The terrible stages

Jenny actually brought this up yesterday on our “family photo” joke. Only really, it’s not a joke. I know they’re having a rough time right now getting through the 4’s. My first born child was HORRIBLE at 15-16-17….

I have no magic answers because LORD KNOWS I didn’t raise perfect children. I mean they’re both productive members of society and they make me proud of them more often than not but back in the day, they gave me a run for my money so I can only share what I did. That’s really all any of us can do. Share our experiences.

My favorite age was 4 through 7-ish. They still love you and are still naive and believe what you tell them but they aren’t infants anymore. They can talk to you and do things with you. I loved that age. I even taught swimming lessons to 4, 5 and 6 year old’s. I love them. I however hated 2-3. I hated potty training more than anything. I don’t know if ages change with time or not. By the time both my kids were 4 they were going to Sunday school and pre-school, only then it was called nursery school, so they were more good than not. Kids really need peers and without them, it’s hard to teach sharing, kindness, waiting your turn  etc.

Laura mentioned in the “joke post” that she has learned to “pick her battles” and I guess that’s what we all have to consider. What bothers you the most and how you stick to your guns on things.

These were my battles.

#1. I didn’t tolerate late. EVER. I never budged. For every minute they were late, they owed me that time. ALWAYS. I had them do chores or rub my feet or sometimes they just got grounded. They both learned very early on not to be late. I would only worry and I didn’t want that to be something I always had to think about. They were almost never late. If they called, they didn’t get grounded. I always told them that if they could be 15 minutes late, they could be 15 minutes early.

#2. I didn’t do the whole “tantrum” thing. If they threw one, I just walked away. A kid isn’t going to throw a tantrum for very long if nobody’s watching. The only time my boys really ever threw a tantrum (I wouldn’t call it a tantrum but for argument sake…) was if we were in a store and they wanted something and I said no and they kept it up, I’d just walk away and if you really do it, they’ll follow you 99% of the time. If they didn’t want to get ready to go somewhere or not put on their shoes or jacket, I just left them alone and went about my business. Standing there alone, they put on whatever very quickly. I once let Toby think I left him at home. He was about 5 and he was really being a putz, I know!!!! Imagine that!!! But he wasn’t listening and I left and I drove away in the direction of the store but I crossed back and sat in the cul-de-sac watching the house for 10 minutes or so and then went back and came home. I’ll tell you one thing, he never did that again.

#3. If they ever asked me if a friend could come over or do something with them and the friend was standing there, it was an automatic no. Being I worked at the school with them for various years, they started asking if Ike or Karl or Chris could come over after school and I didn’t want that to start nor did I want to hurt anyone’s feelings. They had to ask ahead of time or at least when we were alone.

#4. I always followed through on what I said I was going to do. If I said “knock it off or I’ll pull this car over and shake you silly,” I did. I hate it so much when parents yell and yell and yell and it means absolutely nothing to the child. The parent just keeps after them and after them and even now, that drives me nuts. But I was also very careful when handing out a punishment. I didn’t tell them when they were 4 that they were grounded for a month because that never works. Then you’re always giving in. If you give in sometimes, that kid always thinks he’ll change your mind. If you never do, you don’t get the arguing. So it’s really important to make sure the punishment fits the crime and the age of a child.

That’s about it. I never stressed if their rooms were a mess or if their shoes were on the floor or their jacket was hung over a chair. I never overreacted if something got broken. Stuff happens and usually those things were accidents. I also felt that our boys lived in our home too and I really never was a nag. Not even to them. This is why you can’t be a crab over everything. You have to carefully weigh what bothers you the most and what you won’t live with and remember, if it’s not that big of a deal, it might just be better to let that go.

We also did a LOT of chore charts. For some reason kids really get a kick out of picking a sticker out and putting it on a chart and after a week or two, they get to pick dinner or whatever you agree on ahead of time and if you’re having trouble with something, put it on the chart so the child works on it each day and it’s a conscious decision.

