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haribobo
10-17-2012, 02:24 AM
Hi all. I wanted to get your thoughts on this topic as its recently become a part of my daily life. I'm currently living with, and not for much longer, a friend of mine who has a 4 year old daughter. I've decided the poor behavior and lack of discipline in this child is too much for me to handle any longer, and although my efforts at first seemed to be helping, she has completely given up on time-outs and resorted to 100% negotiation and appeasement method. To my eyes, it is a vicious cycle of screaming, tantrum, soothing, calm moments, followed by another tirade later. She frequently runs off or creates scenes in public places that I find wildly embarrassing to be involved with. The mornings are usually a major battle with a bunch of screaming just to get her dressed and out the door. Evenings involve a lot of negotiation and talk of threats "you can have this later" or "you're going to bed if you keep this up." Basically exactly everything that Super Nanny and the books I've read said not to do. I even exposed the mother to these books and the show, and for a few days, she was trying out the methods, but seems to have completely given up on them now. I've had a few talks with her encouraging the time out method and that it would help to be more cut and dry about this, but I haven't told her how I really feel 100% because its a touchy subject and its not my kid or decision to make. My personal opinion is that she either 1) is afraid of her child not liking her if she disciplines her properly/too strongly, and/or 2) she's just too lazy to do proper timeouts, and/or 3) she is lacking excitement in her life and these dramatic outbursts provide something to add excitement to her day. Also, the child has been labeled as "obese" by her doctor and recently went off the chart. Although the mother can be witty and fun-loving at times, I frequently feel her disappearing into a fog of depression and extreme laziness, where she spends the day playing games on her phone or moping about while the kid watches tv and movies. She always asks the kid what she wants to eat for meals and generally goes with that, which is usually just a lot of carbs. The other day I'm pretty sure she just had noodles and Lucky Charms (sans milk) for dinner. On occasion some vegetables and healthy meals are involved, but its not consistent at all. It's all a lot worse than I envisioned before I moved in, and all the plans I've had of helping each other attack our problem areas together have gone completely down the drain as I see her making no effort in any areas- I want to help her gain confidence and get in shape which she expressed interest in, but every time I attempt to have her join me for the gym or a run, even when the kid is off for a weekend with the father (who the kid sees every other weekend, he's also a total douche, and every time she comes back from his house she's a complete wild animal even more than usual), she finds an excuse. I feel all of this is a recipe for disaster which is why I've decided I have to move out. Anyway, this is just all background info and stuff I'm getting off my chest here.

My main question is- does the "relaxed" method of parenting ever work out ok? I see the mother shrugging off a lot of this as "normal 4 year old behavior" that we just have to get used to. I see the kid generally completely ignoring me- she doesn't ever answer anything I ask her, and only comes to me when she wants some kind of treat. I put her in time outs on occasion but her mom always manages to offer her other options after about 20 seconds, as soon as the kid pipes up. I really only have yelled at the kid if she is abusing the cat, at which point she suddenly realizes I mean business and stops (the semi-loud voice doesn't do a thing). I am worried that this behavior is only going to keep getting worse and I foresee this child having huge problems with behavior in school, weight, and emotional maturity. It scares the crap out of me that my roommate can't see any of this for herself, and has decided to go this route even after all the problems its caused, and despite the fact that nowhere is this a recommended style of parenting, that I've heard of anyway. Obviously, the best thing for me is to get away. But I am still concerned for my friend. Am I justified to be worried or might this all turn out ok and I'm just being a nervous nellie? I've seen my sister's daughter the same age recently, and she is MUCH better behaved and healthier, of course, because they are doing basically all the right things IMO. I am so thankful for that.

Thanks in advances for your responses, my :kickass: FSU friends.

Twizzler
10-17-2012, 02:33 AM
The child has the power in this house and if the mother doesn't stop trying to be a friend instead of a mother, she's in for a VERY long and difficult road ahead.

danceronice
10-17-2012, 02:35 AM
In my experience working with kids? No, the 'relaxed' method just results in spoiled brats someone else has to discipline. (Frequently spoiled brats who are actually craving a little disciple and structure because children need that and parents are supposed to provide it.) It's not that they need to be yelled at from day one, but they HAVE to have limits and rules that they MUST obey and they need to learn there are consequences (time-outs have never worked for me unless they're in isolation with nothing to look at or listen to. Taking away toys, privileges, etc. is more effective.) And it's more that they're EXPECTED to behave--kids want to know what's expected of them and they really don't want to torture you, unless there is something seriously wrong. (I did work with one boy who had some severe control problems, but they were biochemical in nature and I don't mean ADD/ADHD.)

