Stick a fork in me . . .

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by daralex, Feb 12, 2008.

  1. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    I'm done! I am so frustrated, angry, sad and all the other emotions that come from dealing with a difficult child. Long story as short as I can make it - difficult child and I have a contract. All that is required of her during the week is to make sure both bathrooms and the kitchen are free from her messes and that no dishes/glasses are in her room. We check once a day to make sure she's followed through and then she is allowed computer time. On weekends it is the normal stuff - no sneaking out, lying about where she is going, drinking, smoking, etc. if tasks are completed daily she gets a daily reward (1 hr extra on computer or 1/2 hour extra cerfew at night - until 8:30 instead of 8, but she always takes computer) I really don't think this is much to ask, but we are now on week 5 and still haven't made it through a week succesfully.:919Mad:
    She got frustrated because she has not gotten a weekly reward yet (anything in the store up to $10) So she says she is just not going to try anyomre. Today she was RUDE(understatement of the year, told me to shush among other things in that highly defined snotty tone she has perfected) and did not get her daily reward (weekly reward is given if she makes it through 7 days with no violations). She can be so mean and uncaring in her comments it is hard at times not to let them get to me - so here I sit crying. :crying:
    Am I being unreasonable? She has NO household responsilbilties and I homeschool her, so it's not like school is a stressor (except she is with me all day long - STRESS!!) So do I just keep plugging along? Or am I supposed to change something in the contract (which I do not feel I should have to do) I guess I was thinking I would see better results once we started the contract - it seems to help slightly, may be I just need to give it more time??:not_fair:I just feel very drained at the moment. I feel like I give it my all every moment of every day and difficult child just spits on me. I know tomorrow is another day - this one just doesn't feel so good.
  2. mrscatinthehat

    mrscatinthehat Seussical

    Well, I can tell you some of that is typical teen stuff. I mean I battle with easy child about getting things done at 16 and she has very few things she has to do. That said How long have you had the contract with her?

    Good luck.

  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Ease back on the contract but make ALL rewards non-material. If the rewards seem too unattainable, they won't try. At least she's being honest with you.

    You may be trying to modify behaviour she hasn't sufficient control of. It's like I was saying to Jennifer - insisting on respect when they're raging is pointless. Even insisting on appropriate communication (or ANY communication) when raging, is pointless.

    Thinking further, I would drop the weekly rewards entirely, for now. And break up the daily requirements into categories - no cups or plates in room (category 1). Clean bathrooms (category 2). Tasks completed daily (Category 3). No smoking (category 4). No drinking (category 5). Of however you choose. Maybe cut back on them, so you're dealing with less. And give a reward with each one, that perhaps involves you in some way. For example. difficult child 3's therapist had me playing a computer game with him for fifteen minutes, as his daily reward. We would play Mario Party (like a board game on a computer game system). Spending fun time together was good for bridge-building too.
    To get his reward, he only had to do ONE thing - get through the day with no time-outs. We also had to warn (once each time). I also got to the stage where I didn't have enough of MY time to play computer games with him, so I substituted a certain amount of game time for another reward, such as an ice cream.

    And ow third idea - as I type, they're coming to me. By having your reward system linked to the calendar week, you're re-setting the clock back to zero every time she fouls up. With difficult child 3, we simply accumulated until he'd earned bonus reward. This was easier - he didn't have the mental image of the week stretching out ahead of him, like Mt Everest to a paraplegic (although I do know of an amputee who has climbed Mt Everest - bet HE wasn't a difficult child!).
    If instead you simply tick off days, and when she reaches 7 in total, you give her a 7 day reward. Although I would stick with the decimal system and make it either 5, or 10. But try to keep it non-material, and if possible something you can do together. Go to a movie, or watch a DVD together while eating popcorn, that sort of thing. Invite a friend around to watch a movie with while you play usherette with fresh popcorn supplies. You could even wear a pillbox hat and carry a torch, just for the fun of it. And don't forget the advertising on the screen - substitute that with, "While we take a short break, why not go for a walk with your friend, to get some fresh air?" Or " the usherette clean up the popcorn, so the floor has room for more in the next feature?"

