NORMAN — Q: My 5-year-old is the youngest of my three children. Her older boy/girl twin siblings clearly outshine her athletically. They’re already very skilled at wakeboarding and snow skiing, for example.
I think my youngest has decided that because she doesn’t measure up to her siblings, she will simply give up. All she wants to do is hang out with me.
Furthermore, she is disrespectful to anyone who tries to interest her in trying something new. She ignores the person, acting as if they weren’t even there. When I suggest activities, she becomes whiny and makes everyone miserable. I don’t know where to begin to start with helping her, but something has to change.
A: You’re obviously “psychologizing” your daughter’s behavior and responding more to your interpretation than to what she is actually doing.
The problem is not that because she can’t keep up with her older siblings your daughter has “just decided to give up;” the problem is that she’s often rude and disrespectful. She completely tunes out people who are talking to her, for example.
You think you need to “help” her. I think you need to discipline her. However unwittingly and with good intentions, you’re making excuses for and, therefore, enabling her misbehavior.
Her rehabilitation begins with treating people with respect. I recommend that you put her on my celebrated “Three Strikes You’re Out!” program.
She receives a strike whenever she is disrespectful or whines. When she is disrespectful toward others or whines disruptively, she receives a strike. Each of the first two strikes of the day result in 15 minutes of time-out.
The third strike of the day results in her spending the remainder of the day in her room and going to bed immediately after supper.