If I could have a “do over” for anything I think it would be the talking back. Jason was awful about that but at the time “airing feelings” was really big in the early 80’s. He really hurt my feelings a lot of times telling me he hated me and stuff. In hindsight, I’d never do that again.

I’d also like to share something that my mom used to tell me. If I was having trouble with one of the boys she’s always say “if you can’t make them mind at 5, you’ll never be able to do it at 10. They get older, stronger and more defiant. Also, we had LOTS of tears and “I don’t want to’s” but it’s just kind of how I did things and it worked. You have to find out what works for your child because they didn’t come with a manual and they’re all different.

So, where are you at? What are your battles? What are you having a problem with? What worked for you and what didn’t. Also, what works for one child won’t work for the other so you have to hit each child where it hurts.

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29 Responses to The terrible stages

  1. Jenny says:

    I’m sure I’ll be back adding more to this… Lets see, Hunter does great when we go out. When we’re at restaurants he behaves quite well. When we’re shopping or just out and about he’s awesome. Now when we’re home or driving in the car he likes to argue. Argue ALOT! I have no problem with ignoring him. Whenever he’s throwing his little fit I will ignore him. Jason, however, can’t! I don’t know why but he can’t ignore him. And then Jason gets mad at me cause he’s trying to fix the situation and I’m ignoring. So i know, yes we need to get on the same page with that.

    Hunter doesn’t like to listen to Jason at all. He will go and ask Jason if he can have something and Jason will tell him no and Hunter will run straight to me asking if he can have that thing. That drives Jason nuts when he does that!

    Yelling, he does that a lot! Screams until his face is all red. Yes we spank, but that doesn’t seem to work at all with Hunter anymore Timeouts work better. There have been nights where he’s been in bed at 7 pm because of his attitude. Sue had mentioned the other night about making a chores chart for him. Then he could put stickers on it. He’s such a great helper. Loves helping with anything. I would say this is the hardest age so far! Terrible 4’s ugh!!

    • Vicki says:

      Hunter listens pretty good to me as long as his mom and dad are not around..especially Jenny..If im telling him something he dont want to hear he tries to ignore me and focuses on his mom..
      He sure does come up with some crazy things some times though and I cant help but to laugh and wonder where it comes from.. He had split/bit his lip and it had been bleeding and in telling me what happened he told me ” it was bleeding gramma and im lucky to be alive” LOL i thought huh???? lucky to be alive??? where ever did he come up with that one from? dramaboy.. LOL

    • Joy says:

      Paul and Jason used to “fight” like that and it drove Toby and I crazy. Men seem to have to try to “fix” everything or try to control everything instead of letting some things go. Some things just need to run their course. I couldn’t ever fix that and to this day they still squabble. It’s just how they are. It does suck because the kids do know and they play a lot on that and then as they get older, they use you against each other.

  2. Laura says:

    Well, we’ve just found out recently that Josh (8) is officially Odd. Oppositional. And really, it has helped me to have that diagnosis. It makes me step back and take a breath… almost like, now that it has a name, I have permission to not try and control it, you know? That doesn’t mean that I let him get away with stuff, it just means that I try to find a better way to deal with it. It’s amazing the pressure we put on ourselves as parents to always “be in charge” – when sometimes you just cannot be. So, with that in mind…

    I will answer almost any question he asks of me, unless he’s getting into a spiral of “what if?”… then I’ll play along for a little while and shut him down, because he either gets too ridiculous (which can be fun), or more often, he’s working himself into a state of anxiety.

    I will NOT argue with him – and this one is EXTREMELY hard for me. And there are times when I still do it, and I have to catch myself and stop it. I like to argue. It’s a hobby. It’s a trait, handed down through my family. But with Josh, I *cannot* do it, because it just encourages him. So I try very hard not to do it. I will negotiate on certain things, I will discuss options with him… but I will not put up with him arguing with me.

