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aibu in my expectations of 5.5 yr old dd?

(64 Posts)
solittletime Fri 04-Jan-13 14:57:07

Up until now family friends and teachers have always commented on how exemplary her behaviour has been. She has always been quite sensitive and eager to please. She would hate the thought of getting in trouble and it would cause her real angst if she thought she was in trouble.

As a result I never really needed to be too strict, although if I get cross I get very cross and definitely would consider myself to have quite high expectations of behaviour.

I want her to grown up knowing she can stand up for herself but also be respectful. I want her to be more carefree now as I'm worried about having this 'perfect' child who feels pressure to be 'good' all the time (and I know she does) and then suddenly will resent me as a teenager. But I also just want her to do as she's told, just because I said so. Are the two really incompatible?

Recently I can see she has matured and is having some sort of inner battle about always being good. I think part of her just wants to be a bit naughty (sometimes even I would like her to be more carefree!)

I don't mind cheekiness and mischeviousness but the following are what concern me.

1)no regard for personal property or other people's. Will happily help herself to things lying around (my gloves, scarf, bits and bobs, but not things she knows are delicate like ornaments and stuff). She will use these things for games and just leave them lying around.
Same with cushions, sofa covers. It drives me nuts having to straighten up all this stuff as well as the toys every day.

Actually she barely touches her toys anymore, think she's grown out of some and we haven't worked out what to move on to next. She has a 3yr old sister so we still have the younger toys around.

2)Giving me attitude, 'I don't want to' 'I don't have to'.
The usual thing will be refusing to wear tights and long sleeve tops. I've had to argue twice with her today so that she would cover her legs to go out. She had choice of tights, trousers or skirt and leggins. She even tried to hit me which really shocked me.

The other day I asked her to find her jumper that she had left lying around and she said 'you find it' in a bossy tone of voice.

Sometimes when she is overtired she will just randomly overturn a box of jigsaw pieces, leave it half done, move to some other toy, leave it out, and so on, wrecking the whole living room in a matter of minutes with no real nice game going on.

I don't know what has happened to my little girl! sad

My plan of action would be this, but I am worried I am being too strict so would welcome opinions. My dad was very strict, unreasonably so in hindsight, as a result I really felt his shadow over me for a lot of my grown up life, not what I want for dd.

So, aibu about the following:

1)To put things away once she has finished playing with them, before taking other stuff out. Sometimes her games are VERY complicated so if she is playing nicely with everything she still has to put it all back but I will help her a bit. She hates this and I've been battling with her. Now I don't know if I'm expecting too much for her age.

2)Playing with cushions, sofa covers, my clothes and her clothes out of drawers will no longer be allowed, full stop. (They get left strewn around all over the place)

3)I will empty her drawers down to the bare essentials, so there will hardly be any choice of what to wear. Arguing about not wearing weather appropriate clothes will result in offending items (ie summer dress) being removed until more reasonable behaviour is displayed.

btw we live in a small flat so I already have kept toys and clothes to a minimum. Eg all her clothes are kept in three drawers in her bedroom, that's it. Plus some dresses hanging in another cupboard with other stuff.

Not sure what to do about the teenage attitude. Today she tried to hit me in front of her (lovely) friend. I told her off but then she gets all upset and I think feels humiliated being told off in front of her friend.

DH says that she's just been too indulged by family over the holidays and she'll go back to herself once back at school. She has recently made a friend at school that hits her mum and talks back quite a lot, so I think she has now seen that it is possible to answer back. The mum is nice and I get on with her

Sorry, this is soooooo long, well done for making it so far!

So AIBU in implemeting the above action points?

solittletime Fri 04-Jan-13 15:07:17

Just one little bump! Sorry, I know the above is too long in comparison to the gravity of the subject!

ILoveNoodles Fri 04-Jan-13 15:09:03

I don't really have any advice I'm really sorry, but currently going through the exact same with my four yr old son, am 25wks pg, and really struggling so hope someone is able to give you some helpful advice which I can implement myself.
Again really sorry.

hellsbellsmelons Fri 04-Jan-13 15:10:46

This all sounds like nothing out of the ordinary to me.
I only have 1 DD and she is 15 next week.
She is staying with me over Christmas and New Year and goes back to her dad soon.
I am ALWAYS picking up after her.
Her bedroom is messy and she knows she has to tidy it up before she goes out and she does.
Best form or punishment is to take favourite toys away for a set amount of time.
If she's mostly good then make sure you reward the good behaviour.
She'll come round and welcome to another 10-13 years of this!

