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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My daughter, who will be 3 in October, has been frustrating me lately. She's fairly smart, as far as I can tell, and definitely knows her "magic words": please, thank you, and sorry. Lately she's been doing a lot of things that prompt me to ask/remind her to say sorry (like, knocking her brother down after I've asked her several times to stop, hurting me on accident, or plain ignoring my requests directed at her). And in the past, she would always say sorry with little or no hesitation. Now, her reaction is to turn away, get super sulky, and downright ignore me.

Now, I've not read anything in books or online about GD techniques. And it's something I want to learn about. But so you know how I've typically handled things, when she doesn't act like I ask her to, and I've given her plenty of warnings, I'll remind her one more time and start counting to 5. At the end of 5, I would either give her a time out or take away a privelege. For instance, tonight, when she outright refused to acknowledge my requests, I warned her that she had one last chance, or I would take away book time and singing to her before bed (it was just before bedtime). She was amazingly upset when I put her in bed without those things. After talking with her for a while, she finally said she was sorry, and so I gave back singing time but not book time.

There is very little that she does that can make me as angry inside as when she completely ignores me. I feel like I'm talking to the most willful brick wall in the world, and it takes a lot of effort to keep myself calm and reasonable instead of yelling at her. And often I have this really strong urge to just smack her so she will at least acknowledge my existance. It's what my parents would have done, that's for sure.

But at any rate, I was hoping to get some insight or advice with how to deal with this. Or if you think it's not something I should try to deal with, how to change my perspective on it. And it's not *just* about saying sorry, either (although it is the thing that comes up most frequently). Just things like trying to shove her brother over and me asking her repeatedly to stop, telling her what will happen if she doesn't stop NOW, and still having her plain ignore me. I just hate being ignored by her!

I'm all ears, mamas!
 

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Boy, I can relate to being frustrated by being ignored.

Can you give some other examples of how you're expecting her to behave - what sorts of things you're asking her to do/not do that she's ignoring?

Also, when she's doing something like shoving her brother are you just asking her to stop and then counting to 5 or are you going over to her and physically intervening? My experience is that 3-year-olds still need physical intervention and redirection the majority of the time. (My 5-year-old still does a good bit of the time, too, actually.) A fairly quick way of cutting your frustration level in half or better might be to toss the counting, time-outs, and "privilege" removals and just calmly physically connect with her.
 

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Well - you don't want to punish her for ignoring you by taking away something that helps you connect with her. What you need is *more* connection, not less. This helped for us - if I felt ignored, I would go over to DS and touch him on the shoulder and speak quietly to him. That usually got his attention.

I find that it helps to just focus on the issue at hand. In other words, if I want DS to put on his pajamas and brush his teeth, and he's not doing it, I get down in his face and tell him, "It's time to put on your pjs. Do you want to do it yourself, or do you want some help?" Don't threaten, don't punish, don't take away priveliges - it's just about getting his pjs on. Reading bedtime stories is a completely different issue. And if you get into a hassle about getting ready for bed, you really need that bedtime story to help you reconnect.
 

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I have read two bits of advice that I will share. In many books, I have read the idea that forcing a child to say sorry or please does not mean they are doing so meaningfully. It is better for them to be sorry than say sorry and you cannot force them to do anything they do not want to do. So, stop trying to get her to say please and sorry, etc. Just raise her to understand respect and understand what the words mean, and leave her to be the one to do it if she wants to. Read Becoming the parent you want to be to find more great words of wisdom along these lines.

Also, I recently read an interview with T. Berry Brazelton. When asked for some pearls of wisdom sibling rivalry, he said that, in his opinion, his mother made the rivalry betwen his brother and himself much worse by trying to contorl it. He thinks parents today should just let the kids sort things out for themselves and try to back off. He says it took 50 years for he and his brother to mend their rivalry and be friends because his mother never let them sort things out for themselves. My father, the youngest of three boys, has much the same advice about siblings. Just let them work it out for themselves. Most of what they engage is loud and not violent. But again, the aforementioned book, Becoming ......, is a great source for info and advice about this.
 

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OK, I'm very much into not "controlling" the child... in theory. But sometimes, imperfect being that I am, I really want to get the "I'm sorry" out of her! I try not to let it escalate. I just say, "That hurt my feelings." Then I go do something else... I am sort-of ignoring her until my hurt feelings are resolved, but if we do need to attend to some business, I go about it in a very businesslike way. Usually I just go start cleaning or something. If she follows me, I just say, "My feelings are still hurt." I keep reminding her my feelings are hurt until she finally apologizes. This is based on the fact that we have had conversations about what to do if you hurt someone's feelings, and she knows the answer is to apologise. But we never have those conversations in the heat of the moment, only at a neutral time. Once she apologizes, I hug her and tell her I feel better now.

Might be worth a try... it still borders on a battle of wills, but its way toned down anyway.
 

