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Frequently disobedient child?(20 Posts)
I sometimes comment on here but I name change a lot. Brief background - DD 4 years old, been with us from a year old. Various challenges, on the whole very bright.
She is very disobedient and quite literally will not do as she is told i.e. If you put a necessary rule in place or just a house rule, she WILL break it. Again, and again, and again. The latest one is my garden, which I love. She knows not to pull heads of flowers, branches of trees, pick baby apples etc. She gets lots of outdoorsy walks and knows she can pick stuff in the woods but not in the garden. She knows to the extent she'll grass up her brother if he picks things and vice versa. But every day for weeks now she is going outside to play and picking stuff. She KNOWS. She totally KNOWS.
She gives in to every impulse she has which is part of it, but the other part of it is a deliberate need it seems to disobey me. She knows she isn't to throw all the cushions off the sofas and jump on the sofas. She has a trampoline for jumping on. But every day, guess what she does. Then she'll say 'sorreeee mummy' but actually she couldn't give a shit. And yes, for some that's no big deal, but it is a rule and whether its stupid or not, its a rule. I offer alternatives. I work hard to be fair. I try very hard. But she won't even try to play ball.
What the heck do we do? She is very clever, very strong willed which is great, but dammit she will not do anything she's told. I confiscated a toy for consistent bad behaviour yesterday after 2-3 warnings, when my back was turned she snuck off and took it back. I mean what do you do with that?
I've read books, do forums, know lots of other adopters...but I just don't know what to do. We are consistent, boundary parents - loads of fun and silliness - but there are a few basic rules. She won't follow any of them. Help!
Loving your username! Is it every day? Or are some periods better than others? Just wondering if there is a picture where something could be triggering the behaviour. If there's nothing coming to mind, then I would probably be looking for advice from post-adoption support or the LAC paediatrician, who would have wider experience and ideas (hopefully!).
My adopted LO is the same age as your DD, but quite a bit older at placement. For my LO, if there are episodes like this (and there sometimes are, at home and at school) then we say "It looks like you are finding it too hard to make good choices right now, so you need to stick close to me" and then LO has to stick like glue to me for however long I think is right. That means a bit
lot of boredom, and quite a bit of helping me out with stuff, and lots of praise and cuddles as we go along. It means I do less loafing about and a lot more housework on those days, which is tiring and annoying, but we do have a cleaner house at the end of it, and the keeping busy with repetitive tasks seems most successful.
unfortunate absence of being able to shine a torch inside her head to figure out what triggers it for her, some days it feels like she just cannot cope with choices and regresses back to a manic toddler So that means constant supervision, just as I would with a 1/2 year old, and no access to things that would end very badly with a toddler (felt tip pens/taps...). I have noticed that if I leave out very young toys on those days, she will choose those to play with quite happily. It is incredibly hard not to give her the rejecting/punitive reaction which it can feel like she's desperate for - I try not to allow that cycle to start (failing sometimes, because I'm human and exhausted) because then it feels like we both lose.
rather thank you (take it you're an LM Montgomery fan too )
It is every day at the moment. I have wondered if its school anxiety as she starts in Sept. She's having a lot of prep for it - sessions at school, playing 'schools' at nursery with her keyworker, individual visit to school etc.
It feels like such a kick in the teeth. She's such a fab little girl and I love her independence and gutsy nature, but the wrecking and disobedience is exhausting. I cannot trust her, I really can't.
I love what you say about 'good choices' - that's a good approach. I was very harsh with her earlier as she went outside and I said 'no picking stuff remember' and she said 'yes mummy'...then decapitated a budding lily which my son gleefully rushed to tell me. She told me later she 'didn't want anyone to see what she'd done'. She hates being caught out but it doesn't deter her. I am hoping the consistency and busyness of school will help. She's very active, stopped napping before she was 2, and will go full beans all day then bed at night at 7pm....lately she doesn't go to sleep til 8.30 meaning an hour and a half of her messing around, singing, shouting, kicking, getting out of bed, trying to wake up DS.....
Its a helluva phase we're in
Mine behaved like that at that age sometimes, not all the time. When they did, it was always to communicate something they were unhappy about, and if your dd is behaving like that all the time (being disobedient on purpose) it is likely that there is something she is not happy about which she needs to be helped to understand and deal with. However, it is worth noting that it is reasonably common behaviour in 4 year olds, afaik, as at that age they are pushing boundaries, they are not in full control yet (even when they understand the instruction), and many do not have the skills to communicate their needs verbally. Have you read up around that age generally or do you tend to stick with adoption related advice?
I have had similar behaviour in my LO who is only 23months and has limited speech.
We have managed to reduce it through making sure we are doing activities with her a lot and through time ins. She still throws tantrums and misbehaves but we have learnt we just need to be more patient with her and talk calmly and in a quiet voice. She doesn't respond well to shouting or loud voices - it just makes her worse!
Hang in there - little girls seem to be abit harder than boys sometimes.
Ah yes, you can't beat one of Rachel and Marilla's Apple leaf quilts!
It does sound like it could be partly anxiety about the change to school. You could try shifting the focus to all the things that will stay the same, perhaps make it a game of taking turns to think of all the things she'll still see and do (mummy, daddy, brother, bedroom, sandwiches, teddy, car, favourite park ... Then get good and silly and include burping, tickling, dribbling the toothpaste etc to keep it playful). Perhaps a bit of reassurance that she can still have baby time with you, no matter how big she gets?
I think because we are rational adults we think that reminding children NOT to do things will make them more likely to listen. After all, as adults, warnings generally make us obey rules, and boundaries.
