6yo out of control & doesn't care about consequences - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 01-02-2011, 08:04 AM - Thread Starter
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My 6yo daughter is always making me late to work, cursing, and fighting with her siblings. She refuses to do anything I ask of her. Every discipline method is worthless. Taking away toys or privileges doesn't seem to have any effect and she just says she doesn't care. If I put her in timeout she refuses to stay there and will physically fight me every time I try to put her back. If I send her to her room she will kick the door and it's full of holes now. Ive even tried spanking a few times and it was completely ineffective also. I have 2 older children, one difficult and one easy, so I do know how to discipline but she just doesn't care.

She has always been difficult to deal with. When she was smaller we were always late to preschool, speech therapy, playdates, etc, because her hair or clothes didnt work out the way she wanted them to. She makes me late to work all the time now also because she wants her hair in ten ponytails or to wear her baby brothers pants or she can't find the shoes she wanted or something isn't perfect. She uses awful language and my 3yo has picked up nearly every bad word possible from her. Any request from me is met with a snotty "no!" from her. I get no cooperation at all.

How do I make this child listen? I keep thinking things will be easier when she's 3, 4, 5, 6, and now she's almost 7 and nothing has changed!

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#2 of 9 Old 01-02-2011, 04:02 PM
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hug.gif It sounds like you're in a hard spot right now. From your signature, it says "newly" single mama -- how much do you think that is influencing her behavior?


Have you been through the 'standard' checklist of behavior triggers:

-is she getting enough sleep? I've got a spirited 6 year old who becomes unmanageable/melodramatic when she's not had enough sleep (tomorrow is going to be a nightmare because her sleep schedule is way way off)

-Is there anything in her diet that she could be reacting to? Artificial dyes, sugars, dairy and wheat are often culprits, but there are other things too. 

-Is she getting enough (any) positive attention? With 4 kids and one parent, I'm not sure how you can make sure that that happens, but I wonder if it's a call for attention?


What things that you've tried have worked the best (even if they haven't worked fully)? It sounds like punishments and time outs don't work for her. I have a friend with volatile kids and both learned to patch a door/wall from the holes they'd kicked into them. That might be something she should learn.


Have you tried a 'cooling down' spot? My kids get 'timeouts' but we no longer close the door and they're free to come out when they are cooled down. Yes, we did have to spend about 2 months standing outside dd's room trying to remain calm and sending her back in, but now when we ask her to go to her room if she must whine, she does so, and usually comes back out relatively quickly. Sometimes she finds something to read/do in her room and stays for a bit.


What happens if you just say "we're leaving in 5 minutes, and if you're not dressed, you're going in your pjs/whatever you're wearing"? The logical consequence of not getting ready in time is leaving when you're not ready to go.


Finally, is it time for outside help? Her 'pickiness' about what she's wearing, her apparent rigidity and her lack of response to discipline that works for most typical kids makes me wonder if there's something else going on. Does she learn differently? Does she have sensory issues? Does this behavior carry over to school?


A good book that you might like is: The Challenging Child by Stanley Greenspan. It's got a chapter on "The Defiant Child" which might help you.

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#3 of 9 Old 01-04-2011, 10:33 AM
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I have *no* advice, sorry, because I have an 8 yr old dd that I'd send to the circus in a heartbeat.  I just wanted to give you a hug2.gif

Terri, sewing mama to 4 beautiful girls and the boy, Finn. We novaxnocirc.giffamilybed1.gifh20homebirth.giffemalesling.GIFcd.gifsewmachine.gif since 1996!
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#4 of 9 Old 01-04-2011, 01:08 PM
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I like Lynn's suggestions. 


Raising Your Spirited Child is another book I've heard good things about.  I haven't read it personally, but you might want to check it out.  Another one (that I have read) is

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk


My younger sister was so much like your daughter.  She still is in some ways.  She's super stubborn, a perfectionist, doesn't like to be told what to do, etc.  BUT...she's also very smart, successful, creative, stylish, fun, loyal, caring, sweet...!

Sarah, partner to J and mom to DD1 April 30th, 2002 and DD2 May 5th, 2012. love.gif

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#5 of 9 Old 01-05-2011, 11:50 AM
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Another great resource is Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child (Robert MacKenzie).  I also like Lynn's approach of sleep/diet - I know that my boys change completely when they lack sleep.  I'm sorry you are going through this.  Some kids are born to challenge us; hang in there. 

