Struggling with cooperation

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Loving Abbey 2, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. Loving Abbey 2

    Loving Abbey 2 Not really a Newbie

    I know things could be much worse and they have been. That being said, I'm so tired of trying to get difficult child to do what I need her to do. She's not being explosive or defiant. She's just oppositional. I tell her to do something and she whines a refusal. "it's too hard" "I can not" "I don't want to" "my head hurts" "I'm too tired" etc. I inform her of the consequences if she does not do the task and of the reward if she does. For instance, the past three days it was folding her laundry. I asked her to please fold her laundry (which she do well). She gives me the whining act. I set her up with her music and some encouragement. She whines some more. I tell her that if does not fold her laundry we will not have time to play a game, but if she folds quickly we can play a game and maybe have time to paint her nails. I leave the room to cook dinner. She does not fold anything, just lies on her bed whining that she is hungry etc. Day two, pretty much same as above, I remind her that if she had folded the laundry we wouldn't have to worry about it today and wasting another night on not folding laundry just means we won't have time to play tonight either. more whining, does fold 3 things. I give her lots of praise and encourage her to go on. She refuses and does nothing more but whine and complain. Last night, I tell her and she whines. I get really annoyed and become much more forceful-and not very nice, borderline on yelling. She starts yelling. I walk away, take a breath. Came back and I tell her that if she does not fold she will not be able to play with her friend tomorrow. I have to tell her this about 5 more times and she finally folds the laundry, whining the whole time. Telling her to use her "big girl" voice does nothing either. No matter her behavior every night we cuddle up and read together.

    This type of interaction happens for everything and every step of anything. Get out of bed, take a shower, actually wash your body and hair, brush your teeth, etc. She had a check list for morning and evening routine, but then refused to use them. She had rewards at school for getting there on time but no longer cares. She refuses to do everything no matter how involved I get in helping her get it done. I feel like we are in a holding pattern and I can't seem to get out. Every night at bed time she says she will do a better job tomorrow, or she will finish her homework or whatever I've been trying to get her to do "tomorrow".

    I'm tired. I kicked out husband (her stepfather) a few months ago and she seems to actually improved, ie she is no longer explosive. But I am all alone trying to do everything, I work a very stressful job over 40 hrs per week, and I'm tired. I just need a simple solution. And no ignoring her whining does nothing but make her whine louder until she explodes.

  2. Elise

    Elise Active Member

    I'm so sorry you are having such a tough time with Abbey, I'm tired just reading about your struggles.

    As you know there is no simple solution, but I have found some success with my version of a reward chart. I have difficult child's day divided into 3 time periods, before lunch, lunch until dinner and dinner until bedtime. difficult child can earn 50 cents for appropriate behavior in each time period. I consider the money his allowance, (he actually earns about $7 per week). You could adjust the amount depending on what is appropriate for your daughter.

    During the morning time period difficult child must do 5 things to earn his 50 cents, wake up with an alarm, take medications, clean his breakfast dishes, brush teeth, and watch for his school bus. Any item not completed costs difficult child 10 cents.

    You should choose the behaviors you want to work on with Abbey, like folding laundry. I have been using this system since my son was very young. He is almost 15 now and it still works. Over time responsibilities increase and so does payment.

    I like this system because it allows me to detach from the nagging and whining. The chore is either done or it's not. I do not remind or nag. Each evening before bed, difficult child and I add up the amount earned and write it down on a calendar. I pay him once a week. It is a hassle at first, but much easier in the long run. I can really stay emotionally detached.

    If your daughter is not motivated by money, perhaps you could use some other reward that would motivate her.

    It's nice to see you back on the board. So sorry about you and husband.

  3. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    I have found that sometimes difficult child cannot complete a task on his own, he needs me in the room with him, sometimes helping or giving advice on what to do next. Sometimes it helps to break things down into smaller tasks, fold your shirts, then she will come tell you when she is done, then you tell her to fold her pants and so on.

    Good luck, my son is not cooperative and loves to argue, and it is very hard sometimes.
  4. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I simply give my daughter a time limit when something should be accomplished. If it didn't happen by that time, she would lose whatever it was she was supposed to take care of and, yes, that included folding her clothes. There was no discussion, so there was little chance to whine. I would simply post a sign that X chore had to be done by Y time or Z would be taken away. And, yes, she really did lose an entire load of clothing and had to make do with what was left in her room. It was a drastic solution but nothing else had worked. by the way, once taken it was never returned -- it was either given to Goodwill or thrown in the trash. I found that if I kept it around the house, then I would end up giving it back. Giving something back to my daughter was seen as a victory to her. The idea that it was done with compassion and love just didn't seem to sink in.

    If you decide to try something like this, since yours is only 8, I wouldn't recommend a total removal but rather a removal for a week or two. I did try hard to make the removed item(s) make sense for the chore not done. Not getting ready in the morning for school on time meant loss of a computer game since that is usually why she was dallying. A dirty room meant anything on the floor was history.

