Monday, May 9, 2011

Help! What do you do with a kid who...

  • seems to have no remorse?

  • would rather ask forgiveness than permission?

  • would rather do the time if it means he can do the crime?


Today was a classic example of said child's literally "shameLESS" personality:

He played with play-dough happily for an hour.
When he was done he sat amongst bits of green play-dough scattered all over the kitchen counter along with the toy tools for the clay. He told me he was hungry and asked if he coudl have a banana.

"Sure," I said cheerfully (really, I said it cheerfully). "I'm happy to get you a banana as soon as you clean up the play-dough."

Weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth ensued. Apparently, I was being terribly unfair.

"I think you're just making me do it because you don't want to do it," my astute and sharp-as-a-tack son observed. (Wow, nothing gets by him.)

"You're absolutely right. Why should I clean up your mess? It will only take you a minute to do it and then you can sit and enjoy your banana."

I went upstairs to put the laundry in the dryer and when I came back down he was sitting on the couch playing with a different toy.

I stopped in my tracks and took a deep breath. "This is so sad, but I want you to know you will not be getting a banana until you clean up that play-dough."

Without even looking up at me, he continued to play with the toy and declares, "I decided I'm not cleaning it up. I decided you can do it."

Breathe, I told myself. Then I began counting inside my brain in attempt to not ring my child's neck. One, Two, Three, Four... "Wow, then this is really sad because if I have to clean it up you won't get to play with play-dough anymore."

He shrugged his shoulders and said with resignation, "That's okay. In a few days I'll get to play with it again and that's okay."

I started to clean it up and tell him, "I'm sorry you feel that way. It makes me sad that you're not willing to clean up your messes and that you are okay with making mommy do it. That's so sad that you would treat me that way. And it won't be just a few days. It will be for a few weeks that you won't get to play with the play-dough."

"Oh, well, that's okay too because guess what, Mom? I already ate my banana. I ate it while you were upstairs." Smug little son-of-a...

Opening the garbage I see that sure enough there is a freshly discarded banana peel in the top of the heap.

So now he's grounded from having any snacks between meals for the rest of today and tomorrow, but I am so sick of this attitude! This kid feels no regret for bad choices and certainly feels no sorrow or sincerity in his penitence.

He honestly just
how his choices make other people feel.

I know he's only 4 1/2 but that's old enough to have compassion, feel some degree of responsibility, and have a desire to not make wrong choices.



Kristin said...

Hope you did a great job! Kids are so tricky. This last year I took a Love and Logic class which I loved. We talked a lot about some of the things that you did but there are a few other ideas you can try too. There is also a Love and Logic book called when your kids leave you speechless that I highly recommend. It is amazing. They have a chapter in there about how to get kids to do chores, and all kinds of other situations. And yes you are right to work on this when he is 4 1/2 because this is the time to learn ...

Kristi said...

I also just finished listening to a Love and Logic CD. One of the suggestions that I haven't tried yet, but it seems like a good one, is that you only ask kids to do something once. Then you do it for them and have them pay you with one of their toys. Pretty soon they learn that it's not just you that has to clean up, but there are consequences for him too. Good luck!

Wendy Kremin said...

Hope, keep being consistent. When Spencer was 8 he refused to take out the trash before we were going to a really great amusement park. I finally told him that if he didn't take it the 20 feet he couldn't go and he never would. He didn't get to go. I would say call his bluff everytime and even throw the playdough away next time. It's hard not to punish the siblings, but if it is HIS get rid of it and make sure he knows you have. Clear consequences and lot's of love and don't beat yourself up. You were given this strong little spirit for a reason and I've watched how tough you can be, which I admire a great deal about you. He will give you a run for your money but as long as you are one step ahead he will know you mean what you say. I think you are right about the snacks. Some kids are just wired this stubborn,strongwilled way. You are a wonderful mother that is for sure. Also, don't worry about the what ifs just focus on the right nows with him. If his main problem is stubborness that won't be so hard to handle. you will have a million parents telling you what you should and shouldn't do, but only you and Brett can decide what's best. Just keep being consistent even when sometimes you are at your wits end. I always thought "tough love" was cruel, but in hindsight and after all we've been through I wish I had practiced it more. The only thing I will say that you should do, is give yourself a break and know that you are great parents and your children are very blessed to have you. I never dreamed being a mother would be so hard on my self-esteem (at least with some of my children).