FireOverBabylon Fri 04-Jan-13 15:16:06

My gut reaction on reading your post is to pick your battles. Will the world really end if she goes out without tights? She's old enough to understand cause and effect - if she goes out with bare legs and gets cold, she won't do it again.

By your own admission she has few toys because they're too old for her but you're going to stop her from playnig with the cushions and covers that she does play with. Sod the toys - those are for her sister to play with, if she's only playing with the cushions, how long will it really take to put them back. To me it sounds like she's using these more household things to do more imaginative games than she would with toys that can only be played with in a sepcific way.

I'm sorry but for a parent who wants your child to be "carefree", there are a lot of rules in place for her, so I wouldn't implement your plan. The hitting, being rude thing I think is just her testing boundaries, a calm "please don't talk to me like that" and removing privilleges should show her that you don't like it.

solittletime Fri 04-Jan-13 15:19:20

So I'm not being unreasonable making her pick up her stuff?

That's what I wanted to know really. Because If people think I'm being too strict for a 5.5 year old then I'll continue just with tidying up myself.

I wasn't sure if it's worth battling with her to pick up and taking most of her clothes away are worth it at this age or not.

My mum's of the 'oh she's so little you can't expect her to tidy up' camp, which is what makes me doubt myself!

hellsbells hopefully by 13 yrs old she won't need my blankets on the floor to be a lake!! It will just be a regular old mess instead!

solittletime Fri 04-Jan-13 15:20:30

sorry x post fireoverbabylon

HilaryClinton Fri 04-Jan-13 15:29:59

You sound very strict to me, and carefree doesn't seem compatible with what you've described.

Just taking one aspect: Summer clothes should be removed because having them available to choose is setting your daughter up to 'Be Naughty' by your terms. Removing them as A Punishment is spiteful but taking them away quietly because they are unsuitable for the weather is kind and saves an argument.

CailinDana Fri 04-Jan-13 15:32:17

IMO there are things to be firm about and things to let go. The way I see it, the vast majority of the day should be relaxed and fun, telling off should be at an absolute minimum, and if I feel like I'm saying "no" a lot or getting into protracted battles of will I have a look at what's going on and what I change to make it better. I think sometimes if you have a tendency to be strict it's easy to take it too far and to retain control over things for no good reason.

Hitting, or any sort of hurting others, is something I am 100% firm on at all times. It is never ever allowed, results in a warning on the first incidence and a punishment (for the time being DS is only young so punishment is being moved away from the game briefly) after that. Tonne of bricks is my approach here - I don't shout but I don't give an inch for hurting - it's never ever acceptable.

It sounds like with the clothes your DD is asserting herself and is looking for a reaction. Rather than making it a big deal I think it'll work better to just shrug and let her have her way and then if she complains later just say "It was your choice DD, perhaps make a better choice tomorrow" and ignore ignore ignore. Natural consequences like this - ie choose the wrong clothes and be cold - are very effective because the child learns the result of their own actions without it turning into a big emotional battle which can keep a problem going long after the original "fight" is over. Chances are she'll be an absolute pain about it for a while then it'll all become a bit boring and she'll move onto something else. BTW during this period do suggest the right clothes but if she refuses just let it go.

WRT the cushions - you admit she doesn't have many suitable toys, so why not let her play with them but on the condition that she tidies up at the end of the day?

What form does a "telling off" take out of interest?

WineOhWhy Fri 04-Jan-13 15:39:26

I think you do sound a OTT. My DDs are considered well behaved and are always playing with cusions etc. Not a problem so long as they put them back once they have finished and so long as it is not a cushion from a chair someone is actually sitting on! I think it is good to encourage imaginative play with things that are not actually toys. I dont think requiring her to tidy up is OTT, although I am not strict about how immediate this has to be.

Re clothes, I do tend to put summer clothes away in the winter, but if (for example) DD wanted to go out without a hat and gloves on a cold day I would let her do that (but keep them in my bag for when she inevitably asks for them). They learn quickly!

