The holidays have brought out the worst in her -- too much sugar and too much excitement. And she has a cold. I'm giving her leeway for all of these things, but she's still pushing my buttons. We had a few rough moments yesterday, so I tried really hard to start off on the right foot today, but she gets in this mood where she's determined to pick a fight and will pick at any little thing I say.
She came downstairs in a new dress and I complimented it, then (because she sometimes forgets underwear) I said, "Do you have something on under your pants?" (meaning to say something about underpants, so I mixed up my words a bit), and she said (in a very snotty voice), "Mom!! It's a DRESS, not PANTS!!!" and stormed away. I ignored her outburst, finished making breakfast, and we all ate.
After breakfast, she wanted to play with her Lite Brite but was having trouble removing the pegs from the last time she played it, so I offered to help. As I was removing them, one flew away from me and landed near her, so I said, "Oops, that one went way over there -- will you please pick it up?" and she said, "Mom, it's not WAY OVER THERE, it's RIGHT HERE!!!" again with the snottiest tone ever.
I know these examples aren't earth-shattering, but she does this over and over and over throughout the day until I'm just at a breaking point. I try so hard not to react emotionally, but I think I do need to set boundaries -- she can't just walk around barking at people. But even when I respond in what I think is a reasonable way (like today I put down the Lite Brite and said, "I'm all done helping you with this until you're ready to speak to me in a nice way," and picked up a magazine to read), she goes on and on about how I'm always "yelling" at her.
Invariably, after 10 minutes or so of me ignoring her rant, she comes over and apologizes and wants a hug, but I'm tired of going through the whole fight part to get to that point. Today I was still hurt and mad and really didn't want to hug and make up yet, and even though I tried to, she could tell my heart wasn't in it, which makes me sad, but I can't just magically feel better. And she gets tons of cuddles, reading, playing games, etc. from me, so I don't think she feels like this is the only way to get attention.
Any advice or commiseration? I'm seriously freaked of what I'm in for when she's a teenager.
I understand. I do. I have a child who behaves like that and I am currently moping at the comp instead of spending time with him! I feel sad, frustrated and dread the teen years. It's very draining and tiring. There is nothing lacking in terms of time, attention,activities and love. It's still not enough. Perhaps it's irrational, but I see children with far less who seem more happier. Pushing buttons, drama, OTT whining- show some appreciation for once, i feel like saying! Our relationship is suffering and I don't know what to do.
Sorry, no advice. Just commiseration.
I definitely had times when I couldn't get over an outburst as quickly as dd but those times didn't impact her greatly. It's good to try not to take it personally as much as possible because it isn't personal but it isn't detrimental to occasionally need more time.
I also have has a few outbursts myself and it seems to help for us to discuss each others outbursts and how we still love each other even after being angry and also how silly the outburst was. If you tend to be a little short tempered yourself modeling picking yourself up and making things right may be very helped.
lima. hang in there. do whatever it takes for your needs to be met. take extra special care of yourself.
whoever invented the terrible 3s never thought about the fearsome 5s.
i know it is hard - but what your dd is doing is such typical behaviour.
my personal theory is this is the first stage of puberty. it all begins emotionally and there is a huge jump when they are 5 and 6. some do it early like my dd did at 5, but for many it can start at 6.
this hot and cold play - this being terrible and then suddenly sweet and apologizing is VERY typical.
so look at it as what YOU can do to take care of yourself. not what you can do to change your dd. that is coming. just you wait. right after she comes out of this stage you will notice she has suddenly matured so much that the little child is almost gone. its all v. subtle - but there.
try not to be too harsh with her. neither should you let her walk over you. that's a hard line to draw.
all i can say from dd's point of view is that she was in a terrible place. she was totally messed up inside. trying to figure out how to be in the world yet something forcing her to behave in such a way that even while she is doing it she does not want to do it but cant stop herself. the reason why i say its pre pre pre puberty.
i have spoken to many almost post teens who remember that stage. they remember that while teens was hard being 5/6 and going thru that period was even harder. emotionally v draining as they couldnt figure things out for themselves. worst was feeling bad afterwards.
the holidays are tough on anyone. i know for you esp. because you are a cool mom who loves doing neat things = which means labour intensive, which means you are tired out (making huge assumptions here). this is the time to take things easy.
i have watched dd's friends and classmates go thru this phase - boys and girls. some were more intense than others (dd and her bf were V. intense).
try keeping a calm voice and draw gentle limits. your dd already feels horrible for behaving that way.
fyi - i consider my 11 year old a 'teen'. she has been since she started her periods at 10 and really her issues are v. teen issues without the sexual dating thing yet. while yes dd IS a handful (always has been) she is not as mean as she was when she was 5. dd now is surly and protests authority and more reserved - but she is not that directly hurtful as she was then. she tells me gently the hard truth.
Meemee, a lot of what you said really resonated. And yes, part of it is definitely me being worn out from making holiday magic. I got a terrible cold the day after Christmas and haven't been able to do anything but the bare minimum since then, so I'm definitely taking your advice these days! And the last few days with DD have been much better.
She pulled the same thing with my (amazingly patient, even-keeled) DH yesterday, and it was so impressive to watch him handle it so calmly. One thing I noticed is that he never really got pulled into responding to WHAT she was saying -- he just calmly reiterated what he needed her to do, without getting sucked into the argument that she was trying to start. That seems so obvious, but I guess she works me up too easily and it's hard to remember simple stuff like that. I'll try it next time though.
And meemee, it's wonderful to read your last paragraph. It gives me hope! Thanks so much.
Limabean, I have a fierce five year old, too. He says all sorts of mean / ridiculous stuff to us...for example, he will call me "hateable" and told me that I was "stupider than he used to think". He scowls like a little thundercloud, too. I usually ask him if saying mean things will get him what he wants, or get me to hear his message, and he will often reply "NO" (because he knows it's only going to get him into trouble). He's always had a temper so this is honestly a step down from acting like a feral critter like he did in his toddler years! haha
I will send him away from me and tell him to come back when he's ready to speak respectfully. I try not to raise my voice or look "razzed" and take it personally. It's hard sometimes, but I know he's trying to control his temper and body because it's no fun to be at odds with people, especially your mama. If he gets extra ridiculous, the item or activity has to go to "time out". The iPAD is most likely to push his buttons for some reason.
Hang in there, you aren't alone! She's feeling out her emotions and how the people around her will react to her emotions and expressing them.