I have a 5-year-old daughter who would rather bark at people than talk to them! She runs around on all fours, barks when introduced to people, and lies on a blanket in the corner to nap. I want a kid not a puppy! (We do have a dog now and I THOUGHT that would help, but it’s made it worse!) BINBROOK, ON
JOE: One of the hardest things to do is to step away from a behaviour in order to be objective. However, in most cases, this strategy can bring breakthrough moments. If you step back you might discover a number of things. You may, for instance, see that you have a creative child who has a vivid imagination. If you feel that’s the case, you could then stop focusing on the present events, learn from this, and start planning for an interesting adolescence at an arts school and the cost of auditions at theatre schools!
On the other hand, stepping back may lead to discovering that your child is oppositional and continues this behaviour to keep you off balance. It may be a version of “You’re not the boss of me” defiance that may be age appropriate. The remedy is to simply not engage, but to watch for defiance and opposition at the next stage or two. This may be the time to prepare your child for the next stage of life, beyond just playtime, which includes homework, chores and fewer playtime activities. If this is the case, say things like, “Okay, you can play being a doggy now,” and at other times announce that it is not doggy time, highlighting your role as teacher and guide, rather than disciplinarian. Some problems require stepping back and being objective to get to the next step. In spite of this, some children need to do a part of the journey on all fours. This too shall pass. Make sure you have some fun with it and take pictures along the way, keeping in mind that this is what memories are made of. One day you’ll be telling the ‘when you were a puppy’ story at the wedding!