17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Me, venting

Other possible titles:
Wrong side of the bed
BAD BAD morning
Why I nearly threw my TV out the window
What's wrong with my middle child?
Will YOU babysit all day? I'll pay well.

Deep cleansing breath.

After about 45 minutes of cartoons this morning, and with a 5 minute "end of show" warning, I turned off the tube. All my kids were watching the noggin bliss but one completely flipped out. This is middle child, almost 5. As I clicked it off, she totally wigged, screaming "I want to watch TV!!" over and over. She continued to scream and scream then decided to dump out little sister's bowl of dry Chex, sending cereal flying. I demanded that she pick up every piece of cereal and then head to time out. Or...she'd see "the maddest mom she's ever seen". Uh, nice threat. I had no idea what to do and that's what came out of my mouth. I kind of managed to laugh at myself at that point. As she cleaned up the cereal she was angry and at times just further spreading it around. Eventually she went to her room for time out. At that point the screaming for TV was going full force. A few minutes later my son goes in to get his socks and she tries to shut the door on him. At that point I got a peek at ALL the clothes she had thrown out of her drawers! I was mad. Mad I say. So I advised her to get folding and shut the door. More of her screaming..etc. etc. Finally she quieted down and put everything away quite nicely. Phew. Now it's time for her to get dressed and she's bawling for her brother who just left for school. Come on.

So sometimes I HATE, no, LOATHE the TV because it brings out such reactions in her. And causes other problems with kids wanting to watch gross amounts. I have thought, multiple times, of taking a sledge hammer to it.

Because these tantrums have been showing up more lately I wonder if we are doing terrible things to make the middle child behave, well, middle.

Maybe it's just a bad morning. I really was hoping I could find a babysitter though...and the fact that I'd be willing to PAY says a lot.

Any advice or thoughts are welcome. Mostly, I needed to get that out. And now I need to go comfort crying girl. She probably doesn't remember why she's even crying.


  • My middle child sounds very similar to this middle child. Some things I have learned:

    (1) Routines help and it helps to have a chart on the fridge (she probably isn't reading yet so you could put pictures). If the TV goes on and off at the very same time every day, then the 'off' part may be a little easier for her to handle.

    (2) When mine gets in the screaming, cereal-throwing zone, I simply tell him, "I am going to ignore you until you calm down" because when he is in that zone, he acts in a way that the punishments multiply and multiply with no change in behavior. (I would have cleaned up the cereal and, when she was calm, told her that I had had to spend X minutes cleaning her mess, so she owes me X minutes of chores, which she can do by either cleaning Y or Z.)

    (3) If she is going to destroy things in time out, can you find a different place? (We use a guest bathroom.)

    (4) Mine does better with choices from me and then NO emotional reaction from me regardless of which choice he picked, even though sometimes the choices are "You can stand there and scream but I'll ignore you or you can talk to me in a normal voice and then I will listen to you." or "You can clean your room and then watch TV tonight or choose not to clean your room, no TV, and then *I'll* clean your room into bags that will go into the garage for a month. I'll come back in 30 minutes to see which you chose."

    (5) Maybe morning TV isn't a good idea for this child.

    This may not all work for your kid, but these are things I've learned the hard way with mine.

    Good luck.
    posted by Blogger Julie M. Smith at 5/01/2008 07:08:00 AM  

  • My youngest is the one who's always been prone to wigging out. He's 14 and still will wig out. Generally it's because he either hasn't had enough sleep or hasn't had anything to eat.

    He gets *really* mad when the first thing I do is ask him if he's eaten anything. He refuses to believe his emotions are caused by lack of food and not whatever he's wigging out over. There is no reasoning with him at all. But I usually get him to eat and he feels better. Funny how that works.

    Anyway, I was just thinking in the car today how the number one parenting tip I could give anyone is redirection, redirection, redirection. It's what I have to use with my son. I no longer ask if he's eaten anything. I say, "Do you want some strawberries and yogurt, or do you want some soup and toast?" Or I'll just bring him something to eat.
    posted by Blogger Susan M at 5/01/2008 08:10:00 AM  

  • I like Julie's ideas. Julie, where were you nine years ago? :)
    posted by Anonymous kris at 5/01/2008 09:27:00 AM  

  • Julie's ideas sound like they come from the "Parenting with Love and Logic" book.

    My oldest, he's 3.5, has been a stinker the past few weeks. It starts when he wakes up at 6ish and doesn't really stop for the most part. This moring he woke up at 6:20 and woke up the baby (7 months). It was not a good way for him to start his day. He to is one that is a different child when he has eaten.

