Daughter won’t accept ‘no,’ harasses mom
by Mary Follin and Erika Guerrero
Read on Fredericksburg Parent & Family magazine
THE PROBLEM: My eight-year-old daughter won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Every time I don’t give her what she wants, she starts negotiating with me. (She’s eight.) She’s never rude or whiny, and she doesn’t beg. She just follows me around, hammering with me all the reasons I should change my mind. The conversations are civil, but they always make me feel like I’m defending myself; she can be pretty aggressive with her tactics: talking fast, loud, not listening. I am embarrassed to admit, sometimes I cave in, just to get out of the conversation. Any ideas?
MARY SAYS: Your daughter has begun to master the art of negotiation. While her tactics may be those of a child (ahem, she is one), she knows how to show up with confidence. She is adept at using her voice to express her desires, which tells me she has never been silenced by the people she loves and trusts.
Way to go, Mom. You’ve raised your daughter well.
Now, for the next step. Truly skilled negotiators shouldn’t have to rely on aggression to get their way, even though it often works. Given time, this form of negotiating can turn into manipulation, which is how you’re feeling when your daughter hammers you until you say ‘yes.’
It’s time to teach her how to negotiate with the other person’s wellbeing in mind. Heart-centered negotiation involves listening, understanding, and compromise. At the tender age of eight, your daughter needs to be taught how to listen.
The next time she asks you for something you don’t agree to, gently tell her ‘no’ and tell her why. When she comes back around, ask her to repeat what you told her. If she resists, ask her again to do so. And again. Then again. Keep going until she can demonstrate she heard you.
But most likely, it won’t end there.
She’ll be up for many more rounds; in which case you must ask her EACH TIME to repeat what you said. Your job will be to discipline yourself to resist defending your decision. Simply ask her to tell you what you’ve told her as many times as it takes.
Your daughter has detected a weak spot in you, one that may show up for you in other relationships as well. We all learn from our children, and your daughter appears to be teaching you how to stand by your convictions. Once you implement this new technique, the ‘hammering’ will stop, and your daughter’s requests will turn into conversations, which each of you feeling comfortable expressing your own points of view.
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ERIKA SAYS: My 6-year-old son has also been testing limits and pushing boundaries of late. I totally sympathize and understand; I'm exhausted by the constant badgering! I find myself over explaining my reason for each decision, rule, or consequence, as well as caving in and giving him what he wants, just so we can be done with what feels like a debate team competition. Part of me admires that your daughter, much like my son, is determined and brave enough to speak her mind.
Like everything else in parenting, figuring out the “why” is the key to finding a solution to your problem. This was no easy task for me, nor was it an easy pill to swallow, when I concluded that I was contributing to my son's behavior. Here are some reasons why your daughter might not take “no” for an answer:
Here are some things I’ve been trying in my home, and I can already see progress:
Understand that if you have fed your daughter's behavior up until now, you can expect pushback when you make a change. But be assured, this behavior is as easy to fix as it is to create. As long as you remain consistent, you’ll start to see improvement in your daughter. I’ve already seen changes in my son. Don’t lose hope and know that I am cheering you on!
ASK MOM offers parents two perspectives on today’s child-rearing issues—one from a mom with grown children (Mary), the other from a mom raising a small child (Erika). If you’re looking for creative solutions, or your mom isn’t around to ask, drop in!
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ABOUT MARY FOLLIN
Mary is the author of TEACH YOUR CHILD TO READ and ETHYR, winner of the Moonbeam Children's Book Award and the Gertrude Warner Book Award. She is mom to two grown sons and enjoys sharing her more seasoned perspective with parents of younger children.
ABOUT Erika Guerrero
Erika Guerrero is a freelance hair and makeup artist, Erika K. Beauty, single-mama to one amazing boy, and author of She’s Not Shaken, a blog offering hope and encouragement to women in all walks of life.
ABOUT Suzanne Johnson
Suzanne Johnson, mother of five children and grandmother of eight, is an illustrator, book cover designer, and author of the Realms of Edenocht series.
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