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At a loss with an 8 year old daughter

(22 Posts)
Charlotta Sun 03-Jul-11 11:28:20

Could you have separation anxiety? All over the world 8 year olds are bringing up siblings. Try to realise that an 8 year old could look after herself if she had to. Give her responsibility, set her boundaries and expect her to keep them.

I always had a note on the wall/ fridge. Everytime something wasn't done I drew a cross. I threatened, after 5 crosses there will be some sort of punishment perhaps no TV, after 10 crosses then.... I hadn't decided what and it never came to that. The list on the wall was evidence of disobedience and somehow had to be faced up to. I started several for different things like brushing teeth or packing or unpacking a sports bag.

jackyann Sat 02-Jul-11 16:59:12

I totally agree, mamie & baggy. Children need to see the real emotions in their parents (or main care-givers) not the calmness of professionals.
You see, I rather think that the perfect parent would not create the perfect child, but a rather imperfect one!

Mamie Fri 01-Jul-11 11:47:10

That's great Pidge, I am so pleased it has been helpful. As others have said, keep as calm as you can, but don't worry if you get really cross from time to time; we have all been there! Remember that parenting is a looong process and nobody gets it right all the time.

Pidge Fri 01-Jul-11 09:27:21

Thank you so much for all the great advice. I feel like I have a path now and I will definitely sit down with my husband so we can talk about it and have a united front. Interestly, just for the last few days I have been much more calm and confident in the way I speak and she has calmed down a bit. I have also been looking into an alternative school, which may help to grow her potential instead of just helping her to 'keep up'. I feel better already and I can't thank you all enough.

baggythecrust! Fri 01-Jul-11 06:52:59

I think all the advice on here to remain calm is great. But it was my father who wisely reminded me on one occasion that if your child makes you angry, he or she needs to know that, otherwise they'll grow up thinking that people stay calm and collected when you annoy them. People don't. Therefore, I was never afraid to show anger to my kids once they were beyond babyhood, but then they got banished to their rooms for bad behaviour (time out) and ignored for a suitably long time. The idea was that they understood the likely reaction to certain kinds of behaviour and they were deprived of attention for a while. I don't know how effective this strategy is in general, but it worked with my kids.

JessM Thu 30-Jun-11 22:00:03

Good stuff Jackyann. I'll second that.
Also yes sylvia2036 it is easy to forget that winding your parents up can be rewarding.
Behaviour is maintained by reward. Attention is rewarding. Even negative attention. Upsetting the whole household can be very rewarding. That is why ignoring and pretending you really are not interested can be very powerful in some circumstances.
If you want sweet things in the house then you need to clean your teeth. You don't then there will be no ice cream in the fridge or biscuits in the cupboard.
Then maintain icy calm and detachment. Just follow through with the threat if teeth not cleaned. See if I care.

sylvia2036 Thu 30-Jun-11 21:22:25

I do so agree with HildaW. My son is 31 and recently when we were discussing his appalling behaviour when he was a young teenager he told me that he knew what he was doing and just did it to wind me up! I was absolutely furious with him and still haven't forgiven him, much as I love him. Certainly though, mother and father must agree about behaviour, in front of the child at least, otherwise anarchy rules.

A few years ago I told my son that I wished on him a child exacty like himself. For his sake, and my DIL's, I sincerely hope my beautiful GD doesn't behave like her father.

jackyann Thu 30-Jun-11 17:31:23

As with many posts about behavior, it is often unclear how much is about firm parenting, how much is just a testing phase (for both, see above) or whether there are serious underlying problems.
I have experience of children who struggle in school, and their distress often spills out at home, because they have spent all day trying SO hard!
I pick up a few things here that make me wonder whether there are some learning problems apart from, but maybe connected to dyslexia.
Your GP is probably not the best person to ask.
The teachers say she is "behind" - make an appointment for both parents to talk to the special needs co-ordinator & find out exactly what the concerns are (your tutor will need to know anyway). Ask if an assessment by a specialist teacher or educational psychologist would be helpful - different education authorities have different procedures for this.
A useful person to talk to would probably be the school nurse - I don't mean the first aider/matron employed by the school, but the specialist nurse employed by the Primary Health Care Trust. They often have a good overview of problems where development, behavior & learning intersect and may be able to signpost you to a helpful service.
Good luck!

