I have a very difficult daughter. I love her more than anything in the universe, as I do all my children. I love her strong-willed personality and how she can also be the most compassionate child I’ve ever seen. I love her strength, smile & even her stubbornness at times. —> (Case in point: The other day, her dad told her to do something for him and she said, “you can ask me nicely.” Some people may have seen this as unruly, but I was proud of her. I want her to always demand respect from people – even if that person is her own father. Of course, I believe she needs to respect his authority as her parent, but the fact that she vocalized her need to be asked correctly & politely tells me that we’re doing something right. Her dad was even proud of her and he’s the one who got told. It gives me hope that, in the future when she’s faced with disrespect, she will be confident in how to handle herself.)
Minion #2 (AKA Princess Sassypants, or ‘Princess Sticky-Fingers’ until further notice) just loves to test me though. Sometimes I don’t know how to deal with her.
She’s much more sensitive than my other two children, yet also much more obstinate. It makes it difficult to discipline her because the things that are effective with The Cuteness & Mr. Thoughtful are generally too harsh for Princess Sassypants’ feelings, but not harsh enough to correct her behavior. Most of the time I’m unsure whether talking to her, grounding her, or spanking her is the correct approach. I don’t opt for spanking often, but sometimes she makes me wonder if I should. Don’t judge me.
It could even be that we’re too hard on her versus not being hard enough, but I can never tell because every time we loosen up on her, she falls right back into bad behavior patterns. It’s like she needs the discipline & structure, but she resents it and resists it at the same time.
The thing we’ve been dealing with lately is stealing. We thought we were over that particular childhood hurtle, but it turns out she has started taking things from home that don’t belong to her (versus taking things from other places) and doing it less often; but still doing it. Regardless of where the items she’s taking come from, I want her to learn not to put her hands on things that don’t belong to her & to ask permission before she does.
We used a reward system that spanned over nearly 3 months to break that behavior and it worked fairly well. Until now, that is. She got what she wanted from that (her cat) and now – 2 months later – it appears she’s taking things again. I dislike the idea of using a reward system this time because I don’t want to give her the impression that she is always going to be rewarded for good behavior or that we are going to give her some big, ultimate goal to motivate her to do better every time she screws up. She’ll be 9 soon and she needs to learn that actions have consequences and that all good deeds are not always recognized. I want her to understand the value of being a good, honest person without believing that she must always be recognized or rewarded for it. Righteousness is its own reward. However, the reward system did work decently well and if that’s the only tool I have at my disposal right now, I suppose I’ll have to use it.
Maybe some parents with ideas more innovative than mine could help me out here. In regard to the stealing, we have done everything we could think of to stop it: grounding, lecturing, making her do exercises or extra chores (which are our usual methods of punishment/discipline for all 3 kids), unfortunately we’ve even tried yelling and spanking, essays, having her take the items back to their rightful owner and admit to her wrong-doing, taking away purses and any other items she could hide things in, taking away ALL of her toys but allowing her to earn them back with good behavior, checking her book bag everyday after school, alerting her teachers to the problem and having them watch her at school, other family members have talked with her, we’ve tried hiding something that she loved & letting her see how it feels to have your things disappear around you, and we also tried the reward system (which seemed to work best when done consistently, but I don’t necessarily want to resort to that again for the reasons specified above.)
I truly believe it takes a village to raise a child, so I’m calling on a very large village to help me with mine, lol. What else could I possibly do?