Child that won't do anything for herself? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 10-15-2005, 09:36 PM - Thread Starter
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My 7 year old stepdaughter just never wants to do things for herself. Not get her own cereal, a glass of juice, put on her own shoes, zip up her coat, etc. etc. She basically demands that her father and I do it for her.

I find this really weird - all the kids in my family were very independent I guess. But when she says to me "I'm thirsty." I say "Well go get yourself a glass of juice, then." She acts like I'm crazy. "I don't know hooo-ooow."

Now, obviously a lot of this is based on the way her mom does everything for her (we have her 2-3 nights per week) at home. I don't think she even brushes her teeth by herself at her mother's house. But thank god she's stopped asking us to do it for her here.

I don't know - is this normal behaviour? When I was a kid we were always climbing up on the counters to get stuff out of the cupboards, opening the fridge, stuff like that... it's like it never even occurs to her. And I really think that a 7 year old should put on her own shoes without asking for help. It's not like there are any laces to tie, since she outright refuses to learn how to do that, too...

Anyway, I'm just afraid she'll end up being one of those teenagers that can't do anything for themselves. And she of course think i am "mean" when I tell her to do this stuff herself.

Am I expecting too much?
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#2 of 8 Old 10-15-2005, 09:40 PM
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Isn't there another thread on this exact child and topic?
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#3 of 8 Old 10-16-2005, 12:53 AM
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My step-son has a "you can do it for me" laid back personality, too! He is the sweetest things, but sometimes this drives me crazy!! I try to slowly change the "I can't/don't know how/won't" responses. I suggest if your step-daughter says she doesn't know how to do something, just show her. Work on getting her to do one behavior she should be doing by herself for a week or two... until she gets good at doing it on her own. Then move onto another behavior. For example, first show her what she needs to do to bathe herself on her own and let her do that for a couple weeks. Next, expect her to dress herself (including shoes) on her own for a couple of weeks. As frustrating as it is, we can't expect kids to do things that they are not in the habit of doing or truely don't know how or are afraid to do. I think part of the reason my step-son would rather we do everything for him is that he is a perfectionist. It is much easier for us to do what needs to be done (because we will do it "right") than for him to do the task incorrectly or imperfectly. He's actually afraid of trying for fear of failure. If your step-daughter tries to do something on her own and doesn't do it perfectly, still praise her for trying. Encouragement helps!!!

Good luck.
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#4 of 8 Old 10-16-2005, 02:51 AM
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I would not push to much to fast. How long has she been your step-dd? She could be still learning the rules to your house. Even if it seems like a long time switching between two houses with two rules is not always easy.

As for the teeth brushing, I do not think it is horrible for her to have help at 7. Neither would many dentist.

Also, could she be asking so much because she is wanting attention? Especially motherly attention from you? This is how she sees her mother showing her love. This doesn’t mean you cannot encourage independence but look at her point of view. Maybe some up with something special that just you two do and not worry about the rest.

Some children are slower at this independence things than others. I wouldn’t sweat it. Have her help you so she can know how to do something and that you expect it of her, then relax.
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#5 of 8 Old 10-16-2005, 08:11 AM
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I would suggest starting off slow maybe encouraging to help you with activites like baking etc. My 6 year old thinks it is great fun to wash dishes, vaccum etc. I think it gives her a sense of accomplishment. Also maybe you could ask her to get things for you like a glass of water etc.? Maybe part of it a lack of feeling like she can do it? You could offer praise every time she shows innitiative.
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#6 of 8 Old 10-24-2005, 05:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, a little update - looks like I may have spoken too soon. This morning she informed me that I don't need to brush her hair anymore, because she does it herself at her mom's house!

Actually, her overall behaviour has been way better this past week - none of the whining about putting on shoes etc. She and i had a talk about trying to be nicer to each other, after we had a total blowout a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, we "pinky swore" on it so I guess she's holding up her end of the deal! This is great, and a huge relief, as I was starting to believe she hated me. Although I know it is normal for her to sometimes feel that way or be mad at me, it's hard not to take it personally. Some days I'm better than others. The worst is when I go to pick her up from daycare and the other kids say "Caiden, your mom's here..." and she screams back "That's not my mom!" I mean, she's right... but it doesn't exactly put me in a good mood!
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#7 of 8 Old 11-02-2005, 12:03 PM
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Hahahah this could be my SS. He's been with us every other weekend since he was 3, he is now 8. I don't coddle him because I find it kind of unusual. He used to ask for help with the SIMPLEST of things -- like if there was a can of pop on the table across the room, he would sit in the bed and reach his arm out like he was trying to reach it (like 12 feet away) and just make straining noises. I used to just say "if you want it, get up and get it! You have legs!". He wouldn't spread butter on a slice of bread until this year. Everything is TOOO HARRRRRRRD (and I know he can do things, I see him do things when I am not looking). I help him with things I know he cannot do.

It's kinda frustrating because DS, who just turned 3, has been the polar opposite. He wants to do EVERYTHING himself and will get mad if I try to help.
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#8 of 8 Old 11-02-2005, 12:48 PM
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My older s-kids went thru this at first. After some deep talks we found out that they didnt feel comfortable doing things on their own. Our home didnt feel like "their" home and therefore going to get a drink out of the fridge seemed almost....rude to them.

It did take some time. We bought them their own cups, bowls, etc. Tried to make it more their place, KWIM? Which really helped when they moved in full time, 'cause it already felt like "home".

I also agree with pp about possibly wanting some attention.....

Good luck in your journey!

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