Wendy Kremin said...

Hope I thought of one more thing. If you can find out what pushes his buttons, it may help. You probably already do this but it's easy to have the same consequences for all the kids but I found that if I sent Cassidy to time out she loved it because she could be alone to read while Whitney would feel horrible with time out because she wanted to be with people. So with Cassidy I had to take away books etc. It did help to "personalize" disciplines even though you will hear "It's not fair" until they are grown. Just a thought and I hope it helps a little. If you can find out what Carson REALLY loves and make it "hurt" to be naughty then maybe he will get the idea that he has to conform to the rules or he will lose the things he enjoys.

mari70 said...

Ok pelase do not call me mean, but to be honest with you disrespect is one thing I personally as a mom can't tolerate so if one of my kids would of done that to me this is what I would of done:
1) just said fine, you do not want to do it " I will do it", then get a garbage bag and threw everything there then put it in the garbage can outside, that way he'll see that mom Is not playing around and then he'll realize that oh well I guess I am not playing with it again, and you better not buy another playdoo for a long, long time.
2) I would of sent him to his room right away (that way he
is not near the kitchen so he can't get whatever he feels like)
3) once in his room I would sat him on his bed an told him not to move from there until you say so and if he does, then just take out of his room everything that makes him happy ( and I mean everything ) even if that means just to leave his bed alone period and don't you dare to put them back until he shows you that he is really sorry and starts respecting you.

You will see how soon he will change when he realizes mom is not kidding around.
If this doesn't do it. DO NOT GIVE UP!! and do not give his thing back until he shows that rey change of heart.
Still show him your love, but don't give up your point!!!
Hope this helps, people ask why my kids behave, they know mom and dad do not fool around.
Yeah I know to tough. Well guess what it does work!!!

Stacy said...

I'm sorry Hope! I didn't read through the other comments due to time, so maybe this suggestion has already been said....I may not be the best at parenting, but it seems to work with my kids so here you go.

I ask my kids nicely to do something. If they refuse then I tell them, "I am the parent and I am not really asking you, I am telling you. If you choose not to listen and mind then you will have a consequence for your actions." The consequence usually is a lot longer time out than usual or taking something away. After the consequence, they are still required to do what I have asked them to do. Some of the time I have had to take them by the hand and make them do what I have asked (like if it were picking up toys I would hold their hands and at the same time make their hands pick up and put away the toys). They get sick of that and start to do it themselves. If I have to fight with them about it (like you did with the play dough and banana), then they also don't get what they want even after they have done what they were told. That's the punishment for me having to get mad and ask multiple times before they listened and minded. That has gotten them thinking about wanting to do things the first time asked instead of arguing.

It's just big to find the one thing that will really bother them to lose. If the play dough isn't a big deal to lose, you could take something else that is important away. I hope it gets better! Good luck!

The Kings said...

oh wow - it's a toughie but I would also find something that pushes his buttons. Does he love watching DVDs? Does he love going somewhere special? I would then take that away from him and punish him for being defiant - put him in time out somewhere he doesn't want to be (bedroom isn't always good unless you can make sure he stays in bed or something he will not like).
I'm not the perfect Mum that is for sure and my boys definitely are NOT perfect but I've had to find things that work for each one. In our family Harri is the hard one - he is the one who doesn't care so much about things but he LOVES football so if I take away his football cards he soon starts listening :)

"The democracy will cease to exist when you TAKE AWAY from those who are willing to work AND GIVE to those who would not."

Thomas Jefferson