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Any experience/advice for dealing with a wilful, rude 6 year old?

(54 Posts)
mazza245 Wed 19-Oct-16 09:32:08

Hi, I'll try and keep this short but it's a long story. DD had a baby with useless dad who is not interested at all, asked if we would help and support but I never thought beyond going to school, didn't think we would still be so hands on at 6! GD is gorgeous but very wilful (gypsy blood from her father's side DD reckons) and has become very difficult to deal with sometimes. We've always done a lot, washing and ironing, most meals, etc. They even lived with us for nearly three years. Now moved a mile away but the house is still in a mess, can't afford to finish yet. DD works 20/30 miles away as a headmistress, a recent move (previous job was further away!) which is very very stressful and long hours so can't manage without us.

DD drops her off each morning to be fed, dressed and taken to school and we pick her up each afternoon and they eat with us more often than not. The house is not finished, she's just had a cooker installed but she gets home so tired and late, they eat rubbish if not our meals. It isn't what we envisaged for our retirement, we have an apartment in Portugal that we'd like to go to more often but our breaks are dictated by school.

The trouble is this child. I love her to bits but even her mum says she's hard work. It seems to be me mostly she has a problem with. I try and deal with her as I did my children but it just doesn't work! She disobeys, argues, won't be told. I do all the positive stuff, of course, but she bristles in my company. DD says I'm not the mum, I should let her get away with a lot and just not say anything but it's so difficult. It's now reached the point where DD hasn't come anywhere near for a couple of days, taking her to a teacher's house before breakfast club and asking an acquaintance to pick her up (there isn't anyone else long term). I can't stop crying because I think this is driving a wedge between me and DD, who is so stressed and making it worse for our relationship with GD. I'm at a loss to know what to do. Any experiences or advice please?

Singlegrannie Wed 19-Oct-16 09:55:09

It sounds as though DD is trying to take the pressure off you , it does appear that you need a break.

Luckygirl Wed 19-Oct-16 09:56:54

It sounds as though in some ways it is a good thing that an alternative arrangement has been found - at the very least it gives you a break and changes your role in relation to your DGD and indeed your DD. You can be a grandma rather than a substitute Mum.

It will do her no harm and may do some good for her to be part of the breakfast club. is not all negative - the change may be useful to you both.

I am sure that your DD will be asking you to care for your DGD at times, but perhaps not this regular commitment. If I were you I would hop off to Portugal while you have the chance! smile

BlueBelle Wed 19-Oct-16 09:58:50

Can't see what ' Gypsy blood ' has to do with it sounds quite an unfortunate turn of phrase and if the child has heard things like that not good at all ......obviously the mums stress is rubbing off on the little girl who I feel sorry for, she sounds as if she's in the middle of two totally different ways of parenting her mum has had a more liberal approach probably through limited time and energy , whilst you are sounding more traditional and trying to do it as you did 20 or 30 years ago. Why don't you sit down and talk to your daughter and make a plan of how you will both deal with certain situations in a similar manner. children are different today, schools and teaching is different , I don't think you can do it exactly as you did before, it just doesn't work I have found that out from my own grandchildren who are much less compliant and more confident than their parents were there isn't the same be seen and not heard type of management they do speak out they are taught to have a voice and rights to opinions from a very young age now
As your daughter has a back up plan which is being used now why can't you have a week in Portugal it might ease the stess for you all

tanith Wed 19-Oct-16 10:01:24

They do say children will push boundaries with people they trust don't they? You may have to pick your battles and let some of it wash over you as DD suggests. Its a sad situation for both of you but maybe if you step back for a while she will calm down and be easier to deal with . Good luck flowers

rosesarered Wed 19-Oct-16 10:10:24

Welcome to this forum Mazza smile
I think you have been put into a rotten position by your DD.You are having to run their lives for them and effectively be a Mother both to your DD son-inLaw and your DGD.
All this at retirement age! Your DD is a headmistress not a single Mum on benefits, am mystified why she and her husband cannot take care of their own lives. Given all that you do, the new situation sounds better all round, you should take a back seat and live your own life, particularly if your DGD is so difficult with you.Honestly, the things I read about grandparents running things for their grown up children, and all it seems to do is cause resentment all round.Good luck.🍀

annodomini Wed 19-Oct-16 10:28:42

What you need to do now is to pack your bags and make for Portugal as soon as possible. If they have to do without you, they will. And it will make your DD grateful for all the things you have done for them over the years.

