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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am at loss with dd (turned 6 in september). I love her very dearly, but I am affraid of the kind of person she is becoming, and at what the future will bring us.

I'll try to focus on the "selfishness" issue, but there are others. Dd has always had quite a temper, and always knew what she wanted, and wanted to do it her way and all by herself. She does very well at school, even if she is the youngest of her class, but complains that she has no friends. I know she has friends, but they are always playing "you're not my friend anymore" or "I don't like you anymore" and the like, and all of them have the same kind of temper as dd, so many times she comes home very sad.

I think it partly comes from the fact that she is a "leader", which is sometimes good, as she can lead a group in a good direction, but sometimes really bad, as she is not always willing to hear what others have to say. Also, she is very fast to criticize and to voice her opinions (ie: she will tell someone right away when they are not doing the right thing, but she doesn't do it in a caring way, YK?), so I think many kids are not interested in becoming her friend because of that (the friends she has are the ones who act the same way, so I'm afraid they are an example to her, as she is an example to them).

Tonight, she gave me icy cold wash cloths to change her sis's diaper, and then told me she didn't care, because the only thing she careds about was herself (her words). Many times, she'll say, "je m'en fiche" (I don't give a ...) or "qu'est-ce que ça me fait" (what does it change for me? ). She

I have tried telling her that this behavior was drawing people away from her, but it doesn't seem to help.

We used to go to the park every night, where she would have friends (her school is not in the neighbourghood), but now that it's cold and that I work, we don't do it anymore, so there is nowhere where I can "monitor" her behavior.

I have to say that she can also be very caring, very gentle and generous many times on her own, and some times I will have to redirect her overflowing leadership.

I receive only praises about her behavior at school (but teachers don't always know what happens during recess and lunch hour), so I don't know if she sometimes makes a big deal about this and is within normal 6 yo behavior, or if I need to adress it more (I will continue to talk to her of course) by seeking counselling.

If you have read so far, thank you. I really need help.
 

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Maybe this is a school problem, rather than a problem with your dd. Rather than trying to watch her or ask others about her behavior, how about listening further to dd about how she feels? Kids often develop strange group dynamics in schools, and at 6yo can absorb SO much of their later self-concept from the feedback they are getting.

You wrote,
"Tonight, she gave me icy cold wash cloths to change her sis's diaper, and then told me she didn't care, because the only thing she careds about was herself (her words). Many times, she'll say, "je m'en fiche" (I don't give a ...) or "qu'est-ce que ça me fait" (what does it change for me? )."

Which makes me wonder, where are these ideas about herself coming from? Or, what associations does she have with these phrases that inspired her to use them -- what feelings or needs is she trying to express?
 

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I'm not an expert and I don't have a child your DD's age (yet
) so I don't know how much I can offer aside from my support. This is indeed sounds like a rough time for you and your DD.


The thing that hits me as I read your post is that this kind of behavior more often comes from a place of powerlessNESS rather than the reverse. I know that for me, when I'm hanging on too tight, it's because I feel vulnerable, threatened and lack assertiveness or self-esteem to see things through. It does indeed sound like she needs to release something, talk (OR PLAY!) about something and work it through, but I of course don't know what exactly. Perhaps some role playing with you about playing with friends at school could be helpful? I wouldn't rule out the possibility of it being a school thing as Erin suggested... there have been many a kid lost in the abyss of friends/no friends/I don't wanna be your friend today, etc. It can be painful and moreover, isolating.

I have an almost four year old and have found that asking things HEAD ON is not a helpful way to get information. It may be different with an older child. When I see/feel that DS is trying to work something through (AKA, behaving badly, not connecting, etc), I make more time for him, focus, play, talk, listen and read the signs... and then I play along, be supportive, talk, whatever he needs, follow his lead so to speak. It hasn't steered me wrong yet.

Best of luck and hang in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you ladies.

I think some days are worst than others (for me and her), and it was one bad day for her at school, so she also let it out at home. I don't say that her attitude is perfect, but by stepping back, I realized this was not her "norm".

Thanks also for opening my eyes about the fact that she does that when her self confidence and her feeling of importance is at its lowest. She has always been afraid not to be good or able to do things, and since she was the youngest in her class (as well as in daycare before), she had to work hard to get to the same level, and at the beginning, I remember she had to deal with other little "bosses" and their snarky remarks. What makes me sad is that she reproduces it, but I'm confident that with time and patience, we will be able to help her.