    We’ve had lots of issues with tantrums, but lately, since the diagnosis,really, we’ve been handling them much better. I rarely spank, if ever. But I’m very liberal with the “go to your room”, and that comes with degrees. Sometimes he just needs to get away from a situation and cool off. Then it’s just “go to your room”. Other times, it involves punishment, in which case, it’s “go sit on your bed and do NOTHING except sit there” (because he will find a loophole in EVERY instruction – we have to be extremely specific).

    I’ll probably be back, too…

  3. starlaschat says:

    I think lots of good advice Joy. Not having kids I don’t really have much to add. Our naieghbors kids would come over alot it took me a long time for them to understand MY NO ment NO. It seemed like they would test me over and over. They didn’t realize I would out last them finially……we came to an understanding. It was a good thing I miss them they were very sweet kids. I always remembered their birthdays. It was nice I always tried to take time out to give them an ear we would sit on the porch and we would just talk and sit.

  4. Joy says:

    What else I forgot to mention is it’s really important to recognize and reward or praise good behavior. Sometimes you have to really look for it and sneak up on them sometimes but you should give them a pat on the back when they don’t dilly dally or if they’re playing nice or whatever. So many people only yell and find fault. Don’t we all like a pat on the back sometimes for nothing special?

    • starlaschat says:

      Navar has had classes about that for teaching focusing on the good behavor and not giving so much attention to misbehavor. I think it’s hard as a teacher not to have the kids that are acting up to not monoplize the time in the classroom. Yes I think most people kids and adults appreciate a pat onthe back from time to time.

  5. SKL says:

    First, sorry I’m late – I fell asleep last night waiting for my computer to get over itself.

    I think that when you’re in the thick of things, it seems worse than it really is. You feel like if you don’t fix the problem this moment, your kid is never going to grow up right. In reality, God gives us a little more play than that. Some proof: I now remember little of what I had to deal with when my kids were 4. So there is hope! Now I just deal with 5 – which seems to be a bit better, most of the time.

    If I were with my child all day, I’d be a hardass (and Miss E would probably have found some way around that by now). But when you’re only with them a couple hours at a time, it’s hard to stop everything for discipline every time. Sometimes I do, but when it’s mild stuff, I will threaten and/or assign a consequence that happens in the future. Then sometimes, I admit, I forget to follow through (or I can’t, as with an “early bedtime” when we end up staying out late). Parents are not perfect. I’ve accepted the fact that I never will be, and I don’t think you have to be 100% in order to raise decent kids.

    I don’t have an official diagnosis for anyone, but I would say Miss E is “oppositional,” while Miss A is insecure and negatively affected by physical stuff (tired, hungry, sugar, etc.). With both of them, my current go-to solution is to get them to look at themselves and motivate themselves to act more sensibly. In fact, twice this week I used the word “oppositional” with Miss E, explained what it meant, and challenged her to think about whether anything good was likely to come of it. We’ll see if this helps any. Today, her “issue” was that I helped her unfasten the back of her dress when she “didn’t need help.” (I did it because she needed to hurry up – another thing she does not like being told to do.) I know we as the adults should not let these things get to us, but when you’re in the moment, it does.

    The thing about Miss E is that I “can” control her, but this very fact makes her very upset. For example, if she doesn’t get ready on time I can leave her home and take her sister with me. I have seriously gotten ready to do that a couple of times. So Miss E has complied and come with me – but not happily, if you know what I mean. It reminds me of when I was 13 and I’d say to myself “I’m not your slave” when my mom would tell me what to do. I can imagine how life will be when my kids get actual hormones.

    Miss A is usually easier to deal with. She’s either behaving or misbehaving – it doesn’t go deeper. She gets on these occasional rolls where she exhibits less and less self-control, which I wonder is neurological. But she knows it’s her behavior that’s crossing the line. Most of the time she is very rule-bound and doesn’t have a lot of “needs” other than to feel loved and accepted. The only thing about her that makes me grind my teeth is the comparing – but I mentioned that the other day. It is now against the rules around here to compare (in front of me), but it sometimes happens anyway.

