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Struggling to keep things even and fair.

(20 Posts)
Alita7 Sun 15-Jun-14 20:34:57

Dsd 3 lives with us. So we get tax credits and child benefit for her and dla too due to various learning disabilities.

Dsd 1 and 2 live with their mum.

I am struggling as a family to keep things fair between them all while taking into consideration that obviously we have to spend more on dsd 3 because we are given money to do so and she needs us to get those things as she's here all the time and that she gets more attention because she's here all the time.

However, she is quite attention seeking due to her learning disabilities and so it is hard to give the other 2 our 100% focus eow, we very rarely get any with them without her and she gets stroppy and stressed if we are more focused on them. Her mental age is much younger so there are some things we want to do with the other 2 which she can't do, instead of letting us include her by her organising the dice or something she tries to sit all over our laps and wriggle around trying to talk to us and distract us. she's slowly getting better, but it won't happen over night.
When we take the others shopping for things we usually have to take her too, she isn't fooled by having 1 small thing, she wants exactly the same as the others and will cry and strop as her asd means she can't understand that she got plenty of things when she needed them and now it's her sisters turn it's takes a lot for her to understand. On the occasions one of us stays home with her she will get upset when she sees they have something she doesn't. She even got upset when I took her shopping with me when I was sorting fathers day, that I was getting her dad things not her. She's not spoilt (we have always had this and never give in, crying and stropping means we count to 5 and if she hasnt stopped she gets nothing) it's the ld, she needs everything to be what she perceives as fair but it just can't be. Similarly I'm pregnant and dsd 3 can cuddle, talk to and touch my bump all she likes and as soon as one of her sisters comes to see my bump she tries to jump in gets upset when I ask her to let her sisters have a go... I guess it's just hard as she's so excited that she lives with us now and is part of a family (home wise) (due to background at her mums) that she often says or does things that make them feel pushed out, like saying it's her room or that the shared toys are hers or coming over to dp and I saying 'we 3 are a happy family'. We always correct her and include the others. Time with just the other 2 is almost impossible as then all the siblings wouldn't see each other enough.

As well as this dsd 1 is a tom boy and doesn't like shopping and for some reason will usually tell us she doesn't need/ want anything. Dsd 2 is super girly and loves going shopping with me. So getting anything (toys, clothes, books) for dsd 1 is like drawing blood from a stone most of the time, I don't want dsd 2 to loose out because dsd 1 won't have anything (she is offered to pick any thing unless she needs clothes she doesn't have to pick clothes), but can't always get dsd 2 things so it's not fair!

Does anyone else have this problem and what do you do?

BigPigLittlePig Sun 15-Jun-14 21:58:36

Wrt to your last paragraph, could you suggest that if you are treating dsd2 to a shopping trip, but dsd1 doesn't want or need anything, then some money is put in a piggy bank or savings account? Would that feel fairer?

As for the rest, I think you are doing all you can - as you say, changes won't be overnight, especially if you don't have the older dsds that often. Continue being consistent, and explaining in simple terms why she can't have x y z. We sometimes have to remind dsd "you know when we treated you to <whatever>, well today it is dds turn; next time it will be your turn." You just can't always spend the same on all of them, all at the same time. Different ages, different needs etc.

wheresthelight Sun 15-Jun-14 22:12:53

we have the same in terms of dsd can spend money like water if we take her shopping but dss (being a typical boy) shrugs and won't engage. i tend to go through his stuff every couple of months and see what i know he has grown out of and just replace with stuff we like for him or we put the money aside for when he wants something big like a computer game or a dvd

fair means different things though - sounds to me like you are doing it all fine hun!

Alita7 Sun 15-Jun-14 22:21:04

Big pig, putting money aside would be a good idea!

I always remind her you got x the other day etc but if she's in the wrong mood she cannot grasp that, her concept of time isn't great and sometimes she will even get upset if she got something in the shop before and one of the others didn't and gets something in the next shop x) it's just an asd thing I think.

How do you handle the other two wanting to do things she can't? For example we play a card game with lots of complex rules and writing on the cards, dsd 3 can't remember or understand many of the rules and has the reading age of a 5 year old, we've tried her playing with someone or organising dice and writing down life totals but she gets bored, we've tried making very simple decks for her with not much writing on but she gets very upset when she looses and her decks are too simple to go against ours and she gets bored when it's not her go. So she wants to be included but in games like that it doesn't work and it's something the others really want to play with us, she gets most of our time and we do lots of things all together and will sometimes play a go of something like happy families first so she gets a go, what do we do! Sometimes giving her a film to watch works but not always.

