Challenge or Bribe-You Decide

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Tantrum
Tantrum
Tantrum

It’s a secret shared previously with only a few of my closest friends, but since my unexpected divorce, my daughter has been acting out usually in the form of some type of tantrum. Whether it was refusing to get dressed for school or faking sick because she said she didn’t want to be without me to going into a full blown kicking and screaming terrible two year old meltdown. The biggest problem now is that she is not two, she’s now ten years old.

Yes, I have tried many methods, researching every one before trying them out.

I have patiently waited for her to overcome her trauma and have done everything from being the patient parent letting her go crazy and taking the brunt of physical harm to actually holding her down under the theory of “this is the child who wants someone to take control and hold them making them feel secure.” Yes, well all that did was hurt me when she was in full fury mode and weighed more than most adolescents.

Therapy? Oh yes, immediately when her father walked out she went into a deep depression and we began therapy. I had no choice because even the preschool she attended sought me out to explain that she had changed and something was very wrong. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that my child who once looked like a singing, dancing fairy everywhere she pranced had suddenly turned into the child who wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t sleep, and walked around with her face looking straight to the ground.

Therapy did help, but cost a fortune. I found that the drawing therapy at her early age (5yrs old) helped the most as it showed what she was really thinking and feeling, but couldn’t or didn’t want to communicate. Unfortunately, that only went so far because after a certain amount of time that passed, the tantrums allowed my daughter to get out the anger that ran so deep, but it became a bad habit. Feeling like it was all her fault no matter what she was told, putting up with the stress of two completely different households and ethnicity and foods, and taking it out on me when she was home because it was the only way she could cope became a ritual that I couldn’t seem to stop.

Restriction-Yes, she goes on restriction or is grounded on a regular basis for days on end.

Spankings-Yes, she has been spanked. Even my friends who are policemen and women say Christine its ok to exercises your right to control your daughter as long as it is a controlled effort.

Breathing exercises, drawing frantically scribbling on paper, screaming into a pillow. Those all worked in theory, but in the moment when the switch turned on in her brain, she heard nothing and couldn’t stop until it ran it’s course.

Finally last summer when she walked out of a new therapist office (offered free through the school system), she got in my car slamming the door and broke the window-Now I felt that I was alone. Yes, I let her father know and tried to enlist his help, but it was always thrown back into my face because it was rare that she would act out at his house -I’m told because she was afraid he would walk out again so no one except a few very close friends and one school official actually ever saw this child completely out of control. I have to tell you that at first when I would try to talk to someone about the problem, they couldn’t believe me because my daughter is usually such a sweet, polite, child that no one could see her in any different light. Most still can’t today, but that is a good thing because she is such a sweet, gentle loving child.

So years later, we still have some issues, but they are not so bad and do not happen on a regular basis. She still gives me trouble about school and sometimes purposely moves like a slow zombie to make the point of showing me I cannot physically do anything so deal with it.

This is my third child not my first and my first two were brought up in the spank first, ask second mentality 30 years ago, but that is why I came up with THE CHALLENGE!

The Birth of THE CHALLENGE:

THE CHALLENGE consists of doing things that she should already be doing, but she just isn’t. She has been begging me for eight months to buy her a fit bit because she wants to be in the best shape and track her steps, heartbeat and so forth. I have always said no, because I don’t think it’s healthy for her to be so worried about her health because she is a perfect ten year old, however if that’s the one thing she wants more than anything in the world, then I am now going to use it.

Her princess world before: I woke her up slowly letting her watch a little morning tv before getting ready for school. My thought was I like to wake up and slowly move while listening to the morning news so why couldn’t she? she would then get breakfast brought to her while I got ready and made lunches. I usually had her school uniform laid out the night before so it was not a decision of what to wear, however for some reason, it was still an issue every morning. After I would tell her probably 8-10 times a morning what time it was and how much longer she had before we had to be out of the house, she would wait until the last minute and create some type of chaos making us late every single morning. Some mornings I would physically dress her and carry her to the car kicking and screaming, turning on the child safely locks so that she couldn’t open the doors as I was driving down the street. Oh yes, I have lived like this for several years until now I refuse to take any more.

