Help! My DD is nearly 5 and we've had rough times off and on since age 3, but this "new" patch of trouble is no fun. Things feel out of control and little brother is picking up on it all quickly and behaving poorly now also.
So my biggest issue with DD right now is that I can never "discipline" her because she covers her ears and hollers "I'M NOT LISTENING! I'M NOT LISTENING!" over and over. And by trying to discipline, I specifically mean talking to her about giving her brother space, or about how hitting back is wrong, or that it's not okay to scream at me (or....I could go on and on). So it's just wasting my breath on a belligerent little girl who has her ears covered while she screams at me. I'm at a loss with this. Oh, and one other thing, she occasionally SPITS at me while doing this.
Sounds like she really wants to create a power struggle! I guess first I would try to find a pleasant moment to say, "DD, it seems like we've been having trouble hearing each other lately. You don't seem to want to hear me when you cover your ears and that hurts my feelings, and maybe you're feeling like I'm not hearing you and that hurts your feelings. Do you have any ideas about how we can talk and listen to each other more respectfully?" Somewhere in this conversation, I would gently tell her that it hurts my ears and my feelings when she covers her ears and yells, and I'm not going to let her do it anymore. Maybe she can come up with something you do that hurts her feelings, and you can promise not to do it anymore (even if you don't really feel like you do it in the first place!)
Then the next time she does it, I would gently and silently take her to her room and tell her to come out when she can talk and listen. Stay calm, rinse and repeat.
Honestly, I'm as non-punitive as they come, but spitting at me would come with a consequence.
This is almost exactly what I've been dealing with in regards to my almost five year old as well. I don't have anything to offer, but wanted to bump the thread.
I don't have any help although we've had hard headedness since forever. The specifics are different though. Have just ordered this book the to see if it is any help. It had good reviews on Amazon and in pre-k they had included it in a Behavior list for parents. 'You can't make me. (But I can be persuaded.)'
Positive thoughts generate power, negative ones waste it ~ Unknown
first know this is normal. it is the first stage of prepuberty and your dd is having as much a hard time as you are - if not more.
first check in with yourself and try to be compassionate towards your dd. not to immediately react. your calmness has a huge effect on her with just being calm.
make sure she is getting her golden 3s. enough exercise, enough food and enough rest. i also add in watch protein intake and maybe up it if you think she needs it.
dont let things escalate. the moment she starts cut it right then. when they full into it, it is v. v. v. hard for them to stop.
do the best you can, take care of yourself - and let this phase pass over. it will i promise you. in fact in a few years when their conscience develops things go the opposite way - where they are far harder on themselves than you could ever be. it happens around 7 to 9 or 10.
Sympathy. My newly-five daughter is always irrational around her big birthday growth spurt, but my gosh... this year she's sullen and moody and gives us the silent treatment at the drop of a hat right now, multiple times a day. It is almost exactly like a fifteen-year-old. I'm avoiding saying 'no' or 'don't' at all this week to avoid showdowns, she's just a total wreck at the slightest correction. We took her out of her new Montessori preschool to ease off stress, and I'm micro-focusing on upping the time I (instead of her papa) spend reading her books and putting her to bed. But I think a lot of it is just the age. And I don't like it! Ah, the visions I had of five when she was two screaming on the grocery store floor!
I take privileges or toys away when my daughter gets like that. She has to earn them back with good behavior. I let her know that its my job to provide love, food, shelter and clothing, and everything else is extra. That if she can not respect me, she does not get her leap pad or TV time that day, and she wont get it back till she has a good day. Its not to often, but she likes to test her boundaries occasionally just to make sure they are still there. Life is better when we treat each other with respect. Also when she is actively tantruming or screaming at us, we disengage until she stops. Sometimes that includes walking away.
For hitting back: Is it with a younger sibling? I have two kids with a big enough age spacing that in a physical fight, it's not a fair fight. My youngest may hit first, but as soon as my eldest retaliates, he really wants out of the fight. Once I get them separated, the discipline piece can wait. If emotions are running high enough that someone is spitting or refusing to listen, then it's not a good time to discuss it. One of the best times I've found to discuss discipline problems is at bedtime, when we're all snuggly in bed together anyway.
For giving a sibling space: I don't see it as one kid's job to give space to the other; I see it as our children's job to share space, and I'll try to engage both children in finding ways to use the space happily. If that's going badly, I will see if I can persuade either kid to leave the area by redirecting to another activity.
Screaming: I try to ignore it. Maybe, depending on how I gauge where she is, I'll encourage her to do it in another room from me, because I'm very sensitive to noise. But really, there's no sense in talking to a child in the moment about it.
For screaming and hitting: It sounds like a lot of this relates to anger. My kids and I have a plan for what we do when they are angry. I have a basket filled with "angry" stuff: a journal with stuff to write and draw with; a cuddly stuffed animal filled with lavendar, a snack, a candle and a lighter (lighting and blowing out candles really helps her take big breaths and most kids like fire, but of course it needs to be done with supervision), bubbles (again good for breath and we'll do it in the kitchen; I'll then get rags to do a quick clean of the floor when everyone is calm), and books (I used to keep books about anger in it, but now I just keep some favorite picture books). It doesn't always work, but we talk over and over about our plan about what to do when we're angry, about what we should keep there to help us calm down... I change up what's in it a little to keep it novel and to reflect ideas my kids have about what they think will help them calm down. I do think it's really, really helped.
Partner to R ('03); Parent to T ('07), A ('10), and E ('13)
My almost 5 yo is as high strung and headstrong as they come (as is her mama). Embracing positive discipline, family rules based on family meetings, and her need to be in control, I came up with a plan that combines a behavior chart with the reward of "DD Fridays". If she meets her daily goals all week (missing less than 3 of 56 or so things-- 8 tasks by 7 days) she gets to pick what we do as a family on Friday evening. She can pick the dinner (eat out, take in or I'll make what she wants) and what we do (board game or movie night and what movie). I implemented it about 8 weeks ago and the change has been amazing.
I started by holding a family meeting and claiming that we needed to review our family rules and see if we need to add new ones or change anything since she's older and we have a baby etc... I then thought about what the triggers are for fights or meltdowns and then I developed tasks around that for the chart but drew on the family rules for legitimacy. So the chart includes easy things like "go potty, brush teeth and wash face before bed" which she always does as well as "use nice words" "clean up," "help mommy or daddy with something." Recently we had been bickering at pick-up from school so we agreed to add "carry own stuff" to the chart. As long as she does that for part of drop off or pick up she gets the check mark. She's been carrying her backpack in everyday for 2 weeks now and hanging it on the hook along with her jacket. It's made a huge difference.
I know this doesn't address the OPs problem with screaming and spitting directly but I wonder if you can use a modified version of this approach to help your DD take responsibility for her own actions and give her some of the control she so desperately seems to want?
DD does sometimes propose we make charts for DD2 (turning 1), DH and I. So far we've escaped...