Saturday, June 21, 2014

Warning, Vent Ahead

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.


  1. Hang in there! And it scares me that Kaleb is nine but still can't tell which feet to put shoes on and asks the craziest questions about obvious things.

  2. I sat here just nodding my head over and over while I was reading it. Meghan is just like Michelle. And everything else you described is just like Lexi. It's horribly frustrating! Keep on keeping on. You're doing your best, and you can't do better than that. You're a great mom.

  3. I just started reading your blog. And I can relate...especially to this post, for sure. My 10-yr-old has RAD and I have learned along the way that "normal parenting" doesn't work. At all! So, with the understanding that I don't know all the in and outs of your situation, might I offer a few tactics that might (or might not) work?

    For Emma, would it be possible to provide her with snacks that are hers for whenever she wants them? A limited amount, of course, per week, of something that she really desires. Decorate a small shoebox together and one night a week, pick snacks for the week that are just hers and let her "hide" the box wherever she wants. When the snacks are gone, they are gone until the next week. The other thing, if you want her to attach to you and your house, she has to understand that your house is her house and your kitchen is her kitchen. Calling it "stealing" when she takes food from the kitchen implies that she has no rights to the food ever. I'm not saying that she should have 24/7 access to the food, but perhaps you can call it something other than stealing? When my daughter was 7, she didn't get access to the fridge or cupboards, but we had a drawer for snacks and a bowl of fruit on the table that she could have whenever she wanted. When kids have been neglected by the birth parents, they believe that everyone will neglect them and starve them, so they end up with some pretty weird eating habits. I have come to find that those eating habits cannot be changed until they are able to take some ownership over food.

    As for Michelle's lying, what we have found to work with our daughter is that we have to show her that lying makes her untrustworthy. The best way for us to do that is by this two step approach: 1.) If we think that she is lying, then we automatically tell her that we don't know if we can believe her and because she has lied so much, we must assume that she isn't telling the truth. 2.) Even when we know that she is telling the truth, but has recently been having lots of trouble with lying, we don't believe her when it is least convenient for her and we believe her when it is least convenient for her. For example, if she said she did all her homework even though we didn't see her open a book, we don't believe her, tell her to "prove it" and when she can't, then there are appropriate consequences. If five minutes later, she mentions that she likes ice cream, we tell her that we can't believe her because she lies, so that might be a lie too. Explaining that lying is bad has never worked for us, but showing her that she misses out because of her lies has worked a little. We still struggle a lot with lies.

    I admire all that you are doing to help and love on these kids! It is hard work!

    1. Oh, I have to try the lying number 2 approach. We discuss trustworthiness and try to show her the results of that but haven't ever questioned the truth. I need to try that.

      With Emma it may be harder. When I talk about stealing on the blog it isn't a term we actually use with her when she takes from the kitchen. However, when she goes into someone's private space and takes their stuff then it is stealing. The kitchen isn't where the biggest problem is, it is my desk, John's office, my moms room and Sarah's stash. She goes into personal spaces and takes from everyone. Easter baskets, Christmas stockings and Halloween bags are not safe from her. The kids ask me to protect their stuff and I am not always successful. She eats her stuff and then sneaks from everyone else. At breakfast and lunch she has free access to the kitchen to get what she wants to eat (within reason). Dinner is prepared by either Sarah or I and sometimes the kids take turns helping to prepare a meal. I will have to think about the snack stash. I honestly feel that she would eat it all on the first day and then go right back to taking food. She doesn't hoard the food, she eats it all so she can skip the meals we prepare. It is really a control issue versus a food issue. If I give her a stash then everyone else would want theirs. I could see her taking their stash. Might become a major headache. I will have to give this more thought.

      Thanks for your comment. I agree that normal parenting no longer applies. That is why I typically go to my online friends who share similar parenting challenges. I am always looking for new ideas to try. Right now I am not searching but periodically I will do searches for new ideas when I feel that I have the emotional strength to do so.

  4. Biggest hugs! I am parenting one who is the boy version of your Michelle. Makes me so sad that even when asked a question that isn't about him, he panics and lies about it. We have learned that if he didn't give the answer that was wanted from his birth parents, they beat him. And he never knew whether the truth or a lie was going to be the answer to make him happy. I just don't know how to make him see that the truth is always the best and while there may be consequences, there will never be a beating. So sad. I am so glad that Heartsmommysstrawberryshortcake shared her strategy for lying. We will definitely give that a try here. Consistency and talking about it and at least 3 other things haven't worked for us in 3 years. Never hurts to try something different! Love your blog, Felicia. Makes me remember that in this world of beautiful kids that are hard to parent, I am not alone.