Methods of discipline for VERY strong-willed 7 year old? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 09-16-2012, 01:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi everyone. :) I need advice about discipline methods relating to my oldest child...my 7 year old daughter. She has ALWAYS been....from infancy until now....a very strong-willed little girl, very stubborn, quick temper, etc. Every year has presented new challenges and I have yet to find a discipline method that I feel works well for her. Our biggest problem with her is her attitude and her constant defiance of our rules and what we ask her to do. Pretty much everything I ask her to do, I get a "I don't want to!" or a flat out "NO" or "why?" or "Well, I'll do (fill in blank) if YOU do (fill in blank) for me". Also her God awful smart mouth, constantly talking back to us, sassy mouth, even yelling back at us at times, stomping to her room and slamming the door, etc. It's just like nothing comes easy with her. Another HUGE issue is her fighting with her 5 year old sister. She bullies her something fierce and if the younger sister does not do what she tells her to do, she lashes out at her, even physically hits her, pushes her, pulls hair, etc. This is a huge problem and one of the constant battles in our home on a daily basis. She's a very intelligent little girl and does excellent in school. Her behavior in school is also excellent. I have never heard anything but positive feedback from her teachers. So, that lets me know that she does know how to behave.....but at home she's a completely different child. And I do not know why. And I do not know what to do about it. I've tried many different discipline methods, but like I said...none of them really seem to teach her anything and ultimately it just pisses her off even more. I am just so tired of battling with her. I want our relationship to be good and I want us to be close and enjoy quality time together but I feel like we can't do that because I am constantly trying to correct her defiant behavior. So....I was just wondering if any of you have any suggestions that work well for kids with this type of personality. My other two kids are so different...very laid back and easy to correct and pretty much do as they are told and behave. But that oldest girl of mine is a different story. I just want to find something that works that we can stick to and will actually have an effect on the way she acts on a daily basis. Any input would be so great appreciated!! Thanks.
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#2 of 14 Old 09-16-2012, 05:17 PM
 
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That is one of the main reasons why punishment is ineffective. The kid gets mad at you because you are choosing to punish her. It doesn't make her sorry about her actions, just angry at yours. Not punishing gives her a chance to regret her actions and learn from them. Instead of punishing, the focus can be on making amends. 

 

Sometimes punishment works temporarily when kids are young enough that you can make them do things. But eventually they get too big and you can't...

 

You might find Unconditional Parenting by Alphie Kohn helpful. It's a book but there is also a DVD you and your dh could watch together and talk about. I liked watching it with my dh because we were both getting the info at the same time, rather than me reading it and trying to explain what I read to him in bits and pieces. 

 

There is another book that people highly recommend but I haven't read it. I think its the Explosive Child by Ross Greene.

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#3 of 14 Old 09-16-2012, 06:14 PM
 
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AHA mama who is the strong willed here? your 7 year old or you?

 

when dd was 7 she taught me a LOT. she helped me discover so much about myself doing just the things your dd is doing.

 

she goaded me to discover that it wasnt just her. it was me too. i was being as strong willed and just as stubborn as she was. 

 

the more she pushed, i pushed back. 

 

it was turning into power play.

 

that's when - due to IRL friends, books and MDC i discovered - hey this child is trying to tell me she  is no longer a baby and wants to be involved with helping and contributing to the household. she wasnt asking for chores (which let me tell you even now she HATES), she was asking for responsibilities. and she got them. she was grocery shopping with me, i'd split our list in half and have her do the easy half. she would also cut and help make dinner. mornings she made me breakfast in bed on saturdays. at school her teacher taught her how to use the coffee machine and she proudly made coffee for her teacher. 

 

this is the time when you make a decision jointly (unless there is really no choice). at that age too dd had the right to argue with me. and if she gave me a good argument then she had her way and i did what she said. she loved that bit. 

