so bloody hard.
Dh doesn't get home till at least 7pm so only really have help at the weekends so I try yo take one put for a couple of hours.

But the guilt is everyday ;-(

twintroubles Thu 03-Mar-16 11:50:24

Gosh that sounds really hard. We just have to do our best i suppose.

NotQuiteSoOnEdge Thu 03-Mar-16 12:09:05

Hi Op. I just got put through a 'parenting difficult children' course by CAMHS, and one thing they drummed into me is that if you give the one 'acting up' the attention, then you effectively drive the behaviour you want to get rid of.

So in your pancake scenario you would completely ignore DT1 and positively engage with DT2, about anything, but including some passing praise about sitting nicely at the table in the way you like them to. And you would try to catch DT1 out when she IS sitting at the table, and thank her. This works particularly well if you can see they're just about to get up, you loudly thanking her for staying in her seat will throw her somewhat, and then you lead straight onto some positive engagement about school etc whilst she is still sitting, effectively rewarding the behaviour you want with your attention.

I have found this really hard, as I have spent yrs telling DC1 to sit down, behave, stop clinging etc, only really noticing the bad stuff if you like, and this is the exact opposite, but I do have to admit that when I manage it, it works.

So I guess my answer is YYWBU to give more attention to DT1. Try to do the exact opposite! Try also to remember that DT2 will be learning that she needs to play up to get attention, and may go off the rails later if she feels her compliant behaviour is taken for granted and leaves her 'ignored'. (I'm sure you don't ignore her, IYGWIM)

It's surprisingly effective. It feels utterly counter-intuitive and false at first, and it's exhausting changing a habitual dynamic, but after very little time, I'm seeing results. HTH.

twintroubles Thu 03-Mar-16 12:20:13

Thanks notquite. I will try that although im wondering what i will do with behaviour it is realistically impossible to ignore, like screaming, hitting, shouting, calling me rude names, crying, being cruel to siblings...

ceebie Thu 03-Mar-16 12:22:02

I couldn't agree more with NotQuiteSoOnEdge.

The more attention you give DT1, the more you are encouraging the same behaviour. You need to take as little notice as possible of the negative behaviour and reward the positive behviour (from all children).

Also DT2 will end up resenting you if they are behaving well and not getting the same amount of attention as their twin - it will feel so unjust, even if you do have your reasons.

DoreenLethal Thu 03-Mar-16 12:23:37

it is realistically impossible to ignore, like screaming, hitting, shouting, calling me rude names, crying, being cruel to siblings...

All of which are attention seeking behaviours. See - impossible to ignore.

With the pancake one, 'children who sit down nicely at the table get pancakes, those that don't can't be all that hungry or must be feeling ill so will have to go to bed early'.

twintroubles Thu 03-Mar-16 12:29:32

Would the same principle apply to something like the crying before school? I dont know how to treat this. Is it attention-seeking and to be ignored, or is it something i should talk about with her? She's the same at school, crying, wanting to go home, complaining of headaches and stomach aches... Ive worked with children in a mental health setting before and to me, with the physical symptoms, it looks like anxiety...

ceebie Thu 03-Mar-16 12:33:19

Ignore screaming, shouting, calling rude names, crying. Maybe an occasional, but calm, "I don't like that behaviour" to acknowledge that you are aware of them but that you aren't planning to engage with them whilst they are behaving that way. (DS gets more wound up if he thinks he hasn't been noticed, so this helps with him).

Fot hitting or being cruel to siblings, you need to move either DT1 or yourself/yourselves away and then continue to ignore. In other words, minimum contact possible in order to distance yourselves and be able to continue.

DD went through a phase of clawing at our faces - mostly for a reaction. We tried serious talks about how we didn't approve, we tried punishments - nothing worked. It was only when our reaction was to stand up and walk away and not engage, that she stopped doing it. That was my Mum's suggestion and I thought she was crazy as I felt that I wouldn't be addressing the issue, but she was right.

ceebie Thu 03-Mar-16 12:35:18

Sorry my responses are lagging behind!

twintroubles Thu 03-Mar-16 12:40:55

Thanks ceebie. I admit ive never tried this. Which is great! It means i have a new thing to try.

ceebie Thu 03-Mar-16 12:42:50

Not sure with crying before school as I haven't had to deal with it, but I would have thought a calm but firm approach would be best, and trying to treat all children exactly the same when getting ready - whether crying or not. I would be inclined to ignore the crying (not the child, if you see what I mean! - act as if they are not crying) in the mornings, and chat after school about their day. That way, the conversation is not motivated by their hope that they can persuade you to let them off school.