Thanks again, I really needed it.
 

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Interesting question you posed originally. My daughter is 7 and I constantly catch her being very bossy with others. Over the last summer we had a lot of children over at the house and there were days my dd drove me nuts because she was practically making a list of rules for every game and I had to constantly intercede. Many times I had to send her in the house to cool off while I stayed outside with the others. Hearing us continue to have fun usually made her lighten up so that she could rejoin the group, but not always. My husband feels that we should just let the chips fall where they may and that the only way she will learn not to be bossy is to experience being alone because no one wants to play with someone who is assigning them their 'place' in the game and telling them her rules... !!

I am just amazed at her tendency to make rules about everything and it can be very frustrating. I have to say it's a lot like my mom so I wonder if some of it is genetic. My mom always had a very clear way of doing things worked out in her head and you didn't want to get in the way. That comparison just came to me. I'll have to think about it more.

Having said all this, I do sense that kindergarten and first grade girls are often jockeying for position among each other much more than the boys do, and you either cooperate or have to claim one of those top spots. The girls who are popular are often very easygoing and willing to go along with a more dominant girl. This may play into some of the issues others have raised in this thread about confidence and some of the bossiness coming from a desire to have control over their social atmosphere. I don't have a lot of time to articulate this right now.
 

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Just an observation...

My 4.5 DD is bossy when playing with kids who are older (and often gets her feelings hurt and ends up crying), but very generous and loving when playing by herself, with parents/adults or with younger children.

We also noticed that the less TV she watches (esp. any TV with older girls) the nicer she is.

I aso believe that our culture buys into, allows and perpetuates the "jockeying for position" and "mean girl" stereotype to such an extent that girls feel that this is the way it is; in other words, girls feel like they have to be one or the other (a mean girl or a not-mean girl(read:submissive and/or unpopular)). This is evidenced by the movie "Mean Girls" amd its popularity, as well as a spate of books about how girls are meaner than boys blah, blah, blah. I don't buy it.

Sorry for the mini-tirade; it's not directed at anyone.
 

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I totally agree with what everyone has posted, especially Suzannah's reply rings true to what I have observed in friends' children, and experienced in my own childhood. I have also noticed that the girls in my homeschool group aren't nearly as competitive or vying for popularity as public school children seem to me to be, and as a result, also seem to be more confident with who they are and accepting of people who are different from the "norm" you see on tv and in movies. Just adding my 2cents, and that's probably all it's worth, since my girls aren't that age quite yet...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
suzannah: you are right, dd too is kind to younger ones (though she likes to be in charge, to play the "teacher's" role). I think she is bossy in a group where there seems to be a fight for the leading position, and where not being in that leading position means being told that today you are out of the group, and the next day being back into the group with certain conditions,...

I know the influence tv can have, so that's why she never watches tv, but she does get to watch a movie every week end
: (Harry Potter in particular), so I'll try to see if that is something that might influence her.

Thank you all for your thoughts and ideas, they have been very helpful.
 

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I want to clarify something I said based on the way Suzannah responded. I wasn't saying girls are meaner than boys. Not by any stretch was I saying that. Most of what I was saying actually came from my daughter's mouth -- how there are certain girls in her class who have to be the leaders and be popular and the way they get to be the leaders is that the quieter and nicer girls go along with what they tell them to do. My daughter sees virtually no TV so I think her obervations are pretty pure in that way (not influenced by commercial culture) so I do 'buy' it and would ignore her perspective at the risk of not understanding what she's going through.

It makes sense to me that a child is going to be nicer when playing with younger children because that younger child typically isn't trying to dominate and typically isn't a match for the older child in terms of what they can do. So it's easier to be nicer. I have that same experience with my daughter and in fact noticed sometimes she preferred to play with younger children because there is less conflict and that brought out her nicest side. She is more generous with younger children. But they also tend to follow her lead more so there's less conflict.

I don't think the original question of this thread was really addressed, which was the OPs concern that her daughter has no friends due to her bossiness. I think that is something that shouldn't get lost. My daughter does have friends but I do think her bossiness costs her. Sometimes I am really PROUD of the way she speaks out and stands up for herself. Other times I cringe at her self centeredness. I have decided this is just the type of temperment she has -- she will never be easygoing but she has other qualities that are wonderful. My sense is my job is to coach her a lot on seeing things from other peoples' perspective and over time this will help temper her tendency to want to dominate. But she may always have the tendency-- still I think this is what I need to help her with.
 

