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Ambra

I made a deal with my son and now he's having a fit...

52 posts in this topic

My son wants a new video game and asked me how he could earn the money for it since I told him I wouldn't buy it for him. The game costs $30. 

I told him the federal minimum wage was $7.25 which he would be compensated for cleaning our living area, bathroom, and closet spaces. He declined, stating that was unfair, it would take him too much of his time, and the game wouldn't be worth it to play the rest of the day. 

 

"Okay, then you don't get the game..."

He threw a fit which I chalked up to being a spoiled brat. 

He did clean because that is always required of him. I'm starting to think he isn't that bright since ultimately doing the little extra would be on top of his regular chores. But instead he bargained like a salesman, when I refused to negotiate. 

I already told you no, ask me again, and you will be grounded. 

So he stopped asking. Mostly because I sent him on a few projects, which he completed as standard. He kept coming back to me, now what? And I would give him another project that he would complete. I asked him to make me a stand for this ball thing he got me once while on vacation with his father. 

I told him he could use a hammer, wood, and nails. 

 

So this is what he came up with. Yes I know the couch cushion is upside down but I didn't realize that until now, he was supposed to fix the cushions. 

The pic is snail mail. Anyway he built a stand that consisted of one piece of wood and four nails. At first I laughed because I expected something a bit more complicated. And he looked sad, "You asked me to build you a stand," and in that moment I realized complicated does not mean complex. And I loved it more even though my son saw it as criticism. 

Fast forward we got into another deal about the initial deal. This time I claimed it, I had recommended his practicing contacts so I could see his beautiful face again. He made the deal if I try and get it right on the first time, I buy him a game. I agreed, little risk. He was not able to do it time after time, but he didn't give up. "Three times in a row you take your contacts in and out, new deal, you failed the last." He decided that was unfair because after 102 times he was able to do it once, but he looked like he had a black eye. 

 

So I told him, he failed. And I wouldn't buy him a game. HE threw a big fit." I got it in once, twice, I can't see my eye is stinging!"

Help me enforce this. 

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Imo, your initial deal with him was pretty fair, but there are two mistakes you may have made here:

1. Change the terms of the deal, twice over.

2. Make a deal about the contacts, something that is a matter of health and that you knew he was going to fail, and you knew was going to be a frustrating struggle for him.

Little wonder that after making so much efforts with the contacts, an unpleasant and even painful endeavor, he feels cheated that the game is still out of reach.

Look, you sound like you have a cool kid, who already cleans up his space and who is eager for "projects" and so on. And all the "deals" around this game have gotten too complicated, so that backtracking or adding yet more deals, or even enforcing this one, is a mess no matter what. So at this point, if you can afford it, I'd say get him the game, and next time, stick to your earn-it-through-chores deal.

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6 hours ago, Seablue said:

Imo, your initial deal with him was pretty fair, but there are two mistakes you may have made here:

1. Change the terms of the deal, twice over.

2. Make a deal about the contacts, something that is a matter of health and that you knew he was going to fail, and you knew was going to be a frustrating struggle for him.

Little wonder that after making so much efforts with the contacts, an unpleasant and even painful endeavor, he feels cheated that the game is still out of reach.

Look, you sound like you have a cool kid, who already cleans up his space and who is eager for "projects" and so on. And all the "deals" around this game have gotten too complicated, so that backtracking or adding yet more deals, or even enforcing this unfair deal around contact, is a mess no matter what. So at this point, if you can afford it, I'd say get him the game, and next time, stick to your earn-it-through-chores deal.

I agree, AND inform him of why as Seablue indicates you are buying the game - your mistake - and why in the future you will carry on a different way of bargaining.

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 Ah. So this is why there's always that one kid who tries to bargain their way into higher grades.

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Agreed with others. Also, your son is around 8 right? He's probably not dumb, his brain is not yet developed enough to think clearly of long-term sacrifice v. award. I think really long-term thinking doesn't really develop well until someone is in their mid-20s (right around when most people start thinking of opening a retirement account and other long-term goals).