 

also i want to add - dd was a pill. however i took that on as a badge of honor. that she had to be on her best behaviour everywhere she felt so comfortable around me and totally accepted that she knew she could be her real self without thinking about will mommy love me or not 

 

so sit down first and assess what truly is going on. sometimes it hard for the party involved to see, so ask a good friend or dh to help you . 

 

please remember parenting isnt about you telling her what to do and she obeying. parenting is a joint relationship to keep our children safe and offer multiple choices to see what works for them. 

 

with my dd i rarely give her commands. in fact it has really helped our communication. for instance if i tell her would you please do the dishes - i have to be ready to hear yes or no. however if i give an explanation - hey would you mind doing the dishes, i feel really tired right now and can hardly keep my eyes open, most of the time she does what i have to do. if i do give her a command - which is rare, i make it v. clear it is a command and not a request and that she has no choice in the matter. 

 

so mama sit back and look at yourself and see what you are doing. 

 

a great series of books is Louse Ames Bates - Your _ year old. from ages 1 to 12 i think. tells you what behaviour to expect out of your 7 year old adn why. 


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#4 of 14 Old 09-17-2012, 11:44 AM
 
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Also "Parenting without power struggles" by Susan Stiffelman.


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#5 of 14 Old 09-17-2012, 01:59 PM
 
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I disagree with the other posters. Your child is testing you. She can choose to behave because she does so at school. The younger siblings deserve to be safe in their own home. I'd try more time outs and isolation. Or losing a privilege she really enjoys like computer time or tv time. She cannot treat members of her family this way. Ever. Something will strike a nerve with her. Keep trying and keep your chin up. Gentle discipline does not mean letting your child walk all over yourself and others.
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#6 of 14 Old 09-17-2012, 08:56 PM
 
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Its pretty common for behaviorally-challenged children to be able to hold it together at school and to let loose when they are at home, where they feel safest. So home is the place where not only does she let loose with her low tolerance for frustration and sensitivity to feeling controlled or coerced, home gets a double-dose as she expresses all that she couldn't while she was at school.

 

Using punishments with a child like this tends to make things worse (unless you use very aversive punishment that is harsh and painful - in which case, she's likely to comply currently but be a mess when adolescence hits) and it also tends to make the problematic behavior go "underground." Then you wonder why the littler ones are always screaming when she's around, but you can't find a mark on them, and she didn't do anything. Or the pets give her a wide berth.

 

Can you figure out what is contributing to the behavior? Its easy to say "because she feels like being mean" or "she does it for attention" or "because she's been allowed to get away with it" but most children aren't outrageously oppositional or consistently hurtful to younger siblings just because they haven't been punished enough. Humans just don't develop that way. So you would want to look for other clues... is her behavior worse at certain times of the day? It is worse before meals? How well does she sleep? Is she comfortable in her clothes, or does she have sensory sensitivities? Does she like swinging, rocking, dancing etc or does she avoid those things? Does she explode when she is frustrated? Is she easily frustrated? Do things have to be "just so" for her to accept them?

 

If you can figure out her triggers, then you can start to modify your actions and her environment to set her up for success. She would like to feel better about herself, too.

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#7 of 14 Old 09-18-2012, 06:37 AM
 
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I agree with 4evermom. Punishment doesn't work, so we escalate the punishment, and then the behavior gets worse, so we escalate the punishment, but the behavior gets worse . . . and all the while we're being set up more and more on a different "team" than our kids. I really feel like the worse the beahvior gets, the more we need connection with our kids so we're working on the same team to solve problems rather than setting them up on one team and us on another with us fighting up against each other all the time. But yeah I think it goes just like you said, with them getting more upset about the punishment. And they're able to keep from having any feelings of remorse for anything they've done because the focus moves from what they've done to what you've done to them. They hit sibling, but stop feeling sad and remorseful about hitting the sibling because they're started to feel angry and victimized by the punishment.

She needs to feel remorse when she hurts her sister. I would stop giving her attention after her sister is hurt, and give your attention to the child who was hurt. If the older one isn't getting attention she enjoys at this point, she might just be trying to get whatever attention she can get, and it sounds like hurting her sister gets her some.

