Thursday, September 02, 2010

Rage

I've been talking to several of my mom friends recently about the issues we're dealing with right now with our beloved children.  It's always so helpful to know that you're NOT the only person feeling a certain way and that what you are dealing with is often "par for the course."  However, even knowing you're not alone doesn't make the situation you are dealing with personally any easier.  I mentioned to one friend recently about the feelings of rage we sometimes feel as parents.  An emotion/feeling that I know I have never truly felt before becoming a parent.  I know after having Bryce and Piper, my feelings of rage were often due to postpartum issues I was having.  But as I type this, I have been feeling surges of rage again.  Thankfully, controlled rage in that I haven't done anything to my children but the feelings I have had bubbling up inside me from time to time when dealing with a particular child are concerning nonetheless.  Jason has felt them recently too.  I understand why animals growl.  If I could growl like a mama bear or lion, I certainly would.

The particular child I am speaking of is Caroline.  Yes, Bryce has had his moments lately but largely his behavior and tantrums, while making me angry, have not left me with any particular feelings of resentment.  I can't say that about Caroline right now.  It's hard to even really describe her behavior in just a few words.  I really can't say she's having bad tantrums because they really aren't.  Maybe the best way to define it is that she's been in a REALLY bad mood the past few weeks.  A bad mood that makes her seems ungrateful and disrespectful to us.  Something that Jay and I do not tolerate.  And speaking of tolerance, she has none.  Oh and patience, she doesn't have any of that either.  So we find ourselves with a child who we truly love down to her core yet don't even want to be around.

One of the things I think that is pushing our buttons in particular right now is how relentless she is when she wants something and we've said no.  She employs the broken record technique in hopes of wearing us down - something that rarely happens, yet she tries it nonetheless.  You can only say no so many times before going ballistic.  Especially when you're running interference with 2 other children at the same time and trying to accomplish something like making dinner or getting everyone ready for bed.  Yes, she should have a consequence for the constant badgering and I know based on the 1,2,3 Magic book that would earn her a one way trip to time out, the problem is that time outs aren't really a good punishment for her anymore and sometimes you just can't manage a timeout when you've got other things you HAVE to do.  In addition, we've come to realize with Caroline that her motto would be, "It's not enough."  No matter how much time we spend with her individually, no matter how much we do for her, no matter how much love and attention we shower her with, it is not enough.  I used to feel as though I was starving her for attention because her siblings were constantly in the forefront and she was quieter in the background.  I've finally come to realize that even when I do take the time to play with JUST her for an afternoon or to do something nice with her, when all is said and done, it still was not enough.  So how do you teach a child to be grateful?  That is something I'm struggling with.

I know that this is a stressful time of year and I realize she's experiencing her own growing pains of sort.  But that doesn't give her free reign to be nasty to everyone that crosses her path (outside of school, of course).  I know that Bryce is a big source of her angst right now having just had a birthday and getting a little more attention than usual along with the fact that he hasn't started school yet and she's jealous of him being home this week.  I'm hoping that the further we get from his birthday and him starting school next week that this will be one source trigger that fades.  Jason has already had a few heart to hearts with her about how Bryce's birthday made her feel and that when it is her birthday he won't be allowed to try and take her gifts and that she'll have her own special treatment too. 

It doesn't help either that she's like this from the second she wakes up in the morning until she's asleep at night.  She wakes up in a bad mood yelling that Bryce and Piper woke her up, even though it's the normal time she wakes up on her own and they just happen to be up and talking - sorry Caroline, you are NOT a princess and the house is waking up and it's just part of being a family.  I know a few little people that always wake me up on the weekends and I don't start screaming the second they wake me up.  Grrrrr.

So I've come up with a new behavior plan we are going to start this weekend when I get all my ducks in row.  I've seen a modified version of it on SuperNanny (with big jars of ping pong balls) and so we'll give it a try without the annoying huge jar and balls!  Basically it's a point system in that each day they start with a number of points (probably 20 in the beginning) on a dry erase board.  As the day goes on, for lower level violations (like whining, badgering, not following directions) they will get one warning that they are about to lose a point and if they don't shape up, a point is taken away.  For higher violations like hitting, fighting, dangerous behavior) they will automatically lose a point.  At the end of the day, whatever points they are left with are banked and after they accumulate a certain number of points (maybe like 50 the first time?), they will get a prize from the dollar store prize box.  After they get better at it, because, well I am telling myself this WILL help, I'll lower the points they start with and raise the number of points they need to get a prize.  I figure it's a combination of positive and negative reinforcement.  I brought it up to Caroline last night to see what she thought and she seemed very interested and wanted to start it right away. I'll even toy with the idea once we get rolling with it to award points for good deeds above and beyond normal behavior.  So this weekend I need to get a dry erase board and a little box of prizes - hello Target dollar bins!

I'll keep you updated on how it goes.  I need something that is a more mature approach to discipline in our house and I think this will fit the bill for the older two.  The key, as with any approach, is consistency and for the parents, it' the ease of consistency.  I think it will be fairly easy for my mother/mother in law to help with too, but I largely think that most points will be lost in the evening hours.

8 comments:

Heather said...

I just read an article about a behavior plan similar to that, but no prizes....the motivation was to earn more points than another family member. The parents were included too...yelling (-1 point) etc. I wish you luck with it...these are definitely challenging days...

Erika said...

Heh, sibling rivalry (competition) is actually part of the problem now so doing it that way might make the problem worse!! Eek! They already like to throw it in each others faces when one is being good and the other is not.

I don't plan on making this a long term thing (e.g. through high school, ha ha ha!) but long enough to make a difference and give us clear guidelines on consequences.

Lisa :) said...

Good luck. I hate to say this but, it is just the beginning! I also think it is a girl thing. While Bryce is still young and will still have issues and tantrums. I think boys are 100 times easier than girls. Once you get your girls to even tempers, along comes the monthly friend and all that you have worked for is thrown out the window. God help you! I wish you luck. Been there, done that and still deal with attitudes. My girls are like vinegar and water! They don't mix! I always joke with my hubby that I don't know if I like when the girls are getting along and being gitty or fighting. Both can be annoying. It is a never ending battle.

Katie said...

Thanks for sharing, E! You know I am having a very rough patch with Emily and her tantrums ARE violent. Yikes. Time outs are a joke at this age, especially when you have little ones that need immediate attention. I may employ a similar strategy. Certainly keep me posted. Although after reading the above comment I am panicking about the future and wondering if it is all futile.

Erin said...

Too tired to type out a truly thoughtful response... but didn't want to leave your blog without saying that we deal with the same issues with Ben -- the ungratefulness and the all-day bad moods sometimes. We go back and forth about how to deal with it... I love your point system idea! Might have to give it a try!

Bertie said...

As her GM, I know that Caroline's behaviors are quite frustrating but I'm gonna play devil's advocate here: are there any struggles that you as an individual are dealing with right now that are contributing to your angst? Adult pressures do have a place in this equation and sometimes just realizing this within ourselves (as the parent) can lighten your mood and transfer to the child...I speak from experience. You have a lot of pressure with working full time and coming home to 3 little ones who love you very much and don't have anything on their agenda but their own needs...needs and behaviors they don't have the faintest idea of where they are coming from or why.
Consistent discipline and limits are vital but so is rolling around on the floor being silly. Hang in there sweetheart! Prizes or no prizes, Caroline will get through this phase and we'll tease her about it when she's 25!

Katie said...

Bertie says the same thing that my mom says. Grandmommies have perspective that we don't. ;-)

Lisa :) said...

I love your comment Bertie! Well said!