But that doesn't mean the chore thing wasn't a good and fair idea. No reason not to start getting his brain to think in the long-term (even it's only a few hours). $7.25 an hour is very generous for a child. And really, if he wasn't willing to do chores for an afternoon for it, he must not have really wanted it that badly. There will be other games in the future.

 

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My mom used to make us clean for our relatives with her who had trouble caring for themselves for 4-6 hours every weekend on top of our own chores, probably a half hour of them a day, sometimes one or two if stuff needed done. I mean, we maybe got ice cream or went to lunch after the relatives, but that wasn't the reason we did it.

I would have jumped at minimum wage. Totally fair. As others have said, he hasn't really began thinking long-term yet. I came to think of my chores as actually not a lot in terms of food and rent growing up, so it didn't bother me to do them. I was always surprised when I heard friends had no chores and were handed money left and right.

But I think what you're doing, money for chores, is probably the best way to go if you have the money. Just don't change the rules too much. It comes off, especially to children, like lying and being unfair and confusing and demotivating.

Edited by EchoFlame

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On contrary his thinking long term and he is cunning. He doesnt want future deals that are disadvantagious and that means if he takes this deal all future deals will be the same where you will force him to do something in order to get something in return. If this philosophy works now he will be trapped for ever in a cycle he doesnt want to be part of. So he tries to figure out a political move where he can get his game some other way in order to not bind himself to these methods that will mean each time he will get something he will have to be commited to doing what you want him to do.

In other words he wants a different deal, yet he doesnt know how to get it. So he simply boycotts your offer and waits for better offer that doesnt bind him long term to this chore.

Taking the offer he will expect you to do the same over and over again and he knows he will be perpetually your slave doing things he doesnt want to do at all. What you need him to do is think about this differently. Make him realize that chores are part of life and that whether he likes it or not chores must be done. He needs a firm hand to force him to overcome initial disdain about the chores.

Edited by Cacao

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How old is your son?

I got lost in the changing terms; by the third or fourth paragraph the only thought I had was "She's moving the goal posts." If I can't quite follow this, your son doesn't have a chance.

May I suggest that, next time, he propose the deal. You and he can negotiate what the deal is, but once agreed neither can change it.

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Interesting responses. I'm reading them all and taking them into consideration with the exception of just buy him the game. This is an intense stand off happening. 

 

This morning he keeps coughing "Lego World", so I coughed, "Clean" to which he responded with a stern "No," and I responded, "A no for a no then." I've put my foot down on the original deal and given it an expiration. The offer only stands for the next hour should he chose to accept it, after that the only renegotiation will be on my end to include the kitchen. 

 

That stern, "No." Really did make my blood boil, little shit. Now it's on. And he's stupid too because he does clean daily, so there isn't that much to do, it's more just the underneath stuff like vacuuming and wiping down tables, sinks, mopping. Whatever....

Edited by Ambra

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20 minutes ago, Ambra said:

Interesting responses. I'm reading them all and taking them into consideration with the exception of just buy him the game. This is an intense stand off happening. 

 

This morning he keeps coughing "Lego World", so I coughed, "Clean" to which he responded with a stern "No," and I responded, "A no for a no then." I've put my foot down on the original deal and given it an expiration. The offer only stands for the next hour should he chose to accept it, after that the only renegotiation will be on my end to include the kitchen. 

 

That stern, "No." Really did make my blood boil, little shit. Now it's on. And he's stupid too because he does clean daily, so there isn't that much to do, it's more just the underneath stuff like vacuuming and wiping down tables, sinks, mopping. Whatever....

You want him to break a lot of habits that were already established. You need to be the one thinking long term not him. Habits dont change in few minutes. They change over time. The brain is changing slowly and habits have to become habits by doing the same thing over and over again until it becomes natural and not forced artificially. You want him to do the worst chore that exists on this planet. Even chores like collecting scrap food from trash or scrap yard will be met with more motivation than your son doing this job. What it means is you have to make him realize that work is also fun. That work may not always be fun, but it has meaning and it will make at least others happy if not him. Its also important to make him realize that some work is necessary. That it is necessary and must be done. In stead of giving him stupid jobs give him a job with a meaning and teach him to commit to work and have fun doing it because its important and kids love to feel important. Once he learns to do jobs that are important and fineds out that its no big deal he will learn to do other less fun jobs, because he will be dealing with established habit and in his mind there will be no resistance to it anymore. I dont think you can remake a kid by buying him a game really. YOu need to work on this more like on a long term project. Make him feel like what he does is important and make it fun for him. Perhaps even work together on the chore.

