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Deb417
09-13-2011, 11:15 PM
Haven't posted since summer curriculum threads, so sorry if I'm only now coming on to ask for help :(

I am homeschooling my three girls (3, 5 and 7--almost 8). My 3 year-old actually attends a Montessori-style preschool across the street (pretty much literally) three half days a week (a decision made largely b/c her two older sisters have a tendency to direct her play, finish her sentences, etc....We wanted her to have her own space for a little while--she's happy as a clam). My five year-old is doing K work and the almost 8 year-old is doing 2nd grade but reading at about a 6th grade level.

My eldest has some form of ADHD (testing revealed heavy on the HD side, not so much the AD), high IQ (but not off-the-charts) and a really hard time controlling her impulses. Basically, if she wants to do something, that little voice in our heads that says "Now isn't a good time" or "You were JUST told/asked to do something else" isn't there. She quite literally does what she wants to do, when she wants to do it, and almost nothing dissuades her from that.

I've found we can get a lot more done and have a "good" day if I do our schedule in 20-30 minute increments, MAX, and pretty much hover, almost holding her hand through the work. If I back off even a little, forget it, the kid is off doing God-knows-what! Sometimes it's nothing bad, just staring off in space or reading a book instead, other times it's filling the sink with water and "washing" the terrified screaming cat (because he's got marker on his paws because she wanted to see what the color would look like on his fur....). I mean it, I cannot leave the room and let her do work alone, not to answer the phone or go to the bathroom, without wondering what I'm going to find when I get back. She distracts my other kids, or lures them into activities that go from disruptive to their concentration all the way to DESTRUCTIVE to our house. She has peeled paint off the moldings, carved her initials into the walls, drawn all over the plantation shutters and pulled all the stuffing out of various pillows.

Basically, if she's curious about something, she does it. Thankfully she hasn't done anything really weird or dangerous, or creepy, but it's clear she has trouble stopping herself once she gets going on something that is at least not a great idea.

She's also really indecisive. I mean waiting for her to make up her mind about what she'd like to do, eat, wear, is like waiting for grass seed to grow. We all end up waiting for her at every meal, in the morning, trying to head out of the house for any activity--even ones she likes and wants to do!

Add it all up and I am EXHAUSTED. I mean drained beyond my wildest nightmares, and worse, I feel like she monopolizes all my attention and my other two don't get enough. And worst thing of all is, all that structure--while "helpful" insofar as keeping her from wasting her time staring into space or doodling incessantly or stripping the paint off the walls--"works," I don't think she (or her younger sisters) are LEARNING. I mean really learning, retaining. We have to change subjects so fast, it all feels so superficial, and frankly? NOT FUN, for any of us.

I've tried longer segments, especially in subjects she likes (Literature, history, science) but she gets distracted easily and wants to "do something eles."

And if you ask her why she does anything she does? "I don't know Mama."

My heart breaks for her, I just don't know what to do to make schooling more interesting for her without driving the rest of us crazy. And what would "more interesting" be anyway??? She can't tell me, I can't tell on my own! She gets to pick her own books, almost all the time (we use MBTP for lit only, so those are assigned, but they 7-9 books are so easy for her, she can read them in under an hour usually--the WHOLE BOOK, the writing is another story....), her assignments are small and I have taken great pains to contextualize her learning (math at the grocery story as well as in the workbook, spelling linked to writing assignments and games) and let her even participate in making the daily schedules (what happens when?) on a day to day basis. Nothing.

I keep wondering (as does my DH) if we should send her to school as a throwaway year so she can see what it's like, how she can't get away with just doing whatever she wants, so she can appreciate what she has here. Because right now, in addition to just doing her own thang all the time, she can be very stubborn, crossing her arms and just saying "NO, I WON'T do that!" She'd rather spend all day in her room or go to bed without supper than comply with anything she doesn't want to do, even reasonable stuff, like picking up a mess she made, or coming to dinner instead of continuing to do arts and crafts.

I feel like I need to hear from parents who don't have eager beavers. I feel like everyone I talk to assumes it's all about what I'm doing or not doing, and when i dig, I find out their child is an average kid whose idea of rebellion is dragging his feet coming to dinner or something. My kid is that to the 100th power.

Right now, the only reason I stick it out HSing with her is that my alternatives wouldn't be any better, just a different kind of struggle.

Thanks for the help!

Stella M
09-13-2011, 11:26 PM
I remember you! And I hear you. That sounds really exhausting and hard on everyone. I don't have any experience of what you are dealing with but I just wanted to say hi and I know there are people here who can truly understand what you are dealing with right now. I bet they have some good suggestions for you...take care.

coloradoalice
09-13-2011, 11:30 PM
I have no advice but wanted to just offer support.

MarkInMD
09-13-2011, 11:39 PM
Well, we're learning our younger son is a lot like that (more with my wife than with me). This is our first year of homeschooling him (we've HSed our older son for two years). Some of his issue is age-related -- he'll be 6 next week, but then again, he's always been like this. When he went to Head Start and pre-K last year, he was a different kid than he was here. In fact his Head Start teacher voted him "Most Easygoing," which made us laugh uproariously on the inside. :) He's exasperating in many of the same ways your daughter is. His brother has some of the attention issues, too, but now that he's going on 10, he's able to focus better than he used to.

