Friday, April 27, 2007

Failure As A Mom?

I really, really feel like somehow, this has to be my fault. I just don't understand what's going on with Juliana lately.

Lately, Juliana (6 1/2 yrs old) has some competition issues with Grace 4 1/2 yrs old). Grace is so laid back, especially since we're weaning her off of dairy (lactose intolerance causing learning delays & behavior issues mimicking Asperger's). Grace is your typical girlie girl frou frou princess type, and walks around with 4 lovies. In her world, all bunnies are pink and they talk to her. Juliana is imaginative too, but much more reality-based. She's VERY competetive, and has ODD (oppositional defiant disorder).

Anyway, she often will try to exclude Grace from activities. They share a room, and have for about a year now, due to Juliana asking to move Grace in there with her. She talks about how she doesn't like Grace, make disparaging remarks about her, and project her "bullying" of her sister onto Grace, as if it were GRACE bullying JULIANA. It's been very frustrating. The girls all know they are NOT allowed to insult or harm each other. Fighting happens, but they aren't ever to harm each other. This is difficult for Juliana, at least the part about refraining from hurting Grace's feelings is difficult.

So today, I had to take Grace to the pediatrician in one of Juliana's skirts (she wouldn't leave the house without it) because she had chewed up a puzzle piece into a spit ball, then shoved it up her nose. Long story short, the pedi couldn't get it out and we have to go to a specialist Monday morning to get the sucker out. I pick up Grace from preschool, she has her snack, Juliana comes home. The little ones are thrilled Juliana is home and follow her all over the house. I'm checking the fridge and from upstairs, I hear "Gracie! Stop following me! I need some time to myself! You're annoying!" OK, fine, she's only borderline with Grace, so I let it go for them to figure it out themselves.

Next thing I know, I hear Grace chattering happily, but Juliana very loudly "I SAID you're ANNOYING me!" thump thump thump ***gasp*** bump thump thump thump THUD. Juliana had pushed Grace down from the top of the stairs, where Grace landed on the landing that's halfway down, then apparently tried to get up but lost her bearing and fell own the other half the stairs. Flat on her little back. Big red goose-egg on her forehead. Juliana, at the top of the stairs, looked shocked, and immediately shouted "It was an accident!"

Within 20 minutes Grace calmed down, and has been pretty chipper. Juliana was immediately sent to her room while I checked Grace for a concussion and broken bones. She's fine, but will be sore later.

I go up to see Juliana and I was so upset, I was almost crying. I asked her what happened, and she tried to blame Grace. I informed her that no matter what happened, Grace didn't deserve to be pushed down the stairs. I told her Grace could have broken her bones and been very seriously hurt, or even died. I also told her that I don't know what her full punishment will be, but that when her father gets home, he'll be talking to her as well, and she is grounded in her room for the entire weekend. She's only to come out for the bathroom, meals when I call her for them, and my father's birthday party on Sunday. Of course, she thinks this is unfair, and cried "You don't love me any more!" even after I reassured her that I do, I'm just very disappointed. This happened almost an hour ago, and I'm still shaking. I was in tears when I called DH to tell him. I feel like we were very lucky we didn't lose Grace.

So here's my question. Grounding in this instance means she's not to leave her room for ANYTHING except what I stated above. No TV, no computer time, no outside time. No coloring. She can play only with what's already in her room, and she can read. She has her lovies on her bed. What else would be appropriate punishment?

Manny thinks we should transfer Juliana to the smaller bedroom, and put Anneliese and Grace into the big bed room to share, leaving Juliana alone. All the toys would stay in the big room, and only Juliana's stuff would go to the smaller room. I feel like that would be a reward, not a punishment, although Juliana did ask for Grace to share with her.


Allie D. said...

Well, I think that the punishment you are giving is definitely suitable for the act in question. Removing all privileges and giving her time to sit and think about her actions is exactly what she needs, I think. As far as transferring bedrooms, I'd give that a few weeks, just until the shadow of today's incident begins to fade. That way the two acts won't seem linked in her mind.

I'm really sorry that you're dealing with this. :( I'm relieved to hear that Grace is okay though!

elsiesmommy said...

I'm glad Grace is okay! That said, I also agree that the punishment you've given seems suitable, and I'd hold off switching rooms until this incident has blown over. Please don't feel like a bad mom. Kids love to pull out that "you don't love me" card, but the truth is that we discipline out of love because we want our children to do better. Also remember that Juliana knows the rules and she made the decision to break them; therefore, she chooses to be punished. If she doesn't like it, she can make better choices in the future. I know it's easier to say all of that when it's not your own child, so hugs to you! You're doing the right thing!

adrina said...

Ok, Firstly I know kids will say you don't love them for 2 reasons, one-to make sure you do, and two-as a semi manipulation tool. It really sounds like Juliana is going through something. How long has this behavior been lasting in regards to the opposition towards Grace? Can you see anything that has changed? Has Grace been getting more attention for any reason whatsoever? It could be a jealousy thing she is trying to punish Grace for. Maybe she really is annoyed by Grace for some reason. Whatever that may be, it doesn't matter at all, she shouldn't be hurting Grace's feelings by telling her that she is annoying, especially when Grace really is doing nothing wrong but wanting to be near her sister. My oldest does this to my youngest. I see Ethan trying to pet aidian or interact and Aidian belting "stop it ETHAN YOU'RE SO ANNOYING, GO AWAY!" Ethan doesn't understand annoying, but he does understand Go away, and he cries and tells me brother is being mean. I honestly think it's the age in this case, They feel a little more grown up and wants some independence and will do whatever it takes to get it. I don't think of her being given her own room as a reward, I think at this point it's a necessity. Maybe she needs her own private space. Perhaps having her own room will allow her to appreciate Grace a little more, unless it's used as another tool to push Grace away, so I guess thats a really tough situation. I would speak to Juliana and ask her why she has been behaving in that manner, and what she thinks needs to change, just to get a little perspective on things. Sometimes kids don't know why they do things, their impulse control is not as good as ours. But hopefully she can shed some light on the situation.
Secondly-Poor Grace, that just breaks my heart. She sounds like a really sweet and loving little girl and it must be hard for you to witness those things. I am glad she is alright, and I'm sorry you have to go through all this, question your mothering. I assure you it's absolutely nothing to do with you and your skills whatsoever. Every child is different. ((((((((((HUGE HUGS))))))))) YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE!!!!! You are a wonderful, fair loving mommy and she might not understand the punishment and see it as unfair, but she knows what she did whether she admits it or not. <333333Adrina