Then, I would really try to connect as a family and do family things together more. Play board games after dinner, and go to the park together, you and her dad (I'm assuming here that her dad is who is in your photo with you - if not then ignore that), her siblings, and her. She needs to connect and re-charge those loving family feelings.

Kids do get sassy at this age- or at least girls (I just have girls, so I'm not sure about boys.) I think you should absolutely say something when she is sassy, but try to say it in a constructive way. "I don't think you're aware of how that sounds. Why don't you try to say that another way?" Or even give her examples. "When you say it like '**repeat her*' it makes me angry and want to help you less. Why don't you try saying it more like, '*give good alternative*.'" Sometimes they get into a habit of talking a certain way and need a lot of reminders and help to speak more nicely.

I also think it's very common for kids to be able to hold things together at school but then fall apart at home. My more high needs kid (now 10) talks about how glad she is to come home where she can relax and get sad if she needs to. Kids need a safe place to let our emotions that have built up, and home should be that place, but they need better ways to do it. Maybe work with her and talk about it. "You come home from school and pick fights with your sister and me. I'd like for us to have a nice time together after school. If you feel upset and need to let off some steam, we need to find another way for you to do that other than picking fights."

Books that might help are: How To Talk To Kids, and maybe Raising Your Spirited Child. There's another called something like Hold Onto Your Kids about how kids and their families can become disconnected as the kids get older and the problems it can cause, and your post reminded me of that. But as for "Raising Your Spirited Child" - it sounds like you have one who is more spirited and she's being compared to the other more laid-back kids and is responding to those negative comparisons. If you ever compare her to her sister, "Your sister can do X, so why can't you?" you will be encouraging her to fight with her sister, so try to resist that.
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#8 of 14 Old 09-18-2012, 07:05 AM
 
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Firstly I always say work on the connection. Have special one on one time with her, play games with her, take her on special outings no other siblings allowed, and do this every day. Please remember bullying children are hurting children, they must be hurting in some area of life pretty badly to want to project those feelings onto another person. We have dealt with that type of behavior here and my main strategies are: stay close and intervene before anything happens, go to the hurting child first, play some healthy anger games with the offender, figure out why the offender acts this way and gain their help in thinking up different strategies. I have also found it very helpful to get rid of anything at all violent in the house, we do not allow movies or books with any sort of bad language or violence because those are not values we feel ok being portrayed to our children, we seek out books about compassion and kindness and discuss them on a regular basis, we discuss tolerance and respect of other people whom do not have the same values as we do, and of course we always strive to treat everybody with compassion, kindness, and respect.

 

Here are some books, and websites I have found helpful:

 

*Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen

http://www.amazon.com/Playful-Parenting-Lawrence-J-Cohen/dp/0345442865/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=V76Y30UZBHGZ&coliid=I8YEGWR4RRDD3

 

*Respectful parents, respectful kids by Sura Hart

http://www.amazon.com/Respectful-Parents-Kids-Conflict-Cooperation/dp/1892005220/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347977025&sr=8-1&keywords=respectful+parents+respectful+kids

 

ETA: I have a bunch of recommendations for children's books as well, but they are mainly Buddhist books. If you would be interested in those let me know and I can send them to you.

 

*Hand in Hand parenting articles

http://www.handinhandparenting.org/


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#9 of 14 Old 09-19-2012, 10:01 AM
 
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I can relate to your post.

