A Contrary Kid

Dear Wombat and Dingbat,

My five-year old grandson (and other kids I know in that pre-school/early elementary age — especially boys) are very quick to deny whatever an adult says to them. E.g. “You’re dragging your sleeve through your scrambled eggs!” “No, I’m not,” even when he has egg all over his sleeve. “No, you’re wrong” seems to be the implied response to almost anything an adult says to him. Not only is this not helpful in moving life along, it’s really annoying!

–Annoyed Grandma

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The Case of the Uncooperative Child

Dear Wombat and Dingbat,

I have a daughter who has arrived at the early stages of the boundary-pushing age: she negotiates about *everything.* She makes herself late to school in the morning because of her other projects; she tries to delay her bedtime as long as possible, etc. etc. I am an uncomfortable authoritarian—the world would be so much easier if I could just explain, reflect back some emotional life, express my need, and she’d understand and respond well. Is there a perfect balance to strike? How do I figure out where it might lie, and how should I behave while figuring it out?  

—Frustrated Dad

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