What the Heck Happened Here?

Updated on October 28, 2019
W.W. asks from Los Angeles, CA
22 answers

So I had a terrible morning this morning with my 10-year-old and I need help deconstructing what went wrong because I am truly baffled. Sorry it's kind of long but I'm trying to paint the whole picture so you guys can tell me what happened lol:

We have a household rule - no screens before 7am, because in the past our son seemed to be getting up earlier and earlier to watch/play before school. He woke up this morning at 6:30am, went to the bathroom to poop, and came out at 7:05am holding his switch. I asked why he was on screens before 7 and he said because he had to poop (he usually gets to watch when he's pooping). I said no #2 should be taking 35 minutes and clarified to him that he could not watch before 7am - EVEN if he has to poop. This is the first time this happened so I didn't make it a huge deal but I did say he couldn't watch until 7:30am this morning instead of 7am since he already watched when he shouldn't have.

I then asked if he had done his reading yesterday since he's supposed to read 20 minutes every night for homework and he sheepishly said no. I gave him a look and told him that just because it's not homework that's to be turned in doesn't mean that it's not homework, and he needs to read. He grumbled and muttered under his breath and was obviously annoyed but started reading as he waited for 7:30 to roll around so he could watch. The morning went on and then at 7:55am, he told me he had agreed to meet with his friends at 8:05 down the street to walk to school together. I told him fine, but please clear the table and fill the dog's bowls before you go. He ran around brushing his teeth, putting on clothes, etc. etc. and at 8:07am, he was rushing towards the door. The table was not cleared and the dog's bowls were not filled. I stopped him and pointed out to him that he hadn't done either of the two tasks I asked him to do. He said he didn't have time because he was getting ready for school, and I told him that he needs to manage his time better. I told him he didn't have to worry about the table and the dog today since he was already late but he should have taken into consideration the time and planned better. He then got all upset and was like "GOSH!!!" and started filling the dog's bowls (despite me saying don't worry about it) and stomped to the table to clear the dishes, and at this point, I was extremely annoyed (because I felt like he was playing victim - poor me b/c mean mom is making me do these things when I'm already running late) and yelled his name (probably louder than I should have) and told him to stop and leave it since he's already late, but that I was saying he should manage his time better NEXT time. So then he stopped what he was going, yanked his backpack on, completely ignored me as I said bye and stormed out of the house, very, VERY upset.

I know that preteens are moody. He's been going from 0-10 in a matter of seconds more and more frequently but this is wearing on me. Is this normal preteen behavior? Did I do something wrong that I'm not seeing (i.e. was it too much nitpicking and correcting in one morning?). And finally, how do I address this with him later on? B/c even if it's normal preteen behavior, I don't think it's OK for him to by flying off the handle on me for no reason (or again, is there a reason that I'm not seeing??). He just seems so angry and I don't think the sitaution warranted it... Thanks...

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So What Happened?

I so love this site. Thank you all for your insight and advice. I implemented the no screen before school rule starting this past Friday after reading some of your responses and I have to admit - I was scared. For myself. Because screens are how I keep my kids occupied while I'm running around making breakfast, getting ready for work, etc., and I didn't know how crazy the morning would get without two quiet children parked in front of screens. But what you guys said made a lot of sense and it's been bugging me anyway that I too often choose convenience over my children's best interests and so on Friday, I pulled the plug (for the mornings at least!). Astoundingly, it hasn't been that bad. My children have grumbled a little but they're actually OK with it for the most part. Friday morning and this morning went much better and everyone was in a better mood! My son slept half an hour longer than usual (I guess he was waking up earlier to watch!) and my daughter was painting her coloring book happily as I cooked breakfast so I'm so happy with this new rule.

Next up will be taking a look at the reading (I hate the 20 min homework too but he's slightly below grade level in reading so I've felt pressure to nag about this) and working with him to create schedules and chores that work for both of us. Thanks again Mamas!

Featured Answers

R.P.

answers from Tampa on

Lol that’s my everyday! ( I have 13, 12, 4 yrs old princess and 19 month old)

I have just one rule.. no playing before chores are done. Morning they need to do their beds, their bathroom what ever, feed and give water to the dogs. And after school no playing before homework is done, that includes virtual class, reading etc. at night they alternate unloading and loading dishes and feeding the dogs.