BlueBelle Wed 19-Oct-16 10:33:14

It didn't sound as if there was a son in law Roses as original post says ' she had a baby with a useless man who's not interested' so she may be a single mum albeit not on the dole but still difficult to shuffle the day with a very stressful job

mazza245 Wed 19-Oct-16 10:33:53

Thanks for your replies. I must have misled you. This was just yesterday and the day before, no longer. We have her back today from 3.15 to 9 pm or whenever DD gets home from a Governor's meeting. There is no dad, son in law, whatever, he is not interested. It's a fact about the gypsy blood, her father has a family history. If there was a father or substitute, life would be easier but there isn't.

You are right, taunts, I keep hearing that phrase "pick your battles"! Unfortunately, she tests us at every opportunity. I'm not the ogre, I hope, that I sound, I love her but I don't want her doing certain things. We do sit down and talk, my daughter gives me long lectures on how to approach things!

We can't go off to Portugal, unfortunately, she needs us every single day but I don't object to DGD going to after school club etc but it makes a long day for her and I long to look after her myself when I'm at home waiting for her! Our breaks away do keep us going through all the hard work but it's just come to a head this week as DD is fed up of coming back to a row every night!

br0adwater Wed 19-Oct-16 10:56:57

My heart goes out to you all. Wretched for you treading on eggshells, draining for DD who possibly has no time to recharge and have fun any more. But hardest for DGD who just wants to be like her friends. I'd guess she feels powerless and possibly resents you as you symbolise the situation she's in.

I hesitate to give advice but here's a suggestion. Try being 1 step ahead. So when she comes home from school, have something planned, a game, baking, the library, swimming, neighbour's kids to visit, cinema. Maybe she could bring a friend to play after school. After a few days, let her choose tomorrow's activity. Give praise and cuddles and act like you're delighted to see her every time, and that you are expecting to have fun together. Does this sound possible?

Christinefrance Wed 19-Oct-16 11:03:08

You need to take care of yourself mazza, have a break in Portugal then sit down with your daughter and talk things through. Sounds like the care of the grandchild could be shared a little more so you have your own time too. As bluebelle says agree strategies with your daughter so you are both comfortable with it. Children need boundaries.

gillybob Wed 19-Oct-16 11:29:43

Why does your DD feel the need to give you long lectures on how to approach things ? could it be that her role as a Headmistress overflows into her home life? (I don't mean bringing work home, I mean being a headteacher at home).

I know someone who works in a very challenging primary school. She finds it very hard to make the transition to becoming a mother to her 2 gorgeous girls at home and a teacher to some little horrors at work. She tends to talk to her children and her DH in "that" tone. "I'm waiting....... I will not tolerate......I am not going to repeat myself..etc"

Subsequently her eldest DD is really pushing the boundaries and I mean REALLY. She has developed an acute eating disorder which I suspect is the only thing she feels that she has ever been able to control for herself.

Jalima Wed 19-Oct-16 11:31:47

I can't see why your DD doesn't wash and dress her child ready for school before bringing her each morning - she just needs to get up a bit earlier!
It's half-term soon so you will have a break and perhaps it would be a good idea to go away then come back and work out with your DD what rules there are re behaviour etc.At the moment your DGD is confused by differing rules and you do need to have some 'Granny's' rules eg 'don't trash the furniture, strangle the cat, mind your ps and qs' etc - but give the child some leeway too.

My DGD go to breakfast club sometimes and like it. Perhaps doing that a couple of days a week and coming to you three mornings would be a good compromise.

6-7 year olds often know everything and try to push the boundaries.

trisher Wed 19-Oct-16 11:38:55

Oh dear how awful for all of you, your DD has chosen a career and family path that really don't fit well together. You are expected to fill the inevitable gaps and your poor GD is feeling put upon and protesting loudly and because you are the main carer and obviously someone she trusts, you are getting all the kicking.
Firstly your DD needs to bring the same dedication and organisation to her home life as she does to her school. If she had left her classroom in the condition she has her house she would never have become a Head teacher. This child needs a home which is the same as her classmates. She hasn't got the family many of them will have, daddy isn't there. If that were all it wouldn't be so bad but a house that isn't finished, no cooker, no proper home meals it's too much.
She knows how it should be done because she has lived with you and maybe that is one of the reasons she is challenging you now. She wants what you have. It's up to her mum to do something about that.
DD also needs to start backing you up. It isn't Ok for her to say let it go, if you want to discipline GD she should always support you. She should know that children pick up on the cracks between adults and do their level best to use them for their own benefit.
For your own sake I think you need at least one day off a week. Perhaps DD could use a breakfast and after school club on a Friday or a Monday so you could at least have a long weekend.
You sound as if you are doing all the right things, praising and loving and trying to set rules. All I can say is keep going but tell your DD firmly without arguing that she needs to get her act together, this is her daughter and she needs to do something now or the child will be more of a problem as she gets older.

