Boy oh boy have the last couple weeks been a real pain with the boys.
Some of it can be chalked up to cabin fever, for sure. But it’s a lot deeper than that. And it has been a challenge.
When there are two parents, there’s always going to be something that you don’t agree on. At least when you’re in the same house, though, you can come to terms with things, give and take, etc. But when you can barely stand the sight of each other, it is just a cluster.
When the Stink is at his dads’ house, he is the little prince. The child can do no wrong, if he doesn’t want to he doesn’t have to (even when it’s things that are important, like homework and meds), and he is showered with toys on a weekly basis. He is allowed to sleep with Nana, and do nothing but play video games all evening after school and every weekend.
Here, life is a completely different story. I am hell bent on teaching my kids accountability. That you don’t get things, be it toys, privileges or your own way, for just existing. This outlook, being very different than at “Dada’s” house, has forced me to change many of the things that I do. Not that I allow foolishness, but I find myself having to enforce things much differently.
Why? I have tried, in vain, to talk to the ex about this. I’ve given him examples of how his way of “raising” hurts not only him, but those around him. I’ve told him about the troubles at school. The fact that he will flip out and hit me if he doesn’t get his way. What do I get? A pathetic “You don’t do that!” in front of me. With obviously no follow up. If there was, it wouldn’t be an issue.
So what have I done? Wrote up a “6 things to curb your entitled child” blog. That’s what. And not all of these things are bratty kid specific. They can make wonderful changes in your “good kids” as well.
- Stay Calm, Use Your Words, and Don’t Give In
On the weekends, the rule is that you do your chores before you can have privileges. Helping me dust and vacuum the living room doesn’t phase him much, but every time I say “You have to clean your room before you can play” I am met with a fit. These fits range from a couple minutes to an hour, on occasion.
Fits try my patience like nothing else. But I’ve found that with a couple deep breaths and just letting him know, repeatedly, that he’s just wasting his time to play, I can keep my cool. Sometimes I will go in and pick up one, maybe two things. Other times, I will just direct for a minute or two. But I do not do it for him. And I do not let him play until it’s done. Period.
- Give Credit Where It’s Due
Sometimes I have trouble with this. I am from a time where you don’t get props unless you have earned them. And with the other kids not having any different parenting to deal with, I don’t always remember to say “good job” for doing things that are just a part of life. Like manners, doing something without a fight, etc. So I have trained myself to just let him know I appreciate the good behavior. “Thanks for picking up without a fit”, “You did a good job listening to me today”, and “I’m proud of you for pulling yourself together and doing what you needed to”. It still feels weird, but it works.
- Encourage the Other Kids to Ignore
It sounds horrible when I say it out loud, but it’s the truth. And it helps. With him vying for attention wherever he can find it, it only furthers the bad behavior when the other kids get sucked in. So we play a game called invisible Stink; if he’s not hurting someone or interfering with things, he doesn’t get talked to or acknowledged when he’s throwing a fit. Simple as that.
- Correct Every Time
When I’m sitting in the office working while the kids are playing, I don’t always want to get up to correct/discipline. It’s not that I’m lazy, I just feel that sometimes they need to work things out themselves. But with a kid like Stink, letting it work itself off is just an I’m not going to get in trouble moment. So I can’t just sit. I just content myself knowing that eventually, there will be less and less to correct. And that will be super!
- Give ’em a Space of Their Own
As the name of my blog suggests, I have 4 kids, 3 at home. Everyone has their own rooms, but other than that there is one TV area and no designated play area. Just this weekend, we cleaned out Stinks closet. It’s just a tiny space, but once cleaned, it made a pretty stellar play area. Complete with pillows to sit on and a curtain to close out the world. So now when he’s being a real turd, he has somewhere to go that doesn’t feel like a punishment, but removes him from the situation.
- Have Designated Time for Just Them
We have gotten back into the reading thing again lately. And since he has finally started spending the whole night in his own room, we snuggle up in my bed for a half an hour before bed and read. This gives him time with just mama, he gets to be cuddled up in a place where he is completely content, and we get to do some reading, which is necessary to his academic and creative development.
When you combine and stick to these things, it will pay off. It doesn’t work instantly. It could be days, weeks, or a month. But it will work.