K.W. asks from Anniston, AL on December 14, 2010
Hitting in School
My kid just hit another kid in school. Unprovoked. After that, she wet her pants. The pants-wetting thing happens a lot at school, and has happened since she started school. I have noticed lately that her attitude is bad, she is very 'smart-mouthed' and likes to talk back and argue with myself and her father. I decided to take away her 'fun time' after school as her 'punishment'. The day after I initiated the days with no 'fun time' at school/after school, she hit this kid. The teacher put her in the corner and talked to her about God, which is fine, it's a christian school. But I'm just wondering if something I did or didn't do is causing her to act out or something?
I try my very best to spend as much time with her as I can. I work 10 hrs. a day, plus I go to school, and it's hard. But I make sure we have special time every day. It does seem to me, however, that it is an attention problem. MY problem is finding a palpable solution. I don't want to hit her for hitting someone else, and just reinforce negative behavior. I don't want to strip her of everything that she loves (visits to Gramma's; playing after school) but I want to send the proper message that hitting people is wrong and unacceptable. And that peeing in your panties to get attention is the wrong kind of attention. Any ideas?
So What Happened?™
I read all of you ladies' answers. I sincerely appreciate someone taking the time to listen - or in this case, read - and give feedback. Here's the situation: I was a SAHM for the first three years of her life -- she is four. I have been in school for one full year -- 3 semesters -- even while I stayed at home. I took all online courses. I am doing the same now, except I do my schoolwork AT work. I have a hard job, though -- I take care of my mother-in-law. She is totally bed bound and cannot be alone. Not only is this my familial duty, but I feel a deep personal and social responsibility to her. My daughter goes to school from 7:30 to 2:30, and normally she is allowed to stay in the (very expensive) after school program until 4 or so. For awhile, this worked out great for the both of us. She loved getting to have free-play in the gym and in the class room, and I got some extra time to study so that I wouldn't have to do it once I got home. I still have all the same home responsibilities that I had when I was a SAHM, except I am not home. Lovely, right? :) That's okay, because you have to do what you have to do. You take care of your family the best way you know how. Anyway, we have been rewarding her for days at school not wetting her panties -- special trips with Mommy, special time with Daddy, play-time with the dog, coloring books, new movies, a new haircut -- which she desperately wanted, btw. So for the smart-mouthing I took away after-care. The way I see it, she hangs out with some kids that are a little older than her -- specifically, about 8 and 10. These 2 kids are the first and last at school every day, and I kind of feel bad for them. Anyway, I took away after-care. She had been hanging out with the older kids and I think their crappy attitude was kind of rubbing off on her. I eliminated one possible culprit.
We have a reward system at home -- if she is good during the day and doesn't pee her panties at school, then when she gets home she gets to watch a movie in the living room, which she loves. So the reward system is there. We try very hard to spend our time in the evenings with her. We all hang out in the living room in the evenings. We have special activities we do together, like Mommy gives everybody a guitar lesson, or we make ornaments for the Christmas tree at night, or we cook dinner together, or we even clean up together, and she can be 'mommy's little helper'. She totally digs it. I give her my attention when I am around her, and every other weekend she goes to visit Gramma. She LOVES her Gramma time. So yesterday after she hit that kid at school I told her she couldn't have Gramma time and she didn't get any movies last night. And she was devastated. And it killed me to see her like that. But I sat her down and talked to her and explained that you cannot just hit someone, even when you're very angry or if you're just playing or for any reason except self-defense. We want to teach her to defend herself, not to let herself get run over, but we also want to teach her control. She seemed to understand, and made several comments this morning about telling the kid she hit that she was very sorry and last night she made him a card, I'm guessing an "I'm sorry" card of some sort. She really wanted to give it to him. She was also punished at school by going to the corner. and I'm guessing her teachers didn't make a big deal out of it because they didn't say anything to me this morning when I took her to school. So she is still not going to after-care. This morning her attitude was better, and she didn't wet the bed last night. I think what I'm going to do is keep being calm, and if I have to, re-explain why she cannot hit people. I like to be firm but flexible with her, because she is only four.
