You're an idiot, you're stupid, shut up - How to handle degrading remarks? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 01-03-2014, 08:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The issue is mostly with my 10 year old daughter. She is completely degrading to her younger brother. I have no idea where this is coming from, but it started up over the past few months and we can't seem to make her stop. If they're playing a game together and he makes a mistake or messes something up, she calls him an idiot or stupid. She's constantly telling him to shut up, and will even occasionally punch him or hit him.

We've handled it as best we can. We encourage her to apologize, and I've explained to her WHY it's terrible to treat her brother this way. He has pretty fragile self-esteem to begin with, as he is a VERY sensitive child. He does incredibly well in school, but actually thinks he's stupid, because she tells him he is.

Furthermore, my toddler - having spent a couple of weeks straight with them while they're off school for the holidays - is now telling people to shut up. Awesome.

I'm not really sure how to handle this, moving forward? She's a bright girl. She should KNOW that this behavior is wrong. She should KNOW that treating people this way - her brother in particular - is harmful. We don't talk to the kids this way... I don't know if she's picking it up at her school, or maybe her father's house, but it's really starting to get out of hand. She promises and promises that she'll stop with the mean comments, and says she understand why it's wrong, but continues to lash out in this way anytime she gets angry or frustrated with him, and loses her temper.

Any thoughts on how to handle it?
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#2 of 8 Old 01-03-2014, 03:46 PM
 
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Have you given her an alternative she needs to use when she feels that way? Like walk away for a while, go do some hobby or read or exercise perhaps? If she has a go-to escape she can use when she's overwhelmed before she acts out it may help. Also she needs alternative words especially since the toddler is picking them up she may see the need "please hush" and "you don't understand" and maybe "you're driving me crazy" will get the same points across more kindly. Then when she's calmer that's the time to work out a solution with him, maybe with you helping, or communicate what she needs better. If she fails to use self control I'd pull priviledges, certainly the use of whatever they fought over for starters. Is she stressed or depressed or is someone else belittling her? Or maybe it's just a bad habit she has fallen into?

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#3 of 8 Old 01-04-2014, 03:12 AM
 
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My daughter had a problem a while back with saying those types of things to not only others but herself, and making her apologize and lecturing on her behavior just wasn't doing any good. That type of behavior was something I immediately wanted to crack down on with her, I know how devastating negative talk can be to self esteem. I gave it a lot of thought and came up with something that really works well for her.

 

For every one negative thing she said, I made her come up with ten positive things that she had to say out loud to me. If she said she wasn't smart, I made her say ten positive things about herself, and they had to be genuine, thought-out things. By the end of the list she really dug deep to think of things she liked about herself and she almost always had a smile on her face by the last one. It improved her self confidence within days. This taught her new ways to think about things and replaced negative thought pathways with positive ones. After a few months it seemed as though the negative thoughts didn't even occur to her, even when she got upset, and she began to enjoy positive ways of coping with feelings and life.

 

I also have her do that to others when she has said something negative about someone else, not always ten things in all situations but she has to say at least several things out loud to the person she put down that are positive and rewarding to them. By the last one both her and the other person are feeling better, and they end up feeling closer to one another. It also works with any negative talk, such as saying "This is the worst day ever" just because she has to clean her room. That warrants 10 things she needs to say that are positive about the day or that could be positive about the rest of the day.

 

Any way I can help her see the positive things in life, herself, and others, always seems to help, and talking about how she is feeling on a regular basis in a safe and open environment does wonders. She almost always has much more on her mind than I ever imagine. Good luck!  :)

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#4 of 8 Old 01-04-2014, 03:50 AM
 
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I don't have a 10 year old, so this might not be helpful, but what I've noticed about kids in general (mostly the 5 and under set, like mine) as well as my teenage siblings, is that most kids seem to think it's not okay to make mistakes. This isn't a judgment on parenting. I think they just pick it up from the world in general somehow. I sort of did an experiment a few months ago after realizing my son didn't think it was okay to make mistakes where I asked the kids of friends if they thought it was okay to be wrong and I didn't find any that said yes. (The parents were all embarrassed, but again I don't think it's their fault.)