My teenager can walk around for 50
Minutes and 10 minutes before he needs to leave can tell me, “ I am taking a shower..” like no! 🤦🏼‍♀️

And my kids are not so organized as well, so do not worry, you are not alone! Lol it’s just how a lot pre and teenagers are. But I would set the rules where no playing till everything you want him to do is done.
Hang in there.. eventually it will get better! Lol

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C.C.

answers from New York on

I’m sorry that you had a rough morning. I’ll try to respond to all of your details.

First: how about no screen time in the mornings before school. None at all. If you look on YouTube for videos about “early morning routines for success” and such, they talk about the benefits of no screen time. Mornings are for breakfast and quiet reflection and maybe some exercise. (And I’ll add my “eeww” vote to poop screen time, lol. I understand that “screen while pooping” is sort of a concept referenced in pop culture - poop culture, as it were - but it’s unnecessary and unhygienic.)

Second: don’t ask in the morning about something he was supposed to do at night. What possible benefit does that serve other than adding “unpleasantries” to his morning. If you want to monitor his night work, the correct way to do that is to not fall asleep before he does (I’m assuming that you did?) and stay on top of his night routine in the moment, at night. You’re lucky that he did not lie to you and say “yes I did my reading” untruthfully - points for honesty!

Third: he tells you he’s leaving in ten minutes and your response is to give him ten minutes worth of chores. ??!! That sounds ridiculous! You can, if you want, establish a rule of “no leaving in the mornings allowed until you clear the table and fill the dog bowls” - that’s different, then, that sort of pre-set chore schedule. He knows that those chores need to get done before whatever time he wants to leave. But the only possible excuse for you saying that chore stuff this morning is if you truly “innocently” thought that he was all ready to leave when he spoke to you at 7:55am...?

Last thing: and now you want to act like an annoyed martyr because he stepped up and tried to DO WHAT YOU ASKED! I’m proud of him for taking a shot at that stuff. It was a backhanded “morning-grumpy but done with love” way of showing you that your concerns are important to him. You then telling him to NOT clear the tables and fill the dog bowls is really a “mind fk” game on your part - sorry but it’s true!

Overall, it sounds like you maybe are coming down with a cold or something and were out of sorts this morning. Because you really were not in great form this morning, but I know that you acknowledge that this “style” of morning communication is not the norm in your house.

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L.U.

answers from Seattle on

Um, he didn't fly off the handle. First. He actually doesn't sound that angry either.
But that's just me...and my situation with my son this past year has made me significantly more patient. When my son was getting in my face, screaming at me to "fu** off" and punching holes in the wall....that's angry. (also, after medication, a lot of counseling, and a lot of mom advocating...our relationship is great. It was exhausting)
So...here's what I would do.
I have NEVER cared about my kids reading 20 minutes a day. I think it's dumb. In my personal opinion, I wouldn't have pushed that. He may have natural consequences at school, like missing recess, if he doesn't read. Also, I think it sucks that you mentioned it to him in the morning. Like, he already has his morning planned out and you sprang it on him. He should have done it the night before, and you could have reminded him the night before...if it's that important to you.
Second, is it normally his job to fill the dog's bowl and clear the dishes? No? Then that's on you. Again, he had his morning planned out and you interrupted with something else.
Listen, I may be wrong, but with my OWN son I had to learn a very different way of parenting. With my eldest, I could drop stuff on him last minute and it didn't affect him at all. It's his personality. With my second son, it's not. He has ADHD and ODD. I need to prepare him (*hey, tomorrow morning before you head to school I need you to fill the dog bowl and gather the dishes) so he can plan HIS day. It's like when our kids ask us last minute for a ride somewhere. Ugh. Why didn't they tell me earlier so I could plan?
That's what you did to your son. SO yup, he probably was frustrated. And you probably were too.
I would talk to him when he gets home..."Hey, sometimes I have things I need you to do. What's the best way for me to ask it of you? Last minute, night before? I don't like us starting our day out like that, it's super stressful! Let's work together in coming up with a solution"
Sometimes a dictatorship works...sometimes it doesn't. Sounds like you may need to collaborate with your son.
Good luck

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E.B.

answers from Denver on

I'm sorry it was a rough morning.

