Friday, October 17, 2008

Parenting 101

Jen over at "Going Ghana Gone" came up a neat idea, asking her friends and blog readers to blog 3 parenting tips today. I've read some good tips today!!

It seems that all three of my kids are in a difficult phase, and together they are constantly nipping at each other. Bright is in a particularly difficult place right now and I have no idea how to help him. People always told me when Taevy and Samren were little how "lucky" I was. Supposedly they were SO good at that age. Of course, they were my only babies so they didn't seem more good to me than other kids. Now that we have Bright I can say that we were really lucky with Taevy and Samren! LOL! Oh my word this kid is tough!!!!

Don't get my wrong. I adore Bright and feel blessed by him every day. At the same time, right now he is incredibly disobedient and aggressive. He never listens the first time and thinks "1,2,3" is hilarious (even though I am consistent, don't delay getting to 3, and there is always a consequence if I get to 3). It just doesn't work for him. Time out doesn't work. Rewards don't work. Taking away privileges don't work. And love and logic doesn't work on a kid that can't reason yet. Ack! So he laughs at me and doesn't obey EVER on the first request. He pushes and hits his 7 and 8 year old siblings to the point that they are scared of him. He does this weird repetitive scream when he doesn't get his way (reminds me of the autistic kids I've worked with in the past). He hits the dog and cat. Just a VERY difficult phase.

I've always had at least some idea how to help my kiddos overcome these issues but I don't know how to get through to Bright! Any ideas besides "wait it out?" I know boys usually hit the "terrible 2's" when they are 3. Bright is definitely there. At the same time, he is singing new songs, learning his colors and shapes (finally!), dancing up a storm, and makes me laugh at least 100 times a day. Boy I love this kid--even when he's driving me crazy!

Okay, so I'll try to think of 3 things that have worked for Taevy and Samren and we'll pretend that I have some idea how to parent Bright too!

1. Choices: From the time my kids could understand what a choice was, I gave them choices. This is particularly helpful for Taevy, who is very strong willed and independent. If I needed her to eat a vegetable I would give her the "illusion of power" (Thank you Dr. Paul in freshman Intro. to Ed.). "Taevy, would you like peas or carrots tonight? You get to decide and I will make what you'd like!" "Samren, would you like to wear these pair of pants, or these? You get to pick your favorite to wear tomorrow!" (Samren is matching challenged!)

2. Chores and Independence: It's always been really important to me that my kids could do things on their own and help our family in the home. I'm not one of those moms who goes to get my 8 year old a glass of water or puts her clothes away. My 8 year old can make her own "boil water and add something" meals. She can do a load of laundry from start to finish. My 7 year old can empty the dishwasher. He can clean the toilet and mop the floor. My 3 year old can put dishes in the sink, get his diaper, take things to the trash, and simply fold towels.

3. Happy Attitudes: I require happy attitudes. [Okay, Bright hasn't figured this out and I don't know how to teach him yet.] If I ask my kids to do something and they have a stinky attitude, they are going to get a stinky chore (change the trash, pick up poop in the backyard, change the litter box). They also have to leave the area until they have a better attitude. When they are better, they can rejoin us. If they have a stink attitude and say or do something mean to one another, I require that they think of something nice to do for the person that they were mean to (fold their clothes, play what they want to play, etc.). Even Bright gets the concept of doing something nice if you mess up and first do something mean.

Well, that's the extent of what I feel like I know at this point. If you have any sage advice for a 3 year old like Bright let me know!



tonya 10:08 PM  

Hi Anita,

I have followed your blog forever and never introduced myself… guess that makes me a stalker, ha, well stalker no more! I have an 11 year old bio son and a 2 year old son adopted from Guatemala (found your blog through your sister’s cause I’m a DeColores client too). Anyhow, you should read To Train Up a Child by Michael and Debi Pearl . Let me tell you before you even go to the website, this book is the extreme end of biblical discipline. I was given this book by a friend who has 3 young children about 4 months before my son came home. I have read every adoption and attaching book out there and feel very informed on the issue. I also have a personal relationship with Jesus and value God’s Word. I found the book to be wonderful if merely for outlining scripture that pertains to raising children. Some people I know do not agree with the way I discipline, which is founded on the principles in this book HOWEVER they will be the first to say what unbelievably well behaved children I have. I am just passing the info along that was a God send to me and you can do with it what you want :)

Also, I am moving to Tulsa from Phoenix around March or April so I hope to be able to meet you one day!


Heather A. 10:36 PM  

Hey lady, I feel like I've been out of touch with you lately.

Sorry to hear that Bright is in a difficult stage right now. Believe me when I say I ***know*** how frustrating that is! Sophia will sometimes slow walk me when I do a countdown, like punishment is no big deal. Of course she's in a totally different spot than Bright, but it's still irritating!

Did it start around the time he started school or has it gotten worse since then? Do time in's work at all? I can't wait to hear some suggestions you get. I might try them myself!