 

What made me think of this was that we've been watching some Magic School Bus recently (which your daughter is probably too old for, but probably not your son). The motto is always some variation of "Take Chances. Get Messy. Make Mistakes." I love it. Regarding the teenagers I know who I feel are sometimes afraid to try, because they don't want to look dumb, I would recommend the movie Monsters University. I feel like the main point of the movie is that sometimes you try your best, but you still fail, and that's okay.

 

Anyway, I don't have any idea how to deal with "shut up", but regarding the idiot and stupid remarks, I would make sure to try and convince both kids that it's totally okay to make mistakes, be wrong, and fail sometimes. The person who makes a mistake is bold and daring, not an idiot. Anyway who says something wrong and learns from it is now smarter, not stupid. I hope to instill in my kids the idea that it's good for them to fail sometimes, because it means they gave something difficult a shot and that I admire and respect them for that.


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#5 of 8 Old 01-06-2014, 05:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all of the tips! I really like this idea:

Quote:
Originally Posted by mylittlerune View Post

For every one negative thing she said, I made her come up with ten positive things that she had to say out loud to me. If she said she wasn't smart, I made her say ten positive things about herself, and they had to be genuine, thought-out things. By the end of the list she really dug deep to think of things she liked about herself and she almost always had a smile on her face by the last one. It improved her self confidence within days. This taught her new ways to think about things and replaced negative thought pathways with positive ones. After a few months it seemed as though the negative thoughts didn't even occur to her, even when she got upset, and she began to enjoy positive ways of coping with feelings and life.




 



This would work well for both children - the one that is speaking the destructive words, and the one that's beating himself up now, because he feels like he can't do anything right. Definitely something worth trying out, with both of them!
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#6 of 8 Old 01-06-2014, 07:58 AM
 
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Where is she getting this from - is there someone at school saying these things? Someone at home (probably not but you never know)?  Does she feel out of control somewhere else in her life and is taking it out on others?  Might be worth addressing or having a heart to heart about why she feels the need to lash out and make others feel bad because generally it's a reflections of something in our own lives.

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#7 of 8 Old 01-06-2014, 11:04 PM
 
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I really hope you find something helps! Luckily your kids have someone who is willing to reach out and find ways to make their lives better, and that is really special. They are lucky to have you.  :)

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#8 of 8 Old 01-08-2014, 06:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sassyfirechick View Post

Where is she getting this from - is there someone at school saying these things? Someone at home (probably not but you never know)?  Does she feel out of control somewhere else in her life and is taking it out on others?  Might be worth addressing or having a heart to heart about why she feels the need to lash out and make others feel bad because generally it's a reflections of something in our own lives.


 



I'm pretty sure it's from school. I coach a lot of the kids, and am pretty active with community stuff, so I get to watch them in their element, so to speak. And although they're only ten, the pre-teen attitude is REALLY kicking in for a lot of them. I'm shocked, sometimes, at the stuff these kid say to each other. I guess I should count myself lucky that she doesn't seem to be swearing...yet? I listen to the kids next door (their son is the same age as my daughter) and the things that he says to his mother. Wow. So I suppose technically she IS hearing it at home, echoing from the house next door? =/

We implemented the Convert Negative to Positive technique this week, and it has been an interesting experiment. I thought that making them say 10 nice/good/positive things might be a little overwhelming at first, while they got used to it. So if they make a negative comment (towards someone else, or about themselves) I make them say five positive things. My son seems to want to shoot out one super negative thing at the end, to be silly, so I make him say five more nice things. =P Haha. It has been fun, and has really lightened the mood when my daughter is in one of her growly states of mind. =P

And in the spirit of being fair, the kids call us out if we make a negative statement about something, as well, and we have to shoot out five nice things.

I just happened to attend a speech on optimism last night, and the speaker was talking about how optimism is learned, and that pessimism and negativity are habits that just need to be broken. So this technique really seems to mesh well with the things he was saying. I had to laugh, because he was talking about how if you're angry/upset, and force yourself to "fake" a smile, it sends a message to your brain that you are happy and will change your mood. I remember explaining this to my daughter only a couple of months ago when she was in one of these moods, and she totally thought I was making it up! I should have brought her with me, last night. =P
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