Demanding and arguing

Posted by  | Thursday, October 27, 2011  at 2:25 PM  

My 4.5 year old is an absolute joy! She is the best helper I could ever wish for, she takes great delight in taking care of her little sisters, and her unbelievable imagination just fills my life with laughter. But she seems to have forgotten her manners a little and we are working hard to get her back to where we were just a few short months ago. We have two major issues that we are working on right now and I thought I'd share them and what we are doing to correct them. I'm just going to be honest and I'd love to hear your tips as well!

1. She has forgotten "please." Even before she could talk, Karis signed the word "please" when she wanted something. But lately, she has forgotten it and can be quite demanding. I think she got into the habit because she enjoys telling her little sister what to do so much, but it has transposed into telling adults what to do as well. So we are trying to quickly nip it in the bud. It is amazing how quickly a habit forms when you aren't paying attention and then it is difficult to erase!

Basically, we are refusing to acquiesce when she asks for something in a demanding way. She has to wait 3 minutes and then she may ask again correctly and we will fulfill her request. For example, if she says, "Give me more milk," then I respond, "no, you did not ask respectfully and you can try again in 3 minutes." In the car, she has a habit of wailing from the back of the van, "I can't hear the music!" So we completely turn off the music for 3 minutes and then give her the chance to ask us to turn it up respectfully. It has taken a while for her to remember, but we are definitely seeing progress. She will often start to demand something and quickly cover it up with a "will you please?"

2. She has developed good reasoning ability that has grown to arguing (otherwise known as "too smart for her own good "). Our family has always tried to implement first time obedience with a bit of grace thrown in. (And no, I have not yet read "Give Them Grace," but I would really like to. If you have read it, please comment and share your thoughts!) For instance, if Karis is reading a book and I ask her to go take her clothes to her room, she is allowed to say, "May I please finish this book first?" If she asks respectfully, we are not in a hurry to do something else, and there are not many pages left, I usually allow her to finish. But if I say no, she must immediately get up and do it. This method has worked well for the first 4 years of her life, but now she is taking it a bit to far. I ask her to do something and she says, "Well....." or, "but Mama...!" She usually has great logic that makes me laugh but the core problem is that she is making excuses instead of obeying right away. A lot of times, the things she says she needs to do first are really good things, such as helping Karlie or Abbi with something, but it is still disobedience. And often when I tell her no, that she must obey first, she begins to argue to try to explain why she is right. I don't have any great plan for this issue, other than immediate discipline and to try to always take the time to talk to her and explain why this is biblically a problem and try to reach her heart and pray with her. But boy is it difficult to find the time to do all that when my other two little ones are running around needing me!

Those are the two major parenting issues we are dealing with this week. What about you? I'd love to hear your struggles or advice!


Rachael Davis said...

I just had to stop and tell you that I think it's something they must ALL go through, especially our eldest girls! I went back and looked on our blog about when we were struggling with this very thing, and sure enough - it was right around 4:
(Scroll down about 3/4 of the way.)

Meg said...

Thanks, Rachael! I really enjoyed your post because it appears that our daughters are quite similar in many ways :) I appreciated your wisdom and encouragement!

Lauren said...

Ugh! We're going through some of this sudden change right now with our three-year-old. I remember my oldest going through it around four, I'm sure my second did at some point, but for my third, three seems kind of young! Even the way she addresses me has gone from a sweet "Mommy" to a "MOMMAY!". I've noticed in my prayer journal how I prayed my way through it with my oldest, along with appropriate encouragement and discipline. I expect this too shall pass with my third. Hope it gets better for you soon too!

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