How do I deal with sassiness?

QUESTION:

How do I deal with the sassiness from my daughter? It’s driving me crazy!

Answer:

My first question is, how do you talk to her when you want her to do something, or don’t like what she’s doing/saying? I have found that the nasty things I don’t like about my children are often a reflection of what I am modeling for them.

Your daughter’s sassiness is an immature solution to a real problem. Find the real problem and teach her a mature solution, and you will have really helped her. It’s possible to intimidate and force the sassiness to stop, but if you teach nothing to replace it and don’t try to hear the real message, then you’ve done her a disservice.

Also, a certain amount of sassiness is normal at this age. What do you consider sassy? Is it the tone? The words? Does she do what you’re asking but with grumbling? Different people have different definitions. If she’s doing what she’s told, then I’d ignore the verbal response or offer a more pleasant script. When my 4-year-old would grumble, I would say, “Say, ‘Okay, Momma’,” and he would. We offer these scripts to our younger children and we need to keep it going until they are responding appropriately.

If my child isn’t doing what he’s told, them I help him do it. That means I move him as necessary. Just this morning, I told Liam he needed to clean his room and when he told me it was too much, I went in every few minutes and told him, “Now get all the Lego’s,” “Now get all the army guys,” etc. If it’s the tone, I ask him to try again in a pleasant tone.

It’s always important to ask what you’re teaching when you respond to a situation. Responding with negativity reinforces their negative response. Responding with a lesson in what to do, with kind and firm boundaries, will go much farther towards improving the situation.