I feel stuck in a rut where I am constantly on dd1's back about her social skills/personal hygiene/work ethic...all things that are my job to address, but feel like I'm giving her one long dose of criticism. Oh, I do praise the good stuff too. School report speaks of an under confident girl who doesn't participate in discussion or volunteer answers although her teachers know she's bright. I feel like I'm messing her up and destroying her confidence, but really she can be foul and needs putting in her place at home. Any one got any words of wisdom?
I have a dd (12 tomorrow) who is just like this too. And yes, bitch is a word that sometimes springs to mind about her, though I don't tell her that. She is really foul to her 8yo sister the majority of the time. But she is diagnosed with selective mutism (an anxiety disorder) and is generally a quite anxious child. Many parents of children with sm say the same thing about them - really difficult at home but anxious outside of it.
I don't know the exact link, but it is something to do with feeling so afraid and powerless outside the home that they need to feel powerful where they can.
It's really difficult to deal with but it has to begin with the recognition that these kids do not feel good about themselves, feel vulnerable and need tons of love, encouragement and support, not criticism. And I am saying that to remind myself because her behaviour does make me angry and dislike her at times, and I have to make big efforts to shower her with love and attention while still standing patiently firm against the unacceptable behaviour.
How old is she? My daughter is 11 and over the last year she has become a lot more willing to have a bath/shower (always used to go through a battle before).
Work ethic, if you're referring to school work, is she at comprehensive school yet?
My daughter is very direct and confident with her friends (embarrassingly so), but in school they don't hear a word out of her. She is in all the top sets and says she is happy to listen to others and make her mind up from there. She has always been like this, it was bought up at primary school. Her closest friend is the same and incrediably bright. It's not necessarily a bad thing to be quiet, I got my last job because the other two candidates were so full of themselves at the interview. turns out they wanted someone quiet who would fit in with rest of the staff.
I guess you've tried it, but would she respond to you sitting down nicely and covering one subject at a time, ie hygiene, mention that all her friends will be bathing or washing everyday. and she doesn't want to risk smelling and or having noticeably dirty hair as other people don't like that.
Where things need to be addressed, then you have to deal with them. Like you say you don't want to knock her confidence, so tell her she looks nice, her hair looks lovely and shiny after she's just washed it, compliment her on anything positive or helpful, or on homework she's done. I'm sure you do things just with her, but perhaps have a few hours in town with just her - if you go into Boots, she may like to choose a few toiletries herself (might encourage her to use some of them!).
oh, I love her dearly, although a lot of her behaviour leaves a great deal to be desired. I'd never call her a bitch to her face, but that is how I'd describe her treatment of her sister and it's not on. When I refer to work ethic I mean school work, instrument practice, room tidying etc. Stuff responsible parents care about. She's year 7 and on the gifted and talented registers for music and maths so our expectations of her are high. I'm anxious she doesn't waste the opportunities that are offered to her. The needing to feel powerful at home suggestion makes some sense. I do compliment her achievements etc, I promise.