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how to handle snotty 11 year old...

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Maybe I should put this in the preteen's board also.

Today my 8 year old had a Girl Scout Function to go to. The leader requested that they wore this Yellow Girl Scout T-shirt. We only have 4 around in different sizes for 2 girls. She couldn't find one last night. I told her I would find it in the morning......what do I find instead??? My 11 year old wearing one, the smallest one in the bunch. I asked her to take it off and give it to her sister. She refused.

I walked away. The only reason she was wearing this shirt was to be a snot.

They also ussually alternate meetings for Monday. This week the 8 year old did a field trip with the 11 year old had a meeting. The leader said she would watch the 8 year old while the 11 year old finished up so we didn't have to come up twice. plus it would give her 8& 4 year old someone else to play with. My 8 year old didn't know this. My 11 year old was being a snot and told her that she would have to leave and wait out in the car with dad while the Juniors did super secret stuff. She did this just to be mean to her. When the leader found this out she did tell the 11 year old she wasn't being nice or a good scout....my 11 year old acted like she didn't care.

The other day my 8 year old made the 11 year old breakfast. A breakfast that she requested....after 8yo cooked it and plated it. The 11 year old told her it looked like a turd, the pancake was ovalish but not brunt or anything. He tone was flat out mean! My 14yo son called her a bitch : I wasn't happy about that but I have to hide my head in shame and I agree with him. I did correct him. The 11yo went into tears wanted me to do more to him for calling her that. I calmly said, "What do you think is going to happen when you treat peoples feelings with disregard? They will start treating you the same." (I went lighter on him because we have never heard him use that term and my dh had a heart to heart with him latter). I was more worried about my devistated 8 year old.

I actually could type half the night with stuff my 11 yo is doing just to be mean to her sister. This is a very new behavior. I want it stopped.
post #2 of 8
Here are my thoughts. The relationship between my 10-year-old and 14-year-old girls has been up and down for a few years. My DD14 is the sweetest, nicest kid, until she interacts with her younger sister--and then she can be a total, er, pill.

I won't tolerate rudeness in the home. Family harmony is extremely important to me (and to the kids, I believe). I insist that they speak kindly to each other and apologize if they've mistreated one another, and I have in the past created a harmony chart where they've earned privileges together by behaving warmly toward each other (no sniping). That worked very well.

As an example of the snotty sort of behavior DD14 will exhibit toward her younger sister, today she was getting a snack out of the cupboard. DD10 leaned around her to get a snack, and DD14 snapped that she needed to wait. I calmly pointed out to DD14 that if *anyone* else had performed the same action, it would have been no big deal, or it would even have started a silly push-and-pull situation. I continually try to get the girls to see how they behave differently with each other, and I praise them when they are kind. I try to participate with both of them in fun activities when possible so that they have peaceful, happy memories of times together.

Having said all this, I think your DD11 is pushing the envelope to see what happens when she behaves rudely. Looking at this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marsupialmom
My 11 year old wearing one, the smallest one in the bunch. I asked her to take it off and give it to her sister. She refused.

I walked away. The only reason she was wearing this shirt was to be a snot.
IMO, you shouldn't have walked away. It was rude of her to have taken the smaller shirt, and she knew it. She should have taken the shirt off when you asked her to do so, and when she blatantly refused your request, that was her raising the stakes to see what you would do.

I'm not about being confrontational with my kids--and I do realize that you made a request, not a demand--but I would have clearly stated, following the refusal, that the shirt needed to go to her younger sister. I'm sure your DD would have been angry, but she was being snotty anyway, so what's a little anger on top of that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marsupialmom
The 11 year old told her it looked like a turd, the pancake was ovalish but not brunt or anything. He tone was flat out mean! My 14yo son called her a bitch : I wasn't happy about that but I have to hide my head in shame and I agree with him. I did correct him.
I'm glad you had the talk with your DS14. I'm sure he's frustrated with the dynamic between your girls. My DS14 gets annoyed by the bickering between his sisters, too! He doesn't get why they are less friendly to each other than they are to everyone else.

What did you say to your DD11 when she was so rude about the pancakes? I think the best you can do is reiterate on a regular basis that it is important to use kind words. If one of my kids were that directly verbally cruel to a sib, I would take immediate action that would include (a) an apology to hurt sib, and (b) a request to take a break to cool down and think about how to treat people more appropriately.

I believe you should nip this sort of snottiness in the bud now. I'm really glad I began working on this issue a few years ago when my girls were your girls' ages. It's not an issue that's entirely solved yet, obviously (and I can't expect my girls to be best friends; their personalities are very different, and they're likely not suited to be close at their ages), but there's a clear understanding that they are NOT permitted to be purposefully mean-spirited or cruel & that harmony is the goal.

You said this is new behavior, so that's in your favor. If I were you, I'd take the girls aside in private and talk with them about what you've noticed between them. I'd ask them how they feel, and what they might recommend in order to have a more peaceful relationship. I'd use that time to emphasize that the rudeness has to stop, and point out that you'd prefer the girls to be active participants in improving the situation--but be clear that you are going to be sure it improves.

