J.H. asks from San Jose, CA on July 02, 2012
How Do You Discipline Disrespect/talking Back?
This whole spanking discussion has got me thinking about my current disciplinary challenge. My DD is about to turn 4 and she has been giving me quite the attitude. She talks back a lot, and likes to flip things around, e.g. "DD, you broke the rule, please go to your time out chair." DD: "No! You take a time out!" She often says "You're not my friend!"
How do you handle this? It doesn't get to me but I need to nip it. She gets time outs, loses a toy, can't watch TV (my favorite punishment), goes to bed early and, when she gets really out of control, a spanking. None of this seems to be very effective. I talk to her a lot when appropriate and have swift clear and consistent consequences. Any suggestion? I am not very creative with discipline...
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So What Happened?™
I should have written a lot more, lol! Let me first say I only punish for name calling or defiance (e.g."No! You clean up my toys" *throws toy*) not something like "You're not nice!" I don't normally do this, but I've really appreciated the advice so I'm going to respond to a lot of people individually.
Grandma T - I agree with you that she is too old for spanking. It's been awhile and after trying it once on this issue I've realized it's not effective. Reasoning works 90% of the time but the sass normally comes out when she's tired. She's generally a very well behaved girl but when she starts with the attitude it doesn't stop.
Diane B - you are right about delayed punishments. I take away TV for the night (immediate) and/or put her to bed instead of trying to enforce a time out. Sometimes I can see that it is just going to be a battle so she gets the abbreviated bedtime routine. We don't have a good place that is toy free and not in ear shot so we're stuck with time outs where she is not too far away. We tell her time out starts when she's quiet and that can take a varied amount of time...
DVMOM described it well - I am actually proud of her for figuring out some new social skills. And tend to take a similar approach of ignoring it. If it something as simple as "you're not my friend" I'll ignore it. If she's breaking rules and saying that, I do say "I'm not your friend, I'm your mother. You chose to break such and such rule so here is the consequence..."
Tori H - I was reading your comment and thinking "Love and Logic!" That is our parenting approach and I do often say "how sad". I'm thinking I need to reread the book though to refresh and feel more confident.
Adansmama - I totally agree with you. I do, sometimes, give her a couple of warnings when I think one or none is better. I don't over talk it though. When I said "I talk to her a lot when appropriate" I meant after the consequence.
Hazel W - I like the idea of room clearing. It's been awhile since I did that and that my be effective here.
Peg M - you make a very good point. I see my own actions reflected back from her all the time. Unfortunately, most of these particular words come from daycare. But it is nice to know that she is perfectly capable of standing up for herself!
Kristen C. - great perspective. We do eat very healthy food, limited TV time with specific DVDs (Super Why etc), love being outdoors (she waters our plants too!) and reading. The sass normally comes at the end of a long day in preschool. Sleep is certainly a factor here as she's transitioning out of her naps.
This has been good to help me revamp! I think spending some time reflecting will help me stay cool and confident. Fortunately, we had a great night tonight! I will be repeating to myself "this too shall pass" :)
Of course, if anyone else has more advice, I'd appreciate it.
S.T. answers from Washington DC on July 03, 2012
it can be a tough line, and we all draw it in slightly different places, don't we?
i tend to be a little lenient with a verbal retort unless it's very rude. 'no! you take a time out!' might result in child being picked up and deposited firmly in the time out chair, in grim silence. but 'you're not my friend' is an angry observation, not *really* sass, so i'd take that in stride.
it actually sounds to me as if you handle it very well. in my older years i've come solidly down in the 'no spanking' camp, but if you must, doing it only for gross infractions is better than it being a first resort.
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V.S. answers from Dallas on July 02, 2012
I think you are already doing the right thing: Consistent and quick consequences is the key. Finding the right consequence sometimes takes a lot of thought. Keep doing what you are doing. The most helpful thing that I ever read was from an author who said "if they test the limits one thousand times, then you administer the consequences one thousand and one times.". You have to just stick with it until she gives up.
Easier said then done. Keep up the good mommy work!
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T.S. answers from San Francisco on July 02, 2012
For me it's not really disrespect unless there is name calling or insults being hurled, as in,
Now my kids have all said, at one point or another,
"i hate you"
"you're the meanest mother ever"
As hard as those things are to hear, I realize that if I hear them, I must be doing something right!
