Dealing with a 6 YO who thinks she is in control - ever had it?

(122 Posts)
StillSquiffy Thu 15-Nov-12 10:07:30

Sorry this is long, don't want to drip feed (also I don't really do concise very well).

Looking for some empathy here more than anything, not sure there are any solutions.

I simply cannot get my DD to do as I want her to. Treats don't work, punishments don't work, ignoring doesn't work. I've tried everything suggested in the books (variously titled around: the Exploding child, the manipulative child, the strong willed child). Everything

She will first decide what is going to happen (eg: it will be warm outside even if temp is actually -2), therefore she will wear a sundress. She will explain this logically then refuse to listen to logical reasons as to why this is not good. She will refuse to change, refuse to listen to you, and eventually if you carry on trying to discuss it, she will go into a full meltdown. If you simply tell her to change she will go into a meltdown. If you suggest that she takes a jumper just in case, she will go into a meltdown. If you go with the flow she would, in this particular situation, stand outside in the cold, smiling and telling you "see! it's warm!" for a few minutes before screaming her head off that she's cold and it's all your fault for letting her wear the sundress (and heaven help you if you have secretly brought along a jumper, because that will precipitate another meltdown for not believing her in the first place).

In a nutshell, any suggestion that her interpretation of the world might not be correct leads to a meltdown, as does any experience that goes against expectations.

This morning's example: "Mummy, you were wrong about the sun's heat coming from a nuclear fusion, Mrs Teacher said yesterday that it's a ball of fire" "Yes, DD, it is the nuclear fusion that creates the heat and the fire" "No, Mummy. It's fire. That's what it is. It's not nuclear. Nuclear doesn't exist. Nuclear's silly. You're wrong mummy. It's not fair. Why do you get it so wrong?" followed by meltdown and 10 minutes of tears around how horrible I make her feel by telling her things that she now knows are clearly wrong.

<in case you are wondering, the whole original convo about fusion was with my science-mad son, which she had overheard>

Obviously the normal strategies that worked with my DS don't work with her: as for other strategies - Empathy then discussion doesn't work, Part-way giving-in doesn't work, letting her tantrum it out doesn't work (but does at least while away the time), giving her elements of control over certain bits of her life doesn't work. She won't listen, compromise, discuss or engage in any way with exploring her decisions. She herself acts like one of those draconian mums who yell "Do it because I said so!" at their kids, except she's the child, yelling it at me.

When things are going as expected or she is given control, she is a darling; confident, sweet, cheerful, witty, cuddly (and still acting like the grown-up - telling everyone what to do, where to sit, what food to eat, etc). She will even, at the end of such days, cuddle up at bedtime saying things like "See, no tears today! Isn't it lovely when you do all the right things, mummy?"

Obv. her behaviour has not gone unnoticed by others, and I do worry for her ability to make/keep friends. I have asked those that are close to us and know the situation for their advice and they are as stumped as I am. I am strong myself and consistent in boundaries, etc, so I don't think I am making the situation any worse by my own reactions, would love to know if I can do anything to make the situation better, Because sometimes it is really shit (though I did laugh when one of my friends asked me if I'd ever watched the Exorcist, after witnessing a particularly spectacular meltdown). We average maybe three episodes a day (the subject matter is random and can be stuff like who sits on which side of the back seat on the way home from school) - sometimes just stamping and shouting, sometimes worse. No triggers that I have noticed (and I have looked) although tiredness of course makes things so much worse.

She is way, way out there on the bell curve of intelligence so I am very well aware that this is simply the other side of the coin, but am keen to see if anyone else has been there with their own kids? What's been the outcome? Does it die down naturally as they mature? If I have half an idea what to expect then I am sure I will be able to deal with it better.

PiedWagtail Thu 15-Nov-12 10:14:22

And she is G&T? wow.

"oh my word I thought my 6yo DD was bossy" doesn't really help, does it?

There has to be a way to get an intelligent child to grasp that life is not a democracy, and adults are, like it or not, in

"oh my word I thought my 6yo DD was bossy" doesn't really help, does it?

There has to be a way to get an intelligent child to grasp that family life is not a democracy, and adults are, like it or not, in charge. What is she like at school? Does she accept adult authority there?

DeWe Thu 15-Nov-12 10:20:27

Sundress: Let her. My dd1 would refuse to put her coat on, and refuse to change her mind. She learnt through getting cold. Now she's the most likely in the family to take her coat in case she's cold. Just say "I think it's quite cold outside. I'm taking my coat" and leave. If she's cold, express sympathy that she's cold, but don't say "I told you so". Maybe you could take a spare jacket of yours and say "well, I brought this for me in case I was cold. WOuld you like it?"

Sun issue: Say "Really, lets go and look it up?" Don't go for the right/wrong approach. Find out lots of facts, express how interesting they are ("I didn't know that!" goes down well) and she may well forget the original controversy.

There are times with one of mine who's very stubborn, that we just agree to differ. If it's not major-lets face it, it doesn't really matter how the sun's powered most of the time. I'll say "That's fine, you think one thing, I think the other." And leave it for them to realise as they're older that I was right.

ISingSoprano Thu 15-Nov-12 10:23:46

Yes, been there, got the t-shirt. My dd is now 14 and is really rather lovely these days but my-oh-my when she was younger..... just as you describe. Dd would argue black was white just because she could. I wish I could tell you what we did to help matters but I honestly have no idea - there were good patches and bad patches and we just did what we could to get through the bad patches. All I can say is it does get better.

LadyMaryChristmas Thu 15-Nov-12 10:35:23

I think she's trying to outsmart you, she's being a diva. You need to handle her with tact, especially when she does try and outsmart you. She may be bright, she still needs to learn some manners though, it will make your (and hers) life easier in the long run. DeWe is right. Just tell her that you think it's cold outside, and you're going to put your coat on and dress appropriately. If she doesn't then you're not to blame for this, and she should have listened.

Remind her that it's rude to correct people as it upsets them. Being able to get along with others is just as important as being able to learn quickly.

Best of luck smile

StillSquiffy Thu 15-Nov-12 14:15:00

Ladymary - outsmarting and diva - oh yes. All the time. Last week in the school dining room (waiting for older son) she got angry and stuck her tongue out at me in front of the other children. I knelt down and told her that if she stuck her tongue out at school again I would stop her horse riding for a month, each and every time she did it. Quick as a flash she replied "You can't stop me, mummy. I'd never be able to say 'th' ever again. Look! Th! Th! Th!" (whilst exaggerating the 'th' physical movements, before running round the room laughing).

As for letting her get on with it, I try, but often I end up digging myself an even bigger hole. EG I did once drive her to the nursery naked because she refused to put her clothes on and she just laughed when we got there and told me that she might wear just her shoes, but definitely nothing else.

I think there's definitely a theme of being outsmarted, isn't there?

Stealth: In terms of behaviour at school she is better behaved, which I think is partly because there is a long long list of rules and timetables, so everything is very predictable. She always finishes her work way ahead of everyone else and then she uses her time to 'do stuff' for the teachers (organise their tables, pens, etc, try to tell the other kids what to do, sometimes). She also does stuff like remind teachers if they've forgotten to do something (eg: she knew that one teacher reapplied lipstick at around 10.30 and if it hadn't been done at the right time, she'd go and get the teacher's bag handbag, give it to her and quietly remind her that it was time for her to do her lips). Because of stuff like that, the teachers find her quite delightful, and they also love that she is so clever, and confident in herself, and (for want of a better word) 'poised'. So she gets lots and lots of reinforcement at school which keeps her motivated, but also I think gives her a misguided sense of power, if that makes sense?

Isingsoprano: Thank you. I will cling to your comments like a liferaft.

numbum Thu 15-Nov-12 14:15:54

When things are going as expected or she is given control, she is a darling; confident, sweet, cheerful, witty, cuddly (and still acting like the grown-up - telling everyone what to do, where to sit, what food to eat, etc). She will even, at the end of such days, cuddle up at bedtime saying things like "See, no tears today! Isn't it lovely when you do all the right things, mummy?"

I'm assuming, just to keep the peace, you all do as she says, sit where she tells you, eats what she tells you to eat during these times? I'd stop that for a start. Just because she's intelligent it doesn't mean she can be a bossy brat!

It's draining when they're being like that (I know) but you need to be consistent. Arguing back with my DD triggered her off a lot of the time so I just ignored whatever it was she was trying to argue with me about. Is there just that small chance that she was a cute bossy toddler who was allowed to get away with quite a lot and now she's older it just isn't cute any more? She needs to learn who's the boss, and it isn't her!

numbum Thu 15-Nov-12 14:18:12

And as for your 'TH' comment her outsmarting you I'd say that was a lack of manners and respect personally! Did you stop her horse riding like you'd threatened to?

numbum Thu 15-Nov-12 14:18:54

(I'm sure you can rearrange my last post to make sense..oops!)

nickelrocketgoBooooooom Thu 15-Nov-12 14:22:49

"you could move down south- i know a lot of towns where they never say "th". it'll be a shame you won't be living with me anymore, but I'm sure we can find a nice home for you down there."

nickelrocketgoBooooooom Thu 15-Nov-12 14:23:43

i think the teachers need to nip that in the bud as well - they're basically just encouraging her to be a bossy.

angelinterceptor Thu 15-Nov-12 14:24:17

stillsquiffy
My DD is a bit older, and I dont think she is G&T, but we have very similar issues with the control and behaviour.
unfortunately for us, it is happening at school too - and they have clamped down - I have started another thread for advice.

Its draining isnt it - and embarrassing

Maybe if known rules and consequences at school work, the same might work at home? A written set of rules (with clear statement that Mummy's decision is final and not open to debate) and consequences ( X offences = no horseriding), maybe?

On the sticking out tongue thing, I would have cancelled horse riding on the spot for the rudeness, TBH.

HullyEastergully Thu 15-Nov-12 14:34:48

Never mind, she'll grow up to be Maggie Thatcher and rule the world destroy it

anklebitersmum Thu 15-Nov-12 14:35:55

Draconian works. Gifted or not, rude and bossy is rude and bossy.

In life she is not going to be forgiven because she's so gifted/intelligent she'll just be the obnoxious child/teen who's in the top stream. I know who I'd pick for a university place/employ and it wouldn't be the diva hmm

My solutions would have been as follows (for what it's worth)

She'd have either been told in no uncertain terms to get her coat on or left to be cold because she knew best-and that's exactly what I'd have said when she was whining too. A tantrum would be ignored-as would she until she calms down. I learnt a long time ago that pandering to a child because you're in public and it's embarrassing is a road straight to hell. Let her go mental, she's only showing herself up (and yes I'd tell her that too when she's calmed down and is apologising for her behaviour).

Fusion could easily been looked up and your point made.

Haberdashery Thu 15-Nov-12 14:38:00

>> I knelt down and told her that if she stuck her tongue out at school again I would stop her horse riding for a month, each and every time she did it. Quick as a flash she replied "You can't stop me, mummy. I'd never be able to say 'th' ever again. Look! Th! Th! Th!" (whilst exaggerating the 'th' physical movements, before running round the room laughing).

Um, so did you stop her horseriding? I hope so. I'd have counted each th and said 'so, that's six months of no riding' with no further comment.

anklebitersmum Thu 15-Nov-12 14:39:30

Oh wow..just read the TH thing. I'd have marched her away from her audience (probably with a loud "How dare you, young lady?") and horseriding would absolutely have been cancelled. For at least a month.

Badvocsanta Thu 15-Nov-12 14:45:36

I think her lack of manners and disrespect towards you would worry me more than her being difficult.
And she is being difficult.
Because she can.
Because you let her.
I do hope you cancelled horse riding btw.
It's the only way she will learn.
Wrt the teacher thing I would have asked to see the teacher, explain the conversation and tell the teacher to tell your ds you are both right.
Let her wear a sundress in minus temp.
She will get very cold and she wont do it again, at least she won't if she is as clever as you suggest.
And yes to e audience thing.
I have zero tolerance for this.
We have left play dates and parties due to this type of behaviour.
I will not stand for it.
And my dc know that now.
(They are 9 and 4 btw)

Mintberry Thu 15-Nov-12 14:47:03

It sounds like you're going to have to take a different approach with your daughter as with your son. I agree with numbum that you need to lay down the law a little more. (It will be tiring, but it will be better for everyone in the long run). She's not going to make many friends later on being rude and having such a superiority complex!
Maybe also have a talk with her about how being kind and polite is just as important as being right? Not in a confrontational way, and not in a way which is accusing her too directly, but when you have her all cuddly in bed like you mentioned. If she doesn't feel threatened, or like the conversation is one big battle of intellects, she might listen to you more.

seeker Thu 15-Nov-12 14:47:21

Please tell me that you did cancel the riding........

CheerfulYank Thu 15-Nov-12 14:48:36

Another one hoping you cancelled horse riding! smile

DS (5) is also given to meltdowns when he doesn't get his way. I send him to his room and tell him to come out when he is calm. That way he has no audience.

anklebitersmum Thu 15-Nov-12 14:52:13

Just out of interest (and because I type s-l-o-w-l-y but read fast) did you say "well come on then, in we go" and march her in to nursery when she was naked?

Floggingmolly Thu 15-Nov-12 14:54:29

How is she gifted and talented?

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