updated 9 Jul 2013, 03:25
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Tue, Jul 02, 2013
The Straits Times
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Girl goes on behaving badly

Q: Giving a pep talk to my six-year-old daughter does not work. She repeats her misbehaviour after a few weeks. If we resort to spanking - our last resort - she wails. How should we handle such a strong-willed girl?

A: You mention that she repeats her misbehaviour after a few weeks. This means there have been times when she does not misbehave.

It is important to acknowledge when your child is behaving well, using positive reinforcement. If she completes her homework, has not told a lie or has not hit a sibling, allow her privileges.

Conversely, consequences of misbehaviour include removing privileges such as watching TV or playing computer games.

Write the expectations and consequences of certain actions in a book or a piece of paper stuck up somewhere for you and her to refer to.

Do not wait till your child has misbehaved to react. Talk to her when both of you are calm. Ask her: "How do you think mummy and daddy would like you to behave?"

Confirm with her what the acceptable behaviours are, and talk about the consequences of both acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

Make sure you can and will make good on your word. No empty threats. And after you implement the consequence for misbehaviour, patiently but in a firm tone, ask her: "What did you do that got you the consequence?"

Look her in the eye when you ask the question and guide her to say what she did wrong this time and what she should do right the next time.

Appreciate that the strong will in your daughter also means that she is determined, which is a strength.

When her need for affirmation is met, she will channel her strong will into persevering in her schoolwork and other challenges when she is older.

Mrs Wendy Chua-SullivaN, who answered this question, is a life coach and founder of Wand Inspiration, a coaching and development company.

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