6-Year-Olds: Sarcastic & Sassy
Dinner's almost ready and you call out from the kitchen, "Are you ready to start setting the table?" As usual, your kid barely looks up from his Game Boy. After you ask him several times, he says mockingly, "I don't know. Am I?"
Brat Buster: Kids this age actually love a chance to give a little back talk. It fits perfectly with a school-age child's sense of humor, desire to test you, and quest to stake out some independent territory. "Your mistake was asking your child a question instead of giving a direct instruction," says Karin L. Price, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Texas Children's Hospital's Learning Support Center for Child Psychology. "If you make it a request, then you're inviting him to decline."
Big Picture: Friends are a huge influence on a 6-year-old. Your child almost can't help himself from bringing home the snarky comebacks that spread like a virus around the playground. Even if you're super strict about the TV, movies, and video games your kid is exposed to, the best-loved popular culture of the grade-school set is filled with potty humor and name-calling -- an all-out celebration of brattiness itself. Now's the time to start laying down rules about appropriate ways to talk in front of adults versus around their friends. Since fitting in is so important, you don't want to take the joy out of playground chatter, but be clear and firm about your expectation: Rude retorts are banned when grown-ups are around. Finally, don't forget to praise him when he's polite. "It's much easier for your kid to know how you want him to act when he gets positive feedback for his good behavior," says Dr. Price.