    It did take her losing a few things that were truly important to her but it did ultimately work. The nice part is that it stop the whining because I refused to listen to it. I would simply hold up my copy of the sign and say nothing. Yes, whining escalated at first but when I didn't react to it, it quit.
  5. Loving Abbey 2

    Loving Abbey 2 Not really a Newbie

    Thanks for the suggestions. The thing is that Abbey can be very oppositional, to the extend that when I have used methods such as taking away the toys left on the floor when she was supposed to be cleaning, and even throwing or giving the items away. She would look me in the eye and say "take more Mama". It really becomes a battle of oppositionalness and no one wins. With Abbey it becomes a really bad cycle to get into.

    The reward thing is so hard because nothing sticks for more than a few days, a week at the most. It just ends up being that we do nothing positive together, she gets no rewards and we are both miserable. That's why I have built in the reading time, because without that we would never have any good time together.

    Maybe I'll try being more involved in each task, it's just really hard because it's just me. I really don't think I can be too detached right now. I don't want her to start thinking she is losing me too. husband is barely spending any time with her. And maybe I'll make another chart with her.

    It's good to at least vent!
  6. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Well-Known Member

    It's obvious what you're doing isn't working for either of you. My Duckie can be like your Abigail in that it's all a competition to her. My Duckie is also a very involved child that likes to participate in lots of activities and play dates. What I found most effective was to say we couldn't go to X or we were going to have to miss out on Y because I was stuck having to pick up the toys, folding the laundry, etc. She was willing to then pitch in some so she wouldn't miss out. I made a point of not sounding angry or preachy, just matter of fact so she didn't think it was a punishment. Now I can say something like "Gee, A,B, and C really has to get done before we leave. Can you give me a hand?"
  7. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Yup, my daughter would up the ante, too. To the point where I would remove one thing and she would promptly add something on her own just to teach me a lesson and show me that she didn't care. The truth was she did care but there was no way she was willing to admit that to me. I learned to ignore her game. I would simply tell her that the consequence was only those items to be removed that had been discussed previously. This was not a game and things were not negotiable -- it was no more, no less.

    I did refuse to make the consequence a loss of going somewhere. She had few friends and would quit almost any activity after the first few attempts. So, any outing with other kids was too important to me to take them away from her.

    However, we all have to decide what incentive works best for our kids. For mine, it was a combo of rewards and immediate consequences. Anything delayed didn't matter.
  8. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Yup. Tink LOVES to up the ante too. She calls my bluff.

    I agree with TM that the more matter-of fact you are, the less of a control thing it becomes. To them, anyways. If I harp on her over & over to do something, yes, that is when she is the most defiant. She digs in her heels. If I tell her once, and she says no, she does not want to do it, I can offhandedly remark "fine, don't. But remember, if you don't do X, you can't do/get/see Y" and walk away. Then it is up to HER.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    OK, I champion a lot of stuff in "The Explosive Child" but I can get explosive too at times.

    We've let a lot of things go in our house that would horrify a lot of other people, but it's because there are some battles I simply do not choose to fight just yet. There are limits to what I feel we can accomplish. For example, empty packaging. We have a rule - if something gets emptied, it should be put on the list and any empty packaging be thrown in the appropriate receptacle. But despite this rule, difficult child 3 still will just drop packaging, envelopes, related trash right where he is. I keep calling him to come and get it to throw it away, he complies, but he still does the same thing over and over. Too often it's either when he's gone for a walk or gone to bed hours before, that I find stuff. difficult child 1 does it too, and it drives me crazy. Just tonight I removed a completely empty frozen treat packet from the freezer. It's been taking up space we desperately needed, I don't know how long it's been empty. But I'm not buying any more. The box didn't get removed, and they didn't get put on the shopping list!

    So it's not simply a case of us not having been firm enough - sometimes it's just some sort of mental block. All we can do is keep trying.

    It is a good idea to try an analyse why she is whining about it. You do need to nip the whining in the bud, purely as a separate issue. Think about it - folding the clothes is one issue. Complaining, whining and being a total pain about it - a separate problem. And we've been there with this one too. easy child 2/difficult child 2 is still there, frankly. And driving us crazy, because she's developed it to an art form.

    But we've made headway with difficult child 3 - I simply tell him, "I'm not buying into this."

    Here is an example from this weekend.

    difficult child 3 is learning to work proactively, to self-motivate with schoolwork. I freely admit to bribing him to work at a faster pace - he has 8 school subjects each with their own worksheets. If he completes 2 subjects for the week in one school day, he earns a reward point. Any extra subject - an extra reward point. Completing work outside school hours - he gets to choose which school day he adds the workload credit to, so he can claim a reward point. Working in school holidays - one reward point per subject.
    So this weekend he was running a bit late, thanks to missing a day's work for a school maths day. He had some maths work to do, and they are hard work. He rarely gets more than one done a day.

