Teaching respectful behavior - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 02-20-2013, 08:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I could use some ideas for helping my 5 y.o. learn more respectful behavior with other adults.

 

How do you help your young children learn to respect adults without conveying a message that the adult is always right?

 

Perhaps my own fears are getting in the way, but I feel uncomfortable telling my daughter, "You need to listen to what other adults are telling you to do and do it."   I guess I don't want to make a global statement like that because there may be a day when she really shouldn't do what someone tells her to do, just because they are the adult.

 

On the other hand, I really would like for her to learn healthy respect and boundaries around other adults.  

 

Our babysitter was very frustrated today after another day of my older DD refusing to do as she is asked.  Our sitter is young, so some of it might be my DD feeling a lack of confidence on the sitter's part.  But I really want to find a way to help her learn to be respectful and considerate of adults. 

 

I really feel like she doesn't have this yet.  She does with some adults, but not most.

 

She isn't outright rude.  She just won't stop doing something when asked, or do something when told.  She also likes to be silly.  She might call an adult a silly name or do something silly with them.  Yesterday it was tying strings around the feet of guests who were over at our house.  Today it was putting stickers on the back of the nurse at an appointment.  

 

I have let her know my expectations.  I let her know she must stop, I will physically and gently guide her if needed.  She is just at that early age where direct confrontation about these things just often doesn't help.  

 

I've found using stories helpful in some other similar situations.  I also really try to see what the unmet need is behind the behavior.   But these are more background things.  What about when I'm not there or really can't redirect her or remove her from the situation?

 

I need some ideas.  Especially ideas to share with the sitter.  I'm finding my own way through this much of the time when I'm with her in person.  But it is different when I'm not there and she is doing this with others.  How do I help her learn these values so that she will cary them out when I'm not around?  

 

The only thing that will sometimes work is a threat or reward (she will get something or not get something if she hasn't behaved while I'm away).  But that very quickly just becomes a game for her and she will want to know what she is going to get if she is "good".   It becomes too external and I feel she isn't really making the inner shift that is needed.  

 

Sometimes I wish that she was just a shy girl who was too afraid to act out with anyone other than her parents.  But I only with that because it would make life easier for me, not because it would be good for her.  I'm proud that she is confident and strong.  It will serve her well later in life.  I just need help in how to help her navigate these situations in an appropriate way so she can learn how to handle her strength.

 

Any ideas?  Thanks! 

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#2 of 12 Old 02-20-2013, 09:09 PM
 
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I'm an TA in a school, and spend about half my day in kindergarten. This is really an age appropriate problem. LOTS of kids her age have trouble respecting other people's personal space and listen to directions.

 

I think that breaking it down more specifically will help. Being "respectful" is vague and not something she can really wrap her mind around yet. I'd start by working on the problem with her keeping her hands to herself. She is totally out of line in wrapping strings, putting stickers on people without permission etc.
 

" I let her know she must stop, I will physically and gently guide her if needed.  She is just at that early age where direct confrontation about these things just often doesn't help. "

 

What I would do in the situations you describe is look her in the eyes, and perhaps gently take her hands, and calmly and firmly say "keep your hands to yourself"and then gently redirect her to what she should be doing OR to an appropriate other activity (a sticker book or whatever).

 

What kind of things is the sitter asking her to do that she is refusing to do? Does she do these same things for you when asked?


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#3 of 12 Old 02-21-2013, 06:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Linda!  That is a lot of what I needed to be reminded of.  It is so easy to forget that this is age appropriate.   I really do try to be specific about my expectations instead of using global terms like respectful, helpful, etc.  

 

Sometimes I freeze up when we are around others and I just don't know how best to handle things.  Sometimes I let things go that later I realize I needed to have addressed in the moment.  That is part of what happened yesterday.

 

With the sitter, she is reacting to a lot of the same things that she reacts to with me (washing hands, taking shoes off, tidying up, etc).  I notice that our sitter tends to ask her to do things.  I usually say "you may..."  so it isn't a question.  I talked more with our sitter last night and it sounds like my older DD may have also been really triggered by the baby who was crying a lot.  Emotional upset in others (old or young) really triggers aggressive behavior in my daughter.  So that was a piece of it. 

 

The sitter said that she and my DD talked about their feelings and frustrations and it got better.  This surprises me because DD usually gets worse when someone directs her attention to feelings.  I'd rather not have her go there with such a young child since it is so heady and not age appropriate.  But if it worked, that is fine for now.  

