The Mouthy Middler
This morning, as I was discussing the noise level with my five-year-old (he shares a room with our 11-month-old), my 12-year-old daughter felt it necessary to answer for him, interrupt and make continuous comments. This is not a once-in-a-while occurrence. She has been talked to, warned, punished by extra chores and early bedtime, you name it, we have done it. At this age, I think it is often difficult to think of the kids as kids, at least for me, when my daughter is only two inches shorter than I and wears a bigger shoe, plus they are so often adult-like as opposed to child-like.
Argumentativeness, know-it-all-itis, "it's not fair"isms: These are hallmarks of nearly all young adolescents. The Roller-Coaster Years tells parents what annoying (and refreshing) traits 10- to 15-year-olds have in common. We all know that toddlers say "me, me, me," but we do not know that middlers (as we call this age group) also have typical habits. Once you know what is normal (mouthiness) and why (middlers are separating and create distance with harsh words), you will automatically have more patience.
When your middler butts in and mouths off, interrupt her. When you have both cooled down later, discuss how she is preventing her siblings from having their own opinions and interfering with your disciplining them. Ask her to give you suggestions on disciplining her younger siblings. This brings her into the process, as a partner with you, and she is less likely to butt heads.