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What's normal? 8yo and 6yo behavior

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I have an 8yo dd and a 6yo dd.  They go through phases of being pretty helpful, kind, and cooperative for several months, to being very challenging and difficult and rude to me for periods of time.  In public and at school they seem to do great.  We get lots of compliments on how confident and kind they are.  However, when they are in a bad phase, they are really awful to me.  I am not sure if this is normal at this age.  When I talk to my mom about their behavior, she seems to think they shouldn't be acting this way at ages 8 and 6.  She feels I should get family counseling for us all and that it is only going to get worse as they get older. 

I feel that for the most part they are great kids, but that sometimes they are excessively rude and uncoopertive to me.  For instance, we have been having battles with my 8 year old about wearing underwear to school.  She won't put underwear on int he morning.  I bought her new underwear b/c she said the old kind is uncomfortable, and she still won't wear it.  As I am writing this, I am realizing that I should probably just let her not wear underwear!  It seemed important, but I guess it is really her choice at 8.  Do you think that is reasonable? 

Another example is homework.  My 6 year old throws tantrums about doing her homework, even if it will only take her 30 seconds to do.  My 8 year old, will sit their with it in front of her and not do it for an hour and a half.  I can't manage to cook dinner, hold baby, manage the 6 year old and prod the 8 year old into doing her homework simultaneously.  Advice?

Then there is the rude language.  They both will tell me to shut up sometimes.  My 8 year old told me she hated me this morning when I was trying to get her moving and out the door.  I tell them in a really serious way, "you may not speak to me that way".  But they continually do. 

Is this sort of stuff normal?  We are trying some star charts to encourage good behavior during times like the morning school routine and dinner.  They sometimes only seem to encourage more screaming and anger though when the child doesn't earn the star b/c they are being awful.  It feels counterproductive sometimes. 

I feel like my 8 year old is always trying to challenge me.  Ever since she was 3yo until now.  I thought maybe that behavior would stop when she got to be 5 or 6.  Is that normal?   Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.  Thank you.

post #2 of 7
The underwear things sounds potentially like a sensory issue. You might google "sensory processing disorder" and see if that sounds like what's going on.

The rest sounds normal. They're good sometimes, not so good other times. That's all human beings really. We all have moods.

It does take time to get used to responsibilities like homework. I find for my older daughter (10 now) having a strong after school structure helps. She comes home, does piano, plays for a while, eats dinner, does homework, bathes, goes to bed. We have a very regular routine and eventually it became natural. A lot of discipline issues are really about habits. Kids get into the habit of not having much responsibility (over summer) and getting into a new habit takes time. At their ages you could try working with them, like sit them down and say, "We need to make sure homework gets done every day. Do you have an idea how when we should schedule homework? Right after school? After dinner? What time would work best?" Sometimes for older kids they respond much better when they have some control over it.

Kids do challenge their parents. Their biggest job is to grow up to the point where they don't need you to control them, and they instintively know that and fight against control. Try giving them control wherever you can. It'll hopefully satisfy that need in them, and make you feel less overwhelmed by fights so when you do have to fight over something important, you hopefully won't be worn down already.

The "shut up" thing is another bad habit. Really, they have to get in the habit of saying something else. In what situations are they saying "shut up"? The thing to do is to find another way for them to communicate what they're trying to communicate, and then get them into the new habit. So you find another way to say what they want to say, and then every time they say "shut up" you say, "Don't say 'shut up' to me. If you want to say X, you can say 'XXXX.'" Give them a new script and then help them get out of the old habit and into a new one.

There's a new baby? That can amplify these problems. It's a big stress for everyone.

Hugs to you and your kids! Nothing here sounds really out of hte norm, except maybe the underwear thing, and that's not even that unusual.
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

That is really wonderful advice.  Thank you for your time and insight. 

That helps put things into perspective for me and gives me some ideas for things to work on.  I need to start getting back to the basics- reflecting feelings, talking about options, etc.  When  6yo dd came home today and was working on her homework, she almost got tearful about writing a k, and said she had had to practice k's during recess.  So I said, "that must make you really not want to write a k ever again!".  She shook her head yes, and wrote the k without freaking out!

Small steps. 

I think that sensory processing disorder could be an issue for dd1.  Any advice on what to do about it?  Should I try to get  her tested? 

Thanks for the help. 
 

post #4 of 7

when DD1 was 8 ... that was a challenging year for us

& i read in an australian book about raising a daughter (not sure of the title anymore) about some form of hormonal changes in the body at around that age & a bit like a mini adolescent crisis ....

post #5 of 7

If you think SPD is a issue I would talk to your doctor/pediatrician about getting a referral to a OT.

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Okay, thanks!
 

post #7 of 7

Mine are 8 and 6 too - this sounds relatively normal, depending on the day/week - the first few weeks of school are always drama filled when getting back into old rules and routines from the freedom of summer.  They have to be "on" in school, so they let it all hang out at home, lucky us.  

 

I have had to use more logical consequences than I wanted to when I conceived my parenting ideals, but I have to work with who my children are (button pushers/loophole finders/constant questioners,  instead of easygoing/cooperative...which I was as a kid - then again, there was only one of me), not who imagined they'd be. They are both very strong willed (thanks DH's DNA!) and bright, and cooperation/compromise does not always come naturally to either of them.

 

When mine are exceptionally rude to me, I give them a chance for a do-over:  "Please try again, that was rude."  or, "I get you're mad, you still have to be polite.  Try again."

 

I found that homework HAS to be done after school for my kids, waiting until after dinner creates a ton of drama.  

 

Back to basics is good, and you've gotten other good advice, too - good luck!

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