    I know you feel you ask very little of her, but I think you're asking too much - because ALL the things you're asking, combined, are in her too hard basket.

    If you encourage the fun time together, you're also building the relationship and mutual respect. And with some kids, especially the ODD-seeming ones, you CAN'T insist on respect by standing over them and shouting it. You have to model it. This means that if she's disrespecting you, you walk away. Don't give her ANY payoff. Once she's calm, you can maybe talk about respect then. But the old-fashioned ideas of "because I'm the parent, that's why" has to get thrown out the window. it fails miserably here, I think it is in fact the cause of problems for a lot of us. I've seen it with so many of my friends. Stand-up comics tell horror stories of their childhood that we can all relate to, and many of the funnier stories are funny because they are so horrible and because of their ring of truth. Like the woman saying that her son has grown up to be really stupid, and it's her fault, because when he was younger she would say to him, "Now don't you get smart!"
    Or Bill Cosby's description of raising a child: "I brought you into this world son, I can take you out!"
    We laugh, but we remember.

    How much better is it, if we can simply walk away from their screaming/yelling, then when they are ready to communicate at a normal decibel level, we go back and say, "NOW can we talk about respect?" And also do not forget, "Now, about what you called me back there... we are going to discuss that now, calmly."
    Be the elephant that never forgets, with the calm and patience of an oriental Buddha.

    The other thing you have to watch - deflection. Bad teachers do it, when you go to the school and complain. Politicians do it. Sneaky spouses do it. So it's no surprise that some kids get to be really good at it. They learn from us, from their peers and from watching TV.
    Deflection goes like this -
    Mum: "Jenny, I told you to clean your room!"
    Jenny: "I'll clean my room when David cleans the bathroom, He shaved this morning and left big globs of shaving cream all over the bench. How can I wash my hands in that sink? There's little black beard hairs all over it. At least I THINK they're from his face..."
    Mum: (amazingly persistent, because part of her is thinking - WHAT did David shave...?) I need your room clean now!
    Jenny: I need the bathroom clean first, or I can't do my bedroom properly. Why are you only picking on me? What about making David clean up his mess? It's just not fair, expecting me to clean up first because I'm a GIRL...
    Mum: David! Clean up your mess in the bathroom NOW!
    (Mum has now fallen for the deflection. She is now caught up in a Chicken Little situation - David will probably deflect right back and blame older sister Kathy for shaving her legs and leaving a mess; Kathy won't clean it because she has a paper to write and "you WANT me to do well, don't you Mum?" and besides, it was Jenny and not Kathy.)

    The blame circle can go round and round and meanwhile your original objective has been long-forgotten. You get worn down and exhausted and clean the bathroom yourself, then forget to nag about Jenny's bedroom.

    Some battles just aren't worth fighting.
    We gave up on bedrooms a while ago. I won't go into the kids rooms in case I turn an ankle. I don't have to worry about vacuuming dust off the floor - there are too many books, papers and clothes on the floor.
    I had a more able-bodied friend come over once and with her help we got a great deal of difficult child 1'a room cleared of stuff. Most of it was rubbish, a lot of the clothes had been outgrown long ago but he'd never realised. Then difficult child 1 came home from school and was terribly upset because he couldn't find anything; the room didn't smell right; I'd washed the smell right out of his pyjamas and bedding and he wouldn't be able to sleep.
    I kid you not.

    That's when I realised that of all the things I wanted difficult child 1 to do, the effort involved in cleaning his room just wasn't worth it. If I ever succeeded in getting him to clean his room, it would be at the expense of everything else normal in his life.

    Now when I find stuff of his elsewhere in the house, I put it on his bed. HIS job to put it away (I don't care where, as long as it's not back in the living room). He's had to share his bed with his entire axe, sword and morning star collection before this... then he built racks for them above his bed.

    He's getting engaged tomorrow (if she says yes). I wonder if she realises just how obsessive he is about his weapons collection? Theirs will be an interesting living-room...