As for what to do, I find that quite honestly, the best way to get him to do something (and mind you, it doesn't always work, but often it does) is to flat-out trick him into thinking it was his idea, or that there's some sort of challenge that he'll respond to, like "Let's see how fast you can do _____." That's what he responds to; your daughter might be different. And he's a little younger than her, so those kinds of mind games may not work as well at that age, I don't know. But I do feel (at least some of) your pain. I hope that maybe this might be a strategy you can explore and have some success with.

MrsLOLcat
09-13-2011, 11:51 PM
Ohhhhh I can sympathize... I'm in the same boat! Some of my own horror stories sound extremely similar to yours. We have tic-tac-toe 'boards' carved into wallpaper, furniture, wooden paneling. He no longer has closet doors because he dismantled them. The wallpaper in his room has very large tears from where he got "curious" about what was behind it. I once walked into his bedroom and discovered he had climbed onto the plywood shelf at the top of his closet because there's a crawlspace to the attic up there and he was on his way up. One of the cats nearly lost a paw when he found a rubber band and decided the cat needed a bracelet. I really do feel your pain!! The indecisiveness is there, too. DD has been able to decide upon and order her own meals at restaurants for a year or so; DS still requires a lot of handholding and canNOT be given choices on the spot without freezing cold. Choosing clothes each morning is a nightmare, and if he chooses badly (i.e. shorts on a cold day or jeans on a hot one, holey T-shirts on days he needs to look decent, etc.), he flings himself on the ground and off we go.

I can virtually guarantee that sending her to school would end badly, but if you intend it as a throwaway year, it might not be the worst idea ever. If nothing else, your other child could get some attention. However, if the attention problems continue, would you be able to catch her back up? DS tried preK and then kindergarten at a small private school - EPIC fail. I got e-mails or phone calls on at least a weekly basis... by the end of preschool - PRESCHOOL - they were threatening to expel him. He simply could not keep his hands to himself, stay focused on what he was meant to be doing, etc. And if he finished the work early (as he tended to do, because he's a smarty-pants), God help anyone near him. Bored was a dirty word. By the end of kindergarten, I could see the road he was headed down, so he came home. He had been on medication while at the private school, but I took him off when he came home. He was able to stay off them for a year and a half, but then the attention and anger problems got to be too much to handle again, and he was retaining NOTHING, much like you're describing. I had to redo the same math lesson half a dozen times, he'd throw fits, cry, scream, finally do it, and a week later, he'd have forgotten it again. It was like trying to knock a brick wall down with a toothpick. Anyway, I agonized and agonized about whether I was doing the right thing, but we finally put him back on medication and the difference has been night and day. He is SO much calmer, happier, and more adjusted, and now that he's able to focus, I can teach him tools to use that hopefully will serve him well when he comes back off the medication, whenever that is.

Obviously I'm not telling you to put your daughter on medication. I would never, EVER tell a parent that, because I know each family has their own beliefs on that topic. Some families also consider diet changes or getting a therapist on board to help the children gain some tools that might help impulse control. One of my kids' favorite tools is going through a kids' yoga DVD that we have. It calms them down and helps them focus. Some parents use caffeine as a simple stimulant, and I have done that for DS when he wasn't on meds - a Mountain Dew or a cup of coffee with creamer went miles toward being able to get things done.

You might consider taking away as many choices as possible for a while and only giving two simple, clear options in all possible scenarios. Lock up the closet and pull out two outfits each morning and let her choose between them. Set timers as much as possible and present each chore as a challenge, like Mark suggested. Give small breaks in between but overall provide structure, structure, structure! Even if you have to structure the breaks by encouraging jumping jacks, running laps around the back yard, whatever... don't give up! It can feel IMPOSSIBLE to deal with these kids, but it can be done! Feel free to PM me if you need to rant. :)

lakshmi
09-14-2011, 12:00 AM
oh holy cats....

We school year-round and at some point in April or May there was lots of staring and lots of not being interested. Sounds like there is a discrepancy between her reading and the writing, yes? I'd start there. If she's reading those books in an hour, let her. then do as much of the work with a digital voice recorder and let it be. Speed through at her speed in the 7-9, Get the basics of the writing, and have her then copy it. or type it.

And like Mark in MD suggested, get her to think it was her idea. Or at least have a discussion about what she'd be willing to agree to do. As in, choice A or Choice B. Both kids were dawdling and driving me crazy, so I got them to agree to four 30 minute segments. If they got into something then they would do it, but if they didn't then the 30 minutes went fast!!!

Good luck. Get more exercise and forget about the stupid books.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
09-14-2011, 08:49 AM
I've got one of those, too--he pokes holes in the screens, carves into the woodwork, picks holes in the plaster, etc. I have to watch him like a hawk and didn't dare take a shower without having him glued to a movie or the computer. I finally told him that he would have to pay for any damage he does, and that chilled him to his little money-hoarding soul. :) He can throw fits when it's time to sit and do work, wander off in the middle of a lesson, doodle in his workbooks, etc. He's getting better now, only because I've been very firm and he know's I mean business.

Things that help us (overlapping with many of Sarah's experiences):

1. STRUCTURE: We get more done and with less resistance if we have a written schedule each day. I write ours on a dry erase board each morning and stick to it. He can see when the breaks are and how much time things are going to take.

