Saturday, August 23, 2008

Progress or not? Figuring out our Dear Daughter

The angelic face you see in the previous post I am convinced was given to my dd just to keep her alive. Sometimes I think that we are making progress with her and we see some amazing things happening in her heart. And times like this week, I think we are only going backwards with her. I don't understand what it is that we are not doing properly as parents. Even though we see some improvement in her behavior, I get an overall sense that we are not effecting true change in her heart. The pure rage in her tantrums alone is evidence of this and I am sooooo very concerned. She is not deterred by ANYTHING - not punishment, taking away things she likes, spankings, not reward, or even the presence of strangers. If she does not get her way and she decides to get angry, then she throws her entire body on the floor and screams in rage.

This week was particularly rough and I can't figure why. She threw multiple fits each day and put me at my emotional limit.

Here is how it sometimes goes:
  • I get her up from bed and she doesn't like that I ask her if she's dry (still bed-wetting her pull-up at night).
  • She fusses and whines instead of answering me and I calmly tell her that I cannot listen to that type of language - I just can't hear her. If she fusses I must leave, I tell her.
  • She starts throwing her head and body at being told this. So I leave (because I don't want to get angry - I don't keep my voice even if I get angry and she feeds off of my tone).
  • Now she screams and throws herself on the floor and rages for a five minutes. This feel like an eternity to me, since I am waiting, knowing that I have no control! My heart is sore. Were I to spank her now, in the throws of her tyraid, it would take 3 times as long to reach her heart, if at all. And I would likely get angry. So I remind myself just to wait.....
  • When she's calm I come back in and administer the consequences - calmly and with NO anger. I remind her that she didn't make a good choice by throwing a fit and should next time take a breath, pray and ask for a hug instead of throwing herself to the ground. I remind her that I love her and want to help her learn to control her anger BUT that I cannot allow that type of behavior if she chooses it.
  • She apologizes (of her own choice -thank the Lord that I can tell when her heart is truly repentant), we hug and we go downstairs to breakfast. She is once again an angel, bubbling with excitement about the things she's going to do this day. But me - I'm left feeling quite raw inside from just the first tantrum of the day....I pray for the strength I will need.
This is FIRST thing in the morning, people! I seriously never know what will set her off and am careful to watch my tone of voice when instructing her. This entire process can take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes - and this last week it happened between 3-6 times each day!! It was almost like being back to a year ago with her.

Don't get me wrong - I KNOW that progress has been made with her. God really has shown us how to better deal with her, how to watch our tone of voice, how to encourage her and praise her, how to avoid antagonizing her (yes- we did use to do this! We thought that she should obey no matter what and weren't careful about how we talked to her or instructed her), how to be more consistent with her consequences, and how to help her to use words to communicate instead of only her body.

I guess that listening to her scream for what seems like the umpteenth time in a day (as I try to shield the younger two, try not to snap at the older one in my irritation, and bite my own lip to allay anger from rising up) reminds me that we are in a process. I tend to want to be fully sanctified right now, with all my duckies (or children in this case) in a row. But the process of getting there (to God's standard, that is, not my own 'duckies in a row' standard) is just that - a process, not an end result. Oh but this is a hard lesson for me! I hope that we are at least giving Him glory in our trying to deal with her firmly but lovingly as she rants and raves.....

This is not about how she learns differently or processes what we tell her - it's just plain strong-willed rebellion, a heart issue. I could use any ideas as to how we could help her to control her anger before it becomes rage. We need to teach her this but are obviously missing something. Scripture references would be helpful too - I should try to memorize some for just these times with her. Maybe we should find a counselor who deals just with kids for her? Or one for us as parents?

Just had to unload all this. It helps to get the weight of it off my mind. Thankfully, the Lord is so faithful to soothe my heart. And again - tomorrow is a new day!


sbharnish said...

Wow, what a weighty post my friend! But certainly do need to get these things out so you aren't milling them over internally all day! I would love to say that I have some great advice for ya, but I really feel like you have tried so many different things.....I feel as though I am in the same boat some times (although not to the same extent) with Aaron....VERY hard to keep your cool when they start escalating!

Monica said...

Bless you. It is clear to me that you are being tested beyond what many people could bear. You are wise to realize that this is a heart issue that plays itself out through behavior. And it's true that only God can change a heart, but He does use means to do this. He's using you- His Word, prayer, your example of patience, forgiveness, unconditional love.... Stand strong. God will break through and I will certainly be praying.

My only suggestion- have you ever shown her feelings of grief when she acts this way? I'm not talking emotional manipulation here. But it might open her eyes a bit if she could know how her anger and disobedience affects you. I've, at times, allowed my children to see me cry when they repeatedly sin, because it breaks my heart. For some it has been a breakthrough in maturity to see me as a person who desires their best and is hurt by rebellion. Those are my thoughts.

I pray that this coming week is much better.

Also check out this website
I've read a few blogs where parents have used it and its been a huge blessing.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Oh my dear bloggy buddy - fellow homeschool mom in the trenches. I wish I had words of wisdom or suggestions, but I don't. You are "doing" so many of the things I would suggest.

I too have a tantrum thrower, who has taken to screeching this week when she doesn't get her way. It is a tough road when we are being tested and patience is thin. But it is heart issue at stake and we must display His love.

I often see things as you do - what steps can I take to remain calm - much of my actions are to keep me sane and calm as she freaks out.

Keep praying. Keep her in His Word. Keep YOU in His Word.

And don't let the enemy lie to you. You are PERFECTLY able to parent her, through His Word and His guidance.

Jennifer said...

Wish I had words of wisdom. I don't. May daughter is the same way, though at 9 years I'd have hoped for her to have grown out of it. At least a little bit. Because she is so fickle, disciplining this child is literally impossible right now. She doesn't understand that the lack of trust we have in her, for the record of disobedience, will haunt her in the future. I tell her, someday you will want to go places, like the mall, with friends. You will want to get your driver's license and drive the car. These are things you can only do if you have earned our trust. But she has not. I continue to be disappointed in her lack of judgment. This is the same girl, who at 3 years, responded to her Dad's definition of sin by saying, "But I like sinning Daddy - and I want to do those things." No advice for you - just know that you aren't alone. Blessings.