 

Some of this is helping my sitter learn the tools needed to hold a clear adult presence for the girls.  She is wonderfully fun and loving and great at being a friend with my daughter.  It is holding the grown up adult space (which is more about "being", I think, then actually "doing" much).  Most of that just comes with age, though.  I was certainly the same way when I was 20.  So I really understand.  We have a great relationship, though, and can talk about it and come up with ideas of how to work with things.

 

I guess I just would like to have my daughter respect others personal space and also respect the wishes of the adults even if they are able to hold a strong presence or not.  I guess that is just asking too much at this age.  It is something learned, not something that would come naturally.

 

Thanks for the feedback!

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#4 of 12 Old 02-21-2013, 07:11 AM
 
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It is absolutely age appropriate to talk about feelings and frustrations with a five-year-old. Young children are still developing empathy for others, but it starts with them learning to recognize their own feelings and frustrations.
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#5 of 12 Old 02-21-2013, 07:15 AM
 
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The flip side of "you may" is "you may not." The phrase isn't as definitive as you think it is. If someone told me "You may take off your shoes," I don't necessarily get the impression that I HAVE to take off my shoes.
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#6 of 12 Old 02-21-2013, 10:27 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post

The flip side of "you may" is "you may not." The phrase isn't as definitive as you think it is. If someone told me "You may take off your shoes," I don't necessarily get the impression that I HAVE to take off my shoes.

 

Or I'd think, "Gosh, thanks, you're allowing me to perform this mundane task of life."   It reminds me of when my husband says, "I'll let you go" on the phone to people, when it's really *him* that wants/needs to hang up.....

 

 

I mean this respectfully, and gently....I find "you may" to be condescending, in addition to making it sound like things are optional.  "You may get your shoes now" - as if the person was just hanging waiting for you to allow them to do your bidding - it's like something a royal would say to a servant, to my ear.  As opposed to, "It's time to leave, please get your shoes on."  or, "We need to get home for dinner, one more slide and we're out of here."  or, "Hands need washed before dinner, let's get to it!"  -  Lots of ways to get a kid to do something without asking them *or* seeming like you're the Queen  winky.gif .  

 

I do a lot of "pre-prep" for outings, with my kids.....started young, and do it to this day at 9 and 6-1/2.  When we're driving to where we're going, I talk about what the trip's going to be (business or pleasure), what I expect from them behavior wise, and always wind it up with "and when it's time to go, it's time to go". So absolutely in there could be a reminder to keep hands to ourselves, to not touch people unless you've asked ("would you like a sticker?"), etc.  When we're done with things, we'll often have a debrief session in the car on the way home to to talk about things that went well and things that might need to be revisited.  So going to the doctor's office, we'd talk about not handling the equipment, not interrupting if the doctor and I were discussing something, etc.  If people are coming to our house, we talk about the visit, etc.  

 

And I absolutely agree that talking with even young kids, even (or perhaps especially) sensitive kids (I have one crier and one rager) about negative emotions is important to help them start to identify, figure out the reasons behind, and how to manage emotions....and sheltering your kid from your *own* negative emotions really isn't doing them any favors either.   Kids need to see their parents as human, as faulted, and working through those problems and faults in order to learn how to deal with their own.  

 

To expand on the general question of respect, I guess I'd ask what your (or the sitter's) response was with the string tying or stickers.  Mine, at my first observation would be to go with the child to the adult, remove said item, apologize to the adult, and then (out of earshot so as to not be shaming the kid in front of the adult) tell the child that it's not OK to do something to someone without asking, and then later on in the day talk with them about keeping hand to oneself and if you want to play a game you have to ask first, *then* play.  You're right that kids may not have boundaries naturally and they have to be learned, but often that learning needs to be direct and within an uncomfortable situation.  Having conversations and telling stories later is a great way to reinforce things, but the teaching also needs to come in the moment. 

 

 

***I just re-read your original post and it looks like you're doing the background stuff....I think, based on my re-read, you just need to be more firm for *other people's* boundaries with her, in the moment...both you and the sitter.  I'm trying to think of a situation where you wouldn't be able to redirect or leave, and I'm finding it difficult...redirecting or leaving might be *difficult*, or *undesired* or inconvenient, but so is putting stickers on a nurse's back, or tying people's feet together.  Part of parenting a strong willed kid is getting over your own embarrassment of what they've done, and any embarrassment about your kid's intense reaction to being corrected,  and guiding your kid to the right thing, gently and firmly when needed (ask me how I know.  ;)  )    Believe me, my daughter gave me a run for my money from 2-5 years old. She is still a firecracker and still keeps me on my toes much of the time, and has a fiery temper.  This does not mean, however, that I avoid unpleasant situations with her, or allow things to slip by when she needs to be guided through difficult situations.  Stand strong, mama.  Strong, but gentle.  It's totally possible.  It's not easy, but then many things worth doing aren't.


