I have a 5.5 year old, and I'm trying to get away from punitive parenting and yelling, but she challenges me so much more than her 2.5 year old brother does (so much for terrible twos) with her aggression, tantrums, destruction to property, whining, disrespect, etc... Any suggestions on how to change the dynamic in our home?
Resources for the Spirited Five Year Old
I think when you change, they follow your lead but if you're in transition--I could totally see where her behavior would really challenge you at a time when you need more support and encouragement that the change is a good thing. (I don't think I said that right... I'm hoping you understand).
So for me (as a parent that also came out of punitive and into GD and had very challenging children) I would find ways to help yourself stay calm and focused on your goal. Find your trigger points for getting into that negative mindset and figure out how to prevent getting there.
Things that worked for me:
* The first chapter or two of "Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control". Especially the concept that children only operate out of love or fear--so misbehavior is generally a manifestation of a child's fear (real or perceived). If I could keep that in mind, it just no longer made sense to me to be angry with a child in fear.
* Meditation--which I really didn't know how to do, but once I learned it and did it daily, it made a significant difference in my ability to keep myself calm in some really challenging situations. I did the Deepak Chopra 21-day meditation challenge and it was all guided meditations. I ultimately bought the series that they did for the 21 days (the "Freedom to Love" series) and I still cycle through them every 21 days; but they have a library of free meditations, too: http://www.chopra.com/library/guidedmeditations I don't find them to be the same quality of production and I don't click as well with the free library but they're free and they'll walk you through meditating.
* Before I found meditation, I took a lot of "not in the same room" breaks for a few minutes and when I was really desperate, I sat the kids in front of the TV to do that. During that "time out", I was essentially meditating by mentally telling myself "it's all about them... it's all about them..." Often, I was able to take a walk at some point during the day because dh works from home and even if I was having a good day, I would take a quick walk around the tiny culdesac next to my house mentally telling myself that--just to keep the focus.
* This is going to sound really silly, but I was desperate at the time: lots of mirrors with post-its that said "This is what your child is seeing" It was essentially meant to make me see my face when I was angry. :/
Not sure if this will help. The "Positive Discipline" series was wonderful, too. If you get "The Preschool Years" it should cover both of your kids.
I am right there with ya right now! I have a wonderful 5.5 year old daughter who talks to me with her hands on my hips and says things like, "Mother, when you tell me "no" that's rude and it hurts my feelings. So, please don't tell me "no." " Yep, it's lovely that she uses her words, but man I don't enjoy when she talks like that.
So, a few things that have been helpful for me...
1. Definitely, the book "Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control." Love that book, but love the message that is deeper...kids behaviors are either driven by love or fear. We can't control what they do, we can only control ourselves. This book has forced me to dig deep and decide what drives me to want to control my kiddo.
2. The book "Raising a Spirited Child" has been a lifesaver. It has helped me reframe my thoughts about my daughter into positive ones and realize that her spirit will be great as an adult...parenting her spirit will be challenging. I have recommended this book to many clients as well and all love it.
3. I have a mantra..."Is this life or death right now? Will it really matter tomorrow?" This helps me not to engage in power struggles and keeps the focus on what's really important. For example, my daughter loves to wear shorts with mismatched socks pulled up to her knees...silly! I choose not to engage this battle, she's her own person. However, she needs LOTS of sleep! When it's 830 at night and she's still awake, this is a problem. So, this is a battle I choose to engage and we move forward in figuring out how to help her get to sleep.
4. We have created a large village. My hubby and I work as a team to raise this spirited young lady. We have also asked for help from her teachers, her grandparents, and our friends. We know she's tough and there are certain people who can connect with her about different things...more than we can. We use ALL of these people to help us.
I'd love to keep in touch. I remember when Stella was 3 and she hit a little girl at daycare. We (parents and daycare provider) told her that she had to apologize to the other child before she could return to playing. She sat on a stair for THREE days before she apologized. While for some kids this may be mean and cruel, we knew for ours little girl, it was crucial to pick this battle. On day 3, she arrived at daycare, and said, "I have lots of time to think and I am finally sorry for what I did." What if we hadn't waited her out? Sometimes patience has been our greatest ally.
Good luck! We are in it together girlfriend!