    Of course, the nice thing about kids is that they forget their baditude so quickly. Within minutes they are laughing and loving. If only we could take a page out of their book.

    Speaking of books, in case I haven’t mentioned this before: when Miss E was starting to be really difficult a couple of years ago, someone suggested a book that did help: “Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline.” It kind of helped me to get my emotions out of the discipline and put it back on the child to do the right thing. Miss E’s behavior did improve. Maybe it would help you, though of course all kids are different.

  6. Anne says:

    Hello. Great, insightful post. I’d say for meal times, I found myself becoming a short order cook. One day, I was like, “WTF? NO MORE! I’m making ONE meal, eat it or not – it’s up to you. I also didn’t nag about eating every last bite on their plate. That was also up to them, BUT, “If you don’t eat what I served you, (I mean, don’t even try) do not come looking for snacks later”.

    I was raised to do what I was told. Kind of like being seen and not heard. My mom was and is still the most loving person in the world, I cherish her and set her on a pedestal but I was also one of 12 kids. Dad was a worker, and mom was always there for hugs and kisses. When my 3 came along, I realized that they can order their own drinks at a restaurant and not be rushed – I don’t know, my kids (3 of them) were taught that their voices count, they can march to the beat of their own drummer. They had to behave, but there was more time for those things.

    I ran a tight ship. My therapist said to me, “You can loosen the reigns later, but you cannot tighten them”. That stuck in my brain, made a lot of sense to me. I did not tolerate being disrespected and my kids never hit me. I’ve seen that out in public and stared with my mouth dropped over and “???” over my head. “Really? Really lady?, you just let your toddler slap you across your face and now you are going to reason with him? Hmmmm… I wonder how that’s working for you?” BAHAHA! I also tried to keep my threats within reason, I realized early on that I couldn’t threaten, “If you do that again, you are NOT going to have a friend over for a month!” That is just stupid. Because I am the type of person that WILL follow through with a threat. Scott, to this day, bless his sweet soul- will try to “get them out” of their punishments early. OMG, what a struggle there. He is always the nice guy and I tell him, “you are hurting them, not helping them- (my twins are just about 16 now), the world isn’t going to let them off easy!” and he says, “Well, the world can teach them that later” – Grrrr! We’ve had some major disagreements over this. His dad was always sick with a heart condition when he was growing up and passed as my husband was just 16. I know that’s why he has a hard time being too firm because he feels like he could pass away too early as well.

    I know this is a long winded response, but lastly, I hit them where it hurt- take away little digital gaming gadgets, their favorite toys, etc. when they were naughty. I’d place them high on the tall bookcase where they could see what they were grounded from for a day or two. Catch 22. I pick my battles and hubs is there to tell me when I overreact and visa versa. It’s the hardest, most confusing, most rewarding job on the planet <3.

  7. SKL says:

    Regarding Miss E and the control stuff, I’ve had it suggested to me on the adoption forum that the obsession with control can be a by-product of adoption. At the time(s) of disruption, the child felt completely out of control of the situation and basically a victim of what everyone else decided to do to them. (And disruption is traumatic – imagine Hunter waking up in a foreign country one morning and never seeing his parents again, with no idea why.) So as a defense mechanism, they determine that they are never going to relinquish control if they can help it. It can actually get really ugly with some kids. So this is always in the back of my mind. I think Miss E is well-adjusted and all that, but what really goes through her mind (subconsciously) when she feels she’s not in control of her situation? For this reason, I try to base things on the structure of how things are – not my own arbitrary requirements. For example, school starts at x o’clock. That’s not something I made up just to piss off Miss E. I try to focus on that rather than “I said so” (though I still am the boss around here, LOL).

    I would also note that I give some age-appropriate incentives. For example, if, for the entire week, both girls get to school on time every day, have good behavior in school, finish their homework before pickup, and get 100% on their Friday sight word test, they can have chicken nuggets on Saturday. Yeah, I’m a hardass. But it works, because they are old enough to think ahead and control their behavior for the most part.