But honestly, this doesn't sound like she's doing 'relaxed' parenting, it sounds like she has an issue with her own depression--no willpower, giving up, not seeing a point, letting the child dictate because ultimately that's just easier, poor diet, no energy, receding from life...I'm not sure she's being a permissive parent on purpose but rather because she's too depressed to have the energy to care or fight. Is it also possible biodad is encouraging the acting out as some kind of gotcha thing against the mother? Or spoiling her to be the 'good' parent? Is there ANYONE else in her family you can talk to? If she's got a depressive episode going, I don't think parenting advice is going to solve her problems.

YOU should definitely be firm with the kid, especially on the abusing the cat stuff. (That or if the cat will eventually lose patience, let him maul the kid. Tormenting pets I don't find amusing.)

Anita18
10-17-2012, 02:41 AM
Disclaimer: I am not a mother. But I certainly don't believe that a child's bratty behavior at 4 determines what they're going to be like as an adult. Kids do start to realize that the universe doesn't revolve around them, in time. (I actually remember that I was still pretty bratty until about the age of 10, when I realized that my parents worked pretty darned hard and that I should help out every once in a while! :lol: ) Some learn it sooner than others, but if the parent continues to spoil the child through the pre-teen years, IMO that's when they start to permanently internalize it. But trying to rationalize why eating healthy food is good is certainly beyond any 4-year-old's brain.

If your friend has a troubled relationship with the father and lacks other fulfillment in her life, she could have depression, especially on top of the whole parenting a toddler thing. It's not easy. Parents who are tired obviously don't have the patience or willpower to discipline strictly. They're more easily cracked, which obviously doesn't help matters. And not having the practice of sticking by your rules when the kid is young does come back to bite you in the ass, when the kid becomes a pre-teen and the parents are still being lax.

Lacey
10-17-2012, 02:47 AM
I have six grandchildren, two in one family and four in another. The best thing I ever heard from a parent came from both my daughter and my daughter-in law: "Use your words." That meant to stop whining and crying and fussing and explain what you (the children) think is wrong. Works every time. Time outs do too.

nubka
10-17-2012, 02:57 AM
Disclaimer: I am not a mother. But I certainly don't believe that a child's bratty behavior at 4 determines what they're going to be like as an adult. Kids do start to realize that the universe doesn't revolve around them, in time. (I actually remember that I was still pretty bratty until about the age of 10, when I realized that my parents worked pretty darned hard and that I should help out every once in a while! :lol: ) Some learn it sooner than others, but if the parent continues to spoil the child through the pre-teen years, IMO that's when they start to permanently internalize it. But trying to rationalize why eating healthy food is good is certainly beyond any 4-year-old's brain.

If your friend has a troubled relationship with the father and lacks other fulfillment in her life, she could have depression, especially on top of the whole parenting a toddler thing. It's not easy. Parents who are tired obviously don't have the patience or willpower to discipline strictly. They're more easily cracked, which obviously doesn't help matters. And not having the practice of sticking by your rules when the kid is young does come back to bite you in the ass, when the kid becomes a pre-teen and the parents are still being lax.

Well said! You totally put into words what I was thinking. :)

Hannahclear
10-17-2012, 03:01 AM
True principle: It's easier to parent children that are not actually yours.

My advice? Continue your plan to move out. It's not your job and it's not your place to fix this. Wish her the best and move on.

Badams
10-17-2012, 03:06 AM
I have six grandchildren, two in one family and four in another. The best thing I ever heard from a parent came from both my daughter and my daughter-in law: "Use your words." That meant to stop whining and crying and fussing and explain what you (the children) think is wrong. Works every time. Time outs do too.

I say that all the time to my kids!

TheGirlCanSkate
10-17-2012, 03:06 AM
I think every parent child relationship is different.

I'm a mostly relaxed parent. I have expectations however and hold my kids to high standards.

I believe in limited choices that I'M okay with. I am old school and do 4 food group meals (a protein, carb, veg and fruit) and have water with them. We eat at set times.

We set aside time for homework. TV is limited. Very limited. My gf told me today that her granddaughter is a handful. She treats everyone like there is a laugh track and she is the main character. She attributes it to Nick and esp the Disney channel. We don't do Disney/Nick. There have been times when my daughter asked and I watched with her. We talked about the constant lying, treating people poorly, and commercialism. I sucked the "fun" out of it and she doesn't ask any more.

