She doesn't seem to understand when I'm really serious - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 12-18-2008, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
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DD is 3yo and a real joy despite her, well, 3yo-ness that has bloomed of late, lol.

DH and I are both pretty laid-back. We expect to be obeyed when we tell her something but she's not a hellraiser and we usually view things with humor and know most things she was just trying to imitate us and please us. We're not perfect or anything, and sometimes we're impatient, but I think we are generally reasonable and respectful.

What sometimes upsets me is that she doesn't seem to "read" when we are really "serious" - whether it's a imminent safety issue (that's the most upsetting to me), but also in just more high-stakes social issues (like behaving unacceptably toward or in front of a non-family member). I would have hoped that since we don't make a big deal out of too much, she'd pay attention when we were really serious about something. But she doesn't seem at all fazed or hesistant or anything, she'll just smile and keep doing the problematic behavior.

I don't think she's autistic or anything; interestingly enough she's EXTREMELY sensitive to when DH and I are annoyed with each other (even when we're just mildly annoyed, she'll immediately ask, "Are you mad?" or say, "Don't be mad, be happy!"). But when my tone of face, facial expression and body language all say LISTEN TO ME RIGHT THIS MINUTE, it doesn't affect her in the slightest.

So, what's going on and how do I make her pay attention during the few times I really need that of her?

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#2 of 6 Old 12-20-2008, 03:26 AM
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#3 of 6 Old 12-20-2008, 12:26 PM
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When you're in "serious" mode, what words are you using? It's great that your tone of voice, expression and body language are in agreement, but is your pattern of speech different too? Usually super.short.phrases work best w/ my DS in those situations.

But what I'd recommend doing the rest of the time (in calm, playful moments) is doing lots of emotion theater: role playing (with both of you taking turns at making different expressions), using stuffed animals or puppets to demonstrate what actually happens and how it upsets you, then using them to model how you really want her to react; read lots of books about emotions, and just talk about/identify emotions.

Also, talk a lot about your expectations--how you expect her to behave in certain situations; then, remind her right before you enter those situations. Decide beforehand what the consequences will be be, tell her in advance, remind her, then follow through (ex: hitting at a playdate? go home or end the playdate as an extension of people being hit don't want to be around the hitter)

My 3.5yo DS is also super sensitive to my emotions: "Mommy's mad/frustrated. Want Mommy to be happy!" is rather common around here. But DS listens to me pretty well before it gets to serious mode (most of the time), so a simple, "Stop xyz," or "Gentle touches," reminder is all he needs. When he keeps doing the undesireable (such as repeatedly crashing into me with his tricycle), though, I'm usually the one who needs to calm down, so I separate myself from him (might just be by a few steps), which he doesn't like.

It sounds like your DD is just very secure in your love. Just keep practicing empathy, and eventually it should click.
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#4 of 6 Old 12-21-2008, 05:55 AM
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How do you work to convey when you are serious?

When my kids were young, if I was very serious about something, I would crouch down to them and look them eye to eye and state things in a lower and more "serious" voice than I would use in normal conversation.

Sometimes taking them to a separate area can be useful too. For example, if the child is acting inappropriately at the playground (say, not waiting for a turn on the slide), then I would take them away from the slide and a little away from the other people and "get serious" and explain what they were doing that was wrong and how they were expected to behave and the consequences of not behaving properly (e.g. go home).

Another tactic would be to try and circumvent difficult behavior. I work in a library and from a young age (3 and younger) I would explain (crouching down and looking at them) before we went in "we're about to go into the library. You'll have to be very quiet and no running around". Basically what Fritz posted.

Fritz's "super short phrases" are also useful. When grocery shopping I found that a very solid, sure, low-voiced "No." to the question "Can we get...." forestalled repetition.
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#5 of 6 Old 12-21-2008, 08:47 AM
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my dd is pretty much the same. i get really serious at times. for example if she slaps her baby brother. - but she just grins (i would not really call it a smile) and continues her behaviour. mostly until I shout at her.

and i do get down to her level, hold her or touch her, and speak in a firm voice like: no.slapping. or something like that. It does not really work though.

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#6 of 6 Old 12-21-2008, 01:25 PM
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I use a completely different voice when I'm serious. Normally we talk through things in an even tone and if I want her to do something there's a little more emphasis. When I'm serious and it's a safety issue it's full-on yelling. Usually this freezes DD in her tracks long enough for me to communicate the danger. Behaving unacceptably is a bit DD is only 2yo so a bit of unacceptable behavior in social situations is par for the course, so I just treat that one like an ordinary discipline issue around the house and laugh it off - I guess that's not a "serious" issue for me right now.
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