It's my opinion that the 10, 11, 12 year old kids are often not able to manage their own time independently. Some can, of course. They're distracted, they don't look at the clock as often as they should, they underestimate how long certain tasks take. So, as far as your telling him to manage his time better, well, that might be something he's not quite ready for. And it's ok to tell him that he's not managing his time, and you understand that time management and planning are things that some people have trouble with. And then you tell him that you're going to be more of a team player as far as time management in the morning, with him.

Post a morning list of things to get done. Work on this with him. Include teeth brushing, getting dressed, feeding the dog, packing the backpack, etc. Make sure a clock is very visible where he can see it.

And then tell him that while things are so poorly managed, that certain privileges will have to wait.

And that's where screen time comes in. On a school morning, with a 10 year old, electronics should not be available at all. In fact, they should not be available at all, until all chores and homework are done -- with a pleasant attitude. Then there can be an hour of free time with screens. Then screens are off a good amount of time before bed. That's the time for quiet reading. You can talk to him about how people get ready for work in the morning (use an example if you can, of someone he knows who gets to work on time). A teacher doesn't get up and watch a half hour sitcom before getting ready for school. School, for kids, is like a job for adults.

Try making his day a little more structured for awhile. And make it clear that his accomplishing his scheduled tasks on time and pleasantly will lead to more and more privileges and independence.

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

i'm sorry you guys had a bad morning.

rather than blame it on his age or hormones, i suggest that you take a deep breath, and acknowledge your role in this.

your morning screen rules are unnecessarily complicated. why not just 'no screens before school' instead of this convoluted decree? instead of a screen he could do his reading there. (and what if he's reading on a screen, for that matter?)

btw, imposing 20 minute reading rule is a perfect way to make kids hate reading. if you read to him, or read together, or find reading material that really engages him, it makes it a whole lot more fun than just another chore he has to get through.

my 28-year-old always takes his phone with him when it's poop time. we can pretty much guarantee that door will be locked for a good 45 minutes. he didn't grow up with handheld screens, but don't imagine fondly that you can train your kid out of this. no screens in the morning should be more a practical matter than a philosophical one.

'manage your time better' is pretty nebulous to a 10 year old. at 7:55 a simple glance could have told you that he didn't have time to get ready and get those chores done.

there are times to stand back and let your kids bobble, and times to help them sort it out. we never get them all just right, and no worries if we bobble a bit ourselves. but your son is only 10, and you've picked a difficult mix of authoritarianism and making him figure things out for himself. perhaps if you sort through your own parenting philosophy on where he needs strong boundaries and where he needs to work through things on his own, you can then sit down with him and actually discuss it with him. not tell him what to do, or that he's on his own, but give him a voice.

in your case i'd hold firm on no screens, but let him decide if he wants time reminders in the morning (it's 7:45! if you're going to walk to school with your friends, you need to be getting ready now. it's 7:55. what chores do you have left to do?) or needs to be a kid whose chores all happen after school or if he'd like you to read to him while he eats breakfast.

kids are much better about following rules that they help create.

khairete
S.

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R.L.

answers from Chicago on

Sorry you had such a stressful morning. Ugh. I think you need to think more about working with him instead of working against him. Remember, you are actually on the same side and want the same things, in this case, to have a pleasant start to the day.

Lots of 10 year olds do not have brains that organize time well. Some do, but your expectations may not be age appropriate for him. Your mornings will go much better if he can contribute to the plan, instead of it being mostly on you. Sit down with him in a loving way and ask him if you can come up with a schedule that everyone can live with. What would he like the morning to look like? If he wants screen time, and you want chores done, can the screen time be OK if there is time after chores are done and he is all ready for school? Would it be helpful for him to have it written out, on the refrigerator or bathroom mirror, or would he like your help in the form of loving verbal reminders? Help him think about how he learns best, what would be helpful to him, and what you are able to do? Sounds like you are able and willing to be involved, you’d just prefer it not be stressful, so keep reminders brief and kind. Try to let go of your frustration with him for being 10 and caring more about friends and screens than chores and books. Help him want to develop the ability to manage time well so that he can do what he wants and also what you know is important too.

