Creating Boundries...and when that fails

Last Thursday night, I just about reached the end of my rope. The nine year old had already been rude to me (and shown zero remorse and didn't apologize...and this is a reoccurring issue that we have talked with her about heavily), and then I heard her smart off to her father. I wanted to pick her up off the floor, sit her on her bed and tell her exactly what I was thinking. Somehow, I was able to walk away, and get my filter (you know that censoring filter you use before you speak...or that you *should* use before you speak) back in place. Maybe I didn't want to scare her to death. Part of me regrets not just committing to it. I told her the censored/filtered version of what I was thinking, but she didn't seem to care. Maybe the shock factor would have been what it needed to get through to her.

The girls are generally well behaved. We are lucky in that regard. However, we still have some areas that need some attention. There are some things they do, and no matter how much we talk to them about it, they continue to have the behavior problems. This alone doesn't make the girls monsters or any different than any other kid. Still we reached a point where we needed to create more distinct boundaries.

A few months ago, we implemented a points system for the girls. They could earn points for rewards. However, when they broke the rules, they lost points. For every 5 points they lost, there would be a consequence.

This pretty much eliminated some of the smaller issues we were having (They can sometimes go for weeks without losing a point for minor things, but kids are kids and slip ups are going to happen), but it didn't seem to stop some of our bigger issues. We would talk to them again. Explain to them what they did wrong, and why it was wrong. There would even be consequences, but none of them seemed to be big enough to stop them from doing it again.  They never seemed to feel bad for being rude or hurting other people's feelings.

Example: The girls have a bad habit of getting up really early on Sundays (like 4:30-6:30 early, I'm not asking for them to sleep until 9 or 10, but 7:30 or 8 would be nice...and 4:30 is just ugly). If it just woke me up, it wouldn't be a huge deal. However, it wakes the birds up. They hear humans talking, so they think it is time to get up. They start making tons of noise when we don't come out to feed/pay attention to them. This is of course rude to our neighbors, so I have to cover them. Covering the birds is how we punish them for being bad. So now the birds are being punished and they don't understand why. Then they (the birds) are bitchy and on edge all day...which makes me bitchy all day. This does not make for a pleasant Sunday. There was even a time where we stayed in a hotel and they were up at 4:00 a.m. They just laughed at me when I told them to go back to bed. Nothing seems to make the girls stop doing this even the threat of losing something they love to do.  They don't seem to care that they wake up the birds and/or neighbors/me as long as they get to do what they want. This attitude bothers me and it also bothers Mark.

In most instances, the points system is working well.  The girls know that behaving means they get to *earn* fun things.That is very positive.  In a few areas, the boundaries we are setting just don't seem to be enough. As those boundaries continue to fail, so does my ability to keep the filter in tact.  I know some of the failing is due to the custody arrangement. Even if we take something away for multiple parenting times/days, they can have whatever it is back as soon as they are back with their mom (this isn't a knock on her, but our punishments understandably do not carry over to her house). It does make it hard to find a negative consequence that is a big enough deal. The bottom line is we are not doing enough to persuade the girls to change their behavior and attitudes. The question is: What do we do?

With any parenting plan, we will adjust our approach and see if that makes a difference.


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