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Enforcing respect in the family


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Old 4th April 2019, 3:23 PM   #1
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Enforcing respect in the family

So I have two young girls that are getting to the age where they are discovering their self will. They are both under 5. I've noticed that they... mostly the oldest one argues a lot with their mom. Mom is pretty strict that they listen to what she says etc but sometimes it's a toe to toe battle that goes on longer than I think it should.

I'm asking if anyone has any advice as to how I can help the situation without causing more chaos or squashing a child's will and spirit.

What do you do when you see one of your children back-talking to their mom or dad?
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Old 4th April 2019, 3:25 PM   #2
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First, you don't ever give in. That's how they learn to keep it up. Lots of people say no and then they give in when they're exhausted. You can't do that. The other thing is old school. You tell them they're going to go in time out if they argue about it anymore or say another word about it, and you do it. And you tell them "Because I said so. I make the decisions, not you."
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Old 4th April 2019, 3:44 PM   #3
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My wife and I have quite different styles but I try to support her if she's being ignored. We rarely get back talk.

From an early age, I established myself as the reasonable and fair but firm punishment giver. This took the form of time outs, but is now normally in the form of removal of internet and/or smartphone time (works wonders). I tend to do this instead of scolding (my wife tends to scold). It's important IMO to give one warning first and then act if the behavior happens a second time.

My kids respecting me is actually pretty important to me. I made a point of noting and pointing out disrespectful behavior, saying it's disrespectful and indicating it should stop. Then, if it didn't, punishing as described above. I don't think this has quashed any spirit in them (at least not by my younger one's boisterousness) but I believe it has trained them not to be disrespectful to me (at least not openly where I can see it).
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Old 4th April 2019, 3:54 PM   #4
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First, you don't ever give in. That's how they learn to keep it up. Lots of people say no and then they give in when they're exhausted. You can't do that. The other thing is old school. You tell them they're going to go in time out if they argue about it anymore or say another word about it, and you do it. And you tell them "Because I said so. I make the decisions, not you."
Yeah that's what I do (when I do it). I think one issue is consistency. For instance, when I hear them back-talking to mom sometimes I just let them hash it out. I don't want to butt-in when my wife is teaching or disciplining. Other times I'm johnny one the spot. I'm starting to get peeved at how long it can take for them to pick up their toys as it shouldn't be a 10 minute battle. I think dad (me) needs to start to be the enforcer more.
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Old 4th April 2019, 4:05 PM   #5
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Welcome to the age of preschoolers. Has your wife asked for your help or expressed frustration/being tired/exhausted? Does she seem ok dealing with the situations or does she give you the "look" and seem like she wants/needs help?


I parent differently in some ways than my husband does. He has less patience than I do. I also spend more time with our son and know my son's routine/patience/understanding/moods better than my husband does...so sometimes I'm more lenient when it comes to not listening, taking longer to do what is asked, having tantrums, etc. than my husband is. Because I'll know he didn't nap that day, had a rough day at preschool, is in a cranky mood, etc.

Therefore, if I don't *ask* him to interject, I sometimes get annoyed when he does. Especially if he's being harsher than i would have been in the moment.

Respect is important. But so is recognizing that these are little kids and sometimes they have big feelings they can't express. Plus they're also just learning all the boundaries and rules and structure of life.

My suggestion? Talk to your wife. If she is the primary caregiver, take her lead and ask her what you can do to help back her up. If she needs you to play "bad cop" then do it. (God knows sometimes I need my husband to play "bad cop"...even my meanest "mom voice" doesn't get my son moving like my husband's voice) Other times, appreciate that while it may be frustrating to watch your wife have a power struggle with Little Miss Preschooler, maybe your wife knows something about the day that perhaps you don't and has decided a battle over pajamas or hairbrushing or bed at 8pm isn't worth it that day.
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Old 4th April 2019, 4:22 PM   #6
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Consistency. They will learn that when mom says No, then argument is futile.

My biggest struggle was when they got a bit older and I had to learn when to concede. It started about age 10 and 11 when daughter joined the debating team at school. She could deliver a respectful and measured response as to why I was wrong. In situations like this, I think it's good to role model that it's Ok to acknowledge when you're wrong. That said, at the same age, she would accept my rule if she couldn't find a solid flaw in my argument.
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Old 4th April 2019, 5:16 PM   #7
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Yeah that's what I do (when I do it). I think one issue is consistency. For instance, when I hear them back-talking to mom sometimes I just let them hash it out. I don't want to butt-in when my wife is teaching or disciplining. Other times I'm johnny one the spot. I'm starting to get peeved at how long it can take for them to pick up their toys as it shouldn't be a 10 minute battle. I think dad (me) needs to start to be the enforcer more.
Well, you just get exhausted. They have more energy than you. But you have to realize once they know they can do it, it will only get worse.