 

I had identified my dd as strong willed too. But I came upon some new information and discovered she is also very sensitive. Those 2 things seemed like polar opposites to me but they are not. Something to think about. For my dd I find that consistency is so so important. It sounds like your dd is seeking power and you feel challenged by her - but you don't have to - if you engage she will intensify her behavior, as you have found. If she gets to you she has passive power. She is in control and making you react. Here is what I discovered with my dd, she wants to help and be responsible and have choices. So at 4 years old my dd does alot of work. If I find she is having bad behavior or trying to engage me in an argument I will stop her and invite her to participate in what I am doing. She chops food fruits and veggies for dinner, stirs pots, measures ingredients, folds and hangs laundry, sweeps the floor, plays and cares for our cats, wipes counter and tables, cleans windows. Of course I am sure to mention to everyone at dinner how helpful she has been. Working makes her proud. She likes to shine through her accomplishments. She also likes assignments for things she cares about like I would love it if you would read me a book, draw me a picture of our house, etc. I also give her play time where she can be in charge. I'm the patient and she is the doctor, or mom and daughter, teacher and student, etc. I do everything she says (with in safety limits). It gives her a sense of control over her environment. At the grocery store we will play red/yellow/green light where she tells me if I can push the cart. Of course you will have to find age appropriate things for your child but she is old enough she can give some input.

 

When it comes time for her to choose to go toe to toe with me I make a decision. Is this an important thing? Can I say yes to her or is it time to stand my ground? She will ask 50 times if she knows that one more time will make me give in. I do not give in under any circumstances. But I also don't fight. This is my answer. I repeat and repeat. I'm firm but kind.

 

My dd has trouble with transition so I make our normal transitions into routines. She knows what to expect. I sometimes write it down for her so we can review it. Lots of  we are going to do this, then this, then this. Why? Because that is our routine (not because mom said so).

 

For sibling issues I've identified the main problems, for example my kids can not be in the bathroom at the same time. So in the morning while one is in brushing teeth and washing face the other is dressing and then switch. Otherwise my dd will push my ds buttons until he explodes. My ds is a very laid back and paient person. From the time my dd was a baby I have had to go through many different ways of protecting my ds from her - as a baby from hurting him physically, now from her verbal attacks. There was a time when she was so physically out of control I had a carseat in the house to restrain her because I couldn't do it with out getting hurt and occasionally for my sanity because I would near my breaking point.

 

This is my dds second year of preK and she has excellent behavior at school.

 

Good luck. Being a parent to this type of child is draining. I often think of my daughter as my greatest challenge but also my greatest joy. She is a wonderful person - she has the X factor if you will. I also think of the saying, let her sleep because when she wakes she will move mountains. Alot of power in these little ones...if only we as parents can help them along this path.

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#10 of 14 Old 09-20-2012, 04:24 PM
 
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Originally Posted by philomom View Post

I disagree with the other posters. Your child is testing you. She can choose to behave because she does so at school. The younger siblings deserve to be safe in their own home. I'd try more time outs and isolation. Or losing a privilege she really enjoys like computer time or tv time. She cannot treat members of her family this way. Ever. Something will strike a nerve with her. Keep trying and keep your chin up. Gentle discipline does not mean letting your child walk all over yourself and others.


Yes. This. You owe it to your daughter to mold her into a respectful, caring, non-violent human being. There is no excuse for screaming at parents, attacking her sister, or any of the other horrors you describe. Repeat, NO EXCUSE. If you do not take drastic steps right now to bring your daughter into line, she-- and everyone around her-- are destined to have miserable, hate-filled, screaming lives.

 

Lay down the law. Outline severe consequences for raising voice, screaming NO, hitting, etc. Make sure she will hate the consequences. Make them really bad from her point of view (scrubbing the toilet comes to mind; shoveling snow; brushing out the wheel wells of the pickup). Don't make an exception, ever. Stick to your guns. Take the power back. Draw the line in the sand, and DO NOT GIVE IN. Not once, not ever, or your daughter will grow up to be exactly what she is now. And you don't want that... and neither does she.