In response to some of your answers : I will not quit school. This is my only shot to give my daughter and the rest of my family a better life by having more income and more time. Quitting school just shows her that you can stop achieving the things you have to achieve in order to have a better life. I am going to school to teach her that you have to work HARD to get the things you want out of life, because it's a lesson I didn't learn until much later than I should have, and it bit me in the hiny, if you know what I mean. I have taken her to doctors about the peeing and bed wetting, and it is a psychological problem. It is a control thing for her. She pees when she is angry with me or her father, or when she wants attention. I have explained that there is a difference in good attention and bad attention and I had a conversation with her about how it made her feel to pee in her panties at school and she told me that while the kids didn't make fun of her, she didn't like the way that they stare at her, and after that, the peeing in the panties at school improved dramatically. I spent a lot of time last night after bed thinking about the Why's and What's and How Come's and I have decided that I'm doing okay, that kids are going to lash out,and that she is trying to learn and understand -- and test -- boundaries, which is normal and good. I just have to be strong and keep on showing her the right way, and explaining what's wrong and why it's wrong and punishing when necessary.
But for the mom who suggested I quit school : I refuse to let my children know that that is even an option. I want them to be successful, and I want them to have a can-do attitude, and i want them to see that you have to work hard to get what you want. I cannot think of any other way to teach them than be a living example. When they are going into college, and they think it's hard, and they are scared and frustrated, they can think about me going to school and talk to me about going to school and I will be able to better be there for them, and better be able to provide for my kids. It's what I have to do. It is the way it is, and I am half-way finished, and I won't quit now. My family deserves more money and more time with Mommy, and if I have to sacrifice a little time now it will be better in the long run. Trust me.
A.J. answers from Williamsport on December 14, 2010
I'm a huge disciplinarian, and the first to say to firm up. But I'm so glad you included your work hours here, so that I did not say that.
My daughter is almost 5. She's extremely sensitive by nature, and very well behaved, but I notice when I am distracted for long periods of time for deadlines (I work from home) or occasionally I travel for a few days, she gets much more sensitive, and her behavior slips. Likewise she reacts to the fact her dad is gone all the time, so I make allowances for that. Even though our budget it ridiculously tight, I am able to be a SAHM mom for now, for which I'm grateful, because I know it would be really hard on her to have me away more. Her more so than my other two. I can't imagine how she would be if I had your TOUGH schedule. That has to be so hard.
Obviously you are doing what you have to, and I hope you can get through this phase, because 10 hours at work plus school is not enough time with you for your daughter. She seems like she is hurting and acting out.
Think of a way to do something really special with her soon, and include in your time together talking about how proud you are of her when she acts well at school, and does not hit other kids. I don't believe in rewards only, or bribing kids to be good AT ALL, but I think in your case you should tell her that after x days (make it just one or two days) of doing great at school, you and she will (do something really fun together). Also be sure you have time EVERY day for just you and her to cuddle and check in where she doesn't feel rushed, and feels you have all the time in the world for her. Even 40 minutes of book reading can do wonders.
Lately, I've been sitting up (way too late) in bed with my daughter to talk about our day and letting her sleep there (hubs isn't home) because I haven't had time to focus on her much during the day. She really needs it, and even deprives herself of sleep waiting for that time together. All too soon she'll be independent and won't need me anymore, so I do whatever it takes-even leave my own shower or organizing or tasks to slip at times.
Firm discipline for hitting only works when you act firmly and immediately in that moment, not when you hear about it after school. Firm discipline for smarting off etc also only works within a loving close environment where the child is totally secure. She wouldn't be acting out at school if she was happy with firm boundaries at home. I wouldn't discipline her more firmly right now when she has so little time with you. Not that she should go without discipline (and kudos to you for not slacking), but her good times with you need to increase first. Get your relationship more stable, give her some new extra affection and privileges (with you) and then firm up if there is still trouble. Ideally, you want your husband and yourself both disciplining her for bad attitude right away when it happens, but be sure that's not all that's happening in her world. My son also gets a bad attitude when I slack or don't focus on him for a while, but I firm up when that happens because I'm home and can always handle it right away.