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It's so hard isn't it. I guess my aim is to keep thinking about my long term goals in these maters. For S to learn empathy and that sometimes her action cause pain/upset to others. So instead of forcing a sorry trying to get her to think about it form others point of view (in a way that a 2 yr old can understand). Instead of "say sorry!!!" then *louder* "I said say sorry" I try something like " 'child' is upset, she might feel better if you say sorry" or "how do you think you can help "brother" feel better?" Have you read "punished by rewards" by ALfie Kohn, it makes a lot of this stuff clear, also explains how timeouts and punishment/praise just *don't work* in the long term. Of course you might end up with short term obedience.But that's something that's desirable in a puppy. Children we want to have insight into their actions, and to be motivated to do well and to help others. Oh, and at the moment I don't make a big deal if S doesn't apologise/say please/thank you, even though she 'can' . I just say it for her and move on. A lot of it is a language deficit and she has a lot of abstract concepts still to learn. And if she is ignoring me, and i really want her to take notice I take her hand and ask her to look at me and listen. i think at this age we really need to follow up verbal requests/instructions with gentle action eg- if she ignores "don't touch" then gently take her hand and remove it from the forbidden object. Children learn a lot from action, more so than just words.
I imagine that when your DD was so surprised and upset at the removal of her storytime she was demonstrating her inablility to understand consequences removed from the 'crime'. She really didn't know why they were removed. And when she apologised to regain the privileges there would not have been any comprehension that the apology was to make you feel better, just that that is what mother demanded tonight for the storytime to proceeed. Very confusing for her. This is why timeout and all the various punishments/removal of privileges have limited use. Alfie Kohn also makes the point that a lot of 'traditional' discipline followers feel that if nothing unpleasant has happened to the child (ie punishment) than no learning has taken place. This is not true, and your child will learn from every thing you do, and will learn more if not afraid of punishments. Fear is a powerful demotivator.
Anyway, long story short. Think long term .3 years old is awfully young to grasp all the social rules and consequences that are required as an adult.
 

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I, personally never ask, or tell a child to say "I'm sorry" because is comes out so mean anyway.

If one child does something to another, sometimes he really is sorry, and you can see it. So I ask him "do you want to say sorry?". If not, then I will say(to the victim) "I'm sorry you got hurt, can I do anything to make you feel better?" Then I proceed to find a way to make the other child feel better. Sometimes, later (with girls usually) the child will say "I'm sorry I hit you" and the other kid will say "That's O.K".

I do it this way, mostly because if they intentionally kicked or hit, usually they aren't sorry. I hate an insincere apology. So, I would rather they not apologise at all. And why have the power struggle?

But, as far as Gentle discipline, I have no idea where the GD gurus stand on that. This is just what I do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you for the replies. As I expected, they are very insightful and have given me a lot to think about.

I suppose I don't use physical intervention nearly often enough. A lot of the times when she is ignoring me, it is when I am otherwise busy and not right in reach. Like when she is sitting down having a snack and her brother is standing next to her chair, just being happy to have her company. She just starts pushing her toes against his chest and he starts falling down. And she gets a little more rough each time she does it, and waits for me to turn my head before she starts again. I can think of a couple ways to physically intervene right off the top of my head, now.

A couple of you brought up her age and her level of understanding. Thank you for that. She looks and often acts older than she is, and I guess I still need reminding that she is *still* a two year old, and I should not be treating her like she is older.

I have not ready either of the books mentioned by previous posters, either. What you've mentioned sounds interesting to me, I hope I can check them out soon. I have never given a lot of organized thought to parenting up until recently, I just did what felt natural. But as my daughter has grown older and I'm exposed to different parenting styles, I'm realizing the need to really think about what I do and how I want to raise her.

Quote:
Can you give some other examples of how you're expecting her to behave - what sorts of things you're asking her to do/not do that she's ignoring?
For now it's pretty much been limited to "sorry" incidents like I've already mentioned, and being too rough with her brother after I've asked her to stop repeatedly. Now I feel kind of dumb for (duh) not taking more effort to physically intervene with the brother things. And I really like the way the previous poster, nextcommercial, models the appropriate behavior for her child. I think I will try doing that more. All of you have given me some great things to think about, thank you!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Leiahs
A couple of you brought up her age and her level of understanding. Thank you for that. She looks and often acts older than she is, and I guess I still need reminding that she is *still* a two year old, and I should not be treating her like she is older.
That's such a hard one to remember! They get to that point where they start to behave like bigger kids in some ways but emotionally (and as far as impulse goes) they're still very much babies.

About her pushing her brother over - it sounds like maybe she doesn't want him so close. Even though he's happy to be next to her, she may not want him there but doesn't know how to get him to go away except to push him. Do you think that could be it? Maybe she needs you to intervene on her behalf to help her have a little space?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
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Originally Posted by Dragonfly
About her pushing her brother over - it sounds like maybe she doesn't want him so close. Even though he's happy to be next to her, she may not want him there but doesn't know how to get him to go away except to push him. Do you think that could be it? Maybe she needs you to intervene on her behalf to help her have a little space?
I don't know, I guess it's a possibility, but I tend to think not in this case. It's always very playful - he starts giggling when she does it, and she loves to make him laugh. But if I don't get her to stop, he eventually gets hurt. When she *is* feeling bothered by him, I can usually tell because she's yelling "Mommy, Mommy MOMMEEEEE, Get Jacob away from me! Come get Jacob!"
And then if I'm not fast enough, she'll start yelling, "No, Jacob, NO!" I think when she's knocking him down, she's really just doing it for the reaction she gets from her brother.
 

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My first reaction to your post would be that maybe she is having difficulty dealing with how she senses you feel? Even though you are not doing the things you mentioned (Smacking her), I am certain that she is picking up on your deep emotions. She may be shutting down out of pure confusion as to what she is sensing. My dd, at 3, is very sensitive to how I am feeling, and will do the same. I find that when she shuts down, I will back off and wait it out. Often she will come later to me and say she is sorry or say something else about the situation. For example, yesterday she was being really mean to me and her sister, trying to tell us to get off "her" couch. I suggested to her that maybe she was acting this way because she hadn't seen her daddy all night. (He was working in the garage). After I made my suggestion, I took her sister to the other couch and let her be. Soon she came over and joined us, and shared with me that she missed her daddy, but gave both her sis and me a hug and cuddled us. Even though I didn't hear the word's "I'm sorry," the meaning was there, as she made peace.

I think that more important than hearing the words, is reaching into the depths of their thoughts and try to teach them to feel empathy for others. My dd will say sorry a thousand times a day...but often it has no meaning. She just says it because she has learned that it is polite and makes people happy.
 
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