We have a 5 year old girl who is very bright. She began reading at 2, can write sentences, knows numbers through 1000. She has been at daycare/pre-k since birth, but for the past few years she is not listening to people in authority. Autism is not a concern. Although her hearing is normal, she will refuse to do tasks in class that she does not want to do. She's always been a serious child but can be goofy and fun in general. At times, she will try to manipulate teachers in school (several teachers), her swim teacher, grandmother, aunt, father, etc. etc. to get out of things she doesn't "feel" like doing. She tells me she "doesn't have fun in school." We tell her that school, work, etc. is not always fun, but it is our responsibility to try our best, even when it is not fun. She does not seem to care about a reward chart or with the consequences she is given. In fact, she has stated, "I did not behave well today, so what is my consequence? Are you taking away my toys, TV, just let me know." We are direct and stern with her when needed, and praise her for good behavior. We don't believe in spanking. Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. We are always told she is so bright and that we love her.... but will she will only do what she wants to do. She responds to short term consequences, but nothing that will carry over. Thanks for any advice you can provide!!!
Actually kind of common for bright kids. They very quickly figure out the situation and how to manipulate it.
Chances are that once she hits kindergarten and an (hopefully) experienced teacher this will end - at least at school. She probably is bored, and since she has known her preschool teachers for years (I would assume), she has pretty well figured out how to get her way. You really cannot do much to effect what she is doing at school - at this age. That is the job of the school.
Basically, at this age, only short term consequences will work. The gold standard for behavior modification is it must be immediate, be short, and be very consistent. This changes as you get older.
I have never been a fan of rewards for the simple reason (as you have found out), that kids can choose to ignore them. By the way, sharp kids also quickly learn to make it "seem" like they don't care. The parents promptly try something else, kid says I don't care, and the cycle repeats. That is why the same thing consistently happening over and over again is so important for behavior change.
I think in your daughters case, I would recommend getting one of Fay and Clines books called, "Love and Logic".
Oh, if possible do try to give her choices. Tell her she has two choices - one is to pick up her clothes (for example), the other is to have a timeout and then to pick up her clothes - and repeat, repeat, repeat.
As a sharp kid, she probably will fairly quickly figure out what will work and not work for her. Thats why I like the love and logic books. And, of course, once she figures out what will not work - she will start working on another way to get to her goals. But thats ok. Be loving, be consistent, and enjoy her.
I also immediately thought she must be bored. Can you try and get her into a school for gifted children? Challenge her intellect and see what happens. Also, it is so normal for kindergartners to challenge authority. My 6 year old just recently figured out how to produce real tears if she doesn't get what she wants. What a talent to be able to cry on command!
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