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To cancel Santa trip?

(59 Posts)
nocontactforevermore Tue 17-Dec-13 22:23:06

My 7yo dd has got a terrible habit of telling me I promised her something when I didn't. She knows EXACTLY what to say to make me feel bloody awful. Right now I'm seething, because not once, but twice in the space of one evening she has done this. I picked her up from school and today and told her I had a lovely surprise for her on Saturday ( I'm taking her to see santa) She was jumping around with excitement. Tomorrow she has Xmas jumper day at school and I told her I had bought her one (rushed around like an idiot more like). So all great, right? Two lovely bits of news in the space of a minute. Nope. She started with this voice she uses when she wants to act wounded, saying I had promised her I would get an identical jumper for myself so we would be matching. (I made a joke last week that it would be funny if we wore matching Xmas jumpers - I never said I would but one for myself!) Instead of being glad about the surprise on Saturday and for buying her the jumper for tomorrow, she sat in the back of my car saying 'you promised, you promised. I had a go at her about this 'promising thing' because she used to do it SO much, but had recently calmed down with it because I literally banned her from using the word!
Later we went to friends for dinner and swapping of presents. She got spoiled rotten and to stay up late. She asked for a story when we came back and I said no as it was late. Just as I was leaving the room after a good night kiss, she says I 'promised' her we would have cuddle time on the sofa tonight. I did causally say yesterday we would have cuddle time 'tomorrow' but as the dinner invite came up and she was centre of attention at it anyway, 'Cuddle time' just never arose and when would it have happened anyway? No - she says it just as I'm switching off the bedtime light knowing I it can't happen. I know it sounds dramatic but she does it so often that I feel like I let her down and she's manipulating me. (Her favourite is 'you promised we would spend time together' or you promised it would be just me and you, or you promised we could watch a film together'. My dd takes simple statements I make such as 'hopefully during the weekend we might catch a film, and then turns it into a cast iron promise I've made. The thing is - the film might not happen because we did something else that was fun happened instead - like tonight we had dinner with friends. She doesn't complain during the replacement fun activity - it's only when it's over, she remembers the other thing that was potentially on the cards and brings it up, all wounded and sad that I've 'broken another promise'.

I cannot for the life of me explain why I hate this so much - but I really do. She claims to not know what the problem is when I explain that it's unkind to say I've promised something when I hadn't , and to only claim to be heartbroken about said broken promise when the spotlight is taken off her or it's time for bed.

I am so annoyed right now I want to cancel Santa on Saturday. AIBU? I think I probably am.

NorksAreMessy Tue 17-Dec-13 22:50:53

She is little and maybe 'promise' and 'wish for' are pretty similar in her mind.

Perhaps every time you do GENUINELY make a promise that you absolutely will not break you give her a letter and make her sign it and you sign it like a proper contract.
This could be made MUCH more fun than I have made it sound blush

This will have two results...if you are signing and making a contract in seven colours and glitter and a wax seal you won't forget any actual promise, and you will not make very many
If its NOT in a glittery ain't a promise. So you can legitimately say 'show me the contract'

Real life is sort of like this
Except with less glitter

JanetAndRoy Tue 17-Dec-13 22:52:49

gallicgirl has the right idea - definite things that are going to happen get put on a notice board. We have post-it notes all over ours with things we've said will happen (school Christmas party, cinema trip, Ds2 choice of film, family duvet day!)

JanetAndRoy Tue 17-Dec-13 22:54:01

We need more glitter in our lives Norks, IMHO. fgrin

Don't cancel Santa! You'll regret it too!
From someone who has older children, they do get fixated on things you say, whether it includes the word "promise" or not.
Fwiw, my DS would have interpreted the throw away statement from you as nice to have matching jumpers, over the period of two or three days in his mind, to be we are having matching jumpers.
You need to be a bit more exact in what you tell her.
Children are very literal. And believe exactly what they are told. Or to be more precise, what they have been led to believe.

