Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Art of Disengaging

Disengage: to release from attachment or connection; loosen; unfasten: to disengage a clutch.

I have a mouthy disobedient 15 year old. Anyone that knows me knows this because I talk about it a lot. I hope everyone isn't tired of hearing about it because, frankly, the venting helps me. School started the last week of August. We haven't even reached the end of September and already we have a detention and an in school suspension on the books. It seems she's constantly grounded for something.

Phone restrictions seem to get to her the most but what I have to go through to enforce it is madness. she'll hide phones, she finds old phones and plugs them into my computer area upstairs to talk on the phone after midnight - this mind you seems to be the time when all her friends sneak out of bed and talk. she constantly tries to steal my cell phone and spirit it away to talk on the phone. all this does is extend her phone restrictions. she looks at me and tells me it's my fault because she "needs" to talk on the phone. I look at her and say well follow the restriction and it will be lifted and this won't be a problem. well caught her again trying to steal my cell phone and I had to chase the child around the house to do that because she kept trying to turn a corner just ahead of me and dump it somewhere. her logic - I know - is that if I don't actually "catch" her with it then I can't "prove it". nevermind the fact that I am now chasing her around the house for it. she's gonna try. there's a level of insanity to this.

I caught her and thus started the diatribes - I didn't exactly use it, this is your fault I did this because I need to talk on the phone, this is bogus blah blah blah.

The instinct as a parent is to attempt to point out what she did, why she was wrong, what the consequences are and search for remorse.

When you have a disobedient mouthy 15 year old like mine that won't happen. there will always be a million things she'll come up with for why it wasn't her fault. try to answer her point for point and boom it escalates.

The experts tell you at this point to disengage. State what happened, state the consequence and leave. This is hard to do. To accomplish this you must now ignore anything following that comes from her mouth. much like a three year old in a tantrum said 15 year old will sit there in a voice at the level just so that you can hear but if you turn around feel she can sit there and say "what I didn't say anything". and say things she will. but to disengage you must keep walking and ignore her. you'll want to send her to her room, you'll want to yell, but these are just the things she's looking for. it vindicates her somehow. let's her get angry and maybe with this anger wrapped around her she really can say "they asked for it, it wasn't my fault"

today I did it. I tried to reason with her she became aggitated and tried to start something. dh heard me yelling and got involved. and I stopped and said - state the violation, state the consequence, and let's disengage. say it and go to the back porch. we did.

to sit on this porch and listen to her go on and on was HARD. the reality is you want to march back into the house and throttle her. much like the three year old in the tantrum she eventually gets tired and stops. she heads upstairs.

a minor victory and yet a groan at the thought of yet another week of phone battle.

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