However, if you think about it, what you are doing is putting the idea rather forcibly into the child's head, that x might be something she could or might do. A bit like Bluebeard or the Apple in Eden or Pandora. And then it becomes irrestible to do that very thing that you have warned her against or forbidden.
What about just trying a bit more freedom for a few months and get the the idea that she has to do the opposite of what you say out of her system. Sofa cushions were made for jumping on if you have two kids. Make your garden more child proof this year. She cannot get every single bud surely, she would have to be quite determined to climb an apple tree.
She will lose interest in trying to disobey you, if you make less of a big deal out of the things that are forbidden. Perhaps she only does those things, as you say, to annoy you, so if you are less annoyed..well then she will lose interest.
Impulsiveness can also have a neurological cause; she may seem wilful but she may genuinely be drawn to things because you have pointed them out to her, in a negative way it is true, but then it sticks in her mind more to do those very things. If a child is persistently doing impulsive things, it might not be her "fault" or yours.
I love Anne of Green Gables and a great fan of Rachel Lynde. She sewed the puffed sleeves!
Consequences don't tend to work with impulsiveness either.
Because they are not quite sure why they did it in the first place.
Dd used to scribble on walls, although she knew it was strictly forbidden. The painter said to me, well, what matters more to you, the wall or your child's self expression.. A bit trite maybe, but it gave me a different perspective. She doesn't scribble at all now, but she is very artistic and loves designing things, loves arranging pictures on walls now. But at 4 she was incredibly "wilful" and contrary. If you gave her finger paints she immediately smeared them somewhere other than the paper.
Looking back there were a lot of sensory things going on with my daughter. Have you googled SPD? My children are not adopted. But one, not my dd though, has ASD.
Four year olds aren't fair. They don't do contracts or playing ball. They don't have to care what you think, in the way you want them to. Although, it might be true that they very much care what you think, in ways you don't want them to. But you cannot ascribe morals to them in the way that you can to a rational adult; they don't owe you a duty of good behaviour. Their behaviour expresses something they feel, not something they "know" or have been taught.
I could have written this about DD... Thanks for your advice, Rather, will give that a go
Tell your child what you do what her to do rather than what you don't as at that age she might not be taking in the DONT "remember to play nicely with your sibling and remember to play by the rules." Also worth looking into demand avoidance conditions
Loads of great advice.
It is very wearing. I bet. Just remember it is probably not personal.
In your shoes I's be looking at post adoption support. We are lucky to have been given loads of post adoption support and it has made. difference. Good luck.
Thanks everyone. It seems to have settled down a bit thank goodness!
Have you considered this is a test? if she makes you annoyed then you will send her away, which is what part of her thinks she wants, this then proves that adults cannot be trusted, she is scared of becoming too attached, it’s possible she still believes she will be leaving soon; once you have had enough of her so why not try to control that event by destroying things you have identified as important to you, have you tried being indifferent to the damage when she does it. Going to School is a massive thing in anyone’s life, subconsciously she may not believe you will still be there when she comes back, ludicrous though this may seem to us to our kids it’s a real possibility because it’s already happened, she turned her back and her birth family disappeared.
Does she have a little smile when you tell her off? A SW once explained it to me like this, imagine a Green world and a Blue world, in Green world adults cannot be trusted, all people tell lies, shouting and fighting are the way to get what you want, he who shouts loudest is best, and gets attention, if you want things you must sort them yourself, no one else can be trusted to help, you need to be in control all the time, but in Blue world, adults are nice, and can be trusted, you can feel safe with their love even when you do bad things, you can rely on people, you are loved, people mean what they say, you can be relaxed about allowing others to be in control, If you are raised in Green world you learn to live in it, you learn to survive by following the rules of that world, BUT if you are then moved into Blue world none of your rules work, you have to try to make the world fit your rules, you try hard to get back to Green world because you understand it, hence when you annoy the adult enough for them to shout at you just for a brief moment you see Green world again and it makes you feel safe, because it confirms your beliefs.
No solutions on offer just trying to see if it helps explain the behaviour.
Give choices rather than outright orders when possible will let her feel in control and more likely to comply
The Green/Blue explanation is very good! That's basically attachment disorder. It's incredibly wearing and frustrating to be on the receiving end, of course, but try not to give her the reaction she is trying to trigger (though probably part of her wants to be 'good' - even/especially if she doesn't believe at heart that she is 'good').
The green / blue thing is a brilliant explanation, thank you. She does have ambivalent-avoidant attachment. I know the idea of school is stressing her internally even though externally she acts excited, as she is back to mouthing everything which stopped ages ago and wetting herself frequently. She doesn't get stressed about the wetting tho which is good, just calmly tells me and gets changed and no drama.
I have 20years EYFS experience. You are expecting her to live in an adult world with adult rules.
Your garden should be completely child friendly for now...a safe environment with no rules. Grass to play on and a hard area for bikes.
Sofas are meant for jumping on when you are 4. Mine ruined quite a few.
By imposing strict rules you are setting yourselves up to fail, both dd and yourself. All 4 year olds do not consistently follow rules and I would be worried if they did.
They need to be making their own choices and be rewarded for the good ones.
I would say that your expectations are too high.
Fewer rules - only the important ones and give up on the cushions. My ten year old can't keep them on the sofa (though to be fair I don't think it's deliberate)
Resign yourself to putting the cushions back a lot or put them away!
FOur year old don;t have great impulse control but keep an eye on it as she approaches 7 and assess how she is compared to her peers. Adopted children has a high incidence of executive processing disorder (often misdiagnosed as ADHD) and it is worth spotting it sooner rather than later.
If you Google Executive processing disorder and look for advice on how to handle childrne with this you might find some good tips to deal with any child who has problems with impulse control
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