What's the best way to discipline a child who doesn't listen? My daughter is almost 6 and will not stay in 1 spot to do a time-out. She will not stay in her room when sent there (unless I lock the door from the outside). If I ask her to stop a certain behavior, she will often boldly keep doing it to see my reaction! She can be a great kid at times and other times she refuses to stop bad behavior. Another thing is that her father will take a favorite toy away if she is not being good. He will put it high up so she cannot get it (on top of kitchen cabinets). But this doesn't faze her. She will attempt to stack kitchen chairs on top of each other and climb up to reach whatever item was taken away. Not sure the best way to deal with this!I was thinking of a sticker chart with small rewards for good behavior, but that doesn't really fix the bad behavior. I still don't know what to do when she refuses to do as she is told.
From: Christine, Burlington, MA
When the experts say that time-out doesn't work for every child, they had your daughter in mind. She may be what St. Paul, Minn., psychologist Linda Budd would call an "active/alert child," a term she coined to describe a child with high energy, and "more creativity and more intensity than anyone youíve ever known." She's the author of a book titled, not surprisingly, "Living with the Active-Alert Child." Her newest book is "The Journey of Parenting."
I emailed Linda to get her thoughts on your letter. Here's what she had to say:
"This family sounds as if they are stuck in a power struggle. This can be for many reasons, i.e. temperament, parenting style, trauma, etc. It is important to disengage from these struggles emotionally. Often parents stoke the child's fire by getting angry, sad, etc. There really is nothing wrong with holding a child's door while they are in their room until they show you they are ready to calm.... I know many parents who fear this is wrong. I believe you are simply helping the child learn that to be around people, they must learn self-discipline of anger. By the way, you are not in the room with the child; that just stokes anger."
Since time-out isn't working, Budd writes, she would "encourage time-in. Time-in involves noticing all the great things the child does." She also recommends having more one-on-one time with your child. Her books have lots of detail on these approaches and I hope you'll check them out: A high-energy, high-intensity child like yours can test your patience, your love and your marriage.
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