This isn’t the type of post that I’d normally share here. However, as a mother I’ve been facing a lot more struggles over the past month than I have in a long time and as I’ve started to nip this problem in the bud I thought this could be helpful to other parents going through this same thing.
My normal well-behaved, would-never-do-anything-she-thought-was-wrong, almost six year old daughter has turned into the biggest smart mouth you can imagine over the past month.
It’s hard to even explain in writing how bad this has become – you’d really have to hear her tone of voice to fully comprehend what I’m dealing with.
In a gist, every time I ask her a question I get one of these responses:
“Is that really any of your business?”
“You don’t know nothing.”
“I don’t have to tell you.”
And so on. In writing these might not seem so bad but in real life she says things very loudly and with a serious attitude.
I’ve attributed much of this problem to being tired, which has been a real problem since she started kindergarten. However, the amount of back talk I’m getting plus the increasing rate of disrespect has become more than I can tolerate.
I felt like she was constantly putting me in a bad mood and I was just clueless as what to do.
So, I Did Everything Wrong
I’ve read a ton of parenting books. I’ve practiced what I was told – don’t overreact, don’t yell and scream – be consistent, enforce your rules, and explain to your child (calmly) what they’ve done wrong.
But this time…..I couldn’t do it.
By the second or third time I had to tell her to “be nice even when you’re tired” I snapped. I’m sure my blood pressure was through the roof and frustration had got the very best of me. I yelled, I got loud, and in general I was just stressed to the max.
You see, I had NEVER had this problem before. I’ve always considered myself a pretty lucky mom. You know how before you have kids and you see kids throwing fits in stores and restaurants you think “my kids will never act like that.” And that’s how I’ve felt through the majority of my motherhood journey – I lucked out with some pretty amazingly well behaved children.
(Okay, I must disclose Ava is pretty ornery but it’s more in a cute and innocent way than in a bratty way.)
I’ve dealt with plenty of too-tired temper tantrums but for the most part my kids have ALWAYS listened to me. And now that I felt a total lack of respect I couldn’t handle it!
I emailed one of my online best friends who has older kids and has been through what I’m going through. She validated that I knew what I needed to do, I just needed to do it. So I did.
Choose an Effective Punishment
I firmly believe that choosing an effective punishment should be unique to the child. For example, Ava loves being in her room by herself. She acts like a teenager often going into her room, turning on a DVD, shutting the door and telling other people not to come in. The only effective punishment from her is taking away her beloved blanket for a little awhile.
Kailyn, however, does not like going to her room alone which made sending her to her room for ten minutes very effective.
Make the Rules Very Clear and Be Consistent
No parent enjoys punishing their kid. To me, it’s stressful. My girls and I have such good relationships most of the time that I really hate being the enforcer. So, I have to remind myself that it’s for the best.
When I decided I had to do something about the disrespect I laid down the ground rules. It was a Saturday morning that I declared there’d be no more warnings. The first smart mouth thing that came out of her mouth would result in ten minutes of her room – period.
While you might find it effective to give warnings I can’t do it. My one warning turns into 20 warnings which results in no punishment. I had to go straight to the reprimands.
The first time I sent Kailyn to her room for ten minutes she screamed, cried, and slammed the door multiple times. I had to completely ignore it. I was getting too frustrated again.
I left her in there for ten minutes without saying a word to her.
The second time she made less of a scene so it wasn’t as stressful.
Have a Long Talk
When the ten minutes was up I would go into Kailyn’s room. Hug her, hold her, and calm her down while we very nicely discussed why she had got in trouble and how each of us felt about that.
These talks I believe were HUGE for her understanding why she couldn’t talk to other people the way she had been.
We even made a deal. If I ask her a question when she’s tired and she feels like she’s going to say something mean it’s okay if she doesn’t say anything at all. Or she can just (nicely) tell me she doesn’t feel like talking right now.
Praise the Good Behavior
After the first stressful day of sending Kailyn to room multiple times for back talk and having long and loving talks about why that’s not nice, something awesome happened: her behavior immensely improved.
And so, instead of yelling at the bad I started praising the good. When she offered to help me or her sister with something I’d thank her for being a great helper. When she went a whole day without talking back I’d tell her how I proud I was of her.
After all, kids want their Mommys to be proud. They want their Mommys love and attention. By being consistent, (mostly – I’m human, afterall) keeping my cool, and praising the good I’m happy to report that the back talk has stopped.
But I am soooo not looking forward to the teenage years!
How do you handle it when your kids refuse to listen to you?