We’ve been having two main problems with our seven-year-old Nicholas since he was about three. Recently, I thought of a new strategy that just may be working to solve both problems!
One problem is that Nicholas is sometimes rude, bossy, and defiant. Not all the time. Sometimes he’s quite a delightful companion for hours at a stretch, maybe even a few days in a row, but then all of a sudden something twists and he starts acting very annoying! (We now understand why people of olden times believed children were possessed by demons! It’s often a really sudden change, as if our nice Nicholas has been taken over by someone else.) He’ll argue with every instruction we give him, use a snarling condescending tone of voice, and scream, “You’re interrupting!!!” every time anyone else tries to speak–even when we’re answering the question he just asked–yet he interrupts us over and over again. Daniel and I don’t want to allow our child to treat us this way, both on principle and because it usually upsets us, but up until this point we hadn’t found any consistently effective strategy other than taking away his television/computer time. Putting him in time-out sometimes helps, but often it simply shifts the epic struggle from whatever was the original issue to getting him to go to his room and stay there.
Our other problem is that Nicholas wants to have a lot of stuff. He keeps bringing home things he finds, buying things with his allowance, drawing pictures, getting gifts, etc., etc., and then he leaves his stuff lying around on the living-room floor or the dining-room table and says he’s going to put it away “later” and never gets to it. Daniel and I are aware that we are hardly perfect in our ability to deal with stuff, so we’re not trying to hold him to an unrealistic standard of perfection; we just want to be able to go about our daily lives without stepping on Legos, shuffling around pyramids of stuffed animals, or taking trains off our placemats and heaps of artwork off our chairs before each meal. We’ve tried various approaches to encourage clean-up and organization, with only mild success. The most effective way to deal with the tide of stuff is to clean up when he’s not around and confiscate a lot of his stuff; some of it goes in the trash/recycling and some in the pile of things to be sold or donated to people who’ll take better care of them. He often doesn’t notice what’s missing because he has so much stuff!
The weekend before last, we had a yard sale. As I was sorting the items to be sold, after Nicholas went to bed Friday night, I had a brilliant idea! Read more…