Hi! This is my first time posting on a forum like this. I don't know what else to do.
I have a 6 year old girl that seems to be going on 16. I was hoping for a few more sweet years before we hit this point ... lol Things have been a little rocky off & on for the last 18 months, but we're really trying to make it as easy on her as possible. My feeling is that many of her behaviors are stress related, but may be related to typical age behaviors.
We live in a combined household. My husband, 2 daughters (the 6 year old & a 13 month old), my mom & dad, & my brother. We combined households right before our second daughter was born.
I'm so frustrated with the constant defiance, attitude & back talking. We've tried what I feel like is everything... Rewarding good behavior, time outs, revoking of privileges & toys. Nothing seems to work. My mom is all for spanking, but I don't like it at all. Bri (our 6 year old) is GREAT when she's at friends' houses. She behaves wonderfully at camp & at daycare. It just seems to be at home.
I'm sure there's a combination of many factors that are playing into the behavior. I don't know what to do. Any suggestions??
Six is a big age for 'attitude'. They've got strong emotions, but no 'filter' for expressing them more politely. I've got a highly dramatic 7 year old, and this is what we do with her:
When her voice is rude, we stop her and say "That was rude. Did you mean to say "Mom, I can't find any underwear?"" (Today's morning meltdown was because she couldn't find any underwear that was clean (it was in the dryer). "You never do any laundry! I don't have anything to wear! I can't find a shirt! Why don't you do some laundry!" ) We've done that long enough now that we can simply say "That was rude. Try again." It's pretty interesting to watch because she can phrase it more politely, but she still can't control her tone of voice. Right now, I'm letting that slide because I don't think that she CAN control the tone of voice at 7. We're working on taking a deep breath before rephrasing.
Having a very clear routine for things really helps my dd. She's usually OK doing her chores if we do them at the 'regular' time (which for us is right after dinner). If we delay them to just before bedtime, it's a disaster. She also needs regular meals, regular down-time, and regular large motor outside time. Life is a lot happier when she's been outside for a good portion of the day. Life is happier when she's in a routine. (We're traveling now visiting grandparents, and she's out of her routine. She's done well for 10 days, but the travel is starting to wear her down.)
FOOD. Dd has a high need for protein. She's incredibly cranky and defiant when she's hungry. She's pretty cranky and obstinate when she's tired. Heaven help us if she's hungry and tired! We must take care of those things first. So, this morning I told her that her voice was rude, and insisted that she eat breakfast.
SLEEP. See above. We had a long day yesterday (baseball game + visit to another relative + swimming in grandma's pool until 9:30, then she stayed up late reading Harry Potter).
One-on-one time with mom. She loves dad. She craves 1-1 time with mom. So, we play stuffed animals together. Last night we played "house" in the pool. Other kids may have another favored parent, but ideally, they'd get 1-1 time with both parents. My kids are happiest when they get 20-30 minutes or so a day of my undivided attention, where they lead the play. Several of my favorite parenting books recommend this (Playful Parenting by Larry Cohen and The Challenging Child by Stanley Greenspan). It works. Ds (age 10) chooses to toss a baseball around or play soccer. Dd (age 7) chooses imaginary play with stuffed animals. She even bought me my own stuffed animal for my birthday because then I would have to make it talk.
Finally, when all else fails, or when w'ere at the end of our rope, we send her to her room until she can be civil. A line I've been repeating a lot these days is "You are free to have your feelings. You are not free to make the rest of the family miserable while you scream and carry on." I usually give her a hug and we snuggle for a bit when she comes back.
I also think that if she's got some behaviors that are driving you crazy or that are inappropriate, it helps to prioritize them. What is she doing that's not appropriate? What would you like her to do in those circumstances? How can you teach her those skills? Right now, we're working on dd's emotional outbursts when life does not go according to her plan. It's a long road. Dd does not respond to rewards, and removing privileges actually makes the situation worse. Yelling doesn't help, but it is my natural reaction sometimes.
