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I have completely given up "operational" control over DD in an attempt to regain my sanity - is this genius or madness??

(18 Posts)
MadreInglese Thu 15-Jan-09 13:23:52

DD (11) is a very bright girl but she is prone to laziness and distraction.

Over the Christmas break with not having to do the school/work run I realised how relaxed I was, and how stressed I had been. It was actually really lovely to spend time together just the three of us without all being pissed off with each other.

DD seems to do nothing unless DP or I are snapping at her heels. She needs reminding constantly to do things and appears to have the attention span of a gnat. You can send her off to get her PE kit and find her 10 minutes later playing with the cat, having forgotten the PE kit. She would be adamant she had all her school stuff ready the night before, then tell me as we were about to leave that she needed five things that float for a science project. We tried everything, rewards, punishment, star chart type things, performace-based pocket money (IYWSIM), TV bans, getting ready the night before, earlier bedtimes, etc, etc (each different one for quite a while, we weren't changing things frequently).

Nothing seemed to work. Her room is a tip, even after I tidied it for her a few months ago clearing out about half her stuff to the charity shop. I told her I will only wash clothes that are in the wash basket, I refuse to pick through her room to find the washing on the floor - consequently she will freak out if she has no clean socks one morning.

Weekends are usually relaxed but in the week she is a nightmare to get up and organise. I find myself barking like a trooper "have you brushed your teeth, is that a clean jumper, have you switched your light off" etc. Now I feel that at 11 she is old enough to sort herself out, FGS she will be going to high school in Sep! I'm sick of arriving at work pissed off everyday because we've had dramas at home.

(sorry I seem to have waffled majorly, thanks if you've read this far!)

Last night after teetering dangerously on the edge of becoming my mother ("I'm not a slave", "Who do you think will tidy that up, the fairies?") I came to a bit of a revelation. I think that she doesn't do things because DP or I will do them, she doesn't remember things because DP or I will remind her. Does that make sense?

I told her when we got up this morning that I was not chasing her to do anything, and I was leaving at 8.30 so anything she hadn't done by then it was tough. Lo and behold she was dressed and sorted and ready to leave at 8.30 with all the relevant school stuff she needed. I was able to drop her happily early at school and arrive at work calmly.

So, am I being mean doing this or will it be better for all of us in the long run? Shall I put my money on this morning being a one-off or may this new method be the one that works? Do I need to just let go of my control freakery bossiness perfection and make it her responsibility if she hasn't brushed her hair/picked up her lunch bag/etc? Should there be a little leeway, a little reminder at the door maybe? Is there something in between tough love and total pandering? Am I even making any sense?

<big sigh>

FromGirders Thu 15-Jan-09 13:25:55

Sounds like genius to me! (But my children aren't that age yet).
Please let us know how it goes over the next few days / weeks. Will watch wiht interest!

NotQuiteCockney Thu 15-Jan-09 13:26:43

A little reminder at the door might not go amiss, but it sounds like a good thing, to let her take control of all of it.

Maybe you could help her work out a list of what she needed on any given day?

aGalChangedHerName Thu 15-Jan-09 13:29:40

I did this with ds1 at around the same age. He then routinely got into trouble at school for lots of things. Forgotton lunch/pe kit/homework etc etc.

He is now 17.5 and pretty much still the same tbh. I hate chasing him but occasionally i do. If he has a driving lesson or something as i hate the way it impacts on other people iyswim?

He is lovely and helpful and a great big brother but soooo dozy. It is just how he is i think?

georgimama Thu 15-Jan-09 13:30:57

I think you are doing absolutely the right thing. I don't have children that old so I can only speak from experience of being an 11 year old girl.

I was often shocked at how my friends parents helicoptered them (of course we didn't call it that then but that was what they were doing). I was largely self motivated and organised because I had to be. No one could have wished for a better mother than mine, but being a full time working single mother she had to let us get on with organising homework/school kit etc for ourselves otherwise she would have gone mad.

FairyLightsForever Thu 15-Jan-09 13:38:56

It sound as though it's definitely worth a try, I certainly don't think it will harm her in any way. My son is almost 12 and is similar, I also work on the basis that he has to take some responsibility for himself. I ask him before he leaves if he has everything he needs, just a gentle reminder!
His bedroom is a nightmare too and I work in the same basis- if it's not in the washing basket it doesn't get done. Every so often I go in and ask "what's that pile of clothes, why isn't it away or in the wash?" I also remind on a saturday if I haven't got his school uniform to wash.
It feels like bashing your head against a wall at times doesn't it? smile

MadreInglese Thu 15-Jan-09 13:46:16

NQC there is a list up already, that was method no 153468401 smile

I do worry that she'll then get into trouble for a forgotten PE kit, but maybe getting into trouble might jolt her into action?? <meanie>

I want to start it now with a view to her then being much more capable as she goes to high school - she will need to be as there's so much more to remember/be responsible for.

