Parents : How would you address this behavior?

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by Stratonator, May 2, 2016.

  1. Stratonator

    Stratonator Member

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    Bit of background first. My wife and I have decided to start a family. Two different members of the family have raised their kids in a way we disapprove of, which is seemingly the modern way of being your kid's best friend, giving them choices, and basically more or less letting them run the show. I see this often with parents shying away from disciplining their kids, sincerely feeling as if the kid will hate them if they are disciplined at all! The consequences of that are disastrous, as I've seen first-hand.

    One kid eventually grew out of it after my sister finally adjusted her parenting style using a number of my suggestions. Although my nephew will always have some issues, things have improved tenfold and my sister at least was never helicopter parent. The other kid is almost 7 and was raised by one. The result is my niece turned into an incredibly bossy self-centered girl who, although not mean-spirited, doesn't see/understand the concepts of following somebody else's lead, staying calm, not having wild temper tantrums whenever something doesn't go exactly her way, among other major behavioral issues. My niece is even now seeing a child psychologist. Yes, it's that bad.

    Anyway, getting to the point of this thread.

    Was watching Louis CK telling the story of his daughter talking to her mom about how she saw a dog today. In this (hypothetical?) anecdote, he happens to walk in the room at that moment and wanting to be a good parent and show interest in his daughter, asks "Oh really? What kind of dog did you see, honey?" She replies in a very mean way "NO! I'm not telling YOU! I'm telling MOMMY!"

    NOTE : no age was mentioned but that sounds like a 3-4yo to me.

    It's the setup to a joke and the punchline matters little, but I'm wondering how you parents would handle that because in this little moment, I symbolically see the seeds of the style of behavior my niece exhibits. The best way to prevent this type of behavior from becoming prevalent would be to address it quickly, right? I'm fully aware every child challenges the parents' authority and that kids oftentimes lack the impulse control and emotional maturity and verbal skills to communicate what they are actually feeling.

    My #1 priority as a father would be that my kid becomes a genuinely nice empathetic person with a big heart. Being self-absorbed is the last thing I'd want my kid to ever be!

    Nevertheless, how would you address this to make the child understand he/she is being unnecessarily mean? The three choices I see are ;

    - The dad says it's not very nice and tries to explain why it can hurt his feelings.
    - The mom says it's not very nice and tries to explain why it can hurt his feelings.
    - Nothing. It's glossed over with an eyeroll from the dad and that's it.

    With zero experience, my instincts tell me if the dad is the one who acts, the child was already showing confrontational behavior and might not be receptive to the message. If the mom acts, maybe the kid will be more receptive but I worry about the dad looking like he doesn't have as much authority as the mom in the kid's eyes. Doing nothing doesn't seem like a great idea. I know some parents will say you have to pick your battles but I'm thinking that in something so fundamentally important as not being self-centered, that consistency in disciplining the kid is the key to eradicating that type of behavior altogether.

    Thoughts? Please be kind. Sorry for the long post.
     
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  2. Guitar Josh

    Guitar Josh Resident Curmudgeon Silver Supporting Member

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    Kids can be jerks just anyone else. I've always found that a good dose of their own medicine works.

    With my kid, I would say "oh, you aren't talking to me? That's fine. I guess since you don't like daddy I won't take you to get ice cream later." All of the sudden, it's "I love daddy" and hugs. Then onto the next thing.

    Kids are not that tough. People take their **** too much. They will test you to the ends of the earth. They need to be challenged right back. Be the alpha parent.
     
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  3. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    I'd let her finish telling mommy, then ask her about it later. Let her know it sounded like an interesting story and you wanted to hear it. Ideally though, mommy would step in and tell her it's not nice to exclude dad.
     
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  4. DetSlicker

    DetSlicker Member

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    I love ice cream. Best day of my life was when I made enough money to tell dad "Piss off! I'll get my own ice cream!":drool
    I kid, I kid, I'm also cheap so if dad (RIP) was buying I'd suck it up and tell him he was great.
     
