Friday, November 12, 2010

Quick question/almost forgot

Ah! Barely remembered to post before heading to bed. Brian was off work yesterday and today so we've had a combination of house projects (running electric for ceiling lights in all 4 bedrooms) and enjoying this strange burst of warm November weather (2 parks in one day!).

So, I have a question for you. Does anyone have advice about what to do when you 4 year just acts unkindly? It's hard for me to admit, but there are lots of times when Katy says or does things that just seem mean spirited, harsh, rude, etc. I know that in her heart of hearts she's not mean and hateful, but she might say or do something to another child at the park or to an adult if they are trying to get her to do something she doesn't want to do. It's almost always an act of frustration about not getting her way.

But do you punish a child for being unkind? Something about that doesn't seem right, but I feel very strongly that it shouldn't happen, so I need to do SOMEthing. It seems like the right answer is "model kindness and she will be kind," but I hope that if you know me in real life (and Brian), you will believe me when I tell you that I am kind to everyone. I can't remember the last time I said something mean to someone? (unless this is a huge blind spot?)

Also believe me when I tell you that I have talked it to death with her. We have gone over it and over it and over it. Why she needs to be nice, how it makes her friends feel when she says something mean, how God wants us to love others, etc. When she isn't frustrated, she seems to understand, but the behavior continues.

I do think it has gotten better over the past year, so perhaps it's an age/maturity thing. But I feel so embarrassed to ask about it. I hear other parents say that their kids are so perfectly sweet and kind and generous, and I wonder what I am doing (or not doing) so that she isn't always that way?


Weed said...

I wish I knew what to tell you--as you know, we're dealing with our own set of issues with Rachel. Just know that Katy is NOT the only one and I don't think you're doing anything wrong! Rachel is certainly not one of those "perfectly sweet and kind and generous" 4 year olds (I doubt there are many of them). I think a lot of it is maturity and still figuring out how social interactions should look. I would say keep talking about it, praying with her about it, and being consistent, and eventually she'll likely grow out of it as making and keeping friendships becomes more important to her.

Pam said...

You are not alone in this. Jack, for all of his kind nature, can really surprise me sometimes just how mean and aggressive he is to his brother. I tend to be a bit of a disciplinarian with this, since both Craig and I were brought up to respect elders and would never have dared speak rudely to an adult. So I have zero tolerance with being rude to adults.
If Jack is having power struggles with another kid I try and let them work it out but if he's mean I step in and he gets told off or a time-out. Last year at the park a kid threw sand in Jack's face (he did it with mean intent, he wasn't playing). Anyway, his mum said, in a sweet sing-song voice "that's not kind, let's not do that again". When he did it again and she didn't do anything I was so mad at her that I had to leave the park. I know some parents don't like to be too hard on kids but there's also something so obnoxious about parents not giving any discipline at all. I think the reason I'm a disciplinarian is that my mum was - and I didn't turn out too bad I don't think :-)

Pam said...

I also meant to say and forgot to add (mummy brain) that I have known Katy for all her life and she is wonderful - so whatever you are doing is working.

Kate said...

Colin's teachers told me that empathy isn't really developed until around 6-7 years of age. So for a couple of years before that, we sort of help them look at the facial expressions of the other kids so they learn that what they do has an effect on others. They don't always realize that others have different feelings than themselves. So don't stress too much. (Easy for me to say...I only obsess about it myself). But Colin is finally starting to "get it" and he will be 6 next month. Right on schedule.