Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Princess in a tower

if you had a little girl, who despite all your best efforts and intellectual strain, waited till you walked out the door and then turned around and started giving her oldest brother as much grief as she could -
-because she is angry that you, her only (current) mother figure has left her - and she would like to take that anger out on the brother who is her designated caregiver because that is better than being sad....
...even though you have talked it all out before hand, shown her the cel phone you carry at all times and agreed that she can call you at least 3x if she needs to be reassured that you have not disappeared into the ether never to return....
....and when you phone home to tell the kids that you are returning, just like you said you would and you find all this out:

-would you agree with your son to stay out for another hour so as not to reward her poor behaviour choices with your coming back?
-when you get home, would you have her stay in her room, come out just for a snack and send her back up to her room?
-even after your oldest son tells you he feels bad for her having to do that because she is only 8 years old and has had a lot to deal with in her life?
-would you say to him, in tones loud enough for the little girl to hear, that it doesn't matter what she has had to deal with - she still has to learn to not mess with other people just because she is unhappy?

-if you did all of that above, would you be torn about sitting her down and talking it all out with her AGAIN or would you be worried that you are simply feeding into her behaviour by giving her undivided attention and that is all she cares about?

-so other than lunch, do you leave her in her room (albeit one that is well furnished with books and toys and creature comforts) other than for mealtime and when you must go out to take her other brother out to hockey and so you will be taking her with you?

-and would you feel conflicted and guilty about it all, like I do know?

All of the above is not hypothetical and for the moment I am stumped.


Yondalla said...

If it were me, I would feel conflicted and guilty and worried. I would worry that my worrying was making it worse. I would think that there was probably a right strategy and if I did it correctly everything would be great, but I would do the wrong thing and make it worse. And I would keep trying different things and make myself crazy.

But it is not me, it is you, so it seems so much easier.

How about rewarding her for being polite to others while you are gone? Maybe there is some Wonderful Thing that she can only have when you leave, and sometimes you get back before she has had much of a chance to have fun with the Wonderful Thing and thinks, "Darn! If Mom had just stayed away 5 more minutes!"

Maybe you can "practice" leaving for progressively longer periods of time and giving her some sort of reward for surviving the stretch?

And of course if I were the one getting that advice I would think, "Great. That might work if I had all the time in the world to 'train' her, but meanwhile I have to go to the blasted game!"

Innocent Observer said...


Granny said...

Yes, I'd feel conflicted and guilty but that doesn't mean there's a right or a wrong approach.

Don't tell anyone but I love Yondalla.

The only thing I'd add to what she said is to try for a consistent approach if that's possible. If she knows her actions will result in a certain discipline (or reward), follow through.

But you already know that.

Susan said...

I love Yondalla too. I might also make said child come with me for the next few days on each and every little outing, particularly if it is sort of boring (even if it means it is harder for me) rather than stay at home with books and toys and such.

Of course if it were me, it would be much harder because I would be agonizing and all.

Leanne said...

Hmmm, you are so light years ahead of me in all this stuff, but what yondalla says sounds about right. Dang, it is a lot like insecure dogs isn't it... except they eat your shoes and howl, and you know if you come back, even if you are giving them heck, they are just happy you are back and giving them undivided attention. Very hard. Your eldest son sounds like a sweetie. And I would agonise just as much as you and worry and reworry endlessly.