PDA

View Full Version : Can I be successful with so-so parenting skills?



Kateroo
08-17-2011, 12:49 PM
So, after quite a few meltdowns in the last 24-hours, I'm wondering about whether this hs thing can work for my son. He's 5 years old, VERY intense, still has meltdowns/tantrums. He's been in daycare his whole life and every teacher he has had is in love with him. He's the helper in the class, listens the first time, gets along with the other kids, etc. And he LOVES to try to please his teachers. You can see the it already with his new kinder teacher. He's already talking about how he wants to get so many points to win Mrs. Collins' pencil. But at home, it's another story (I know, I must have great parenting skills, huh?). He is, for lack of a better word, kinda bratty. I can't tell him 'no' about anything without him putting up some kind of fight. As I mentioned, he demonstrates little to no self-control (but obviously that's behavioral because he can do it at school). We've done behavior-reward charts of a similar type, but it doesn't impact his behavior like it does at school. He's like two different kids. His teachers have always reassured me that that is normal; he feels comfortable enough to blow off steam at home.

However, in this new context of hs, are we doomed if I try homeschooling? The outside influence of an authority figure is highly motivating to him and I just don't seem to have that same level of influence or ability to command respect. I know we're not as consistent as we should be and I'm sure that if we were that might help a bit.

Any thoughts about this would be great. I welcome your honesty about what it sounds like our issue is and what I would need to do in order to make hs'ing work. Thanks all.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
08-17-2011, 01:10 PM
I think it's normal, too. Kids behave very differently for other adults and caregivers than they do for their parents. I've heard that many kids cut loose at home after restraining themselves all day at school. Please don't assume that it's you!

Consistency is KEY! My son was having many meltdowns and was refusing to cooperate with us by the end of kindergarten. We spent last summer working hard on his behavior. He was given a countdown of 10 or 20 seconds to comply with our request or he would get a short timeout. We didn't lecture or show any emotion (most of the time!), but just marched him to the designated spot and made sure he stayed there quietly. After the timeout, the request was made again. We repeated the timeout until he did what he was told. At first, it could go on for a half an hour, but he soon understood that he wasn't going to win the battle. I've also started rewarding him for completing a task immediately or without supervision. I've also tried to pay attention to what sets off the defiance. He's reacts that way when I lose my temper or raise my voice, so I have to try hard (and, man, it's really hard sometimes!) to remain calm and even cheerful.

Don't give up on homeschooling! Some consistency and watch and see if something is triggering the behavior. Good luck!

Accidental Homeschooler
08-17-2011, 01:22 PM
[QUOTE=Kanga;50318]I know we're not as consistent as we should be and I'm sure that if we were that might help a bit.[QUOTE]

I have an intense 6yo who is prone to meltdowns/tantrums and hs has given me the opportunity to make progress here, and we have. My dd was having the same behavior at school though, so it wasn't as hard a decision to take her out. I would maybe think about what it is that is preventing you from being consistent and start working on that. And I second the previous poster as far as taking the emotion out on your end. That was hard for me to master but has made a HUGE difference. She would have all this intensity going and if I added to it at all it was like throwing gasoline on a fire (and I am the one who would get burned!) I also found it helpful to work with a therapist just to get some ideas from someone neutral about how to change/adjust my parenting to be a better fit for what my dd needed. This is just my opinion so please take it with a grain of salt (a huge one, as all parents and kids are different), maybe it would be better to get a handle on the parenting stuff and then try hsing.

PBB
08-17-2011, 02:27 PM
I am not sure I can add much in the way of advice, but I want to know you have "friends" out in cyberland with the same issue!! My dd (7, second grade) was the PERFECT child the three years at her school (prek-1st). Never spoke out of turn, never disobeyed, sweet, loving, etc. At home, a totally different story. I have a ds (6, 1st grade) who is a typical, silly boy and occaisionally had issues in the classroom (talking, laughing, etc). At home (second week of homeschooling) my daughter is a real challenge - doesn't want to listen, talks back, smart-mouthed, whiney. I have lost my temper and it has done nothing but made her more defiant. Today, she was being bad-tempered in the morning. I kept my cool, talked quietly or just let her vent. Finally, right before we broke for lunch, she snapped out of it. Meanwhile, my ds is the perfect hs child - engaged, ethusiastic, etc. My kids are bright and I think part of the problem is the huge amount of review involved in these first few weeks (a bit of boredom, perhaps). I skipping to the new stuff.

But, to answer your question about whether or not you would be successful hsing your son. Yes - you probably have to set your rules in stone, don't waver, don't give in and expect a couple of lousy days when he is in a crappy mood. My daughter will push and push and push to get what she wants - it is exhausting! I am working on not losing my temper. It is a struggle, but one well worth it. I refuse to put my kids in PS and the only private option was just too religious for us. Good luck

MarkInMD
08-17-2011, 02:42 PM
Good gracious, that's US! :)

Consistency will be the key. This is what motivates our 5-year-old (soon to be 6) to do things. If he has a task, he does it. It's when things get loosey-goosey that he pushes the envelope. Our first year of homeschooling him along with our fourth grader is coming next week, but I think we'll do well if we stick with the schedule and keep him occupied. Hopefully the same applies for you. Good luck!

Eileen
08-17-2011, 04:38 PM
I certainly hope so, because I'm sure mine are only so-so. I have one very challenging kid and one super easygoing kid, and I imagine that if I had only had my younger daughter I would have thought I was an amazing parent. How else could I have produced this awesome, sweet-natured kid? ;) But alas, I had my older one first, and she has made me question myself as a parent many times. Try not to be so hard on yourself, some kids are tougher than others.

