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.

Viviennemary Thu 15-Nov-12 14:58:10

My DD got a bit like this when she was a bit older than six. I said like it or not you are the child and I am the parent. I wouldn't get involved in technical discussions with her if she becomes argumentative about it. Try not to let her rule the roost as it were because she will only get worse.

I think you will have to become more of an authority figure if she is not to become worse and worse over the years. Forget about best friends for the time being. I wouldn't be encouraging her to boss everyone around at that age.

seeker Thu 15-Nov-12 15:02:48

And I would be incandescent with the teacher who let her go and get her bag and remind her about the lipstick. Th school should be helping her understand her boundaries, nor blurring them even more!

EscapeInTheCity Thu 15-Nov-12 15:05:51

I think she is a very smart girl who is trying to wear her mummy's shoes. She is very good at finding 'good' explanations (for a 6yo) and play on it. The 'th' example is a really good one of that.

However, I would really really encourage you to:
- not accept that she is thinks it's OK to tell you you are wrong, you always get it wrong. It's not dissimilar to tell you that you are stupid and I am sure you wouldn't accept that one. She has to know that sometimes adults/mummy IS right end of story. So whether she is right or not, don't let her say that sort of things (even worse re the 'You see how things go well you you do the right things'. Imagine if it was your partner telling you that...)
- don't try and have a rational argument with her and try to outsmart her.
- teach her flexibility. It's not just a case of being bossy, it's an issue of her wanting to be in control all the time. When she is in control she is happy. When she isn't, it's the end of world. I would have a word with the teacher re her role in the class. If she is at the point that she feels she can remind the teacher to put lipstick on, there is some work to do at school too!
One way I tried and teach my dcs flexibility was to avoid telling them what is going to happen in advance so that they had to go with the flow, at least some of the time.
- re above, see what the teacher might want to implement, what you feel could be helpful and then perhaps have a similar approach at home and at school.
- re the 'th' sounds, I would have punished her for being rude to you (because she was) and put the discussion about the 'th' and sticking your tongue out on the side. Too easy for her to feel the punishment would be unfair otherwise.

bunnybing Thu 15-Nov-12 15:06:26

DD1 (aged 9) was a bit like this after the school hols this year. What helped was me and DH sitting down with her and explaining why she was out of order and what we expected. She has been much better since.

nickelrocketgoBooooooom Thu 15-Nov-12 15:06:58

yes, i need to know you cancelled the riding too!

Corygal Thu 15-Nov-12 15:07:06

Whether she's G&T or not has no bearing on her social skills, which are unacceptable, evidently. No one likes a rude child. It's cringeing for the parents, too.

Don't confront her, but do deny her silly requests, and follow through on your boundaries. Schools can help - they may put her in a SEN programme, and will ask you to work with them to help her - not such a big deal, it's just teaching you to implement basic parenting skills, and it doesn't have to last for years.

How badly does the behaviour affect the rest of your family? Is there a relationship with her DB?

EscapeInTheCity Thu 15-Nov-12 15:08:18

anklebitersmum agree I would have done that too and see how far she is ready to go.
As she is bright, I am betting she wouldn't have gone out to the nursery naked (because then things aren't as they are supposed to be, ie children at school are in uniform)

LaQueen Thu 15-Nov-12 15:25:06

DD2 is phenomenally clever, and would try and outsmart us if she were allowed to. She isn't. Mum and Dad are pretty damned smart too wink

We have never provided her with an audience, for her potential tantrums (so that was nipped in the bud, years ago).

I would have marched her fully naked into nursery, quitely explained to nursery staff, and then marched out leaving her there.

With the th thing, I would have cooly counted how many times she did it, 3, 11, 47...and would have stopped her that amount of riding lessons. No going back. No giving in.

Telling people where to sit in the car...? No. If you want to have a melt-down, go right ahead...I'm going to whup the stereo up high, sing along and totally ignore you smile

If you try and get sassy with me in public, I will allow you to make a complete fool of yourself in front of other people, and just smile thinly. When I get you home I will descend like the Wrath of God on you.

Any attempts at rudeness, or nasty spoilt behaviour would be met with the Death Stare, coupled with the Death Voice.

I would go to school and politely ask that her teachers stop allowing a 6 year old to tell them when/where and how to do things.

It sounds to me like you're secretly colluding in your DDs behaviour, and secretly find it quite clever and something to feel proud of.

Don't.

LaQueen Thu 15-Nov-12 15:26:07

It is because I love my DD2, that I ride her with a very short rein, because I want other people to like and love her, too.

Mrsrobertduvallsaysboo Thu 15-Nov-12 15:33:44

Call me old fashioned, but she is rude.
Does she have friends?
How do your friends and family react to her?

She would get short shrift in our house.

anklebitersmum Thu 15-Nov-12 15:37:31

When I get you home I will descend like the Wrath of God on you and the Death Stare, coupled with the Death Voice. grin

ditto

TheCeejOfWinterfell Thu 15-Nov-12 15:59:16

My DD is a bit like this. She will swear that black is white and never give in, and is very clever at manipulating arguments to suit her. I find it very wearing.

