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PLEASE HELP!!!!!!
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PLEASE HELP!!!!!!

I have 3 children, Savannah (8), Elizabeth (5) and Zachary (4), I need help and in a hurry!!!! My kids do not listen to anything I say to them! My 8 year old acts like the 5 and 4 year old and we believe she has ADHD and are checking with doctors to help treat it, but when the 3 of them are together it's literally HELL! I have to ask them to do things a hundred times, they do everything they aren't supossed to do really well though. I pretty much am raising them on my own because of my husbands job and long hours. I just need help, and my husbands solution is spank them. Well that doesn't work either. They have no manners or discipline and I really am at my wits end. I don't want to yell and scream at them and I don't want to hit them. What can I do? The funny part about all this is one on one they all act great.
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Hello,
  It is very, very tough to try to assert your authority when you are all alone and outnumbered. I believe you that it feels hellish. No one knows how to push your buttons like your own children. Unfortunately, your husband's spanking the children is most likely making the situation worse. Children who are spanked tend to be more aggressive towards parents and each other. When children become accustomed to being spanked, it is harder to enforce rules with other methods. Children become hardened and it takes more and more punishment to get the effect you used to get. That is why people who start out using spankings often find themselves spanking harder and more frequently, and are at-risk for moving towards abusive physical punishments. This is more common than most people think.

    You and your husband need to be able to present a united front. It is bad for all concerned to have your children see you as someone powerless to control them and him as the lone enforcer. I do understand about long work hours, but you two have to find a way to enforce the same rules and implement the same rewards and consequences. If possible, your best bet will be to work with a clinical psychologist who specializes in Parent Management Training or who can train you in implementing an effective behavior plan. Even if your spouse can not attend many sessions, if you can commit to both working with the psychologist it will be very worth the time and effort.

   Here are some things you can do immediately. First, stop repeating yourself. Do not give a command more than twice without implementing a consequence of some kind (for example "Take at least three bites or no dessert." Or "The toys need to be picked up before the TV goes on." Do not present a consequence unless you are prepared to follow through with it, no matter how much they fuss. Let them know how they can get what they want (TV, video games, desserts) by doing what YOU want (choosing to pick up toys, use inside voices, use gentle hands etc.).

I also recommend you get the book The Kazdin Method by Dr. Alan Kazdin.  This is an excellent guide to behavior modification, and he even has a chapter on how to put more than one child on a plan. His method is based on very solid research, and if you can implement it you will see changes in a couple of weeks. If you can not get your husband interested, try reading this book with a friend and implementing the changes together for moral support and creative ideas. The book How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk by Adele Faber is great for helping you avoid power struggles and communicate effectively. I would also pick up Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber, which is also excellent.

Finally, get some help. Find a relative, friend or church member who can give you a break from the kids. You need some time to re-charge before you can tackle these behaviors. Kids are worse when they know you are exhausted--it makes them anxious when you do not have the energy to be in control. They do not know it, but all children crave order and want adults to be in charge. You can get control again, and you owe it to yourself to stop putting up with this treatment from the kids. Good luck.

Best Wishes
Rebecca Resnik
Disclaimer: This Medhelp post is written for informational purposes only. It is never intended to replace face-to-face psychological or medical care. This post is not intended to create a patient-clinician relationship, nor to give or rule-out a diagnosis.
  

  
2 Comments
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I agree with most of what Rebecca Resnik said, the main thing is the stick with the consequences and you should have to tell your kids over and over to do something. I have 5 kids at home. I tell them once {or twice} but after that whatever it is that has their attention, ie tv, computer, games, book. I get up or go into the room and turn it off or take it away. That really gets their attention, and while they are looking at me {sometimes crying how mean i am} I tell them again, now go clean your room, throw the trash or whatever. when you are done, you can turn it back on or have it back. And DO NOT turn it back on or give it back until they are done, no matter how much they compain. It really does work. So now with the older children i dont have to do that as often.  
Let me warn you, it is not going to be easy at first. They will cry, scream and possible fight you {like to turn the tv back on} and that is where i defer from Resnik. i will spank my children. Not Beat, Spank. One or two swats, no more, never when you are mad, and not with anything but your hand, usually to the bottom area although i have slapped a cheek when something was said, not with all your strength either. very effeciate on the younger children, no so with the older ones. after the spank, you sit down on couch or on the step, or in the corner to think about what you did was wrong and what you are going to do to fix it.
Also, try to get the oldest to set an example, becuase i can guarantee the little ones are watch and imiating the older ones. If possible, pull that one aside when he is acting up, send him to his room or something, so the little ones see that if you act up you will get in trouble. My kids room have bed, table, chair, a bookshelf with age appropriate books, and the little ones have a toy box. nothing else, no tv, no nintendo or xboxes, dvd or videos, or phones. how can you send kids as punishment to their rooms if they have every thing in there? i dont mind the little one playing with toys while they are being punished as long as they do quietly, if not i take them out. My kids dont like to be a lone for long so pretty soon they come out ask if they can come  out and apologize for what they did. I usually tell them they can only come out if they stop whatever it is, hitting their siblings, jumping on the couch, {which if they jump on bed, i will take it out} whatever it was that they were doing to act up.
One more thing, it is okay for your kids to be mad, either at you or at whatever. I have heard my kids yell they hate me, i am mean, i dont love them, and so forth just becuase i have taken something away. Dont get hurt, it is just the anger talking. I usually tell them "THat is ENOUGH, you can be MAD, but you can not say hateful thing just becuase you are mad. You can be mad all you want, I still love you and expect you to behave." and then i will shut the door on them and walk away. it is hard and it gets to you. but they dont really mean it and as long as you remember that you will get thru it.

I hope what i wrote is somewhat helpful. what works for one kids might not work for another kid. so keep trying but the main thing IS BE CONSISTENT!! i know it is hard sometimes since your kids are so close in age. Oh, and personally i dont think ADHD is your problem. I also got a book at the library on manners, it really helped.
Good luck
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Rebecca Resnik, PsyDBlank
MindWell Clinical Psychology
Bethesda, MD
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