Tracie - posted on 08/22/2012
Kids act out when they need something. Your job is to figure out what that is. It could be food, rest, activity, a sensitive ear to listen to her concerns, or some firm guidance. You know your daughter best. Keep your mind and heart open to her.
Overall, consistency is key when teaching children. (and that's what discipline literally means - teaching) Never pass up an opportunity to teach, especially if you can do it in a fun and/or loving way. Example: I picked my 8 year old up from school one day and she was being uncharacteristically mouthy. Instead of yelling at her for being disrespectful, (or, heaven forbid, hitting her) I picked up on the fact that she was upset about something else but didn't know how to express it.
I gently, matter-of-factly told her that I did not like the way she was talking to me and that I didn't deserve it. Then I asked her several times what was wrong. After a few "nothings" she finally confided that a girl at school had been unkind to her. I sympathized with her, hugged her and helped her role play how to handle it if the girl did that again. She felt loved, empowered and valued and the SOURCE of the misbehavior was gone. Afterward, she gave me a huge hug and told me I was the best mommy in the world. Not bad for a 5 minute investment! :-)
When the behavior gets really challenging, I gently let my girls know where the boundaries are and then I STICK TO IT. NEVER give in. I like to visualize myself as a wall of pillows. She can run up against me as many times as she wants. She'll never get through, but she'll never get hurt, either. You are the mom. You make the rules. You enforce the rules. No exceptions.
Try to keep in mind that you are not raising a child, you are raising an adult. Give her the life skills she will need to make it in the world, including self-reliance, confidence and kindness. The overwhelming majority of your relationship with your daughter will be spent with the two of you as adults. Take this fleeting time while she's little to build a strong, respectful foundation for your relationship. You will both reap the benefits for the rest of your lives.
Best of luck to you and and your precious daughter!!
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