my 11 year old twins scream and cry when asked to do anything they don't want to do
my 11 year old twin girls are driving me to exhaustion with stress. i'm not even sure where to start... so this week mariah has dishes as one of her daily chores, she ignored them yesterday and they piled up a bit, she despises dishes (and every other chore, even sweeping or fluffing couch pillows..??) so when reminded that she has dishes and could she please start on them...brace for impact, she immediately, as if compelled by a higher power, drops to the floor in a whining fit and starts crying...very loudly, then the screaming starts, and let me tell you, this girl could win an oscar for best horror film scream, shrieking, and yelling....UGH!! all because i reminded her that she had dishes to finish up. i mean seriously?! this could have been anything, taking out the garbage, surprisingly, is the chore i get the least resistance on lol i don't get it. And Emily isn't much better, she generally stays quiet and tries to hide in the shadows of Mariah's tantrums to get out of doing stuff and when questioned why she hasn't done her chore or homework or finish her food, she stares at you like a deer caught in headlights. however, she can throw a pretty decent fit herself. i'm so fed up with no answers, blatant disrespect for anyone in the house, including our 20 month old who doesn't need her ear drums blown out (and no, this behavior did not flair up since baby came around, it's been this way for years but progressively getting worse) i spent $300 on the Total Transformation kit and it tells you nothing on how to get your kid to stop screaming. once she gets worked up, she wont listen, everything is "i hate you, you're mean, it's not fair, nobody likes me, i dont want to" --all while screaming of course. i swear the neighbors must think we beat them the way they get in their fits. i feel like i've tried everything from time outs to ignoring negative behavior, reward positive, spanking, taking things away, giving more hugs and kisses, talking about how they feel (to which i get a lot of "i don't know"s or cricket's chirping), and slew of other things....NOTHING IS WORKING!!!! i'm seriously gonna go crazy and check myself into shutter island lol. please...help...me...
oh! i will also say this, and i think this has an immense amount to do with it all, between the ages of 2.5 and 4.5, they lived with daddy and pushover grama who never made them use words, or taught them manners, or to eat healthy, or to be held responsible for their actions...before then, they were pretty close to angelic, ate good healthy food, green beans were like french fries! picked up their toys every night before bed, were saying please and thank you and all that good stuff and i would make them ask for stuff with WORDS. my pretty perfect babies were deprogrammed and i'm left trying to get them back to were they were when they were 2!! how crazy is that. let me tell you, when they say the first 5 years is the most important, they aint lyin! they still have toddler-like tendencies that they were never taught to cope with at a young age when they should have learned how by now, i didn't think it'd be hard to teach them later but it has been a constant battle. i love them dearly but our relationship has fizzled to near nothingness, when i think about them, i'm rushed with feelings of love, sweetness, reward, then frustration, stress and then i'm snapped back into reality. i've rambled on long enough, but our story is many layers deep and everyone thinks they have the answer...i'm hoping i can find the one person who truly does.
First, I don't think its fair to blame their behavior on their father and grandma. A home with a lack of structure and expectations - but with love and caring - won't turn children into what they've become, which is absolute nightmares.
First, don't tell them they have to eat anything at all. Take that power struggle completely off the table. Have good, healthy food in the house, fix dinners, and that's that. If all they want for dinner is the noodle dish or a glass of milk, that's fine. If they want something else they can fix themselves a cheese sandwich. Done with that fight.
Second, you need to have a talk with them when they're both quiet and calm. Say you understand that it's irritating to have to do chores but these are the expectations I have for the week. Mariah, this is your week to take out the trash. Do it in the evening, you pick when. Emily, you do the dishes and I'll help you. We do that right after dinner.
There's no point in making the chores last longer, by complaining, it doesn't help.
So. When it comes time to do your job, if you start screaming about it, I'll scream with you. We'll scream together until you're about done screaming, and then you can get onto your chore after you think that's enough screaming about it. Deal? Great. Mariah remember, your week is trash, Emily you and I do dishes.
(I say that because I do think it's unfair to have an 11 year old clean the kitchen alone after dinner. I really think that's unfair, and daunting. Trash is easy).
