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I need your opinions - please help

 
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Toop
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Joined: 18 May 2006
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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 9:39 pm    Post subject: I need your opinions - please help Reply with quote

Hi everyone,

I am a mother of 3 girls. My 13 year old has been getting into a lot of trouble the last few years in school. She lies, steals from us, and is getting to be out of control. Tonight was the straw that broke the camels back, she snuck out! She claimed she had a headache and went to bed early, but really snuck right out the basement door and went to her friends down the road.

I personally feel that she is only using school for her "social time", and her grades are very poor. I know that a lot of the kids she goes to school with are always bragging about how much they have, and she feels like she always has to compete. I feel like every year she attends school, she gets worse with her attitude and grades.

A friend of mine suggested home schooling to take her out of that enviorment and see if her attitude changes. I am wondering if anyone has had the same problems with their child before deciding to HS and if so, were you successful? I would also like to know if this is the right choice in your opinion, or should I try other options. Thanks in advance for your help.
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Theodore
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 1:29 am    Post subject: Re: I need your opinions - please help Reply with quote

From an safety and education point of view, homeschooling is of course the best choice for your daughter, but from a practical point of view, if she is already rebelling to the point of sneaking out of the house to see her friends, taking her out of school cold turkey is just going to make her hate you and hate anything you suggest, including homeschooling. Things will get worse before they get better.

What she needs right now is some tough love. Put locks on all the exits from your house (including windows) and make sure she can't sneak out any more. Let he know that if her grades don't improve immediately, or if she keeps trying to sneak away, then you'll pull her out of school and homeschool her so you can control her activities better. That way if she doesn't shape up, the consequences are her fault, not yours, and she'll have a much harder time blaming you.

Optionally, you can pull her out now, but wait a couple weeks before trying to homeschool (or do anything) with her. I'm sure the first week won't be fun, but after that you can let her pick an extracurricular or two and perhaps see her friends under more controlled circumstances, and she should improve quickly once she discovers that getting out of the house is contingent on being good and doing her homework well.

In this case, her safety and education has to come before her fun.
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momo3boys
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Joined: 14 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2006 6:57 am    Post subject: attention Reply with quote

When I was taking care of my 14yo nephew, He had the same problems. His stemmed from wanting more attention. He couldn't get positive attention from his parents so he tried for negative. You could read "the five love languages for kids" by gary chapman. Maybe you're speaking the wrong "language".
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birdy
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Joined: 26 Apr 2006
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Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2006 9:43 am    Post subject: Mentor... Reply with quote

Tough situation...

Currently I am "mentoring" someone who fits in with the description of your daughter.

Is there an older person who could provide her with a sounding board who wouldn't be seen as pro-Mom and Dad, but still has your values and can kind of help her work through situations with a better attitude.

It is a lot of work for me. I was approached by the parents and our pastor to do this, as the child had similar interests to mine. I then had to develop a relationship, which was mutually beneficial (so that it doesn't appear that I am there to force good behaviour). I work hard at listening to the individual. I don't tell the parents what is shared. But I have made it clear that if there is something that needs intervention (for example criminal behaviour), I won't let it go un-checked.

I have let the individual know that I will provide a bed if needed in an emergency. I listen, I do give my opinion. Basically, I try to be a neutral (in the fact that I won't lecture) person for this child so that they can share with me. But I do try to empower them to make the right decisions, etc.

Its a fine line, requires a lot of trust and time. But it sounds like your daughter won't be too receptive to talking to you at this time, and rather than have her influenced heavily by her peers and make poor decisions, if she could have a mentor, that would help.

I agree with having homeschool a consequence of her not improving, and that since she is acting like a child by sneaking out of your home, that she has to earn your trust back. I'll pray for you! My children are a lot younger so I don't have strategy advice!

