Delaying tactics, lack of enthusiasm and horrid tone of voice - where's this come from & why?

(33 Posts)
EnglishFizz Sat 16-Feb-13 08:11:40

My Sept born year 5 daughter has changed.

She used to be dead chuffed if she'd been given some homework & bounced in gathering the bits she needed before I had even taken my coat off. At every parents eve right through school we were told by every teacher that she had a wonderful enthusiastic, helpful, hardworking attitude. Her results have been great from day one & she has progressed in linear fashion throughout - keeping ahead of average.

Gradually over the last 8-12 months she has lost her enthusiaim. Delays homework until last minute as she does now with anything that's not her absolute ideal choice - her (minimal) household chores for example. When I request she does these things I am met with a stroppy (bordering on frankly rude) attitude. If I say come on close laptop/turn off TV etc now (often for 2nd or 3rd time) the reply is "I AM" (when she isn't but then does) in a squeally raised voice with but emphasis on the AM (if you've had it you'll know!).

Her default position is TV (or watching TV progs) via iplayer etc on the iPad. She has a much younger sibling in year 1 who takes up biggest chunks of my time between 4-6 along with making supper, clearing up etc but rather than be with us in the hub, chatting as I unload the dishwasher etc she goes off to watch TV or play on Club Penguin alone. To be fair her sibling is noisy so doing quiet work with us in the kitchen isn't possible.

Where has her sparkle gone? Why?
It comes back if things go her way, we do things that she loves but we can't always be going to Pizza Hut or having a holiday or ice skating or going on play dates can we? The second it's not perfect for her the strop comes back or the fizz goes (popping into a shop on way back from Pizza Hut, being expected to help pack/unpack for the holiday, having an early night after a sleepover/play date). She doesn't seem grateful for anything and her self awareness around attitude and manners in front of others is worrying me. Her academic progress has slipped a bit and she's not keen to put in effort which she now needs to having sailed through school getting exceptional marks without effort.

We do have real concerns over her school. It is/was a good school but has gone downhill in last couple of years. She's in year 6 class with her & six other year 5s. There are some v boisterous boys in yr six who take up teachers time & whose behaviour & attitude leaves a lot to be desired. Could this be the reason? don't know!

Help. Pleeeese!

exexpat Mon 18-Feb-13 17:13:06

I think that was just Ronaldo spotting your fleeting mention of a sibling and interpreting everything in the light of his own unhappy teenage years...

But I do have to say that in my experience (of my DS and lots of friends' children) it is extremely common for preteens/early teenagers to start being absolutely beastly to their younger siblings, putting them down at every opportunity etc. It's great that your DD isn't doing that (yet) but be prepared for that to be the next unpleasant new behaviour to crop up.

I hope the various things I linked to will help reassure you that it's all a perfectly normal phase, and they do usually emerge the other side of it as a fairly normal, polite human being again (my DS did).

EnglishFizz Mon 18-Feb-13 15:32:27

Thanks everyone.

Ronaldo and Exexpat just to clarify - I didn't say we had a sibling issue. Far from it. My ten year is old great with her sister and of course they have the odd squabble but there is no issue. The reference I made was simply to say that it was understandable that my eldest may decide to go off to her room as her noisy sister is usually in the kitchen. The stroppy tone she uses to me is sometimes used to her sister too but it is used to all of the family - she doesn't single her sister out for this or treat her badly. I don't like any of us spoken to that way though and of course I don't like the influence on her younger sibling.

Elibean and Fairenuff thanks for understanding words and sound advice. i can relate to everything you say! Thanks to the posters on the last page whose names I can't copy and type - thank you very much for the insights. All appreciated and food for thought.

Elibean Sun 17-Feb-13 12:57:19

Meant to say, yes, firm boundaries are also important - but I had to somehow acknowledge her need for more of a say whilst holding on to my authority.

Elibean Sun 17-Feb-13 12:56:40

OP, I started noticing a lot of this in my Y4 dd1 who is a tad precocious, physically.

I bought a book called 'Talking to Tweenies' for almost nothing, on Amazon (second hand) - it holds a lot of sense, and I found it quite reassuring!

Personally, I would put a large chunk down to development/hormones, but also keep the possibility of her being affected by other things (school, sibling, etc) in mind and try and keep channels of communication open. I find having special dd1/mummy time every couple of weeks helps a lot - I ask her what she'd like to do, if she'd like some time with me, and then try to do the thing she wants.

But the thing that helped the most was talking to my dd about the fact that she was growing up, might feel moody/down/cross without knowing why sometimes. I also talked about her growing need for independence, a bit more privacy from her (also Y1) sister, etc. Her moodiness turned to excitement, and suddenly she wanted to have 'girly talks' with mummy etc - as if I'd switched a light on, without knowing it. Doesn't last, but I know how to get the contact back - woman to woman, as it were - now smile

Fairenuff Sun 17-Feb-13 12:12:12

OP the best advice I can give is to keep your boundaries firm. Let your dd know what you will not accept. Reinforce the boundaries - she is just pushing them to test that they are still there.

