A.M. asks from Jackson, WY on March 26, 2008
Respect in the 5 1/2 Year Old Mind
I am having respect issues with my 5 1/2 year old daughter. Every time I make a request she ignores me, or sasses back. everything is an argument. She has starting leaving things at school, and then when I punish her for not being responsible for her stuff she turns on the water works, or storms in her room and slams the door in my face. She is also manipulative, She thinks that by telling me I am pretty, or hugging me or declaring her love for me that I will let up and change my mind on what ever the discipline action I chose to take was. About 6 weeks ago she deliberately got on the wrong bus and went home with a friend. I grounded her for a week, she was not aloud to watch TV, or play with friends, or go shopping, or to our local public pool to go swimming. last week she left her brand new gloves at school (had them for 2 days)I told her she was not aloud to bring any toys to school for one week. All she has done since Friday is try to bargain with me about this, can I bring this can I bring that. I am sick of yelling. the only way I get any kind of response out of her in the right direction is if I boom at her. then she is great, she does what ever I ask for the rest of the day. But it takes awhile for me to get to this point. I have tried to give her chores, but it ends up being more work than it is worth so that has not stuck very well. She talks back all the time, and constantly tells me what to do, I keep telling her she is not the boss but at times it sure feel like she is. I guess all this explanation is to find out if this is normal, and will it pass, or am I doomed until she is 18, and does anyone have any advice on how to get her to behave, and keep behaving. I am a single mom, and exhausted. She sleeps with me almost every night, I cannot get her to stay in her own room to save my life. She doesn't even wake me up anymore when she comes in my room, I don't even have the opportunity to take her back in her room. this week she has been waking up twice a night, usually the first time is when I am still up, I put her right back in her room then, but I am still waking up with her in my bed. Her teachers say she is really good at school, I just don't get it!!! I love my daughter, she is a good kid for the most part, but she definitely does not respect as much as I think she should. I really want to grow up and be a compassionate smart human who thinks about how her actions effect others. At the moment she seems to only care how her actions, and how MY actions affect her.
D.K. answers from Denver on March 27, 2008
You are doing the right things and I have a six year old we just got to the bottom of some of these behaviors! I feel your pain!
First, kids aren't bad because they want to.
Maybe make a visual chart for her, she needs to earn priviledges not have them handed to her, she is to do her work, bring home her stuff from school, not sass and so on and earn the right to watch TV and so on.
Then if there are good behaviors there are smiley faces that are earned. Acknowledge the good behavior as it happens. At the end of the day go to the chart with her and see what she can do the next day to make it better.
It helps some kids to see for themselves how their behavior is visually.
If she slams a door, very calmly ask her to open and close it four times NICELY as it should be. If she sasses, make her stand there and repeat what she said until she says it with respect and nicely. Acknowledge her without arguing with her. Pointless I have learned and exhausting to argue with a 6 year old! :)
Your daughter is way too old to be sleepig with you. She may seek that security from you that she needs to get during her waking hours. A girls day out once a week as a reward for sleeping in her own room. Maybe a new bedspread from her choice if she sleeps in her own bed. Putting her in control over how her day goes, how things go between the two of you is really good for them. She can either be in trouble or be rewarded for doing the right things.
She is testing you to the max right now and finding your weak spots to see where you will break. No matter how hard she tries don't give up.
You are very aware of her and her ways of doing things and have implemented discipline already so that is great.
She may too be asking for attention from you in the only way she knows how. Sit down and talk to her when it isn't a fight or arguement and ask her what she needs from you or what would be the perfect day for her.
I have taught (after a LONG struggle) to teaching my daughter it is OKAY to be upset, angry and not like my rules, however she is to be respectful, listen to me and if she is angry it is better she calms down then we can talk about it. My daughter seems to be analytical so explaining why I have the rules I do seems to help her, she needs things laid out for her more directly. I have had to teach her that her actions and words when she is upset are going to be her in more trouble then just her accepting she made a bad choice and has consequences.
Consequences for children is huge and I think so important. Teaching them to take responsibility for themselves.
If your daughter if feeling she has no power or control. then she will act out too. Maybe give her some responsibilty around the house. Help her choose meals, help you cook. Give her choices. It is tough being a single parent and even tougher when you have a child that is challenging you. She isn't deliberately being bad, she is seeking something and you need to figure out what it is. That is the hard job! :)
We went to a play therapist last summer as I was at the end of my rope and we got so much accomplished! I found a way to communicate with my daughter she found a voice to talk to me about her feelings instead of acting out on them. I learned not to yell so much, to listen more and to not try and control her so much as teach her to control herself.
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C.A. answers from Pocatello on March 28, 2008
I am comforted that my daughter isn't the only one like this. She is the queen of manipulation and will argue or correct me about everything I say, even if I am agreeing with her. It drives me crazy! I have been living in fear of her teenage years. She is nine and we have been struggling with this since she was four. I have tried a lot of the advice you have gotten so far. Love and Logic parenting is awesome! There is also another book about "Power Struggles with Kids" that I thought was helpful. Giving her some responsibility and some control over her life has really helped, but the key is to find a system that works for you and be consistent. My daughter has a certain routine of things that she does before school and after school. Once those are done she is free to choose other activities. At times she amazes me with her helpfullness, and other times she complains the whole time. She is always testing me to see if I will stand by the consequences we have set or let her get away with something. It is hard, but consistency is crucial. We talk a lot about how she can control her choices but she can't pick the consequences. That is a hard concept to learn, but it is coming.