If my husband is home, I be sure to take my daughter with me on "special girl stuff" (even if it's just going to the grocery store) to make her feel special even if I'd rather have time alone, because it's the only time she gets my focus without the siblings. Have the hubs help with something to leave a little time for you and your daughter to go out to lunch or library or something in your off time. I'm sure you do, but do it even more. Good luck it's so hard!
1 mom found this helpful
M.H. answers from Lake Charles on December 15, 2010
Empathy. First for yourself. You're working 10 hrs./day plus going to school. That is difficult by itself, but raising a child and working and going to school is really, really challenging. It must be exhausting and stressful.
Your girl sounds smart and she also sounds like she might feel stressed as well. So she needs empathy and validation. Don't worry about punishment, just connect with her. Validate her feelings. We all feel mad at times. You can validate that, let her express herself, and then tell her that it's okay to be mad but not to hit.
A really good resource is Naomi Aldort's Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves.
Hope you get some rest and playtime for yourself!
K.F. answers from New York on December 14, 2010
Drop school for now and give her your attention. Quality time is important but it can't take the place of quantity time. You don't mention how old your child is but I would probably let this be the last semester of school for now and pick school up again in the fall of next year if possible.
She probably needs more time with you. Something has go to give. Your daughter is crying out for attention that she is only getting from negative behavior but she is getting attention. Try setting your schedule so that you can spend more time with her and try dangling that over her head for incentive for modified behavior if she is 5 and older. If she is younger than 5 she just won't get it.
Have her checked out medically to rule that out about the wetting herself because this may be just a coincidence instead of a spiteful act.
R.J. answers from Salt Lake City on December 14, 2010
the best way to talk to your kid is to just "Talk" to your kid. "hey what happend with that kid, sit down on the bed on the floor next to her not above her and just talk to her, "hey you know this peeing your pants thing what is that and why?" You didnt say how old she is but I am guessing old enough to talk to. I have had some issues with my boys in school and the best thing I ever did was build a lego car and talk about it
L.A. answers from Minneapolis on December 14, 2010
10 hours a day plus school is a lot of time away from your child. It may be worth it if it's temporary and leads to a rewarding career with more salary and free time, so I can understand it. I would also understand it would be taxing on my child.
For the wet pants, try cutting out milk for a few weeks. Milk allergies or even a lower level intolerance will cause bladder problems.
For smart mouths - a great book (or website) is 'The Explosive Child". This is a daunting title to me, but it's full of great information. The basic premise is that kids explode, or smart off, because they don't have any other skills to use. So, this method focuses on TEACHING better ways to handle problems and stress. Honestly, how does taking away fun time help her learn to do it better? Talk her through it and give her words and actions to use instead. During your special time, role play with her toys how to handle the situation.
Be her parent and be her advisor. Give her your wisdom. I'm sure she wants to handle things better. Help her learn how.
J.S. answers from Chicago on December 14, 2010
For the hitting, I would reiterate that we don't hit people - even when we're frustrated. Talk to her about what she can do instead of hitting someone. Brainstorm ideas, maybe even make some silly recommendations. Can she maybe write in her journal when she's mad? Can she have a stress ball or putty in her desk that she can squeeze when she wants to hit someone? I'm not sure how old she is.
As for the potty accidents, how about a chart for her keeping her pants dry? For every day she doesn't have an accident, she gets a sticker. After a week, maybe she can get a little prize (silly band or something). Maybe after a month, she can pick out something bigger or get a special outing with mom (zoo or fav restaurant). Positively enforce the behavior you want to see. Not ignore the accidents, but don't make such a big deal out of them or feel guilty because you've been gone.