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5 yo oldest DD problem

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi All,


I am seriously looking for advice, and I have seen many good posts on this forum.


I have a 5 yo daughter, 3 yo son, and 1 yo daughter.  My 5 yo currently goes to Montessori from 8-3 most weekdays.  She has had discipline problems at the school, but her guide has so far been willing to try and work with us in helping her.  She slapped one of her teacher aid's a few weeks ago, and was asked to leave school for the rest of the day.  Since then, I believe she has behaved relatively well at the school.  I have slapped her, so there isn't a question of where she learned that behavior. 


The problems at home are compounded by the fact that she fights with younger siblings and bullies them.  She also doesn't listen and obey which makes her brother behave in the same way.  When she is not home, our boy is very respectful, when she is home he follows her lead and doesn't do what we ask.  The youngest baby has a tendency to just simply stay away from her since she is not nice to her. 


I have tried gentle discipline, but it seems like she takes this as a sign of weakness and treats me and everybody else worse.  If there isn't a bad punishment she will just scream and kick and threaten. I try to ignore this behavior as much as possible, but it bothers the younger children.  I have tried yelling and spanking which gets reasonable results but only short term.  I think my husband and I generally set a good example of kind and respectful behavior. 


Our real problems seems to be a few things

- she wants it her way and doesn't care who she hurts to get it

- if she doesn't WANT to do something she will either ignore, argue or lie


I will also add that if she spends all day with ME, she seems to do fine.  But I am an owner of a company with 100 employees so can't just "give notice".


Anyway, looking for some advice on how to get our family life to be as peaceful all the time as it is when she is at school or visiting grandparents.

post #2 of 13

My advice - first, stop the hitting. It isn't working and it only make your daughter more determined that she will undermine you.


Second, your kid is sending you a message here. She is only 5 so she can't express it appropriately. She needs responsibility, choices, validation of her feelings, help to be independent. Usually kids need one more than the rest but they need them all. It sounds like your dd has misguided power which would be the need to help and have choices. Check out this chart, see where your dd fits and there are also some good tips on how to respond to her. http://www.positivediscipline.com/files/MistakenGoalChart.pdf


Third, double check that she is getting enough exercise, positive attention, correct nutrition, sleep, etc.


When you come up with some new ideas to try have a good heart to heart with your dd. Let her talk, ask her questions. Tell her you love her and you want to work together to find some solutions so she can be happier. That you want to help her when she is mad, how to express her feelings appropriately, etc.


It seems our kids are born knowing what pushes our buttons. My dd and I have had some very difficult times and I understand your frustration. You can work through this together.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

I don't "hit" her, I smacked her lips when she lied to me. 


I appreciate the chart and am pretty sure I try those things.


The challenges I face are


1.  I give her LOTS of choices, about what she eats, wears, the books we read, how and where she plays, which park we play at, etc.

2.  I give her responsibilities, to place napkins on the table, to pick up after herself, to help with baby, to dress herself, to put away her clothes and keep her closet neat, etc... 

3.  I involve her with most all of my activites, she helps me fold clothes, peel vegetables, chop vegetables, sweep & mop the floor.  And she enjoys these things MOST of the time...


She thinks when I give her choices on some things she should have her free reign on everything.  Example is that I ask her if she wants this or that for lunch, then she thinks that when I offer cookies for dessert after dinner she can throw a fit if she wants Ice cream.


The responsibility thing only works when it suits her.  She is supposed to place napkins for all the meals on the table.  And for the most part she does it, but if she is "busy" she will ignore me when I ask. If she doesn't want to do it she will lie to me and make an excuse as to why she can't. 


When I want to involve her brother she becomes a bully and sometimes will help him, but others she will push him off the stool, and won't help him. 


These types of responses are repeated in many aspects of our life...


Like I said, for the most part when she spends the whole day with ME, we do fine.  It is the others who are the problem.  And tell me how you get somebody who makes $11/hour to care?


She does have sleep issues, and I have already paid $2,500 out of pocket for help with that.  Nutrition is great, exercise is good and positive attention is could be better.  Will work on that myself.

post #4 of 13
It isn't just the smacking of the face. The spanking can cause this kind of thing. When the way you force them to do what they want is by using physical force, including spanking (which is a form of hitting), they learn that if you want to force someone to do what you want, hitting is the way. Hitting is the way to get someone to do what you want. Adults don't look at things the same way as kids and often don't think of it as hitting, but kids seem to get that message. They learn more from what you do than what you say or what you tell them to do.