HildaW Thu 30-Jun-11 16:44:22

Pidge, no one doubts your love for your daughter, but I'm sorry to say that from what you say, your husband might be on to something. Children do need boundaries, not many, but they must be maintained consistantly.
Being a parent is not about just keeping a child happy, its about equiping them for the real world when we can no longer be with them every step of the way. If a child thinks that by behaving badly they will eventually get what they want at home, then they will at sometime find life very very difficult when they come up against something that they cannot have no matter how much they scream and shout. Such things may not be about at the moment but, what if she is not invited to THAT party, fails an exam, a driving test or a job interview and shes not been given the tools to cope with these events because at home she has always got what she wanted? She needs to learn that not everything is out there for the asking or yelling!....and thats what parents have to teach her. By all means be the loving Mum you are, but temper that with a few ground rules that she understands and stick to them. And do try and present a united 'front' with Dad, if she knows you dont agree....then you will have an even tougher time, good luck.

jangly Thu 30-Jun-11 16:34:59

About the teeth thing, perhaps take her to the dentist for a check-up and get him/her to give her a little talk about how important it is to clean her teeth last thing at night.
About going to bed, I used to pour the bath out, tell them it was poured, and then leave them to it. If they messed about for too long then they had a cold bath. Somehow, just their knowing the bath was poured out and waiting made it seem inevitable, and they were more likely to get on with it. And say she only gets a story if she is in bed by such and such a time.
About school, I would suggest having friends around sometimes to reinforce friendships. If she is happy socially the rest will follow. I'm not sure I would be having a tutor for her during the summer. She is still only 8. If you know she is going to react against it, then avoid it.

Try to find some fun things that she does enjoy and do them together, things like going to the library and looking at the books together, perhaps do some baking or crafts. Anything that you can enjoy together. And definitely get dad directly involved.

Elegran Thu 30-Jun-11 12:37:44

Rewards for not being stroppy quickly become bribes, and from there progress to being normality, so that without a reward they feel they are being punished for just acting reasonably.

I think you should say quietly something like "I love you all the time, but I do like you so much better when your teeth are clean" or whatever the problem is today.

And I agree that both parents need to be singing from approximately the same hymn sheet. Discuss between you what is a reasonable level of behaviour from her, and then both stick to insisting on it. If she can play off one against the other, she will.

Could your husband supervise some of the things that she is being difficult about?

ginny3 Thu 30-Jun-11 11:52:26

I agree with joan, children usually calm down when they don't have an audience. have you tried a reward system?

harrigran Thu 30-Jun-11 11:01:37

When my DGD had tantrums her father would get the camera and video her, it was like flicking a switch, she stopped instantly and said "show me" Drama queen or what ?

Mamie Thu 30-Jun-11 06:51:57

Our daughter used to have tantrums all the time and (in the end) we found that the approach suggested by Joan was the right one. Keep calm, don't let her wind you up and just repeat, quietly and firmly what your expectations are (and it is really important that you both say the same things and react in the same way). I can't say we managed this all the time, far from it, but it did work eventually. I also think you need to talk to the teacher again about her learning difficulties, it sounds to me as if her self-esteem may be a bit of an issue. Does she make friends easily?
Our daughter is now very successful in her job and has a lovely family of her own. She is still a very strong character and it works to her advantage.
I am sure you will get there in the end.

baggythecrust! Thu 30-Jun-11 06:50:37

At the age of six DD3 went through a phase of making a fuss at morning teeth-cleaning time. I was still cleaning them for her (as I did with my other two who are now grown up in their late twenties and still have perfect teeth) so I investigated if that was the problem. It wasn't. Then I tried games and a jokey approach. That worked up to a point. Then one day she wouldn't open her mouth. I'd had enough. I lost my temper good and proper and told her I wasn't gping to put up with nonsense any more, that she could fight and fuss as much as she wanted but I was going to win. We then walked to school, which takes about twenty-five minutes. She wanted to chat as usual but I refused and told her not to talk to me because I was still too angry. She had just gone too far with her silly nonsense. The funny side came out later because a neighbour had seen us passing — me marching purposefully along, DD3 trailing and drooping behind. On my way back from school I met neighbour's husband. He had heard about the 'sighting' and mentioned it. i told him that I'd exploded over a six-year-old's bloody-mindedness. He laughed and told me to go and "take it out on the hedge". I then laughed too and I did go and fight with an overgrown rhododendron hedge. Some days later at a party, the story came up again. Neighbour melodramatically told the story that she had pieced together. It was hilarious! Her husband told about meeting me with steam still coming out of my ears. He said: I crossed over the road! One of the members of the 'audience' to this story was a teacher DD would have in a year's time. She looked at me with a new respect and has done ever since. DD did try her nonsense once again but I told her: Don't even think about it, or you get no chocolate for a month! She stopped. From the age of nine she has cleaned her own teeth. That came naturally as it did with the other two. She's the only child in her class with no fillings. I tell this story as an example. There have been other melodramatic struggles too which in themselves are trivial but which show the child what the limits are. It's hard work and you have to be tough for a short time to get peace and reasonablemess in the long term.

Joan Thu 30-Jun-11 04:59:51

It sound to me that she enjoys the drama she creates, even though she obeys you in the end. Perhaps the answer is to not react to the dramatic outbursts, but walk away showing indifference. She won't go to bed - fine - you settle down with a good book, telly off, and ignore her.

How does she go to school - school bus, walking there, or you driving her? If you drive her, just get her in the car and ignore the carry-on. Otherwise just make sure she gets the bus or sets off to school, and pretend the tantrum isn't happening.