Personally, I think the 20 minutes a night rule is a great way to get children to hate reading, and we ignored it. We told our children that rule was for children who didn’t already love reading. We read to them, read with them, bought them some books they wanted, visited the library regularly, and they saw us reading. They are all young adults who love reading, but they never read 20 minutes a night.

10 year olds are not pre-teens and should not be that moody. Even the pre-teen and teen years do not have to be conflictual if you mostly keep a positive connection, and allow your child to have whatever feelings they have without judgment, just set boundaries around how they express those feelings. For example, your son was angry, you were too. Yet you are upset with him for being “moody.” How is that fair? How would you like him to express anger and/or frustration? Maybe it would be better if you had just stated that you were feeling frustrated with how badly the morning was going, instead of yelling? Think about how you want him to express anger, and then model it, because he is looking to you as an example.

But try not to beat yourself up or question your choices too much. Parenting is not about “right” or “wrong.” It’s not always easy to help a young person grow up, and you might as well just accept that sometimes you will get it right, and sometimes you will miss each other and then need to find a way to reconnect and move forward in a better way. Not so easy to grow up either, lots of things to learn. Include him in the process more and you will get better cooperation.

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N.K.

answers from Miami on

With that attitude of stomping, yanking things, marching off, and not even saying bye, I would have taken his device away and told him he is not getting it for 24 hours, so he can reflect on how his behavior has consequences. Then, as mamazita suggested, I would have made it a new rule that he can play on his device after school, after homework has been completed, then chores, for x amount of hours. Why does he need to be on his phone by 7 am? I can understand this for a business executive, lawyer, doctor, but a child? Why can't his playtime wait until after school? Same with chores?

Here is what I would do: I would ask about any and all homework BEFORE bed time, not the morning of, because at that point, there is nothing that can be done. I would prioritize homework over chores, though I understand some kids are overwhelmed with schoolwork while at school, so in such cases, I might allow him to do his chores first, to get his mind off of school and give his mind a break. Then, homework must be completed. Then, dinnertime and showering (if he showers at night). At that point, he can have his device, let's say for an hour, or if you want, two. This is your call and it all depends on the time, of course. The next morning, I would set up several alarms on the phone for time allotment. Let's say the first alarm is for brushing his teeth, at that time, he needs to go in the bathroom and brush his teeth. The second alarm is to get dressed, by the time that second alarm goes off, he needs to go into his room to get his clothes on, and finish by the time the third alarm goes off, for doing his hair, and so on and so forth. Kids are horrible at time management, they just are. Either verbal reminders or mini-alarms should help.

ETA: I just read AKMom's comment, "I notice the more screen time my preteens got the moodier they were, we actually took screens away for a while and their outburst got better." The exact same thing as what happened with my daughter! Could it be your son is a bit addicted to his device and this is causing some of his moodiness? Seems too much of a coincidence that I had this issue, AKMom did, and so have many other parents on message boards or articles about grouchy, disrespectful, uncooperative kids and what a difference taking the phone away for extended periods of time made. I also read an article that too much social media, etc. causes anxiety in kids and how parents noticed their kids were no longer short-tempered or anxious -- just something to think about in regards to his outbursts.

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R.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Yes, totally normal, and yes, I think you were nitpicking more than you should have. Your son certainly does more chores in the mornings than my kids ever did. But I highly suggest you stop allowing screen time before school, that way he won't be getting up earlier and earlier and mismanaging his morning time. Screens are addictive, and unless you limit it and stick to the allotted times to the minute, you are going to be experiencing more and more of these occasions, where son is pushing the limit.

You will probably deal with much more difficult scenarios than this before you are done parenting -- most kids don't just happily say, "sure, mom" after a certain age (such as the f@@@ yous and I hate yous mentioned below). That's why parenting is not considered easy, among other reasons. But to a seasoned parent, the scenario you describe sounds fairly benign, in the scheme of things.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

Could it just be that a) he was tired as less sleep/up early so cranky because of that? and b) screen time first thing in the day?

I don't quite get the using washroom and screen time. We don't have that in our home. I am not sure you really want to have those two things go together - in case it creates a dependency? Maybe it wouldn't - I don't know. Seems a little funny to me. Just speaking as someone who would be concerned not that hygienic?? I'm thinking 10 year old boy .. lol. I just know my sons.