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  5. The Funk

    The Funk Member

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    One thing to start with, and this is very very hard to get used to, is that kids are not like adults, and their brains do not work like adults do. They can't process things the same way you can, and logic hasn't really taken hold. They basically say whats on their mind with no understanding of how it comes across and how it effects who they are talking to.

    This is a developmental thing. It takes it a long time to sink in no matter what style of parenting you use. There is a difference between trying to be your child's friend (which is wrong until they are adults), and being empathic and trying to see things as they see things in order to communicate with them in a way that they can understand. They also don't understand time. Something that happened last week might seem like this morning to them. Or the other way around.

    What we would do is stop the kid right there, and say something like "When you say that, it makes me feel bad, and thats not nice." They may resist or fight you on this, because they want to do something different, but you basically can't let them out of the situation until they've acknowledged their mistake. My daughter is 2 3/4 and she talks like that sometimes.

    The thing is, you have to be careful about how you talk to them. I can make my daughter cry uncontrollably just changing the tone of my voice. And its real tears because she doesn't want to upset me, and she doesn't want to disappoint me. So, there is no need to do things like spank a kid, because that just pushes it too far the other way where they become afraid of you but they don't have the capacity to understand why.

    A kid is born like an unformatted hard drive. They got nothing. But they pick things up quick from the world around them, and they will deal with problems the way they see you deal with problems.
     
  6. The Funk

    The Funk Member

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    I agree with being the alpha parent, but I get sucked into arguments with my daughter all the time, and its just a losing game for everyone. Theres no logic at work, and she just gets more and more upset and I get more and more frustrated. So, basically, when theres a behavior we don't like, its just everything stops until its resolved.
     
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  7. Jim Holloway

    Jim Holloway Supporting Member

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    The Funk has nailed this pretty well. I try to think like they are thinking as best I can (which can be really difficult especially at stressful moments). When I'm able to do that things go much better than when I fall back into the trap of thinking they should be logical and act like I would act in a situation.

    And when you do have kids and are in this situation you won't give it nearly as much thought as you are now pre-kids.

    I remember how I imagined bringing up kids - before I had them. And I have a friend without kids who likes to talk about how she would do it as well. It rarely happens that way.
     
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  8. Guitar Josh

    Guitar Josh Resident Curmudgeon Silver Supporting Member

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    Kids understand logic better than you think. She's able to quickly identify that she said something, it made me upset with her, and there was a consequence. And then the good thing came back when she acted in a different way. It's no different that Pavlov when it comes right down to it.
     
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  9. The Funk

    The Funk Member

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    Your child 100% will try to play you and your wife off each other. My daughter often asks for the other parent when one parent is being less accommodating. We usually oblige, but we inform each other what is happening as we pass in the hall, so that the other parent is does exactly the same thing. So, she'll attempt to switch back later, find that she's still not getting her way and eventually gives up.

    You do have to pick your battles and you have to be gentle. 4 weeks ago, after a swim lesson where my daughter refused to try anything after informing the teacher that she was a great swimmer, I told my daughter I was disappointed in her for not trying. I've told her how proud I am of her after every swim lesson that she has had since and for a hundred other things. She still thinks I'm disappointed in her. The negative stuff sticks much more than the positive.
     
  10. Flying_V1968

    Flying_V1968 Member

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    I don't have kids so my opinion is basically worthless. But I see you've posted in the "HSP" thread so I know you know rearing a "genuinely nice empathetic person" can be a major challenge in this culture. I feel for you (oh, the gall!) and wish you all the best. Kudos for your efforts here; I wish more had your insight and pursuit of wisdom.

    I think you're on the right path with consistency in discipline and would add discussing these topics thoroughly with your wife so you're both on the same page with a unified front. My parents didn't let me get away with anything but I'm so glad they were strict but fair (although it sure didn't seem that way at the time!). They definitely we NOT my friends but I always knew in the back of my head they were trying to do the best they could.