The challenge:

She now must wake up on time, getting up when I wake her up or before. She has a clock in her room and in the bathroom and she is expected to keep an eye on the clocks knowing when we must be out the door and estimating how much more time she has to do certain procedures.

She must pull out her school uniform the night before with anything that she needs for extra curriculars such as dance clothes or whatever she may need so that no time is wasted looking for anything in the morning.

She must get her own breakfast, and groom herself. She had been grooming before, but not in the fashion I wanted at her age so after a good talking to, I added this into the challenge.

When she gets home from school, she must put her school folder and agenda down on the table for my review without a reminder. It is no longer my position to ask for it. I worry about my briefcase, she can worry about her backpack and contents.

She is to groom herself and go to bed on time because I know many times she has trouble sleeping and sleep deprivation is one major issue that will lead to a bad situation.

All of this plus no moping or silent treatment and if she needs to be alone, she dismisses herself and goes to her room to take some time out for herself.

She is expected to do all of the things she normally does such as walk and feed her pets: the dog and hamsters, chores on the weekend (dusting, vacuuming, keeping her room spotless and helping with laundry). I know after you read her princess duties, you thought she did whatever she wanted but actually I run a pretty tight ship for the most part.

Now if she can do these things three things will happen. (1)- she will have created a good habit overruling the bad habits I have allowed to be created. Studies show that if you continue the same practice for at least 21 days you will create a habit. (2)- she will feel better about herself gaining more self esteem and confidence and (3)- I will be a better parent because all of the chaos will be gone and I can enjoy her funny disposition without worrying when the next problem will occur giving me less stress making for a much more enjoyable household.

So am I bribing her or is this a challenge? Well maybe a little bit of both. Part of me thinks she should just be able to do these things and if she does do them, I will be a little angry to be honest that I allowed this to go on as long as I did. I know this is not easy.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect her to go five years with bad behavior and change immediately in two months. But I presented the proposal,  she thought about it for a short bit and said, “ but what if I get frustrated and can’t do it”. I said “let’s just believe you CAN do it and see what happens”.

Do I think we will have a meltdown coming up soon? Yes, I think I will have a slight issue before this ends, but she has even told her father of the strategy and he has been encouraging it. Maybe he will help me pay for it. I laughed as I wrote that OK maybe that will be a challenge I will develop for him in the future.

So I ask those of you out there… What are your feelings? Usually I am a stick to my guns kind of parent. If I say no once, it means no, don’t ask again. If I say I am now getting angry it means I am now getting angry and something needs to stop. This challenge means change on my part too. It was convenient making her breakfast and bringing it to her as I was jumping in the shower. Picking out her clothes so it was done. You know the saying if you want something done right do it yourself? Well that used to be my motto, but I don’t think it is necessarily a good one show a man to fish and he can eat, teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime is my new motto. I am very fortunately my two boys are grown and have developed into wonderful men who can take care of themselves. I am not calling them to ask, hey did you brush your teeth today or did you get your work done. So they turned out alright.

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear them. Contact me on Facebook at thedramafreemama.com or at twitter @dramafreemma.

Please let your friends and family know about Drama Free Mama because even in the thick of things we can all share our advice and how we chose to deal with our life changing moments.

 

 

 

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I am a single parent of three wonderful children. Two boys who are grown and live out on their own and a teenage daughter at home. I have gone through a lot of drama with divorce and sickness- just to start, but have found my way out of the shadows and I am ready to motivate and empower women with what I have learned. Being unqualified is exactly what makes me qualified. I work full time in the corporate world, I'm a parent, and I resell products on several different online platforms. Last, but the most important, I am a Christ follower at Church By The Glades.