Monday, June 29, 2009

Camp Epiphany

Ok, so I'm having one of those days. It doesn't help that my allergies have been knocking me down for almost a week now. I have had a very busy two weeks in which I have come to realize many things about myself. Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do with this new information and I'm so worn out tired that I don't even know where to start. But if I don't start today I will lose the motivation to do anything about it, so I'm going to ramble on this blog for a bit. :)

I enjoyed two wonderful kid free weekends with my hubby. The house was clean, quiet, peaceful. Nathan and I could actually have a conversation without kids screaming, fighting, spilling, breaking, slamming, crying, or any other nerve shattering noise. It was blissfully wonderful. A tiny and I do mean tiny part of me felt guilty for not missing my children, but in my defense I was very busy at camp and had 20 something girls to mother so there wasn't time to miss them.

At camp I realized a very important truth about my relationship with my children. My epiphany came on a night when several girls were angry with me for a simple mistake. I had the first level girls and many of them were very homesick. At our camp the girls slept in cabins with their levels not wards, and so many sisters were split up. Some had a VERY hard time with this. One girl would sit in our cabin as late as possible crying every night and begging me to let her stay with her sister. I wanted to let her, but we did not have any extra beds and the rules were they needed to stay in their own cabins to sleep. There are lots of good reasons for this, but I didn't even think about them until Friday, and this is why.

During the week a leader told me that on Friday nights, the last night of camp, the girls could switch cabins and sleep with their friends. So each night that I had to separate the two sisters I would say, "it is just a few more nights until Friday, hang in there" or something similar. Friday night came and these sisters and a few friends took their things and went to another cabin. I knew where they were so I didn't think much about it until it was time for lights out. I had 2 cabins of girls (don't worry their were lots of other leaders helping) and I had gone to the other cabin to say goodnight. One of the leaders mentioned that the one girl was missing and would I please walk her over. I told her where she was and learned that I had been misinformed as to the Friday "tradition" of switching cabins.

Well, I felt horrible and slightly terrified because now I had to fix it and I am not good at being firm when it comes to things like this. I was smart enough to ask this other leader to come with me because I knew my weakness. These girls were really defiant and rude when we found them and told them what needed to happen. I felt horrible and tried to explain that I had the wrong information and apologized but that is not what they wanted to hear. They were very angry with me and it hurt my feelings because I really wanted them to be happy and have a good time at camp. I had also gone out of my way to try and be friends with the first level girl and give her hope that it would all be worth it. I also just hate it when people are mad at me, always have been and always will be.

The same thing happens in my home with my children. I love them so much and want them to be happy and have the things they want. They know this, and they know how to take advantage of it. They love and respect me, but they do not respect my authority as the parent. They do not believe me when I say "no" because they know if they throw a tantrum I will eventually give in. They can go for hours and it wears me down! Plus, I can clean it faster and better anyway, right?

The problem is that they get away with it, don't learn anything, and I wear myself out trying to keep everyone happy. But, I'm not happy. So I need to be a better parent when it comes to "This is the family rule, end of discussion" Do you know what I mean? Maybe it is because I read that Parenting with Love and Logic book so long ago. I'm always trying to explain why I said what I said and what the consequences are so they can make a good choice. Unfortunately, it seems to be a waste of time. They are kids and all they need to know is that it is the way it is Because I Said So. My kids talk to me in ways that I never would have dreamed of talking to my parents. I would have been smacked into next week.

So what am I going to do about it? Any ideas? I'm making a detailed daily schedule in the hopes that getting organized with our time will help. I'm also going to print out our family rules so that no one can say they "forgot" or just "didn't know". But what are my consequences? We don't do sleep overs so I can't take that away. We have put a lock on the TV so they can't watch it anyway. They have very few toys and they seem to like being "sent to their room". The only thing left is to take away the Wii, which I do every time they fight over it anyway. I'm at a loss as to how to make the change be affective. There has to be consequences, but what? No pool? I'll die! Please post any suggestions you might have.

I thought that I could start a positive reinforcement that I am borrowing from camp--Her majesty of the day--what the girls fondly called the commode award. I'll have to call it something else since I have boys too. But you can earn this by getting all your chores done without complaining and by being obedient. You then get to ask each member of the family to do something for you--such as clear your plate for you after dinner, bring something to you, pick the show of the night, etc. I can see my kids really getting into that so we will have to have a whole set of rules just for that. Any thoughts?


Jen said...

Whew! I wish I knew how to make it all better. :( I have the same problem with taking away privileges....we don't do sleepovers either and tv/computer/Wii time is already closely monitored (1 hr. total per day). Mostly I just send them to their room and they end up taking a nap (which is what they probably needed in the first place).