Don't get into drawn out arguments, just state your expectations and let her know the consequences if she chooses to ignore them. Then follow through. Don't try to make everything easier for her by more treats, or extra special attention. Just be there, let her know you love her even when she's being difficult.

My dd can completely change from angst ridden to sunny smiles, in a heartbeat. Try not to take anything she says personally, be understanding, be supportive but also stay strong.

It will help her enormously to know that some things are consistent and reliable whilst everything else around her seems so out of control at the moment.

Good luck.

exexpat Sun 17-Feb-13 12:01:27

Yes, there may be a sibling issue, as in the OP's daughter finds her younger sibling annoying and does not want to share attention with him/her, or takes out her frustrations on him/her, but that is also completely normal.

Quote from the second of the two articles I linked to above:

"Taking Negativity out on Others

No wonder your early adolescent feels negative. She's rejecting the idea of being a child and the interests and attachments that went with it, and doesn't yet have anything positive to replace the loss, so her self-esteem drops. More in life seems to be going wrong than right.

So, after a socially difficult day at school, your 11-year-old comes home brimming with negativity, immediately picking on a younger brother or sister, driving the child to tears, just to take out bad feelings on someone else. Now negativity about self has turned into meanness toward others, just as it does in peer relationships at school at this age."

Ronaldo Sun 17-Feb-13 11:54:43

The OP has also said herself that she has a sibling issue - so maybe she has identified it herself?

exexpat Sun 17-Feb-13 11:53:57
exexpat Sun 17-Feb-13 11:49:25

Ronaldo, of course it isn't * always* puberty, but puberty does nearly always involve a phase like the OP describes. It is the most likely explanation.

exexpat Sun 17-Feb-13 11:46:13

I don't know whether all the other posters on this thread are female or not, but I think if you asked any doctor or child development specialist (of either gender) they would agree that massive hormonal changes in puberty do affect children's personalities and their relationships with their parents and siblings. See this fairly typical article about puberty.

Of course a lot of children going through this have younger siblings, and they are often an easy focus for their anger and resentment. When my son was going through it, he spent a lot of time telling his younger sister that she was fat, stupid, horrible, annoying etc and it was all her fault that she was winding him up.

Strangely, all the younger siblings of the 10-13 year olds I know seem fine to me, but their older siblings also find them fat, stupid, annoying etc - they are just among the closest, most convenient objects for the adolescent to focus their anger on.

Fairenuff Sun 17-Feb-13 11:45:15

No-one is 'blaming' hormones. Hormones are not bad. They are great in fact smile

Hormones are what make us grow and we would be lost without them.

During puberty, girls and boys get a surge of hormones to help them mature into adults and there are common side effects, including spots, mood swings and apathy. This is not a bad thing, it's perfectly natural.

The symptoms that OP has described are in line with these so the most logical explanation is puberty.

Ronaldo Sun 17-Feb-13 11:40:53

I presume the OP, like any good parent, will be listening to her daughter and if she spots any actual problems with school, friendships, siblings etc will do her best to tackle them - but, as I and all the other parents on the thread who have had children go through puberty already have said, the 'attitude' she describes is absolutely par for the course at this stage, for both boys and girls

Ah, so you are indirectly doing the hormone theory too? Talk about pot calling kettle here?

OP may listen to DD for along time and not get what the real problem is, especially if she does do the hormone route. My DM,to this day ( bless her) doesnt know how I felt about what was happeneing at home - and she will go to her grave not knowing as far as I am concerned.

I am just making a different suggest - that it isnt always puberty.

Ronaldo Sun 17-Feb-13 11:37:30

OP your dd is entering puberty and will come out of it in about 8 - 10 years.

In short fairenough I am saying lets not blame it puberty because it might not be. You are one of those who seems to want to blame " hormones", not me.

Ronaldo Sun 17-Feb-13 11:34:04

Well, it is apparent in this thread that it has been mostly ( if not all) women blaming the OP's DD issues on hormones.

I just suggested it might not be - but then I suppose I could be accused of sending mum on a guilt trip ( athough OP herself has mentioned this sibling issue - so maybe she has identified it anyway?)

exexpat Sun 17-Feb-13 11:26:30

Ronaldo, the only people I usually hear blaming anything on hormones are men who snigger and say 'oh, it must be her time of month' if a woman is getting angry about something - even when she's getting angry for good reason. It's a very common way of putting women down and dismissing anything they are justifiably upset or angry about.

