Raising Kids in America

Monday, June 18, 2007

Kids with an Attitude

Recently, we have noticed that our nine year old has an attitude and thinks that it is okay to just say no to Mom or Dad when asked to help around the house. As a middle child of five sisters she is testing the waters as to what Mom or Dad will put up with. Pick a topic and she tests it.
The easy route out is to give in and that is the wrong thing to do. As a parent you need to set levels of acceptable behavior and allowing your child to know that telling your parents to screw is not acceptable at any age and it is a tough lesson for both of you to learn.

Take this situation as just an example of how the mind works in a nine year old. Dad says you need to help clean up the living room. Children will leave a debris field of belongings like a sinking luxury liner if you let them think that Mom or Dad will always pick it up and put it away. Placing a value on all of the debris is where you want to go with the mind of a child that refuses to pick up their own things.

Telling your child that if you have to pick up their toys, homework, clothes or anything they consider theirs and tossing it in a trash bag will instill a sense of urgency in that child. That is what you have to do. It may take a minute or twenty minutes if you start to clean up before they decide if they need to save their things from the everlasting pit of the trash bin.

This is the hardest part, you have to follow through. If you have asked and demanded that their belongings be put away and they do not answer then you have to toss them away. It may take several times of prized possessions to be tossed before they understand that toys, books, homework from days gone by or school projects that earned a high score have a place to live other than the living room or dining room. The larger the family the easier this lesson is taught. Then again I might be wrong on that theory. Far too many accomplices to blame.

Kids need to know that the family space is not their space and that is a tough road to teach. Using the threat of trashing anything with their name on it is a better alternative than threatening violence against the child. Violence is easy, making the child think is a life long lesson.

While the rest of the kids did a quick clean up the nine year old that totally refused to help went the distance above and beyond the call of duty. She broke out the vac and went beyond what was originally asked.

She did it for two reasons, the first was because she respected her parent threat and wanted to protect her belongings from the Dad or Mom with the big trash bag that was filling up quick. Her second reason was because she knew that it was the right thing to do. Huge lesson.


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