As I mentioned before Curly Q. is going through some horrible times. Part of me knows it is mostly normal tween hormonal crap; I see many of her friends going through the same things. Part of me wants to take up corporeal punishment or send her off to military school. Always before I could count on her intelligence to help her see futility in being too argumentative, but lately even that doesn't help her.
It started about 6 months ago with eye rolling and grunting when she didn't like what was being said. I tried to deal with that, but I guess I was so surprised to see her standing up for herself that I didn't do too much to squelch it. I guess I chalked it up to freedom of expression, and didn't worry too much about it. Later I started to see her getting a bit physical with her sister. She would grab things from her or push her out of the way. I see other siblings behave that way, so once again I wasn't too worried. Obviously I disciplined her for it, but I didn't see it as a bigger problem. Finally came the outright defiance. It is pretty new, but it has me scrambling as to what to do now.
Curly Q. has always been an empathetic kid. She never would intentionally harm someone, and if she accidentally even hurt someone's feelings she would apologize immediately. She would stress over anyone who was down or upset. She took blame upon herself when it wasn't hers to take. I worried sometimes that she was too eager to take the blame.
Recently, however, she refuses to admit to any wrong doing. I've tried to talk to her about it in regards to situations that do not involve me, and all she will say is, "I didn't do anything wrong." Even when I tried to point out things that I know she understands are wrong, she will only admit to responding to someone else's wrongdoing.
It makes it impossible to discipline her. I am not an authoritarian parent. I discipline only to educate my kids. I see my job as someone to help them grow into the best person they can be. That won't work the kids don't understand what they did wrong, and why it was wrong. So what do I do next?
So far I have tried positive parenting. I try to notice all the good things she does. I know she appreciates that, but it didn't seem to shape her behavior. Next I tried punishments. She loves her laptop so I tried taking that away. That worked while the punishments were in place, but I didn't feel like it made any long term change in her attitude. I feel like I need to do something radical...
So this morning, after she got completely mad at me about something, then refused to admit that she had been disrespectful I decided to ignore her. Not totally, but as I explained it to her, I have no expectations for her so she should have no expectations of me. When I made lunch I didn't make any for her. When I brought the laundry up for folding, I put hers in the chair in her room and let her know they were there.
At first she didn't even notice, but then she asked if I was mad at her. I told her no, but that I was tired of doing all these things for someone with so little respect for me. Tonight I will send her an e-mail. In it I will try to explain the lesson I am hoping she will learn from this. I have no idea if this will work any better than the other things I have tried, but I have to keep trying!