I read a fantastic book last year that really helped me to get a handle on my daughter's tantrums, and learn to help her deal with them rather than being punitive about it. http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Time-Out-Beth-Grosshans-Ph-D/dp/1402777647/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1313613273&sr=1-2 It was very positive, and helped me understand my parenting style and what I was doing to contribute to the problem, without being judgmental. I'm sure radical unschoolers would be extremely un-fond of it, to say the least, but it brought a lot of peace to a household that had none, and in a fairly short time. It's not a harsh discipline book or anything, actually very gentle, and very effective for us. Just a thought, in case you want to check it out.

Stella M
08-17-2011, 04:53 PM
I think so! Most of us don't have perfect parenting skills, after all. Like any job, it's more a case of learn on the go. 5yrs was an awful time for one of our children as far as massive meltdowns and tantrums go.

Trying not to get sucked into their hyper emotional state helps. Going to get a glass of water and sipping on it as they tantrum helps. So did - for us - treating it as a developmental thing with no repercussions afterwards - no punishments. Lots of factual positive statements. "You look really angry. I would like to help you but I can see you don't want help right now. You are very frustrated. " etc etc. Of course, sometimes I lost the plot and would be somewhat less factual and positive! but we all survived.

Good luck, hope you find a way of helping yourself and your child through this stage. I don't think you are doomed to hs failure. Part of homeschooling is working out multiple ways of motivating oneself and it's an ongoing process.

farrarwilliams
08-17-2011, 07:09 PM
No one has perfect parenting skills, so I sure hope you can be successful without them.

The thing the teachers said to you about feeling free to blow off steam at home is so true in my opinion. In my experience teaching, the kids who were angels at home but felt free to blow off that steam at school were the ones who were *really* messed up. It usually indicated they didn't feel a sense of unconditional love and safety at home. Eek. So I definitely wouldn't worry about that. It sounds like your ds is a bit of an extreme Jekyll and Hyde, but I think most kids are to some extent.

I think homeschooling would just be a big adjustment and change on every level for you guys. Your ds would have to get used to you as teacher, to adjusting his behavior, to responding to internal motivations. You would have to really push through all the initial difficulties (in your situation, my guess is things would get harder before they got easier), and have faith it can work. I think there are really two basic strategies that change behaviors - consistency, like everyone is saying, and targeting small things one by one. I think it's hard to just go up to a kid who is doing a dozen different things that you think aren't working and try to change them all at once. Pick something, be super consistent and hard line about it, then move on to something else.

I'm not always a fan of his work and I'll say upfront that I really don't agree with him on many things, but you might consider reading (even if just part) of Alfie Kohn's Punished by Rewards, which deals with the kind of behavioral motivations that seem so effective for your ds but are clearly backfiring for you guys at home. I'm definitely not saying no rewards, just... it sounds like you're struggling with this and I think reading Kohn can help people figure out where they stand.

Staysee34
08-17-2011, 08:30 PM
I have to agree with the others on this. We often experience tantrum/meltdown moments at our house and I'm sure homeschooling will bring it's fair share starting next week. Consistency really is everything and it's right up there with attempting to remain calm to diffuse the little "ticking time bomb". Easy to say but very difficult to do without a ton of determination. Also, like Farrar said, pick your battles. Choose only one or two problem areas and stay on it. I am a firm believer in natural consequences. When you think about it, just about every action has a consequence whether it be good or bad. I am also huge on choices, as everything we do each day is a choice. Using choices and natural consequences has worked very well for us.

I am sure that to some degree what your son is doing is completely normal developmentally and has very little to do with your parenting skills. I wouldn't let this stop you from homeschooling if you truly believe homeschooling is right for your family.

ETA: Most times when my DD9 is having one of her moments, I simply say "We'll continue this conversation when you are finished" and excuse myself from the room. When I am having a weak moment I turn to these videos that help me stay true to what works. http://www.monkeysee.com/play/3337-what-are-one-liners-we-can-use-to-save-us-energy-with-our-children.

Kateroo
08-18-2011, 01:08 AM
Okay, I just lost my very long reply to everyone. Argh. Well, the shortened version here is probably better anyway.

Thank you all so much. I've read through each of your replies quite a few times now since both the support and the specific recommendations are just invaluable to me. I'm off to do some investigating of those rec's now.

Thank you, thank you!

Accidental Homeschooler
08-18-2011, 10:37 AM
I read a fantastic book last year that really helped me to get a handle on my daughter's tantrums, and learn to help her deal with them rather than being punitive about it. http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Time-Out-Beth-Grosshans-Ph-D/dp/1402777647/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1313613273&sr=1-2 It was very positive, and helped me understand my parenting style and what I was doing to contribute to the problem, without being judgmental. I'm sure radical unschoolers would be extremely un-fond of it, to say the least, but it brought a lot of peace to a household that had none, and in a fairly short time. It's not a harsh discipline book or anything, actually very gentle, and very effective for us. Just a thought, in case you want to check it out.

I went and picked this up at the library last night and started reading it. I think it is going to be helpful so thanks!

Jeni
08-18-2011, 11:05 AM
As others have pointed out, your son it completely normal. He acts "perfect" for his teachers and like crap for you because he's comfortable with you. He knows you will accept him and love him no matter what. He knows he can unwind after a long day at school putting on a show and just be normal. Have you ever spent day after day after day pretending to be someone else? It's exhausting, even for a young kid. I saw it all the time in my much younger sister. She would spend her day at school with a smile plastered to her face and acting all bubbly until her friends were gone and then the facade dropped and she turned surly, bratty, and disobedient. You could see the change in her face. I wish you luck in whatever you decide to do.