Friday, June 11, 2010

Bye-Bye, Bratty!

Disclaimer: not all children are created equal, and these may not work for everyone. This is just a sample of what I have tried and what has worked.

Ever have one of those moments when your child, whom you love more than breath itself, is testing your boundaries, and you can hear in the back of your mind "Beat on the Brat" by the Ramones? Of course, we'd never take that advice, but it makes for good fantasy when your sweetheart suddenly turns into the That Kid.

My 4-year-old isn't really that bad, and, thank God, she's quite polite in public. However, she does have her moments. Here are some techniques that get us both through the attitude when my sweet girl turns into a Mean Girl:

  1. Get Down. I get down to her level, and I look her in the eye. Heck, depending on her mood I'll get right in her face, Jillian Michaels style (minus the heinous banshee screaming). I find that I'm pretty hard to ignore if I'm sitting in her lap.
  2. Get Low. I'm talking about volume. Like me, she seems immune to whining or yelling. So while we're nose-to-nose I'll speak in my "inside voice." If she's straining to hear me, then I can be assured that she's focused.
  3. Get Serious. If you're going to make threats, be prepared to follow through, even at the expense of your own leisure. I like to show that I mean business and I'm not full of hot air. If I tell her that she better quit it or we're leaving, I mean it. Unfortunately that may mean you have to apologize for the inconvenience of planning an unsuccessful playdate. If you're a counter (i.e. "I'm going to count to three...") I suggest you do something, anything (within reason), once you get to three. Rolling your eyes and repeating yourself doesn't count.
  4. Get Real. This is one I really strive for. It's all about making the punishment fit the crime. I try to figure out what is really causing the conflict. Is she refusing to leave the t.v. at bathtime? Turn it off. If she's having a fit at the store, as much as it's a pain, I'm willing pick up and go home, leaving the cart of groceries where it is. Yes, that sucks for me, but I haven't had to do it more than once.
My main point is to be honest about what your role is and how you want to be treated. Be a role model and show your child how to act (or react) when you're being disrespected. Show her you respect her enough to look out for her best interests and that's why you are sticking to your guns. And don't forget to remind her how much you love her.