Monday, January 28, 2013

Parenting Challenges: What is Fair???

There are many battles we've been fighting with our kids around here lately, but I think the one that drives me the craziest is this:

But it's not fair, Mom!

Mostly we hear this from Paige, and usually it's when she doesn't like what's going on and things aren't going her way.

For example: It's time to get ready for bed. We ask the kids to each pick up 20 toys/books in the living room, then brush their teeth and get into their jammies. Our routine usually looks like this:

Nate picks up.
Ryan picks up.
Paige disappears into the bathroom (not to go to the bathroom, but to avoid's her usual tactic).
Nate and Ryan finish getting ready for bed, and each get to pick out a book to take to bed with them.
Paige fusses that it's not fair that the boys don't have to pick up.
Paige continues to fuss, refuses to pick up, and gets sent to bed without a book. 20ish items get put into a bin for her to take care of the following day, and she screams that IT'S NOT FAIR THE BOYS GET BOOKS AND SHE DOESN'T.

Today's "Not Fair!" battle is that there is no school, so I'm babysitting N today. N is in Paige's class at school, and he was a temporary addition to the roster, who became permanently added. Well, N brought his Nook today for rest time and for when Paige and Nate go to piano lessons. I don't have a problem with it, as long as those are the only times it comes out, and when he's not allowed to have it out, it is put away so Ryan won't get to it.

Paige hears about this, and freaks out:

It's not fair, Mom! He gets his own Nook and we can't have our own Nook! He gets to play on it whenever he wants and we don't get to even look at it! I have to sleep and he gets to play!

And on and on and on it goes. I try talking to her about it, but she only gets worse. I send her down to rest half an hour early for her behavior, which of course is another "Not Fair!" moment.

When it's time for the other kids to rest, N only uses the Nook for 10 minutes or so, puts it away without being asked, then falls asleep. When Paige gets up, she sees N sleeping, looks at me, and says:

"Huh...he's sleeping. He barely used it, didn't he? I fussed for nothing..."

It's so frustrating for me!!! I try to talk to Paige (both when she's upset and when she's not; sometimes things get through to her when she's not upset better than when she is), and try to explain to her that I do my best to be fair, but there are times when they make bad choices and get consequences (see the example up above about bedtime), so things won't seem fair, but really they are; the boys would and have gotten the same consequences. I tell her sometimes I will screw things up and things won't be fair, but when that happens it's a good time for her to use the self control we've been trying to help her learn....but nothing seems to be helping.

Any advice? Let me know I'm not alone: if you're a parent, what's your parenting challenge at the moment?

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