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I feel so sad and are desperate for help

(69 Posts)
FabBakerGirlIsBack Sun 05-Jul-09 08:38:57

DS1 - 8.4yrs
DD - 5.11yrs
DS2 - 4.1yrs

I have struggled for a long time with their behaviour for all sorts of reasons, not least that I have long term depression and was brought up in care - lots of moves to and from children's homes and foster homes. Pretty awful childhood really and I am in denial that it really happened.

We have tried rewards and really explaining that they behaving like this has meant they have got that and isn't that better than losing things.

We have tried punishments like taking away tv and computer time and DS1 currently has very few things in his room as he refused to tidy his room even though we asked several times over several days.

Yesterday DH had planned a lovely day at the beach so I quickly made up some banana and choc chip muffins and we asked the kids to tidy their toys from the lounge. Back chat and a refusal so in the end we didn't go.

Today DH had booked a surprise day to the railway for the boys (DD has a party to go to) with their Grandparents and Uncle. That has now been cancelled. They were awful this morning and DH said to me they weren't going but he really wanted to go so started getting things ready. I was in the other room and the next thing I know DH is on the phone to his parents saying they are not going.

I can't not take DD to the party as the birthday girl has SN and will be very upset so she will have to feel she has earned it back.

We are stuck at what to do.

I know I let DS1 get away with things too much when he started at 2 years old but he is 8 now and I am fed up. He is an angel at school.

Please help.

sad

MamaG Sun 05-Jul-09 08:41:20

Aw Fab I'm just logging off but didn't want you to go unanswered. I'll have a good think and try to post something constructive later. xx

mumblechum Sun 05-Jul-09 08:43:32

TBH, you sound a bit too strict to me.

They're only going to resent you if you keep saying you're going to nice places then not.

Personally I don't rank not tidying their rooms as bad behaviour as such. Bad behaviour to me is fighting seriously so someone gets hurt, running in front of traffic, swearing, that sort of stuff.

All kids have messy bedrooms and as long as it's not harbouring legionnaire's disease or something I've always treated it as the child's personal space, only really having a blitz maybe once a month.

DottyDot Sun 05-Jul-09 08:44:23

Well, it's great your ds1 is an angel at school for lots of reasons - including the fact that you know he can be good.

I think, based on what you've written, that you're possibly going too far with the punishment thing.

I think the reward thing works if you keep at it - and the good thing about awarding stars for things is that if you follow it through (and let them get to 10 stars really quickly the first time!) and buy them a magazine or treat or something, they start to believe in it and then think it's really really bad when you take one away if they're naughty.

This honestly well with our two if we keep to it. So whenever they're kind or do something good they get a star (which isn't as often as we'd like... hmm) but if they're naughty - start fighting or making each other cry or are rude to us etc. - they lose one.

I don't know - life's much more complicated than I've just described and of course they're still little monsters for at least 98% of the time.... but it helps!

DottyDot Sun 05-Jul-09 08:46:59

crossed posts with mumblechum! I think we're kind of saying the same thing - and the other thing I forgot to say is, don't cancel things if they were also going to be something you wanted to do - because then you're punishing yourself and you'll feel even worse and there's no point in you feeling bad as well.

You're in charge - if you want to go somewhere then take them, but think of another system like stars or whatever so that you've got something you can reward or take away - but like I said, make sure they earn their first treat fairly quickly!

TotalChaos Sun 05-Jul-09 09:00:29

agree with the other posters. focus more on the positive, and reward good behaviour and try and ignore the less good if it's not harming anyone. it sounds to me as if it's turning into a bit of a power struggle - that you want them to behave and do what you want and are getting frustrated - so the whole thing blows up into conflict - would the toy tidying really not have waited till you got back?

bigchris Sun 05-Jul-09 09:06:58

aw I feel sad for them that you cancelled all the fun things all weekend
now they will play up all day as they didn't get to go on the railway thing, and dh's family must feel let down too
I think you need to start reinforcing the positives
is dd still going to her party?
what are you going to do with the other 2 today?

bigchris Sun 05-Jul-09 09:10:59

sorry hope I didn't come across as too harsh!

thehouseofmirth Sun 05-Jul-09 09:11:34

I agree about the strictness thing. I think you've almost painted yourself into a corner. Time to pick your battles & decide what's really worth making a fuss about.

Sounds like you're all miserable. They're quite old, aren't they? Why not call a family meeting to talk about how you're all feeling and to decide what you can all do to make it better. Maybe draw up a list of 3 house rules that are really important. Then announce a surprise treat for the whole family to get the good feelings back, and stick to it.

Having a look at this book or this might also offer you some practical help and improve your confidence.

Good luck!

QuintessentialShadow Sun 05-Jul-09 09:21:30

It seems you are very strict, and expecting too much. I dont think children this young can be exptected to tidy up on their own.

Isnt it better to take a few moments together and get them started WITH one of you? ie take a more positive approach.

