Sunday, January 23

3 Year Old Only Child, Mean and Won't Share

Q:  My daughter is mean! She's caring and mean at the same is that possible? Yes, she's an only child and 3 years old, but she's mean to other kids around her and doesn't like to share until she's ready. I would really like to break this before she starts pre-school. Thank you.

A:  Well, the bottom line is that she is getting reinforced for being mean...somewhere, somehow, someONE is letting her get by with it.  It can be subtle at first, and a caregiver will let it slide, then it escalates - and by then, a caregiver is too tired to fight it.  So here's how to stop it: Make sure she does NOT get what she wants when she is mean.  Period.  Figure out what she is trying to gain by being mean, then give her the opposite.  That could mean no doll, no attention, no friend...whatever.  (Expect some tantrums if she is used to getting her way.)  After that, you must guide her on what she needs to do and say instead.  She won't know until you tell her!  Model, model, model.  Tell her, "when that happens you need to [use nice words] and tell mommy [no thank you]"...or whatever it is you want to see instead.
The key is to stay firm and consistent.  Yes, our sweeties can be so darn cute, but DON'T let that turn you into a pile of mush and let her get by with behavior you don't like.  Remember, you have to teach her now, or she will grow up and treat you and others with incredible disrespect...and where's the joy in that??  And sometimes it is hard (especially with an only child or the "baby" of the family) to keep from spoiling them (mine went through a phase..whew!..I was rather worried!).  We tend to buy them everything on the planet and tell them how pretty they are every minute of the day - and yes, it's nearly impossible NOT to, but when we over-do, it has a negative affect.    No joke, I know a kid who, in her heart of hearts, thinks she is better than everyone else, prettier than everyone else, and more special than everyone else.  All because Mommy couldn't stop with the compliments.  Yes, we love our kids more than life itself, but this has detrimented this child to the point where she has no humility, compassion, or empathy for anyone or anything.  THAT will not get her far in life.  She is unkind to others (rude, snotty, etc.) and mom still lets her get away with it.  Friends are scarce and she wonders why! 
I'm sure you're an awesome Mommy - just hold your ground and command some respect for yourself and others.  She needs to learn a new way to get what she teach her!  Tell her exactly what to say and how to act.  My book also has a section on sharing (that dreaded word!). 
Good luck!

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