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Ask Koren Art
Your personal E-therapist is in the house!

Koren Norton

Need help with my Daughter

Dear Koren,

My husband and I have 2 children. About a year ago, the younger one started getting out of control. At first, we thought it was just a phase. I think my husband spoiled her but he does not see his contribution to the problem. She likes her own way and is selfish when she's around other children. I am trying my best to raise good children but I never had so many problems my son. How do I get her to learn how to behave before she turns into an out-of-control teen? I'm really concerned.

– Mother

Dear mom,

I understand why you're worried. You feel like you've done the best you could, yet your child is not who you think she should be. Yes, Dad spoiled her by allowing her to have her own way with no consequences for negative behavior, that could account for some problems now. Looking at the big picture, however, a child's behavior is shaped by many things: genes play an important role, as does diet, and even the way she is disciplined. For example, she may feel you only give her attention when she does something bad.

Young children need attention, love, discipline, fairness and consistency. Their development is so varied that she might be physically 6, but emotionally not quite there. Remember, too, that all children are different. Your daughter won't automatically be like your son because they were raised in the same home. Here are a few tips on dealing with your daughter.

• Love her unconditionally. Never withdraw love or care as a punishment. Your love and acceptance helps her feel safe and secure. She'll live up to your expectations when you demonstrate that she's worthy of your love no matter what.

• Set rules together. Have family meetings, and have the kids identify some ways they can be rewarded or punished. That way, when the consequences come, they can see the fairness in it.

• Discipline her appropriately. Beating when in anger is not the best approach. Reward her when she says or does something positive and use appropriate punishment when she acts out. Explain to her why she's being punished and remind her of the rules she helped create.

• Listen to her. Give her equal time as her brother so you hear how she feels. Little people have maturing brains and they have feelings and opinions too. When they feel ignored, they will find other ways to get your attention.

• Observe her behavior with others and outside of the home. Ask her teachers at school how she behaves and watch how she relates to others. That will give you some insight if her behavior is just directed at family or if it is just her general attitude.

• Model good behavior. The way you and your husband speak and act makes a huge difference. Children do what they see repeatedly. No amount of telling her how to act can make up for the example she sees in you.

In general, don't allow your reaction to be dictated by your child. Minimize your anxiety and frustration in front of her, because she's looking to you for stability. Even if you vent behind closed doors, be loving and calm when you speak to her. Remember, your child is learning valuable lessons from you.

Send your questions confidentialy to askoren@live.com or via twitter @korennorton