Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Time For Change

Well I had my meeting with the school's counselor today. Having meetings at school because of your child's behavior is not fun. It feels like you're the one in trouble! I was all stressed out about it yesterday, and I'm sure that contributed to my not sleeping well last night. Not that I sleep all that great to begin with.

The bottom line seems to be that Bella is suffering from "Only Child Syndrome". Yes, she has two siblings, but they are grown and gone and she's the only one home now. She's always been the star of the show at home, but that doesn't translate very well in a school setting. She can't be the center of attention all day, every day and needs to learn that she must wait her turn and that the teacher isn't going to be sitting right next to her all day long. And at this point, if you aren't constantly riding her, she won't do her work. At all. Nothing!! UGH!!!!

But there are things we can do at home to facilitate changes in Bella, so she does act appropriately in school. Hopefully anyway.

Things we need to work on:
- Don't allow her to interrupt conversations. This is a biggie for Bella. She thinks that the whole world must stop because she needs/wants something or has something to say. She does say "Excuse me.", but hasn't learned to then WAIT until being addressed.

- Don't jump up the second she needs something or asks for help. Obviously if it's an emergency or she's in trouble, you move! But for everyday things, she needs to learn to wait. When you have two or more kids at home, waiting is par for the course because you're busier and sometimes everyone has to wait their turn. Only children usually have a harder time learning this.

- More play dates with other children. Kids are pretty good at working out compromises between themselves like siblings do everyday. This reinforces the idea that not everyone wants to do the same thing at the same time and you need to take turns. Bossy kids don't make, or keep, many friends!

- First empathize, then enforce. It's OK for Bella to not want to do her homework (who likes doing homework???), but she still needs to do it so she can master the skills she's learning. And whether she likes (whatever she's fighting) it or not, she's got to do it. Acknowledging her feelings first might go a long way toward changing a stubborn attitude.

- Let her deal with the consequences of her poor choices. She won't finish her dinner? Fine. No dessert. Bad report from school? Fine. No electronic privileges. Again, you can empathize, but enforcement must be followed. Every.Single.Time.

- Don't blather on and on and on (like this post, lol!). Make your point and then drop it. Even negative attention is attention. And The Bella craves attention! There's no point in giving it to her when she's not behaving properly. Better to save and lavish attention when she is behaving!

- Talk about good choices. Kids can't meet your expectations if they don't know what they are! And you have to be specific!! You can't just say, "Be good at school today", or "Focus on doing your work." For her it's more, "Make sure you finish your morning packet within XX amount of minutes", or "Don't stick your tongue out at so-and-so, even if they do it to you first."

- Make sure attention is not related to discipline. Not everything positive can be tied to rewards or only good behavior. Kids need lots of praise when they do get stuff right. So sometimes you have to really look (especially on bad days!!) for things to praise, and do so lavishly. It's better for them to be hooked on praise than reprimands! Also not everything has to be a reward for good behavior. She's too used to hearing about rewards or losing her privileges, but we need to just read a story together or do fun things that have nothing to do with behavior.

- Set her up with her homework, and then let her do it. I can't be constantly telling her to pay attention, focus, get back to work, etc. She needs to learn to be self-starting and self-motivated. I can't be there with her at school and the teacher doesn't have the time to do this either. Plus we all have to learn to get our work done without someone hammering at us!

- Lately she could give any Tween or Teen lessons on sassing and the whole sarcasm thing! Ugh!! She's only six! A quick correction and then done. Getting all mad and lecturing her isn't going to do any good. She'll just tune you out. This is very, very hard for me because it instantly enrages me when little kids talk like that, and this is something new for her. And I hate it!!

- Because Bella came into this classroom into the school year, she's behind on the computer math exercises. The rest of the kids had a two month+ head start. So she needs to do 2 exercises a day at home - minimum, and more on the weekends to catch up. It would also be super swell if she'd do them at school like she's supposed to - but that's on the teacher's time.