  8. Joy says:

    I forget to mention what Anne just brought up about being overly strict in the beginning. We did that for the new school years. It’s much easier to back off and let things loosen up if your child can handle it but if you need to be more firm, it’s a lot harder to do. It’s almost like starting over.

    I know this might sound corny but I very much believe in the way The Nanny did things. Once you get your kids to the point that everyone’s happy, it’s so much better for everyone. I remember the days of Jason going to bed mad and it always made me feel bad all night. I hated it when it got to the point of yelling, screaming, slamming doors and bed. I always felt so sad and I’d go look at him when he slept and sometimes cried. Things run so much smoother when everyone is happy. Spanking didn’t do any good for Jason either.

    • Nikki says:

      Jason has a very strong personality! It takes a lot of patience to live with him. On one hand, I admire him for it. He doesn’t let anyone push him around, and he’s no door mat. But on the other hand, his strong will can be too much at times. I think all in all, you did a great job with both the boys. They are both wonderful fathers!

  9. SKL says:

    Another thing I will mention is that loud protests are very rare around here. (And when they do happen, it’s most likely to be me who is loud.) Miss E has had maybe 5 vocal meltdowns in her life, if that. Miss A used to about once a month as a tot, but it’s been years since I recall a serious tantrum.

    Miss E is a sulker/mutterer. This should be easy, right? Just ignore it and be the bigger person. Sure, that sounds logical, but it’s not that easy.

    Miss A is either pouting or laughing when she’s in need of discipline. The laughing doesn’t bother me, but the pouting does. Maybe I should examine myself and figure out why this is.

  10. Nikki says:

    I’ve been fairly lucky when it comes to bad behavior with Bailey. He wasn’t perfect, but he just never threw tantrums. I don’t think he ever did, actually. He’s always been so mild tempered. Busy, but never naughty. He’s a “go with the flow”, kind of kid.

    Now, he’s almost 12 and I can tell the hormones are kicking into high gear. He’s like me, and needs the last word. I’ve learned to just drop it, or him and I could go on forever. We’re very similar! I can’t be too hard on Bailey though, because he’s very sensitive. He gets an attitude more now than ever. It’s hardly ever what he says, but how he says it. I ignore him until he uses the proper tone. I have noticed since he’s been hanging with a particular kid, his attitude is a lot worse, so that time is very limited. Actually, right now, that friend is off limits.

    We also have the rule, if we are asked about sleepovers in front of that friend or his parents, it’s an automatic no.

    The only thing he really gets into trouble for is his mouth. What he does is say, “fine!” or a simple okay. Which almost drives me more nuts. lol It’s mostly his tone that we have a problem with. He doesn’t like to argue. We tell him all the time, he’d never be in trouble if he’d just change the tone of his voice.

    I hope he’s nothing like his father or I, when it comes to the teenage years. God help us all, if he is! I know, we were both awful!

    • Nikki says:

      Oh, yeah! I don’t tolerate being late either. He knows my mind goes to a very bad place when he’s late so he does call if he’s going to be a few minutes late. I always tease him saying he has to call me every night when he’s in college, just so I can sleep at night!

    • Nikki says:

      Please don’t take any of this like I think Bailey is perfect. He’s not! We just got pretty lucky so far, with him.

  11. SKL says:

    Every once in a while, I wonder if this aspect of parenting would be easier if I just had one of my two children. I mean, the comparing, the competing, the taking one’s frustrations out on each other, the egging each other on . . . it does challenge. I feel kinda guilty but sometimes this thought runs through my mind when one of my kids is getting on my nerves while the other is being just peachy. Of course there are many benefits to them in having each other, but it’s not all smiles and rainbows.

    • Nikki says:

      I don’t know many parents that only have one child. We are more times than not, the only ones that have a single child. I can imagine how different it is. I always wanted more than one, but now, I’m very glad we only had one. I try not to say that too often, in fear of offending other parents. That’s not my intention.

