Saturday, October 3, 2015

Parenting fail

To paraphrase John Denver, some days are diamonds, while some days are stones.

And today was a great, big lump-of-coal-kind-of-day for us.

My husband and I are growing increasingly frustrated with our daughter's behaviour, both at home and at her music class. While her teachers at school and day care comment to us that her behaviour is exceptional with them, it's the complete opposite when she's with us.

Today was an abysmally horrible outing for her with my husband at music class, and we're both horrified by what transpired. And, because our daughter repeatedly shows no true remorse for her disrespectful behaviour, we had to come down hard on her today and not allow her to attend a friend's birthday party this afternoon.

And, with our punishment, came nothing but more drama and bad behaviour from our daughter.

To clarify some things here, this was not an easy decision for us. Not only did it punish our daughter, but it punished the birthday girl, too, as well as us parents who were actually looking forward to spending time with other adults.

In the end, nobody won, and everybody lost out today.

The thing with consequences for children is that there needs to be a natural consequence that fits the offence. For example, if a child refuses to do homework, then they fail the class. Or if they don't clean up their toys and something gets broken, then the natural consequence is that they can't play with that toy anymore.

We absolutely did not want to miss out on this party today, but we felt we had no other feasible option. Our reasoning was twofold:

1. Until our daughter can show us that she's capable of behaving properly at music class, then she shouldn't be allowed to go to other outings where her behaviour may come into question as well.

2. She wasted that entire hour of class today and, therefore, we needed to make up the lesson again somewhere today. Meaning that, while her friends were together and having fun at the party, she would be home repeating her music lesson.

All of this reasoning made sense to us at the time, but now my husband and I feel absolutely remorseful for not allowing her to attend the birthday party. We just don't feel like she learned anything from this, and instead we fear that she'll grow increasingly resentful of her weekly hour-long lessons.

Plus, the absolute devastation she felt when we told her she had to stay home completely broke us. Truly, our daughter lives for birthday parties with her friends, and she was an emotional wreck for the rest of the day at home.

The amount of guilt my husband and I feel over this is staggering. We wish we could have a do-over of the events that transpired after her class..... but, then again, we truly don't know what would have been a more appropriate consequence for her today.

This isn't the first time she's acted up during class. In fact, it's her usual behaviour when we go there, but it seems to be escalating each week. We've tried everything, and nothing has worked. (FYI - just having her quit going to music class is not an option, so we have to try something else.)

To be fair, she's not the only child who has difficulty making it through this class. There are only two other children with her, and each of them have had their moments. The teacher has conceded that the class is probably moving too slowly for these kids and that they're bored and can't sit still for the entire hour (or even a portion of it.....).

Maybe we can prevent this bad behaviour by adjusting the structure of the class, or even just switching to private (rather than group) lessons. And maybe she'd be better off if we, the parents, were not in attendance so that it could be just her and the teacher. I guess that's something we'll have to explore in coming weeks.

But the issue remains that we still need a better way of dealing with our daughter when she misbehaves like this right now.

I know I'm going to regret this, but I'm essentially here now asking the internet-world for parenting advice. I'm at my wits end, so come on and take your best shot at me.

What would you do if your five-year-old was repeatedly disruptive and disrespectful during class?

(I'll just be sitting here drowning my sorrows in some Girl Guide cookies while you guys tell me everything that I'm doing wrong as a parent.)

1 comment:

  1. Jo, I really want to give some advise but alas I have none, other than to say that I think it's an age thing. We got to a point with Gillian that we were embarrassed to take her anywhere and crossing our fingers that a temper tantrum would not erupt if we "heavens forbid" had to go home at some point. This happened everywhere from friends houses, grandparents house, Geoff even carried Gillian out of the park one day kicking and screaming. If we were not walking together, some bystander would have thought Geoff was taking a child.
    I will say to stick to your guns (as much as it hurts you - probably more than the child) and be on a united front with hubby. She is testing your limits and how far she can get away with this behaviour.
    It does get better!! I even created a time out timer for Gillian when I just couldn't handle her anymore and I needed space. It seemed to calm her down and gave me a chance to get my blood pressure down and think of what to say to her. Yelling and getting mad was getting me nowhere (I even slammed a door so hard the frame popped off). This helped and we could talk about why she was acting the way she was. Let me know if you want a dinner/evening sometime (girls can have a sleepover) and we can talk more.