2. SHORT LESSONS: It may seem like doing 10 or 20 minutes of a subject each day doesn't accomplish much, but it will over the long haul if you do it every day. My son's handwriting really improved just by writing a sentence or two each day and he finished more than a year's worth of math this way. It's heartening to go back and look at a few months of work and be able to see progress.

3. BEING FIRM: When it's time to do school work, he has to needs to stop what he's doing (I make sure to give him a five-minute warning) and he has to stick with it until it's done. Refusing to start working or running away get a short time out. I might give him one warning, but I will give him that time out and he knows it.

4. FORM GOOD HABITS: This is a Charlotte Mason thing, and it really makes life easier. I pick one thing--taking dishes out after a meal, making beds in the morning--and make sure my kids do it every day for a few weeks. It's a wonderful thing when it sticks and they do it without reminders or constant supervision... well, most of the time!

5. CONSIDER LEARNING STYLE: My son has a hard time sitting through "lecture" type lessons but loves to listen to books. A CM-style with lots of living books is just what he likes. He's also an auditory learner, so I often talk him through the steps when he's doing penmanship, math, or any workbook activity.

Yeah, he's still wiggly and I have to sit with him for everything, but we get through it so I don't mind. I would like him to learn to work independently, but I'm resigned to the fact that it's going to be a long, gradual process.

My son gets a low, short-acting dose of Ritalin for outside activities. He gets so overstimulated being in a big group of kids that it's difficult for him to stay in control and listen. It enables him to participate in activities that he really enjoys.

It IS exhausting. I feel your pain.

ginnyjf
09-14-2011, 09:08 AM
You've had so much wonderful advice, I just wanted to pop in and offer my support and suggest the Daily Practice (http://www.evan-moor.com/Class.aspx?ClassID=301) books from Evan-Moor. There are 12, covering language arts, science, geography and math and my son really enjoys them. Each daily lesson takes anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes and I was happily surprised at how much he is learning and retaining. Best of luck to you!

Greenmother
09-14-2011, 12:31 PM
I am going to post something, but since its a tangential subject I am going to start a new thread. But I hope you all check it out.

Accidental Homeschooler
09-14-2011, 02:10 PM
So my dd is maybe a normal kid to the 10th power and I am exhausted. Is there any way you can just get a break? Is it possible to dual enroll her at ps or a private school? Can your husband pick up a subject or two in the evening or on the weekend? What about getting a mother's helper a couple mornings a week or hiring a highschool student to come over a couple afternoons, after school, a week. My older dd13 is very popular with younger kids and likes to babysit, someone like her even to play with your younger two so you can work with your older dd. I also have to do very short lessons and somtimes it seems like it is going slow (we are starting over with phonics and reviewing the past six months). But I really think she is learning. I have noticed that if we take some time off and then come back she knows a lot more than I thought she did. I have been very surprised a couple different times with how much she had retained. I think it is hard when there are so many behavior problems to get a good picture of what she is learning. Anyway, I wish I had more to offer and I hope things get better.

Lou
09-14-2011, 03:00 PM
You have great suggestions here.

I'm curious if you can start the workbox system with your middle girl on the days/times your youngest is at preschool...that way you are:

1) teaching the younger one how to work independently at times to set up for your sanity in the future
2) giving the older one undivided attention during these times which it sounds like she needs
3) not bothering the other children with fast paced subject switching, etc

Then on the days/times all the kids are home together take it easy with school at home, instead do 'field trips' to the zoo, gym, run errands, library, discovery museums, etc...

Lou
09-14-2011, 03:04 PM
Another thought is if she is 'curious' constantly, keep her outside where less can be distroyed. When weather is good, teach outside, have mandatory outside recess, get easy to clean, but messy exploratory things...flour in a bin she can put the hose and make dough that she can cover herself in and paint, or corn starch and the hose, goopy mixtures that can make a mess, but the next rain will wash away and nothing you can't hose off your child before they come back inside? get some fire wood at the market or drift wood at a lake/beach and let her create with it...keep her to 'natural' things that she can do WHATEVER SHE WANTS with around the house.

Elphie
09-14-2011, 10:56 PM
My oldest DS (now 13) has ADHD and boy have I been where you are. Many, many, many times. I know how it feels when that one child seems to just suck the life out of you leaving you no time for your other kids. He has always been so impulsive. When he was in preschool he "crawled away" from the reading circle, down the hall, and out the back door to the playground. Because it seemed like a good idea at the time. He went to PS. The teachers were very frustrated with him. "He doesn't listen." "He can not stay on task." "He needs frequent reminders to stay on task." "He spends 20 minutes in the bathroom." "He is always reading in class and will not put the book away when asked." Other kids heard the way his teachers were always yelling at him or giving him constant reminders and they either avoided him or bullied him. In 5th grade we finally agreed to try medication (stimulant). It really helped his impulsiveness, but he still had a hard time focusing and "staying on task". In 7th grade we had to take him off the stimulants due to side effects. I did a lot of research on ADHD, trying to understand who he was. He was sent to the office all the time in school...for putting his head down. (Which was how he coped with the anxiety of being in a classroom environment) I offered advice to his teachers, practically begging them to be patient with him. They would not listen. His self esteem plummeted. We finally made the decision to homeschool and I think it is the smartest thing we have ever done. I feel horrible for not doing it sooner for him.