    Maybe someone can come up with a better idea like dropping your children off in Somalia and let 'em tough it out... :rolleyes:

    Take care!
     
  11. Multicellular

    Multicellular Supporting Member

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    I'd tell her that hurt my feelings (which would be a lie, because 3/4 year olds are random) and try to communicate why it did. I wouldn't spend too much time on it, because the attention span at that age is so limited. But there is value in teaching them to reflect on their own and others emotions. It just works better in small doses and repetition. Getting really involved for 1 instance or escalating it to time-out or whatever is unlikely to pay off.
     
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  12. travisvwright

    travisvwright Member

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    Aside from Mensa level IQ, having excellent style sense, and being able to detect pointy knees; as a TGP member I'm a good enough parent that that situation would never happen in the first place.
     
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  13. Stratonator

    Stratonator Member

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    Though I agree to an extent, since every kid is different (and every parents' set of personalities as well), I don't expect a universal solution to exist.

    However, I'm sincere when I ask whether that way of handling the situation wouldn't be more about the ice cream than how your feelings might have been hurt? IOW, is the core lesson a bit lost with the threat of losing something he/she wants?
     
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  14. The Funk

    The Funk Member

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    Kind of, but sometimes its hard to know if that connection is due to what you think it is. Also depends how old the kid is. A four year old definitely can process that. A two year old probably can't. A really smart 2 year old might seem like they can, but really can't.

    Remember, these are people that will get mad at you if you don't agree that they are butterflies and that you like dandelions.
     
  15. Guitar Josh

    Guitar Josh Resident Curmudgeon Silver Supporting Member

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    Certainly but what makes you think they can understand a calm rationale discussion any better, even as simple as, "that hurt daddy's feelings?" The same principles would apply, no?
     
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  16. Guitar Josh

    Guitar Josh Resident Curmudgeon Silver Supporting Member

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    I forgot to mention that typically once the primary issue is resolved, I usually say "Emma, daddy loves you very much and he always wants to talk to you. It makes me sad when you say those things to me. You don't want daddy to be sad, do you?" She usually says no, we hug and that's that. Then we get ice cream.
     
  17. The Funk

    The Funk Member

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    Yeah, but its about consistency. Eventually this stuff kicks in.

    Its sort of stopping them so they understand that they did something wrong, and explaining how it makes you feel. They don't want to be stopped, but eventually they figure out why they are being stopped. My daughter can process empathy in the moment now, which is a big step. But if you ask her about it later, she won't remember. Then randomly in a few months, she'll come up to me and ask me if I'm sad because of (insert incident from several months ago here). I'll tell her "no", and that it was a long time ago and I forgave her and love her very much. Then she seems to feel better. Then she'll ask me about it a few weeks later.
     
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  18. Stratonator

    Stratonator Member

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    Please don't misinterpret my post as a proclamation that I will be a better parent than others. I'm usually not an idealist but I am genuinely curious about this stuff because, well, I don't want to screw up. The first few years are the most important ones so I'd like to nip that sort of behavior in the bud ASAP. If folks generally agree kids might have the ability to understand a simple "when you do this, it hurts me, you don't want that right?" logic around this or that age, it's something I'd keep in mind when that situation will inevitably occur.

    Of course, The kid is bound to say/do a ton of bad things every day but my focus would be in wanting to mold my kid into a good person, most of all. That's why circumstances and ways of tackling this situation that I might not be considering right now are important and your feedback appreciated. :)
     
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  19. Guitar Josh

    Guitar Josh Resident Curmudgeon Silver Supporting Member

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    We are consistent. When she acts out of turn, we indicate there will be a consequence for it, and that if she adjusts her behavior, there will be a reward. One of the oldest principles of psychology there is.
     
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  20. Stratonator

    Stratonator Member

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    Again, this might sound obtuse but I assure you I'm genuinely curious about this.

    Is it possible for kids of that age to do something out of the goodness of their heart or is their brain not developed enough to understand that concept and using a treat in a Pavlonian way is merely a tool you use until she gets beyond that phase?
     
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