How about your child has to do things like feed dog, clear table, etc. and then gets screen time or watch show, or whatever - relax as we call it here? Then there's less arguing, less bugging .. it's just easier in the mornings.

I find that works much better.

And no judging about the bathroom - if it works .. then it works. I just think if it's not necessary, I wouldn't have it as part of the day. Here, we're in and out of the washrooms in the morning so simply can't relate :)

* Oh I don't talk about homework, etc. in the mornings. That just makes for bad mornings with any kid. We tend to do the least amount of talking in the morning as possible - just keep it as light and pleasant as we can, and out of each other's way. As they hit the teen years, this is important.

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M.S.

answers from Washington DC on

Simplify. No screen time in the morning, including bathroom time, until everything is done. Have a checklist on the fridge. Eat breakfast, get dressed for school, wash face, brush teeth, fill the dog’s water bowl, homework in backpack, etc, etc. Once everything is finished, if he has free time, he can play. If not, head on out the door to school.

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

The anger sounds normal at that age, their hormones are going haywire and they often don't even understand why they feel so angry. But, you could avoid some of this by saying no screens before school, or at the very least no screens until they are ready to walk out the door for school (that is our rule). I notice the more screen time my preteens got the moodier they were, we actually took screens away for a while and their outburst got better.

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

I think the screen time in the morning has to go. I'm not sure why it was implemented but it's not working. He's apparently going behind your back and playing while he's in the bathroom.

What is the reason for allowing a screen in the bathroom for pooping? Does he have a constipation problem and this was your way of making sure he stayed put long enough? I think 10 is old enough to use the bathroom unless there's a problem, and the idea of poopy hands on the screen or switches is pretty gross. Moreover, electronics near water is probably not a good idea.

Now, at 7:55 if he says he wants to meet friends at 8:05, and you say "fine," then one would hope that you noticed he wasn't dressed and hadn't brushed teeth or done chores. So unless he called out to you and you called back "fine" without seeing that he wasn't dressed, I think that's one you'll need to rethink for the future. It sounds like you regret raising your voice, and it might be good if you said that, in the hopes that it will prompt him to not raise his or at least admit he shouldn't have been stomping around. If you take away screens entirely until the dog bowl is filled and the table is cleared and the teeth are brushed, you'll avoid this.

It may be that "you need to plan your time better" is too vague for him - I don't know him, but some kids can organize their thoughts and themselves, and some can't. I would go to a checklist on the bathroom mirror or the refrigerator or whatever public place works, and take the nagging/reminding out of it entirely. If he gets up earlier, he can fix himself a fiber-loaded breakfast and still have time to poop. He should be prepping his own lunch as well as cleaning up his dishes. If you can get him to agree to things on the list (or at least accept that you are the parent and have the right to require chores), then he can stare down the list and not you. Start working with him to accept that "big kid privileges" are contingent upon "big kid responsibilities" and that you're going to be cutting back on all the reminding since that's for little kids who have no attention span, can't read a check list, and don't get privileges like texting friends to meet up to walk to school. He can make his plans with his friends the evening before, not in a rush after he's spent 35 minutes in a bathroom with electronics.

I think you can elicit his cooperation in this "contract" and remind him that he has one with his teachers about doing 20 minutes of reading. He needs to start managing his own homework and taking his lumps from the teacher if he doesn't do the work. It's not up to you to make sure he gets straight A's. It's up to him to earn privileges, lose recess, stay after school for extra help, or whatever the consequences are. By his teens, he needs to manage all of his work, so you should start helping him develop those skills now. He'll never manage his time if you remind him all the time - so it's okay to let him fail a little and incur the consequences.

I get that you're totally irritated - and I understand. I don't think it's as effective, though, as letting consequences happen. For example, being late to school is a great motivator for the next time! No horrible thing will happen if he has to check in with the office and explain he played on the toilet for 35 minutes or even just say "I didn't think it was important to be ready on time." That's what worked for my son.

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L.H.

answers from Abilene on

I think you've already gotten a lot of good advice. Hopefully you will find it helpful going forward.

I will comment that my son doesn't do well when I throw lots of things at him. He's a very easy going kid and analytical. I learned early on if we had a change in plans, it was much harder for him to adjust than the rest of us.