I think a big part of the problem is she wants to be treated the same as them because chronologically they're (twins) not much older than her but mentally she's much younger due to ld. So she really struggles with the fact that she can't do everything they can :/

Alita7 Sun 15-Jun-14 22:23:51

Thanks where, we are trying to do equal stuff, does annoy me for other reasons too - because their mum will often ask us to get them x y and z but dsd 1 will say she doesn't want anything and hates looking for those things. So then her mum is moaning dsd 1 doesn't have anything. Maybe I should just send her home with money to get it :p

FunkyBoldRibena Sun 15-Jun-14 22:30:10

I'd give the other two an allowance and then they are getting it themselves, not you. In fact although she is younger with LD she needs an allowance so that she can see the total going down when she spends it. Also you can refer to it 'but you wanted to save up for x, don't spend all your money or you will have none left when you want to buy something next week. Of course she doesn't need to know how much each daughter gets, and it can be linked to age. The allowance doesn't have to be big, but it does have to be theirs.

With the games, I'd get her to play with someone, so she can do so,e of the things, can be include as 'hey dsd3, we need to roll that dice now, move the counter now, let's read the card together now' and so on. Then if she gets bored she can just play and can pick the game up later.

wheresthelight Sun 15-Jun-14 22:32:28

knowing your dp pays maintenance why the hell is their mum dictating you buy them anything???????

with regards games, try getting things like junior scrabble where she can hopefully join in.

I do a lot of work with kids with SEN, pm me if you want with details and i will see what i can help with

Riverlea Sun 15-Jun-14 22:33:28

To me, a lot of what you post sounds like it could be her learning difficulties. However, you get the same in any family. When we buy our eldest something the others pipe up wanting the same. Although I know it's hard explaining when your child has a LD. The same goes with clubs and things. DD1 is old enough to go to an after school activity but the others as of yet are not. This has caused some hum dinging tantrums but what can you do? I can't change the age.

What I'm trying to say is, treating fair and equal can come in different forms and tantrums can arise. When the others are old enough they will get to do the same but at the minute it's not possible. We get the same with fairground rides (one tall enough and the others not).

The same goes when the DSC are here. They stay up later than our children because of the age difference - yet the kids can't seem to fully understand fully why yet. It's all a learning curve. A lot of it is that they want to be treated exactly the same as their elder siblings but are still not quite mature enough to understand.

I think your DSD is excited to see her siblings and wants to do everything they do as they're older (she looks up to them) but obviously in her mind and age she's still a lot younger but can't get the concept of how much older they actually are. Sometimes even a year between siblings can make a big difference in maturity.

BigPigLittlePig Sun 15-Jun-14 22:35:37

Do they all go to bed at the same time? If dsd3 was in bed 30 mins before the older 2, could you play the more complex game then, and stick to a more "family friendly" one when she is wanting to join in?

What I found with dsd (6) was that a straight "we don't buy anything other than our food shopping at the supermarket" line has helped enormously. When we have cause to go for clothes/shoes/etc we go to a different shop, with preset ideas of what it is we are getting, and for who (could you make a shopping list with dsd3 to involve her more?) - and we don't budge from it. It sounds really harsh, but honestly, it has worked wonders and is sooo much easier now without the whinging etc. I realise things may be more challenging given her ASD though!

RandomMess Sun 15-Jun-14 22:37:40

How do DSD 1 & 2 feel about the situation?

Sometimes being fairly isn't about being treated the same? Also would they prefer it if you paid for them to do a certain activity each week in lieu of material items?

Frustration is a good game to play as it's mainly based on chance. What about things like baking together - the older ones can read out the stuff and the youngest one can be involved though helped IYSWIM.

Alita7 Sun 15-Jun-14 23:34:08

Thanks for the responses!

Funky she doesn't understand money really :/ in theory she could have an extras allowance but she would stil get upset when its empty. (she wouldnt be getting upset at us as such but she would still get stroppy in general does that make sense? For example she left her hat at school on friday so she couldnt wear it saturday, she got extremely upset and stroppy seemingly at me because I was explaining the situation, even though she knew it was nothing to do with me, she cant help it she is just expressing her feelings) The allowance thing could work for the other two though smile

Alita7 Sun 15-Jun-14 23:40:59

Where ill drop you a message during the week, though be warned it may be long I'm not concise :p

in terms of games and things to do together, we do have lots of games and things that we do all together and most of the time everyone is included. But naturally there are specific things the older ones want to do which she doesnt enjoy or can't really do and we can't really deprive them when she has all week to do things she likes with us. It's just hard I guess :/
And they do all go to bed at the same time. And I can imagine that if we sent her to bed earlier she would get so upset about them being different and about her not being included in staying up. So we can't win really.