Heather A

Jen 11:15 PM  

I so understand but I had many of the same difficulties with my Cater. She made us take out the parenting books and go back to the drawing board multiple times. She also went through a period where she terrorized Kman. It went on for three years, got much better and then when Selina came home, we got a bad relapse that lasted a few weeks. Now she is better than ever.
The only books I read that had anything helpful was How to Behave so Your Child Will and How to Behave so Your Preschooler Will. I think it will reinforce a lot of what you already do but you may find a few new ideas in there.
It is so hard when they can't reason. I did the best I could, was consistant and let the natural consequences happen whenever possible.
I decided a lot of Cater's was attention seeking and frustration at her difficulty communicating her feelings. I tried to give positive attention and reinforced her for anything she did good. Somedays I felt like the only thing I could reinforce was her breathing!LOL I noticed that she got better with her age and as she was able to communicate better.
I also worked hard to not get angry and so emotion but to instead be matter of fact. It was hard and at times I failed but I think it made a world of difference.
I will think more about this and go through my materials from the class I just took. There is probably something good in there.

Hang in there...

whenpigsfly 11:40 PM  

As a very seasoned mom,as you so well know, I am thinking that Tonya is on the right track in her recommenation to you. I tried the countdown thing for a while and realized I was showing my children that I really didn't expect or require them to obey me when I spoke to them because I was giving them three chances to dis-obey me first. I "converted" to first time obedience and when they realized I was definitely serious, it got so much better , by orders of magnitude. Countdown was not something we did with our older children ( it hadn't been "invented" yet) and not something we did for long with the younger ones. It wasn't everything, in terms of discipling and disciplining, but it was a biggie. We don't spank in anger, and not for everything, but for rebellion/ flagrant disobedience or situations of physical danger, we have a set # of spanks for the spankable offences.We also learned early on to NOT say "OK?" after we have instructed a child to do or not do something. We do not ask our child's permission to parent them.
Guess that's my three tips: NO countdown, don't be afraid to spank, and don't negotiate. There is LOTS of room for love and attachment, character development and scriptural guidelines .
Hugs dear friend,

A. Gillispie 12:08 AM  

Okay, ya'll are up late! Linda, I don't do the wimpy parent countdown. I do 1-2-3 as in a second or two for each count, and then there is a direct consequence. It has actually worked REALLY well with our other two children. We also expect first time obediance. I don't ask more than once! ;-)

Heather, it didn't start or get worse with school. The weird annoying autism-like tantrum scream started then and I do wonder if he has brought that home from school. He's in the DD class with children that have autism. But the agressiveness, disobediance and bullying have been getting steadily worse for several months. I need to think about time-ins more. Hmm... One of the problems is that he is very posessive of me and gets aggressive with the kids when they are cuddling and such. So a time-in might really send the wrong message to him. At the same time, I'm a big advocate for them with kids who have any sort of attachment issues. I don't *think* that's Bright but need to give it some more thought. Thanks for reminding me that time-ins don't just have to be for attachment challenged kids!

Tonya and Linda, thanks for the suggestions for No Greater Joy. I'll research that some more. We do spank in our home--one of the tools in the tool chest. So far that has only gotten us "in the moment" results with Bright though. He will stop his fit or his bullying or snap into obediance, but only for a moment. We've found that to be an effective tool for Samren.

Jennine, I'll check out the books you mentioned. Glad to know that Bright isn't the only kid out there who has been so difficult!

His behavior is so severe and "new territory" to me that I do wonder if I'm missing something that could be adoption-related. It just seems like such a long time has gone by for issues to be popping up now (16 months home).

Thanks Ladies!

Jen 2:30 PM  

Oops, I did not mean that Cater terrorized Kman for three years- only that we struggled with different things for three years! Oops

I know, I was thinking of whether it is adoption related but I don't know enough about it.

I think the key if figuring out why he is doing it and that will help with solutions and approach to take. Maybe start charting it to look for patterns as to when it is and isn't happening and also the length of time to see if it is getting longer and more intensive.

Just remember that whatever approach you take, it should get worse before it gets better so don't give up- hang in there!


Ericka 5:21 AM  

Oh Anita,
Welcome to my world. It really stinks sometimes. ALL my kids - and Seany is only four so he still is a big challenge - have gone through this. It is draining beyond belief and I sometimes wonder if there is anyone else who have parented to exhaustion!
I read on Laurel's blog about the book:When You Feel Like Screaming: Help for Frustrated Mothers by Grace
Ketterman and bought it immediately!!! I think this is to help ME help them. They're annoying screaming and not getting along can really get on my nerves, so I'm hoping this will give me tools on how I address and handle the phases. I'm also finding that the more stressed mom is, the more stressed the kids get.
Having children who are now older (8th grade, 5th grade) I know a lot of this goes away, BUT that hasn't stopped me from staying firm in consistent attention to the behaviors that are not condusive to family life :)
Let us know if you are finding anything that works particularly well for Mr. Bright.
In the meantime, here's lots of hugs for mom,