I was at a homeschool convention hearing Dianna Warring speak when she gave me a great nugget to think about. He was about 5 years old or so and I was very discouraged due to his lack of being able to be fine with changing plans rapidly. She put it in context after learning this with her son. Rapid changing plans makes people who don't function that way crazy. Kind of like I know my son is an auditory learner, it's how he processes best. Trying to force him to learn a different way is doable, but doesn't yield the joy of learning which is more important to me than to fit in any pigeon hole. What is no big deal to me and expect him to do well with it is an unrealistic expectation. I do not coddle him around this, but I know I have to allow him time to process expectations. And he has to have the freedom to be his own person (and I really like the person he is).

I agree with those who say the 20 min rule for reading is a sure fired way to make them HATE reading. I am living proof of that. I was made to read out loud to my parents 30 mins every night. I hated it then and don't read as something relaxing to do. I am currently reading the Trojan War with my son. He loves literature and analyzes everything well, but despises reading (dyslexic). I have never enjoyed mythology but because he's passionate about it, we are reading it out loud and discussing. It gives more time for me to connect with him in something he enjoys.

Hang in there. Have clear expectations and tell him you hate it when mornings are rocky and you'd like to figure out a plan that will work better. He will be ready for more and more responsibilities and I think it's important to recognize you're laying groundwork for your relationship with him in the future.

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T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

I'm not a morning person and therefore your morning routine would make me a stressed out parent.
Instead of no screens before 7, why not just no screens before school, period? Much simpler.
My kids liked to watch TV before school, and I let them do so once they were dressed and fed and ready to go. Do A before B was my mantra and mostly it worked.
And they had NO chores before school. What a nightmare, isn't it enough to get everything else done in the morning? Give them chores they can do after school or dinner, when you're all not so rushed and cranky.
As a parent you obviously need rules and boundaries in place, but you also need to have the flexibility to step back and adjust your expectations when things aren't working. And a sneaky kid is the FIRST sign of that.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

I disagree with the expectation that 'preteens are moody'.
It seems if you expect it it somehow becomes permission, normalized and a self fulfilling prophecy.
While everyone has a bad day every now and then you don't treat the people you love with a crappy attitude on a regular basis.
Doesn't matter what age you are - every one in the house needs to learn this and mind their manners.

What went wrong in the morning was it was one last minute change after another - kind of heaping it on.
He can't use a screen before he's suppose to if he doesn't have access to it.
Night before - take custody of it and you decide when he gets it next day.
Honestly - if he's that addicted to it I would not allow it at all during a school week.

He can have time he's earned for it on the weekend and he earns his time by getting his homework done, completing chores and general good behavior.
If he earns none - he gets none.
It puts him in control of how he gets his perks and he has no one to blame if he didn't do what he was suppose to do.
He's not earning his perks now - so he thinks its a right - you are going to have a rough time reining that attitude in but the sooner you start the better.
He might need a few weeks away from it as a detox period.

Asking in the morning if he did his reading the night before - why didn't you ask him the night before?
Every night everything for the next day should be prepared/completed before bedtime.
Making lunch, laying out clothes, homework completed, organized in his backpack and ready to turn in.
It makes for a much more smooth morning plus he should sleep better KNOWING his work is complete so he doesn't have to worry about it in the morning.

When did he plan to meet his friends to walk to school in the morning?
Why did he not tell you about it till 10 min before hand?
His lack of planning - and communicating with you in a timely fashion - should not be an emergency on your part.
He could have told you the night before - and if he made the plans last minute - too bad he should have given you more than 10 minutes notice.
What you did to him with the reading question he did to you with the meeting friends message.
More timely communication by everyone would help everyone.

Clear the table - anytime anyone eats the meal ends with clear the table - it should just be an automatic habit that everyone develops.
Taking care of the dog - if this is his job he needs to take responsibility for it.
If he forgets - well you can try 'forgetting' to feed son and see how HE feels about that.
Pets are family members - you don't forget to take care of them.

You're the parent - you set the rules.
Going along to get along to avoid an argument - you're giving a 10 yr old too much power.
You explain what the rules are and what the consequences for not following the rules will be and then all he has to do is follow the rules.
That way everyone has a clear idea of what they are suppose to do, when they are suppose to do it and what he will lose (game/screen time) by not doing it.