Alita7 Sun 15-Jun-14 23:50:44

Sorry about multiple posts, on my phone and can't see the other posts while I type.

They don't complain, except to tell her to be good :p They're extremely good with these things and rarely ask for anything unless offered! And dsd 1 is never upset if dsd 2 gets something and she doesn't, In fact I often say look dsd 2 is having x you need to pick something or think about a shop you'd like to go in and she says she doesn't care :p

The problems with dsd 3 don't come up so often during the week, though school sometimes have similar problems, I assume it's because she doesn't have any one to compare herself to, it's about fairness for her. We do sometimes have problems with 'I wants' causing tantrums but they're definitely asd melt downs when she can't get away from how much she wants that sweet or doesn't want to clean her teeth that she just freaks out. But Yeh mostly it's when someone has something she (feels she) doesn't.

wheresthelight Mon 16-Jun-14 00:58:09

No worries alita! Can't promise anything will work but can certainly do my best!

Asd will mean she doesn't understand her emotional responses to things and as such cannot control them. But there are coping strategies that can be used that once she gets uses to should reduce the size of the melt down. Unfortunately an explanation will only make things seem more unjust and her to lash out at the person giving the explanation.

The easiest way would be if you cam get her to understand that she is with you all week and the others only eow, and that she needs to let them be centre for a little while but that is far easier said than done. Could you get her a calendar (word printout) with the days on it amd she has to colour in each day that she gets to dp something with you and then stick stats or something for the days the other two get that time so she has a visual reference for her bigger share of your time? Maybe do a similar thing with treats/things and mark each time she is bought sweets, a magazine, t shirt etc and same for the other two. I have always found visual aids are a really big help with any sort of ld

Alita7 Mon 16-Jun-14 08:32:52

Thanks where!

I think you've definitely got it right. Some emotions really overwhelm her especially as she's 10 and starting to hit puberty. Sometimes she can control her reaction a bit sometimes she cant. She is a child who needs an explanation for everything and will ask why, but obviously the answer sometimes isn't good enough :p I think the thing is sometimes she just has an overwhelming want so if she dropped her ball in a busy road and I said she couldn't get it, she might argue and argue until a meltdown despite explanations, because she knows why she can't she just can't get passed what she wants.
I really like the calender idea and will definitely be giving that a go. I will let you know how it goes.

Sorry I went on and on a bit I guess part of it was wanting to get the balance between not leaving dsd 3 out and giving the twins enough attention and time to do their things with us (and dsd 3 does have to learn that sometimes other people are the focus) and not wanting to be unfair to each twin whixh it comes to getting them things.
And had a weekend where dsd 3 moaned more than usual about minor inequalities, it's normally a once or twice a weekend thing but this time it quite a bit more, but she was tired and I think she's having an hormonal week!

wheresthelight Mon 16-Jun-14 22:44:37

unfortunately the hormones won't help her - and neither will the shit she has gone through from her mum. It will take years for her to 'unlearn' the behaviours she has developed to protect herself at her mums but you guys are doing a fab job and she will get there!

I can be more help when i know more details, but definitely try visual cues. Once you know how she responds to them you will be able to use them to help her control her meltdowns. Working out what helps her calm down, be it a toy/game/song, will help minimise them and help her learn how to control them.

The other thing to try is to completely ignore the meltdown and carry on as normal. Easier when you are at home admittedly. Literally, walk away, make no comment at all about the meltdown, no attempt to calm her whatsoever. Just simply say something along the lines of "Ok, well when you are ready to continue" in a really sing/song voice and then leave her to it. Everyone will need to do it, dad, the twins, gran etc etc. Once she sees that they aren't having any success at holding your attention she will stop doing it. It does heavily rely on her good behaviour being over the top celebrated though. It will take time but you should see the meltdowns get shorter, once they stop (or at least significantly lessen) make sure she is rewarded for dealing with the situation in a good way etc.

As for the twins - i am guessing that they would be quick to tell you if they felt things were unfair. They clearly understand their sisters issues and have a very mature attitude to dealing with it which is helpful. I think if you are playing something dsd3 cannot cope with ie Scrabble then keep playing, don't let dsd3's tantrums detract from the older girls. Carry on as if the tantrum isn't happening. Completely ignore it and carry on. Praise the girls on playing so well and finish the game.

