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Being terribly hard on my v dreamy 7-year-old - please help me with some strategies

(21 Posts)
notquitesureagain Tue 24-Nov-15 09:53:02

Feeling absolutely terrible, have made DD cry again this morning. She's v dreamy and I always have to ask her about five times before I can get her to do anything so I end up shouting and then we both feel terrible. She's delightful but getting her to focus is a real challenge. Her younger sibling is a lot easier on that front and therefore I'm falling into that awful trap of always appearing to be harder on the oldest one because she's making us late, or has forgotten her book bag again, or has lost her shoes, or isn't concentrating on her homework or whatever it is.

Could do without a flaming, I really do know I'm getting it wrong and that i need to have more patience with her. I just want practical tips to help the two of us get along better. I love her to bits and am terrified that I'm damaging my relationships with her by getting cross all the time.

Thanks folks

merrygoround51 Tue 24-Nov-15 09:59:31

I have a DD like this and she is also 7. My younger DD is much more focused and independent which can be frustrating.

On homework I literally stand over her and make her focus by constant (nice) prodding.

I also encourage concentration by playing board games as she hates to lose and if she doesn't concentrate she will!

I am prone to being quite shouty and I know thats not good parenting so I do work on it.

The mornings are our flash point so I just get up earlier so I am not rushed. I get DD to organise the bag the night before and ask her what she needs while I go upstairs and put make up on etc.

I then dont check the bag. This has resulted in instances where she has forgotten a textbook or some gym kit and this experience has made her more conscientious.

I do sympathise though, I would love to be naturally chilled and gentle!

notquitesureagain Tue 24-Nov-15 10:06:12

Thanks, merry - yes, that exact thing. I do get her to put out clothes the night before etc. today she was up early so I tried to fit an extra thing in before school (a 20-min music practice after breakfast) and that was disastrous.

And yes, I do the thing where I get her to put her stuff together or be 'in charge' of things so for example she really wanted to do ballet club at school so I bought her some ballet shoes, which she's now lost at school somewhere and I've refused to buy her a new pair because I thought that might help her to keep track of things in future but it doesn't seem to have had much of an impact

nickEcave Tue 24-Nov-15 12:11:39

You could be me - everyone tells me how sweet and lovely my 8 year old DD is but she is constantly on another planet! I also have an extremely strong willed 5 year old who hates leaving the house to go to school so our mornings are delighful! Yes to making her take responsibilty. My DD is forever losing things at school and this now comes out of her pocket money. I also refuse to bring things into school later (school phoned trying to get me to bring her trumpet in the other week but I said no)

andsmile Tue 24-Nov-15 13:01:00

I haven't posted in ages but came on to look up mornings/getting ready.

My DS is like your DD he is nearly 10 - I have shouted/balled at him and feel terrible all day until pick up. I can't trust him to get ready - washing and dressing, or eat breakfast.

So in a radical move this am I decided I just wasn't going to nag him - I didnt have the energy or inclination I'd been up during the night with youngest who was ill. So I told him this and said he would need to manage himself - off he went to the shower and didnt come back for 42 minutes - teeth not brushed. He then realised whined at me, tried to blame me then started to get ready. When we arrived at school late and he was asked by the receptionist he had to say. He said he didnt like it everyone feeling sad and asked if I'd forgive him. Even when he realised he was late and sorry he still forgot his packed lunck and book bag - I did prompt him.

I intend to keep doing this until he learns to take responsibility - he is a dreamer but is too old for me to be washing him. I dont want our day to start with me shouting and nagging. I will lay out uniform, provide breakfast and make his packed lunch.

I also think he needs to goto bed earlier and get up a bit earlier 7am instead of 730 - this gives him 1.5 hours to get ready and no more showers in the mornings maybe.

Anyway it was weirdly empowering by resisting the impulse to shout up the time as a prompt etc. I enabled him to fail to learn from it and I hope it has had an impact.

I told DH and he hs said he is going to sit down and make a schedule of times things must be done by.

dayslikethis Tue 24-Nov-15 13:13:40

I feel your pain. DD(8) isn't so bad with concentrating on things but she is so flighty that actually remembering things and not losing them is a nightmare. She is constantly losing/forgetting her glasses, her coat, her pencil case, her water bottle etc. etc. etc. It drives me bonkers. Yesterday she came home missing a glove (I only bought them on Saturday!) and her school tie! Frustratingly, when you tell her off for it she just gets upset and doesn't actually take any responsibility for her actions.