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He's behaving childishly? He's a child. You're not. It's weird to imagine that this could be an intense stand-off. It's like you're getting as emotionally involved in making him bend to your conditions to get the game as he is in getting the game. But you're the adult. You shouldn't be emotionally involved in him meeting your requirements to get the game or not, that's his choice to make. You're in charge. Who cares that he's being «stern» when saying no to your conditions? So he says no. Okay. He's not getting his game then. His problem, not yours.

Did you explicitly mention, when you initially offered the first «deal», that it had an expiration date? Or did you just let him exasperate you into changing your demands? The «expirations» and «renegociations» are confusing for a child and don't offer the impression of a stable and fair parent. 

I'm still of the opinion that repeating the initial «deal» any time he asked was the best option, and that short of that, buying him the game after the whole "contacts" fiasco was second best. But since neither of those are possible anymore... Just put an end to it with a definitive «no» and he'll just have to wait a birthday or whatever. Forbid him from bringing it up again if you must. It's absurd to let this situation escalate into you adding rooms to the «deal». It makes you look petty, not firm.

Edit: I want to mention that I wrote my previous post, and this, thinking we were talking about a 12 or 13 year old boy or so. The fact that he's 8, according to other users, only reinforces all those points. Setting him up to fail with the contacts was a sad affair, expecting him to not be childish is unreasonable, and the negotiations and stand-offs are unhealthy.

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1. Initial deal was fine, kids should learn to negotiate early. 

2. Changing the terms repeatedly confused him, and worse, made *you* appear as an unreliable parent. If your kid doesn't trust you to be honest, he'll resist you. 

3. He's 8, so is both dependant upon you for his survival and has a very undeveloped brain. There should be no such thing as a stand off, that's just ludicrous. You are the adult here, his life is in your hands.

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if he rejected the initial offer but was going to clean anyway, i don't know why you didn't just let him clean a little while and then point out to him, "look honey, you've already earned $7.25, you're partway there and you just need to keep going until x o'clock."  

at this point, i would probably apologize for having handled the whole thing badly, clarify your expectations, and agree to get him the game when he's done his 4-and-change hours of work.  and don't get involved in a mess like this again.  you're the parent, i think it's good to be open to feedback, but he has to comprehend that in the end you're the authority.  you're going to have a real problem to deal with as he gets older if he believes you're unreliable and he can argue his way around everything.

as a side-note, i don't comprehend why an 8 yo needs contacts.  and if he needs contacts, his learning to use them should be non-negotiable and something he works on because it's necessary, not because you two are doing this back-and-forth.

 
 
...... added to this post 2 minutes later:
 

also, i'm a bit horrified that you described him as stupid more than once.  he's a kid.

Edited by doll
typo - spelling

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He's too young for contacts.  As a kid, he will be rubbing his eyes and all sorts of things, never mind the hygiene issues at night and in the morning. You're begging for an eye infection. 

Two possible solutions for the mess would be:

  1. Reconsider giving him the game for the stand that he made, including an apology and hug for insensitivity.  Instead of applauding his efforts from a total lack of instruction from you, you laughed at his efforts. That must have hurt or at minimum, deflated him. In essence, he was set up to fail.
  2. Tell him that he will be receiving an allowance of $10/week for current chores and that he must save up for three weeks to buy the game.  If he spends any part of the allowance, it will take longer.

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There's a lot to unpack here.

"Do as I say, not as I do" comes to mind from your OP. Your child will follow your lead. You need to be the example.

You are emotionally charged and stubborn. Your child is emotionally charged and stubborn. You need to take a step back along with your emotions. Ask yourself what it is about this situation that is making you so angry. So angry that you're willing to jump to the conclusion that your child is stupid. Process that anger before you interact with your child. Remain reasonable and calm.