Here are some things that have helped him through school work (or the 2 -3 hours of homework every night that he used to have). I let him use "fidgets"...stress balls etc. to squeeze and play with while he is sitting and doing work. He needs to keep his hands busy in order to focus. He is also a BIG reader so I try to let him learn by reading as much as I can. He is also a very hands on learner so I let him build things and do experiments with science. If he wants to doodle I let him (something the teachers were always yelling at him for). Doodling also helps him listen because he is keeping his hands busy. I get him outside as much as I can and have him exercise a lot. He also has a cup of coffee in the morning while he does his writing. He detests writing! So we do it first to get it over with. I write all of his tasks on his white board (his entire morning routine and then his school work) and he erases each task as he finishes it. If he is struggling with completing a "boring" task I ask him how long he thinks it will take to complete and then I set a timer and we see if he can beat it. We have also put him on a non stimulant medication and that has helped a lot with the impulsiveness and also with his anger and anxiety. (This was a very difficult decision to make but it is what's best for him at this time). I am trying to be patient and decide what is worth fighting over. It is too easy to fall into the trap of fighting about everything with this child! I am learning not to sweat the small stuff.

I know how frustrating it can be to work with an ADHD child. Remember to take time for yourself. You need a break sometimes too. If you are having one of those days when she is fighting you about everything then do something fun. Maybe let her play on the computer. When my son was her age he learned a lot by playing educational computer games. He still learns a lot from the computer, and also from watching educational tv shows. My son is doing MUCH better at home than he ever did in school. He is getting older and is easier to reason with and he has a great sense of humor. Maturity does help.
Good luck, and remember that you are not alone in your daily battles!

Shoe
09-15-2011, 12:18 AM
Haven't posted since summer curriculum threads, so sorry if I'm only now coming on to ask for help :(

I am homeschooling my three girls (3, 5 and 7--almost 8). My 3 year-old actually attends a Montessori-style preschool across the street (pretty much literally) three half days a week (a decision made largely b/c her two older sisters have a tendency to direct her play, finish her sentences, etc....We wanted her to have her own space for a little while--she's happy as a clam). My five year-old is doing K work and the almost 8 year-old is doing 2nd grade but reading at about a 6th grade level.

My eldest has some form of ADHD (testing revealed heavy on the HD side, not so much the AD), high IQ (but not off-the-charts) and a really hard time controlling her impulses. Basically, if she wants to do something, that little voice in our heads that says "Now isn't a good time" or "You were JUST told/asked to do something else" isn't there. She quite literally does what she wants to do, when she wants to do it, and almost nothing dissuades her from that.

I've found we can get a lot more done and have a "good" day if I do our schedule in 20-30 minute increments, MAX, and pretty much hover, almost holding her hand through the work. If I back off even a little, forget it, the kid is off doing God-knows-what! Sometimes it's nothing bad, just staring off in space or reading a book instead, other times it's filling the sink with water and "washing" the terrified screaming cat (because he's got marker on his paws because she wanted to see what the color would look like on his fur....). I mean it, I cannot leave the room and let her do work alone, not to answer the phone or go to the bathroom, without wondering what I'm going to find when I get back. She distracts my other kids, or lures them into activities that go from disruptive to their concentration all the way to DESTRUCTIVE to our house. She has peeled paint off the moldings, carved her initials into the walls, drawn all over the plantation shutters and pulled all the stuffing out of various pillows.

Basically, if she's curious about something, she does it. Thankfully she hasn't done anything really weird or dangerous, or creepy, but it's clear she has trouble stopping herself once she gets going on something that is at least not a great idea.

She's also really indecisive. I mean waiting for her to make up her mind about what she'd like to do, eat, wear, is like waiting for grass seed to grow. We all end up waiting for her at every meal, in the morning, trying to head out of the house for any activity--even ones she likes and wants to do!

Add it all up and I am EXHAUSTED. I mean drained beyond my wildest nightmares, and worse, I feel like she monopolizes all my attention and my other two don't get enough. And worst thing of all is, all that structure--while "helpful" insofar as keeping her from wasting her time staring into space or doodling incessantly or stripping the paint off the walls--"works," I don't think she (or her younger sisters) are LEARNING. I mean really learning, retaining. We have to change subjects so fast, it all feels so superficial, and frankly? NOT FUN, for any of us.

I've tried longer segments, especially in subjects she likes (Literature, history, science) but she gets distracted easily and wants to "do something eles."

And if you ask her why she does anything she does? "I don't know Mama."

My heart breaks for her, I just don't know what to do to make schooling more interesting for her without driving the rest of us crazy. And what would "more interesting" be anyway??? She can't tell me, I can't tell on my own! She gets to pick her own books, almost all the time (we use MBTP for lit only, so those are assigned, but they 7-9 books are so easy for her, she can read them in under an hour usually--the WHOLE BOOK, the writing is another story....), her assignments are small and I have taken great pains to contextualize her learning (math at the grocery story as well as in the workbook, spelling linked to writing assignments and games) and let her even participate in making the daily schedules (what happens when?) on a day to day basis. Nothing.

I keep wondering (as does my DH) if we should send her to school as a throwaway year so she can see what it's like, how she can't get away with just doing whatever she wants, so she can appreciate what she has here. Because right now, in addition to just doing her own thang all the time, she can be very stubborn, crossing her arms and just saying "NO, I WON'T do that!" She'd rather spend all day in her room or go to bed without supper than comply with anything she doesn't want to do, even reasonable stuff, like picking up a mess she made, or coming to dinner instead of continuing to do arts and crafts.

