A witch wrote in:
I need solidarity from anyone who has a kid who argues ALL THE TIME about everything. She came out this way. She does not go with the flow. She is contrary to the absurd. She will argue with you about whether she is arguing. She's an only child who wants to be treated like an adult and just cannot abide not being in charge of things. But she is six. She is also loving and kind and funny and smart, but interacting with her from morning until night is sooooo exhausting. I have read the books and we do have some techniques that work. I just get sad that we don't have the kind of relationship I see with other moms and daughters, where every now and then they seem to want the same things and work together. (Also clearly at the end of my energy after many days at home and did not sleep last night.)
Some witches in the same boat responded:
“SAME. SOLIDARITY. Yesterday I was thinking similarly after the umpteenth bedtime argument for the week. Especially the part about her ‘coming out like this.’ Same with my daughter. Parenting her requires me to be a hard-ass, and it’s really not enjoyable. Sorry, my friend.”
“I was just talking to a friend locked in a similar battle with her 6 year old and she told me they, together, came up with an agreement that said child is allowed to scream at her three times but on the third scream, mom will scream back. It sounds sort of nuts in the abstract but my daughter’s therapist has emphasized many times that this contrary behavior is A LOT about wanting to feel validated for having their feelings but also reassured that you’ll provide the boundaries they need (and are actually asking for by testing every damn one all day long). So I’m gonna see if I can figure out something similar: ‘Here is your space to have your big feelings, but here is the framework we are putting around it so we don’t get stuck in these endless loops.’”
“We canceled Christmas once because the child wouldn’t take asthma medicine. I am honestly glad my mom figured out before she died that there is nothing this kid has ever wanted more than getting his own way. She definitely thought that my husband and I were idiots at parenting. But while we’ve had some challenges the past year, in terms of temperament, the kid is becoming a little easier to work with. He is not defiant for the sake of being defiant, he can take ‘No’ for an answer, and he seems to get that my husband and I have desires, too. Whether or not this survives the teen years is, of course, anybody’s guess.”
“I belong in this club. My coveted 4th child, the only girl, is killing me.”
“Solidarity. Fussy baby. And kept it up. Smart as a whip. But emotionally still 3. ‘How would you feel if someone took your toy?’ ‘Oh I would scream.’ ‘But how would you FEEL.’ ‘Oh fine, I’d feel JUST FINE.’ And the worst is that I’m a smart ass, so people keep thinking she’s a mini-me, but family members actually remarked how docile I was until adolescence. Only then did my head spin around. So this is not karma, thank you, random old lady.”
“Same Same Same. We had a MAJOR meltdown here today that led to ‘Come to Jesus’ type dialogues with each member of this household about how to react. It's been tense and uncomfortable - I'm hoping it helps!”
“We have the same kid. Six, also, but a boy. If I say it's cold, he says hot. ALWAYS. It is so contrary to my style that it is hard to deal with. I heard the hardest part about kids is having them be so different than you are or than you thought they'd be. But with a contrarian kid, it’s even worse than that. I feel bad for them that they are like this. Like it’s a bummer of a way to go through life.”
“ 🙋🏼♀️, and mine is only 16 months old. So fucked.”
“We do things like say, ‘I want to tell you about something and I need you to keep an open mind and not interrupt me until I'm done’ as a preface to whatever thing we know she's going to flip her lid about. Lately when she starts arguing, I will just walk out of the room. I have realized that so much of is is the back and forth—she feeds off it. So just removing myself from the equation deprives the fire of oxygen. When she comes to find me and tries to reengage, I just say calmly and indifferently, ‘I'm not going to be able to talk about that with you anymore until you calm down,’ as if it's a rule made by some higher authority that I have no control over. And if all else fails we threaten to take away her one true love, TV.
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