Apologize that the situation has gotten out of hand and be clear on what steps need to be taken moving forward. Lay out a plan and commit to it. If he is unwilling, then he will have to learn what happens when he fails to cooperate. Simple as that, really. There's no need to be angry about your son wanting a video game but not willing to do the work required for it. Your anger is coming from somewhere else.

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11 minutes ago, doll said:

if he rejected the initial offer but was going to clean anyway, i don't know why you didn't just let him clean a little while and then point out to him, "look honey, you've already earned $7.25, you're partway there and you just need to keep going until x o'clock."  

at this point, i would probably apologize for having handled the whole thing badly, clarify your expectations, and agree to get him the game when he's done his 4-and-change hours of work.  and don't get involved in a mess like this again.  you're the parent, i think it's good to be open to feedback, but he has to comprehend that in the end you're the authority.  you're going to have a real problem to deal with as he gets older if he believes you're unreliable and he can argue his way around everything.

as a side-note, i don't comprehended why an 8 yo needs contacts.  and if he needs contacts, his learning to use them should be non-negotiable and something he works on because it's necessary, not because you two are doing this back-and-forth.

 
 
...... added to this post 2 minutes later:
 

also, i'm a bit horrified that you described him as stupid more than once.  he's a kid.

This but said much nicer than I would have....and he looked like he had a black eye after repeatedly trying to wear/ put in the contracts?!? WTF? 

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You're giving him work that's way too difficult. Being asked to do something you don't know how to do, and then having your work laughed at by your parent, must be pretty demoralizing.

I also agree with a lot of people here that this stuff about stand-offs and deals is kind of... not being a parent. He's not your buddy. I know from experience a lot of single parents can fall into that kind of dynamic but it really is very destabilizing for a child. If you're setting boundaries and rules you need to be clear and calm about them and most of all, consistent. He should also be able to rely on you a bit more, especially for things he wants, beyond having to make arbitrary and changing deals every time. Much better to give him a stable set of chores and fixed pocket money that can be revisited every year. He won't learn shit about financial management or responsibility from your behaviour now.

Also, yeah, don't make health stuff a part of deals or he won't understand that it's necessary, not a bargaining chip. Has his doctor recommended contacts? I could barely manage not repeatedly breaking my glasses at that age, and the precision and hygiene required to use contacts would have been beyond me. If this is something his doctor has suggested, you should be working with him to learn how to do it and letting him take a break and certainly not letting him try over 100 times and making this a painful and frustrating process for him and jeopardizing his health in the process! I'm sorry but this thread made my blood boil a bit. I think you're being kind of shitty to him.

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1 hour ago, doll said:

if he rejected the initial offer but was going to clean anyway, i don't know why you didn't just let him clean a little while and then point out to him, "look honey, you've already earned $7.25, you're partway there and you just need to keep going until x o'clock."  

Encouragement would give you better result rather than trying to bend him to your will.  It sounds like you are the one who is having a fit.

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Lol at the interpretation of events. The contact thing, he's not too young. I used to work for Ophthalmology and would teach kids to out in contacts for the first time. He's having difficulty with it, but wants the contacts, so I was trying to motivate him to stick with it until he reaches the goal since he wanted to practice again. It's not uncommon for people trying to get the hang of it at first to have irritated eyes from failed attempts to put them in. Also boys tend to take longer to figure it out at first than females. 

Also, I'm not angry or emotionally charged, and I didn't develop this habit with my son. He's an EP personality and likes to negotiate terms, it's part of his fun. I didn't create that, I just have to maneuver through it. Teaching him to simply comply would take out the fun of it, for him. This just happens to be one stand off where he's trying to wiggle around it, and I refuse to budge. 

I am his parent but I'm also his sibling and friend. I know that's hard for people to understand and it probably sounds terrible, but as a kid you learn to play with other kids and work out compromises, deals, or whatever. My parent hat is something different than my sibling hat. In this case he is trying to offer a deal to get the game, not ignoring his chores to begin with. If he want doing what's required of him, the parent hat would be different. This is a bonus deal, and my friend or sibling hat is on. He wants something I have, money, and in order for him to get it he needs to make it worth my while, that's compromise. 