I sympathize; it is tough when you see someone you love being intentionally mean to someone else you love.
post #3 of 8
What I would do in that situation is try to get some alone time with the 11yo have some fun and then speak to her about what's going on with her sister. Maybe she's mirroring something that's going on with her?
post #4 of 8
I think when a member of a family says or does something deliberately cutting and cruel to another member, it does real harm to the entire family. I do not think this is just 'kids stuff' that should be overlooked, or that nothing can be done about cruel and mean spirited behavior. Further, I think cruel comments and mean spiritedness can become a habit if parents cannot find a way to effectively address the issue. The older children get the greater their capacity becomes for deliberately choosing an action. They face new emotions, new hormones, new frustrations. They become aware of the temporary satisfaction of dumping those feelings on another person. Everyone struggles with controlling the impulse to make that cutting remark, or exert petty control over another person. But a hateful comment or a manipulative action is just as damaging as a slap in the face. It hurts our own heart and it hurts the other person. Every time it happens it becomes that much easier to do it again, and again, and again. Eventually it becomes the way a person copes with frustration. I think it is vital to intervene and assist a young person in learning to manage emotions in a healthy way.

I am really not qualified to give practical advice--I only have one child. But I was the middle child growing up, and sibling relationships should be considered with a long view. I would urge you to read all you can about maintaining harmony and respect between siblings during the turbulent teen years. It is natural there will be bad days. But a pattern of hostility will erode a relationship and bring down the entire family. There is a way to get to the heart of that person and help them control their impulse to be hurtful. There is a way to help them be respectful and channel frustrations in a constructive way. I know other parents can give practical advice.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Jennyfur,

Thanks for your words. Yesterday I was just so frustrated I didn't know what to do. Sometimes I think we are better off backing off and thinking about the situation/s before we deal with it.

She has lost her mp3 player for the day because of being snotty. She had it up so loud. DD8 asked her to turn it down. DD11 didn't respond. So DD8 touched her to get her attention (DD11 is also hard of hearing. She has to have it louder but sometimes that means she needs to move herself. I have told my other kids get over it sometimes because she has no other option.) DD8 asked her to turn it down or go into the bedroom. DD11 went off on her. DD8 was trying to do school work and she can't move. DD11 could. I took the mp3 player. I told her if she could be respectful to other people she can't have privelages. She screamed at me. I told her we will talk when she calms down and walked away.....now she is held up in her room. Am I bad for feeling like "Oh well."
post #6 of 8
I'm not there yet but I would recommend reading or re-reading "How to talk so your kids will listen & how to listen so kids will talk". When I read it my kids were really too young for me to use it very well but it might benefit you in your situation.
It sounds like something is going on with your 11 yo and she might need some time with you to talk about it.
post #7 of 8
I see snotty behavior in a pre-adolescent as a poorly refined way of trying to express little girl feelings in a big girl way. In other words: She's probably feeling sad, angry, jealous or lonely -- but trying really hard to be "cool" about it. Its like her feelings are coming out in a half-strangled, half-mutilated fashion that is nasty and difficult to live with. But underneath the nastiness there are some simple, old-fashioned, little girl feelings.

The trick is to look past the snot factor and try to respond to the underlying feelings.

For example: I can totally imagine that she felt that having her little sister hanging around at her gs meeting was an invasion of her special activity and friendships. Does not justify her behavior, but understanding her feelings might go a long way toward helping her to express them more appropriately.

Can you spend some 1:1 time with her? Try to understand what she is feeling toward or about her sister? Try to listen without criticizing or judging -- just to try to to understand what she is feeling.

Another thing that can go a long way toward helping is to try to anticipate what is going to set her off (as much as is reasonable - don't walk on egg-shells) and try to give her lots of forewarning. A head's up that sis is going to be hanging around her at her meeting, or sis is going to need her shirt, or that sis is going to be making her breakfast -- AND that she is expected to have a good attitude about it -- will give her an opportunity to sort of brace herself and react appropriately. You can point out directly, "This is the kind of thing that you sometimes get snotty about, so I want you to get yourself ready ahead of time and do your best to be decent to your sister...."

Remember that puberty is really hard. Even as you set firm boundaries, remember to offer a lot of understanding and empathy. Its hard to be eleven. I recently asked my 12 year old if something was bothering him or if it was just puberty making him grumpy. He responded that it was just puberty making him grumpy, and we shared a laugh over it.
post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marsupialmom View Post
She has lost her mp3 player for the day because of being snotty. She had it up so loud. DD8 asked her to turn it down. DD11 didn't respond. So DD8 touched her to get her attention (DD11 is also hard of hearing. She has to have it louder but sometimes that means she needs to move herself. I have told my other kids get over it sometimes because she has no other option.) DD8 asked her to turn it down or go into the bedroom. DD11 went off on her. DD8 was trying to do school work and she can't move. DD11 could. I took the mp3 player. I told her if she could be respectful to other people she can't have privelages. She screamed at me. I told her we will talk when she calms down and walked away.....now she is held up in her room. Am I bad for feeling like "Oh well."
I happen to find it awesome that you're feeling "oh well"! You're not taking her reaction personally. You didn't yell at her or act disrespectfully toward her. Instead, you clearly explained that you would not tolerate rude behavior, and you backed up your words with action--and now she's fuming over that, but she's thinking and absorbing what you said. It can be a relief to hold the line and realize that the kids *will* be okay even if they get angry over boundaries. I happen to believe that your DD11 ultimately will be grateful to have a healthier, calmer relationship with her younger sister, even if it is mom- and dad-enforced at this point in time.

I get that there are underlying reasons why your DD11 might be particularly snotty, but there are times to address that--and I think that's a time other than when she's mouthing off.

I agree with heartmama that it's important to look at sibling relationships with a long view. My husband and I are both the youngest of four, and that definitely colors our parenting approach & our desire to maintain harmony. My parents failed in some areas to step in when I felt I was being bullied by one of my older sibs, and I felt very abandoned. I'm very close to all my sibs now, but I was angry, resentful and hurt toward my family when I tried to call on people to address what I saw as unfair treatment and got no response. Because of that background, I will not permit any member of the family, however old the child, be the recipient of harmful teasing or hurtful words.
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