Discipline for 6 yr. old

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I have a physical disability & my 6-yr-old daughter really takes advantage of it ! She doesn' listen to me at all when I tell her to do something (or stop doing something) & just does as she pleases. I feel so powerless & inadequate,I feel like crying! I haven't got the strength to pick her up & put her in time-out, & she won't stay there on her own. I've tried taking toys or privliges away from her, but she just goes & gets the toys I took away, or turns on the TV or computer that I just told her she couldn't use. Corporal punishment just makes her aggressive & worse! She's a sensitive,loving girl as long as she gets her own way. She is well-behaved in school, so I know she knows how to behave. I don't want her to grow up as a total brat! Can anyone give me advice?

-- Anonymous, January 04, 2004


Hi Diane. I'd already responded to Fred Wolke who posted a similar query here on the forum back in September. I re-post my response slightly amended here to you, as I think it it relevant....

I think this is a problem which many parents go through, not just disabled parents! It is all to do with children pushing the boundaries, asserting themselves and seeing how far they can go. I think a lot of it stems from school, where suddenly they are forced to comply with a system/routine, etc.

My daughter has just reached 7 years. She went through a phase of hitting me in the face, as she could reach (I am a wheelchair user), being cheeky and answering me back, refusing to do things I'd asked her to, etc. and I couldn't stop her (I have shortened arms as a consequence of Thalidomide).

Is there a time of day when it is worse? I have noticed (along with other disabled parent friends) that following the clocks going back in Autumn, we have problems with our children's behaviour. Children seem to suffer more with the dark nights setting in...

I dealt with it by removing some of the quality time I spent with her - her regular bedtime story slot. She was heartbroken and sobbed herself to sleep when I said "no, I wasn't going to tell her a story tonight because she'd hit me in the face earlier".

Withdrawing treats worked well, like she couldn't use the computer for a day or a week (depending on what she'd done), or such like. I didn't threaten it, I just reminded her later on when she asked if she could play a game on the computer that she couldn't because of her earlier outburst, tantrum or whatever, that wasn't acceptable behaviour.

That would work well as if she went to hit me, I would say "remember what the punishment for this is - you can hit me if you want to, but the punishment will be the same as it was before!" Just find something that your son really enjoys.

Luckily it was a short-lived phase, although at the time I was really worried that this was going to be forever, and that I was going to end up a battered Mum! She did come out of it pretty quickly.

I think you are right to try and address this behaviour before it escalates.

My daughter still has episodes of behaving badly. Now she is a bit older, I will sit her down and talk to her about why she does it and how she thinks I feel about it. I tell her that I want her to grow up to be somebody who people like, and that is why it is so important she does things as I ask her to.

Punishment is very physically and emotionally demanding. Another thing that works well for me is - instead of putting my daughter in time out, is takign "time out" myself - going into my bedroom, telling my daughter I don't want her to come in, and then listening to some music or whatever. It reduces the anger and stress levels! And usually the enforced separation has the same effect as making them go into their bedroom or whatever.

How's about turning it around? When she wants your help (like perhaps something to eat or drink, help dressing a doll, or whatever) say "No, I don't want to help you because you did't help me by getting dressed when I asked you to/tidying your mess" or whatever. That puts them on the receiving end of non-compliance, and may work.

Alison Lapper, a disabled woman featured on the BBC programme "Child of Our Time" had problems with agression from her son, (read more on http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/closeup/lapper.shtml). She says that she found the Anna Freud Centre in London helpful. Looking at their website they might be able to offer assistance if you are unable to resolve the situation yourself:


I am sure that some simple changes to the way you react to this behaviour are all that are required.... Good Luck, and let us know if you manage to resolve the situation and how!


-- Anonymous, January 09, 2004

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