Thursday, July 2, 2009


I'm sharing these pics of Savannah because they're (I think) pretty and remind me of the sweet side of her. They're just some quick snaps we took last week just out of the blue because I wanted to pick up my camera...

I wanted to dwell on these images first because the rest of my post isn't as cheery.

I need some advice.

Somewhere in the past few weeks Savannah's picked up an ugly habit.
And first of all, I'm wondering if this is really as big of a deal as I'm making it, or if it's just not an important battle to be fighting with her. If it is a worthy battle, I need suggestions on how to deal with it.

(no, she doesn't know I'm talking about her... she's wincing at the thunder rolling in here)

Let me just say too, that I have no idea where this came from. I have racked my brain and cannot for the life of me figure out where she may have heard an example of this or gotten the idea that it's an appropriate or acceptable response. I can think specifically of a friend or two who I could see speaking this way, copping this attitude, but these are not people she's been around anytime recently (like since school's been out).

I don't even really know how to explain it, and part of me wants to catch it on tape just so you can fully get the gist of it. But here's the deal:
Lately every time Savannah gets in trouble, every time she's handed a consequence of any sort, no matter how big or small, she puts on this sassy attitude and 'thanks' us for the 'punishment'.

It started out small something like, for example, she and Sawyer would be messing around on the piano, after many reminders of playing it nicely, eventually getting too loud and rowdy for both my taste and for the well being of the piano, and so I end it, sending them away from the piano and telling Savannah her piano privileges were gone for the rest of the day. Keep in mind this girl is normally at the piano at least once an hour; she loves playing it. But when I sent them away and told her she was to stay off for the rest of the day she says, "That's good, I was done for the day anyway."
No big deal, but somehow that 'harmless' sentence has snowballed into a single word with a whole lot of yucky attitude behind it. A whole attitude of, haha you can't hurt me.

A few examples: The other night we attempted letting the kids sleep in a tent in the playroom for the night. After a few hours of fooling around until it was obvious they wouldn't be able to fall asleep together, and moving from reminders to warnings, Ryan finally went in there and told them they were done, no more chances, each to their own beds now!
Savannah's quip was immediately, "Thanks!" Like it was no big deal, she didn't want to sleep down there anyway and she was just waiting to be sent back to her room.
Another: Savannah was going to the bathroom, Sawyer was supposed to be getting in bed. She was dinkin' around in the bathroom being obnoxiously silly, having already been told it was time to settle down and focus on getting ready for bed, enticing her brother to join her in her folly. Now mind you, she's going to the bathroom, no pants on, hopping on and off the pot joking around with Sawyer who's in the doorway. When I find this at the top of the stairs I simply and silently scoot Sawyer into his room and close the bathroom door. Savannah, who normally hates having doors closed on her, throws out a snotty "Yay!" Like I wanted that closed anyway.
And another: In the grocery store the other day I was trying to be quick and get through self-checkout fast, the kids were again being completely obnoxious "iceskating" around, bumping into things and other people, and I eventually grabbed Savannah's hand (probably a little too roughly) and pulled her right to my side telling her she was to be right there for the rest of the trip. It was obvious she was in big trouble, but the immediate thing out of her mouth was a sassy "Thanks!"
I stopped and looked at her and said, "Oh really? What are you thanking me for?"
"I was tired of doing that anyway."

This happens all day long.

So what do I do?
She's replying like this to every single consequence or redirective and it is on my last nerve. Part of me wonders if it's even something I should be reacting to... am I just being silly and who cares if she's trying to convince me (and herself?) that my "punishment" is not hurting her. So what? Is she even being outright disrespectful? I mean she's saying "Thanks/Yay" in this super sickningly sweet voice, not being outright snotty or sarcastic. But then why do I feel like it's so disrespectful? It's just so.... bratty. And I hate it.

After the last time she did it (yesterday) I sent her to her room and sat down and had a big talk about how ugly I think it is. It was hard to explain. I mean, I want to think she knows exactly what she's doing, but how do you explain the ugliness of it? How it makes me feel? How rude it is? How that is so not the type of girl I want to have in my home?
I talked it up and down. But I felt like I'd said it all before, and while she seemed to really listen and we haven't had the situations arise again (although she really hasn't been corrected/given any negative consequences since that disscussion), I'm afraid we haven't seen the end of it.

So how would you respond to that? How would you discipline in light of that?

I've said it before and I'll say it again... I hate this part of parenting. Where it's painfully obvious you're shaping these kids' values and attitudes and the way they treat others...
and it feels like such a big job that can be so easy to fail at.


Anonymous said...

