So, as I’ve mentioned, Princess is STUCK. Middle school + trauma are not a good combination for my sweet girl (who actually hasn’t been so sweet lately!)
My usual tactics aren’t working, so I’ve been mixing it up. A friend wrote on a message board about a behavior Bingo sheet. Mom puts all the undesirable behaviors on a Bingo sheet and marks them off as they occur. Bad attitude. Defiance. Rudeness. Yelling. She does a little dance each time she gets to mark one off. Once she has Bingo, she gets to treat herself to ice cream.
I told Princess about this and started making my sheet. She came out of her room and said, “Please don’t do that. I don’t want to act this way.”
Oh, my sweet girl. She’s still in there, right at the surface. She’s fighting for control, but the big feelings keep sucking her down. This type of Bingo was just going to add more shame and she’s already in danger of drowning in the stuff.
I suggested we try the game another way. I made us both BINGO sheets. Each letter had five rows under it (including a free space). Inside the boxes I wrote:
- Mom cries
- Thank someone
- Hug someone
- Princess farts
- Say “I love you”
- Dad curses
- Take a shower
- Tell a Feeling
- Jump 10 times
Some things were on there more than once. (Hug, laugh, clean and say, “I love you” all had several appearances each.)
I told her when we both filled up our cards completely (every box filled), we’d share a treat. She didn’t ask what the treat was or argue about there not being a clear winner. She grabbed a pencil to mark off her boxes and ran to ask her dad to say a curse for her. (He obliged with a cheerful “F*&ck off!”, which she found hysterical.)
I wouldn’t put the farting or crying on future Bingo sheets. Both are frequent occurrences in our home, but, of course, didn’t come naturally when we wanted them to! Everything else was a hit.
Here are some of the things Princess said during the game:
“Thank you for buying me a clarinet for band.”
“I’m sorry for the way I’ve been acting,” while hugging her dad. (Apologize wasn’t even one of the tasks I wrote down!)
“I’ve been feeling so sad and ashamed lately.”
There was lots of dancing, laughing, smiling and hugging.
It turned a yucky, confrontational night into something really positive. Take that, Shame Monster!