This week I have been visiting family. Over the last year, my niece has gone through a change. The once happy, helpful girl changed into a whiny, depressed, girl that didn’t look at life the same.
One day I got left home with the all the children while the adults went shopping. While I was home with the children I started giving instructions for everyone to clean things up around the house. My niece started arguing with me, then she started whining, then she started complaining about everything in her life and told me that I just didn’t understand her. After this she cried and pouted some more.
I told her that she was not following instructions. I went through a corrective teaching on that skill. She got worse. I knew she was “out of instructional control”, but didn’t know if there was a system already in place to use the rule of three in the home. There was also the fact that I wasn’t her parent, so I didn’t want to over-step my boundaries.
I called my niece’s mother and asked her what kind of system she had in place for this kind of behavior. I described what my niece had been doing and saying. All of the sudden my sister-in-law became really excited. She said that she never realized that her daughter’s behaviors like this were out of instructional behaviors. She just thought that she was not meeting her daughters emotional needs. From our conversation about the matter, she finally saw the bondage that her daughter was creating for herself with the out of control behavior. And even better, she saw what her daughter actually needed to fix the whiny, depression problem.
My niece needed a solid system that would encourage her to choose happiness and appropriate communication. She also needed less time with friends to focus on her relationships with family. (Janet’s Junk Food Principle) Most importantly, she needed a parent who could see what she really needed so that they could CONSISTENTLY teach to the behavior until mastered.
Since this epiphany my niece has chosen to improve her behavior. It is so great to see how happy she is. The key to helping her choose happiness was to never talk to her when she whines or pouts. Instead, we say, “Name, I just gave you an instruction and you didn’t… You are choosing to whine…You have earned an extra chore…It seems like you could be out of instructional control…” (start teaching the Rule of Three) At this point she is choosing to immediately fix her behaviors and be happy. I am so glad to see her free herself from emotional bondage. 🙂
By the way, when I was in the middle of the situation with my niece, while her parents were away, I handled the situation just fine. She had gone to her room, so I went into the room and described what she was doing and what she should be doing. Then I told her that when she was ready to follow instructions, she could come out and let me know. She told me that she was ready right then, and then she started arguing the point again. I immediately told her that I could see she was still out of instructional control and that she needed to come get me when she was ready to follow instructions. I left the room.
When she could see that she couldn’t control me with her emotional games, she calmed right down and came and found me in about 3 minutes. She decided to follow instructions. I gave her a test instruction; she did well. Then I gave her the clean the bedroom instruction again; she did well. Then she did the extra chore which she had earned.
After the adults came home we talked about the situation. My niece’s mother was so happy to finally see the behavior for what is was. In our talk we wondered how many other people are so used to behaviors their children have that they don’t really see them as fixable behaviors. So my question is; do you see what I see? Could there be a behavior that really drains you and your child, possibly even your whole family, that hasn’t been addressed yet, because you are used to dealing with it?
I have seen on my visit with family that seeing a behavior for what it really is can make all the difference. Really look at what your children are doing and then be consistent.