I'm still struggling with Ella's behavior and how to handle it. Things got really bad Saturday - she threw a shoe at me because I told her to clear her plate and then dumped a towel on my head when I asked her to help me fold laundry. She ended up in her room, in her bed, banned from going to a birthday party. She was yelling about how much she didn't love me when Campbell, Lily and I headed out to the party.
In desperation, I took a page out of Liz's book and started doing research online. I went to Dr. Rosemond's site, and he had a plan that Brandon and I both can get behind. We came up with a list of five behaviors that just are not allowed in the house. The list is posted on the refrigerator, along with 8 "tickets." When Ella does one of the things on the list, there's no warning, no empty threats, no "If you do that again," I just go take one of the tickets away and put her in time out for six minutes. If she gets all 8 tickets taken away, she goes to her room for the rest of the day and then goes to bed right after dinner.
Brandon and I talked about the plan with her, and explained every item on the list, and she seemed to buy in to the scheme. Monday she did great; I didn't have to take any tickets. Yesterday, however, I took four in the space of about 60 seconds and sent her to time out before she could lose any more. It was actually kind of funny how it happened - I told her she couldn't do something, so she stomped her feet. I took a ticket. She made a nasty face at me. I took a ticket. She began to tell me just how much she didn't like me. I took a ticket. She said no when I sent her to time out. I took a ticket.
The nice part about the plan is that the next day, the slate is wiped clean and she gets all the tickets back. I also really like having a plan. I don't have to worry about what I'm going to do when she mouths off or stomps her feet. She and I both know the list and we both know the consequences. I ended up not getting frustrated or flying off the handle in the midst of her tantrum, which helped us both. I didn't get wound up, so she didn't get more wound up.
In the midst of the chaos on Saturday, I e-mailed a friend who has a daughter a little bit older than Ella for advice. She reminded me about the big picture - Ella will grow up to be a kind, helpful person and she'll go off to college some day. I needed to hear that. She also suggested having Ella stomp her feet for five minutes straight the next time she does it as part of a temper tantrum. Brandon and I both like that idea.