October 09, 2007,
S.H. asks from Kailua, HI on October 03, 2007
Any Moms with "Sassy" 5 Year Old? Any Suggestions?
I have a soon to be 5 year old girl. She is wonderful, and bright for her age... strong willed, articulate, and Sassy now since she started Kindergarten! She is especially sassy toward her Grandma....whom my daughter says "is irritating... she nags all the time and tells me what to do...." (this is what my girl says when I ask her why she's so sassy toward Grandma). True, Grandma can be irritating and nagging even to us adults. But she is basically a nice woman. The thing is, my daughter, no matter what we try... will always have a good retort or response to us which is totally valid and reasonable. We give her time-outs...which only works for a moment. Or take away things or privileges... but her "memory" of that only lasts for so long and the effects of the punishment doesn't last long in her daily hind-sight. She is very spirited...and bright, and can debate on an "adult" level even at her age...thus, this can be difficult to reason with her. Grandma is thinking my daughter has a "problem" and needs to see a Psychologist....and wants to bring her to her Christian church.... as Grandma thinks that church will solve all children's behavior "problems." We, her parents, think this is simply NOT Grandmas business on instituting religion to our daughter. We have our own way to teach her about this. Grandma thinks her way is best.... and we are "ignorant" parents. Anyway.... my daughter can be hard to reason with when she is in her "sassy" moods. She is not like this all the time... again, she is basically a great girl and we are very proud of her. She has nice friends and chooses friends wisely. She is good in school always. At home, she can let loose and is more gregarious, like most children. I know that children at certain age sets (mostly 2-5 yrs. old), go through behavior developmental phases that are not always pleasant. It's more of a problem for Grandma....Grandma thinks my daughter is a problem. We think she is going through the typical age-related behavior phases... and are disciplining her as such... time-outs, taking away things/privileges...ignoring it to bring less attention to it... focusing on positive reinforcement...no name calling... no labeling... etc. Any other ideas from anyone??? I don't want Grandma to think my daughter is a stinker.... which seems to be the road it is going toward. Then Grandma will nag even more and tell us it's because we don't go to Church every Sunday like she does etc.
J.S. answers from Sacramento on October 04, 2007
Try the book 1,2,3 Magic. Very good book.
First - absolutely NEVER negotiate or debate with a young child when you are giving directions or disciplining. Eliminating that will reduce the sass fairly quickly. When you debate over discipline or why she needs to do what she has been told she has just 'won' and you have just 'lost' control. As that parent what you say goes - PERIOD. :) Whether the kid likes it or not. There will come a time when you can let your child question and test your decisions - but not at 5.
Sass is simply disrespectful behavior on the part of the child that is being allowed to some degree by the grownup/s around her - usually because we don't know how to stop it. :) Been there - lived it! Your daughter may have a point about Grandma and you may want to adjust the time she spends with Grandma as a result (also been there done that). However, that does not mean she has the right to be rude to Grandma. :) I know you see that. That also means that you need to not be talking about grandma in front of your child in anything other than a positive way. Little kids have BIG ears and I am amazed sometimes at the things my kids hear me say when I think they are not even around.
Sometimes I think we spend so much time on positive reinforcement that we forget to seriously address the behavior that is not appropriate. So we need to step back and take a look at where that behavior comes from first. Kids live what they see - so - is there anyone else in the household who makes (sassy) comments? Is there someone else who has a (sassy) attitude she is picking up on? When she gets her sassy attitude does anyone laugh and say oh how cute that is? These are things that happen and often we don't realize that our kids are simply doing what they see us doing. Again - been there lived it! So, we need to look at our behavior and adjust there first - then go back to the child and say 'this' is not OK and will no longer be allowed. She can have her spunk and energy without being sassy...
It takes a bit to get it worked out but you can do it. It took me about 2 weeks to take 2 unruly little boys who were out of control for a whole bunch of reasons (traumatic life situation that needed changing before anything could seriously be done) and bring them around to well behaved boys who are a delight to be around. Then it took several months of hard-core practice on my part to be consistent with my own behavior and theirs and to not let them get away with the yucky behavior (which can be hard to do when we are tired and stressed). This was about 4 yrs ago I started this...now they are well behaved, not rude or sassy (and believe me they were before with a vengeance!) and do as they're told - usually when they are told. They have their spunk and energy - but know when it is appropriate and when it is not and it only takes a look from me now to remind them which is which. :)
My 13 yr old is beginning to test the 'authority' here at home, so I am giving him some leeway to test while still letting him know that mom makes the final decision - every now and again he gets what he wants - but not always! He is learning how to negotiate with respect and common courtesy rather than copping an attitude and having a fit about whatever it is that he wants to do when I am telling him to do something else.
Good luck to you! But seriously - get the book - 1,2,3 Magic. Saved my family...
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B.G. answers from San Francisco on October 03, 2007
I'm right there with you with a 3 year old sassy girl. I really don't have any suggestions for you other then a "goal chart". Putting stars on it on the days she does well at making her bed, clearing off the table, brushing her teeth, etc. You can make one of them "being kind to Grandma" or something.
The one thing I caught in your email said that some of her come backs for you are valid and reasonable. For me, even if my childs come backs are reasonable, that still doesn't give them the right to be disrespectful to their elders. I was taught to always respect my elders unless they were being abusive and hope to pass that on to my children. Even though our elders a lot of the time can be the most difficult to get along with! :-) Good luck!!!
By the way, is your daughter a Gemini? My little one is a perfect angel one second and then the sassy angel comes out the next!
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R.C. answers from Sacramento on October 09, 2007
My suggestion is more of a question - Why are you trying to "reason" or "debate" with a five year old? You are the adults. This has nothing to do with how bright or articulate your daughter is, this has to do with behavioral learning, you can teach without crushing her spirit or her will. It is our job to teach our children. My second suggestion is aimed toward the sentence "I don't want Grandma to think my daughter is a stinker?" You can't control what other people think or do, just do the best you can and let other people be other people. Grandma has put her two cents in, wanted or not, and that should be that, Sassy is NOT her daughter and she needs to butt out or lose visitation rights until she agrees to it. Remember you are the parents - this applies to both Grandma AND Sassy. In the end that is what is important.
Hope this doesn't offend, but I feel more parents need to be stronger with their children these days and stop letting the kids run the program.
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