    Try and get into your daughter's head. What sets her off? What can she handle? What can't she? Do your best to avoid setting her off, but otherwise work on just a few things you feel she can handle.

    I do feel your failure up until now is from trying to do too much of what she can't handle, even though you feel there is so little. Maybe if you want it to seem more, put back in things she can do moderately well when she remembers, so she has built in success at least to a certain point.

    Another concern - how do you grade success in things that are hard to measure? For example, how do you determine if she is lying to you? Or smoking? Or drinking? because if you have a built-in lie detector, then great. otherwise all you're doing is punishing her for getting caught, and all that is doing is teaching her to be more successful at lying about it next time. Because you're not scoring a perfect hit every time, she sees your discipline in this as inconsistent, even if you're reacting every time you KNOW about it. It's the ones you DON'T know (and she feels surely you must) that are doing the damage.

    Not an easy one.

    Ross Greene spells it out well in "The Explosive Child".

    Make the goals achievable.

  4. jannie

    jannie trying to survive....

    Is the only expectation during the week to keep the bathroom and kitches clean? If so, it sounds reasonable....Where does the attitude and rudeness fit into the daily/weekly contract?

    I feel strongly that when kids are on contracts they should initially be easily able to earn the that they can feel the benefits of rewards and then work harder to achieve. Five weeks is a long time to go without a weekly reward....mainly because this is a new system. Is it possible to change to weekly reward to a long term reward of once you earn 8, 10, or 12 days without a violation you get the $10.00 shopping...7 days without any violations is quite a long time for a difficult child....this way she can get her reward after just having 10 days without she doesn't need to begin each week again...she can add to her existing good days.

    Mind difficult child 2 set up his own contract to earn 1000 points and then he will get his own bird....According to this contract it will take at least five months of excellent behavior to earn 1000 points--clearly impossible...(but I really dont' want a bird anyway), but the point is that he can't stay motivated this long...and therefore this contract system is useless.
  5. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I finally discovered that my daughter truly needed help in remembering what she needs to do. So, now I give her gentle reminders of what she has missed doing about an hour before I go to bed. I try to make it as joking as possible. Such as, "Did you the clothes won't magically jump into the drawer after you've folded them?" (said with a smile). This has helped a lot, both in her doing it and our not fighting.

    For dishes, I just yell from the kitchen for all dirty dishes to olly olly oxen free. The come marching in quite well even if not of their own accord.

    Mind you, with mine it isn't that she doesn't want to do the work, it is that she honestly doesn't see it or, if she does, it is either something to be done later or something that just doesn't register as something she needs to do. She's not being deliberately lazy or defiant, it just isn't in her sense of logic. No question there are executive function issues going on. It sounds like your daughter is the same way.

    What I did was ask her if she wanted reminders about what needed doing to keep me off her back (one reminder is it). She said she did. She also agreed that if she got nasty about doing it, the reminders would stop and I would have the right to do the cleaning up and my cleaning up meant right into the garbage or Goodwill box.

    You really may have to help her, not by doing but by reminding. Good luck, this is not an easy thing to get a teen to do -- it isn't in their nature to begin with and if you add ADHD, ADD or executive functioning problems into the mix, it becomes truly frustrating for both of you.
  6. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    thanx all for the help -
    Marguerite - I think I have to set rules for weekdays and weekends - I was quite the wild child and yes, I do have built in radar as far as drinking, lying etc - difficult child hates it - I am just thankful!! Smaller chunks would probably work better for her.

    I think I am seeing the light!!!!!!!!!!
    Even though I think she should be able to do this - it's still unsurmountable to her. I think maybe I need to break it into smaller chunks - it's just still so frustrating. I want a vacation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Mind you this is a few minutes after she spilled dark cherry stain on the light beige carpet we are renting from our landlord. Oh I need a bubble bath and a keg of beer!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I have to belive that sooner or later I'll be effective in parenting my difficult child. Sometimes it just ***** the life out of me. Thanks for listening!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!