I have given up shouting because it doesn't actually do anything and I have just told her that 8 year olds are responsible and mature and if she can't behave like an 8 year old she won't be treated like an 8 year old - so no more 8 year-old privileges like walking to school herself, staying up later in the evening or going to Brownies. I am hoping that a few times of missing things and being treated like a 4 year old who doesn't know any better might improve things. (not holding my breath mind you)

Bacontastic Tue 24-Nov-15 13:22:05

Just wanted to contribute my DS(7) to the dreamworld chat.

Am trying to get him to take/understand consequences but feel awful e.g. if he stares out of window for half an hour and misses his snack break then I don't keep it hang in around on the table...time marches on.

I await better and more constructive ways to support him with bated breath!

SummersSomewhere Tue 24-Nov-15 13:23:40

I feel your pain.
The whole of Reception year was stressful in the mornings because of apparent daydreaming and dawdling when we needed to get ready to go out.

With my 5 year old he is not yet very good at telling the time or understanding that if we are leaving in x mins impacts how quickly he needs to be. I suspect he also likes the fuss of being asked to speed up, DH says DS likes to be in charge wink He does not respond to chivvying, reward charts, negative consequences or my worried we'll be late face!

However a lightbulb moment and we came up with these things combined a Checklist and a decision that once downstairs we stay downstairs. I got a Pepper Pig wash bag and hung it in the downstairs utility room where we have a toilet and sink and in the bag he has a clean flannel for the day, toothbrush, toothpaste and hairbrush. Also no playing or tv before school as we like our sleep so don't get up early enough. Explained we'd need to get up much earlier to fir in playing or tv and he chose not to.

Checklist says

Get Up
Wash Hands
Eat Breakfast
Toilet
Wash Hands and Face
Clean Teeth
Brush Hair
Get Dressed
Shoes On

I still get book bag ready and also help with teeth and hair. I also lay out his uniform and shoes downstairs (eats breakfast in pjs) so I can be aware of unnecessary dawdling while he gets ready.

Meanwhile he merrily gets to tick off each thing after he does it. Now he understands what needs to happen in the mornings and sometimes forgets the actual list and just gets on with it.

These things reduced my stress levels and made mornings so much better.

More recently I have added in a few chats and diagrams on how we fit everything into a day and how we have to choose between things sometimes as some things such as trains/taekwondo class and birthday parties for example simply don't wait for people who are not on time.

He has asked for a watch for Christmas grin

TimonAndPumbaa Tue 24-Nov-15 13:37:26

I have a dd exactly like this. She's twelve so a lot older than all yours so I applaud you for looking for solutions now and wish I'd tried to nip it in the bud sooner because having a twelve year old who really struggles like this is bloody tough. My 5 yr old dd is more independent than her!

Like all your dc, my dreamer dd is such a lovely person and I do find it hard to be tough with her but I think this is one of those 'cruel to be kind' situations.

She is late for school every morning and now that she's reached secondary school that's a big issue. I've had letters home about it and I'm sure the school are imagining a very chaotic home life which reflects very badly on me. andsmile has there been any comeback from the school for you for your ds arriving late?

I ask her to pack her bag the night before and to get her uniform ready but there's always something in the morning - she's forgotten to do some homework or was told to take some kind of equipment in and has forgotten or I have gone up and found her sitting on her bed daydreaming! Last week, like a poster upthread, the school phoned and asked me to take her clarinet in and I did blush. Next time I will be saying no.

Sorry, I've waffled for a long time without giving any answers. But I feel your pain op and will be interested to hear advice about this. I'm fed up with arguing with her all the time. I think the tough love approach is probably the ine I'll be following for now.

TimonAndPumbaa Tue 24-Nov-15 13:38:51

Oh I also forgot to say about the losing things- pe kits, coats, glgloves and hats, books... oh the list is endless!!

andsmile Tue 24-Nov-15 14:30:07

Timon no but we've only had name put in book once this term, the other times he scoots through the door and still gets a mark. I dont think we have been late enough times for it to be flagged.