Of course, the golden rule is only reward good behavior. In this case, it would mean do nice things for them only when they're not bugging you or whining and have been really good and cooperative.

If you do find that you and your spouse are on different pages on it, both of you go together to a parenting class and get on the same page and a lot of tips and tricks. Of course, it can work if the wife is the softie and dad did the discipline, but I don't think that's really fair.
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Old 4th April 2019, 5:19 PM   #8
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As far as debating -- no. It's not a democracy! The parents are the bosses. So just tell them that will serve them well when they're lawyers.
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Old 4th April 2019, 5:36 PM   #9
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To the excellent advice already given, I'll just add this - when my kids were small, I focused as much on how they said things as I did on what they said. They learned at an early age, as long as their tone was respectful, no whining or yelling, I would consider their input. The answer might still be "no", but they'd be heard.

It's also important at that age to give kids choices. You can defuse a lot of power struggles by including them in the process at a young age...

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Old 4th April 2019, 5:39 PM   #10
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As far as debating -- no. It's not a democracy! The parents are the bosses. So just tell them that will serve them well when they're lawyers.
If an older child can address an issue in a respectful manner, I will give them the respect of listening to them. If I'm wrong, I will say so. If I'm not, I won't back down and the discussion ends. I don't want to be the kind of person who pushes a line when even if it's clear that I've made a mistake. Respect goes both ways.

The reward for me has been a young adult who's unfailingly respectful to myself and others. To refuse to listen would give me a child who holds grudges because they missed out on things when mum was being unfair and wouldn't listen.

Admitting when you're wrong is part of adulting. Role modelling that it's OK to admit when you're wrong is important.
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Old 4th April 2019, 5:59 PM   #11
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"Because I said so," is just about the worst, most lazy type of parenting that I can think of.
If an adult cannot come up with a better reason than that, for people to follow their orders and demands...then...???

E-mc2, you and your wife do, of course, need to be on the same page, but, can you presently say that you actually understand your wife's battles that she is willing to have with your daughters?

For example, I understand a desire for the communal areas to be free of clutter, but, how does it hurt or otherwise negatively impact anybody's mental, emotional, spiritual or physical health
and well-being if a child's room is a basic 'disaster area' for six out of seven days?

So, it can be that "Saturday is clean-up-your-room day" -- and mom and dad 'let go and let God' the rest of the week. BUT, it is also that all toys are picked up from the family and
other communal rooms by <5PM> every day. The reason being that "it makes mom and dad feel more relaxed and comfortable not to have to live in clutter."

That your wife finds herself in a struggle and battle of wills with very young people is on her, not on your daughters. She is the problem, and she needs to fix the problem.
Do not help or enable her to put it on your young daughters.
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Old 4th April 2019, 6:09 PM   #12
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See, I don't think there's anything wrong with saying Because I say so. It's crazy to let kids think things are up for negotiation and that enough arguing will get them what they want.
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Old 4th April 2019, 6:19 PM   #13
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I loathe "because I said so"

Unless it is something like "don't touch the hot stove", "don't run in the parking lot", etc....I see no need for it

Basically, unless there is an absolute "danger"

But when it comes to silly battles like:

Dinner has to be eaten at XYZ hour and you have to eat XYZ.

Nope.

My son has effectively "free range" over a shelf and a drawer in the fridge packed with good foods. And another set of drawers in the cabinet. He doesn't want the chicken, rice and green beans I made for dinner? He can go grab a Pb&J, crackers, applesauce, cheese stick, etc. that he wants instead.

I'm not doing the "this is dinner and you have to eat it because I said so" thing with him. He may be only 3...be he's capable of being autonomous with some choices.

Have at it with PB&J and an applesauce if that's what you want tonight instead.
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Old 4th April 2019, 6:19 PM   #14
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I agree that adults need to be the leaders and, through knowledge and experience, do know where there ought not be any negotiation.
But, I don't see where anything I suggested leaves room for 'negotiation' in areas in which there ought not be any compromise (with young children).

"Because I said so," without explanation to help the child(ren) learn and understand *why* I am saying so, only reinforces a dictator-subject relationship, IMHO.
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Old 4th April 2019, 6:20 PM   #15
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I also spend more time with our son and know my son's routine/patience/understanding/moods better than my husband does......Therefore, if I don't *ask* him to interject, I sometimes get annoyed when he does. Especially if he's being harsher than i would have been in the moment.
Yes, exactly why I'm asking what my role should typically be. I don't want to step in and make it worse.

It's something I'm definitely going to discuss with (ask) my wife about. Approaching this situation correctly is important because I don't want my wife to feel like she's falling short. She's awesome. I just see that she needs my help.

Thanks for everyones else's responses. They were very helpful.
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