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#7 of 12 Old 02-21-2013, 10:45 AM
 
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I would try to talk about it from the adult's perspective.  That we don't touch people without their permission, and that the nurse is very busy and does not want children to put stickers all over her.  I think talking about feelings is very appropriate at age 5. 

 

My DD is a little bit like that, and honestly I think with the right balance it is a good thing.  She is not afraid to talk to adults, to walk boldly into a new class or camp, to order for herself in restaurants, or to speak up for herself and her friends.  There have been times when I wished she was a little more quiet and shy like other little kids, but I have realizes as she gets older that she is not afraid of people and there is something very good about that.  

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#8 of 12 Old 02-21-2013, 02:12 PM
 
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Agree with PP's on the "may", I've never like that phrase, I too feel it's a bit condesending.  My DD is 15mos and holy hell does she have a temper (the one thing I REALLY didn't not want her to inherit from DH) - but having a background in dog training I like to think I'm pretty good at spoting the warning signs before things come up and we avoid most meltdowns in spite of her being very confident and strong willed.  She's incredibly bright with the vocab of a 2+ yr old and we DO talk about feelings.  What we're dealing with at this age is she has a tendancy to take swings at us when overly tired or too wound up - she's done it to friends and family as well.  I learned quickly that an over-the-top reaction only egged her on as she would laugh maniacly and continue to swat.  Lots of redirecting to appropriate behaviors, consistently, really works with the strong willed.

 

I don't tell her to not do something "because I say so", that would fall under the category of the adult is always right and it's not the case and I don't wish to lie to her.  I do however want her to know a reason for why we do or don't do things.  In many cases, we don't do things because they are hurtful - not necesarily physically, but emotionally.  I've been worrking with her on naming feelings and emotions.  Currently we've got happy, ouch, and sad down, meaning she will come to me and tell me she's feeling these things.  With a 5 year old it's easier to put words to things like emotions and feelings, it's when they really want to learn about them because many kids are just beginning to experience some of them for the first time.  I'd be explaining the emotions to her in a way that makes her aware that everything she does has an effect on someone else, whether she can see it or not.  You can use examples from your own life about why you do things, say at work, that a boss tells you to do.  Or examples of how adults might mistakenly view her behaviors as 'bad' instead of the playful intention that she has.  It's a great was to teach her that everyone interprets things in different ways, and they may treat her very different based on how she acts.  She may be open to talking 'feelings' with the babysitter because she doesn't see her in the same light as most adults.  Teens and 20's are in an odd spot relationship-wise with kids.  They don't have kids of their own, they often still live at home, so it's hard for them to be seen as 'adults' and treated as such by younger kids.  So they do fall into the role of playmate who "may try to enforce rules" but don't always have the experience or presence to do so effectively. 

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#9 of 12 Old 02-21-2013, 04:21 PM
 
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I have a 5 year old and work with 2-6 year olds as well.  I think talking about feelings and frustrations is totally appropriate and needed.  I try to use "I" statements with my kid and my students, "I feel frustrated when you don't help clean up the mess you made."  I also label feelings that kids are having, "When so and so didn't let you play the game, you felt excluded and that made you feel angry and sad." or whatever.  Just yesterday my 5 year old said to me, "I may look like I feel sad right now, but I feel jealous because so and so and so and so have something to ride on the way home and I have to walk." (so I'd like to think that all my talk about feelings is rubbing off some)

 

While I don't believe in the whole "always listen to adults" nonsense either, I do think you should probably say something like, "Sitter is here to keep you safe while we are not home.  Sitter asks you do xyz because those are the things you need to do.  Sitter might ask you to stop doing something, you need to listen when sitter tells you to stop doing xyz it is her job to keep you safe."  (use examples that you have heard from your sitter etc).

 

If my kid was tying up people's legs and they were not actively playing a game where that was okay.  I would say, "Ds is NOT OKAY to tie up peoples legs.  It is dangerous and you must stop immediately."  If he tried to continue doing it I would remove him from the room.  I don't go for punishments and the like, but it is not okay to do that to someone and it is unsafe.  