BakeOLiteGirl Tue 17-Dec-13 23:02:01

I can see how she might have misunderstood your casual comments to be cast iron guarantees from what you have written. My son is the same. I never ever make vague comments about might dos. Broken promises are irritating.

nocontactforevermore Tue 17-Dec-13 23:02:29

Ok thanks all.
I am going to have to do some work on how I communicate with her. I'm calming down a bit now and remembering when she was tiny and and would ask for a biscuit. When i put one in her hand she would ask for another and refuse to take a bite from the one in her hand until I had in some way agreed to another one 'later'. She would never ever forget 'later' and this was from 2 years of age, haha. I guess she is just a child who needs to know for sure what she is doing and stick to it!

nocontactforevermore Tue 17-Dec-13 23:02:50

Love the glitter analogy btw!!!

nocontactforevermore Tue 17-Dec-13 23:05:09

Aww honestly when I say 'I promise' to my dd, I stick to it without fail. Please don't think I go around causally breaking my word. The issue here is that she is taking something I say innocently and making it a promise in her head. I do accept though that I've not been making myself clear enough and am to 'adult' I guess in my communication with her.

LineRunner Tue 17-Dec-13 23:08:06

Well that's good, you've got a way to recalibrate

Tapiocapearl Tue 17-Dec-13 23:10:51

I would end almost every sentence with 'that's not a promise as we need to be flexible'

So for example 'we might have ice cream tomorrow but that's not a promise as it depends on how the day pans out'

Tapiocapearl Tue 17-Dec-13 23:11:38

I would pre-empt every claim of a promise she might have. Be very clear.

Tapiocapearl Tue 17-Dec-13 23:14:07

Also it might just be that she is selective with the bits she takes notice off. Really emphasise all the factors that might effect if something happens. You can always ask her a question to check she understands what's going on

nocontactforevermore Tue 17-Dec-13 23:22:15

True. Thanks all!

Helpyourself Tue 17-Dec-13 23:27:53

Barrack room lawyer, she'll go far!

Bahhhhhumbug Tue 17-Dec-13 23:44:37

This is irritating yes l agree this 'dog with a bone' thing. Reading your posts actually reminded me of my late elderly dad and currently my elderly mil. Neither would/will be seemingly happy however much l did for them or however much l saw them in a day. I even ended up in tears of resentment and exhaustion at times after yet another full days efforts were apparently not enough and they wanted yet another chunk of me !

I learned very quickly with my dad and recently with my mil to never ever use phrases like 'If it's nice tomorrow / or if I've got time l might take you such and such a place/ we might do such and such a thing.' They would never ever forget and as you say however many other things came up or we did instead they would still push and hint and emotionally blackmail for the 'promised' thing.

But they do say we revert back to being like children in old age. So my advice fwiw is to completely stop using any of these phrases and only mention things just prior to you actually being definitely able to do them. Or if something else comes up like your visit to relatives unexpectedly make it clear that if she wants to do this then it means we wont have time or be able to do xyz. Then ask her if she still wants to do the new thing at the expense of the other iyswim.

nocontactforevermore Tue 17-Dec-13 23:50:47

Thanks humbug, great advice. I feel for you dealing with it from adults! Your words struck a chord with me because it's simple statements like 'if I get away from work I will collect you from school. DD will then swear blind that I promised her even though I've double and triple checked she's understood it's only a maybe. Sometimes I think it's deliberate to cause a fuss and upset, but my rational brain tells me that's nonsense!

uselessinformation Tue 17-Dec-13 23:53:50

Don't chat about 'maybe we'll do this or that', keep the thoughts in your head and if it happens then it's a nice surprise and if it doesn't then the child didn't know about it anyway so can't get upset.

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights Wed 18-Dec-13 04:21:35

Other than the 'biscuit' & the 'promise' things - does she have any other 'things' that make you think she might have a slight LD/SN? If you can think of other things it might be a good idea to mention it at school and see what they think - sometimes that 'one step removed' makes you able to see things more clearly (that and seeing a lot of children the same age on a daily basis).

If not, then my POV is that I disagree with quite a few of the comments. She is 7 not 3. She is being manipulative and * it has to stop. If she was 3 I'd agree with cutting down on the 'we might...', 'if I get away from work' type things, but she is 7 - the world can't revolve around her deliberately taking those things as 'promises' - it really can't.