I would respond to what your daughter said with this,
"yes, I WILL take a time out, away from you while you sit in your room until you are ready to listen"
"that's true, I'm not your friend, I am your mom"
The worst thing you can do is feed the behavior by engaging it. Don't come down to her level, stay calm, steady and firmly in charge. Don't yell or get emotional, be very matter of fact about it. You show her you will not put up with certain behaviors by one, not giving it any attention and two, removing her from the situation.
Once she learns her attitude has no power she will drop it. There's no payoff. Kids need to learn they attract more honey with flies, you know?
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C.M. answers from Chicago on July 02, 2012
I think I posted about this before. My daughter likes to grumble when she's being punished, she will say something rude or outrageous and I used to respond with harsher punishment or discussions about being respectful. That never helped. So I started watching, and I noticed that she is just grumbling, letting out her anger. She will accept the punishment or do the thing she was supposed to do.
So I started ignoring it. She's mad and trying to get a rise out of me. I noticed that if I ignore it and walk away, she will accept her punishment and then later on apologize on her own for her actions.
I've noticed as she's gotten older, she doesn't do it as much. I can't say that I don't say the same things in my head when I get upset, I've just learned how to control it better!
I would just ignore the outburst and repeat the thing you want your daughter to do until she complies. I think she'll get ahold of her emotions as she matures.
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K.C. answers from New London on July 02, 2012
I'm a Parent Educator. Kids at 4 are testing the limits. When my daughter was 4, I watched every word I said. Remember that she has been watching you and the adults around her for 4 years already.
Kids have different temperaments, too !
With that being said, some of the families I worked with had extra tired kids who would never got enough sleep. Other families talked nasty to each other. In some cases, parents didn't take their kids outside for physical excercise at all. Other parents were giving their kids junk food and sugary juice all day. Many kids were watching way too much tv on a daily basis. Some TV has NASTY "talk" on it. Even the kid shows.
Temperament and daily routines can be factors, too.
Without visiting your home on a weekly basis, I would say to keep the discipline quick and short. Ignore her when she tells you to take a time-out. When she gets up from the time-out, kneel down and tell her why she was in time-out.
When my daughter was four, we went to the park every day. She went to preschool and had playdates. In the late afternoon, I would take the bike out in the driveway, water the flowers or build a snowman.
My daughter was a bear without alot of physical excercise and sleep! Reading is a nice "bonding" activity to diffuse what is taking place right now. Get a big wicker basket and have a book you can read to her and 1 she can "read' to you--- and read together on a daily basis.
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H.W. answers from Portland on July 02, 2012
First, I have two distinct categories of backtalk: there's the grumbling, self-indulgent talk ( like "you're not my friend"), which I consider to be just letting off steam. Yes, it's juvenile, but kids are juveniles so I don't punish for this. They're mad, they say stupid stuff-- so do adults, right? As long as it doesn't fall into the category of name-calling, I ignore it if I can or sometimes send him to his room "because you are really grumpy at me and you need a break." He is allowed to come out whenever he is ready to be pleasant.
And then, there's being non-compliant. "No-- I won't" sort of backtalk.
Sometimes, my son (5) will say "no" to a direction, and then just go do it anyway. So I often keep my mouth shut for a moment or two and look to see what his actions are before deciding to address the situation. Sometimes, it really doesn't need addressing and he's just grumbling.
However, if I asked my son to take a time out and he refused, I'd send him to his room. "Come back out when you are ready to do what I ask." So, while it doesn't seem like a punishment, it is allowing him to take a break and get his focus together. If he wants to be back out with us, he'll *still* have to take the time out time before resuming any fun in the common areas of the house. This also eliminates a huge power struggle-- instead of physically forcing him to sit in a chair and using up MY time (and we moms have plenty else to do, don't we?), I make the noncompliance be HIS problem.
There's a great deal of motivation to be had when it comes to being allowed to be part of the social activity of the house. I want my son to learn to take breaks when he's feeling uncooperative socially; I want him to learn to go play by himself sometimes if it's hard to get along with other kids. I want him to learn that if he's in a bad mood, he's welcome to take it elsewhere and come back when he's ready to participate in the ways we need him to. Don't we wish more adults knew how to do this?:)
And you might try turning it on her: "You know, you are being so unpleasant, I will take a time-out in my own room. I'll come out when I'm ready for your company." Depending on what's happened, if you go off and disappear for ten or fifteen minutes, this may be enough for her to check in on you. Then you can decide if you still need her to take that time out or if you two are okay with each other. Of course, this only works if you have an only child or older kids who are engaged, etc. You can take a baby or toddler to your room with you if need be. (This is called 'room clearing' and is sometimes a great response to big, bad acting out or tantrums. Everyone leaves the angry child to yell or carry on without any attention.)
