how did I do this?

How did I manage to raise a mouthy stubborn almost-5 year old?

I should explain. The Linguist is my oldest. She’ll be 5 in January. She’s intelligent, capable, reads incredibly well, is learning piano, loves to draw, know her way around OSX and Windows… all the things a geek dad could hope for.

But when she gets mad, she’s so mouthy and rude, I don’t know where this comes from. She started school in September, and this is kind of when it started, but is it just that? I can’t imagine that the other kids are being that mouthy to the teacher, but who knows? To their own parents? Is she overhearing kids arguing with their parents? It’s a mystery to me. Maybe it’s TV. Some of those characters on Arthur or B. G. can be pretty mouthy too.

I guess in the old days you’d call it ‘talking back’. When you talk back to your parents, it was usually to say something smart alec-y and would get you into further trouble than you were already in, because not only had you done the infraction, you were now launching on a personal attack on your parents character and wisdom. Definitely a no no, and a sure way to get yourself a spanking.

I don’t remember being too mouthy too my parents or my teachers until I was a teenager. There was no outright defiance from me when I was little like this. I lived in fear of being spanked, or getting smacked. It was enough to keep me in line. I’m not saying that I didn’t do anything wrong, or that I was always getting punished, but I don’t remember being angry with my parents or rebelling against them when I was 4.

So, I guess there are only two ways this can go. Downwards, or upwards. Since we no longer have corporal punishment, we take away privileges. We restrict fun time, or story time, or remove dolls or other toys. It’s not fun, but it does sometimes correct the behaviour. But it just makes for a oppressive, mean feeling. The other direction is motivation, positive reinforcement, and structure that allows flexibility that we can all live with. I know which one I prefer, but I know that it’s leaning more on the downward (spiral) right now than 50-50. And it can spiral further down depending on everybody’s mood.

It’s good for me to think out loud, because I can see more objectively. When the words hit the ‘interweb’ they are more real, and they are thoughts crystalized and formed, rather than fleeting unformed glimpses into my behaviour.

The other night the Linguist asked if we could make a time line of the day. I think she was thinking along the same lines, in her 4.9 year old way. She’s more of a one for structure, but she can tend towards the unflexible, just like her Dad. πŸ™‚ If some activity is supposed to happen at a certain time, or on a certain day, then we have to do it, and we have to do it and finish it once we’ve started it. Getting her to stop an activity is really hard. I think it’s a situation made worse by the younger one, who at her age (3) is naturally more difficult to transition. So it’s a combo, I guess, of both of those factors that is making the stubborn part come out. Anyway, back to the time line.

We mapped out the whole day, from wakeup time to bedtime, and put suggested times in order to make our hard deadlines, of which there are only a few: school, and bed time. We worked backwards from those times to fill out our whole day’s time line. It came in handy this morning, to try to motivate them to get ready, and barring the extremely distracting snow (what 4.9 y and 3 y old wouldn’t be distracted by 4 foot mounds of snow, c’mon) we would have made it to school on time.

So, small steps, learning. A schedule helps, but reminders not to be too much a slave to the schedule also helps. And deep breaths. Lots of deep breaths. πŸ™‚

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by ChickaNuts on 2008/01/09 at 8:20 PM

    Sadly, the smarter kids are, the smarter mouths they get. No longer are these the days of “respect your elder” or “wait 'till your father gets home.” Oy. My youngest has a mouth on her (connected to an incredibly smart brain – it all equals Asperger's when you tie in a few of her other problems).

    Slowly but surely my 10 year old is hitting teen-dom. And the mouth and hormones. YIKES. But generally she's a respectful kid (and a Golden Child)…unfortunately on occasion they both need an attitude adjustment and a Come to Jesus meeting. That's just life.

    I don't think it's anything we do “wrong” as parents. Kids are just…different these days. And some of it stems from being incredibly gifted.


  2. Posted by ChickaNuts on 2008/01/09 at 8:22 PM

    And don't forget vodka. Lots and lots of vodka…LOL!


  3. Ha ha, so true. It's those attitude adjustments that are so hard right
    now, but slowly we're working on it!


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