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My daughter is a kind soul. Everyone who’s met her compliments her gentle nature and commends her for being mature with her younger sisters and looking out for them.
However, it wasn’t always like that. A few months before she turned 7, I noticed she started becoming moody and would snap at her sisters. I started sensing that there was a mean streak in my daughter.
She wasn’t always quick to say ‘Sorry’ when she was wrong, she shouted at her sisters whenever they tried to enter her room, and she didn’t feel remorse when any of her sisters would hurt themselves.
Thankfully, after a couple of incidences, I noticed it early and swung into action.
Even though the African mom in me wanted to handle it in the traditional way of using punishment, I allowed God’s wisdom to guide me, and I did things a little differently.
Here, ill like to outline some steps I took to deal with the mean streak in your daughter.
Observing our kids is important so we can notice when their behaviour changes.
I hope this helps you as I have seen tremendous changes with my daughter, and her bond with her sisters is stronger than before.
1. Watch all her interactions with her siblings and other kids.
Note how she reacts when provoked and if she is playing rough. Ensure you call her out early on small things by asking them what is going on once you notice some friction. Kids shouldn’t be left unattended, so it’s important that as they play, you check up on them to be sure they are playing safely and that no one is upset.
2. Give attention to the victim first before dealing with the erring child.
Ensure you pacify the child that was hurt so they don’t feel ignored or that their pain is unimportant. If anyone is injured, try to get them cleaned up and tidy up any mess that was made. If anyone needs medical attention, ensure they are taken care of before you reprimand the erring child.
3. Line out the consequences of her actions.
Let your child know that what she did is wrong and that you disapprove of it.
Explain to her how it spirals into other things and affects other people. Such as how you had to leave what you are doing to sort this issue or how other kids can no longer enjoy their play time because everyone is upset. Explain the principle of cause and effect–our actions (both good and bad) have consequences. Hence we must always think before we take any action.
4. Validate her feelings but not her actions.
Let her know it’s ok to get upset, but it’s not ok to hurt others or hit people. Her anger could be justified, but people would not forget how you made them feel or what you said when you got upset.
You felt it should have been your turn to play with the toy, right? But next time, instead of taking matters into your hands, it’s better to report to an adult so that you don’t get into trouble for doing something that hurts another person.
5. Ask her how she would feel if the tables were turned and she was treated the same way.
Would she like it if someone took her toy, pushed her hard, or stole her book?
Would she feel sad?
Would she feel loved?
Would she still want to be friends with them?
Wait for her answers to these questions to be sure she understands your point. Speak calmly but be firm with her.
6. Let her know the consequence of her actions if she were an adult.
If an adult did what they just did, It is called an assault, theft, misdemeanour or a felony. They could get arrested and sent to jail, and mummy cannot help them. What she did is serious, and she can’t joke around or start to cry. She has to take responsibility for her actions and apologise sincerely.
7. Ask her: ‘what else can you do next time if you feel upset, so you don’t get into trouble?’
(For instance, walk away, use a stress ball, and find someone to talk to about what happened so you can feel better). She has to find something to get her to calm down when she gets upset.
Let her suggest so you can be sure she understands you. It would help her shift her feeling and avert any disaster.
8. Get her to apologise sincerely to the other kids.
She needs to say the words and mean them. If she took something from someone, this would be the best time to return it.
She must also apologise to the child’s parents if someone is hurt physically. It’s also good practice for her to promise not to repeat the behaviour.
9. Role-play scenarios together during downtimes.
Take turns together to role-play scenarios like this ahead of time. It will help her remember how to act when such situations happen in real-time. I love how the girls giggle and laugh when I make funny faces during our role-play.
10. Prayer is always the key.
Above all, prayer is always the first resort when we notice character traits that need amends. Search the scriptures for relevant verses peculiar to the situation, get on your knees and pray the scripture over your daughter. It works wonders all the time. Here’s one bible verse i recommend:
Set a guard over ______ mouth, Lord;Psalm 141:3-4
keep watch over the door of ______lips.
Do not let ______ heart be drawn to what is evil
so that _______ take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
do not let _______ eat their delicacies.
Kids need to know that they have an advocate. They need to be accountable for all their actions. This would increase their safety when they play and remove the mean streak in your daughter.
Which of these resonates with you? What has been working for you? Share in the comment below.