5yo dd so mouthy and defiant lately. Experience? Help? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 05-11-2011, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
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I feel like I'm at a place where my oldest dd has had a mental growth spurt and my parenting skills have yet to catch up with her new found scowling, meanness and general brattiness.  I've been resorting to threats "stop right now or you need to go calm down in the chair!" when she is teasing 3yo endlessly.  Which has been resulting in my having to sit in front of the chair semi-confining her there while she stifles a giggle as she tries to escape, then genuinely cries when I move her back to chair (as gently/firmly as I can).  While she's there I say things like "you need to stay here until you are calm and figure out that it hurts dd2s feelings when you treat her that way.  Take a deep breath and calm down."


Another thing that keeps happening is that after we spend a day out or have friends over, as soon as we are on our own again, the sassiness comes up.  Or just plain rudeness.  And scowling faces at me.  It actually hurts my feelings and I've come pretty close to saying as much, in an age appropriate way.  I can't figure it out, and it might seem to some readers that perhaps she is tired/hungry at the end of the activity but it does not seem to stem from a physical cause at all.


She is also this way with 3 yo dd.  Last example - today I asked for an apology after she was very rude to dd2 and then to me when I tried to intervene - I rarely if ever have asked for an apology, as I feel the resulting apology would not be the most sincere.  But this time I did, and her flippant words as she stomped away were: "sorry poo poo (to me), sorry poo poo (to dd2)."  GRRRRR!!  what would you do in these situations.  (i dont even remember my response to this last one, I think I called her back and . .. . .I don't even know.)


Thanks Mamas.  Please don't be too hard on my lack of skills here, I'm posting cuz I need ideas! :)  I feel like I'm living with a teenager!

mama to : my spirited star 2/06, my sweet love 5/08, my little lovey 5/12, and a zinnia 3/15
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#2 of 14 Old 05-18-2011, 11:12 AM
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Couldn't read without commenting Urban. Make sure she is getting plenty of positive one-on-one mommy time with you. As a veteran of three kids, two girls 10 & 8 and a 4 yr son I find "being bratty to mom syndrome" always seems to crop up at times when unwittingly the "bratty" child is missing out on alone time with me. I take a step back and notice that we have fallen into a cycle where all the one-one-one attention a child is getting is for negative behavior. This may not be the case with your daughter but she seems to know that she will get your attention 100% with her acting out. There have been times such as when I had a 5 yr, a 3 yr old and a newborn, when say I was at home and all the kids where with me in the same physical space all day but I didn't realize that I hadn't sat down and read a book to my three year old for days, if not weeks.


Find a neutral time when your 5 yr is not acting out and lavish positive attention on her. Keep doing this every day without fail and don't get drawn into a battle of wills with her over negative behavior. Also don't let your "feelings get hurt" she will milk this for all it's worth. Just act like it doesn't bother you, keep it sweet and short, don't let her think her behavior has power over your behavior. This is the age 3-6 that kids learn that words have power so she may be trying out some new stuff that is shocking, shocking !! wink1.gif Harden up mom the sweet naive times are over, you are in sibling rivalry territory now and it ain't purty.


And get back to me.

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#3 of 14 Old 05-18-2011, 12:25 PM
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My DS went through a phase like this at the same age.  I found time out were more for my sanity than teaching him anything about calming or self-regulation, but that was me.


I found a combination of things got me through the hormonal shift of 4-5.


1) Modelling appropriate requests over the sassiness until I got, even if bregrudgingly, a response/request that was appropriate.




DS: Shut up!

Me: Mommy?  Can I have some quiet time please?

DS: (rolling his eyes) ARRRRRRG!

Me: Mommy?  Can I have some quiet time please?

DS: (grumbling) Mommy, can I have some quiet time please?

Me:  Yes, honey. 


2) Asking him to write it out.  He was just able at that age to do some creative spelling writing so when he was really snarky and rude I asked him to please go write out what was upsetting him abnd bring me a list so we could discuss our hurts and grievances like civilized folk.  I got some pretty great lists and it helped me to see how I might be able to help him meet his needs better.