Treats is a bit harder, hopefully the visual aid will help dsd3 learn that she gets more than her fair share, but in terms of making sure the twins are equal to each other, could you put the money that dsd1 doesn't have spent on her towards a trip out for them? Are they old enough for things like the cinema with their friends? Could you pay for that instead of 'things' or maybe keep a tally of treats she has missed out on/turned down and trade off against a bigger purchase ie new phone, tablet computer maybe, gig ticket if she is old enough?

do you think she would do better if she went shopping with her friends? If you trust her to be senisble could you give her a clothing allowance and drop her and friends off so that she can buy things herself?

Alita7 Mon 16-Jun-14 23:35:22

Thanks where.

I agree the change is still some thing she's adjusting to. At first she was mostly an angel, she said she had to leave mummies because she was naughty (which we obviously put her right on) so I think she was worried if she played up we'd make her leave, then about 3 or 4 months ago she a. became more hormonal and b .I think she became totally settled in that she knew she wouldn't be kicked out and so started testing boundaries. Now she's coming out of that and we're learning better how to manage things so complete melt downs are less frequent. Also before she moved to us when the twins came she was also coming for her eow contact so they were all in the same situation and given equal treats and time was spread between them, now she lives with us that time isn't the same and she is still getting used to that I think.

Most of the time if shes getting agitated I explain why she can't have what she wants or has to do what she doesn't want to do and she will challenge it, I will answer 1 or 2 questions and may offer a compromise or reward before telling her not to argue and to go and calm down whether it be In her room or next to me (she cant cope with not having control over where) and then come back and talk to me. At that point I pick up my phone or some paper and she might try to continue, I stay looking at my phone and say the same thing (please go over there and calm down) until she stops, she might say she's sorry and give me a hug and we sort things out, if not she might storm off and calm down then come back, I usually explain that her arguing makes me sad and that she needs to listen to me because x y and z and then move on or make sure she does what she didn't want to do.
DP is more shouty than me which works better some of the time but it also riles her more at times.

With dsd 1 and buying stuff, things with friends are a no go as they live in a different town normally and only know some of our friends kids who they don't know brilliantly. She let's dps parents buy her more than she will let me (and dp though as only I have a joint account card it looks like it's me paying) i think it's a combination of not yet feeling comfortable when I'm buying (as a child I'd feel awkward if anyone but mum, dad and my nan got me things.) and how we went through a phase when dsd 3 moved in when we had barely any money, now we're almost sorted so can afford to get more but maybe she's still worried!

wheresthelight Tue 17-Jun-14 05:54:22

I think you are right with the feeling safe with you being a reason for some of dsd3's behaviour. And the fact that she is still seeing her mum making no effort won't help. When she sees how a mum should be after your baby is born you may find it all escalates for a little while too.

Dsd1 sounds like she is still trying to adjust to the changes too.! But you are doing a great job hun so don'tbeat yourself up too much! If friends aaren't an option maybe her and dsd2 could dissappear off for half an hour and she could have the money to buy what she wants?

The girls are all at difficult ages because they are changing in themselves so much and the changes at yours, mixes in with puberty etc and you have a nice recipe for disaster! Buy the fact things work well in spite of it all is an enormous credit to you and dh hun!!

Raising kids is the hardest job ever, raising someone else's kids I'd nigh on impossible

Alita7 Tue 17-Jun-14 11:09:36

Thanks where! Will try sending them off with money (though would mean less time with them even if only an hour!)

I think I am extremely lucky with my dsds. They are all so so accepting and including and make It all very easy for me! Even with ld I find dsd 3 is much easier to look after than most kids would be, even her meltdowns and stropping I can cope with because she has so much love to give I know that when she's calmed down she will come and tell me she loves me and snuggle up for hugs, there's never hard feelings.

JennyWren Tue 17-Jun-14 23:31:19

Treating siblings fairly doesn't have to mean treating them in the same way, though. If your elder DSDs have an extras budget and DSD2 wants to spend hers on a shopping trip, perhaps one half day a month could be set aside as her time for that, and you and DP can split so she can have 1-1 time and the other two do something with the other of you. And if DSD1 would rather spend her budget on an activity/experience - skating/high ropes/trainspotting/whatever floats her boat - then her half day can be spent doing that. Them the non-resident children each get lots of family time but also a little special time with just one adult, they each get a treat that is special to them, and DSD3 doesn't have to watch smile

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