For example, "come now Joe, I will help you get started on tidying your room", and make nice chatter as you do, when you see he is on a roll you can say "ok Joe, I can see you are doing this really well now, so I am sure you wont mind if I now go and help Ella get started with her tidying up, too. Then we can soon be on our way to the beach/playground/park" etc.

Dont make every morning into a battle, and dont use nice days out as trading bargains for getting them to tidy/do chores. Dont say if you are NICE we will go.
What is to be nice? It seems you are setting them up for bad behaviour. And by now they might be thinking. "oh yeah right, they always have such nice things planned, but we never end up going after all."

You are making impossible situations, and expecting too much of them. Why can you not tidy up in the evening, rather than do it in the morning before going out?

Just say. We are going to the beach now, but when we get back, we should tidy up. Come, lets get going!

FabBakerGirlIsBack Sun 05-Jul-09 09:21:39

TBH bollocks to feeling sad for them that things are cancelled. We have had months of this behaviour - hitting each other, DD hurting DS2 when I tell her off, breaking things, throwing things, never doing as they are asked, deliberately doing what we have asked them not to do, saying we can buy another when something else gets broken, I feel i could go on for hours.

they never give us anything to reward, maybe once a month

everytime i post for help i get told i am too strict and basically doing everything wrong so i guess i must be.

|I don't think you get how bad things are sad
what else have we got but to tawke away treats when nothing works at all

i really want to give up tbh i am at true breaking point and feel like crying

i know i should never have had kids with the childhood i did but i have and i do think dh would handle things better without me

Heated Sun 05-Jul-09 09:26:04

The fun stuff that you've got planned sounds great, especially those muffins (yum), and just what lovely family memories are made of. The punishment sounds disproportionate to the 'crime', especially if it punishes you too and stops you doing something you were looking forward to.

Although by no means all sweetness & light here, have managed to lessen the impact of the minor stuff escalating by doing 1,2,3 Magic.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Sun 05-Jul-09 09:27:50

counting is the only thing that works with the older 2, the younger one is hit and miss and in the last 3 weeks has started answering back and defying me

i know it is me doing everything wrong

i am sure they would behave perfectly for anyone else

FabBakerGirlIsBack Sun 05-Jul-09 09:28:33

it isn't a punishment for one thing

it is numerous things and we have had enough

QuintessentialShadow Sun 05-Jul-09 09:29:26

Ok, you have a lot of battles. When I get to the point where you are now, it is like everything I say or do is escalating it. Clearly taking away treats are not working. Taking toys away are not working either. We tried the same with the nintendo ds and the wii. It just made it worse. In my experience taking toys and treats are just escalating a conflict even further.

I find that it works better to stop right there, wind back down, and try be very nice and understanding. Talk to the children, take time to listen to them. Dont be stressed and angry. But to be calm with them. My youngest had a period of saying "I hate you mummy. I want you to die. I dont want a mummy" when he got cross. Somebody told me to just calmly say to him "I know you hate me and want me to die, you are really cross with mummy now, arent you? But it does not change the fact that you still need to get dressed now. Come, let me help you get started". It really worked, and he has stopped this now.

I think acknowledging them and how they feel is important, but at the same time it does not change the fact that you ARE going to bed, you ARE going to the beach. BUT, let them know exactly what behaviour you want from them, and say, Ok, if you are fighting, we are heading STRAIGHT back home. And remind them ONCE if they start fighting. The second time, you head home. etc.

I think you need to read: "How to talk so kids will listen, and how to listen so kids will talk".

JHKE Sun 05-Jul-09 09:34:30

Sometimes here when the kids have gone through a period of trying me and dh, I often plan a day out at the weekend. This is generally for all of us, it gives us all a chance to wind down and have a break. Fresh start if you like.

Have you tried time out?

piscesmoon Sun 05-Jul-09 09:36:05

I think that you could do with help. I would suggest a parenting class, I went on one when mine were around that age. It isn't a sign of failure to go on one-it is a sign of a successful parent who wants to do the best for their DCs. It gives lots of suggestions for dealing with behaviour, sometimes just the way you word things makes a huge difference. Talking things over with other parents in the group was a great help-it was very friendly and we had fun. You need to pick your battles and also have fun as a family. If your DS is good at school he can do it at home-the trick is to get him on your side.

QuintessentialShadow Sun 05-Jul-09 09:36:46

But you need to tell them exactly what is bad behaviour and what you expect from them.

You cannot ONE moment say we are going to the beach. The NEXT moment cancel it as punishment for many things. They will just be very confused and not know what you are expecting from them.

It might be hard to tackle many different types of bad behaviour at one time.

Can you start with just one? Say the back chat? Or the fighting?

I am not one for reward charts. But we have had to make one for DS1. We have some problems with him fighting in school.

He now has a book. Every day the teacher is writing a small summary of the day, and gives a smiley if he has not started any fights, and he has not hit anybody.
The after school club (he attends daily) writes a small summary and gives a smiley. IF BOTH SCHOOL and After school club has given smileys, he gets a STAR for that day. So, he has a potential of 5 stars. We have worked out together what the reward should be for 1 star in the week, for 2 stars, all the way up to 5 stars. 1 star is just chosing what is for dinner. 5 stars is getting £5 to spend on whatever he wants in the toyshop.