So when they drop to the floor screaming, you do it too. Keep doing it and doing it until the child stops and gets up. You can say during a break in screaming, "oh, are we still screaming? Okay then, SCREAMMMM"
They will see how ridiculous it looks, and it will be boring screaming next to you.
Ditto RockRose. In the preschool where my son goes, the director often gets moms crying in her office wanting the wonderful little child they used to have, back. And these were moms who did not have the handy scapegoat of their child being raised by someone else in the interim. You have had the girls most of their lives, and what happened between 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 will not make that much difference at 11. Please try what RockRose has suggested.
i have pretty good structure, when i ask them to do something, i tell them clearly without being mean or overly aggressive, i tell them my expectations, make sure they've heard me...then it comes their turn, they don't seem to care that i've given them clear and precise direction and there should be no fight over it, but they have other ideas...apparently.
We have a 3 strikes method in place right now; 1st strike, timeout (after a warning), strike 2, 25 sentences of " i will control my emotions and behavior", more so for them to understand what's getting them into trouble to begin with and if they follow it, life will be a whole lot easier for them, strike 3 is picking up an extra 1x chore. the mere mention of a timeout send mariah over the edge, i've tried to explain to her, a time out is kinda like taking a breather, you calm down, i calm down and we can discuss it briefly after we've both calmed down, hugs and make up and try again. did i mention we have holes in the walls from her being on a timeout in protest? i try my best to be a good, stable balance of clear and precise expectations, a disciplinarian, an open ear and open arms. We've had the "i know chores are no fun but we all have to do things we don't want to like go to work and pay bills, etc, but i have to in order to keep a roof over your head and food in your bellies" chat...many-a-time. it seems like you're getting thru to them, they engage in the conversation, we all hug and they say they'll be better helps without fighting, but not 10 mins later...all that is out the window, like the power of the urge to throw a fit is too comfortable and familiar to fight and they're back on the floor. i've tried mimicking her, as you suggested, in the past, which, depending on her underlying mood will either make her laugh reluctantly and stop crying till we get back to the chore then it's starts all over, or it makes her even more mad that i'm belittling her "justified protest" to childsplay.
*side note: dishes are done daily and we don't make very many of them, everyone rinses off their own dish and all the dish doer has to do is make sure they're rinsed and put them in the dishwasher. i wash all the pots and pans myself. the entire kitchen is chopped up into 3 separate chores. (stove, sweep, dishes...and it's a small kitchen)
The situation with her father and grandmother isn't isolated to just that 2 years, they go on yearly visits with him, since he lives so far away, they don't get to see him thru the school year so they go up for the summer...and every year, as soon as they get back, they're rotten as can be, it takes me the entire school year to get them to even want to try to cooperate, then they go back to dads and poof! it's gone again. since he doesn't see them often, he give them no rules, stay up as late as you want, eat whatever junk you want, don't worry about picking up after yourself or offering to help, grama will take care of it. you know what emily asked me when i picked her up this last time? " can you stir my yogurt'...you're kidding right? you want me to stir your pre-mixed yogurt? are you serious? she was serious. i could not believe it. at home they do their own laundry every week, it's one small load on the weekend cleaning day...and you can't stir your yogurt. i was pissed, not at emily, but at how her family handicaps her/them when i'm not their to help guide them to become strong, independent, proud young women. their aunt, who still lives with grama too, is the snottiest, most ungrateful teenager, now an adult i've ever known. they're following right along behind her. i always ask them, please set some ground rules, don't let them get away with everything under the sun and make them do for themselves once in a while, i'm not asking he keep them on a strict regimen and never let them have fun. it's summertime, i'm not stupid. but no, i get no cooperation. the disagreements between their father and i stay between their father and i, i don't involve them in our disagreements. i'm doing everything i feel is right and i still loose, constantly.
