I need some advice

I’m reaching out to all you mothers and fathers out there for some advice. I’m having issues with Alex not following directions and doing what he’s told. I realize that part of this is the age, but this can’t keep going on. Every morning I fight with him to get out of bed. I realize that putting him to bed earlier might help, but we already start the process at 7:30 so they’re in bed by 8:00. Last night they were in bed by 7:45 and it we had the same problem this morning. Worse than usual, actually. “I’m too tired to get dressed”, he says. It takes so long to get them dressed and out the door in the morning that I’ve been late to work every day since we got that first snow about two weeks ago (and the addition of snowsuits and boots to the routine). And if I get him up even earlier, then not only do I have to get up earlier (and 5:45 is early enough!), then he’s just going to be even more tired. When he cooperates, we get out on time.

This morning, he didn’t want his boots, but he had to wear them. Then he didn’t want to put his coat on. I threatened to take him outside without it. Then he didn’t want to put his coat on by himself. Beth went to daycare with her hair still sticking up on one side (I did manage to comb the other side) because I wasted so much time fighting with Alex. I really need Alex to take care of getting himself ready while I get Beth ready instead of me having to do it after I’m done with Beth. On those rare occasions when he does it without fighting, I make sure I tell him that I’m happy with his behavior and that it’s really helpful to Mommy when he gets himself ready.

But it’s not just in the mornings. There’s a lot of times that he simply refuses to do what he’s told. Other times he’s fine. Every week he asks me if he’s going to go swimming (which doesn’t start up again until the end of January) and I finally told him that if he doesn’t start doing what he’s told when he’s told, he’s not going to get to go swimming because I’m not going to reward bad behavior. Not only is that threat not working, I don’t really want to follow through with it because he does need to learn to swim. But I don’t know what else to try. Even the Santa threat is not working. Do I really start putting him to bed at 7, or even 6:30 to see if he gets up better in the morning? Eric gets home just before 6:00 and we try eat dinner right away, but some days we would literally be clearing up the dinner dishes and then putting him to bed. Plus I don’t think that we can put Beth to bed that early since she seems just fine in the morning. Oh, and this goes beyond simply having to tell him multiple times because he’s interested in something else. He flat out will tell me “No” and not do it.

So – Is there some trick that you found worked with your kids? Jenna is an awful dawdler, even at age 14, and I really don’t need two more kids like that so I want to nip this in the bud early if I can. Or am I just stuck with dealing with this for another year or two because it’s just a phase they go through?

And in spite of how mad I was with him this morning, I put on a smile and kissed him and told him I loved him just like I always do when I drop him off at school.

14 thoughts on “I need some advice

  1. Does he still play on the computer a lot? If he does, tell him that if he doesn’t do what he is told, when he is told, he will lose his computer time for the entire day.

  2. Try telling him he will have to go to school in his PJ’s. If he won’t put on his coat or boots take him without them once. Put them in the car so he can put them on when he realizes how cold it is. How about taking away the train? When my boys were that age a whack on the bottom worked wonders.

  3. Nikki seems to have the same problem with Katlyn and she and Alex are the same age. I will ask her if she has found something that works for her.

  4. Taking away the computer might work.

    I’ve threatened to leave him home alone, and that does seem to get him moving, but I can’t play that card until after I’m ready to leave the room with Beth, so if we get to that point, we’re already going to be late. Today when I threatened to take him out with his coat (actually grabbed his arm and headed for the door), he did agree to put it on, just not by himself. By that point I had already taken a bunch of stuff to the car and threatened to make him walk to school. I’ve considered the swat on the butt, trust me!

  5. Seeing as Bill had to drive Damien to school and actually walk him to the classroom this morning, we are not the ones to be giving advice, but when had it ever stopped me? 😉

    Find a threat you are willing to follow through. For example, tell him that for each time you tell him to do something and he refuses, his bed time moves up 15 minutes. Explain it in painful detail. Say things like “If you do it four times, your bedtime moves up a hour. That means going to your room while Bet gets to play and watch TV.”Make a chart where you track that. Show him the chart. Mark down the number of times he is being uncooperative. Then put him in his room at 6 pm, if that’s what it ends up being. Explain why. Remind him that actions have consequences. I am sure there will be lots of screaming and crying and gnashing of teeth.

    Alex is a smart kid, though, and I am sure after a couple days of following-through on consequences, he will stop.

  6. Olya’s idea is a really good one. This may work for you, especially when Beth gets to stay up with Mama & Daddy and Alex has to go to bed. If not, try the computer thing.

  7. Shannon,

    You have to prove to Alex that you are the stronger person. Realize what he really values most at this time, toys, games, TV shows or even desserts and treats or since he likes trains so much, a new train set or item he wants. My daughter in law Jan takes aways games and desserts for one whole week when the boys act up.

    She also buys a Lego set that the boys want. It goes on top of the frig and each time the boys behave and do what they are supposed to, a piece of the Lego set goes into a jar. If they act up, a piece comes out of the jar. When the entire set is in the jar and complete, they get it as a reward. She also makes them sit in there room on the bed with no toys, TV or games to play with for a certain amount of time to make them realize she means business!

    Alex is testing you to see how far he can push you. Keep your calm and keep re-inforcing what or how you want Alex to act. You are a good mother and this is the time you just need to believe it.

    Love, Aunt Lynn

  8. Thanks everyone! I definitely want to try some of this out, but in the short term, threatening no computer time tonight really got him moving this morning!

  9. So, Katlyn doesn’t want to get up some mornings either. I find that when I force her to get up and get ready quickly (because I’ve waited until the last possible moment to wake her) she is impossible to deal with causing us to take even more time. As a result, I found that I get her up 10-15 minutes earlier than I really have to. This allows her time to get up and move around. I usually put her in my bed with cartoons on so she can gradually wake up. Seems to work better now as by the time I need her to go get dressed, brush her teeth, and do her hair (which I still help with all of that) she is more willing to do so. If needed, I reward…like with dimes and quarters now as she is understanding that the more she collects the more she has to spend when we are out shopping. Not sure if a boy will get into that though.
    Keep working on him…be patient, although I know how hard that is…must not genetically run in the family…good luck!

  10. Alex was doing things for money not that long ago, so rewarding him that way might work. Maybe I can get him up a little bit earlier and let him watch TV in our bed while I get dressed. Don’t want to get Beth up though, as she always slows me down so that it takes me longer to get ready and I usually forget things (like my hair gel, usually). She’s not usually an issue to get ready, but since they’re in the same room, it might not be possible to get him without her. But maybe I’ll try that. He is usually easier to get dressed on the days that he comes out of his room before I go in to get them.

  11. Olya – If you do the Lego thing, start with something small so that they can earn it in a couple of weeks to get the idea. Otherwise it may drag on too long and they will lose interest. After the first couple, you can move on to bigger things so that they don’t get rewarded too often (and make you go broke). I’m thinking of doing something along those lines myself, but I’m not sure what yet since Alex isn’t really into anything that has lots of small pieces. Because of Beth, I still avoid small pieces. 🙂

  12. If there is a new computer game or DVD that the kids want, you could move pennies from one jar to the other. When all the pennies have moved they get the game, DVD, or toy they were earning. That way you don’t have to worry about small toys just yet, and can move on to lego sets later.

  13. Alex did say that he wants a dump truck. (He told Santa yesterday at school). Seeing as I don’t have one for him, I could use that.