I too want my daughter to become a smart responsible person who cares about other people...and we're getting there. Hang in there! Kids are always going to test you and push the boundaries. That is part of what gives them security, knowing what they can and can't do. As parents we have to teach them that there are consequences for every choice they make now, so they learn their lessons with small mistakes not life shattering ones down the road. Just keep telling yourself how much you love her, and tell her often too. Good luck!
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K.H. answers from Salt Lake City on March 28, 2008
It sounds like you've gotten a lot of great advice. I agree with the Love and Logic. It works on all my kids, ages 22mo, 3 1/2, 5, and 6 1/2.
As far as bedtime. We have had times where all the kids sleep in there own bed, times when one has slept in our bed, and times where they're all climbing in our bed at night. I agree after a while it's just easier to let them stay. (It's probably also nice sometimes to have someone to cuddle with). you probably need to decide if you really don't want her in bed with you or if you really don't mind that much. If you don't want her in bed with you you can try what I've done with my kids and my mom did with me. Let her know in advance that if she wants to come in your room at night that's fine but she has to sleep on the floor, and you're not going to provide a blanket or pillow. You can even talk to her about how you need your sleep and that it's hard with less space. It never took too long for the kids to sleep in their own beds again, I think they got sick of sleeping on the ground.
You could possibly even reward her by letting her sleep with you on the weekend if she sleeps on her own bed the entire week. Let her know that it's okay since you don't have to wake up as early.
Good luck. Just remember that she's old enough to talk to her on a fairly level.
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S.B. answers from Denver on March 28, 2008
While a lot of the interventions you are using can be very appropriate for older children, you are dealing with a 5 year old. You many have to adjust your expectations way downward. You might want to consider taking a parenting class for younger children - It can be very helpful. Timeout for a 5 yr old is 5 minutes for example. Grounding for a week works for a teenager, not a kindergardner. Losing gloves after two days is not usually something you would punish a 5 yr old for. You might just need to take a deep breath and read some books about what you can really expect from a 5 year old. What you see as disrespect might be the normal developmental mischief and lack of attention span a 5 year old has. Wanting to sleep with you and finding it hard to enforce rules on her is typical for many single moms- maybe a single moms' group would help?
take care, S.
J.S. answers from Colorado Springs on March 26, 2008
Get the book, Parenting With Love and Logic : Teaching Children Responsibility: Foster W. Cline,Jim Fay:
A great book and will teach you a lot about them making their own decisions. Read that and I know it will shead some light on the discipline issue. Regarding her sleeping in your bed, you have to stop that now. I am not sure what you can do but maybe that is a question to post and get some responses. Put a reverse lock on the door to make sure she stays in her own room? Good Luck;) try the book it really helped me.
J.S. answers from Provo on March 26, 2008
She's pushing your buttons. A book that was recommended to me is "How to deal with your acting up teenager" by Robert Bayard. It talks about letting your kids own their choices and the natural consequences. If you ask her to do something around the house, don't do it for her, but she is not allowed to do what she wants until it is done. Example: my 7 year old has a messy room, she is not allowed to play with friends or watch tv until her room is clean. When she asks to play, I ask if her room is clean..she says no, I respond with then that is your answer. I don't ground my kids, but they are not allowed to do things. So, she left her gloves at school, so she can't go outside without them. I also find that certain behaviors are related to playing with friends, so she is not allowed to play with those friends. I don't know about you, but I can't see how you accidentally get on the wrong bus. Because she played with out asking and you had to go get her, then give her things to do at home that you would normally do (that you are willing to let her take a long time in doing). Another example, we have a dishwasher. My older two kids each unload it every other day (one on even days, the other on odd days). If they don't get the dishwasher unloaded before the meal, they also get to load the dishwasher. If they refuse to do the dishes on their day, then they get the dishes until it is all caught up. Yes you run out of dishes, so she doesn't eat until the dishes are clean to eat off of. Try for as many natural consequences. If she starts to do her "thing" on you, just walk away, or ignore her. The sooner you nip this in the bud, the sooner you will be in control...otherwise...18 is a long time!
As for her sleeping with you. I have resorted to looking my kids in their bed..all 3 of them, the 4th is still in a crib. Set a bed time schedule and stick to it. If you get up before her, than that is a great time to unlock the door. You need to have that down time while she is in bed.
Create a job chart. Let her know that she is such an awesome kid and you can't do it all by yourself. So you create a job chart for both you and her. Let her see what you do, so she knows she is not being picked on to do "everything". Use stickers to know if she has hers done...and yours. Let her be involved in what she does and what the consequences are and most importantly the rewards. I usually create a list of everything that needs to be done. Then I let each of my kids pick one, then I pick one, then they pick one, then I pick one and so on until everybody has the same amount of jobs. By them picking their own, it is not you picking on them because they picked the job. Then as group we come up with rewards, if they get everything done for the day, or the week...including TV time, computer time, friend time, out to eat, park time, etc. Then we come up with consequences for not having them done...along with...you do NOT do her jobs for her!!! Not having them done is one consequence, but no rewards, or bed early, no toys.
Hope I'm not rambling, but I'm sure I could go on and on...if you need more ideas, you are more than welcome to email me. Good luck, be strong, and quit being a rug...it's not that much fun!