- We got a chore chart for Bella a while ago, and then didn't really keep up with it. Today I updated it and went over it with her. Now she knows what she's supposed to be doing, and got the thrill of putting on stars for the things that she's done. She also got to see the "sad face" on one of the things too. Stars are better!!! She's excited about it, so we'll go from there.

- The last thing was my "homework" given to me by the counselor. Thomas and I never do anything together that doesn't also include Bella. Even if it's just watching a movie together at home, we need time away from her and she needs to learn that she can't be included in everything. Going out to eat, going for a walk, whatever...just do it regularly and not with her. And we can't talk about her then either, lol! We've gotten out of this habit and that needs to change both for our marriage, and to also help Bella.

So that's the game plan for the home front. The counselor and the teacher are going to work on a game plan for during the school day as well. It seems awfully labor intensive just to make my stubborn kid do her work!!! I've never had a child just refuse to do their school work before! But she can't sit there and stare out the window, play, or bug other kids any longer. She's too smart for the work she's doing, but they refuse to test her for more/harder work if she isn't doing what she's being given now. So she had better tow the line pretty darn quick!!

34 comments:

just call me jo said...

Our Rachel is an only child. I was an only child. I think the assessment is pretty accurate. I agree with you that it's hard work and it seems a bit oppressive but I suppose that it is well worth the effort. Good luck, lady. I'm thinking of you. Hugs!

foxy said...

Man, that's a lot of work... but it all sounds like it should help immensely! I am filing this post away for future reference, since I will soon be mother to an only child as well. :)

Good luck! To you and Bella!

Mighty M said...

Good luck - but I know it's all doable! :)

Kristina P. said...

Sounds like a lot! I know you can do it. Unsolicited advice? You may want to do a top 3 to focus on right now, and implement the others later. It could be really overwhelming for her with all the changes.

Heatherlyn said...

Raising children can be so difficult. I think it is harder on the parents than the kids. Keeping a strict routine with lots of follow-through is exhausting! I hope and pray that you will have the determination and energy to follow-through. I know that my kids take EVERY advantage of me not wanting to make sure they do every little thing. They love an excuse to do what they feel like as opposed to what they are supposed to be doing. And such is the crux of life. GOOD LUCK (and what a pain)!!!

JDaniel4's Mom said...

These are great tips! JDaniel is an only. I need to work on them too.

Jenny S said...

Holy crud!! I can so see my son in everything you just wrote about....I may print this post out and start following it my self! And I soooo understand about the instant rage with the backtalk! I am right there with ya!!

blueviolet said...

I can imagine some of those tips will be hard to implement because she'll resist them strongly at first, but I know you can do this! Good luck mama!

Rita said...

Sounds like a really good counselor. Consistency and consequences and praise--good plan. And time for mom and dad--yes!! :):)

J said...

Jenny S's post is what I was going to write as well! Our only DS is quite the back-talker, and I instant rage at that myself. He deliberately disobeys too, so much that I have come to the conclusion that I will forever have to ask him 4 and 5 times to do something before it's done. Very exhausting. I'm printing out your to-do list and apply to my own little 8 yo personality at our house! good luck!

Lynn said...

I wish you alot of patience with all of this and I sure hope that everything works well for the both of you with this plan, good luck girl I know it is tough when there is drama with the kids :o) HUGS

AliceKay said...

Good luck with the adjustments needed to change Bella's attitude about some things. She's a smart little girl, so I think she'll figure it out quickly. (for your sake, i hope she does)

*hugs*

Wanda Cullen said...

I'm no behavior specialist, but having raised 3 children...there's one word that comes to my mind: CONSISTENCY! You have a good plan outlined...you'll see results if you are consistent.

Sandra said...

Ugh! My deepest sympathies! Those parent/teacher meetings do have such a way of making us feel like we've done something wrong. And I'm quite certain you've been nothing but an exemplary parent!