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I agree with the general themes the other posters have discussed (girls tend to do this more, less tv, where are these selfish phrases coming from?) and I applaud you for noticing this and wanting to do something about it. I would probably talk to the teacher about this since most of her distress is coming from situations at school. Maybe what is happening in school is really affecting her behavior outside of school. I have found that different schools place more or less emphasis on character development. For me, a school that knows what is going on at recess and expects children to be kind to each other is a necessity. They are at school for 6 of their waking hours and that is where they are learning a lot about how to interact with others. I would also suggest setting up playdates once a week or so during the winter with one girl (at a time) from school because having fun outside of the school together can really help bonding. I think it is normal behavior and if you work through it she will be fine.
 

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It is just a phase!

My dd1 went through this - as did some of her friends. Bossiness/"you're not my friend" or the worse "I won't be your friend unless you..."/exaggerating the problem/being egocentric - we saw it all in our dd1 when she was 6 or 7. It was hard for me (and obviously her) but it will blow over! Really!

The real world will fix it. If she is bossy enough, for long enough, she will realize the kids don't want to play with her as much. I am sure she has friends - my dd did, but would claim she didn't because it may have felt that way at that moment. Ask the teacher or recess helper if she plays with other kids. Model good "friend" behavior for her. Read books about compassion, sharing, etc. There are great books (by Elizabeth Crary I think) where you get to choose what happens next. I'm Angry is one I think - maybe I'm Sad and I'm Frustrated. Child gets to see the outcome of different choices to the same event. I always loved that type of book as a kid!

I know it seems bad to you right now - I remember dd going through this - but it will pass. My dd1 is 8 now and a very compassionate, social girl. I try to remember that whether good or bad, it is all just a phase so don't get too upset or thrilled by anything....
 

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I have a 5 1/2 y.o. DD who exudes a great deal of negative, demanding, selfish energy. For example, she has on occasion approached me, regarded me thoughtfully and said unblinkingly, "You know, I really hate you." And then goes about her business.



This is one of many examples. When she has been around a large group of girls, she sulks in the shadows glaring at everyone. She is extremely materialistic and demanding, and is obsessed with money.

What to do?? The only thing I can think to do is to be kind to her, to demonstrate patience to her siblings so that she might learn from my example, but honestly I don't know how I produced such a self-centered child.

She CAN be sweet and generous, but quickly reverts to the sort of thing described above.


My other children aren't like this.
 

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Meowee-- interesting and very honest post. It made me think, ironically, of my brother in law -- he is a musician and has had a very successful career as a solo performer but all the stories from his childhood were about his stunning self-centeredness and emotional intensity and I remember thinking how hard it must have been to be his parent. To this day he has that self-centeredness but his audience would never know it because he is very talented and engaging and hugely confident. I think that some children go through this as a stage and for others it is, in the words of Flannery O'Connor, 'the least disposable part' of their personality all their life. But I guess the interesting thing about this whole topic is that there are nuances to selfishness-- certainly all great artists, whether it is music, or film, or literature or the visual arts -- had to be extremely self-centered to accomplish great things. So I think some of it goes with an artistic, or creative, temperment. So there's that side of it, for what it's worth in this thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you frand for your post.

You are right, dd is VERY sensitive, will make a big deal about nothing: she is a drama queen.

I worry a bit about school too, and what makes me uncumfortable is that she is in a school where she has so many different teachers: one for math, one for french, 2 for music, 1 for theatre, 1 for phys ed... you get the point. She had a "family" teacher, but she is on a sick leave for an undetermined period of time...

Today was a bad day again: she had problems at school... She told me one of her friend's mother told this little girl not to be friends with dd again... I would do the same if dd told me one girl mistreated her too many times, but now I am scared dd will be categorized. I'm scared she is going to stay with the reputation of being harsh and bossy. I am affraid she has been taged by some teachers...

I am thinking of changing her from school: the school she goes at is far, but is a great school (artistic school, bilingual,...), but I would like to have direct feedback from teachers, from kids, her having friends in the neighbourhood. I know a new school won't solve the behavior problems if they are serious, but if she is stuck with a bad image, maybe that would help...

Thanks for reading this...
 

