You can’t win them all. Reasoning with a six year old.
October 17, 2017
I love Aoife. It goes without saying. She is the apple of my eye. She is beautiful, clever, funny and caring. Although she has her wobbles, she knows her mind and isn’t afraid to do what she wants to do.
She makes me proud every day but bloody hell she can be difficult.
When she was three, she’d been particularly naughty. I told her that there would be no Peppa, no Cbeebies, no films and no treats Nothing. We were on lock down.
“Will I have breakfast? “Yes” “Will I have lunch?” “Yes, you’ll have your meals” “Will I have fruit shoot?” “No, that’s a treat” “Will I have water?” “Yes” “So. I’ll have my food and water?” “Yes” Pause “OK, that’s fine” “WELL NO, IT ISN’T FINE ACTUALLY!!”
Once she realised that I couldn’t take away her basic human rights, she decided she could do pretty much what she wanted.
There have been times in the past when I have been able to successfully use bribery a reward system to encourage good behaviour but those times have long gone. Last year, after weeks of her playing up at bedtime and waking everyone during the night repeatedly, I went for the big one.
“Your behaviour is quite selfish, everyone is exhausted because you keep yelling through the night. You’re misbehaving because your tired. If we can’t get X ticks by this date then I’m afraid we will have to cancel your birthday party”.
Yeah, I went there. I was exhausted and stressed. It was really taking it’s toll on me, I even cried to her teacher. I had to bring out the big guns or start daytime drinking. It was Aoife or me.
To be honest, in my exhaustion I really, REALLY thought the threat would work. I thought she cared enough that she would try to behave. I was entirely wrong. The birthday party was cancelled.
Judge away. I felt terrible, like the worst mum ever BUT I had to do it. I had to show that I meant what I said. She had to learn that if we are frickin’ horrible all the time, we don’t get nice things.
“You BEAST! How did she react?” I hear you cry.
Well, I showed her the chart and I broke the news that no party would be happening… “That’s OK, I’ll have a nice family birthday with just us four. It’ll be great”.
I was flummoxed! It was like a smack in the face. Where do I go from there?
I don’t know if it’s her personality or if it’s because she is a clever little girl and her reason makes sense to her. Maybe it’s just a six year old thing and your six year old is exactly the same – I hope your six year old is the same. Whatever it is, it makes me despair.
While I absolutely want her to know her mind, to say what she feels, to be strong and independent. I also want her to give a damn and be a decent, compassionate and nice person.
This morning she went from ray of sunlight to satan incarnate in 30 seconds. She decided she wasn’t going to get ready for school. We tried reasoning, asking, telling and shouting. All was met with the eye rolling of a pro and backchat a teenager would be proud of
“You can’t tell me what to do, it’s MY choice not yours”. “If you carry on like this, you’re not going to be able to go to Grandma’s” “I don’t care, I don’t even want to go to Grandma’s, I’ll stay here and play” (Yes she does want to come Grandma) “Err, if you stay here there’ll be no playing” “I’ll watch TV then” “There will certainly be no TV!” “Well what will I do then?” “Just really boring stuff” (not my best response but it was early and I was unprepared) “I think playing games is REALLY boring”
One thing you hear many parents say is ‘Pick your battles – you can’t win them all’. What the hell do you do when your opponent is a clever 6 year old full of sass and reason? I don’t think I’ve won any of my battles and I can’t see it happening any time soon!