NotQuiteSoOnEdge Thu 03-Mar-16 12:43:28

Yes! And all those behaviours ramped up like crazy when they didn't get the desired effect. It will get worse before it gets better.

I would give a simple warning about poor behaviours, I.e. Do what I ask or you will have to go to your room, and then utterly disengage and brightly engage with DT2, 'so, who was naughtiest at school today?!' Or anything, and if DT1 doesn't respond, then they go to their room. Effectively cutting them off from any of your attention.

This can be REALLY, REALLY HARD! I have holes in the walls and broken doors upstairs from an extremely furious DC1, but all they want is that reaction/attention from you. Don't give it. Have a very established routine, warning then removal, and then act really bored by it, and utterly ignore flouncing/bad language/screaming etc so long as they are complying.

The only exception to this routine is for hitting/throwing/damaging the house. These get an automatic 10minute loss of screen time, and he can rack up an hour of this pretty quick when he loses the plot.

It has been exhausting, implementing this over the last two months, but hand on heart, it is working. Last week his little sister, who in the space created by him calming down has finally found her voice and was trialling stroppy behaviour of her own, got told 'don't bother, it doesn't work and it's not worth it'!!! Never thought I'd hear anything as self-reflective as that from my DS!

twintroubles Thu 03-Mar-16 12:44:20

Yes that does make sense.

ceebie Thu 03-Mar-16 12:51:52

I've just re-read your original post and notice that Dt2 gets upset when Dt1 is upset. I would suggest that when Dt1 is upset, you focus some attention on Dt2 - you could even discuss the situation with (her?) and reassure her: "It makes us sad when Dt1 is sad, doesn't it? But she does need to improve her behaviour, so I hope she'll behave nicely soon because I love it when we're all happy together. I'm pleased that you're doing whatever so nicely".

NotQuiteSoOnEdge Thu 03-Mar-16 12:52:59

Sorry, thread moved on. Totally agree with ceebie too!

My answer to morning issues is similar, and have a 'thing' that they do at school if they want something there. Ours is to ask to speak to the Senco and talk about it if they can't manage. If he comes out saying I felt this and that, and I couldn't work blah, blah, blah I say, did you speak to the Senco? Usually no! And then I congratulate him for managing his own feelings, and remind him the Senco is always there for him.

I do actually love him very much! He has had some major trauma to handle, and his issues are very real, but that doesn't also mean he's not also a typically attention seeking 8yr old. It's an explosive mix at times. I just advise total (faked) calmness and VERY clear boundaries, and focus on every positive thing you can see.

NotQuiteSoOnEdge Thu 03-Mar-16 12:55:22

And yes to ceebie again. DD and I have quite a few convos that go along those lines.

EastMidsMummy Thu 03-Mar-16 12:56:26

What the fuck is a "dt"?

NotQuiteSoOnEdge Thu 03-Mar-16 12:57:11

A twin. And you could have asked that a little more nicely.

twintroubles Thu 03-Mar-16 13:04:01

Ok, im seeing how i can improve things. ignore ignore ignore. Praise the positive stuff. Give dt2 the attention, even when dt1 is playing up.

But there just one thing. Notquitesoonedge says a warning and time-out in room for bad stuff (i think) which is what i do too as you can see in my oringinal post. But am i correct in thinking that ceebie, you are advocating simply stepping away and ignoring, even for something like punching, and not a time-out in her room? I absolutely see the sense in ignoring smaller behaviours but if i ignore punching (and dont give a timeout) the rest of my children will think ive gone crackers!

ceebie Thu 03-Mar-16 13:06:35

Personally I don't like to send them to their room unless the behaviour is really so dreadful there seems little other option. This is not because I don't think it's a good idea, it's because it can be quite difficult to man-handle a child in meltdown into their room, let alone making them stay there. And all the while you're trying to execute this manoevre, it's more time with that child and less time with the others. I favour letting them melt down on the spot and pretending they're not there. But really it comes down to the type of behaviour and your judgement about what's likely to work best for your child.

ceebie Thu 03-Mar-16 13:09:30


I think what you've outlined sounds spot on - ignore for the smaller stuff, time-out in room for bigger stuff like punching.

twintroubles Thu 03-Mar-16 13:11:24

I absolutely find that getting dt1 into her room and making her stay there takes attention away from the others and its one of the things i find very difficult. But leaving her where she is seems worse because she fills the room with screams, shouts, upsets the others more, and the others perceive there to be a lack of justice... So difficult to know what to do for the best.

twintroubles Thu 03-Mar-16 13:13:23

Thanks ceebie for your help. And notquitesoonedge.

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