Friday, October 12, 2012

What To Do When a Child Refuses To Obey

Well, Stubborn was determined and worked his way back up the chart in 4 days; he did not eat much during those 4 days because he did not like his food choices. He also had a minor melt down at the end of each day when he had not yet gotten back on the chart.

Stubborn has since had his appointment with the psychologist, I'll call her Dr. P. Dr. P was amazed at the level of disrespect and defiance Stubborn was showing; she has been seeing him for over a year now, and he was not acting like this until the past few months.

She said:
  • it is normal for oppositional kids to really ramp it up right around 10 years old.
  • he seems quite proud of his making it 82 off the chart and getting back on in 4 days and thinks he won that battle. (I guess I shouldn't have been so accommodating in checking the work he was doing to move back up.)
  • one of the concerns about his behavior is that the younger children are watching him and may decide it is okay to act like this.
  • Husband and I need to talk privately and decide what the consequences will be for the children who are disrespectful/defiant towards me while he's at work. (We have not yet figured out what the consequence will be, sigh. It is a little tricky since Husband is only home for about two hours before the kids go to bed.)
  • then we need to sit down with all of the children, and Husband needs to explain to them, in a STERN, SERIOUS voice, that it is not acceptable for them to be rude, disrespectful, and disobedient towards me, and this is what the consequence will be when that happens.
  • then we need to meet privately with Stubborn, and Husband is supposed to tell him that the next time he has a fit like the one he had last week, we will be packing up everything in his room and taking it out, and he will have to earn all of his belongings back with good behavior. (For the most part, I expect Stubborn to act like he doesn't care, but there are one or two precious things he is going to miss.)
  • I should wait until Husband gets home to do the packing up of the bedroom, just in case someone tries to attack me while I'm doing it.
  • Stubborn is supposed to stay in his bare room until he is ready to behave appropriately.
Having recently experienced Stubborn refusing the consequences he had earned, I was on top of things enough to think to ask her:
  • What do I do if he refuses to stay in his room?
    • I am supposed to make sure he stays there by returning him to his room whenever he comes out. (Very similar to returning Baby to the time-out rug every time he gets off of it before he is supposed to.)
    • Husband is responsible for keeping him from sneaking out at night. (I'm thinking this will be accomplished by Husband sleeping in front of his door.)
  • What do I do if he uses his window to run away?
    • I am supposed to call the police and report that he has run away.
I fully expect that it will be necessary to pack up everything in his room sometime during the next few weeks, and I am very much NOT looking forward to that, especially since I am still working so hard to get things moved around and the rooms organized. Obviously, there is no good place to put the contents of an entire bedroom, so I think I will be moving most of it to the garage, and I will need to park on the driveway. I'm thinking that His roommate will likely need to be moved to another room temporarily too.

I cannot tell you how heartbroken and weary I am about this. This child has always been so sweet and loving, and I just cannot understand what happened to cause this change. I have asked and asked and ASKED him if there's something wrong, if something happened that has made him feel bad, if something is bothering him, and he continues to say no.

I spent roughly TEN YEARS engaged in a constant battle of wills with Ian, and I was so very grateful and relieved when that was finished. It never occurred to me that I would have this experience with any of the others, but now I can see that I am going to have it again, at least 2, and likely 3, more times.

Excuse me while I go sit in the corner and weep...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Why It Will Be a Long Time Before I Can Give Up Ice Cream

