I'm not quite sure where to start. I've been a long time reader of the magazine, and I often check in on the board when when I have a specific question. I've always been able to find someone else asking basically what I was asking, so I never had a need to inquire much before. We've always been AP and my oldest is a teenager, so I've been reading the magazine for a great many years.
The question I have is about my just barely 10 year old daughter. She is a wonderful child, with the most amazing imagination. Anyone who works closely with her is shown the quote from Isaac Singer- "When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I am grown up, they call me a writer." She often blurs the lines of reality and make believe. At the end of the day, she KNOWS the difference. She just doesn't appreciate the difference, so she likes to indulge her imagination. I love this about her, and have no desire to change it. We just talk about appropriate time and place. I wanted to state the positive first, but I do understand it is closely to tied with what I am struggling with.
Which brings me to, and this is where I am conflicted, the fact that she:
a) lives in the (fantastical) moment. She has mad empathy for others, but she doesn't always predict or think ahead to how her choices will effect others and
b) is guided only by her own intuitive sense of right and wrong. She' not one to follow arbitrary rules without understanding why. She's never had a defiant day in her life, she just nods and smiles and doesn't give much thought to anything that comes in verbally and then does what seems right to her: in the moment. I empathize with this, because I was very much the same as a child. And I'm a very ethical person today, so I don't think this is anything to worry about long term.
c) once she realizes that she made an ethical error, she does not take ownership because she is too embarrassed. She can take ownership of things like leaving her dishes out, putting a container in the pantry that was empty, and "mistakes" just not things that she realizes has left someone sad or hurt. Which, really, is when I'd most like to see her take ownership.
This is pretty long and complex, I know. And I'm sorry if it seems to vague. What I am seeking is ways to help her understand that she can not just help herself to whatever appeals to her in the moment. if I leave my lip liner on the counter, she can't draw a picture with it. She can use it, sure, but don't waste it. I want her to realize that she can't take things from her sister's room, even if nobody is around to see. That she can't throw a piece of paper/trash on the floor in the living room simply because it's easier in the moment and nobody is there to see her do it. If I buy 4 cupcakes at the bakery and explain that everyone can have one cupcake whenever they wish, it is not uncommon for her to take more than her share. fwiw, we do not ever have food in the house that is "off limits" except in the case of limited supply, when everyone gets one or two each. I want her to realize that if she asks to go to a friends house, and I ask if her cell phone is charged (our rule for leaving the yard) that she can't just tell me yes because it's what she knows I want to hear. It's sometimes very surface with her, what she says is what is best for that moment, not long term.
Lastly, this is the worst of the worst. I hope nobody gets the idea she is an out of control child, because she isn't. Her teachers sing her praise, she's respectful, gentle, loving, helpful, brilliantly smart, and even very responsible in a great many ways. This is just one small thing that I think could use some attention and mentoring.
Thank you so much!