Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Talking(back) Heads....

I feel like I am in desperate need of Mrs. Piggles Wiggles. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Mrs. Piggles-Wiggles character, she dwelt in a set of books written about a spinster lady that children loved to visit. She would dispense magical cures for children's bad habits in an effort to teach them manners and help their parents. Cures for whispering in class, bad table manners, tardiness, bullying,...an unending parade of bad behaviors were matchlesss against the magic of Mrs. Piggles Wiggles.

I clearly remember sitting on the cool granite of my third grade teacher's class as she would read aloud all of the Mrs. Piggles Wiggles books. Groups of us would be sprawled out, lost in wonder, imagining the grandmotherly woman magically intervening in the lives of children just like us. Maybe Mrs. Piggles Wiggles would have a cure for the obnoxious boy who sat behind me, kicking my seat whenever he thought my teacher was too preoccupied assigning eraser cleaning duty. I was fascinated by her.

Oh, what I would give for a Mrs. Piggles Wiggles cure today! Surely, she would have had a remedy for compulsive back-talking. I would slip some mysterious elixir she brewed up into my son's soup. Magically he would lose his voice whenever he began to argue or immediately contadict what I was saying. Oh, what a silent home I would have!

I am seriously at my wit's end with the whole "talking-back-just-to-assert-my-own-will" phase in my son's life. Although, I am beginning to suspect that it is not really a phase; but, a permanent state of being. Every assertion I make is always doubted until I am proved right by his own experience. Every idea is not really worth considering if he didn't think of it first. This would be understandable if he were fourteen. He's six.

I have tried ignoring it following the guidelines for"extinction" of unwanted behaviors. I have tried to gently explain to him that it is rude and unacceptable behavior. I have tried punishing the offending behavior by having him give up 5 cents of his weekly alllowance upon each outburst of uncensored arguing. I have tried having him write 20 time on a sheet of paper "I will not talk back to mama." ala "old school" discipline. Some of these methods have made slight improvements, but the results are temporary and minimal.

I fear that it will always be in his personality to argue and want to be "right." He has a strong sense of justice and always wants everything to done the "right" way, but it manifests itself in very negative ways at times. I really wish I knew how to help him suppress some of his urges and channel it into more acceptable ways of verbalizing and behaving. In the meantime, I am desparately trying to remember that he is only six and that I shouldn't be pulled in to useless arguments by a first-grader.

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