A certain child, we'll call him....Stubborn (and I feel like I should say that it is FINNALY NOT Ian this time), completely flips out about a writing assignment. (The assignment could not be any more simple or straightforward.) He screams, throws things, declares he will never do said assignment. Somehow does not understand why writing is a necessary skill for him to learn, despite having it explained to him NUMEROUS TIMES. Refuses to even TRY to do the assignment, even though I am sitting next to him, willing to help.
Piano lessons begin. Children cycle through until everyone has had a lesson.
Stubborn has another shrieking fit when he is told that he may not have the Special Lunch he loves so much, which he can earn by finishing his schoolwork in a timely manner, because he did not finish his schoolwork in a timely manner. He does not see the connection between his earlier fit and his lack of time to finish schoolwork.
Quiet Time. Children are supposed to be resting, working on schoolwork, or playing quietly.
While I read out loud, children are supposed to be getting their snacks and working on their afternoon chores. Baby interrupts at least 5 times and says, "Stoooooop reading, Moooooooooom!"
Folding laundry in the miserably hot house, forgot to turn the setting down on the thermostat, turn the setting down and cringe at the thought of the next electric bill. Stubborn asks me questions about what will be expected of him tomorrow and purposely nit-picks my answers to try to escape his consequences.
Retreat to Baby's new room, where Baby dumped out 6 puzzles during Quiet Time. Put puzzles back together while Baby "helps".
On my way to put away some laundry, wonder why Baby is being so quiet. At this very moment, Marie finds me to tell me that Baby has fallen asleep in his chair. Wake the Very Grumpy Baby.
While I check schoolwork, children are supposed to be finishing chores and playing outside. Certain children are dragging their chores out as long as humanly possible. Baby hangs on my arm and whines, "Stoooooooop checking schoolwork, Mooooooom!" He also requests various things and screams at me when he doesn't like my response; Time Out for Baby. When I finally get him distracted and busy somewhere else, the dog bounds up to me excitedly, with a toy in his mouth, wanting me to play. Stubborn informs me: he made a promise to himself that morning that he would only be doing Math schoolwork today, and it's very important to keep our promises! I inform Stubborn: at our house, people who do not work, get to have oatmeal, fruits, and vegetables until their work is done, and he may stay on his chair until his schoolwork is finished or until it is bedtime, whichever comes first. The resulting fit finds Stubborn on Food Privileges on the chart.
Husband arrives home! I retreat to my bedroom with a bowl of medicinal Fruit Loops while Stubborn is loudly voicing his displeasure about his dinner choices!
I emerge to find Husband sitting at the table with Stubborn, trying to calmly encourage him to get his work done.
Stubborn heads to bed, without eating dinner, because he did not like his choices of oatmeal, fruits, or vegetables.
I am supposed to roust the children out of their rooms, but I just cannot face dealing with Stubborn again. Check email/Twitter instead.
Stubborn refuses to eat breakfast because he doesn't like his choices, complains bitterly about being hungry, refuses to do his morning chores.
Baby has screaming fit over the injustice of waking up in the morning when he comes out of his bedroom, climbs in my lap, looks at me with those big eyes and says, "I need another blue Popsicle to lick" and I tell him that he may not have a Popsicle for breakfast; Baby sits on the Time Out rug. I do Stubborn's chores and the resulting move-down on the chart puts Stubborn off the chart. Stubborn has another loud screaming fit, and angrily tears up one of his assignments. Stubborn is now 20 off the chart.
Two other children disappear into the backyard, hoping that I won't notice they're gone and mention their schoolwork.
Stubborn is threatening to run away. I tell him that we would miss him, and we would certainly hope that nothing bad happened to him while he was gone.
Stubborn decides to do some of his schoolwork.
Baby screams at me again when I give him an answer he doesn't like; Time Out rug for Baby! Baby screams, "I DON'T WANT TO SIT ON THE RUG!" and kicks the rug. This reminds me that the Time Out rug is in bad shape, so I bring out the new pink, heart-shaped rug I got at I K E A. Baby changes his screams to "I DON'T WANT TO SIT ON THE NEW RUG!" After 45 minutes of this screaming and refusing to sit on the rug, I get out the spray bottle. Baby sits on the rug while screaming, "MOOOOOOOOM! DON'T SQUIRT ME!"
Baby has finally stopped screaming for 2 minutes in a row, so his timer beeps and he can get off the rug. Stubborn decides he'll eat some watermelon for lunch.
Despite being reminded of his lunch choices, Stubborn defiantly fixes something not on his list. I remind him of the facts, and he calmly tells me that he doesn't care about the consequences, he's going to do what he wants. Stubborn is now 50 off the chart. Stubborn nonchalantly wanders around the house while I tell him to return to his chair.
Stubborn continues to refuse to obey, screams and complains about the injustice of being forced to do things he doesn't like, blames me for making him do those things instead of changing the world so that those things aren't necessary anymore, continues to ask WHYYYYYYYY?! By the end of this fit, Stubborn has broken the previous record, long held by Ian, of 50, and is 82 off the chart. Ian tells me that he is not enjoying Stubborn's fit, and I remind him that this is not the first time I've been through this experience, and that he used to throw things at me when he was mad. Ian quietly, sincerely says, "I'm sorry I used to act like that, Mom", and I experience a faint glimmer of hope that I might be doing something right after all.
Stubborn and I rest on my bed for Quiet Time.
I read to the older kids while Baby is, thankfully, sleeping. Everyone, except Stubborn, gets their snack, Ian gets his chores done, Marie ignores her chores, Stubborn starts working on his schoolwork.
Ian brings the mail in. I notice a package addressed to "Rachel CDP LastName", and I tear up a little over the thoughtfulness of that.
While I begin checking schoolwork, Marie, who still hasn't done her chores, disappears outside with one of her brothers; I believe their plan has something to do with dirt and water, but, at this point, I don't really care. I start checking Stubborn's schoolwork; he is polite and courteous. He listens to my questions and responds appropriately. He inquires about the number of spaces he needs to move up to get back on the chart; I tell him that I'm not going to reveal that number because it would only distract him from making progress to work himself back up.
Husband comes home! I finish checking Stubborn's work and retreat to my room. I open my CDP to discover a delightful book called Modern Minds: An Anthology of Ideas. I look through the contents and decide to read a piece by Shirley Jackson called, "The Third Baby's the Easiest". I had a well-needed laugh, and decided that this author reminds me a lot of Swistle, and I should look up her book, Life Among the Savages at my first opportunity.
7:00pm Despite being completely drained, I head to the store because we are out of milk, and ice cream is DESPERATELY needed.
And this, my friends, is why I will be unable to stop eating ice cream for MANY YEARS.