"If your child accuses you of being "mean," you must have done something right. "

Toying With Grandma

Question

My six-year-old granddaughter is terrible about helping her sister put up toys. She always has been. Before my daughter died, she was trying hard to get her to obey without all the drama, and the child stayed grounded most of the time. Also, she acts like she doesn't hear adults most of the time. I only have them for a weekend about once a month, along with their two year old brother. It's very exhausting. How should I handle this?

Answer

I'm sorry about your loss. My sister was lost to our family when she was in her 30's, and I remember how much my mother grieved. And I'm sure more than anything, you want to provide a conducive environment for positivity and happiness in your home during the monthly weekend when you are the "parent." And the one thing that research and testimonials continue to prove is that the happiest children are obedient children. So your six-year old needs to learn the art of obedience. There is a tendency to give leniency to the child in that regard due to the loss of her mother; and expecting and demanding obedience from her can seem less than compassionate. Don't fall for that belief! It's nothing more than enabling bad behavior.

Suggestion: The next weekend when you have the crew, sit down with your six-year-old first thing and tell her that you enjoy having her over and that you want her to work on two misbehaviors: 1) Pretending not to hear adults (which is a passive act of disobedience, but a misbehavior nonetheless); and 2) Not helping when it's time to pick up toys. You can simply write in marker on an index card: 1. Picking up Toys; 2. Hearing Grandma when She Speaks. Write these two target misbehaviors on an index card and attach the card to the refrigerator. Then play "3 Strikes, You're Out." Once she commits an offense in either of those two categories, put an X on the index card (or maybe have her put the X on the card). When she gets her third X that day, then she has to have a memorable consequence; one that will make her feel bad enough that she won't do it again. YOU need to decide what consequence that will be. Send her to bed 90 minutes early. Do an extra chore for you. Don't allow her to go to a friend's house. No TV that weekend. If she cries, that is probably a sign that you chose the correct consequence. Once she knows you are serious about following through, she will eventually get with the program.

Mike Smart CLPC "Parenting Outsmarted"

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