If you want her to learn to work with people to figure out solutions to problems rather than use force to get other people to do things, it really does work to work with her to figure out solutions to problems. As she gets used to figuring out how to solve problems with you, she'll get better and better at trying to work out solutions with others.

I strongly recommend the book "How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen." Your daughter is at the young age for their suggestions, but it's amazing how well kids seem to respond to the way they suggest you talk to kids to get them to behave how they need to.

As for throwing fits, I'd try to not get involved in the fit, and let her have it, and when she's done ask her again. "Are you ready to choose what to eat?" And she has the same questions. Kids who are out of control seem to respond well to parents who remain in control - who are like a rock to cling to when they're upset. So long as you don't give in to her tantrums, she will eventually give up. A part of them wants everyone around them to be as upset as they are, but they seem to relax more when we're relaxed. So long as you aren't getting involved in the drama and getting upset along with her, she'll get through that stage.

And finally, one more thing that crossed my mind. With two younger siblings, she might be wanting a greater connection with you. She might be craving a bit more one-on-one time. Does she get much of that with you? Sometimes, the only way they get one-on-one attention is when they're being punished, and then they start seeking out punishment to get the attention. Try to give her a bit of time just for her when you can, although I know that's challenging with the two little ones. Maybe at least let her know you're trying to carve out that time for her.

Best wishes to you! It's hard with just one young child at a time. This does sound like a real challenge.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

Yeah, this is why one can't be honest on this forum... The problem is not that I smacked her on the face once for lying and spanked her twice for accidentally kicking me when she threw a tantrum.... She doesn't try to get her way by hitting, she tries to get it by throwing fits, by telling lies, by pulling things away from other children and by pushing.  She deliberately ignores but she only "hit" ONCE!  She runs away, she yells, screams, pouts, and throws things, but she doesn't hit.  SHe did "smack the teacher" on the lips because she thought the teacher was telling her a lie.


The last time I ignored the tantrum, it went on for LITERALLY, three hours and she made herself physically ill for the rest of the day.


But thanks for the other advice, I will get the book

Edited by ckumelos - 4/26/13 at 11:03am
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 

I suggest to the moderator that a line be put in the forum rules that if you have ever "HIT" your child don't even bother posting here because we will just blame all your child's problems on that.

post #7 of 13
Is she closer to 4 or 6? The two things that struck me as familiar with my 5-in-June dd~ mine seems to be (sort of a new thing) freaked out by choices to the point of affecting her moods. Making them for her in a matter-of-fact way has vastly reduced the tantrums. "Here's your lunch and then we're going to XYZpark. I sure hope your friend from last time is there!" And then move right along quickly before she gets stuck in a frustrated loop of choosing and regretting her choice over and over.

The chore thing also goes much better if I don't engage the refusal at all. Just shrug and keep going with my buisness. Usually if I get to her part and start it myself she'll jump to it if she hasn't already...she does want to work and help alongside me & sister but it seems like she wants it to be "her idea" wink1.gif I can't really blame her; I wouldn't react well if DH announced that I should start dinner "now".

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thank you. 

post #9 of 13

I'm not going to argue with you on the definition of hitting. I don't think that a few isolated incidents of hitting have caused all the problems with your dd. I've lost my temper and hit my kid before. It wasn't the right choice and I don't think it will cause long term problems. I later apologized to my child and explained that I was out of control, that happens to everyone, including adults. I was in the wrong and I asked my child to forgive my mistake. It was a very good conversation for us. It is hard not to be defensive when you feel you are being attacked but I really think people who have posted have been pretty supportive and we are trying to be helpful. We are all trying to be the best parents we can be for our kids and I try to keep that in mind when I'm responding to any parent seeking advice.


It sounds like you have a very smart and also high energy/emotional girl on your hands. The only thing that sounds out of the ordinary is the 3 hour tantrum. I bet if you do let her have it out the tantrums will decrease in time. Kids hit, lie, make excuses, beg/plead/cry for candy, etc. It is part of being a kid and pushing the limits. How far will mom let me go? Only so far? Better check again tomorrow. Same result? I will check again next week. It just goes that way over and over!

The responsibility thing only works when it suits her.  She is supposed to place napkins for all the meals on the table.  And for the most part she does it, but if she is "busy" she will ignore me when I ask. If she doesn't want to do it she will lie to me and make an excuse as to why she can't.