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#11 of 14 Old 09-20-2012, 05:48 PM
 
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hug2.gif  I would describe my 7 year old this way too, but with a little twist.  I've been struggling with her behavior for so long that I finally realized about 18 months ago maybe that she's extremely competitive and hates to lose and that's why sometimes it appears that she flies off the handle at the least provocation or that she has tantrums out of the sheer blue when she doesn't get her way.  It's not that she's being mean or stubborn or rude on purpose, just that she's upset because she's not winning at something and she feels like all of life is a competition and she's a perfectionist.  It's just her nature.  So I try to work off that assumption.  A previous poster said engaging them in activities you are doing.  I think of the words we use for toddlers frequently in dealing with my daughter: distract and redirect.  If I see her starting to ramp up with one of her sisters I try to call her in and ask her to help me with something I'm doing or get her opinion on something to distract her from the situation.  Sometimes I'll walk by and hear her using angry words or tone and say something like, "wow, it sounds like you are really upset with her.  I think we can fix this.  How about XYZ?"  Or she'll come in from outside to tattle on someone and be venting her anger at me yelling her words.  So I try to tone her back a little with a quieter voice and saying, "So you are telling me that you are really angry because you didn't get your turn on the swing.  Is that right?"  I suppose it's kinda like heading her off before she gets a full head of steam and goes off on the closest person and abuses them verbally or physically.  

I try to use the teachable moments too to give her models of good behavior and recognize as much of her good choices as possible.  Example: Last night she stomped her way over to something I asked her to pick up, which I ignored since she didn't mouth off, but on her way back to hand the item to me she picked up another item she had left out.  I said, "Thank you!  I love that you made a good choice to pick up the bowl when I didn't even have to ask you.  That really makes me proud of you!"  I COULD have gotten mad and yelled or punished for stomping but I ended it with praise at the good thing she did because I know that she DOES want to please.  

Another thing I try to do with her more than her sisters is to make absolutely certain that individual time is spent with me.  I do that for all my children but I make especially certain that she gets regular time even when life gets hectic.  She needs that checking-in with me so that she doesn't internalize things and blow up.  She is having some trouble at school right now so I have recently made it a point to leave the 4 year old home with the 12 year old for the 10 minute roundtrip to the bus stop to pick her up and have a few moments alone with her.  It's nice to be able to put my arm around her and ask her about her day and fully listen without her sisters in the background listening or needing me just for 5 minutes.  That 5 minute walk with her is a nice little transition from school to home for her and I think it really has helped the two of us.  She used to get mad at me and rage and scream that she hates me.  Now she gets mad at me for something and she'll burst into tears and stomp and screech but she'll come hug me during her screeching for love so she can have the support she needs to end it.  It feels like a shift.  I've been waiting 7 years for this shift.  luxlove.gif  I hope it precedes good things for her and for us!


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#12 of 14 Old 09-21-2012, 02:37 PM
 
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 If you do not take drastic steps right now to bring your daughter into line, she-- and everyone around her-- are destined to have miserable, hate-filled, screaming lives.

 

This seems like a really harsh generalization to me.


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#13 of 14 Old 09-21-2012, 03:52 PM
 
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Lay down the law. Outline severe consequences for raising voice, screaming NO, hitting, etc. Make sure she will hate the consequences. Make them really bad from her point of view (scrubbing the toilet comes to mind; shoveling snow; brushing out the wheel wells of the pickup). Don't make an exception, ever. Stick to your guns. Take the power back. Draw the line in the sand, and DO NOT GIVE IN. Not once, not ever, or your daughter will grow up to be exactly what she is now. And you don't want that... and neither does she.

wow!!! 

 

seriously?!!!! she will grow up exactly what she is now? at SEVEN!!!!

 

take the power back? are you talking about a child? 

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#14 of 14 Old 09-21-2012, 04:03 PM
 
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OP I just want to offer hugs ans support I too have a strong-willed 7 yr old DD who has ADHD,ODD and is also Bipolar, Most punishments don't do a lot of good and lead to panic attacks. for us trying to off set the behavior before it happens helps a good bit,warnings about loosing toys,TV time,computer time or time with friends also helps. we refuse to spank at all and her Therapist agrees with us there. We try to use positive reinforcements,natural and logical consequences,time outs,time ins,etc.
 


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