      • SKL says:

        Interestingly, the most active crowd here with young kids tends to have one boy.

      • Jenny says:

        Hunter is gonna be our one and only! I get tired of people saying oh you should have another one, Hunter needs a sibling…nope! Hunter is our one and only and that’s how its gonna be.

        • Nikki says:

          I still get that! And my response is always, I wouldn’t change it for anything!

          It’s hard though, making sure your only child isn’t spoiled. They do need to be around kids, more than kids that have siblings. It’s harder for them to learn to share, compromise, problem solve and so on.

        • SKL says:

          It’s nobody’s business. I still don’t understand how people think they know what’s best for everyone else. Is their own life in perfect order? I didn’t think so. Besides, how do they know the person they’re harping on hasn’t been through heartbreak trying or wishing for a second child?

          Sometimes, someone opens up the discussion and then I’ll post my two cents on it. I don’t regret adopting two sisters. I planned it that way and it’s been net positive. I sure hope they always have each other and view this as a blessing. But there are no guarantees. And it’s not easy no matter how you do it.

        • Joy says:

          I was going to say the same thing Nikki. You did daycare and Bailey was never alone. It’s really important for them to have peers. Bailey is also with Emily an awful lot. You’ve always had Josh living with you. It’s not really like he’s been an only child. When did you send Bailey to preschool? Without peers in their life they don’t know how to play or share or any of that good stuff. Even fighting which we’ve all done and kids need to know how to do that too. Single child parents need to work a little harder to keep them busy and well rounded. Everything we’ve learned, we’ve learned somewhere.

          • Nikki says:

            He was 4 when he went to preschool. I did my best to make sure he was around kids as much as I could. Being socially prepared for school, is just as important as academically. In my opinion.

          • Jenny says:

            Hunter will be going to preschool in the fall. He loves when Trin & Christopher go to Great Grandmas and they are able to play. Although, sometimes Christopher & Hunter don’t exactly get along!

  12. joanharvest says:

    Lilah is now 2 years and 9 months. She has a strong personality and can be very stubborn. The good thing is that all three of us adults are on board and we all use the same methods with her. We do the same thing with the tantrums. We totally ignore her so the tantrums are few and far between., She won’t waste her time with them now. We all stick to our guns with her too. We don’t ever yell but she does get time outs.
    When my kids were teens they couldn’t be late either. They were great about keeping in touch with me when they were out. Living in a small town there weren’t many places for them to hide from me and they knew if I didn’t hear from them I would track them down and there would be consequences.
    I really don’t understand some parents nowadays. They seem to have no clue about where their kids are.

  13. Joy says:

    Bribery. I also used this all the time. I feel if it works, why not. I also don’t think being an only child has anything to do with kids behaving or not. Kids are kids and siblings don’t really come into play in this. I do feel if you have a spouse or partner of whatever kind and you’re both not on the same page, your kid won’t be either because they’re being pulled from both sides. They think like Hunter does that if dad says no, go ask mom or vice versa. I knew very early on to go to my dad. He was an easy “yes.” So I do feel it’s important to put an effort in to standing in a united front.

    The other thing, to me, that’s key is CONSISTENCY. Your kids will be so much happier if they always get the same response. If they cross the line and the consequence is always the same, they know. You can’t brag how smart your kid is on one hand and then say “they don’t understand” on the other.

  14. Laura says:

    I have also discovered – and been reminded today – that Josh doesn’t always (read: NEVER) tell me when he’s not feeling good. He’ll just plow through sick. But then his ‘defenses’ are down, and he can’t get in front of tantrums, problems with schoolwork, etc. So I’ve started paying attention when he’s having behavior problems, particularly at school. I have to be very careful about it, because he’s one who will jump quickly on any excuse for his bad behavior, other than, “It’s my fault, I screwed up”, but it’s important, because if he’s feeling like crap, that gets a different handling than if he’s just being a snot. It’s a hard thing to detect, though.

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