I'm so relieved that there are MNers who agree with it smile, I will keep you all posted on how it goes!

snickersnack Thu 15-Jan-09 13:49:46

My mother did something similar with my brother, who was usually away with the fairies. It worked well but he did have a tendency to forget stuff - they drew up a sort of "contract" together, I think. A list of stuff he would need for different occasions, which then lived in the study so he could refer to it if he needed to. You know - "Monday: swimming kit, packed lunch. Have you got your homework book?" That sort of thing. Meant she didn't have the worry of him forgetting stuff but he didn't feel disempowered. We found it the other day - made highly entertaining reading.

frogs Thu 15-Jan-09 13:56:35

Yes, completely right. It even works with younger dc, although the odd reminder might be needed. With an 11yo, they're pretty much old enough to take control of most things themselves -- toothbrushing is the only exception in the frogpond, where dh or I will stand over them. I also insist on music practice.

Endless nagging is utterly counter-productive; personally I wouldn't even remind re PE kit etc. If they get into trouble, that's not my problem, frankly, I have bigger fish to fry. Ones I get paid for frying, as it were. If a child has to stay in at lunchtime or miss swimming because they forgot whatever, then tough.

julesrose Fri 16-Jan-09 16:28:05

Sounds marvelous. Her sense of acheivement coupled with a happy mummy should be motivation enough to keep going. And if she forgets once in a while she'll remember to do it the next time. Natural consequences and all that. Good one.

MadreInglese Mon 19-Jan-09 11:01:14

Well early days but so far so good, she even got her bag ready last night without me asking shock

Feels nice to have started the day so pleasantly without nagging and huffing and stressing (DD and me both!)

swanriver Tue 20-Jan-09 11:19:25

Definitely. However, I was that sort of dopey disorganised child and I think it does no harm to show an interest in their school work, as opposed to nagging. More likely to keep them motivated if you are a bit involved. Help tidy, rather than tidy for them, help organise rather than organise. Don't let them just drift hopelessly...ask them to help you even! (ie: prepare meals, chores they are good at)

cory Tue 20-Jan-09 11:28:03

I'd say sounds good as long as you are ready to take it back if needed. My SIL missed this bit and her (very bright) dd ended up leaving school virtually without qualifications, because she couldn't be bothered to get herself in on time with homework done. She is now in a dead-end job, at risk from recession at that.

On the other hand, I find relinquishing control has worked well with my own dd who is a more mature and far-seeing person.

hk78 Tue 20-Jan-09 20:40:54

i am able to do this now with my dd1 , 10. she enjoys being 'sensible' though, so it works

dd2 will probably always need 'telling' lol

when i was 11, my mother virtually left me to my own devices, consequently i was very independent, however i was always the sensible type anyway

MrsMuddle Tue 20-Jan-09 21:08:17

My oldest DS is exactly the same - a lovely boy, but dreamy as hell.

I let him get on with it now, but there is a sign on the door that reminds him what to take each day - ie, Monday - PE kit, etc etc.

He's too laid back to even notice that I've stopped screeching like a banshee in the morning, but it's improved my life no end.

Smee Wed 21-Jan-09 11:56:48

At 11 my mum had long since given up nagging. We had to get up, dressed and have eaten breakfast, leave the house in time to get two buses to school, etc and she'd never ever tell us it was time to go or remind us about anything. I don't remember our mornings being stressed, or ever being late and I'm the biggest dreamer in the world. I just accepted that if I didn't do things I wouldn't get to school. So lie back and watch I'd say. I'm most definitely going to be like that with mine (says she hopefully..!)

swanriver Thu 22-Jan-09 16:32:44

I wonder whether it is also a bit odd to expect an 11 year old to be as organised as a 30+ seasoned mother. I mean we had to get to this level of organisation through trial and error rather than just springing into action fully trained.
So it is inevitable that they won't be as tidy, efficient, sensible as we are, so we have to stand back and let them do things slightly badly at first. And set them an excellent example ho hum.

milou2 Tue 03-Feb-09 20:30:08

With my 13 yr old he has good days for organisation and bad days, so my job is to spot what sort of a day it is for him. I forget things too so there is never a real danger of me helicoptering 100%.

Example - mostly he is dressed and has put on his tie. If he has no tie on I just go and find one and hand it to him gently at a good moment.

I used to have a tick sheet for morning and evening with all things ds1 related. It was hard work. Gradually he did those tasks himself on odd days. So it has been a slow, slow process.

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