Six and Sassy

Keana is six and sassy and not always in that cute, confident way. You ask her to do something and she does the opposite. Examples:

  • Keana’s bothering her sister and I can hear Maia scream “Stop! Stop!” over and over, yet Keana persists. I know she hears us tell her to listen to Maia, and knows herself what “good” choices are, but she continues just a little bit longer.
  • She picks up Aliya and swings her around, and Aliya thinks it’s fun the first time, but of course the second and third time she’s not so sure. We bring Keana’s attention to Aliya’s signs that she doesn’t like it, but she does it again, a minute later.
  • She says she wants to do something like turn on the TV. You say it’s not a good time, that she’s already watched enough, and even as you’re talking, she walks away towards the living room to turn it on. Oh man. That one really gets me.

I get the sense it’s because she needs attention and/or she’s trying out the boundaries of her own power, but we’ve still struggled with how best to handle it. I find myself echoing what I was told growing up: “keep your hands to yourself” and “if you can’t do a good job listening, there will be consequences”. In these moments, my best examples and logic eventually feel like threats, and at the end of the day I worry about what I’m really teaching her. At the same time, of course, we need to keep everyone happy and safe.

Maia is now old enough that we’ve been able to have them work things out between the two of them, with one of us facilitating the discussion. We make sure they both get to talk and tell the other how the conflict made them feel and think of ways to remedy the issue together. It’s definitely going to take patience and discipline to work at this higher level, but I know the payoff will be much greater. The really tough times though, are those moments when Ms. Thang pulls her power play at the end of the day, when everyone’s tired, you’re cooking dinner, holding Aliya, and trying to mentally and emotionally wrastle with her.

I really need to get that book, How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen, and How to Listen so Your Kids Will Talk. I’ve been saying that for years to myself, but I think it’s finally at the time where I need some back-up. And of course it’s especially difficult, because most of the time Keana is a brilliant, sweet angel, so the contrast in behavior is striking and therefore harder to handle at times. We’ve come to trust and expect a lot from her and maybe that’s part of the problem too. Then there’s always that part of any situation with all of us, really, that we can chalk it up to development. We are all learning and growing, not just the kids, but Sarah and I too. For me though, labeling it as “normal behavior” sure doesn’t make it any easier to know how to deal with it. Basically, I guess, there are just going to be these challenges as a parent, and I really do need to just keep at it with everything I’ve got to avoid falling into bad habits, complacency, and handling these difficult situations with my own damaging behavior.

[big sigh]