Hi LynnS6. Thank you so much for your response. I've started asking her about the way she says things when I feel she's being rude & WOW, what a difference it's made already!! I didn't even think to do that, but it makes so much sense. She seems to feel like she has more of a choice about how she says things & she really likes that.
As far as a schedule goes, you metaphorically smacked some sense into me. lol :-) I've been placing the blame of my daughter's attitude change on the fact of the baby coming into the house. What I didn't think about was that right after the baby was born, the daycare/preschool that my daughter had gone to for 3 years closed. It was the same schedule 5 days a week for those 3 years. No wonder her world was turned upside down! I am working on a daily schedule for both girls that I think will make a big difference.
Eating however, is a problem. She is EXTREMELY picky. She likes about a handful of things to eat & even getting her to eat more than 3 bites can be difficult. Any good suggestions for websites or books as far as recipes for picky eaters??
Thank you again SO much for your help. I've been able to manage my sanity a little better more recently. :-) Have a great day!
wonderful post. thanks so much for writing this my 7 yr old is soo sassy(attitude and backtalking) i will have to try some of these technicques as we are a combined household now as well.
Mom to K(7)M(4)and baby J(2)
I haven't been on these forums for years, but came back tonight because have had a doozy of a day with my 8 year old. Just left her in her room after 10 minutes of screaming and crying. her behavior has been as many have described, since she was... oh, 3? lol... We called her a "three-nager." Thanks, Lynn for sharing your tactics. Good, reasonable, and easy to implement. I feel like we've done many of these things before, and sometimes we do better than others, but the constant pushing back wears off my clarity sometimes.
Thank you thank you thank you! I came here desperate for help with our 6 y/o ds. I feel like I am at the end of my rope, just knowing that there are other parents out there going through this same thing helps so much! I will try all of these suggestions.
Hope you see this - I am a new member and am guessing that there is an appropriate wait period before I am able to send messages through this site.
I was 'Googling' a particular song and could not find even a hint of it at all - your post from years ago is the closest I've come to finding it, but none of the great songs listed in the thread was the one for which I was searching.
It's called 'Child of Mine' and, just as you described when you posted, it's folksy and sung by a man; in fact, it's a duet (my version) and the lyrics are so sweet...
Did you ever find the song you described?
I would be SO grateful if you'd let me know. Thanks very much.
PS - Lynn, how nice that you took the time for such a thoughtful response. We have a 12 year-old son and a four year-old daughter...don't get me started. Suffice it to say two things: 1) I agree that it is so comforting to know that I am not the only one experiencing such behavior; and 2) I plan to be on this site a LOT!
Great thread! My seven year old dd is a handful too must just be the age. I'll be trying the suggestions here as well.
Michelle mom to DD , DS , & lil DD plus and spending my days
Hi! I hardely ever respond to threads, but I have a 6yo son...
He's a great kid, an amazingly great kid, but I feel that when these things happen it's not that he WANTS to be rude, it's more like he doesn´t know how to express his raw feelings in a socially accepted manner. And I understand him completely!
What kids want is to help. It's natural, it's what they want. The don'd want to be rude, or talk back and make you feel bad or angry. What they want is to express what they have inside and all they need is help. That's it. LynnS6 explained it great; lead the way, show them the way. If you KNOW that your child isn't yelling or saying that to get you, then you act (not react) in a great way and things go smooth. Very smooth.
Also, the lack of her known schedule and baby coming...it's alot to handle and I would guess she's trying to express it but doesn't know how to. Maybe it would be cool to talk to her about THAT; her school and baby. If you can help her express THOSE EMOTIONS, without any filter, then it may help.
We also live in what you call a "combined household"; I think this helps some kids but not all.
Love and peace to you! Just remember that she's not doing anything to get you, she just needs your help. Yes, sometimes it takes being alot more tough, but if you do it out of love, it's all ok!
FWIW, this was me at 6-7 and then by the time I was an actual teenager I was mature and respectful at home. My mom jokes that I got it out of my system early.
Jean, feminist mama raising three boys: W (7), E (5) and L (2.15.13)
I strongly suspect this is going to be the case for our daughter as well. The more she can control in her own life, the easier she becomes to deal with.