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how to help a controlling and envious child?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
x-posted with childhood years

DD is almost 8. She admits to often feeling envious. She also tends to be controlling.

Today's examples:

I got each of my kids a pack of balloons. I tossed them to the kids, and said, here, one for you, and one for you. Immediately she grabbed one bag from her brother's hands, telling him that she needed to count all of them to compare if they were even. I believe it was mostly control issue here.

This is my hotspot, but I reacted well. I matter of factly told her that each of them got a bag, and that was it. She huffed and puffed.

2 minutes later we enter a grocery store. They have those car-type carts for two kids, so I lift my toddler there, and my 5 year old usually rides in it too, and DD starts telling him that he CAN'T. This is when I'm already lifting him too. I tell him that of course he can, and then DD keeps on telling him that he didn't listen to her etc.

Here I believe it is both control and feeling envious--she would want to ride in there too. But she also wants to push her baby sister in it, and she can't push two of them. She kept being upset about it for about 20 min while we were in the store. I talked to her about both her brother and her sister really loving to ride together and that was a rare opportunity for them. She was envious that her sister was having fun with DS, and not with her. (This is a very typical envy provoking situation for her. She will admit that she doesn't want DS to play with her sister.) I was still calm on the inside.

Then she sees a spider, and calls me over to look at it. As I do, DS asks me what it was, and I say, come look, a huge spider. And DD tries to push him away, because she doesn't want him to see that spider.

So we come home, and she knows she's done wrong, but says she can't control herself. Which is not really true, because she'd never behave like this if there were other people around. She insists she needs my help to calm down, and all I can do is control myself and not scream, because I feel so helpless that she is like this, and that all may previous patience is not enough, and that she was returning from her favorite riding lesson, which she loved, and she still was in such a crappy mood that she lashed out at her brother multiple times for NO REASON.

Finally she dicided to that a bath will calm her down, and she is bathing now. Which was a really HUGE improvement in terms of coping for her, compared to a year ago, for example.

But when I'm in the moment and she is behaving like this, how do I keep my cool when I just want to disappear and cry? How come my baby is so controlling and envious? And how to help HER in the moment to snap out of it?

X-posted with the GD forum
post #2 of 3

ooooo

first, hugs to you. . . .

Of course, I don't know what else, if anything is going on, (recently moved? changed school?), but given all things are =, here are some ideas:

1) It's a phase.

But let's not let it become a habit. (see solutions)

2) pre-teen hormones starting to kick in?

May seem early, but that kind of envy and control is related to the sexual politics required to getting the mate your hormones demand.

Of course, in the raw, envy, manipulation, alliances, power and superiority (teen girl paradise) are unpalatable for everyone around, and can spread like cancer. I'd say that due to her age, she simply lacks a layer of sophistication that helps her get what she wants by being nice.

Solutions: (In no particular order)

part 1) You. Seem you are doing pretty well, so this might be redundant:

a) So as to ensure that we disambiguate your position in the family unit, let me remind you that you are the Boss. You are in charge. You are the Queen, The Empress and Goddess on High. Re-affirmation of this is important because this inoculates you against losing it from back-chat, rudeness, unkind words etc. You are above it all Your Loftyness!

b) Stay flat but kind. When something happens that is designed to get to you, remember that it does not occur to Your Highness that (insert crime here) would ever be appear in the presence of Your Greatness with malicious intent. Any un-worthy behaviour is, of course, due to the need for your firm and kindly guidance to the innocents below Oh Your Great Zen-ness.

Any obvious manipulation (like the spider example you give), laugh/giggle at the ridiculousness of not including the whole family. (see part 2.c)

part 2) Her. Could be also she needs clear boundaries.

a) My take is that she needs compulsory kindness and sharing training. Do this with her so you are leading by example. This takes the form of doing things like making/getting/giving presents for the others and DH (like baking a cake or cookies) or drawing pictures, or even just taking a toy for nothing in return. The whole exercise is about forcing her into a position of giving out more than she gets. The "why" should not be explained other than "because that is nice, and we are nice." Practice make perfect, + lots of hugs.

b) In the same vein, maybe she needs some duties ('cos she is so grown up now) so (with you) she can lay the table or something. Here you can remark "I'll give his this because he like that" etc... Don't be afraid to lay it on thick. Killing a problem with kindness works. One way or the other she'll get the message. When she does, don't stop, but integrate it the others (if they are not integrated yet) into the practice of giving.

c) She may need some more planned 1 2 1 mummy time (some 1 2 1 daddy time also a good idea) Important hint:- DON'T go shopping, but rather -do- something, (draw, read or write a story and illustrate, cook, badminton, arm-wrestle...)



good luck. I hope some of this might help you steer right.
post #3 of 3
8 was a rough age for both my oldest and now my middle who is 8. I assume she's your oldest which can bring bossiness as well, my oldest tends to want to "be in charge". There is a series of books by Louise Bates Ames that goes through each year of childhood and what to expect at that age, they are good to just get an idea of what most kids go through. 8-10 y/o can be big on being fair so it's pretty normal for her to want to make sure they all have equal balloons. Maybe next time you get all 3 something invite her to divide them up equally then you can pass it out. What's the age difference between her and your DS? My oldest is 11 and my son is 6 and although they do get along she seems to have more friction with him and not want him to copy her or do everything like her. Perhaps next time she could push baby sister and you push DS until the phase passes?
Does she have a lot of control over her own stuff? Sometimes when kids feel micromanaged they take it out on us or others. Also 1 on 1 time always helps, esp if you let her pick what you will do together.
When my daughter gets mouthy or what I feel is overdramatic I either tell her I will be back and go into another room for a few minutes to calm down or take a really deep breath to compose myself before I speak. I recommend reading a book like Raising our children, raising ourselves by Naomi Aldort for help in letting go of that anger reaction.
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