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Infants » Discipline and Guidance

Disciplining Five Kids

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Dear Dr. Susan:

I have 5 kids, 9,5,3,2 and 3 months.

I’m having problems with my 9 year old as her being disrespectful and disobedient. Her brothers (5, 3) are seeing this behavior and are following her steps. I really don’t want to hit them, I tried numerous things like the sticker system, it was working for  while and stopped so I got 4 index cards with each of their names on one and told them if they filled the card they would get $3.00 for them to use on whatever they want that has been the thing that has worked the most. Also the whole nose to the wall thing as won’t work.  What else can I do?


Dear Sylvia:

Thanks for writing. When nine year olds want to be bossy and disrespectful, irritable and copycats, and they are girls, Moms and Dads need to give them more not less responsibilities and no bribes! The copycat brothers are just being boys and having fun seeing “what happens.” That’s why stickers, bribes, punishments don’t work. The three month old and two year-old are getting attention and it is so easy to “get you”. When the older ones want to. Try to understand and tell the older three, you need to have a meeting. Make a BIG DEAL OF THE MEETING. Tell them it’s like a family party because you have noticed changes in their attitude. Be serious, but not mean; no name calling. Sit on the floor and give each child a piece of paper and a crayon and give each one a compliment. Tell them they can each draw a heart or flower because they got one compliment. Ask them to give each other compliments and be quick. They need to watch out for other behaviors that need fixing and they will get compliments for good behavior but they will lose TV time or video time or play date time, or whatever you decide if they do not help and cooperate around the house. This way they are being rewarded for being good and have consequences if not so good.

Always remind them when they are not helpful and cooperative that even though they lose something that day it doesn’t mean that they can’t do better the next day. Give them respect and hope and a way to save face! They’ll be fine and aren’t they lucky to have a mom who cares!

Thanks for writing!

Susan H. Turben, Ph.D.

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