Julia had 'one of those days' yesterday. After school, she came home in a true funk and stayed that way until she went to sleep. Thank God she slept well and is better today. Sleep helps. Just a few conversations to sum up what I mean:
1) The "I'm the Parent" talk
Julia: I'm not listening to Dad. He's not the parent. I only listen to you.
Me: Well, whatever Dad has asked you to do is the same thing I'll ask you to do because we work together.
Julia: Well I'm not going to listen to him. I only listen to you. I'm a parent too.
Me: You are not a parent and you know that. Dad and I are the parents.
Julia: I want to be a parent because I want to do what I want to do.
2) The "I don't understand" talk
Julia was walking around the kitchen after we went out to eat dinner at their favorite restaurant Frankie's. She began singing a song "Riley is nice and Mom and Dad are blah, blah... Riley is nice and Mom and Dad are blah, blah." I told her that she needed to go to her room as she was being mean. She replied that we were "blah blah" and I just repeated that she needed to go to her room. She walked away mumbling.
I then went to her room a few minutes later and talked with her.
*Side Note: I've learned that if you are harsh in words, she becomes incredibly defensive, shuts down and you get nowhere but with tons of crying. If you're quiet, calm, and talk with her, she understands and feels more remorse for her actions. This results in change - positive change. There's still manipulation and bargaining, but the final result is different.
Me: Julia, I want you to look at me. (she does) I love you very much.
Julia: I think you hate me.
Me: I love you very much. You are a sweet girl and sweet girls do not treat people this way. Do you remember how you feel when your friend at school teased you and called you "Goo Goo Gaga Pants?"
Me: That's how I feel when you call me "Blah Blah." (Julia cries) It's not polite and it hurts people's feelings.
Julia: But I just don't understand what Dad asks me to do sometimes.
Me: Do you understand when he tells you to stop?
Me: Do you understand when he tells you to be nice?
Me: Do you understand when he tells you to listen?
Me: What don't you understand.
Julia: Let me think for a minute.... (a minute or more goes by) I don't know.
Me: When Dad or I ask you to stop, listen or be nice, you need to make the choice to change your behavior and stop doing what you're doing that isn't right.
To be honest, I don't know if she ever apologized. Apologies don't come easily for her and she fights them with all that's within her. However she broke down crying and was much nicer the rest of the night.
3) The "911" talk
Julia and Riley were on the couch after the #2 talk. Julia was mad that I wouldn't give her my phone to play the McKenna game. She sat down pouting next to Riley. They whispered a bit and then Riley came over to me as I was reading at the kitchen table and said, very seriously, "Mom, you'll want to watch your phone on the table very closely because Julia is going to come over here and take it and call 911. She's going to tell the police to arrest you and Dad because you're being mean." It was all I could not to laugh and instead I said "I think I can handle this."
Julia comes over tiptoeing to the table and I gently move the phone into my hands. She giggles and asks for the phone. I tell her 'no' and she goes back away and pouts. She tells me that she wants us to be arrested for being bad parents and that way she can play on my phone. I just said "ok."
This morning Julia tells me "I don't want you to be arrested today." It's already a much better day.
These conversations were all held within a two hour time frame. I'm sure there was more, but can't remember them. I have no doubt she'll treasure these when she's older.