The school I work at required all the teachers to read that Love and Logic book last summer and they use it in the classroom all the time. Seems to work for most kids. But at some point, I agree, they need to just do it because you say so.

Good Luck!!!

Lanna said...

I battle this same thing with my two kids -- defiance at home, disruptive behavior at church and in stores, etc. Like you, I would have been smacked into next week if I sassed like my son does. I know he gets a lot of it from TV and friends, but what's a mom to do? I have tried taking literally everything away, but deprivation does not offer any incentive for better behavior.

I came up with a rather brilliant idea last week while discussing the church reverence problem with my husband. Instead of taking things away, why not have them earn rewards instead? The key is to start with nothing. If you are good and do XYZ while we are at (fill in the blank), you will earn so many minutes on Wii or TV or time at the pool, etc. The idea is that I can focus on positive rewards instead of punishments.

I haven't tried it yet. My husband was too quick to take away Wii for bad behavior before I could jump in to explain reward system. But, I'm determined to try it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Jenny said...

I haven't read that book but I have lots of friends who say it is great. I do not really think any mom knows how to fix the problem because every child is different. What works for Jake doesn't work for the girls. So it is hard to say...
On this Nanny 911 show I watch once they had parents on there whose kids were OUT of control and they did this reflection room. They had a room with just a couch and some pillows. They had to sit in it for how ever old you are and then they would go in and talk to them. Basically it was a time out but they could lounge while thinking about what they did. Worked great for those kids after a couple days of horribleness for the parents. It is hard. I don't always have the time to sit down and have a 5 minute talk after every time out. I guess I should make the time.
Charity you are a WONDERFUL mom! Don't beat yourself up!! You really are wonderful and are one of the nicest people I have ever met!!
P.S. I have done with the girls before and it worked really well while I did it. Made a chore list for FHE. They choose what they though should happen if they didn't do them. WHen they did something I would just say this is the punishment you choose, I am sorry. I did have a few times where they got really upset but I took the rest of the kids and did something with them and she finally stopped her fit. Then for every three stars they got (on the chore chart) they got a reward coupon. They were stuff like stay up 15 minutes late (mom and dad time), extra story, walk to the park, cuddle time at bed time, painting, I don't remember them all. Anyway, they could use them during the day. They liked that. Your kids are older but maybe you could adapt them to things they like to do. I don't know, really. When you figure it out send your thoughts my way!!! LOve yoU!!!

Charity said...

Luckily my kids are really good everywhere else. People are always coming up and telling me how kind and well behaved they are and I just laugh! But they really are everywhere else.

I guess that means I'm doing something right, but why do they have to save all the anger for at home? One friend informed me it was because they felt safe in our home and knew they could act that way and still be loved. That's great, but I want to feel the love too!

I do have to say that I've been good so far this week (yay a big 2 days *hee hee*)about making them get all of their chores done before we do anything else. And it is working. Now to work on our communication skills.

I guess it all boils down to learning and growing through this life experience so we will be better prepared for the eternities.

lisapenn said...

Hi Charity,
This is Lisa Pennington (from M'Boro) don't know if you remember me. I found your blog via Meghan Meredith's. I have enjoyed getting to know your family, because you all left when you got married. I hope you don't mind I linked you to mine.
Your kids sound awesome. I am always in awe when I read your posts about what good parents you and Nathan are. I struggle with the same problem with my kids. I don't want to be the bad guy (and I can't take confrontation either), but I guess it just boils down to we are the parents and have the right to be the boss.
I don't really have any earth shattering discipline rules we just do the same ole. We don't have video games, wii, or sleepovers. I just make them work if they smart off or are mean to a sibling. It works sometimes. ; ) I always have clean floors though!

Lindsey said...

Just SPANK their LITTLE BUM!!! haha you could treat them how they treat you. Not really.. but it might be funny. Sometimes I think it would be fnny if we could just record temper tantrums and fits or the complaining then let the kdis watch it to see how funny they looks... ANYWAYS on a more serious note. I liked the idea of earning time on the wii.... swimming.. or other activities. Maybe then they would know what they have to do to get their privleges and there wouldn't be any arguing. But it is all easier said then done. I really don't know much. You have far more experienece than I do in parenting!! I hope it all works out.

Amy and the boys said...

Oh boy. I was hoping it got better as they got older. I keep thinking- they're young so they'll get better at this or that. I'm a little nervous now. :D Good luck- can't wait to see your follow up and what works and doesnt work.