How to Parent a Six Year Old?

silverswordOctober 9, 2008

I have a general question on parenting a six year old. In general she is really good. She's kind to other children, to animals. She is good in school and pays attention to her teacher.

But, she whines. About anything and everything. She pouts. A lot. If she doesn't get what she wants. If her waffle is "too crunchy". Obviously these are normal traits in a young child. How do I get it across to her that it's not acceptable behavior?

Also, what kind of chores/responsibility do you think a child this age should have?

She sets her own place at the table and cleans her place when she's done. She sometimes does dishes with me. She is starting to help cook. She is responsible for feeding her fish, cleaning her room, folding and putting away her clothes, bringing her clothes out to the living room when her basket is full. When she comes home from school she washes her hands and face, and sits down to do her homework. I make a snack, and either before or after her homework she eats it.

She is a really good kid. I just don't know how to handle the whiny, little baby voice, and the injured look when she doesn't get everything she wants. Help!!!

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Tell her it is only accpetable to talk in a grown up voice. When she does that, give her what she wants. That is, when she says, "May I please be excused from the table" instead of "But I wanna go watch tv..... whine, whine, whine". Say, "Great job using your big girl voice! Yes, you may be excused". If she says it the latter way, ignore her completely when she whines/pouts. You can even walk away entirely, in order take away her audience. I have to say, if I gave my son a waffle that was too cruncy, I'd probably say "That's it for breakfast. You may have it or wait until lunch/snack for your next meal to eat.". And if he refused or whined more, I'd just dump it and move on. Of course, you'd have to get past the wasting of food and making sure she didn't eat until the next time to eat, in order to get to this valuable lesson.

Those are great chores and in line with her age. Seems like I got LF to start helping with "family" chores (less personaly oriented) at that age. I began having him get the smaller trash cans and put them into the big going out trash, then reline them, and put them back. He also put away all the grocery bags after shopping. It became an important lesson to teach him everyone takes care of eveyrone since we're a family at that point.

You're doing fine, keep it up!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 12:53PM
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Thank you Rob! That's pretty much what we have been doing -not giving her what she wants until she uses her "big girl voice", and then complimenting and moving on once she does.

She does help with the garbage and watering the plants too. She is very helpful, it's just the whining and pouting and stomping and tone of voice "Okaaaaaay!" or she'll say "butter!" and I'll either ignore her until she says "will you butter this for me please mom" or I'll say "butter........" and she'll take the prompt.

It's just me and my craziness over it. I was sick yesterday and when she started in over her homework being "too hard" and wanting to play on her computer, and go to judo (which she can't go to unless she does her homework first) I just felt like what I was doing wasn't working. She tunes me out.

Thank you for the encouragement. I don't want to squash her little spirit but I sure wish that evil twin would pack up and move out!!

(BTW, when I asked her why she was talking to mommy like that she said "it's not me, it's the ghost who lives in my head". I told her to tell that bad ghost that DD is in charge, not the ghost, and to tell the ghost she had to leave. Last night later I asked her if the ghost was still there and she said no, she went away.)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 1:15PM
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Totally ignore the behavior, you justify it by asking her WHY she talked that her a amunition (The ghost)...even the butter said "butter...".....literally you have to totally ignore the behavior. At 6 she knows what she has to do. So she says "Butter..." you keep doing whatever you were doing, like nothing at all was said, then she will say "can you please pass the butter?" you then pass the butter and say "Here you go honey"...don't mention the "Big girl voice" anymore either...she's playing a game with you.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 1:45PM
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You're probably right, ignoring until the "correct" behavior emerges is the cleanest way of dealing with this. I do feel like she's playing a game with me, that's why it is so frustrating. Good suggestion, I'll try that. Thank you!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 2:02PM
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Absolutely....and you are playing along. Your ears simply don't hear a whiney voice....just nothing registers.
When faced with a friend of a grandchild who might do the "whiney voice" thing I say the first time "I can't understand you when you talk like that"....and then you are free to ignore until the right voice is spoken.
Negative reinforcement vs extinguishing the behavior, ignoring works faster.
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 3:51PM
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We have the same whiney voice problem with my 6 year old ss. I think that is just the age. The phase will pass as long as you do not cater to the whining. They just have to learn that whining gets them nowhere!