Jalima Wed 19-Oct-16 11:39:25

9pm? That is very late for a 6 year old! Perhaps she is difficult because she is tired. Wouldn't it be better for her to stay over on the nights her mother works late, you would have time to do something fun, like swimming as another poster suggested.

I would have thought 7.30 was late enough for a 6 year old on a school night.

Why can't you go to Portugal at half-term? Why does your DD need you every single day?

vampirequeen Wed 19-Oct-16 11:44:34

The person suffering in this situation is your DGD. Why is she kicking off? Nothing to do with gypsy blood. She's an unhappy child. Maybe not on the face of it but underneath.

See it from her point of view. She's 6 years old. She lives in an unfinished house. She gets up earlier than most and is dumped at Grandma's because mum is so busy. It doesn't matter that mum needs to work. Children don't look at life that way. She'll see other children being taken to school by their mums. Does mum get to her class assemblies, sports days, school events etc? These little events are often major events to children. What time does mum put aside just for DGD? Being a head teacher is a 24/7 job. Does DGD feel left out?

Is this behaviour new? Does she behave at school? Does she misbehave with mum?

Jalima Wed 19-Oct-16 11:45:20

Lots of us worked in stressful jobs and brought up children but still managed to doing the washing and ironing (well, some ironing and some was more folding!).

You have made a bit of a rod for your own back and perhaps done too much for your DD.
She needs to get her house sorted out asap.

gillybob Wed 19-Oct-16 14:05:51

If a headteacher's path doesn't fit with having a child crikey knows how anyone else ever manages. Just saying.

mumofmadboys Wed 19-Oct-16 15:28:14

A headteachers job is very stressful I'm sure.

mazza245 Wed 19-Oct-16 15:29:42

Thank you for all your thoughts. I'm now crying again, feeling all the feelings you could expect. Grandad has just gone to get GD and I don't want hwper to see me crying as I think she thinks I'm weak anyway. No, she'll be in bed at 7.30 at her own home but we'll then wait for DD to come home. I'm actually worried about how to treat my GD as I do suffer from anxiety anyway and this is just causing me so much angst.

You have made valid points I haven't thought of, she was a generally happy child till this new job of Mums, maybe the stress is getting to her. The house isnt THAT bad, it's just not got a fitted kitchen but other things are comfortable enough. This headmistress anyway, is finding this job harder than anything, meetings in the evenings etc which she is gradually trying to change but she can't go in demanding changes all at once.

You're right, in trying to help her, I have made a rod for my own back with the washing and ironing etc but I'm the great mother hen trying to do things for people but, apparently, not doing it in the right way.

Br0adwater, I love you, you've summed it up perfectly. Treading on eggshells is right, with DD, DGD and DH as well! My place feels like it's in the wrong. I know, I'm feeling sorry for myself now. I'll take your advice and do something with her today, good ideas.

Yes she does misbehave with mum but not as much of course. School just tactfully say she's a strong character! She's here now, I'll have to go!

BlueBelle Wed 19-Oct-16 15:43:02

I think you ve hit the nail on the head yourself in two quotes a) describing yourself as a mother hen trying to do everything and getting everything right and B) describing yourself as anxious, kids pick up on that more than anything
please please drop the idea that the child is naughty because she has gypsy blood, so what, she is not being brought up to a gypsy lifestyle so why does that even come into it do you imagine all gypsies are bad people ? I do hope the child has never heard this quote from any of you
I would calm yourself down and as others have already said do some fun happy things with the little girl she might be very different than if she feels she hasn't got to conform to your rules which are obviously different to home rules

Good luck

trisher Wed 19-Oct-16 15:51:35

gillybob a headteacher's job is not 9-5. You cannot walk out when the children go home. In an office you can finish on time. You can't take personal phone calls or spend time sorting out family things in work time. You have to attend meetings after school and in the evenings. You spend holidays and weekends catching up on paper work you couldn't do in school time because there was an emergency/parental argument/staff illness/100 other things that you hadn't planned for. Teaching is bad enough, being head is a nightmare. The profession is haemorrhaging numbers daily because no one wants the stress.

gillybob Wed 19-Oct-16 15:58:10

I know that trisher I am just trying to make the point in saying that anyone working in teaching or heading (I was ticked off by my LEA for even suggesting that a head teacher should teach) is in a far better position (family wise) than say someone working in a factory/shop/whatever perhaps working shift patterns, 4 weeks holiday per year etc.

trisher Wed 19-Oct-16 16:04:14

Even shift workers know what time they will finish work.

gillybob Wed 19-Oct-16 16:13:55

I think maybe you are missing my point. Shift workers often work any 5 days from 7. They might work 4 x 12 hour shifts, they might work a 3 shift system 6-2, 2-10 and nightshift. Try fitting that, plus only 4 weeks annual holiday into family life.