    Now, difficult child 3 wanted to play a new computer game. It was really calling to him, so once school hours finished on Friday I let him play, but pointed out that the work would have to be finished over the weekend if he wanted to claim the credit. He indicated he would work on it.
    Next morning - I reminded him of the time (as I do on school days) and he got to work on his maths, only a little later than usual.
    But the game was calling him. so HE chose to alternate - play his game, then do more maths. Play more game, then more maths.
    Only he kept getting caught up in his game. End of day - "I've done a lot more, only a few pages to go. I'll finish it tomorrow."
    Today (Sunday) - he decides to watch his new DVD with his sister. I reminded him of his promise to finish his work, he said, "Ill do it after the movie."
    I reminded him that he would also want to visit the fair today, he said, "I'll fit it in."
    I went to the fair without him, while the movie was on.
    Later I saw him at the fair - he had walked down by himself. I stayed "within coo-ee" of him to make sure he was safe, then he decided to go home. I got home about half an hour later and there he was, doing his maths. Sure, he also had his computer game on, but he WAS working.
    About an hour later, he brought his worksheets in, completed, for me to sign.

    It's taken us time to get there, but what has done the trick is letting him find his own techniques. He is motivated by greed, for sure, but the payoffs are fairly immediate and I also reward with praise and "doesn't it feel good to have got so much work done today?" when he succeeds. I keep telling him he is smart, he is gifted, he is a hard worker, he is a good problem-solver, and he continues to try to show me.

    But there are still some jobs I won't ask him to do, not straight out.
    Folding clothes - he's unco, not good at it, but I sometimes get him to help me when I get the clothes off the clothesline. We work together and fold EVERYTHING. It's what my mother used to do with me. And it IS easier to fold sheets when you have two people.
    Working as a team is the trick with him, and it gives us quality time to talk. He can see that I'm working too, and he feels like he's helping me rather than being made to be responsible. Some kids need to be needy, but they also need to be connected to you. Working as a team is a positive way to do this.
    Also, folding clothes fresh out of the dryer, or as you take them off the clothes line, is best for the clothes. No ironing needed if you do it right. And I get difficult child 3 to take each person's bundle and put it on their beds.

    Peeling vegetables - difficult child 3 has cut himself on vegetables a few times. On the blades used to peel them, I mean. So he's reluctant to peel potatoes. Even difficult child 1 won't peel spuds unless he can use a special peeler I have that works a different way.
    So I give difficult child 3 a choice - "I need potatoes peeled and I need the animals fed and watered. Which will you do?"
    And whatever he chooses, someone else does the other job. He HATES dealing with the animals' pen because it's mucky, but he will happily do it if it gets him out of peeling potatoes.

    Giving him a choice and letting him see from experience that the same requests apply to all in the house - it works for us.

    But once difficult child 3 starts whining and whingeing, I will shut him off. Or I will begin to complain about MY lot in life, and let him have it. I did this to difficult child 1 once, when I asked for his help with stirring a pot for a few minutes, and he began to whine. I said, "Do you think I do housework and cooking by choice? There are so many other things I could be doing instead. I could have a LIFE! Instead, I'm working in the kitchen just to put tasty food in your belly, and you don't seem to want to help."
    difficult child 2's answer floored me - "But that;s what mothers DO. You all do this sort of stuff because mothers like to do it, it's part of who they are."

    I set him straight, fast. I told him that he was going to learn to cook and look after himself because an attitude like that would deliver him a long and lonely bacherlorhood and he would need those skills or starve.

    It's not easy.

  10. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Miss KT still can't complete a task with multi-step instructions, which can drive me absolutely crazy at times, like when she goes to water AND feed the cats. Though the dishes are right next to each other, more often than not one or the other doesn't get checked and/or filled.
  11. Loving Abbey 2

    Loving Abbey 2 Not really a Newbie

    You know reading all of the replies reminded me why I did needed to come back to this site. It really helps to make me feel like I am not all alone!

    I do think I need to look at the whining as a seperate issue, that's a good idea. As tired as I am, I'm going to have to put some work into finding something to make her WANT to cooperate. As of late I have just been trying to make her cooperate. And I do think I need to take the game out of it, she can be manipulative-she's a smart little girl.

    Now if only I can modify my own reactions to her oppositionalness, where do you think she gets it from? :laughing:

    I want her to fold her laundry because it's easiest for ME that she does it. She can do it alone and it won't make a mess. Perhaps I can find different chores for her to help out with that are easier for her to complete (less steps or more interactive), or maybe rotating the chores. And maybe I'll have to rotate the rewards or it can be a free choice after so many completed tasks.

    You all have given me a lot of ideas. :bow: