Parenting a 'challenging' child

(7 Posts)
Cheryllou Mon 16-Jun-14 10:09:27

I'm sure this is a very common problem, but I can't seem to stop arguing with my soon to be 9 year old daughter! She is a lovely, clever girl, but since the word go has always been 'demanding'. She is often rude - often I think without meaning to be, it's just her way of wording is quite, ahem, direct. We and her dad are constantly trying to correct rudeness (examples, terrible table manners, still. EVERY BLOOMING MEALTIME!, being mean to her sister, answering back, shouting in our faces, constantly needing reminding to do simple things like make her bed, put the lid on the toothpaste, flush the chain etc etc.) I'm at my wits end with her cos we do use all the positive reinforcement and love her dearly, but getting fed up having to tell her off constantly. I'm also concerned it's having a really negative effect on her self esteem as she is constantly looking in the mirror, hating what she sees, cant' choose what to wear for worry about getting it 'wrong' and has even said 'I know I'm rude and not very nice'. It breaks my heart, I just don't feel like I'm striking the right balance between disciplining unacceptable behaviour and being a nice mummy! Any shared stories or advice gratefully received, and yes, I do lose my temper with her sometimes, I'm only human I know I'm at fault too.

ghostisonthecanvas Tue 17-Jun-14 09:16:12

Is this a relatively new change? Could she be hormonal? I know she is only 9 but it is possible. Especially if she recognises her own behaviour. My daughter responded to sad faces and "did you mean to be mean?". Its hard but just remaining calm and a wee reminder (after her outbursts) that you love her helps. Pick your fights. She is only 9 so a reward system for the small stuff, toothpaste tubes etc. A treat at 20 stars? Constantly getting engaged in talking to her about her behaviour gives her loads of attention so if you are using positive reinforcement and addressing her negative behaviour she pretty much has your attention all the time. Step back a bit, she might not like that as you are all in a cycle and you will have to train yourself to disengage. Good luck op.

Swanhildapirouetting Wed 18-Jun-14 15:48:43

I have a very bolshy daughter, who is also lovely, so I understand exactly where you are coming from.

What helped was to throw out the notion of the perfect daughter, and remember that imitation is a very powerful strategy. I think a lot of stuff they do learn just by watching other people and wanting to be like them - I mean manners and things like making your bed and flushing the loo.

Other things can be tackled one by one. So for example you could start one week just tackling the toothpaste top (and forget every other thing that is bugging you - the manners, the chain, the rudeness, the bed) Then when that has become a habit move onto the bed.

If it matters to you. Quite frankly I decided life was too short to be constantly arguing with her over clothes and housework and concentrated on trying to involve her making nice meals, errands conversation chatting.

She will learn because she will then WANT to please you rather than being coerced into pleasing you. Enjoy her and don't sweat the small stuff. But do make a FEW rules, like three that you want her to stick to and try not to fuss about the rest.

Swanhildapirouetting Wed 18-Jun-14 15:49:25

oh and read How To Talk So Kids Listen, a Mumsnet favourite.

OneInEight Wed 18-Jun-14 15:59:21

When ds1 and ds2 were being very challenging were advised to aim for a ratio of seven positives to one negative and to praise for being if you can't find anything good to say about the behaviour. It did help even if we never quite managed to achieve this ratio. I would also consider if there are any special needs contributing to the behaviour such as autism or dyspraxia.

Swanhildapirouetting Wed 18-Jun-14 17:43:20

I was thinking that too, One the SNs I mean. Dd has no SNs formally diagnosed, but she does have sensory needs that I don't think anyone picked up on for a long long time (except me, now!)

For example, she is quite overwhelmed at mealtimes by the sight and smell of food, and she Still fidgets an enormous amount whilst eating, jumping up and down from the table. When she was younger we found taking her out of the table situation often made her behave much better - we used to give her a plate of food in another room with her own little table, to eat by herself, not as a punishment but as a little retreat from family life. She was so stressed by mealtimes that she often didn't feel hungry THEN but then hungry later when it was over, leading to demands for biscuits etc. This all changed when we started encouraging her to lay the table with flowers, napkins, candles, place cards (obviously not every day but every two weeks or so) and to cook meals with her Dad. Now she even buys food from Tesco for us, although she is still quite particular about what she eats. The noise of meals, and the feelings of tension that built up all created a sensory overload for her.

The Out Of Sync Child is another excellent book to try for someone who talks too loudly rudely, is clumsy untidy etc has low self esteem, and explains a lot of sensory issues.

Swanhildapirouetting Wed 18-Jun-14 17:54:39

Dd also did the Shouting in our faces, rudeness, and I can honestly say in retrospect it was a form of anxiety reaction, rather than malicious. It is like a defense mechanism if you feel that someone might attack you at any moment and so you get in there first, even if you, the parents, had no intention of attacking her or criticising her.

But it is hard when someone is downright rude and ungrateful. I still react to dd's thoughtlessness - sometimes it is a good way of reminding me that I too can get anxious, just like her, and it makes me overreact. For example today, she was planning a sleepover for tomorrow, and I found myself worrying that this new friend would tell her parents that we lived in an untidy pigsty, and began to project this onto poor dd, and to some extent completely overreacting to her slightly messy room. When essentially I just didn't want her to have a sleepover tomorrow (my problem not hers) I should have told her more calmly that I like the house to be tidy when people come to visit. Our kids are the same. They don't tell us what they really feel, they just explode in an unpleasant way.

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