Just Heather
The end of the rope

Stacia has always been a bit of a difficult child. Behavior management has been an issue we struggled with for many years. She’s high-strung, temperamental, and—lately—a major smart-ass. I got so fed up with the temper tantrums we were still having at age 4 that I finally took her to a psychologist to find out why the terrible twos seemed to be lasting for years. He was not so helpful. Basically he said that she is a naturally high energy child and the best way to handle her behavior was to put her in high energy activities like swimming and soccer so that the excess energy did not manifest itself in tantrums. I can occasionally notice a difference in behavior during soccer season when she’s busy, but not enough to warrant the $300 opinion.

Last year I stumbled across a pretty harsh behavior management program that worked for a little while. She was flat out grounded with no privileges whatsoever—completely confined to her room—until she earned her way out one level at a time. When she was on the bottom level, it was severe but it seemed to work. For awhile. As school came to an end, the snottiness and outbursts grew. We decided to change tactics.

I put together another plan, focusing more on positive efforts. I bought a set of poker chips with blue being for good behavior and completed chores and red being for poor attitude and behavior. If the red outweighs the blue, she is grounded until chip count the next week. When she has more blue than red, she gets to buy special privileges and treats. Last weekend she spent 12 straight hours doing extra chores in an attempt to get ungrounded. She just squeaked by with enough leftover to buy a goofy red, white and blue headband she’d picked out for the 4th.

I really thought she learned her lesson with the first two weeks and we were going to get somewhere. Not so much. Tonight, she’ll be grounded yet again by around 45 chips! It has been a tough few days, which I’m hopeful can be chalked up to coming off an exciting weekend with too much sugar. I have gently reminded her each day that she needs to be completing her chores to earn blue chips. For this, I was rewarded with super-sized temper tantrums, for which she was rewarded numerous red chips.

I just don’t know what else to do with her. I’m so tired of hearing “no” and “I don’t care” and the infamous “why do you hate me?” anytime I try to get her to do something. We have moments when I think this is going well. Things will be better now. Then there are moments when I wonder what I was thinking when I decided to do this all over again.

4 Responses to “The end of the rope”

  1. Just remember that one day she’ll make you so proud and be such a fantastic person that it will all seem worth it.

    That’s the best assvice I could think of, considering I don’t have any kids. The only other thing I can offer is the chance for another night out 🙂

  2. I think I might cling to that last offer like a life preserver!