3) Telling him frankly that his words hurt my feelings.  At 5 they should be able to understand what that means and I think it helps them develop empathy to understand we are fallible human beings with hearts that can be broken.


4) Diet.  Not salad and low sugar drinks...I gave him protein boosts at breakfast and this helped do away with bed time struggles and snarkiness, and I did away with 90% ofthe artificial food coloring and flavors.  This helped hugley too.


5) I got a baby sitter to look after the baby once a week and I picked him up from school and we walked the long way home, got an ice cream, had a romp at the park and then walked home together and made dinner together.


I don't know if the last one was the alone time, or the physical exercise, or the time away from the baby or what, but it seriously helped us re-bond.  Well worth the extra 10 bucks in babysitting to reconnect with my little guy.  His dad and I have always had date night on Fridays, so then DS and I had date afternoons on Tuesdays.  It was great.  Now we have every morning together on the way too school and it's like our special time to be silly and share a snack and just be Mom and Ben.  It's a good thing.

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#4 of 14 Old 05-18-2011, 09:24 PM
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I understand what you are going through since I have been there.  Its kind of funny because I just posted on another thread where we were talking about how our kids are too hard on themselves when they do something little wrong.  These are phases that children go thorugh, I think,  When my ds was going through the bratty phase like yours is, I found that the best thing was to ignore there fits and take away the things they like when they get out of line.  It is a cry for attention.  Once they realize that it does not work well, they start backing off a bit.  It is very hard, I know, wait until your child starts doing it in public and people look at you to see what you are going to do about it to make him'her be calm down, hopefully you wont go through this.  This has nothing to do with parenting "skills", do not blame yourself, it is something we all go through.

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#5 of 14 Old 05-19-2011, 02:10 PM
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I had this long post typed out and then I lost it. Sorry. In short, I have had similar issues with 6yo DS, I agree with pp regarding Mommy time, but I never allow that to be an excuse for bad behavior. I try to teach him more effective ways to get his needs met. I also discipline him when his mouthiness gets out of hand. I use timeouts among some other strategies from Love and Logic. If the expectation is a respectful apology, than I would hold him to that. I would say something like "go to your bed and feel free to come out when you are ready to talk nice", or "Mommy doesn't play with kids who don't talk nice to me". Don't let her know that you are upset and move on. Make the problem hers...not yours. If she chooses to make bad choices than she must endure the consequences. Easier said then done, I know.  Anyway, good luck. You're not alone here.

Proud Mommy to my amazing boys (6 and 4) and my precious little girl (18 months).

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#6 of 14 Old 05-19-2011, 02:11 PM
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Oh, I also wanted to add that DS is waaay mouthier when he is hungry. Many times I can turn a potential struggle around with a healthy snack.

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Proud Mommy to my amazing boys (6 and 4) and my precious little girl (18 months).

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#7 of 14 Old 05-19-2011, 05:07 PM
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We are so right there now too :(


We've had some major life changes lately so I do belive it's partly because of that - but I am just about at the end of my rope with the sassy - bratty - attitude I'm getting from my 4 year old! :(

Thanks for mentioning the 1 on 1 time with mommy I am going to make that a priority.

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#8 of 14 Old 05-20-2011, 07:48 AM
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Not trying to be difficult.....I don't know what people mean when they say their kids are being "mouthy" 


Is it just general disagreement?  Is it playing with power of words?  Is it arguing about stuff?


For the record, I never understood what people meant by it when I was a kid either, "Don't gimme any of your lip" always seemed to mean "Do not share your thoughts and opinions or feelings about this matter if they are contrary to mine!"


Like "Time to clean your room"  followed by "I don't want to clean my room!"  equals "Don't back talk me!"  Is that generally what people mean?


 I'm not trying to be flippant (although perhaps I am being mouthy now!) I actually want to know.

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#9 of 14 Old 05-20-2011, 10:09 AM
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Well I can't speak for everyone but for me I interpret mouthy as an inappropriate use of words.