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J.S.

answers from Boston on

You've gotten so many great responses - especially all responses from gidget down through AK mom. I have to echo that the executive functioning skills of a 10 year old (especially male) are simply not that great. Probably most of us manage our kids at that are pretty heavily.

We had a lot of strife at that age trying to get my daughter out of the house on time - other reasons behind it not screen time (sensory issues) - but the stress made for a terrible start to my day and her day. I know if I felt bad after she was in school she probably also carried the weight of that negativity into school with her. Nobody needs a negative start to their day, so I've worked hard to be sure our mornings are more positive. Sometimes I really have to check myself and make sure I don't say something or react in some way in the moment that isn't helpful and instead will just end up making us both feel bad. It's a struggle sometimes, but we've gotten better by simplifying morning routine.

I would agree with trying no screen in the morning, maybe forego chores in the morning. Also, if you haven't read the book "how to talk so kids listen & listen so kids will talk" it might be worth your time. You can read it while he's reading his 20 min/night (I also agree with those who say this whole forced reading is TERRIBLE - but if your school is like ours you have to sign a reading log so you feel obligated to hound them about it - so maybe the 20 min reading has to happen before any screen time - maybe he can read on screen via hoopla or kindle?) so you are reading together LOL. I think that book gives a lot of helpful insight & ways to approach conversations so that they are conversations not arguments.

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G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

Some kids are going to naturally have great time management skills, but most are not born that way and need to learn them over time. My 10 year old is pretty good about getting ready for school in the morning, but sometimes he tells me is all dressed and ready to go when he doesn't even have his shoes on and doesn't remember where he left them. My 13 year old, on the other hand, is horrible about getting ready for school and horrible about getting homework done. He always waits until the last minute and then is up too late (doing homework) or misses the bus (because he didn't get ready fast enough). We're working on it, but jeez!!! I try to just keep working with him and try not to get upset, but sometimes it is very frustrating.

You might need to be aware of things that need to wait until later. Did you really need to lecture him about how reading for 20 minutes is part of his homework? He didn't do the morning chores and was running late. Did you really need to discuss it right away? You probably caused him to be even later because he had to stand there and listen to you give him another lecture. My guess is he starting filling the bowls and clearing the table because he thought that would be the faster way to just get out of the house and meet up with his friends.

I don't think you're fully looking at this from his perspective if you really think he had no reason to be upset. It doesn't matter if what you were correcting him about was true or not, no one really enjoys being criticized. He's allowed to be upset. He might be upset because he thinks you're being unfair, he might be upset with himself because he forgot to do his chores or because he forgot to read or he might just be mad because he's late. It doesn't matter why he's upset, but he is allowed to be upset. And, wow, compared to my 13 year old, your son is very far from "flying off the handle."

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D..

answers from Miami on

Yeah, this is normal. So hard to see a sweet kid turn into a little monster almost overnight. But you will see the sweet part show up ever so often. At least there’s that!

It’s time for you to take the screens out of the equation. Honestly, you should have started out like that. You don’t hand him the screen until he has finished his work. If that means he goes without it, he goes without it. And if he doesn’t get his chores done, he loses the screens. Period. He can’t be late to school because he’s late doing his chores in order to get his screens.

It will be hard and he will fight you. Ignore it. Tell him that it sounds like he’s upset. Nod your head and then remind him that he is in charge of taking care of his responsibilities. Eventually he will get better at this. Having a list for him in his room, his bathroom, the kitchen, will help.

Remember, YOU hold the power. His screens are his “currency”. He shouldn’t have the screens unless he has done everything he is supposed to do. He should never have a computer in his bedroom. Only access where you can see him. You should have his passwords. Check his phone and computer to make sure he is not going on inappropriate sites. You can get the geek squad to help prevent some of it.

Remember that he’s 10 and he’ll mess up for a while. Just stick to your guns in a loving but firm way. If you don’t argue with him (pick up a book), he will eventually get that time spent working instead of fussing at his mom will get the screens back. But you have to stick to your guns and act as though you aren’t listening to ugliness.

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W.W.

answers from Washington DC on

I don't understand WHY he had the device in the first place! WHY did you not take it away at the first instance? There should be no cell phones or electronics BEFORE SCHOOL.

