Patience Vampires

Catherine from Everything is Under Control has a post about how it would seem that older children – elementary aged in this case – are a bit harder to maintain. As the parent to an elementary aged child, if I were to be brief, I would shout, “Amen, Sister!”

If my daughter tries to run away when it’s time to get dressed after her bath, it only takes me a couple of steps before I scoop her up, take her to her room, and while it may be like trying to stuff a cat in a sock, she’s quickly dressed.

An older child, on the other hand, while he may not run from you (but don’t bet on it), he will most certainly try to take you down in an argument of nonsense.

Parent: “It’s time for a bath.”

Child: “Why?”

Patient Parent: “You didn’t have one last night and you stink.” (My god, little boys really DO stink!)

Belligerent Child: “I had one last night.”

Patience-Waning Parent: “No, you didn’t.”

Obnoxious Child: “Yes, I did. YOU just don’t remember. I DO!”

Frazzled Parent: “I know for a fact, you did NOT have a bath. Get going before I fill the tub with cold water and throw you in that!”

It seems that many arguments were ending with the threat of bodily discomfort, including my husband’s ultimate threat: “…before I spank your butt!” While I’m not against spanking, we haven’t spanked in our house in a couple years now, at least since we had so many incidents of our son not being able to keep his hands to himself at school. Can’t hardly tell him to control himself if we can’t, right?

Frankly, I don’t see how the arguing will improve as my son gets older. It’s not like he’ll grow stupid and won’t be able to figure out that you did indeed buy Double-Stuff Oreos because he can see the crumbs on your face whereas now he might believe that you wiped your face after messing with some potting soil; or that you really don’t have any money in the bank and you can’t afford the set of Bakugans/Pokemons/Stupidkans cards he found at the Target check-out counter while buying aforementioned Oreo cookies in Halloween Orange.

Just heed what Catherine and I are telling you. If your baby isn’t sleeping well, or not eating well, or they refuse sippy cups, or even as toddlers won’t dress themselves, or still suck their thumbs, or won’t brush their teeth…oh, honey, I would give anything for you to be able to experience that child in 6 or 7 years for just a day so you can know that the ages infant to four are really just walks in the park.

So when I see a post from someone who is struggling with their younger child and they ask, “It’ll get better, right? It has to! (they add – almost convincingly)” I say, yes, because whatever you are dealing with DOES indeed get better. Breath a sigh of relief, wipe your brow, but make sure to learn the fine art of How to Influence Your Adolescent Child by occasionally getting into an argument with a house plant, the random rock or even the cat. While it probably won’t help, it can’t hurt to act a little crazy around your child. He or she may be less likely to get into a war of words with you later.

13 thoughts on “Patience Vampires”

  1. Oh, the arguing! This morning the argument was about how P didn’t want to get up because he was SOOO TIRED (insert extreme whininess here). Without even thinking, I pulled out “Yeah so am I, but you don’t have a choice so whining isn’t going to help.” And then I realized I was on autopilot because I swear I say that at least once every damn day. Actually, a day on which I only said that once would be a relief.

    At the same time, the conversations and creativity are awesome at this age. P pulls out some excuses that have me in tears from laughing so hard.

  2. Amen, sister. This is why I cracked open the wine bottle WELL before 5 today.

    It kills me when people complain that their toddler won’t LET the parent put them down/brush their teeth/change their diaper. I mean, I’m assuming the parent is considerably stronger than the child, yes? What, I’m not supposed to physically restrain my child when they’re trying to squirm a poopy bottom all over the carpet?

  3. ahhh so really in effect arguing with a child over the age of 4 is indeed like arguing with a fully grown man who still wont eat his peas. gotcha! i’ll keep that in mind.

  4. Here is something to try for that age group – the broken record. (Nothing works with every child but I found that this especially irritated elementary age boys into doing what was asked of them.) The broken record means that you simply repeat your direction/request no matter what he says in return. “It is time to take a bath. Please go get ready.” No matter what his response you calmly reply with the same direction “It is time for your bath. Go get ready.” You might have to say it 50 times the first couple of times until they learn that you won’t engage in argument or reasoning and will simply keep repeating yourself…then it might drop down to only having to say it a dozen times 😉

    1. So…how’s that working with Sabrina?

      Actually, I have more about this and how we ARE dealing with my son’s argumentative ways. One of them is very similar to the broken record.

      1. Something that worked for us – when the kids were a little older is having a consequence for having to be told multiple times. For instance, if I had to tell them more than twice – or there is ANY backtalk, then the next weekend they were grounded. That starts becoming more and more meaningful as they get older and want to do things with their friends. On more than one occasion I canceled sleepovers – or postponed them until the following weekend. That was VERY effective.

        While I’m not opposed to spanking (spanking not beating) – for me it wasn’t an option. I was beat as a child – with a leather belt, a wooden spoon, a slipper – whatever was handy. I have always been afraid that I could easily fall into the “beating mentality” and cross a line, so I’ve just always avoided it.

        It’s not easy, but consistency is the key.

      2. Actually Sabrina has just reached an age where I can use it a little bit…and it has worked the couple of times I’ve used it. I’ll tell her she needs to go to the potty, she’ll try to distract me with the 37 things she would rather do, I continue to repeat my request and completely ignore the other items, she will eventually say “Oh, okay.” and do as I asked. Like I said – not a magic bullet that works for everyone – just something that I found that worked with a lot of kids when I worked with kid with behavioral issues.

  5. Talk to me when you take your daughter to the doctor for birth control because your son is friends with her boyfriend and he’s informed you that the boyfriend is not, shall we say … “headed to a seminary” anytime soon. Suddenly arguing about whether or not a bath was taken the night before won’t see so bad. 🙂

    While it does get better the older they get – the problems and the arguments become that much more life altering.

    I would love to go back to a time where *impulse control issues* weren’t about sex and underage drinking.

    Motherhood is not for the weak.

    1. I cried when I realized that someday I would have to give my daughter away at a wedding. My brain fritzes out it even comes close to knowing that someday she’ll (or he’ll) have s. e. x.


      1. Don’t think for a second that I condone her having sex, I don’t – and I won’t. It still blows my mind and every time she leaves the house, I want to scream. She is a really good kid, gets excellent grades and has really given us no problems. My daughter and her boyfriend have also been “together” for 14 months, so I am at least comforted by the fact she is truly in a relationship and not screwing around with anyone and everyone.

        Plus her curfew is 9pm. That helps as well. lol

  6. Uh-oh. I am so screwed. My daughter just turned three and has been arguing with me for about 6 months now. The advent of talking was pretty much her cue to start arguing. Fortunately, she does like rules and orderliness, so that may be the way to work her around to my way of thinking. I know it’s just going to get worse, though.

  7. Wow, Catherine’s description of her son sounds like mine. Mine is only in kindergarten but also has impulse control issues (per his report card). Sometimes I think they expect too much from a bunch of 5 – 6 year olds. Other than a few minutes at recess, they don’t really have an opportunity to be kids.

    1. My son had the exact same comments sent home with him as well. It’s always good to know that whatever the situation you’re in, you are never completely alone in it.

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