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My daughter will be seven years old in 3 months. Recently she had two friends (girl age 6 and boy age 7) visit for an overnight playdate. I allowed them to play downstairs in the family room while I was upstairs. After they left I discovered that the expensive bedspread had been torn on the guestroom bed next to the family room. My daughter admitted that she and her friends stood on high stools and jumped onto the bed. She admitted that all of them lied to me when I periodically called down the stairs to check on them. As a consequence I told her that she cannot go "trick or treating". She got very upset and said that she wishes I were dead! I feel devastated. Was the punishment too harsh? Can I change my mind?


Brenda Nixon, M.A. Replied: Your six-year-old daughter is peer conscious already. That means she cares what her little friends think of her and will, consequently, do what's necessary to "be liked" by them. Sometimes you'll discover broken items after kids come to play. It's typical, although not pleasant or tolerable, that they try to cover up the crime. At least your daughter admitted to you that she & her friends behaved inappropriately. Thank her for tell you the truth. Your consequence to not go "trick or treating" seems a bit removed from the behavior. It's too late now to back down on your decision, but in the future try to find a consequence that matches the "crime." For example, you could have her help you repair the expensive bedspread or prohibit her friends from coming over for a period of time. Don't fret that she wishes you were dead. At this age, saying things like that or "I hate you" is about as strong as a younger can get in verbal expression. She may mean it at the heat of the moment, but over the course of the day. Of course it doesn't feel good to hear those words from your child, but the best response is to simply say, "I love you and not your behavior." Saying it this way helps her to see you can do both at the same time, love her and not accept her behavior. This is a skillful way to provide unconditional love. If you'd like to receive a discipline tip each week, you can subscribe to Daily Discipline at
Posted On 2007-01-06 18:15:05
Mark Viator Replied: Setting boundaries for consequences is very tough. The first thing to remember is that she lied to you. The fact that she admitted it should make you feel secure that you are instilling the right values in her. Now with regards to the trick or treating, I will say that this is a pretty stiff consequence. I am not sure how expensive the bedspread was, but the fact remains that she did lie to you. The bigger issue is that you have set the boundary. If you go back, you will always have her second guessing your authority. One thing to remember is that if you set a boundary, whether fair or not, you set it and you must stick to it. Her being upset with you will pass. Perhaps you could do something else with her on that night. Let her dress up and pass out candy or something else that you feel is appropriate. I do think that she will learn her lesson with regards to lieing, and to be "honest", that is worth many "tricks or treats" to teach her this lesson. Good Luck.
Posted On 2006-10-29 20:29:12
Sue Cox Replied: Yes you can always change your mind as long as you explain your immediate reaction. Talk to her about how cross she would have been if someone had torn her favourite clothes and that when she found out who had done it and they lied then she would want to punish them somehow. She knows that she should not have done it and that it would upset you and thus lied. Stopping her from 'trick and treating' will be as much your punishment as hers. She has had time to think about what she has done and this may be the worst punishment she could have. Honest talk is the most important contact between parents and children - of course with a cuddle thrown in too!
Posted On 2006-10-23 17:25:28
Julie Fisher Replied: One of the hardest parts of being a parent is having your children upset with you when you discipline them. Unfortunately though, if you back down every time your child doesn't like what you have to say, eventually, they will walk all over you. The easiest way that I've found to reason out whether what I've done feels right is to evaluate the long-term consequences. Ask yourself, "What will happen if I don't stick to my guns and teach her that it's not appropriate to lie to me?" And ask yourself, "What will happen if I change the consequences to something else?" And ask yourself "What will happen if I back down and don't provide any consequences?" In all of this, don't just think about whether she'll like you in this particular moment, but instead consider whether your actions are teaching her the skills she needs to be an amazing individual down the road. After all, that's your job... isn't it? Take care. It's not always easy doing the right thing.
Posted On 2006-10-23 11:26:48
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