So I am taking you up on your offer to ask questions, so here goes: I have a five year old very stubborn boy. We are working with him on not talking back and the whole respect thing and in the meantime he is driving me crazy. I am getting pretty frustrated when I tell him go to your room and he automatically comes back with - no. Then he won't go or he goes part way or shakes his head at me.
He is too big to spank which I am sure I am not supposed to being doing anyway. Threats to take things away don't work. I feel like I am at my wits end and need a good leather belt (just kidding). But seriously, what is a mom to do? Thanks in advance for any help! - Steph
Boy, can I relate to this problem! My son was the same way at that age. He's still stubborn and can get a bit sassy, but he will go to his room when we tell him. It took a lot of hard work and trial and error, but we finally figured it out.
We used a technique from the Love and Logic program called "the Brain Drain." Here's how it works: the parent loses energy from problematic behaviors. Sounds easy, doesn't it? It's not. First, you have to decide what behaviors are going to drain your energy. In this case, it would be kids who don't go to their room when asked. For others, it may be sassy talk, sibling fighting, whining, etc., so this technique can work with lots of those annoying types of behaviors that truly do drain our energy...well, at least they drain mine!
The next step is to figure out how your energy will be restored. This can be done in a number of ways, e.g., extra chores, paying the parent so they can hire a babysitter while they go restore their energy, etc. In order for this to be effective, you need to know your child's currency (to use a Dr. Philism). Now, my little Alex P. Keaton really didn't like parting with his money, so he had to pay us so we could get a sitter. That was his currency (no pun intended).
After a while, however, he didn't care so much about the money thing. His currency then became his Bionicle collection. Let me preface this by saying that I try my best to avoid taking things from kids. I would much rather use positive discipline strategies than negative, but sometimes we have to go with what works. Selling Bionicles to the neighbor kids became the way we funded the babysitter so we could go out and restore our energy . For our daughter, it was her Barbie collection, and then her Sweet Street collection, and on and on.
Thankfully, we never actually had to take any of the said items and sell them because the kids went to their rooms to protect their goods. This may be because we had already established that we said what we meant and meant what we said. There was no question in their minds or ours that we would actually follow through on this action. This sped the process of getting them to go to their rooms when told significantly. My point is that you must be prepared to actually follow through with whatever consequence you give -- always.
Having said all that, here's an example of how the technique would work in action:
Mom: You aren't much fun to be around. Why don't you go to your room and come down when you are sweet.
Mom: It drains my energy when kids don't go to their room when asked. Hmmm. How are you going to help me get my energy back?
Child: I'm not! I don't care!
Mom: That's all right. I can think of plenty of ways to get my energy back. I think I need some time away so we'll need to hire a sitter. Since you are the reason I need time away, you will have to pay for her. How are you going to do that?
Child: I'm not! It's not my problem!
Mom: Oh. Don't worry about it. I'm sure there are lots of things in your room I can sell to pay for a sitter. Let me head up there and see what you've got.
Child: NO! (as he races up the stairs to safe guard his treasures)
Now some people might say this seems a bit harsh. Not to sound too redundant, but you have to pick and choose what techniques work for you. This technique worked very well with our very strong willed son. We repeated as necessary and got to the point where all we had to do was say, I get paid to look at kids who don't go to their rooms when asked. Now, they go to their rooms immediately when asked because they know that if they don't, we are prepared to find some loot to sell at the garage sale for the babysitter fund. I haven't had to do this in almost four years. This is not to say that they are happy when they are going up to their rooms, but usually a request to be sure that they stomp on each step and slam their doors as hard as they can keep them from doing so. Aaahhhh, reverse psychology...it really does work!
Here is a link to a printable handout from the Love and Logic Institute that discuss the technique as well.
I hope that you find this information helpful. When done correctly, the brain drain technique can really make your life easier as a parent all the while teaching your child to make good choices for himself. It's a win-win situation! Thanks for being a Mentor Mom reader, Steph!
How do you get your kids to go to their rooms when asked? Post your techniques!