Things like the whole eye rolling hands on hips "Mom, you are being soooooooooooooooooooo stupid!"


"I don't have to clean my room!  I want to watch TV, and you can't stop me!" 


"Shut up, Mom!"


"Duuhhh, mom!  Gah!"


"If you don't let me stay up to watch my favorite show I am never going to be your friend ever again!" 


"This food smells like poop, and I'm not ever going to eat it and you can't make me!" (despite never threatening to make them or stop them, BTW)


Usually I think these things stem from a combination of a lack of communication skills and unmet needs, which is why I think meeting the needs and providing the wright words is the answer rather than opressive techniques that put polite conversation over meeting the child's needs. 


At least that's what I think of as mouthy.  I got the whole, "don't be Sassy!" thing as a kid but I generally knew exactly what they meant.  I was being unnecessarily rude, aggressive, dismissive or sarcastic, but generally I didn't really have an awareness of why I felt the need to be mean with my words, I just didn't seem able to stop myself (I still get like this when I drink in a bad mood).  But I knew if I didn't stop myself I would get it, so I did begin to self-edit but all those feelings of aggression didn't just disappear.  I internalized them and the result was a fairly tumultuous relationship with myself for much my teens and twenties.

Rebekah - mom to Ben 03/05 and Emily 01/10, a peace educator, and a veg*n and wife to Jamie.
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#10 of 14 Old 05-20-2011, 11:46 AM
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Developmentally speaking, children this age are discovering the power of words. However, what they don't understand is the full emotional impact of the words that they do use. Add to that the fact that they lack the subtlety of expression that adults have: "I'm really irritated right now" can come out as "I hate you poo-poo head". Finally, add to that the fact that they often lack filters. When adults sit next to someone who smells on the bus, we don't usually announce "ewww....you stink!" 5 year olds do. They say whatever is on their mind, which is why my 6 year old wrote on her thank you note to her teacher: "I never thought I'd learn a thing from you, but I did!"


When you add all these things together (learning the power of language, not getting the impact of their words, lack of subtlety and no filter), you get 'mouthy' kids. Because of that, I think that as parents, we have to learn not to take this personally. It's not personal, it's developmental.


Now, that doesn't mean that these kids don't have things to learn, and we definitely need to help them learn how not to sound so rude. But I think if you view your task not as quelling defiance but teaching a child how to express their opinions politely, you'll have an easier (and more productive) time. I remember being incredibly frustrated as a child because I was told that I was being sassy, and whenever that happened my parents weren't listening to my ideas. For kids this age, we need to separate out the ideas and feelings from how they're being expressed.


Several things help me with this (and no, I'm not always perfect, and yes, I do sometimes descend to my 6 year old's level hide.gif)

-The ideas in How to Talk So Children Will Listen (and Listen So Children Will Talk) by Faber & Mazlish -- the whole rephrasing what they're saying, rather than jumping in and fixing it/answering them -- "It's sooo unfair! I never get a chance to do this! T always gets to help daddy outside!" "Oh, it sounds like you're really disappointed that it wasn't your turn to help pull weeds for chores tonight." That helps my daughter feel heard, it models a less dramatic interpretation of the events (she does get to do this, it just wasn't her turn and she really didn't want to pick up her bedroom, which was her chore that night.)  Non-violent communication is also really good.


- Modeling, modeling, modeling, as others have said. Not only modeling, but directly teaching them when they've been rude. "Get me a glass of water" was met with "Is that the same as "Can I please have a glass of water, mom?" If I'm feeling playful, I might say "Oh no, no no. You need to say "Darling mother dearest, light of my life, could you kindly interrupt your busy schedule and honor me with a glass of water?" It breaks the tension.


-Pointing out when they're rude and asking them to rephrase. At this point in time, my kids know how to phrase things politely, but they sometimes fail to implement it. So, an oft-heard phrase in our house is "That was rude. Try again." or "How can you say that politely?" So, OP, if your daughter has something that has hurt your feelings, why wouldn't you tell her that? My kids have heard "That was very rude. I don't like to help you when you're rude" more than once.