We are on time for appointments, we call if something comes up and we meet our obligations.

She still falls asleep next to me, I comb and do her hair because I love to, we read together. She has lots of friends with involved parents and we all get along very well.

Four is a difficult age, but it also an incredibly fun age. Tv shouldn't be on, they should be going for walk, cooking together, reading etc. It sounds like the mom suffers from depression and it can be depressing having to share a home, work, have a child, and survive on your own. It isn't easy at all.

I've never done time outs for my kids. But I have put myself in time out to prevent myself from saying something hurtful. I use my words. I am very angry, I am going to my room until I can decide what I am going to do about xyz. I suggest you make sure your things are picked up and your homework is done and that you have some ideas as well when I come out.

julieann
10-17-2012, 03:19 AM
The child has the power in this house and if the mother doesn't stop trying to be a friend instead of a mother, she's in for a VERY long and difficult road ahead.

I agree, if she doesn't nip some of that bad behavior now in 10 years she is really going to have trouble on her hands; and she won't be able to handle it. The problem is she doesn't seem to have the tools or even understand their is a problem. Good luck to her....or society as a whole.

michiruwater
10-17-2012, 03:23 AM
I had a very relaxed method of parenting. I had very few rules growing up and was rarely expected to clean, never given a curfew, never told to do my homework, etc. Despite this, I never stayed out late, never partied, never drank at all before I turned 21, never did any sort of drugs, never smoked, graduated 7th in my class, etc. It worked for me. I was self-motivated and self-disciplined. I always have been. A more stringent set of rules probably would have irritated my pride, because I knew I didn't need them and so did my parents. I've always heard that a relaxed method of parenting 'never' works, and I suppose there are exceptions to every rule, but it definitely worked for me.

Prancer
10-17-2012, 03:57 AM
But honestly, this doesn't sound like she's doing 'relaxed' parenting, it sounds like she has an issue with her own depression--no willpower, giving up, not seeing a point, letting the child dictate because ultimately that's just easier, poor diet, no energy, receding from life...I'm not sure she's being a permissive parent on purpose but rather because she's too depressed to have the energy to care or fight.

ITA. This is not at all about parenting philosophy and I am just :eek: that people think it is. Really?

The mother needs help, but the kind of help she needs isn't going to come from giving her advice on nutrition and discipline.


True principle: It's easier to parent children that are not actually yours.

My advice? Continue your plan to move out. It's not your job and it's not your place to fix this. Wish her the best and move on.

And ITA again. The only thing you can do is recommend that mother get some counseling. Other than that, there isn't a whole lot you can--or even should--do.

PeterG
10-17-2012, 06:38 AM
If your friend is stuck and you can help that friend...do everything you can! That's what friendship is all about, right? That said, you have to take care of yourself first. If you are getting triggered over and over again about your friend, her child, and their relationship and you have no method to deal with being triggered repeatedly, then you're doing a good thing by moving out.

Supporting your friend from a distance sounds like it's your best move. There are so many resources out there, more than ever before. I wish her great luck.

haribobo, what is your own support system like? Maybe strengthening that would set a good example for her. Maybe you could find something you could attend together? I've did a counselling workshop with one of my closest friends once. Unfortunately she struggled with accepting help from outside sources ("I'll deal with things myself") so it didn't go as far as I would have liked. Wishing you luck! :respec:

Japanfan
10-17-2012, 11:07 AM
I don't have children myself nor a lot of experience with others who have kids. But I do have one friend who had her daughter at age 48 and the daughter is a strong-willed wild child, now 3 years old. The daughter will do things like command her mom to give her a glass of milk and throws some rather wild tantrums.

My friend is older and therefore more tired - but when I observe her I find myself hesitant to judge.

I agree that depression is an issue separate from parenting. And obesity in a young child is real cause for concern.

An acquaintance who is the director of daycare and has two kids of her own once told me with regard to parenting that 'there are many ways to skin the cat'. I think that is wise, as all parents and kids have different characters and different needs. I doubt there is a one-size-fits-all prescription for parenting.

Really
10-17-2012, 01:08 PM
True principle: It's easier to parent children that are not actually yours.

My advice? Continue your plan to move out. It's not your job and it's not your place to fix this. Wish her the best and move on.This is the best advice in the whole thread.