Can someone please tell me how long it takes to change a behavior when you are consistent in your expectations? Some days I just don't understand. Some of my kids miss out on so much because they do some of the same behaviors over and over. Often when I relax a restriction, they show me why I shouldn't have done so.
My kids have not been allowed to play out front without direct adult supervision. This is the area where bikes, scooters, skates are played with. The basketball pole is out front too. We live on a large cul-de-sac filled with many elderly residents. Not a lot of traffic. It is a great place for kids to actually ride bikes and such. Our yard is large enough that they can ride bikes without leaving our yard. My older kids used to ride bikes down into the cul-de-sac when they were the same ages as the little ones, they never had problems.
The last time I let the kids try and play out front unsupervised they went to the neighbors door and were caught writing on it. Yes, that is right, they were writing on the neighbors door. It has been a year since that incident so we decided to give a little more freedom and let the kids play out front. They love riding their scooters down the ramp and riding their bikes. This freedom does not apply to Emma, she has to be with someone. It would be the same as sending a 3 year old out to play.
For about a month things went well. We would spot check the kids and other than a few minor fights they were doing well. They were told not to leave the yard and we never caught them out of the yard. Then came the knock on the door. A neighbor stopped to tell us that Anthony was throwing pine cones at cars. He was standing in the front yard throwing them. What was he thinking? He told the girls to throw pine cones with him. Michelle and Larissa opted out but Emma gave it a shot. She says that it doesn't count since she missed. So for now we have two kids who can still go ride bikes and two kids who can't. What concerns me is that Anthony is going to turn 18 in 7 years, 7 weeks and 2 days yet I still can't trust him to go ride his bike in the front yard. When is he going to learn to behave himself without direct adult supervision? It really worries me, he will soon be 11 years old.
Then we have Emma. We realized this morning that she has been going into John's office and taking his snacks. She has been doing this in the middle of the night when she goes to the bathroom. Now I have to directly supervise her going to the bathroom. I already lack sleep because of the baby now I have to get up with Emma every time she goes to the bathroom. She just can't be allowed to wonder the house at all unsupervised. Since this food stealing issue has been noticed she has not been allowed to get any food from fast food places when we go. She has a sandwich. Her treats have been limited. She loves fast food and treats but obviously not enough to stop her raiding. Sigh
Then there is Michelle. She is on restriction for lying right now. Not only does she lie when she is caught doing something but she tries to deflect and tell on her siblings. For example, the kids were swimming and Michelle came in the house fully dressed carrying her swimsuit. Uh, she is not allowed to change outside! Anthony is out there. I told her that she is to never change outside again. Her first reaction was to say that Larissa did it too. My moms aid was there and we both looked out the window at the same time to see Larissa standing in her swimsuit talking to Anthony. Michelle noticed where we were looking and started to change her story. She claimed that she didn't say that. She said that Larissa was going to. I went out to investigate. Larissa didn't even have any clothing with her to change into. Deflection. I told Michelle that if she had just said yes ma'am when I said not to change outside that would have been the end of it. However, she had to lie and try to deflect by blaming others.
Some of the issues seem small but when they are done over and over it becomes a problem. A majority of the time I am just correcting kids (go back and close the door, pick up after yourself, separate if you can't get along, don't do that, apologize, we don't talk that way, etc). However, some of my kids can't stand that correction and either start to lie or argue with me. This ends up landing them a consequence. I tell them every time why they earned the consequence but that doesn't prevent them from lying or arguing the next time. Every time I think when will they learn. Why don't they make the changes that they need to make so that they can enjoy life in our home. Often I think, what were they thinking! Frequently I ask them how the particular behavior worked out for them.
OK, I will stop venting. Some days I just get frustrated dealing with the same behaviors over and over. I feel that my consistency is just not working but I am too tired to look up different methods. I try positive reinforcement methods and they have helped in some areas. However, some behaviors are just too stubborn to change. I will keep trying, that is all I can do.....and vent every now and then.