-Sending them away to cool off. If they're being rude and insufferable, it's a clear indication they need to cool down. They get to go off to their room until they can be civil again. Or if we're driving in the car, they can be quiet for awhile. I do believe I announced to my two children in the car "I don't want to hear anything from either of you until we get there because you are both being very rude." It was my version of "go to your corners and cool off".


OP -- if it happens often at the end of an activity, I would think about one of two things. It could well be that she's mentally tired from interacting with other kids. I'm an introvert in a profession that requires a lot of extroverted behavior (teaching). The absolutely most exhausting days I have are days when I spend all day meeting with students. When I'm done with those meetings, I am one cranky momma. I need down time. Now, I'm also an adult, so I'm not usually rude to people to get that time, but I have been known to snap at my kids. Or, it could be that she's an extrovert (like my dd). If that's the case, she gets her energy from interacting with people, and she's suffering a let down afterwards. So, she's doing all she can to keep up the interaction. For some kids any interaction is better than no interaction. My ds will happily go off and play by himself. My dd will bug someone when she's tired.


I guess the point of my huge post here is that I wouldn't dwell too much on the why. This doesn't represent some deep-seated psychological need, IMO. It represents a need to learn how to use language appropriately, especially when emotions are running high. I know a lot of adults who lack adequate skills for that!

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#11 of 14 Old 08-18-2011, 07:30 PM
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right there with you. but my duaghter just turned 7.

hugs to all glad i am not alone

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#12 of 14 Old 08-18-2011, 07:44 PM
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mouthiness to me is what op is living through!!!  My daughter would do the most annoying thing when I asked her to help with a household task---she would blow her lips like a horse.  I don't even know what it's called.  It would drive me NUTSO.  I tried to remain calm, which is so important AND definitely easier said than done.  Hang in there!  I think another good book is Easy to love, difficult to discipline.  It's so hard, but I would take it seriously (as you are) and not let the rude words continue. 

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#13 of 14 Old 08-18-2011, 07:48 PM
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It may be a lack of attention, but my 5yo niece is very sassy and she's an only child...with a mom who doesn't work.  So...


When my niece is sassy with me I say, "You may not speak to me that way." and then wait for her to rephrase her demand.  She doesn't call me names, but if she did I'd probably say something like, "I don't like it when you call me that, it makes me sad.  I need a break from you." and then walk away. 


Two big problems my sister has:  1.) She threatens punishment, but never follows through.  "Stop throwing that doll or I'm going to take it away!" but my niece continues to throw it, and my sister just keeps threatening...never following through.  So she's basically teaching my niece that she doesn't mean what she says...there are no consequences.  So of course she's not going to listen to her!   2.)  She can be pretty sassy herself, when speaking to my niece and other people.

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#14 of 14 Old 08-18-2011, 10:31 PM
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first know what you are going thru is completely normal.


5 is a really, really hard age for the kids. its like the peak of their bad behaviour for a while before they get out of it. 


i really think this kind of 'bad' behaviour is hormonal. at that age i used to call dd PMSing.


there is no logic or meaning to their behaviour.


i seriously feel its changes within their body that is making them who they are.


not just dd but friends around her were in the same boat. 


i would say look at yourself. try to find ways not to take it personally. she is not meaning it to be so. 


i really think if you can take care of yourself and your hurt feelings you will not be so stressed and will easily find answers of what to do. 


during that phase i didnt correct dd every single time. once in a while. with dd it came out mostly as anger and frustration. 


children's behaviour gets worse right before a spurt - may that be physical, emotional, pschological.


look at her as a sweet child who is trapped in this body not truly able to behave the way she would like to. they are so mixed up at that age. 


it too will pass. hmm asking for apology at this point is not a good idea. however drawing a line and telling her v. clearly what you will tolerate and what you wont will help her understand what is acceptable and what is not. 


instead of apology ask her to do one nice thing for her sister because she was so rude. and her sister has to agree to accept the nice deed. 


she probably feels dd2 is scoring and she is being left out. 

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