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T.H. answers from Kansas City on July 02, 2012
Well, see I believe that the more talking you do, the less discipline is actually happening. In your situation I would have done this...
Gosh, it looks like you need help. Are you going to walk to the time out chair or shall I put you there? If no decision is made, I would put her there, and then I would continue putting her there over and over again until she stayed. If you are consistent with this approach it does not take more than a couple of times to play the pick them back up and put them down game. During this time there is NO talking by me.
I also have a stack of one-liners I use for phrases like "it's not fair" "you're not my friend", etc. The top three are:
Don't you wish I believed that
I love you too much to argue.
I say both of them in an authentic tone with no sarcasm. I don't argue.
If my daughter is being disrespectful towards me I usually do not issue a warning. She knows it is not okay (she will be 5 in Sept.) and she is immediately issued a consequence. Sometimes it is time out and sometimes I simply take away whatever it was that caused the controversy. I stay calm and (TRY!!) don't use angry tones. She has to see that the issue is her problem not mine and if I get mad, she doesn't have to.
I'm a huge fan of Love and Logic, so if you are intrigued by my suggestions consider picking up the book. Good luck!
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P.M. answers from Portland on July 02, 2012
I'm sure this isn't always the case, but I hear much sassy talk from kids as their own childish imitation of what they hear from adults – often their own parents. Adults often do NOT talk kindly to children.
An acquaintance of mine, who was having a terrible time with a back-talking 5yo, taped her own interactions with her children for only a couple of hours one day. She was shocked to realize that her child was actually imitating the way she talked to her daughters. Kids receive as taunting and disrespect comments like, "You get your little butt over here right now, Missy!" or "Don't you dare, or you'll be in big trouble." or "Didn't I just tell you no?" or "Look at me when I'm talking to you!" And those comments are truly rude – few adults would talk that way to other adults.
Not many of the "demanding" statements parents make to their children are truly grown-up and respectful. Kids learn early and well exactly "how" to get under parents' skin, because their parents have demonstrated from their diaper days how to get under their tender skins. I decided before my daughter was born to watch my tone of voice, carefully and consciously use good manners with her, and make requests rather than demands. On those few occasions when I did have to state a request as a demand, she understood immediately that I was not to be argued with.
I'm sure not every child is as "easy" as my child was, but it worked beautifully with her, and I'm pretty sure part of the reason was that we were a team – she knew I was on her side, so she wanted to be on mine.
I hope parents keep in mind that, to some degree, "attitude" is a necessary part of growing up and finding one's inner strength. So I applaud kids with spunk. But if it is turned often against parents, it may be that child's way of coping with a need for independent self-determination and self-respect. Kids really don't have enough experience to know any other way to get what they need.
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A.M. answers from Kansas City on July 02, 2012
she's talking back because you're allowing discussion over every little detail of existence. when it comes to discipline, there doesn't need to be creativity. there needs to be consistency. just stick with time out. ignore her sass, put her butt in time out and ignore her trying to provoke you. if it's subjective, that's why she's going to keep trying to push and push and push and see if she can change the outcome. it has to be the same every time. and i think when it comes to consequences, at 4 she should be told once, then the discussion is over. if you want to talk it to death save it for after the discipline. she knows the rules. time out. period. there's no talking in time out.
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D.B. answers from Boston on July 02, 2012
The delayed punishments work better with older kids (like "no TV 5 hours from now" or "go to bed early"). When she says "You're not my friend" you can say "That's right, I'm your mother." Kids need to learn that families are not democracies. Neither are classrooms or work sites for that matter!
The "time out chair" may not work at this age because you're still in the room and available for back talk. She needs to be isolated in an area that is no fun. That means not in her bedroom full of fun toys. Perhaps her good toys can be put in bins and she doesn't get to use them when she is fresh? Being apart from you and getting NO ATTENTION is a great motivator.
You say you have clear and consistent consequences, but they may not be swift enough - a consequence 2 hours later is probably not helpful for a child this age. At least have an immediate punishment even if you have a later one.
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