The thing with the food is if i'm not present at the time of them serving themselves, they'll take more than they can eat and waste food i can't afford to be wasting, or they'll only pick out the good stuff from a one-pot meal we all have to have dinner from, things along those lines. i've always stood strong on, what is served for dinner, is what you may eat for dinner, if you're hungry, you'll eat it. but they'll whine about it, say they're full then 15 mins later they're "hungry"...gee i wonder why. we tell them, take as much as you want, but eat ALLyou take. i work 10 hour days and don't really have the time to make multiple meals, even the baby eat what we're eating, chicken, fish, eggplant, whatever. i shop specifically for the planned meals that week and for lunches and breakfasts. i have to because money is so tight right now. even if it wasn't i don't want them eating at a friends house and not at least trying to finish their meal without complaining.
we tell them, you go to school to learn, your teacher teaches you math and language arts and history, etc. so you can be a knowledgeable member of society for various different reasons and whatnot...well we, as parents, are your life teachers, we teach you right from wrong and how to be the best person you can be so you can have a happy and successful life, you don't yell at your teacher that you don't want to do your math or write another paper on some boring dead guy who doesn't matter to you anyway, but you'll fight us tooth and nail on every little thing. including homework as if i'm the one who assigned it to you...let's think about this a minute. so it clicks for all of 20 mins. then back to square 1. how can i get the valuable information i'm giving her to stay with her after the conversation ends? we write reminders all over the place to keep positive attitudes and help each other out and be aware of how our actions effect other people we care about. and we have morning and evening schedules so when they get up in the morning, they know everything they need to do before school, so they A. don't forget anything like lunch or brushing their hair or teeth and B. so they can form a routine which is supposed to help everything run smoother...no? lol after school they have snack time, homework time with a break, then chores, then free time, dinner and more free time then bed...but they never actually get to the free time part. i feel so bad for them, i wish i could just know what it is that's hindering them and fix it. viola! happy, emotionally healthy kids who function beautifully with the rest or the family and everyday is the best day ever! lol ...ahh, in a perfect world. but seriously, it tears me apart that i honestly have no clue how to help them. i'm looking into family counseling now thru my work's insurance program. this is my hail mary, after this, i'm completely tapped for ideas. i just want to save them from the train i see barreling down the tunnel at them that they are oblivious to, as adults, we've seen a thing or two and know how badly things can turn out. i don't want them to have as rough a life as i did and want to get them out of that tunnel as quickly as possible.
UPDATE: I have since learned that my children have ADHD and are receiving help...that makes a lot of sense. You just never think your kids would be part of a staggering statistic, but then again, why not, someone's got to account for those numbers they publish. I feel better knowing it wasn't anything i was doing wrong as a parent, and that my children are getting healthy and will go on to lead happy, successful lives.
I see you posted the almost 2 years ago, so I hope you still get this reply. My daughter is 11, she'll be 12 at the end of the month. Your description of your daughters' behavior sounds like my daughter to the letter. All I would add to that for mine, the screaming is also if she doesn't get her way, for anything at all. Like you said this has been going on for years and gets continually worse. She behaves in school, though, a d her grades are fine. This is why I always thought she couldn't have ADD or ADHD, but I always go back to it. Did your girls behave in school, and fine grades? Thank you!
If it doesn't happen at school, then it sounds like its a learned behavior. I can give you more info on ADHD if you want, but screaming is not one of the symptoms. Anxiety and depression certainly are. Any sign of those? Also curious, if you have any younger kids. Sometimes that can cause the older ones to seek ways of getting attention.
If it is a learned behavior, it can be unlearned - but it takes time.The rule is that when she starts a tantrum - she gets a short timeout. And the timeout does not start until the tantrum stops. She will go nuts for a while. Just keep repeating - "as soon as you choose to stop your tantrum, the timeout will start and 2 min later you can ..." Do not try to reason with her or talk with her while she is yelling. You are just playing into her hands.
Essentially, the rules for behavior modification are that there must be immediate, short, consistent consequences. Do not expect overnight miracles. It has taken her awhile to get to this point and it will take a while to relearn control. But she will.
Also, always try to give her choices. She may not like either one, but it will be her choice.
You might also try reading "Love and Logic", by Fay and Cline or for really serious behavior - "Raising Lions", by Joe Newman. If you go to his web site and subscribe to his newsletter you can get $3.00 off the book. The site is http://raisinglions.com/ Hope this helps.
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