I know I'm brand new here, but I could REALLY use some help/insight/support...my 7yr old DD is driving me absolutely insane and I just don't know what to do any more.
A little background first. Up until Oct 06, I was a single parent. My XH and I divorced when DD was only 18 months old. After that, he never had any contact with her (his choice, not mine). So for most of her life, its just been the two of us. Fortunately, though, we have tons of family where we live so we've never been 'alone'. She's very close to her gramma and papa and her cousins. She has lots of friends her own age and does wonderful in school. Up until recently, I've had to work full-time, but I always, always made sure that we spent lots of time together and that I didn't just send her to daycare for the babysitter to be the one raising her, ya know? My current DH and I met when she was 4...he's always been here for her and she now calls him Dad. My XH was killed in Iraq in January...it didn't seem to really affect her too much since she didn't really know him...my DH is the only father she's ever really known.
The problem is her attitude and the way she is around us (meaning DH and I). I swear its like having a teenager already...I'm ready to pull my hair out! If this was a recent problem, I'd suspect she was having some issues with the new baby in the house, but its been going on soooo much longer than that. She's rude, disrespectful, doesn't listen...and I don't mean in the normal sense that most kids do sometimes...with her its ALL the time. I'm not horribly strict as a parent, but I'm no pushover, either. I've always tried to teach by example and teach her right from wrong, to teach her compassion and respect for others...I just don't know where I went wrong!
We tell her not to do something...she'll blatantly go and do that exact thing as soon as she thinks we're not paying attention (sometimes she doesn't even wait that long...she'll do it again in front of us). She talks back and argues over absolutely everything. Tonight I caught her swatting one of our dogs in the face over and over (bless his heart, he just stood there and took it, he's such a sweetheart). She failed to see why that was unacceptable, when we have always, ALWAYS been very firm on treating animals with respect and love. She'll constantly beg for something (to go to her friends' houses, go for a walk, candy, etc) and then throw a tantrum and stomp and scream when we say no; five minutes later, she's bugging us for the same exact thing all over again. Getting her to do anything to pick up her mess around the house is like pulling teeth, even though most of the mess is hers. If she does pick it up, within a day it looks just as bad if not worse. Now she's started with the guilt trips, saying that we love the baby more than her (NOT true, although right now I can see how she could think that...the baby isn't constantly getting herself in trouble).
How do I get through to her that she can't act like this?? I seriously don't know what to do anymore...after the issue with the dog tonight (not the first time that's happened, either), I just sat and cried for about an hour. I love her more than anything, but I am at my wits end with her. We don't spank. I've tried talking to her, explaining things until I'm blue in the face, trying to get inside her head to figure out why she's so miserable. Nothing. We've tried taking things away that she covets, we've tried standing in the corner...nothing seems to phase her. Does it sound like she needs to go see a professional? Her ped doesn't think she's got ADD or anything like that...he thinks she's just very, very stubborn. But enough is enough...I have GOT to find a way to get through to her. I'm sick of feeling like all I do is yell. I miss my little girl and I want to have fun with her again and be close like we used to be!
Any ideas or suggestions? Please...I'm all ears!