NORMAN — Q: The “sassiness” that I have heard so much about from my friends started a few months ago with my 5-year-old daughter. She will say things to me that I actually find myself tongue-tied on how or what to say to correct her.
Sometimes, she apologizes, which tells me she knows she’s talking disrespectfully to me. What do you think about 10 minutes of time out for this sort of thing?
Also, on a recent vacation with another family in which there are two other girls around the same age, my daughter became very competitive.
She constantly wanted to “race” to see who would be first, for example. Is this normal for this age?
A: I take it your friends think sassiness is normal for this age child. That may be true today, but sassiness was far from the norm two-plus generations ago.
Furthermore, there are still a considerable number of kids this age who are very respectful of adults.
It is certainly true that television and electronics in general have altered the behavior of children. Too many of today’s kids, from relatively early on, pick up a very inappropriate manner of talking to adults from characters on television sit-coms.
After all, this sassy manner of addressing and responding to adults is almost always followed by the laugh track. This is one of several reasons why I am completely and unequivocally opposed to allowing young children any exposure to television outside of educational programs on channels like Discovery and History.
But even without the toxicity of supposedly family fare on television, young kids often pick up sassiness from friends. When she was 8, my daughter had a friend in the neighborhood who talked to her mother like she was a servant or a peer.
Amy would sometimes come home from said friend’s house using the same tone with us. When this happened — and without giving her a warning — we would confine Amy to her room for the rest of the day. That curtailed her loose tongue rather quickly.