As for chores it sounds like your dd is very responsible. All our kids do chores too and it sounds like our 6 year olds are doing similar things.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 4:45PM
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I don't want to sound critical, but I think children should play, use imaginative play, have free time, and us parents should spend time playing with them too.

I think chores are good, but I think children become too stressed if they have too many chores. If they get the general rule that they should help out when asked, then that is great.

Perhaps your little girl whinges because she wants you to spend some time playing with her. How much time do you spend doing puzzles together, playing shops, going for walks, making mud pies ? Her life sound regimented to me.

I guess every parent has different styles of parenting.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 5:21PM
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Thanks Mom2emall! I knew it was normal, but I'm just at the tipping point where this is concerned. I don't cater to the whining, but it's really hard to get it right every time... groan... all the things I wish I could take back! I was just looking for more ways to deal with it because it seems my methods aren't working.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 5:22PM
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Hi Popi,
I didn't talk about her entire day because I'm focused on one issue: getting rid of the whine.

But I'll elaborate since you are concerned. I pick her up at 2:15 every day. We walk home 1/2 mile together and talk about her day. She does her homework while I straighten up in the room and help her. Then we do a game/puzzle or something. We read a lot of books together and go to the library every two weeks. Once a week we go to the farmer's market for a few hours and walk around and go in the pet shops and look at the animals. We play games with the neighbors, basketball, etc. and we go on walks around the neighborhood several times a week. She gets pretty much my undivided attention from 2:15-7:30 (her bedtime)

She has a lot of free play time, and she gets A LOT of attention, both from me, and DH and her Bio-dad and her grandparents.

I don't think being required to clean up after one's self is more responsibility than a six year old can handle. But I'm a first time mom, so I have a lot to learn! That's why I'm asking questions :)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 5:39PM
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Re the ghost issue - I can't remember what age my DD was when I had to explain to her that "the voice" in her head was her "conscience" LOL. Maybe it's the same thing as her "ghost".

Ignoring her until the whining stops works. I used to tell DD "I can't understand anything when you whine. Talk properly so I can understand you and maybe things will work out for you." Did the trick for me eventually.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 6:46PM
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You sound like a terrific mother, you are doing a fantastic job.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 9:50PM
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I have a 6 y/o too. He's my youngest. He whines, too. It happens mostly when he is over tired or frustrated. When it's a little bit I ignore him and let him remember on his own to "ask me properly." If it's more of an all over poor me, everyone feel sorry for me, kind of whine, I take him to a separated place in the house to pull himself together. Like his room or the bathroom, leave him alone there. I often say things like "your brain doesn't work when you're whining. Stop whining and you'll figure it out." Cuz it really doesn't, you can't whine and think at the same time.

Some days I probably feel too sorry for him, I'm weak. He's the youngest. All his little life we've had days that were busy with things that had nothing to do with him, the activities of his older siblings. So some days I see him get whiny, I know it's b/c he's tired and there is nothing I can do about the cause. I try to help him learn to distract himself, to cope, and not just take the short term easy way out.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 10:14PM
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Would you please come to my house and get my 16 and 20 year old kids to do the things that your 6 year old does!?! I would be forever grateful...:o)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 11:03PM
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Khandi: "I can't understand anything when you whine. Talk properly so I can understand you and maybe things will work out for you."

Stephanie: "your brain doesn't work when you're whining. Stop whining and you'll figure it out."

You ladies have given me two great sentences to work with, thank you!

Khandi, I was wondering about the "ghost" thing too. At first I thought "imaginary friend?" and then I thought "good angel/bad angel?". I think you're right, it's just her way of working it out.

Popi, thank you. I'm really trying hard to be a solid influence and this is the one thing that's really wearing me down.

Believer, you crack me up!! Thank you for putting a smile on my face so early in the morning :)

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 10:04AM
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"I need you to use your calm voice, then I can understand what you are saying "

"When you speak like that I cannot understand you"

Useful phrases to use on anybody, really !

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 5:35PM
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