    Most days I don't know what to do with him. I feel guilty because I have such a hard time handling him most days. Hopefully I'm not messing him up too bad. He'll probably grow up resenting me and blame all his failures as an adult on me.

    I guess that's the life of a parent.
    posted by Anonymous Wendy at 5/01/2008 09:57:00 AM  

  • Sometimes I love the tv but sometimes I hate it too. I met a family that were only allowed to watch tv on the weekends. I really like that rule. I would enforce it if it didn't mean an extra 30-60 minutes of sleeping in the morning : )

    But I do try to NOT have it on in the afternoon, unless it's like all three of us (MY DH doesn't make it home for the afternoon/evening with the kids often) watching our fave Dancing with the Stars.....tivoed of course.

    Anyway, tantrums stink but I also find them hilarious, especially when you remember acting that same way once.....
    posted by Blogger Kage at 5/01/2008 10:56:00 AM  

  • Oh Katie, so sorry that it's been a rough day :)

    I have noticed with my two kids that they have the same bad days that adults have, just on a "kid" scale. And when I can see that things are falling apart for that particular kid I remove them from the entire situation and they deal with it in their room, away from everyone/everything else. It may not get me an A in the parenting books but it works really well for them and for us...
    posted by Blogger Chloe at 5/01/2008 01:09:00 PM  

  • The day has gone much better--a normal happy day. :) Phew. I definitely get irked when things go awry so early in the day because, by golly, it's a fresh new morning, don't spoil it!

    Anyway, Julie, I'm with you on the advice. In fact, our tv routine is usually that it's not on in the morning before school. BUT big brother got up really early and was dressed and ready to go to school with an hour to spare, so I let him watch. Since he doesn't get much tv, I though it fair and a nice "reward" for getting himself ready. This may have thrown her off.

    I like the "no emotion" rule too, when I can do that (I read about it in 1, 2, 3, magic) we all keep our cool a little better.

    Cleaning up after herself...I like your swap idea (I cleaned this for you, you clean this for me) but I think I'd save it for things she really can't clean up on her own (icky spills, etc).

    Oh, time-out location. Usually it's in the bathroom, but she has both unrolled/ripped up TP and banged the stool on the door leaving black scuff marks. Nice.

    The weird thing is she wasn't like this 4 months ago...

    Susan m and Wendy, I will remember the food thing too--that's amazing how it can affect people's temprements so much.

    Chloe, I've also done a "quiet time" in her room when things aren't going well. I tell her it's not time out but is a time to relax and play quietly on her own. It definitely heals whatever was in the air. We are both refreshed.

    Kage, yes, TV is love-hate with me. I'd been thinking about the weekend rule too. I may do it...when I'm ready to stick to my guns.

    Ok, I better be off.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 5/01/2008 02:47:00 PM  

  • May I recommend the book, "Between Parent and Child." I heard the author, a child psychologist speak (ok, he was in our ward), and he described a scenario much like this, where a 6 year old pitched a fit about something. The parents gave punishment after punishment after punishment, which made him act out worse and worse and worse, until finally the parents literally LAID ON HIM for a half an hour to make him calm down (no, he is not autistic, nor did he have any previous behavior issues like this). The psychologist's biggest recommendation? You need to tell the child that you understand WHY she (or he) is freaking out. You say something like, "I understand that TV is your favorite thing, and that it makes you really angry when I turn it off". You are not saying that you will turn it on again, you are not even condoning their behavior, you are simply stating that you understand some of the things that are going on in their little brains. Amazingly, he says that a child (and well, adults too!) will almost always calm down when they feel like their parents are aknowledging feelings, that it's okay to have angry feelings, or sad feelings, or frustrated feelings. Validating them doesn't mean excusing bad behavior, but he says that validating makes kids feel loved, and then they will often calm down. Then you can deal with the whatever behavior you found unacceptable. When they are calm. He says punishments made in the heat of the moments are ineffective and make everybody mad. Clearly.

    Sorry so long. How old is your daughter? I think kids a certain age act a little monstrous no matter what you do, and tend to grow out of it. In the meantime, I suggest this book. It drastically changed the way I parent, much more for the better. There's lot of good stuff in there about how and when to praise, too.

    Hang in there, Momma!
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 5/04/2008 11:17:00 AM  

  • P.S. We have been a TV free family for 4 years. Our TV only plays DVDs--it's not hooked up to any cable service. It means that the only screen time we have to limit is the computer, which is more than enough of a battle. Between Netflix, Youtube, and the library, I have to say that we have plenty of access to popular media, and we don't miss the TV.
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 5/04/2008 11:21:00 AM  

  • every mama needs a break, hooray for babysitters!
    posted by Blogger emily at 5/05/2008 10:14:00 AM  

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