Praying for you!
Roberta

BTW, I first broached a relationship by having the individual come and help me with my children. A kind of after school helper for me, so that I could get things done. I do pay a minimal wage, which at first was the only thing to keep us in contact. And this is going on our second year now... it does take time.
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wisdomsbane
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Joined: 24 May 2006
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have the same situation with my oldest, it is part of the reason for the way we are working things out with the school.

I agree with theodore, locks on all exits, and on a certain few cabinets where you will be keeping anything of value, especially medicines. This was suggested to my husband and I by someone we have been working with through social services (our oldest has gotten himself in legal troubles, and is now in a system through social services called "persons in need of supervision", this is to keep him from ending up in jail, and so far it's been working).

I also agree about finding a mentor for her. The best would be someone who has been in her shoes, and just recently. My husband's one friend has a brother who is just a little older than our oldest, and he really helps a lot. Some of my family members, as well have helped us out in this area, especially my brothers.

The biggest thing though is to make sure that she understands that you do love her, and that YOU are there if she needs to talk (sorry for the caps, not yelling, just emphaisis). Also, try finding out what may be bothering her. Usually when kids start acting out like this, there is a reason. And just asking never works, they see it as prying. Be subtle, ask her about her day, look at her report cards, and at anything else you recieve from the school, try to see if there are any particular classes where she is showing a very distinct attitude and/or grade change, also look at differences at home, and otherwise away from school.

The biggest thing to remember, is, that is possibly just a phase. Remember back to when you were her age, think about what you thought of school, teachers, your parents, etc. And also remember that she is a thriteen year old, and is likely going through a lot of changes, not only physically, but mentally, and emotionally as well.

If you give her an allowance, make sure she has to work to keep it. Chores are a good way to do this. Also special chores that she can do to earn a bit of extra money. Make sure she knows the rules, and knows that breaking them results in loss of privileges. And make sure that she also knows that if she wants more privileges, she has to show the maturity to have them, by taking on more responsibilities, and accepting that there are rules, and that she must follow them. Another thing, make sure she knows that sneaking out of the house like that is considered running away, and is illegal, and that the police will be called to find her.

One thing we noticed with our oldest is that when we explained why certain rules were in place, and made sure he understood those reasons, he started to follow them more. For example, the reason you need to know where she is,when, for how long, and with whom, is not that you are trying to control her or her friends, but so that you know she is safe. We even had to explain to our oldest our concern about sex offenders in the area, and about kidnapping, etc. It isn't the most pleasant subject, but it is necessary.

Make sure that all of your rules can be tied to your childrens health and safety as well, if you can't logically say that a rule is for that reason, then do away with it. Involve her in making decisions about what rules to set, and the consequences for disobedience. In fact, any decision you make that involves her, including going on vacation, grocery shopping, etc. should be made with her present, and with her input considered. Be sure that you listen to what she has to say, and actually take it into consideration. You want her to be able to make the right decisions, when you aren't around, the best way to do that, is to have her helping to make decisions when you are. Our purpose as parents is not to force our children into molds, but to allow them to become mature adult individuals who respect themselves, and those around them, and know how to be contributing, responsible members of society. The first step in that is to make them contributing and responsible members of the family.
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Theodore
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 1:08 am    Post subject: Working for your money sure beats allowances... Reply with quote

All us kids have had to work for our money. No allowances Smile I can't honestly say it's always been fun, but it gives you much more of a feeling of satisfaction when you finally earn something then when it's basically given to you. Mom and Dad did match the money for my first computer, but I still had to pay well over $1000 (for a 386SX 8 MHz...), earned from the family business at one cent per collated newsletter or stuffed letter or whatever other things had to be done. But it was worth it.
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Moti
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Joined: 22 May 2006
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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 4:29 pm    Post subject: Underlying problem vs. symptoms Reply with quote

Before you figure out what to do, you have to figure out why she is doing what you described. Only if you know the real underlying causes you can treat those. Otherwise, you'll be treating symptoms and might even make the problem worse. [such as: she'll start stealing from other places...]