Absoluteeightiesgirl Fri 04-Jan-13 15:44:25

Pick your battles. Decide what you are willing to let slide and let it slide. Perhaps involve her in chores so you can give her some responsibility towards clearing up her own things. Try to foresee the likely flash points. I think that an obsession with manners and behaviour can go too far. Kids need to learn through getting it wrong from time to time..... give her the freedom to make mistakes and get it wrong. She is only five after all. Decide the basics and focus on those. It will be ok

Twattybollocks Fri 04-Jan-13 15:44:44

I have this with dd who is 6.5 and it's been going on for about 2 years now. The throwing cushions & stuff around, refusing clothing choices etc, why don't you do it kind of thing.
It's normal for their age. They don't think about consequences at all at 5yo, at least not seriously.
What I do - have a chat about who has to pick up the cushions etc, and how that makes me feel, when I don't get any fun time because I'm always having to tidy up. Kids have a good sense of justice so play on it, ie it's not fair that I tidy up your mess, you have all the fun and I do all the work!
Let her go out in Something inappropriate, she will soon get cold and feel the consequences, do not show sympathy, remind her that she had a choice, mums know best about stuff like this, and if she doesn't like being cold she should listen to advice!
Don't accept the backchat. If she says "you find it" tell her it's rude to speak to people like that, and explain why it's her responsibility to look for her stuff that's lost, if she hasn't put it away etc. also, say if she wants help, she only has to ask nicely!

brainonastick Fri 04-Jan-13 15:51:02

Very briefly, it sounds like you need to chill out a bit. She might be reacting to all the rules (and there seem to be a lot!).

If there s a good common sense reason why she shouldn't do something, then explain it, and the consequence of her not doing it. Then it's up to her. So what if her legs get cold? She'll learn for next time. She needs to learn how to make decisions on what is right and wrong herself, not just how to follow rules unquestioningly.

If her playing games with clothes drives you nuts, think why? If its just the tidyng up, then just ask her to tidy up at the end of the game. Etc.

ShowOfHands Fri 04-Jan-13 15:58:27

My dd is the same age and sounds remarkably similar in terms of general personality. She is a biddable, happy, loving, thoughtful girl. Never tantrummed, real people pleaser, wants to do the right thing, kind, generous etc. Just an easy personality to raise (and believe me having a 16mo ds who is a lot more volatile, I'm aware of how lucky I am to have experienced dd first!). She's always wanted to do the right thing because it's right, not because she has been told to or she's avoiding a punishment. Like I said, she just wants to get it right. Of course she is her own harshest critic if she believes she's got something wrong (she's so like me it's frightening) but that's the downside.

I haven't encountered the problems you're currently having but do think it's probably to do with Christmas and routine disruption more than anything. DD when tired or overwrought or feeling a bit displaced will behave different to how I expect. So she'll get up out of bed and come back downstairs with an excuse or she'll drag her feet slightly over things she'd normally love to do. I actually go the other way to you I suppose in that I do indulge her on these occasions by not telling her off or being strict but by stepping back and being gentle, encouraging and accepting that it comes from an honest place. We chat about whether everything's okay and once she's well rested again or not under the weather or back at school in her routine, she goes back to normal. I think she's just showing me she feels a bit out of sorts.

In terms of tidying up and picking up after themselves. I expect everybody in the house to do this. 16mo ds joins in before bedtime with clearing his stuff and replacing cushions. DD also likes to play with non toy type stuff and will build scenes out of household stuff (blankets as lakes for example) and will play for hours and hours in quite a complex way. BUT she knows that at the end of it all, she has to tidy up. Some days I help her, some days she does it herself. She is also expected to take pride in her stuff and respect other people's stuff. Her bedroom is kept tidy (by her) all the time. She plays in there and it's her stuff to do with as she chooses but there's always been a rule from day dot that if you're finished with one thing, you tidy it before moving onto the next thing.

I think encouraging personal responsibility helps. So dd has to sort her own clothes out into darks/lights/colours. She helps with chores, cooks, makes her own breakfast, folds her clothes and puts them away etc. All things which encourage a sense of pride in her surroundings and belongings. She also happens to quite like tidying up and doing chores which helps. We make a game of it too, chucking laundry down the stairs and seeing who can build the biggest pile of laundry, scaling laundry mountain etc. It's never strict or authoritarian but there is an underlying knowledge that it must be done iyswim. We also teach her. She knows how to cook certain things and can put on a load of laundry, build a fire (we light it of course). She likes to learn. She's just an active part of the family and we all maintain the house and take part in the day to day running of the family. It's not so much parenting as an expectation that each family member is equal. DD also gets £1 a week pocket money now which we introduced to encourage her to think about longterm goals. She divides it up, some she spends, some she saves and if she saves £5, she gets an extra £1 from us. She then treats herself to what she wants. OR amazingly, spends it on her brother. She's just spent her money on a birthday present for me. It's all her free choice but she is demonstrating how she thinks of and cares for others and planning things in advance. You could introduce it but suggest she earns her money by tidying or keeping her bedroom neat or whatever you want to see her doing that she isn't.

