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Jennifer, School Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 397
Experience:  Collaborative parent consultation on everything from modifying behavior to child development.
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I have a 7 year old daughter who is constantly lying about

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I have a 7 year old daughter who is constantly lying about small stuff and has an attitude whenever you try and talk to her about her actions. She just looks at you and smiles. My husband is getting so angry at her that he wants to spank her because nothing else seems to be working. I don't believe in spanking, but am struggling with getting through to her as well. My husband has taken away all her dresses, is grounding her, has her sitting at the kitchen table and reading much of the day. I don't agree with the harshness of his punishments, but I don't know where to go with her. I am concerned because she is now home for the summer and my husband is a stay at home dad. I need some advice as to how to reach her and how to convince my husband that the current techniques aren't working...
Hello and thanks for using!

I'm sorry to hear you're going through this. I do have a few suggestions for you to try. It sounds like you've mastered the art of taking away privileges as a consequence. This can be very effective, but usually only when it's coupled with positive reinforcement. How and when is she rewarded for the behavior you DO want to see? I'd suggest you sit down with her to talk about 1-2 goals you'd like her to have. Make them positive (e.g., "I will respect my parents by using a kind tone of voice" vs. "I won't use back talk") and try to be as specific as possible so there's no room for misunderstanding. Give examples of what you mean and check comprehension by asking her to give examples as well. Then you'll discuss what she might be willing to work toward by demonstrating this behavior. You could make sticker chart to track this if you'd like -- perhaps she earns small rewards along the way and works her way up to a big reward. Rewards don't have to be tangible -- things like choosing what's for dinner, control of the TV remote for an hour, or playing a game together are a few possibilities. Tie her into the design of this plan as much as possible so she'll buy into it more.

My next suggestion is regarding how you handle the attitude. I'd recommend you look at some of the strategies outlined by the Love and Logic parenting / teaching philosophy. It's a great set of strategies I recommend often to parents and teachers I work with. The website ( has a lot of free videos and articles for parents. You may want to check your library for some of their books as well. A few L&L strategies you could try include telling your daughter you can only hear her when she's being sweet (or respectful, nice, whatever terms you want to use). Again, make sure she understands what that means (and what it doesn't). It sounds silly, but you're setting the stage for why you'll later ignore any attitude she might display. You may also try the "energy drain." You'll explain to when she lies about something, it really drains your energy. Then you'll put the ball in her court -- How is she going to help you put that energy back? If she says, "I don't know" you can offer some suggestions (e.g., some kids help with the chores). Having her help to come up with appropriate consequences may help to make it more meaningful to her and less stressful for you!

I hope these ideas help! I wish you the best of luck!!
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