I feel like I need to hear from parents who don't have eager beavers. I feel like everyone I talk to assumes it's all about what I'm doing or not doing, and when i dig, I find out their child is an average kid whose idea of rebellion is dragging his feet coming to dinner or something. My kid is that to the 100th power.

Right now, the only reason I stick it out HSing with her is that my alternatives wouldn't be any better, just a different kind of struggle.

Thanks for the help!

Sorry I don't have any good advice, but it seems that you've had a lot of good suggestions from others. I just wanted to chime in with another voice of support for you, and to encourage you to hang in there. Best of luck.

Cheers.

Catharsis
09-15-2011, 12:21 AM
My son is in 2nd grade. He had a power-struggle with his 1st grade teacher and she sent him out into the hallway as a time-out. He was placed next to a damaged walll. He did what I think most kids would do... He picked the paint off the wall in a 2” by 1˝ area. The school termed this "damage and destruction of school property". The school counselor was in the room as the principal and I debated punishment. I voted for picking up trash, scrubbing desks.. Detention... Nope.. It would require to much manhours and the school did not have the staffing to handle this situation. The counselor did not speak up and say anything but later told me that it was normal child behavior. This event resulted in him being made pay restitution to the school in the exact amount he told the principal he had saved up and he was suspended for 4 days! This was not the first time he was in trouble or suspended but the first incident of this sort. That damage and destruction note stays on his permanent record...

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
09-15-2011, 08:25 AM
Great advice, Elphie!

Shoe
09-15-2011, 08:28 AM
My son is in 2nd grade. He had a power-struggle with his 1st grade teacher and she sent him out into the hallway as a time-out. He was placed next to a damaged walll. He did what I think most kids would do... He picked the paint off the wall in a 2” by 1˝ area. The school termed this "damage and destruction of school property". The school counselor was in the room as the principal and I debated punishment. I voted for picking up trash, scrubbing desks.. Detention... Nope.. It would require to much manhours and the school did not have the staffing to handle this situation. The counselor did not speak up and say anything but later told me that it was normal child behavior. This event resulted in him being made pay restitution to the school in the exact amount he told the principal he had saved up and he was suspended for 4 days! This was not the first time he was in trouble or suspended but the first incident of this sort. That damage and destruction note stays on his permanent record...

That's awful.

Lou
09-15-2011, 11:22 AM
My son is in 2nd grade. He had a power-struggle with his 1st grade teacher and she sent him out into the hallway as a time-out. He was placed next to a damaged walll. He did what I think most kids would do... He picked the paint off the wall in a 2” by 1˝ area. The school termed this "damage and destruction of school property". The school counselor was in the room as the principal and I debated punishment. I voted for picking up trash, scrubbing desks.. Detention... Nope.. It would require to much manhours and the school did not have the staffing to handle this situation. The counselor did not speak up and say anything but later told me that it was normal child behavior. This event resulted in him being made pay restitution to the school in the exact amount he told the principal he had saved up and he was suspended for 4 days! This was not the first time he was in trouble or suspended but the first incident of this sort. That damage and destruction note stays on his permanent record...

Hope you're homeschooling him so he doesn't have to be tagged for the rest of his life with that past record of what is actually normal behavior. :/

I had a power struggle with my son that apparently lasted 3 years (I had no idea, but one day he spilled the beans and his past behavior all made sense!) These kids are no dumbies, they need to be heard.

Deb417
09-15-2011, 09:29 PM
Oh gosh, thank you ALL so much for the thoughtful thorough replies! Sorry I haven't replied sooner, but as soon as I posted, I was struck low with what I'm sure is a stress-induced illness. I'm exhausted, congested and can't seem to focus. Could be allergies, I don't know, but it's taking a long time to shake it and none of the typical things work. Honestly, I think I'm just run-down from not having time to myself.

And as you can imagine, sick mom with impulsive child? Not a good combo. I have rallied as much as I've been able to, have NOT resorted to TV or video games or anything, and have instead tried to keep the general "schedule" of waking, eating, dressing, basic chores (took my youngest to preschool yesterday, but then came home and rested), but allowed the other girls to choose their school work for the day yesterday and today so I could rest and not be hands-on. I promised to be nearby, lying down on the couch, if they had questions, or they could even work in the kitchen right there next to me if they wanted.

Predictably my middle child self-directed. She did her Chinese on the computer, then grabbed her handwriting book out of her work box (yes we have those :) ) and did some of that, but then asked if she could hang out on BrainPop for a while, and I said yes. There are worse things to do! She was quietly busy for over two hours.

Meanwhile, also predictably, my eldest chose to read her latest library book (she's into the Warriors series, she loves cats). I let her, in fact, I told her to have at it, read as long as she wanted. She *seemed* happy, but later in the day, when it was time to get ready for supper, clean up, etc...She refused to do anything. She just flatly refused to eat what we were eating, refused to come to the table, etc....She pitched a FIT in fact. She did finally eat something, but it was touch and go there as to whether we'd be sending her to bed without food! Can't force-feed the kid right? And we're not a restaurant, we don't sit there and cater to their individual dinner requests (she wanted cereal for dinner).

