My boyfriend and I are raising his 4, almost 5, year old granddaughter. We constantly disagree about what time she should go to bed, not drinking liquids after a certain time in the evening, what she should wear and I could go on and on......
When you call her name she blurts out "what", when you correct her here recently she sticks out her tongue, if you try and get her attention she will ignore you until you call her name several times, if you try to get her to pick up her room she will either say "no I don't want to" or "you do it", if she doesn't get her way in public she acts out, if you are in public as I was the other night she turned to this woman and said "hey lady get out of the way", she constantly jumps on beds and sofas and I try and correct her and stop her and I think it makes him mad..............Of course when it is just her and I, I will not allow it but I feel when we are all together he gets upset with me for calling her down for doing some of these things. It is so discouraging and humiliating and when I try and talk to him, the grandfather, he says, "she's just a 4 year old". I do not agree with that. Children are a product of their raisings and my fear is if this keeps going on she is going to be totally out of control. I personally have never had children but I am the oldest of 7 and I have been around many many children and I know that this behavior is unacceptable. I am desperately seeking answers on how to make a difference in this little girl's life and and trying to convince my boyfriend aka the grandfather that the way she is acting is unacceptable and we need to get on the same page in trying to fix this and raise her and keeping it from tearing us apart.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to any advice you can offer.
From: Anita, Arlington, TX
Every child needs -- and feels safer and more secure -- when life contains structure, age-appropriate limit-setting, and consequences for misbehavior. Without those elements, life feels out of control to a child. She's constantly pushing the envelope in an effort to see when and where you will set the limits, or impose consequences. It's as if she's saying to herself, "Well, if I do this, what will they do? What if I do this?"
For you and your boyfriend to argue about her behavior isn't good for the relationship the two of you have, and it's even worse for his granddaughter. Children are ego-centric. They like attention. Seeing that her behavior gets her attention -- even though it's negative attention -- will only encourage her to continue to behave in the same way. In other words, this isn't going to get better, it's likely going to get worse. This isn't a good trajectory.
So how can you get on the same page? Enroll the two of you in a parenting class, read a book together, attend some parenting lectures. Get creative. Socialize with parents of her playmates, get him into conversations at the playground. Talking to other parents will hopefully turn some light bulbs on for him. Is she in preschool or day care? I hope so. At the very least, she needs to learn the rules and structure of how a group setting works; otherwise, she'll have a really hard time in kindergarten. Anyway, if she is in a school setting, what do the teachers say about her ability to follow rules and get along?
At the very least, Anita, try for the two of you to reach some kind of compromises and agreements about acceptable behavior and consequences. At the very least, agree to disagree in private. This article that I'm linking to here is about parental conflict, but the message applies.
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