I sympathise about the issues you had in your teenage years and the way that you mother did not give you the support that you needed. I agree that teenagers need their mums as much as younger children. But I think that you are rather projecting your own experiences and feelings (from later in your teens) onto the OP's daughter. I presume the OP, like any good parent, will be listening to her daughter and if she spots any actual problems with school, friendships, siblings etc will do her best to tackle them - but, as I and all the other parents on the thread who have had children go through puberty already have said, the 'attitude' she describes is absolutely par for the course at this stage, for both boys and girls.

Fairenuff Sun 17-Feb-13 11:10:42

Ronaldo what do women 'use' hormones for?

You do know that they are chemicals produced by the brain and secreted into the body, right? It's not like you can choose which ones you'd like to have and when and somehow manipulate them into a concoction which can be used.

All people 'have' hormones all the time. Young children, old men. We all have them.

OP your dd is entering puberty and will come out of it in about 8 - 10 years.

Ronaldo Sun 17-Feb-13 10:57:52

Yes, expat, men do have hormones but we tend not to blame them for everything , or indeed anything. I had gone through "hormones". I know exactly wheremy problems were.

I cnaged schools. I had too,had I been in a school which went through to 18 I may not have felt the same or reacted. I was unsettled. Despite being a " big boy" I did needmy DM and her support but she was too busy settling troublesome brother into school.

All round a bit of a disaster.

exexpat Sun 17-Feb-13 10:50:52

Men have hormones too, you know. My response earlier was was based on my experience with my son (now 14) who went through a phase just like the OP's daughter in the early stages of puberty.

Of course there can be other things going on in a teenager's/preteen's life that can affect their personality and attitude, but the fact is that changes like the OP described are a very normal phase at that sort of age.

Ronaldo Sun 17-Feb-13 10:25:10

What do I know? I am a bloke and know littel of "hormones" in girls,although I suspect ladies use them a lot instead of dealing with other issues..... so why am I here commenting?

Well, she sounds a lot like me except I was 16 when this happened. I managed to keep going but had it not been for the fact I could pass exams and didnt have any pressure to do homework in A level, I could have droped like a stone.

The problem was not hormones but ( please forgive me) the fact I had a younger sibling who was 10 years my junior and my DM was busy with him. I had change schools at the same time as he was coming into the school system. DM could not deal with both of us and as the older one who had always done well, I had to take second place as sibling needs seemed a priority.

I got on with it but it took the joy out of school for me and I just did what I had to - and mostly didnt do anything.

lljkk Sun 17-Feb-13 09:14:33

How many hours/day of TV is she watching, typically, on school days vs. non-school days?

Does she communicate, tell you about her day, her social life? I still get daily updates on the social life of my 11yo.

WiseKneeHair Sun 17-Feb-13 08:47:12

She sounds like the female equivalent of my yr6, 11yo DS.
No advice, just lots of sympathy. They'll grow out of it, one day.

'gas' was supposed to be 'has'.

I'm afraid this sounds like adolescence.

My tips would be:

Choose your battles. If she refuses to do her homework, that's her problem and she will have to face the consequences at school.

If she is in a mood, don't attempt to have a discussion with her as it can escalate very quickly into a shouting match. Walk away and save the discussion for when she is calmer.

Increase the independence gradually, so she gas a chance to feel grown-up and in control of her own life. The more she successfully manages this, the more confident she'll be in new situations, e.g. secondary school.

Keep up the praise, affection and reassurance. She still needs it, even if she seems prickly.

Instead of nagging DS1 about all the tasks he needs to do (shower, piano practice, homework, pack schoolbag) I sometimes just give him a post-it note with a list of what he needs to do, and then try to just leave him to it.

EnglishFizz Sun 17-Feb-13 08:31:00

Thanks for all your thoughts. It seems unanimous that it must be her hormones. With that in mind I will have a think how best to deal with it. I certainly don't want to be on her back all the time but equally I am not prepared to accept being spoken to (or having her sibling spoken to) in that way. The little one has started to copy it! It also makes the atmosphere in the house and everyone's moods drop like a stone.

She gets pocket money for doing a couple of household chores (putting clean washing away etc) but she now sorts the washing in front of the TV and no kidding makes a ten minute job last over an hour (and that's with me telling her to get a move on or threatening to turn the TV off!).

One more Q then... Do we limit the TV/iPad time and face the strops of go for easy life & let her watch without complaint?

DowntonTrout Sat 16-Feb-13 10:46:42

I think a lot of girls go through this from Y 5 onwards. Some earlier, some later. I agree with other posters, it's her age, hormones etc.

Of course there's no excuse for rudeness but she sounds totally normal to me. It can be a horrid time, especially with girls. Just keep your eye on it. Ignore most of it and pick your battles for things that really matter or are unacceptable. Otherwise you find yourself on their backs constantly.

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