Today I was even MORE exhausted b/c I probably pushed myself too hard yesterday morning. So since we didn't have to go anywhere, I was a little more lax. My middle and youngest both did everything I asked, again, as predicted. The eldest stayed in her pjs until 2 pm. She dressed AFTER she ate her lunch. I was too wiped out to fight over it, just put her in "red" for the morning (we have a red, yellow, green system going, if she gets mostly yellow or red for the week, she has to do school stuff over the weekend, loses movie/game time then and that's the only time we let them play Wii or watch DVDs). She didn't seem to care. All I asked of her was that she get dressed, make her bed, brush her teeth, fold her laundry (which she knows how to do) and do her Chinese. After that, I told her, if she wanted to do her History Pockets (which she loves) or crafts or read, that was her call. She did NOTHING, she read her book off and on, but other than that, she did NOTHING but stare out the window of her room or play with the cats. Again, I was too wiped out to fight over it, just let it be.

My DH came home early to take the younger two to dance class, and I was left alone with the eldest. I went to her room and stood in the door and DIRECTED her step by step to fold things, even helped with the hanging stuff (she's actually not strong enough to pinch the skirt hangers). Still she dragged her feet, whined, complained, said it was "boring" and she didn't want to do it. Well, I'm sorry, we all chip in here. Her younger sister puts away her own laundry, so this is ridiculous, she's perfectly capable, just doesn't want to. I stood my ground, she stood hers. No yelling or fighting, I just told her she was expected to do it or she'd lose her book and light at bedtime. She didn't do a thing, then at dinner, same thing, wouldn't eat, only this time, she would not relent and ended up going to bed without food b/c it was time to go to bed, my DH had to get the kids to bed b/c he has to do some work that he missed b/c of coming home early. She sat in her room kicking her door yelling "FOOD FOOD FOOD!!!" for 30 minutes, then she finally passed out from her Melatonin pill (which we practically had to force her to take). I promise, we offered her at least three choices to eat, all decent things too! And her sisters ate from those, she refused, but wouldn't tell us what she DID want, she said "I don't KNOW!"

Now I feel even MORE tired than I did this morning and my DH and I are wondering if she needs a mental health professional. No joke, I think there might be something wrong. What the hell is going on with her?? I'm at my wit's end. She just doesn't seem happy. She seems sort of lonely, and I can see why. She's isolated here with us a bit, we don't get out with other kids her age except to their extra activities, we have no co-op (the ones near us are all either too far away or very religious) and she seems bored. On the other hand, reading the descriptions of some of your kids who went to school, I KNOW in my heart that would be her, 100%, I see her in Sunday school (we do attend church) and she doesn't really "mix" all that well, and it seems to be getting worse actually, she used to be a friendly outgoing kid, she's getting awkward now, it makes me feel sad and feel guilty for keeping her apart from other kids too much, though I don't do it on purpose! :(

She ONLY perks up when I can sit with her, holding her hand through her work, cater to her specifically. She's getting MORE indecisive, MORE moody and more defiant about silly things. The laundry folding is absurd. It would have taken her no more than 15 minutes, tops, why fight it SO hard? She knows I won't do it for her, I've always left it for her to do when she's fought me, there's no precedent. I don't know what to do.

Is it crazy to feel like I should just stop disciplining her altogether b/c she's getting "punished" all the time? I don't know what else to do!

We don't want to medicate b/c of side effects, they scare us b/c we have a family history of heart issues, high blood pressure and stroke, on both sides. She hates coffee, so that's not an option, and I do allow her chocolate milk, but she hates milk! I can't figure out what other of caffeine she might like. She hates soda too.

Accidental Homeschooler
09-15-2011, 09:55 PM
We worked with a therapist for six months and it really helped. We got a referral from the psychologist who did dd's psych ed evaluation.

Elphie
09-15-2011, 09:59 PM
Taking her to see a psychologist may be a very good idea. A psychologist who understands ADHD kids can help you figure out strategies that can help her. A psychologist could also teach her how to help herself. I also want to recommend the ADDitude website. They have a lot of great articles and a very supportive forum.

ADHD kids have a hard time seeing future consequences for their actions. If I tell my son that he will be grounded for the upcoming weekend it does not phase him (something I learned over many years). He just can not "see" that far ahead. (there were times when he was grounded for a month because he just kept doing the same things over and over, and it still did not phase him.) The consequence has to be immediate. If he gives me problems he gets 2 warnings and then sent to his room for a set period of time, no electronics and no books. Then he gets to try again. I do get positive results if I offer positive reinforcement, such as time on the computer if he finishes his work. (sticker reward charts never worked for him either...he couldn't "see" far enough into the future to get the reward...rewards have to be immediate).

Take care of yourself! I hope you feel better very soon.

Deb417
09-15-2011, 10:06 PM
If you don't mind my asking, what kinds of things did the therapist do to help, or what did you learn through therapy? I know every kid is different, I'm just curious.

Accidental Homeschooler
09-15-2011, 10:19 PM
The first thing our therapist helped us figure out was that my dds behavior was coming from anxiety. She was acting in ways that were very oppositional and even aggressive and we were taking way too much of an approach based on discipline (consequences and rewards). I think discipline has its place but it doesn't address anxiety. She spent time talking with dd about what she can do when she feels herself getting upset and I have seen her do that at large family gatherings, remove herself for a while and then come back. We were having problems with perfectionism, meltdowns when she makes a mistake and the therapist helped with that. And she helped me as a parent. We had come through such a difficult four months of school I was drained and well, kind of a mess. I needed an objective person to talk to. Oh, and when she found out we were considering hsing she encouraged us to do it.

