1) Say "bad" words like 'stupid' or 'I hate so-and-so' and then say to me, "Oh, I'm sorry I said that. Am I in trouble?"
2) Do something she is not allowed to do like throw a toy, and then say "Oh, I guess I wasn't supposed to do that. What's going to happen?
3) Sometimes display compulsive behavior, like spitting, and then come to me and say "Mommy, I can't stop spitting on the furniture".
I'm a pretty calm mom and try to downplay these episodes. But they happen often and I don't know how to properly handle them. What do you suggest? Jennifer
A. Well, it could be that she is just testing her limits and really wants to see what will happen when she does these things. Will she get yelled at, or grounded, or get something taken away?
Does she ever get disciplined more severely, like by spanking?
Does she know somebody else that does?
While it is good that you don't overreact during these episodes, simply downplaying the episodes may not be enough. Even though she quickly apologizes or seems to know those behaviors are wrong, doesn't mean that you shouldn't discipline her. A time out or taking away a privilege and then talking about more appropriate behaviors might be helpful.
For things she does that she says she "can't stop," like spitting, you might ask her how you can help her to stop. She might surprise you with a good suggestion and even if it sounds silly, it will give her some extra control over it. Otherwise you might tell her that you are going to help her stop, for example by making her clean it up and than taking away a privilege.
See our guide to discipline for more information.
No More Misbehavin' is a good general discipline parenting book that you might also find helpful.