 

Personal space is something that we are always working on.  I think it is really important, if possible, to have the person define their own boundaries.  This models what I want ds to do.  So if a someone doesn't want to have him on their lap I want them to say "I don't want you to sit on my lap, but you can sit next to me while we read this book" etc.  That is what we do at home (we have 7 adults in our house so he hears that particular one a lot).  If the person is not comfortable setting the boundary I will often set it for them (if I can tell what they want) "ds, so and so does not want you on their lap.  Look at their face, they don't look happy to have you sitting on them.  You can sit next to them" or I will remind ds to ask "You need to ask before you touch people.  It is not okay to touch someone without asking."  (we have a lot of conversations about how it is not okay to touch people without asking, but that sometimes parents/teachers might have to touch you to keep you safe/ keep someone else safe.  I want ds to feel empowered over his own body and I think a lot of that comes from also having to ask for consent from others.  If he is expected to ask for consent, he will in turn expect people to ask his consent.  If they do not he knows he can tell them to stop, etc)

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#10 of 12 Old 02-21-2013, 09:39 PM
 
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I agree with what others are saying in the thread.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by MamaRuga View Post

 

Sometimes I freeze up when we are around others and I just don't know how best to handle things.  Sometimes I let things go that later I realize I needed to have addressed in the moment.  That is part of what happened yesterday.

 

She'll give you another chance to handle it differently! They always do!

 

Its OK to correct our children around others. I think we have to, or they just figure out that they can pull nonsense others are around and get away with it. I think the key to keeping it as comfortable as possible for everyone is to remain calm and speak firmly yet gently. Redirect, redirect, redirect.

 

With the sitter, she is reacting to a lot of the same things that she reacts to with me (washing hands, taking shoes off, tidying up, etc).  I notice that our sitter tends to ask her to do things.  I usually say "you may..."  so it isn't a question.

 

Tell, don't ask. There are a couple of different ways to do this.

 

1. just tell

"Wash your hands"

 

2. first, then statements

"first wash your hands, then we will have lunch"

 

3. explain WHY

"we wash our hands before we eat to kill all the germs and get them off of us. This helps us stay healthy and strong. You want to be healthy and strong, so wash your hands really well"  (at some point, they need this information, but not over and over and over)

 

4. use as few words as possible - once they know what and why and just need a quick reminder to do it

"hands"

 

 

The sitter said that she and my DD talked about their feelings and frustrations and it got better.  This surprises me because DD usually gets worse when someone directs her attention to feelings.  I'd rather not have her go there with such a young child since it is so heady and not age appropriate.  But if it worked, that is fine for now.  

 

Some of this is helping my sitter learn the tools needed to hold a clear adult presence for the girls.  She is wonderfully fun and loving and great at being a friend with my daughter.  It is holding the grown up adult space (which is more about "being", I think, then actually "doing" much).  Most of that just comes with age, though.  

 

Its awesome that the sitter is building such good rapport with your kids. Being seen as an authority figure can come next. Its most likely not just the sitters age, I see that at school with subs, new TAs, etc. It can take a bit for a gentle adult to establish themselves at the authority figure.

 

I guess I just would like to have my daughter respect others personal space and also respect the wishes of the adults even if they are able to hold a strong presence or not.  

 

 

 

To me, it sounds like your DD has trouble following one step directions with you and respecting other people's space even when you are there, so expecting her to do these things when you aren't there is a bit much right now. Sometimes parents are willing to overlook a behavior that other adults aren't. Its really a chance for us to see our parenting in a new light and tweak things.

 

As far as tidying up, I think that is hard for a lot of kids. When my kids were small, we used a timer and had "10 minute pick up time" we would rush around and see how much we could tidy up in 10 minutes. It made it a bit of a game. It could also be used with a "first, then" statement if there is something fun that naturally follows picking up.

 

A book you and the sitter might find helpful is "how to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk".


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#11 of 12 Old 02-24-2013, 10:14 AM
 
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I am a teacher, so this issue is one that's very important to me (since teaching respectful behavior is as much a part of the job description as teaching academic subjects).  While nothing works for every kid, I've noticed the following "moves" tend to work for me most of the time:

 

How do you help your young children learn to respect adults without conveying a message that the adult is always right?

 

I think respect isn't about adults -vs- children, but how to treat all people and things in a way that works for everyone.  So I never tell kids they have to respect me, but rather through a ton of modelling and the way I talk to students, I show them what I expect out of them, and usually get it.  So for instance, when I'm having a respect issue with a student, I don't frame it in terms of "I'm the teacher, so you have to respect me," but rather, "How would you feel if someone said/did those things to you?"  Or, "How would you like it if someone messed up your things?"