The only thing I've found that works is to give her fair warning of an impending punishment, and then follow through with it. I know that sounds ridiculously simple, but she is so ingenious about trying to play me: 'I didn't mean that ... I was about to do it ... I didn't hear you ... You said I didn't have to' etc. She will twist my words and wheedle and protest innocence until she hits a brick wall. So, sometimes, I have to set up that brick wall and let her hit it grin.

And then stay calm through the ensuing rage as she realises she's not going to get away with it. Last time this happened, I cancelled a visit to a friend and she was furious. But, two hours later, when asked to do something she did it immediately and said 'I've learned my lesson there.' The lesson needs repeating, but it's starting to get through.

LaQueen Thu 15-Nov-12 16:22:01

OP I suspect your DD (who is obviously very sharp) continues with her behaviour because she's picking up on the vibe that her behaviour marks her out as special and that you secretly think she's very clever for being as manipulative/crafty as she is.

I certainly detect a note of admiration in your posts.

When my DD2 has tried this sort of clever/crafty behaviour - I cooly point out that now matter how clever she thinks she is, she's actually been pretty stupid because by being crafty/clever she's actually just earned a loss of TV time/PC time/riding lesson. Then I would smile And. Make. 100% Sure. That. She. Missed. Her. Riding. lesson.

I would also cooly point out to your DD (and have done to my DD2) that her behaviour will annoy/irritate other people, and they will simply dislike her for it, and will avoid her.

Viviennemary Thu 15-Nov-12 16:27:53

LaQueen is talking a lot of sense. I agree with everything she says!

Gipfeli Thu 15-Nov-12 16:37:45

I agree with all that LaQueen says.

DD, also 6, has a tendency towards this too. I tend to take the view now that she can have a strop about something if she wants and that's fine. It's not my problem and I'll just leave her to get on with it.

She's pretty stubborn but she's not yet worked out that she inherits her stubborness from her mother who's had 40-odd years to perfect it. I don't give in or change my mind.

I'm pretty certain she only does it at home with us though so it's easy to ignore.

LaQueen Thu 15-Nov-12 17:00:37

Gip I'm the same as you. My 8 year old DD2 is exceptionally determined...but, she's still only 8. She has many, many years before she can hope to aspire to the heights of determination that I can turn on like a tap.

With me, she knows I say what I mean and mean what I say. I don't give in, and I don't change my mind, either wink

" 'I didn't mean that ... I was about to do it ... I didn't hear you ... You said I didn't have to' etc."

I recognise that, combined with "but I will never, ever do it again, I promise, give me one more chance, Mummy, pleeeeeeease..."

Cuts no ice with me. Warning issued, consequences spelt out, has to be done. I have learned eventually to pick my threats with care, though, such that carrying them out is not too costly or inconvenient for everyone else especially me.

LaQueen Thu 15-Nov-12 17:24:03

Agree stealth you have to follow through, you simply have to...so don't even bother making the threat if you suspect you can't/won't follow it through...down that path misery and total lack of respect for the parent lies...

pictish Thu 15-Nov-12 17:36:37

I agree with LeQueen as well.

So your daughter is clever. Very good. But she is also obnoxious, disrespectful and rude. Not so good.

The former most certainly does not excuse or cancel out the latter. You need to get her in hand by imposing sanctions and following them through.
If you do not, it is she who will suffer in the long run. She already sounds quite unpleasant, and it will only get worse.

I am chuckling at the thought of allowing a six year old to tell me where to sit. She could scream herself hoarse before that would ever happen.

Toughen up!!!

CheerfulYank Thu 15-Nov-12 17:38:44

Ah yes...the follow through. I once had to drag DS kicking and screaming out of a shop because it was what I said I'd do. Once.

Haberdashery Thu 15-Nov-12 17:41:37

Yep, agree with all of you. You just have to be really tough about things like that. I will always love my daughter, no matter how badly behaved she might be, but I want everyone else to like her too and that means I have to make sure she knows what's acceptable and what's not.

I don't actually think this is a G&T issue, btw. I know quite a lot of children who are rather like this, ranging from very bright to perfectly average, and the one thing they all have in common is parents who excuse bad behaviour rather than dealing with it.

pictish Thu 15-Nov-12 17:44:11

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?"

Are you kidding me?? shock

This kid has a very high opinion of herself. Do her a favour and bring her arrogance down to the point where it becomes confidence. What a madam!!

LaQueen Thu 15-Nov-12 17:46:23

Same here Pict - being told by a six year old where to bleddy sit? Not ever going to happen in this lifetime, they can scream til their sick, I will sit where I choose and smile at them while I do it smile

It doesn't matter how clever your child is, if other adults dislike them, and other children shun them.

Like I have told my DD2 in the past It's good to be very clever, but it's also very clever to be good

ElephantsAndMiasmas Thu 15-Nov-12 17:48:10

Yeah this: "I certainly detect a note of admiration in your posts.

When my DD2 has tried this sort of clever/crafty behaviour - I cooly point out that now matter how clever she thinks she is, she's actually been pretty stupid because by being crafty/clever she's actually just earned a loss of TV time/PC time/riding lesson."

That thing about "see, no tears today" is downright CREEPY. She has trained you. You need to get back on that (for her, imaginary) horse and train her.

Yes, been there, CheerfulYank - Fireman's lift through a crowded shopping centre with DD screaming "I don't like you. Put me down".

I am still slightly shocked that no-one challenged me, TBH, but reminding her of it does help a lot with shop-related strops.

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