I know sometimes the language I use sounds definitive, but if you take my comments in jest you'll realize it's part of the playing with him. Teaching him people skills, "Dude you don't take the deal that's dumb," is just the same as a friend saying to another friend, "Dude you don't take the deal that's dumb, your mom's going to make you clean anyway." Suddenly that's not terrible. 

My son gets this, and I've read a few of the posts in this thread to him. He laughed at the apologize for my insensitivity and give him a hug comment. Walked over to me, and said, "Come on, let's get it over with..." and gave me a hug while laughing. We are not angry with each other, lol, but then we go back into deal mode, and both of our eyes narrow on each other. 

I agree that the contact thing was stupid because I shouldn't have switched the terms of the deal. I just thought if he pushed through it, and managed to teach himself how to put them in and take them out, it would be a life skill worthy of a treat. Bad planning there on my end. 

Oh and last point, the chores I'm asking him to do aren't too difficult for him. He's done them before....come to think of it, last time was also because he wanted to negotiate a deal for something he wanted. 

Anyway, it's always interesting to hear the responses in threads like these because there are so many different ways of parenting. Some make me think, some make me laugh, and some make me wonder what happened to the OP as a child. Lol

 
 
...... added to this post 2 minutes later:
 

Oh and he took the deal within the hour, started it, and then decided it wasn't worth it after cleaning the bathroom. No he says he'll just set up a Go Fund Me. Lol, he still has until the end of the day to complete the work if he changes his mind. 

 

Oh and now he wants his $7.25 for his hour of work. "If you go to work, and leave early, are you still paid for the time you were there?" ".....No....." "Lies!" And then we laughed. 

Edited by Ambra

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10 minutes ago, Ambra said:

I am his parent but I'm also his sibling and friend. I know that's hard for people to understand and it probably sounds terrible

It does.

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Just to showcase my son's mentality, he gave me a souvenir of a sparkly ball he thought looked like a planet once. In an effort to give him an outdoor project to do, I asked him to make me a stand for it with wood and some nails. He came back 5 minutes later with this. 

 

Spoiler

 

Lol!

 
 
...... added to this post 1 minute later:
 
3 minutes ago, vampyroteuthis said:

It does.

Well when you're a single mom to an extroverted child in a neighborhood with no other kids, if you want them to be well rounded, you take on many roles to ensure that type of development. 

Edited by Ambra

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3 minutes ago, Ambra said:

Well when you're a single mom to an extroverted child in a neighborhood with no other kids, if you want them to be well rounded, you take on many roles to ensure well rounded development. 

You can be like a friend too sometimes but you're never not a parent. Is there anything you can do to help him spend time with other kids his age?

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Just now, vampyroteuthis said:

You can be like a friend too sometimes but you're never not a parent. Is there anything you can do to help him spend time with other kids his age?

Exactly that's where I hit the wall yesterday after seeing how hard he tried with the contacts, but he still didn't meet the requirement. I wanted to cave and give him the game because I felt sympathetic as a parent. But then, that would have broken the friend/parent balance. I should have never switched the deal. My mistake. 

I can take him to hang out in places where kids are, like trampoline park (super fun), but then we get home, and it's not like when I was a kid that we would go play outside with other kids all night until we HAVE to come home. So it's not like he's building those day in day out relationships with other kids where you learn compromise, and conflict resolution from someone who's not just, the boss (parent). 

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What's wrong with that stand? I think it's pretty cool and creative. That he made it in five minutes points to his ability to think on his feet.

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Lol, no I agree. It's certainly creative. Just not what I expected. Of course most people would think of a stand using nails and wood that the nails would hold the wood together to make a stand out of multiple pieces. When I first saw it, I was like, "What the...?" "You hate it!" "No, it's just not what I expected...there is actually something beautiful about the simplicity of it." Then he went on a three hour rant about how things are probably not complex enough for my tastes. "Oh sorry, am I not using words that are complex enough?!!!" "Oh sorry I didn't open this door complex enough!"

 

The point is, he has fun with taking things and spinning them around to different meanings, or "deals", that's part of his playing, his fun. I try to get in there and give him a challenge or play back when I can. 

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