Dsd's personality

(13 Posts)
bubblewand Mon 05-May-14 16:42:09

Hi - I have name changed for this, but rarely post anyway.

I'm getting increasingly worried about Dsd's character and want to know if anyone has any tips for me about what might be happening, whether it's normal, and so on.

She's 11, so pre-teen, and has always been very friendly and nice and well-behaved. She only comes to us about once a month and has a very close 'best friends' relationship with her mother, in which as far as I can tell her mother tells her all her thoughts and quandaries rather than presenting things as finished fact, and also she hangs out with her always and uses her as a buddy, telling her she's perfect. Somehow though Dsd is insecure and seems habituated to feeding her mother's behaviour with kind of super-keen positive attention-seeking behaviour. She is lovely but seems more and more hungry for attention when at ours, almost breaking into tears if the adults talk to each other and not her (over simple, normal things like dinner plans, shopping, washing, work). It's like she has a real fear of not being included and as a result over-compensates. She's not quiet: she comes across as v. confident and assertive, always fighting to be central, always reading every question as addressed to her. It's hard to be around as there's no adult zone - no space she's not in. It's like she's frightened of letting her guard down and stopping to monitor everyone in case she misses something.

Does anyone else have a daughter or step-daughter like this? I don't know how to interpret it. She's not naughty and you'd never tell her off, but sometimes it drives me crazy. As a younger girl this manifested as a super-keen up-for-it-ness, but now it seems to be verging on sulking or crying if it's not about her.

bubblewand Mon 05-May-14 16:48:42

I'm just trying to get some insight - not have a rant. It's so, so hard not understanding a child's personality. I love her and want her to be ok, but in another sense she is made of strange ingredients I don't completely understand. My DH can't completely explain it to me though we talk openly, but I wondered if other SMs could.

thebluehen Mon 05-May-14 16:57:11

Some of what you say resonated with me. My eldest dsd has also been brought up by a "super positive" mother who has told her she's perfect, a genius etc.

I think what happens is that they then feel very disappointed when they experience the real world and discover they're not perfect at everything. I think then they can really suffer from low self esteem from realising they're not what they've been told they are.

My dsd also interrupts us when we are not talking about her and will do her best to turn the conversation round to focusing on her again. She also tries to dominate the family dinners by talking over everyone else.

brdgrl Mon 05-May-14 17:07:20

Yes. My DSD had/has some similar qualities. She has many control issues, and these are tied up in insecurities and a sort of brittle false confidence.

In this case, DSD was raised from birth, pretty much, to be the centre of the family, and given control over things that a child should have ever been given control of. My DH acknowledges this, and has many regrets about it. She was also over praised and given an exaggerated sense of her own abilities and maturity level (I know there are people who don't believe that you can over-praise a child). As a result, I think, she has never learned how to deal with things not being in her control. She gets unreasonably upset when she can't control a situation, conversation, or person.

What really confirms this for me is how much more secure and happier, and more socially accepted, DSD has become since we actively (and with advice from a counselor) began to rest boundaries and remove control. I liken it to a baby learning that it is ok when mummy leaves a room, because she comes back. DSD had to be shown that she could be not in control of a situation and still be OK.

bubblewand Mon 05-May-14 17:16:05

It's really interesting to hear others' experience. I have been wondering if the effect you describe, brdgrl, happens when parents are not happy in a relationship and they start casting the children as grown up because they kind of want them to grow up so the family can split (I am getting too into the psychology of it here!!)

Mine is so hungry for love/attention, but though she's always upbeat there is a sadness to her, as it's like she'll never be full -- she always wants more. She's avid in the attention she pays to everyone. She's started getting sulky though recently, as I said -- what happened when your Dsd hit the teen years? What should I expect? She seems kind of to be copying her mother's emotions, or maybe acting in a way her mother has set up which is quite idiosyncratic, and then finding it stressful when it isn't responded to in the right way at our house.

alita7 Mon 05-May-14 18:06:44

I'm not sure if my experience will be of any help to you or if my dsds similarities are relevant because some of her behaviour maybe be due to her ld and her, but I may as well discuss anyway.

dsd came to live with us about a year ago, she didn't get much attention at her mums after her mum had 2 little ones and do when she came to us she reveled in having the attention of 2 adults. she struggles when dps older 2 visit and we get more strops and showing off. but the rest of the time she doesn't know what to do if dp and I are busy and hates playing alone, the only thing she wants to do alone is watch films. like your dsd she will sometimes answer dp and is questions to each other, even if it looks fairly obvious it can't be aimed at her. And she tries to muscle in if dp and I are cuddling or talking or something.

It's not a major problem and she's getting better but in our case I think it's due to going from having very little attention to lots. Your dsd is probably struggling with not being with 1 parent 1:1 at yours like she is at home, she probably feels she has to compete!

alita7 Mon 05-May-14 18:38:53

Just to add she is also very pestery, asks me millions of questions (why are you eating that potato, is it nice, do you like potatoes, why did you cut it up, is it hot etc) whenever I'm busy, probably another bid for attention.

bubblewand Mon 05-May-14 19:01:02

Oh yes, the million questions! We have this, but they are always of a slightly more personal/family (i.e. awkward) nature!

Alongside what others have said, I think when parents make their children bessie mates, then they don't have a parent. This makes them a bit insecure, and I think in many cases they are looking for boundaries. Maybe similar to what Brdgrl is saying?

alita7 Mon 05-May-14 19:38:06

Haha we have had more personal ones too, but those are normally really out of the blue and unexpected :P Like are you two going to get married? When we'd only been together about 3-4 months :P And asking Nanny why she only had 1 child when the last thing we'd talked about was her disney princess top :p

Big correction to my post up there which I did on my phone and was autocorrected- it should read "her behaviour may be due to her ld and asd".

rabbitrisen Tue 06-May-14 17:24:53

Hope it is all right to comment, even though I am not a step parent?

I slightly had this with one of my children, [who can be a bit of a homebird] when she went to uni! [so not really the same think, but slightly sort of?]

I solved it by we agreed to phone each other once a week each.

But also, when she is home, she knows that she is allowed to have as many cuddles as she likes! And boy, does she like a lot! It takes about 3 days, to what I call "uncuddle her".
After the 3 days, I will go to her and see if she wants a cuddle, or deliberately sit next to her, and she is all cuddled out!

purplebearbiscuit Fri 09-May-14 09:55:31

These mothers don't give specific praise, they say things like "you're perfect" "your beautiful" "you're my best friend" and it causes insecurity.

My dsd was/ is EXACTLY as you describe and after counselling at age 14, the synopsis from the therapist was that dsd has such a close, friend like bond with mum, that she lacks boundaries and any sense of what it is to really be a child. The added problem we faced was that dsd was aware of every bit of mums emotions surrounding the divorce, which she blamed my DH for. Dsd carried all of it like she was some kind of extension to her mum.

Always be wary when kids aren't naughty and want too much to please!! It's not normal. When dsd turned about 14/15 she started to question all the BS she had believed about her mum. It has got better for us because she's less anti-dad and now likes to spend time away from mum. But she is an incredibly damaged, insecure girl with no self belief or foundations and I worry very much for her future.

Bonsoir Fri 09-May-14 10:01:19

It's fair enough if your DSD only come to you once a month for her to expect it to be "all about her" and for you not to engage in mundane domestic conversations.

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