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#6 of 9 Old 01-05-2011, 12:43 PM
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Subbing, as I have the same problem with a 6-year old in my family (not my child). I should probably get "How to Talk..." out of the bookshelf for a re-read.

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#7 of 9 Old 01-05-2011, 08:40 PM
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I think there are no easy answers but wanted to recommend this book. 


Connected Parenting. Transforming Your Challenging Child and Building Loving Bonds


This book truly talks about those really challenging kids\behaviors. 

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#8 of 9 Old 01-06-2011, 11:20 AM
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thank you thank you thank you thank you! for posting this.  I've got a six year old DD going on 7 as well and I am in the same boat.  I too have been hoping that at 4 or 5 or 6 it would get better, but no.  Now i've got an 18 month old who is picking up her older sister's language and behaviors and another baby on the way.  For us, I noticed that DD seems to be a bit hypoglycemic, if she gets hungry she gets crazy... i've learned to keep good snacks on hand everywhere i go.  Also, we've nearly eliminated processed sugar and that has helped.  My big concern is that she is building neural pathways that will last a lifetime.  The longer she continues to behave in this manner, the more difficult it will be for her to learn a different way.  I feel like I'm racing against time.  Deep down she is a sweet, lovable, magickal, amazing little girl.... it's just this monster takes over her brain sometimes.  As she says "it feels like my mind has a mind of it's own".  She's always been really, really, really sensitive, to attitudes, tones of voice, energetics in a room, even clothing textures.  I've wondered at times if she isn't somewhere on the spectrum, and if she is, what exactly that means?...  I often see her outbursts as sort of an overload kind of thing.... like she wasn't meant to be in this fast-paced, over stimulating world we live in. She seems to at times...well...just short circuit.  I am grateful for all of the book recommendations and advice and support on this thread already and I look forward to reading new posts.  Oh, and if I may add a book suggestion--- Raising our children, Raising ourselves by Naomi Aldort.  



Luck and Love,


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#9 of 9 Old 01-17-2011, 07:18 PM
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Just some resources FYI if you find it useful or interesting...

You might be interested in checking out this online resource about temperament in children aged birth to five that I've recently been reviewing: http://www.preventiveoz.org/index.html

It is not a perfect model for conceptualizing and understanding the multifaceted nature of temperament during the developmental stages of early childhood, but I think it is a resource that might be helpful for people who sometimes find themselves at odds with their child's natural and developmentally appropriate temperament-based behavioral inclinations and don't understand why.


It sounds very tough to be in your situation.  I have a five and a half year old daughter and have shared some of your experiences, without the pressure of other siblings and single parenting.  I've been getting some help with the stress I feel in these situations by using the techniques of Non Violent Communication developed by Marshall Rosenberg: https://www.cnvc.org/


Overall, I've also done research on emotional development during the individuation/autonomy stage and found the following two resources two be scientifically supported and compassionate in balancing everyone's needs during the stormy interactions that often accompany the behavior you described:


Raising and Emotionally Intelligent Child, John Gottman, Joan Declaire & Daniel Goleman http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Emotionally-Intelligent-Child-Parenting/dp/0684838656/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1295319934&sr=8-1


Parenting From the Inside Out, Daniel Siegel & Mary Hartzel http://drdansiegel.com/?page=books&sub=parenting_from_the_inside_out


I've been working on building my emotional intelligence and supporting my daughter's developing emotional intelligence, in part through deliberate exercises.  One thing that we both enjoy is to flip through index cards that have one specific positive emotion on each (We used the 100 or so from Non Violent Communication)  and talk about if we are feeling that way at the moment and explain how or why.  We usually do three each and more if we are interested.  Last week we choose one (rapture) and both painted the feeling, while talking with each other about how the colors or shapes related to the feeling.  Doing this type of activity every day seems to have increased her background vocabulary for emotions and the amount of time we spend talking about them outside of the exercise, which reduces stress and increases connection for both of us.  She still has times where she insists on doing things her way to the last detail (lengthy "style" concerns while getting ready to go somewhere, esp.) and when I can, I follow that schedule, even if it means she is ridiculously late to a birthday party .  In that type of instance, I support her in getting through the natural consequence (missing out on some of the activities and leaving after a short time if that's the schedule) and gently connecting it with her behavior in getting ready without raising her distress.  That part is tricky and still in development ;)


Parenting From the Inside Out has an in-depth chapter about reconnecting with children after the storm of conflict called rupture and repair which you might find helpful, with specific tips about when to talk to the child about their behavior in order to keep stress levels low enough on both sides for the discussion to be helpful.

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