For example: why did she snuck out? A possible reason [and I don't say it is...] is that she believes you would not allow her to visit her friends [school evening?] but she believes she should be able to. Therefore, the problem would be the gap between what she believes she should be able to do and what you allow her. The only way to solve it would be to discuss it with her and reach an agreement [i.e. both sides agree, not you dictate Wink ]. If that is the scenario, putting locks on everything would only execerbate the problem. It would enhance her belief that you do not acknowledge her "rights" and her maturity, and therefore she would act even worse. That of course would make your view more justified to you and the negative cycle would continue.

Remember, like Birdy pointed out, that she is a teen. At this age their self image is changing and they believe they are mature (yeah, right Wink) and know all there is to know, can take care of themselves, and that you (and the general adult population) just doesn't get it. It's natural. It's common.

It is not that I say "no tough measures". Not at all. Tough measures have their place IF they address the underlying problem. But before that, you have to start communicating with her and on an equal basis - acknowledge her rights, her views, her worth. Even if you don't fully think she knows what she is talking about, she believes she does, and that what matters. Among other things she needs such as love and attention(often such actions are a call for attention but not the "I pay attention because you are bad" but "I pay attention because I love you, care about you, and you are important"), she needs validation. You even point out that she has a big issue with external validation from her richer peers. Rebelling against parents and being "bad" brings such peer validation.

I hope it helps. Light and luck to you,
Moti
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Theodore
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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 5:50 pm    Post subject: Re: I need your opinions - please help Reply with quote

I don't know- you're assuming that after rational discussion, the end result will be her daughter staying home without being forced to. But like you said yourself, she's at an irrational age, and the only way to make sure that she stays home is to put locks on all the exits. Does this say that she isn't trusted? Perhaps it does, but in this case the lack of trust is warranted, and you can't really risk her running off at random moments just because it might hurt her self-esteem a tiny bit.

Several of my siblings have gone wandering around the neighborhood in the past, at totally unpredictable moments and for reasons that only seemed logical to them at the time, and while they were sat down and talked to as well, we also put locks on all the doors and windows. This isn't something you can leave up to trust. To give a parallel, you might trust that your children won't walk too close to the edge of a cliff near your house, but you put up guard rails too, just in case.
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Last edited by Theodore on Wed May 31, 2006 10:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Moti
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Joined: 22 May 2006
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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 6:21 pm    Post subject: No assumption Reply with quote

I actually don't assume it. I only suggest that talking to her, and starting a dialouge MAY lead to discovering the underlying reasons for her behavior. It might not since she may not want to communicate. However, putting locks and such without first talking to her and trying to resolve the underlying problems is like going to war without trying diplomacy first. Yes, sometimes you have to go to war, but the question is when and how. I am sure none of us want to war with our kids, and locks are a declaration of war.

My brothers, when they were teens, did various irresponsible things [sneaking out was not a big thing Wink ] and my parents did put hard measures in place and I fully think they were right and it was correct to do. But they also tried talking to them and understanding what is going on with them and why they are doing what they were doing. Without a dialouge only alienation results, and much hositility - for the long run. So today, my brothers acknowledge that my parents were right in their actions and do not harbour any hard feelings. But without the discussion part, I am not sure it would have resulted so in the long run.

The situation with your siblings is somewhat different than what she describes, at least by your descriptions. As I understand your siblings were not doing that as "being bad" but "being careless/supid/unaware" type of behavior. Then locks can help since they prevent that. But if intent is there, like with her daughter, locks will not really prevent it, except for a short while, until she learns how to circumvent those as well. And what do you do then?

Again, I think cases are individul and you have to figure the reasons, not ust treat the symptoms. And only a dialouge and discussion can help in that. Maybe locks are warrented, and maybe not, I do not know and don't assume I can know without being there and knowing the people and dynamics of the situation.

I would say that I do believe that in most cases locks are not the answer, and do not help. It is an external control, and you need internal motivation and control, much like the discussion about Schools vs. Homeschool Wink
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