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Please help me with my daughter acting out over my divorce

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
My stbx and I separated 4 months ago and are getting a divorce. Since then, my 4yo daughter has been acting out a lot (of course I expected this) and I don't know quite how to handle it.

Mainly it's anger and aggression that I'm dealing with. She's become very whiny and defiant. She's hit me a couple of times and has been scratching her big sister. My heart breaks for her because I know that it's caused by insecurity and pain over the family break-up.

I try explaining to her that she can't hit and scratch, I give her time-outs, and try talking to her, but maybe I'm not saying the right things. I'm thinking of taking her to a child psychologist. She's not herself. What can I do?

Maybe I should have posted in Single Parenting, I'm not sure, there are a couple of issues here, please move it if you have to
post #2 of 3
I think the key is to stay firm with unacceptable behavior (violence, for example), while still giving some allowance for acting out. Or at least, instead of giving a time out for hitting, for example, maybe you could turn it into a time in & try talking to her when she's in that angry spot...when she's raging if you brought up feelings she might be having about the divorce, it might pour out then. Allow her to express any emotions she might be feeling, try to give her lots of space to ask questions or discuss fears she might have. If the communication just isn't happening, maybe an outside psychologist might help.

...and I just wanted to add, I have recently been dealing with a family split up as well & I know it's really hard to cope with your child acting out when you are trying to sort out & process your own emotions at the same time! So I just wanted to share some empathy with that...
post #3 of 3
I would stop the time outs for sure, you expected this behavior and it's pretty normal so punishing won't make it go away. Try to give her feelings a name when she's angry but do say that while it's ok to feel x, it's not ok to hit/scratch. Giver her some other ways to cope with her feelings and I think perhaps talking to a counselor wouldn't be a bad idea either.
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