First of all - beautiful pictures! She's such a pretty girl (and her hair looks highlighted from the sun!).

Secondly, while we're not dealing with this exact response/behavior, Luke has gotten pretty sassy-mouthed this summer. And I hate it, and I've let him know on several occasions that I'm not OK with it.

I think I'd come up with a specific punishment/type of discipline for that response only. Like taking away a trip to the pool/spending time with a friend, etc if she responds that way again. I don't know - just an idea.

But, know that other houses with 6 year olds are dealing with ugly attitudes (and that's what I call it, too!).

Good luck!

Katie said...

Nicole's first response is also mine, the pics of her are beautiful. She's such a pretty girl.

I have also been thinking of the weight of parenting, how we're entrusted with their values and behaviors. With this particular one, I would guess it's just a phase (that's not to dismiss it), that with enough time and consistency of whatever you decide is the consequence, it'll pass.

I can't really speak into it, since my 3-yr old isn't close to that but we have had our share of cycles/phases that I hated. And each one of those has passed at some point after some consistency.

Obviously, there's nothing applicable about my comment but hopefully it'll encourage you. I have no doubt you and R will think of the most appropriate means of dealing with it and it'll be over soon.

Heather S. said...

Love, love, love the pics!

I'm sorry you are dealing with this ugly behavior. It is so hard to imagine because she is so polite and kind when she is here.

We are also dealing with attitude stuff - just in a different manner. Ours is more of an "I'm better than you" or "How dare you take that away from me." We are still have the freak out sessions. If we tell her she can't do something or if she is being disciplined, she screams hysterically!!

I like Nicole's suggestion of having a specific consequence when she does that, but then again I wonder if you just ignore the comment and just follow through with the original consequence - maybe she will get bored with the attitude. Like the whole Love and Logic idea that maybe she just wants to get a reaction out of you.

I have one friend who has 3 boys - 2 are around our age and one is 8 and was adopted from Russia a couple of years ago. She uses the whole idea of "dealing with this is taking time away from me doing ____" so then she has a list of chores (not fun chores) that he has to choose from when he is in trouble for things like attitude, sassiness.

So with Savannah, you could follow through with your original consequence that she said, "thanks" to, and when that is done, you could have her choose something from a list of chores. I don't know. Just a thought. I might try it with Norah because I really do end up spending a significant amount of time dealing with the "fits."

Debbie said...

I think you did the right thing in discussing it with her. In addition, I used to have our kids write an "essay" with a required number of words to explain why their behavior is not correct or acceptable, which forced them to at least reflect on it while they wrote it out. Although you may ask Ryan if it did any good in curbing the behavior problem. (But, I enjoyed reading them!) One other suggestion would be to explain to her God's perspective regarding her behavior and how it actually hurts God and look up scripture verses to enforce it; then all of you memorize the verses together to reinforce godly behavior and traits which God wants us all to live by daily. There are probably some good chapters in the Princess Devotional we gave her that address this or support the godly character which is the opposite of being sassy or having a bad attitude, especially toward her parents. Let me know how it works if you adopt this method! Love, Debbie (PS Beautiful pictures of our "sweetie" which we are so excited to see soon!)

Steph said...

Great pics of Savannah. She's such a beautiful girl!

I don't have any advice, since I don't have kids and know nothing about parenting. But I don't think you are overreacting. I can see how you feel with the whole situation! I hope things work out soon! Good luck :)

Mom said...

The pictures of Savannah put a big smile on my face.:0) So pretty, then I realized she is looking way too much like a "big" girl. Really sad to hear about the attitude.We all know she is very bright though and fortunately- tenderhearted. She understands you think it is an ugly attitude & YOU don't want it in your house.But tell her how God views it.As SIN. I would think that if that same attitude rears its ugly head again, I would sit down and talk(again?),then pray WITH her.(It really made an impression on the k-kids-praying with them about a difficult situation/attitude.)Reminding her that she needs to be pretty on the inside too.And that the attitude makes her"look ugly ",rude & dissrespectful. And that is NOT who she is.That is NOT who God created her to be.Then pray WITH HER that God helps her chose polite/respectful words to say when she is disciplined.Remind her how very special she is; especially to God.Then give her a real BIG hug!!!(one for me too!) XOXOXOXOX Have a FUN & safe 4TH!Will be thinking of you all...and anxious to see more pictures!

my3buckaroos said...

Caleb is doing the same thing. Mostly, I ignore it, and hope it goes away. I really like your mom's idea, though. I'm going to try that. The other thing is to look at the silver lining - at least she's not throwing a tantrum! :) Good luck!

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