Yes, this is "normal" but it's NOT acceptable. He needs to be told that he is allowed to have his feelings but to be rude is NOT acceptable. You need to apologize for going overboard. But really? The rest wouldn't have happened if you had taken away the device in the first place.

Cell phones - electronics - need to be out of the bedroom. PERIOD.

He's angry because he was caught. He's angry because he was being nagged.

Get him on a schedule. A check list of things that must be done to be prepared for the next day.

WHY ARE YOU NOT READING WITH HIM??! Make this time about you two reading together. Whether he is reading to you or you each reading your own books. Do it TOGETHER!!!

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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

You've gotten lots of good advice. I have 2 things to add. One - when things start to go off the tracks (and this won't be the last time), try to let it go in the moment. When he's stressed and running around is not the time to point out that he has poor time management skills. Wait until you are both home after dinner, no one is in a rush, and you can talk calmly. Then, ask him how he could change him morning routine to make it less stressed, while still accomplishing what he needs to do.

As for the reading... several people commented on this below and I will add my tip. All our teachers ask for 20 min per week night. We don't do it that way because really, if you love to read, you don't read in 20 min increments! When you are into a good book, you read for longer because you want to see what happens next. When you are busy, you might set a book aside for a few days. So my kids do the required amount of reading per week (eg, if the assignment is 20min/night, 5 nights/week = 100 minutes per week). But they will read for an hour or more on a long car ride. Or they will read twice a week for an hour each time before bed. By switching to this strategy, I find that my kids now read MORE than they are assigned, because they have time to get really interested in the book and sometimes don't want to set it down. I keep track of what they have read over each week and sign off on the log as long as the total number of minutes for the week are met or exceeded.

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R.M.

answers from Albany on

You sound like a concerned mom with expectations and rules that are reasonable and fair. Maybe after his outburst, all the situation needs is a good heart to heart talk.
If I had kids today, there would be no cell phone until they were older teenagers able to buy their own and pay the fees.
I find it strange that your son is allowed to be on his phone while he poops. Can't he just sit and concentrate and think about his day, for example? Why do kids need a cell phone anyway? Games?...most of which are violent. Or to talk/chat with friends about one another..very hurtful and encouraging of mean behaviour. Two very bad reasons.
And a third, they just cut children off from those around them.
Imagine, without the interference of a cell phone, you could be having an interesting and enriching conversation with him about all kinds of things. Why fall leaves turn red, how an 11 year old built a tiny house, which fruits are in his smoothie, why it's important to take vitamin D in winter...with the laptop at hand in the kitchen to answer these questions.
According to experts, most boys do not enjoy reading. I remember a librarian giving a talk about that and saying that cartoons and joke books are a good alternative to fiction. French children and teens grow up on cartoon series like Tintin and Asterix. I gave my children the option to go straight to bed OR stay up an extra 30 minutes and read (not play). Guess which they chose?
Oh, and btw, TV was on Saturday mornings before 9 am only...and in French to help improve their language skills. There was piano practice to do and playing outside and family interaction so basically TV would have interfered with their enrichment which I felt was my duty and role as a mother to encourage.

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*.*.

answers from New London on

A 10 year old is still looking to a parent for Parenting/Guidance!

I am not sure that a phone before school is appropriate. It's not in my house. I wouldn't say it was ok in my house. I don't have computers or TVs in any bedrooms (I am kinda strict).

Sit back and ask yourself if it is really NECESSARY for him to play games in the am. I do not believe it is. I would have him feed the dog and sit down for a healthy breakfast.

If you allow the phone now in the mornings, I can assure you that the teen years are going to be even harder--Because they are! Set the guiding down now! That's a parent's job.

Sit him down and tell him that beginning on Nov 4th---Just breakfast and chores are going to take place in the am during the school week. He can have the wicked thing for one hour each night. It will take about 2 weeks before the bad habit is broken.

I am so sorry you are going through this. Parenting is sooo much harder with these kids having adult phones!

With all of this being said, some kids can handle 15 minutes of that junk in the am. Your son is really getting mad, so, too me it sounds as if it should be taken away. Besides, you pay for it!

If he does "Tantrum"--The phone is yours for 2 days! After you do this a few times--He will stop TESTING YOU! I know all soooo well !!! It works. It's good parenting, too!

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