Deb417
09-15-2011, 10:33 PM
That's fascinating, and sad too, for me, because it makes me realize we've been doing all the wrong things! I only hope I haven't been damaging the poor thing!

I have wondered about anxiety actually. I think I mentioned, she cannot sleep without melatonin, she says she "can't shut off her mind." I have no idea if she worries about things, she never tells us (we do try to ask, she says she doesn't know why she can't sleep or why her brain keeps going and she's not able to articulate what she does think about when her mind races).

She has a preference for literature that has a fair amt. of conflict. These Warriors books are young adult lit and I asked her what she likes about them and she said "the honesty" and I asked what she meant, and she was LITERAL (she's a very literal kid). She likes how the cats in the story MUST tell the truth, always, even when it gets the into trouble. I find this odd b/c she lies at the drop of a hat. It's like she admires the courage of the cats, that they don't fear the consequences. She also loves stories with complex hierarchies and rigid rules and strict consequences when characters make mistakes, also weird considering her situation, she hates that in real life, and our consequences aren't nearly that bad! I wish I better understood her!!! She's my firstborn, I just feel so responsible for everything she's going through, like I messed her up somehow. It breaks my heart :( She was the most sweet, agreeable, obedient loving child until my second was born, then it all changed. What happened???

Stella M
09-15-2011, 10:40 PM
Therapy is a good call, if you can find the right person. It helps to have someone with an outside perspective making suggestions and seeing things with a fresh pair of eyes. I was pleasantly surprised that the psychologist one of mine has been seeing this year really backed me up as a parent. I thought she would find all the bad ways I parent and tell me to get my act together :) Nope, she was pretty firm - empathetic but firm - with my child. No blame vibe at all. No pressure for meds either.

I hear you on the frustration of having to direct step by step. I can hear in your online 'voice' how weary you are. No good suggestions for you, just that getting some outside help is a grand idea. And that many factors are in play when a child is distressed/anxious/acting out. It's not always just a case of mom 'messing her up'. Be proactive about getting any help you think she might need, but don't beat yourself up about how she is. OK ?

Deb417
09-15-2011, 11:07 PM
Thanks. I'll try. It's hard when this is my whole life, yk? I sometimes feel torn between guilt and resentment, it's not good for me either, or my marriage. I wanted to homeschool, it's always been the plan, it's not just b/c of how she is, yk? But now, with her being this way, I feel like I'm not cut out for this, or rather *we* aren't--we're not doing well enough in other aspects of our lives (marriage in particular) to withstand this pressure and stress. We fight a lot about what to do with her, when we are exhausted we fight more in general. I feel alone and sometimes almost desperate for "help" that we just can't afford. Some days, even weeks, I feel strong, fine, like "everything is gonna be OK," then I have days or weeks where I want to go upstairs, lock the door and cry into my pillow until there's no more tears in me. In all honesty, I probably need the therapy more than she does, and in all likelihood, she's anxious b/c of all the stress around her--money stress, time stress (her Daddy works such long hours), stress of competing for attention with two other siblings when there's so little time period, etc....And I think she's lonely in general for friends. The only time she's broken down crying when I've talked to her about her anxiety, it's over not having friends. We try, she takes Drama class, goes to Sunday School, went to a variety of art and music camps this past summer, we've tried to sign her up for soccer this fall (waiting to get a spot on a team), but nothing sticks. Most of the kids are mainstream in these programs and they go to school together or live in the same neighborhoods. Our neighborhood has a bunch of kids, but all are PSers, gone all day, home late (school here gets them home at 5 pm if you can believe that). These kids and their parents just don't mix with us. They're friendly enough when we see them out and about, but they don't seek us out and when we try, they're always "busy" with school things, family or their school friends, and they don't invite Emma to join in. Not much I can do.

So I feel like I am the EVERYTHING for this kid--her teacher, her mom, her best friend and confidant, it's too much, for both of us. She gets along great with her sisters, really, they play so well together, but often her impulsiveness means their play goes from innocuous fun to damaging to downright dangerous/destructive. Not always, but often enough that I can't leave them unsupervised. They do better when I get them outside every day for at least an hour, to ride bikes, get their sillies out, etc...But some days the weather doesn't cooperate, or the schedule is too hurried and we miss it. Those are bad days.

That's what's hard, I know what it takes to make a "good" day, I just can't always deliver. Life has a way of "happening" sometimes.

We've taken her to a therapist for various tests--that's how we know she's ADHD--but she was the one who suggested sequestering her and being really consistent with discipline and taking away privileges like weekend fun and stuff, but reading these posts, that seems like lousy advice. She doesn't have a sense of time, at all. What seems like lack of concern for her punishment is, I think, lack of real understanding about what the future looks like. So I feel like I need someone new, a fresh POV, how do I find someone good?

Stella M
09-15-2011, 11:17 PM
OK, well is there someone you can see to help you come up with a way of feeling like you can deal with all that is going on ? I know $ issues can be tough. We are lower income too. There may be community based counselling in your area ? Sorry, I'm not in the US so I don't really know. Maybe someone here will be able to offer you better info.