 

I feel uncomfortable telling my daughter, "You need to listen to what other adults are telling you to do and do it."  

 

I usually put violations it in terms of the "right place, right time" framework:  "This isn't the right place/right time to be doing that."  Or, "Feel free to do that (outside/during recess/at home/on a break/etc)."

 

With my son, who's three, it tends to look more like this:

"We don't yell in the store/library/hospital because it bothers people."

"We don't play with/touch things that belong to other people without asking first."

"We don't say rude things to other people because it makes them sad/grumpy/mad/etc."

"If you can't stop...then we're going to leave."

If the problem continues, we leave the setting, go outside for a few minutes, and come back and try again.

 

With boundary issues, I usually say something like:  "When you do X, it bothers people, so you need to stop."  Or, "If you want to (hug/kiss/grab/poke/etc) that person, you need to make sure it's okay with them first."  (You deal with this a lot when you work in Special Education!)

 

She just won't stop doing something when asked, or do something when told.  

 

Sometimes it helps to frame requests so it's not about WHO is doing the asking, but more task focused:  e.g.  "Now it's time to clean up." (versus YOU need to clean that up now)  "Now we're going to get ready to leave." (versus YOU need to stop playing with that now)  "Let's go wash your hands so you can have lunch." (versus YOU need to go wash your hands)  "Let's clean up this mess so we can go outside." (versus YOU need to put your toys away now).  I tend to get a lot more compliance from students when I frame things in terms of the task at hand.  There's something almost magical about taking the word "YOU" out of a request. 

 

With stopping a behavior, it's often good to use redirection instead of saying "no", "don't", or "stop".  For instance, if the kid is running off, instead of saying "Quit running", try "Come here."  This doesn't work for all kids, but with some it can be very effective.

 

She is just at that early age where direct confrontation about these things just often doesn't help.  

 

Often indirect approaches work best because it puts the ball back into the kid's hands, so to speak. Instead of creating a power struggle with confrontation, it's often good to simply restate expectations, and do it in such a way that the kid is responsible for fixing the problem ("What do you think you should do about this?")  Then if they still can't do it on their own, then you can go back to plan A:  making them do it.  I would try to avoid using threats/rewards if you can, since they tend to diminish in effectiveness over time (so you have to keep upping the ante), or create an environment for "gaming the system".  Sometimes they're necessary, but it's better to teach kids to be more responsible for themselves whenever possible. 

 

 

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#12 of 12 Old 03-07-2013, 07:18 AM
 
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bumping this thread.

 

I have a 5 year old too.  What if I follow all the suggestions everyone has offered here but it still doesn't work.

 

I say, "let's wash our hands so we can have lunch"

ds1's response: "NO!" hits me, then runs and hides where I can't reach him, and swats at me and thows things when I approach him.  It becomes physically unsafe for me to remove him, take him to a time out, or attempt to speak with him.

I clearly told him once what we were doing, I do it every day of his life, so I'm not going to explain any further that it's time to wash our hands, but how do you discipline when their response to everything (not just response to questions, but response to firm directions) is to scream, hit, and run?  Removing him from the situation or doing a "time out" is not always an option because he will not do it himself; I would have to physically remove him and I can't when I can't grab him. Not to mention, I'm 9 months pregnant and will soon have a newborn, so carrying a flailing 40 pound child up the stairs is not safe or possible.   When he finally calms down and I try to calmly explain that we have clear rules and expectations that he has broken he will just sit there and swat his arms at me or start throwing toys at me, his brother, the walls.  (yes, I've tried removing toys... to the point where the room is completely empty except for his bed, and then he attempts to destroy that.  I then try to slowly incorporate things back into his room as he calms down,s tarting with books, but soon books are weapons).

 

ideas?  It is a huge huge struggle every day to simply use the bathroom and get dressed in our home.    I'm not arguing or negotiating with him any more about the most basic of tasks that he is clearly capable of doing and understanding.  It just takes upwards of an hour to get him to calm down and do these simple tasks without hurting someone or himself or destroying the house.

 

And what do you do when simply walking away is not an option, like when you're at the doctors office and he's misbehaving and responds by hitting and running? we can't just leave when in the middle of an expensive and necessary appointment.  Or, when it's time to go to school. I can't have him miss or be late to school every day.  These sorts of things don't bother him, but they have serious consequences for me


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