The Blue Zoo said...

Whew! Thats a lot of work. And its probably not gonna be very fun. Good luck!

Catherine said...

I agree that consistency will be the key. I tend to enable my kiddo's behavior and luckily Robert keeps me in check. It will be a tough transition, it was for us, but the results will hugely outweigh the initial difficulty. I'll email you about any way I can help (or ways we can help each other). :)

Christina said...

Hang in there you can do this even if you feel like it's breaking your heart.

Intense Guy said...

Ditto what Rita said.

Bella is so durn cute you can see why she's a diva... but she's gonna be in for a rude awakening when she learns the old Amish saying... "Kissin' wears out, cooking don't"

:)

STILLMAGNOLIA said...

I was an only child after my brother died....and my daughter is the youngest with two much older siblings. When Kat was 8 Eric left home and 9 when Jeni left. She was the only child from then on. I know what you are going through....let me tell you...Kat is a wonderful adult...after I did several of the things you have to do. Good luck my friend.

Carla said...

Poor momma.
Six words: Love and Logic Magic by Foster. Easy. Lets them be in charge, an in charge you are ok with, and more important, lets them THINK they are in charge. Use it on my foster kids, kids I babysat, grand kids, Sunday School kids, sure wish I had it for my OWN children. Oh the fun we would have had. One thing that can be said, Bella is blessed. Think how many don't have such in their life. You are just finishing out what you started and creating a perfect human!!

Deanna said...

Well dear, it definitely sounds like you are on the right track. Now print this post out and post it on your refrigerator!

Really, I am proud of you for taking action and doing the right thing for you and for Bella!

Angie said...

Good luck! It sounds like a lot of hard work for everyone, but I am sure it will pay off in the end.

I really need to teach my kids not to interrupt adult conversations - and they are only 16 mo apart so they don't have the only child reason.

We are meeting with speech therapist at school tomorrow (for the 2nd time) and I am nervous, so I know how you feel. Something about meeting with a teacher...

WhisperingWriter said...

Good luck with all that.

I'm an only child and I still have a problem with interrupting people. I work hard not to do it though, I know it's annoying.

Stephanie Faris said...

Hmmmmmmmm...you've given me a lot of food for thought here. My stepdaughter is an only child...sort of. Her younger half-sister was born 7 or 8 years after her and since they say a person's personality is formed before 4 or 5, that's considered by psychologists/psychiatrists to be an only child. (I can't remember the exact space in years to qualify for that.) She does interrupt conversations a lot. But mostly, as a sudden parent, I'm having to learn how to deal with parenting sorts of responsibilities. I have no idea what I'm doing! I'm going to read over these again next Friday before we get her and hopefully I'll be better at this stuff!

Faye said...

Hi Jeannie, my granddaughter is an only child and I think this assessment is "right on". My children were not literally only children, just 5 years apart and opposite sex, so they seemed to be only children. This assessment applied to my second child perfectly.

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Mamarazzi said...

so many good goals. sounds like a great plan, Bella is a great kid she will adjust and everything will be easier down the road!

Mary said...

Good luck girlie!! I know that you have the determination to carry through, because if anyone can take on a stubborn 6 yr old...a strong willed momma can!

Vickie said...

Good luck Jeannie. Bella is going to adjust. She is a good kid:)

JoeTacoma said...

What? Bella isn't the center of the universe?

Srsly, good luck with the game plan.

Melissa B. said...

Sending good vibes your way, Jeannie! I've got a stubborn one, too. We spent a lot of time a) trying to figure her out and b) trying to correct her attitude. I'd like to say we were successful. I did find that letting her do her "own thing," with friends and sans parentals, worked wonders.

April said...

Wishing you and Bella the BEST of luck as you work hard to get everything on track. Cheering for you all the way!

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Annie said...

oh my, this is a lot of work! Best of luck to you, Thomas and Bella!
hang in there, darling!!!!