Things sound tough. Hugs to you. Family stress is hard, loneliness is hard. Put a dx on top of that and it's even harder. I don't know what to suggest. You can PM me anytime if you want a virtual shoulder to cry on. I know nothing about ADHD, but I'm good at getting my shoulder wet :)

Deb417
09-15-2011, 11:27 PM
Thank you! Our income isn't so much "low" as it is insecure, and given that we are in our 40s with young kids, we feel a bit more pressure to save or retirement so our kids won't have to take care of us just as they're starting out, and DH's job is quite unpredictable, so we have to watch the pennies as if we were "low" income even though sometimes, money will come through, yk? It's not something we can count on or predict, so the uncertainty makes *us* anxious, I'm sure she feels it. And we aren't shy about telling the kids something is too expensive when they ask WHY they can't have something that seems reasonable or that they maybe used to get a mere year ago, before things got so touch-and-go.

What we can't afford for sure are luxuries like sitters for more than maybe one evening a month for us to leave the house and see a movie or have a quick cheap meal. No mother's helpers or nannies here, no cleaning service either. And our house is way too much for me frankly. We--or rather my DH--was so keen to have a nice big house after we left our last tiny one in MA (that I could clean in a couple of hours, oh how I miss it!) that we ended up in this 3000 sq foot monstrosity. On the plus side, we're not underwater or house poor per se, we went from high market to low, so that worked out, BUT the house is too big IMHO. Kids don't need much space, people overplay that big time I think, but I grew up in NYC in a tiny apt. and we did just fine, so I'll never understand this "we outgrew our house" business. But DH had a huge family, living in a tiny house on top of each other--literally--and had a life-goal of having his own space in a house--a "man cave" of sorts--and of giving his kids their own rooms. Well, I have two sharing now anyway b/c I think it's healthy and it puts them all on the same floor, but it leaves ME with a HUGE amt. of work. I'm trying bit by bit to convince him we need to change our lifestyle, downsize, pocket any equity we can get out of this house, for long-term savings, raise our kids in a simpler way, smaller digs, maybe bigger yard outside--perhaps a veggie patch? I have simple wants :) But his job is such that he feels the need to stay put. That's where we differ, that's where the stress comes in. He wants to live this very "mainstream" lifestyle, but wants to homeschool our kids in the midst of it, and I'm sorry, but the two don't mix well, they just DON'T. Not here in Charlotte anyway.

Thanks so much for the support! It means a lot!

Stella M
09-15-2011, 11:30 PM
Yep, that's hard.

You are welcome. And I mean it, come cry on my shoulder any time :)

Elphie
09-16-2011, 08:44 AM
All of my boys LOVE the Warriors books. My youngest is 8 and he's just starting the obsession, lol! They are big cat fans too.

My ADHD son sometimes has trouble sleeping as well. It is for the same reason..."can't shut off" his mind. It helps him to have some white noise in the background like a low fan or an air purifier.

My heart breaks for your DD too. It is so hard for these kids to make friends. My son has very few friends...mostly neighbors who hang out with him (until he gets mad at them for not doing things he wants to do). Social situations are hard.

DS therapist also mostly helped him overcome his anxiety and depression (he was 8 when he saw her). He just felt so poorly about himself. Then we had a few good years. Then last year anxiety came back 10 fold and he just "shut down" in school. It was really difficult on our marriage too because DH and I felt so frustrated and helpless. That made our decision to homeschool much easier. So far DS is doing much better at home. We have days when he gets anxious (like yesterday) and I just have to tone it down a bit on those days. I know what you mean by feeling guilty...but it isn't our fault. These kids are just wired differently and we can only do the best we can. Knowlege is power so I try to learn as much as I can by researching on the internet. It is perfectly okay to lock yourself in your room and have a good cry. I tend to lock myself in the bathroom and cry every once in a while. Get it all out and take a deep breath and tell yourself you're doing what you can. She's going to be just fine.

Accidental Homeschooler
09-16-2011, 11:16 AM
We got a list of therapists from the university that did our evaluation and from our pediatrician. There was one woman who was on both lists and we actually knew her as my older dd saw her (anxiety is sort of a family thing for us and when I found out that was what was going on with my younger dd also I felt like I must be the most horrible mother in the world.). I would say start asking around and don't be afraid to try more that one if your dd or you don't connect. If you don't have insurance mental health centers can have some really excellent people (here anyway) and have sliding scale fees. I am so sorry it is such a rough time for you and your family right now. We had our tough time last year and it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Life and my kids needs/problems just felt so overwhelming and impossible. And kid problems are hard on a marriage and you have just had a move also (?).

I remember distinctly when things finally sort of came together for us and started to change. I was talking to our therapist after she met with dd6 and I said something about not being afraid anymore. I am not even sure how I did it but it was like I just got to the point of not being able to worry anymore or blame myself anymore. I am not describing it very well but I had taken on so much sort of emotional weight I couldn't go forward and somehow, maybe desperation, I just dumped it. The therapist said, "Well, I think your kids have noticed that." It was true, as soon as I did that, they could too somehow. Anyway, I just want to make the point that things can change and sometimes when you come through them you are in a better place than your were before. I really hope you can get there soon and I don't believe you could have caused your dd problems anymore than I caused my dd's problems. So I hope you can give yourself a break on that one!