I know what you mean about carefree. I don't think dd is carefree, it's not in her makeup. But I'm not either. I don't want to be spontaneous or jump out of an aeroplane or go on adventure holidays to far flung places. I know dd. I know she likes structure and knowing what's happening. She enjoys things and flings herself into them, but she's never going to achieve wild abandonment. So she does things which channel a sense of giving yourself over to a moment (I do know I sound like a twat btw) and encourage her to be bold and brave but are clearly structured. She does ballet and gymnastics and through this she is learning to throw herself into using her body and trying new things and expressing herself. She's just learnt to ride her bike with proper confidence and we go on bike rides and go as fast as we can, free wheel down hills etc. She's in control but it's exhilarating. She just is who she is. She likes order and structure but she likes to enjoy herself. We just marry the two in an appropriate way.

Not sure if any of this is of any help!

notnowbernard Fri 04-Jan-13 16:06:46

All sounds quite normal from a behavioural point of view ( have 2 DDs, 9 and 6)

I agree pick your battles ( although my personal battle of not picking up everyone else's crap is lost, daily)

Great post from SOH smile

elizaregina Fri 04-Jan-13 16:20:42


you should be really glad your dd is using her imagination, some parents I know push this from day one - turning every day objects into wonderous things...they say imagination is all .....and get dissaspointed when they are not usign it.

i would encourage her - and agree with others let some things slide - my dd also wont wear tights - i brought her a pack of about 15 as well from second hand place!! she said they are itchy, i remeber having issues with tights also when younger....i havant pushed them at all ..

agree with others - let her do what she wants - go out without tights once - it wont hurt her!

use reward systems to get her to do stuff - i find working towards a weekly magazine really helps to encourage good behaviour " oh dear, you were nearly in with a good chance of getting that magazine werent dont want to blow it now..."

my dd has occasional rare shouting - usually when tired - we just ignore it as she is soo good really most of the time..

agree with others - relax a bit - let her have some room in the house and be thankful she is using her imagination really really well.

3smellysocks Fri 04-Jan-13 18:09:14

I see using cushions, gloves and rugs etc to make tents as perfectly fine and creative. I wouldn't want her dragging clothes out of drawers though as they will have been ironed and ready to wear.

Violence or hitting = time out. No questions asked.

Can you let your DD choose her own clothes each day, I think it's quite reasonable to expect her to have arms/legs covered.

Give stickers on a chart for tidying up, being polite and getting dressed well. Each sticker = 10 mins screen time in the evening. Use screen time as a reward.

3smellysocks Fri 04-Jan-13 18:10:17

My 4.5 year old tidy's up her own mess by the way.

StanleyLambchop Fri 04-Jan-13 18:48:48

The hitting is not on, but the rest of it? She is certainly not allowed to be carefree is she? What is wrong with playing with the cushions/sofa? Mine do it all the time, it takes about 2 seconds to put the cushions back after the game. Is that really so terrible, it does not exactly wreck the living room, does it? Small children need to have space/freedom to play. You sound as though you are more concerned about how tidy your house is. No wonder she is rebelling against it. Can you try and relax your expectations a little??

Passthesherry Fri 04-Jan-13 19:05:03

I read your post with interest, solittletime, as my two dds are around the same age (3.5 and 5.5yrs).

Here's my initial thoughts on your dilemmas:

1) YABU to only allow her to play with only one thing at a time, as sometimes as you say, games can get quite complicated and maybe that magic castle needs both a blanket lake, AND various stuffed toy knights, AND a clotheshorse portcullis, AND a cushion throne or two! grin. Perhaps though you could make the proviso at the beginning that whatever is 'used' will have to go back at the end of the game, to where she got it from. YANBU to expect her to learn to put things back, or have a set tidy-up time.

2) YABU to not allow playing with cushions and covers etc. I feel your pain, but it's actually nice that they play independently and creatively. Cushions and covers are no big deal, in fact I actually think this stuff is preferable to lots of little bitty things, as they're relatively easy to tidy up, and if they can move it off the furniture themselves, they can put it back themselves.

3) Saying that, YANBU to get sick of seeing clothes constantly being strewn over the floor, goodness knows I can relate to that one, esp. if like me, you find yourself washing stuff that haven't actually been worn. I think it's simply practical to put the out of season stuff away, and leave only things that are current, and in season, out. I bought a load of cardboard storage boxes from Staples and marked them in terms of age groups - clothes outgrown by dd1 but too big for dd2, get put away, as does out of season things. They get boxed and stacked on top of the wardrobe. If there are things that she really loves like a fave summer top, or a dress - could it be 'layered' up, like in winter put a long-sleeved co-ordinating jumper underneath a summery blouse or dress? I get round some of dd1's clothing choices with a few compromises like that - but sometimes I do have to insist she gets changed esp if the combination is a bit too bizarre or 'dorky'.