- and what happens at this point? How about going to her and getting her attention, reminding her this is her responsibility and part of contributing to your family? What if you do not accept her excuses and just remind her by saying 'napkins'. If the napkins don't get on the table before the meal starts she can place them when she comes for dinner...


When I want to involve her brother she becomes a bully and sometimes will help him, but others she will push him off the stool, and won't help him.

This tells me she is enjoying having your attention focus solely on her.


I really can relate to having a very difficult child. I do sympathize with your situation. I've been the emotionally, physically, and every other way exhausted because of my dd. At times I've sought help from professionals to help me cope and give me insight on ways I can help myself and my dd through our tougher times. 

post #10 of 13
I'm sorry you feel you can't be honest here. Spanking can cause problems and confuse children about whether hitting is OK. If that's not what is happening in your case, then that's almost too bad, because the problem might be easier to solve if it were. smile.gif But I do hope you find some solutions. A lot of parents occasionally hit out of frustration without planning or wanting to, and I don't think that causes too much trouble, becuase kids can understand loss of control out of frustration. That's something they have to deal with to. It's more when the system of discipline is spanking that it seems to me like children sometimes get a confusing message and figure spanking is how people get things to happen.

I think you might really like the "How To Talk" book. It really helped me re-think how I was trying to get my older child to do things. There is another book by the same authors (one of the authors' names is "Faber" but I'm afraid I don't remember more about that) called Siblings Without Rivalry, that has some repetition from the other books, but might also be relevant for you.
post #11 of 13
I suggest preventing tantrums by paying attention to common triggers, giving no more than two choices at a time, and making sure you consistently don't give her what she is seeking through tantrums but do frequently give her what she is seeking when she uses words to express a desire.

I recommend Dr. Sears The Discipline Book and also Dr. Greene's book The Explosive Child. I also suggest dealing with each child separately and not saying anything to your older DD that seems to blame her for her brothers choices. It may be her example that leads him on but it is his choice to follow a bad example and being blamed for a siblings choices creates a lot of anger, especially when the brother who misbehaved appears to be getting away with the same thing you aren't getting away with.
post #12 of 13
OP, I am sorry you are having struggles with your DD. I have a very sensitive child who at times acts out and used to throw very long exahusting (for both of us) temper tantrums and it can be very hard, tiring and isolating.

With that being said, I am going to need to post a couple reminders to this thread.

As per our User Agreement:
The Mothering community stands strongly against pro-spanking advocacy

However after the OP has explained herself a little better, I am also going to add this from the UA:
We appreciate that members come to our community at different places in their parenting journey and one of our goals is to welcome and educate new members. With that in mind, we expect our members to keep conversations civil and on topic, and uphold the integrity and diversity of the community. We value the honest and supportive exchange of ideas and opinions, and we ask that members avoid negative characterizations and generalizations about others. Examples and calm explanation are more useful than condemnation of ideas that differ from Mothering's philosophies.

It seems that the OP has come here looking for strategies OTHER than spanking that will work for her child. As a parent I am sure we can all understand that at times it feels like nothing is working and we have tried everything, let's try to move this post forward in the spirit of helping the OP come up with different solutions she can try for the future instead of negatively dwelling on the past. We all come from different places, different routes of parenting and different backgrounds, however we are all here for the same goal, to continue to improve ourselves as parents.

As always if you have any questions please feel free to PM myself "delightedbutterfly" or one of the other forum mods if there is an issue or question to be had.

OP, I think some of the suggestions of extra time one on one with her are good, catching her doing positives things and finding that book, I've heard so many good things about it! It helps my child when she gets to "help out" so getting her to do lots of chores with me is huge. She really excells when I give her jobs to do. A sticker chart for "helping and behavior" with a reward at the end has really helped to. And just recently I realized that her "shyness" was more a case of being afraid to fail. It was really hard to figure out what she best needs but now she almost never throws a tantrum and can be reasoned with on a more neutral level. While I'm sure you DD will have different "self truths" to her needs finding out the real root to her problem will probably help immensely! Have you thought about a couple play therapy sessions to help figure out what she may be needing?

I wish you luck and patience in trying to figure out what your DD is needing or looking for.
post #13 of 13
The issues have been addressed and the UA cited for both sides of this. Maybe we can move forward and focus on how to help the OP.
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