Could you do similar? Tackle just ONE behaviour at the time. We find that a few weeks of the book and star system has just about sorted the problem.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Sun 05-Jul-09 09:39:22

So how do they learn what they have done is unacceptable if they don't loose a trip to the beach?

I know it is all my fault and just feel helpless, alone, tired, sad, sick of life tbh.

My mum told me she went to have me aborted and with all the depression and other crap I have had to deal with, I wish she had.

thehouseofmirth Sun 05-Jul-09 09:42:16

FBGIB of course it's always easier to give out advice on how other people should handle their own children and I think that's down to having a bit of perspective on the situation. Anyone would be feeling overwhelmed and bogged down by your situation and of course having a difficult childhood brings an extra set of problems.

It is pretty clear that what you have been doing isn't working so surely it is time to consider some new approaches? I have recently been having a very trying time with our 4 yo and the situation has only improved since admitting how much my negative attitude and behaviour have been contributing to his.

You sound (understandably) really down. Have you ever had any help to come to terms with what happened to you when you were growing up?

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sun 05-Jul-09 09:45:19

You sound so sad, my heart goes out to you

If DS1 is an angel at school, start from there. What makes him behave at school?
Someone on here, I think it was Flame, found out that her daughter's school had a charter of behaviour - and that's why she behaved at school. They wrote one for home together, and things improved almost immediately.

I had strict parents and it did me no harm, it's good to have boundries and we always felt very safe and loved. I do think though that maybe your kids feel frustrated. Punishments on top of punishments are hard to take, and even the eldest will not really take on board why it's happening and a lot of resentment will build up.

Are you getting proper treatment for your depression? Counselling? I've only been depressed for just over 6 months and it's awful so god knows how you are managing.

I would second the idea of having a family conference. Lay out the framework of what you want to achieve (happier home where there is time for fun - be sure to phrase it positively), and then really listen to what the kids are telling you before you respond.

You can sort this

JHKE Sun 05-Jul-09 09:45:24

For us we mainly use time out - this is for hitting, and not doing as told such as not tidying up after warnings. If they fight over a toy, and they won't share I take it off them.

To be honest, quite often I feel that I can't control them, thats why I organise a day out because we all relax. The more stressed I get at home, the more the kids play up. I then get back in control and with a fresh state of mind to deal with it. If that makes sense.

QuintessentialShadow Sun 05-Jul-09 09:45:26

Look, we all struggle as parents. I had a "perfect" childhood. It has not particularly equipped me for giving MY children a perfect childhood. You need to stop blaming your self, and you need to stop taking it so personal!

In my opinion, a cancelled trip to the beach teach your children nothing but resentment, it teaches them nothing about their own behaviour. I find that explaining to my children calmly why their behaviour is wrong works a lot better than threats, shouting and the dishing out of punishments and cancellation of trips and treats! I think you need to separate your childrens behaviour from the things you do as a family.

You could try to say We are going to the beach, and if you are really good and tidy up before we go/if you are not rude to mummy you will get a really big icecream when we get there.

IE dont cancel the outing, but maybe withould soemthing you would get them there.

QuintessentialShadow Sun 05-Jul-09 09:45:26

Look, we all struggle as parents. I had a "perfect" childhood. It has not particularly equipped me for giving MY children a perfect childhood. You need to stop blaming your self, and you need to stop taking it so personal!

In my opinion, a cancelled trip to the beach teach your children nothing but resentment, it teaches them nothing about their own behaviour. I find that explaining to my children calmly why their behaviour is wrong works a lot better than threats, shouting and the dishing out of punishments and cancellation of trips and treats! I think you need to separate your childrens behaviour from the things you do as a family.

You could try to say We are going to the beach, and if you are really good and tidy up before we go/if you are not rude to mummy you will get a really big icecream when we get there.

IE dont cancel the outing, but maybe withould soemthing you would get them there.

Heated Sun 05-Jul-09 09:45:52

QS speaks sense about mirror back and acknowledge their feelings, it's really good but you do have to work and practice at doing it - well, so I've found - worth it.

And I try not to sweat the small stuff, particularly with the younger ones. I do 123 Magic which basically is calm, non-confrontational counting with a significant pause for the child to reflect and stop whatever misbehaviour they're involved in. When/if you get to 3 the consequence takes place, e.g quiet time in bedroom. It works if you have too many parenting styles in place, have lost control completely or in the case of my ds he gets so enraged that he can't hear to be reasoned with. It's simple and doesn't take up much emotional energy.

But we try to balance it too, as you sound like you do, with empathy, acknowledging feelings and plenty of cuddles too.

On another track, does your eldest get pocket money? Maybe you can incentivize weekly bedroom tidy-up with it?

But sorry you're going through this. It's always harder I think if you haven't had a role-model to emulate. But remember you are doing your best, your children love you and, not having a mother myself, MN has been an excellent source of advice and new ideas.

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