Have some rules about important items (or hide them) with maybe some 'leave-alone' areas, like your bedroom - but the rest, let them get on with it. My two have never really messed with stuff in our room, but they do occasionally create bombsites in their own space. One morning a few months back, I found 2 entire selves of books pulled out of their bookcase, and a massive pile of clothes strewn around. Quite a mess even by their standards! I got really annoyed and told them that they needn't bother coming down for breakfast until they'd put their clothes back in the wardrobe, and the books back in their bookcase - then flounced off and left them to it! And they did! It took them about half an hr, and OK the clothes and books weren't in any particular order, but they did manage to make sure dresses were hung up, and all the book spines faced out, so it 'looked' tidyish. They were very chuffed with themselves - I did a lot of "Wow...that's amazing!" Since then they have even had their own spontaneous tidy-up, unprompted.

Hitting is not on. Neither dd has hit me in recent memory (I mean since babyhood like 18mths, if ever). If either did, there would be a shocked silence followed by them being told in the most serious voice possible that they need to leave the room. I hardly ever use the 'naughty step' since toddler days but that would warrant a time-out visit, followed by a conversation about how it's absolutely NOT OK to hit, and a reminder that I am their Mother. Knowing them, I honestly think this would be enough to make them cry!

I think sometimes holidays and changes in routines, seeing friends and relatives can bring on more boundary pushing, and that's normal. A return to normality usually settles things down, as well as a re-establishing of boundaries. Btw, re: your dd being friends with another child, who hits their Mum/answers back - I think it could be part of the whole testing thing. Tell her that even though her friend might behave like that, it is not acceptable for her to do it. Everyone has different rules, and same with the way she is expected to behave with you. Personally I think I might be a bit put off by any friend of dd's who regularly behaved like that.

craftynclothy Fri 04-Jan-13 19:05:17

Dd1 is a bit like this. She is almost terrified of being told off by her teacher and I think a lot of her behaviour at home is just normal child stuff but being let out all at once because she never lets it out at school iyswim.

Wrt clothes, we let her choose what she wears at weekends/school holidays within reason. So we'll insist she has to have legs covered and long sleeves in winter but if she wanted to wear a particular t-shirt then she can wear it on top of the long sleeved top so that's what people see. If she wants to wear a skirt she can wear it over leggings if she wants.

Dd1 pretty much knows what she can/can't play with that belongs to other people. She's not to get any of our clothes out of the bedroom but I do let her get her stuff out.

I insist she helps to tidy up. When she gives a bit of attitude (often it's along the lines of "I'm not tidying it up. You tidy up, you're a mummy, it's your job" hmm) I tend to say it's up to her whether she helps of not but if she doesn't it's all going in a bin bag because it is not my job to put all her things away and if she can't be bothered to help she must have too many things.

comedycentral Fri 04-Jan-13 19:15:01

I feel from this that you 'manage' her too much, you are being too strict. She's just growing up.

EnjoyResponsibly Fri 04-Jan-13 19:22:57

The onky bitbthat would i would be really worried about is hitting/answering back. Time out r sanctions for that. For the rest I would:

Get her some toys of her own that interest/stimulate/are fun

Let her be creative with cushions etc-that's just imaginative play

Turn tidy up into a game-first one to finish picks next activity/DVD to watch

Let her choose clothes from a limited range: put all the Sumer clothes etc in a vac bag. If she insists on no tights she'll be cold and learn its silly

But OP honestly, your whole post had me feeling a bit clenched. YOU need to relax a bit. Have some of my Friday wine grin

galwaygirl Fri 04-Jan-13 19:25:18

I agree with the others that you're much too strict but I don't have a child the same age.

Just wanted to say I have huge self-esteem issues and have read up a lot on how to help my own DD build hers and be confident in her opinions and allowing children to choose their own clothes was actually a recommendation - it's giving her the responsibility of making a decision about herself and it really doesn't matter if she picks the wrong things. People learn by making mistakes and if you want her to be carefree try to remind yourself that these things are not huge issues.

EnjoyResponsibly Fri 04-Jan-13 19:25:25

Looking at my spelling you'd think I'd had a bottle of wine already grin

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