But I just refuse to be that screamin banshee on a morning anymore. I shouted so loud last week up the stairs - end of tether sheer frustration scream - that my 3 year old (who is no bother by comparison for her age) old me 'that scared me' - hells bells I dont want my children scared in their own home. Felt dreadful.

Like you say my DS has got a lovely nature, never in trouble can be silly but is kind and tender at times but at other times so thoughtless to what is going on around him - getting quite moany about stuff and Im fed up with the constant negotiations that go on - DH says he's a 9 year old - well my DH has never spent a week doing school/homework/ etc.

I hope that changing my response will mean a differnt response from him tomorrow.

andsmile Tue 24-Nov-15 17:08:30

Following summers lead with that list I have asked DS to complete an A4 sheet:

Top - Get up <insert a time>

Bottom - Arrive at school <insert time>

I want him to involved in decision making as part of his responsibility - we will of course as parents approve ideas and be prepared to listen to ideas we may not have thought of.

EasilyDistracted77 Tue 24-Nov-15 17:23:11

I have found mornings a lot less stressful since a) making sure I'm up a bit earlier and showered/dressed in time to do breakfast with DCs and b) making the decision not to nag/shout with just the occasional reminder that 'I don't mind if you have to hop along the street putting your shoes on/ walk to school in your pants because you're not ready by 8.30.' smile

andsmile Tue 24-Nov-15 19:39:26

I've done ironing and got clothes laid out.

I will do packed lunch in a bit

DH is home and going to discuss it with him.

TimonAndPumbaa Tue 24-Nov-15 20:04:13

Thanks for replying andsmile. I think it's different in a primary school too because the teachers get to know you as parents and also know the child and that they're a dreamer whereas with secondary school they donty know anything about me and just see dd walking in late every day without the right books/equipment.

I think maybe a list is the way to go so she knows exactly what time everything has to be done. I'll try it tomorrow.

thegiddylimit Tue 24-Nov-15 20:15:22

DD2 (6) is a dreamer (and fiddler, she can't keep her hands still which drives me crazy) and I too get shouty with her which is unfair because she is an absolute sweetheart and never does anything malicious, in fact she tries a lot harder than her siblings to please. Everyone adores her.

I try and balance the shoutiness by really praising all the good stuff (there's lots) and thankfully (not sure that's the right word!) her Dad is also a dreamer so I do tell her how like him she is and how much I love them both even if they do drive me crazy.

Chrysanthemum5 Tue 24-Nov-15 20:31:14

DS has just turned 11 and has always been unfocused, forgetting things, getting distracted etc. We tried talking about it, having charts and so on. I found they would work for short periods but he was still forgetting things and homework was a real struggle as different types of homework work be due in on different days (more like secondary school really).

Over the last year or so he'd started to remember things more but was still not great. His teachers kept telling me he'd be great if he could focus and give everything to his work.

At the start of P7 (year6?) he just decided he would make more effort and the change is incredible. He's still a bit distracted sometimes but 100 times better than he was.
So I wanted to give you hope that it can suddenly get better!

notquitesureagain Tue 24-Nov-15 23:40:12

Sorry was working this afternoon/evening and knackered now so will answer properly but just wanted to thank you all for taking the time to respond - it's so helpful to know it's not an unusual issue! And some v useful strategies in there too smile - thanks again

notquitesureagain Tue 24-Nov-15 23:41:03

Will answer properly tomorrow I meant!

notquitesureagain Wed 25-Nov-15 11:17:53

So, a better morning this morning. i bought that book 'calmer, easier, happier parenting' - haven't got past the first chapter but it did remind me to try a bit of positive reinforcement. "You've got your socks on, marvellous" - that kind of thing. I'm a bit sceptical that being my only tool (and wondering how I manage the 'never asking twice' aspect) but she did seem to appreciate the praise and I felt better having had a happy morning even if I'm not sure I can keep up the upbeat non-naggy attitude.

thanks again for all your posts

Fizrim Wed 25-Nov-15 11:28:00

My dreamer has now gone the opposite way entirely and can sometimes be in a rush. Which also means forgetting things, she was opening the front door the other day with her messenger bag around her ready to get into the car. Nice, but would have been even better if she'd remembered to put her coat on before the bag grin.

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