Always show a united front with her Dad, and just ensure that she gets lots of attention when she is behaving OK, but none at all when she acts up.

These are just ideas - I never had a daughter, but the studied indifference used to work on my youngest when he put on an act, though he was much younger then. Also, he sometimes did get punished, especially if his Dad was there! This was usually a quick smack on the bum when he was little, but once I refused to continue an outing when he put on an act. I turned the car round, drove home, and ignored all the whinges.

Most of the time he had a lot of energy, and we encouraged him to be as active as possible, running playing etc.

I'm sure the others, those who had daughters, will have better ideas. But that sort of thing worked for me.

Pidge Thu 30-Jun-11 03:22:27

Thanks so much everyone - that is a lot of great feedback. To be more specific with my issue, I will elaborate. Although we have rules in the house, she doesn't like a lot of them and always fights against them. Brushing her teeth - she must do this before bedtime. I can't tell you how often she throws a fit about it and after such a to-do, she finally brushes them. Going to bed is a fiasco. She will get upset almost every night when it's bed time. She 'doesn't want to go to bed'. Although we have tried several ways to make bedtime easier/more fun, etc, she still throws a mini tantrum - almost 5 times a week. My husband thinks we should punish her for the tantrums and she should 'just do as she asked.' I think she's just a very tempermental child and as long as she does what she's supposed to do in the end, that's what matters. I'm not sure how to reduce her emotional outbreaks as I don't understand why she has them. And this is where he feels she is manipulating and doing it because 'she can.' But why would a child explode constantly when in the end, she doesn't get her way? Isn't there some lack of 'learning' going on? In terms of school, she hates it. This is another fight. She is in the lower group and is aware of it and says 'she is stupid.' We try very hard to compliment her on how clever she is (which she is) and support her in every way. We've gotten her extra help at school and are in contact with her teacher/head teacher all the time. They say she tries her hardest and is a wonderful little girl - but is behind. I have obtained a tutor for the summer (just once or twice a week for 30 min) but I know she will fight against that too. I just wish she wouldn't object to so much and have emotional outbursts over things. I did take her to the doctor, who said we just have to be firm, ie, there is nothing amiss here. I hope this better explains things.

harrigran Thu 30-Jun-11 00:04:51

This may sound cruel Pidge but you are not supposed to be a childs best friend (they make their own friends) your job is to guide them into being an independent person. Children do benefit from rules and boundaries and if you give in to every demand for a quiet life I am afraid you may not get it.

GrannyTunnocks Wed 29-Jun-11 22:49:03

My granddaughter is only 3 but tries crying to get what she wants. We now say to her do you get what you want if you cry. She says no. So if your 8 year old tries crying then tell her she wont get what she wants by crying. Other than that just enjoy her and try not to worry too much.

jangly Wed 29-Jun-11 22:27:53

I'm not sure what you are actually worried about. You say she struggles in school. Does that worry her? Does she get upset about having to go to school. If so you need to talk to her teacher about this, if you haven't already. You would be right to reassure her that she doesn't have to be brilliant at everything, so long as she keeps trying.
You say she pushes boundaries. Well, that's ok, so long as the boundaries are there. Of course she needs firm guidance, and she will be happier for it. But you don't need to go overboard. Just make sure you have firm but reasonable rules and that she sticks with them.
As for the separation anxiety, well she is only 8. Is she an only child? If she is, and if you had her a bit later in life, then that probably counts towards it. But that's ok. If you continue to give her plenty of love, together with firm guidance, she will gradually grow more independent of you.
Try not to worry too much. Enjoy her and be friends with her. And let her dad do some of the guiding as well.

JessM Wed 29-Jun-11 22:27:12

Pidge you are obviously finding this tough, but not clear what the problem is other than that she "tests every boundary".
Life is so much easier for older parents if they get a placid and easygoing child!
It also sounds as if you and your husband have not got a consistent approach to parenthood - or is it that he expects you to do the discipline?
My friend has a lovely 8 year old who pushes the boundaries. She asks for things and mum sometimes says "no" and then after a bit of wheedling and whining she says "yes". So she is rewarding the wheedling and whining. Result is a less happy child than one who knows that no means no.
Is it that kind of thing that is happening?
Can you give us an example of the kind of thing that happens and us gransnetters will, I am sure, come up with some suggestions and different angles for you to think about.
So do tell us a bit more.

Pidge Wed 29-Jun-11 21:30:44

I am truly at a loss. I am an older mum and have a daughter who is almost 8. She struggles in school (slightly dyslexic), is very independent in nature (tests every boundary), and is still showing signs of separation anxiety. My husband thinks I am too lenient and she manipulates me all the time, but I just can't agree to an overall 'supernanny' approach to things - meaning being firm first and sensitive second. I love my daughter and sometimes feel that life is short - I'd rather see her happy than upset all the time. But do I have it all wrong? Am I here to guide her in spite of what she feels?? I hope I'm not doing her a dis-service and would really appreciate guidance. Thanks.