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Dear Edith,

Your description of your dd sounds VERY much like my dd1. Mine went through the same exact phase at that same age! I predict dd2 and dd3 will also - although they are not as sensitive or dramatic as dd1 so I assume it will be easier.

She is only six - no one is going to label her for life. You say her school is great - don't take her out to put her somewhere new. Let her continue to adjust and socialize and learn in the good environment where she already is. We all want our own way - as we grow and mature we learn that sometimes we get it and sometimes we don't. She will learn that. In a very short period of time, she will be out of this phase and into another.

Now I understand that there are a few children who just are not quite right biochemically or something. If you really felt there were terrible warning signs of that (nothing you have mentioned so far sounds out of the ordinary for normal development to me at all) then I would have a school counselor talk to her to do an evaluation. But it just doesn't sound to me like anything more than normal kid stuff is going on.

What do her teachers say? I think your worries may be eased if you spoke to them. Does she ever play with other kids? Does she have friends? Does she ever do nice things for others at school? How is she when in groups or paired for an activity? What does she do during recess and lunch?
 

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I have to say, this is turning into a very interesting topic. Mamangazelle our dds sound very similar. I had a rough weekend with mine -- she had a few very dramatic scenes of resistance where I was at my wits end with her inability to share and needing to commandeer the limelight. What is really hard is that I have worked hard to have a home where all the neighborhood children feel welcome to play- being very inclusive and inviting. But over the weekend, and I can't believe this bothered me as much as it has, I heard our neighbor's daughter right next door is banding together with another family of children on the block in saying that my dd is bossy and stupid and agreeing not to play with her. This is a child I have been really nice to, so it hurt on that level, but I found myself less patient than ever with my dds selfishness, and she definitely exhibited it over the weekend.

I really feel at a loss. I too, feel we are in such a small community that indeed, a child can get labeled quite young and I HAVE thought of moving and getting a fresh start. There is also a lot of affluence and competition in our town and I constantly struggle with that. I would like to lose all that social baggage. I thought things were improving at school but then this little development happened and it took the wind out of my sails over the holiday. I feel silly for taking a comment from a 6 year old so seriously, but it hit right on issues I have been trying to manage with my daughter the past two years.

The complicating issue is there is a dominant family of kids on the block and there has always been an undercurrent of friction between them and my daughter. For some reason other children go along with whatever they tell them to do. Mine doesn't. Last summer they started 'poaching' her friends from our yard -- i.e., seeing who was playing over and coming and asking them if they wanted to play on their swingset, and then making my daughter feel unwelcome in their yard! So hearing that the girl right next door is banding with them against my dd --and knowing that there is an element of my dd's behavior that exacerbates it just makes me feel so tired of it all!

She does have a couple very loyal friends but there is often initial friction when they play (once past it, they're fine for hours) and I'm worried that with this little movement against her among the children who live closest to us, and the whole poaching thing, that if her behavior doesn't improve, all these factors will converge to leave her friendless.

By the same token, and maybe this is true of your dd, I constantly get comments from adults as to how much they enjoy her company. So my husband thinks as an only child she is more used to adults and expects adult-like fairness from her playmates and can't handle it when it isn't there.

I do sense this will pass but it is really really challenging. There is this combination of my daughter's behavior and the social dynamics of our neighborhood which are wearing me out!

Agh, I didn't mean to vent so much - thanks to anyone who takes the time to read this.
 

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Please write more when you can. It is nice to have someone who understands! I reread your first post and noticed most of all your comment about your daughter: "I love her dearly." I use exactly the same words, and of course, they aren't really adequate, but I use exactly those same words...that's what makes this so challenging!
 

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I don't know if this will help but here it is. There were two girls in my son's preschool who were extremely bossy, decided which girls could be in the "in group" (in preschool!!! I couldn't believe it), they were the only two people he's ever said he didn't like. Well actually he said they didn't like him so he guesses that they aren't his friends. Anyway I thought these girls were surprisingly nasty and self assured for five year olds. Well they went to two different schools for grade one and one of them ended up at my son's school.
She's a totally different person now that she's separated from the other girl! It could not have been the preschool because it was great it every way and they were very aware of what was going on. Anyway, this girl now seems to be a typical grade one girl at a new school. Trying to fit in, not too sure of herself, not trying to run the whole place like her kingdom, etc.
All I'm trying to say is that if it's extreme enough a problem maybe starting her out at a new school where she has to make a real effort to make friends could be just what she needs.
 
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