You do have to be a bit careful not to make statements 'We will do that tomorrow night', because that is as good as a promise and in situations like tonight I would pre-empt any 'but you said/promised' stuff with - 'We are going to go to X&Y's for dinner, which means it will be late when we get back and we wont be able to have cuddle time on the sofa, but let's plan to do that Wednesday night'.

(NT) 7 year olds are perfectly able to understand 'a joke' and a 'throw away comment (such as 'wouldn't it be funny if I wore one the same') & understand 'we might play x at the weekend' and yes, occasionally they all try the 'but you saaaaiiiiiddddd we would do x' and you have to remind them that you said might, but not constantly and not to this degree.

The longer you let it go on for and/or think about every single thing you say to her, the worse it will get... foot down! Save your sanity fgrin and in all seriousness your relationship with her and her relationship with the world around her.

I would go with the 'Sparkly Promises' & have a big conversation about that, try to be careful not to say 'we WILL' (use other words such as perhaphs we can, maybe we will be able to, we'll see) & come down like a ton of bricks on the 'you promised...' but tell her in advance what the punishment would be.

However, I'd leave it until after Christmas, frankly, they're pretty much all revolting at this time of year fgrin

IsItMeOr Wed 18-Dec-13 07:28:33

My take is that the reason she behaves like this is because it works on you. You had said that yourself. I think it is irrelevant whether she is 7 or 3 for this purpose, as you have trained her up yourself to do more of this behaviour.

I do think you sound unusually casual in saying things that "might" happen, but it could be you're just picking up a number of examples from an extended time period. So I do think you could be a bit more careful personally.

What's the consequence if she does something that you find really annoying?

Joysmum Wed 18-Dec-13 07:38:54

If you make a promise, accompany that promise with locking little fingers. This way the physical action in addition makes sure there's no room for mistake in language interpretation.

JohnnyUtah Wed 18-Dec-13 07:44:30

I think you need to stop yourself from talking about things that may not happen. Why do you do it? Are you trying to make her happy when you say things? Just don't say anything. You know how she is, you can get out of the whole thing by doing this.

Also, separately, it would help if she understood that promises were only for important things. My kids (older though) know that if I ask them to promise something it means I am trusting them to do it and it is something quite rare and taken seriously - eg with the younger one, yes you can finish that level, but you promise then you'll come straight off the bloody screen and I won't have to ask again

advicemuchneeded Wed 18-Dec-13 08:13:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NotYoMomma Wed 18-Dec-13 09:23:00

dont say wou will do things that you wont, even in jest

you did say about matching jumpers and cuddle time. she is 7! she will think that is happening.

dont cancel Santa as you will prove her point

DeWe Wed 18-Dec-13 10:10:24

It's partually a personality thing.
Dm used to say about us when we were growing up that if she said "I'll see".
Dc1 said: "oh. thanks, when will you decide"
Dc2 (me) said: "That's fantastic I can't wait"
Dc3 said: "That's not fair. Why can't I do it! You never let me do anything!" <door slams>

My dc are similar, except none are like dc3 in that. But my dc2 does the same as me. I've learnt to say a disclaimer when I say things like "we'll do that at the weekend." I add on "If nothing comes up. I'm not promising we will, but we'll try to do it!"

LookingThroughTheFog Wed 18-Dec-13 10:20:35

Jeeeez, I'm gonna have to police every word from my mouth!

I think you need to have some separate chats, that's all. So sit her down, and explain the difference between someone saying they will do something, someone suggesting something, and someone promising something.

Yes, it is hard going at first, but you sort of get used to seeing them on the horizon. So, for example, when you say 'oh, it might be nice to go skiing tomorrow...' you'll pick it up first and say 'but, DD, you know how that's a maybe something, not a promise something...'

And with the cuddles, when you're going out, you'll say 'so this means we'll have less time for cuddles later. What shall we say? We'll go to dinner, then because we'll be late home, I'll cuddle you in bed while we count to ten, then I'll leave. I can promise you 10 seconds, but no more than that.'

Can you tell that I've been there and done that? It's a pain in the arse and no mistake.

The other thing that struck me from your OP, is that she's learned that this is a word and a voice to use that you'll react to. Another, short term solution, is to not react. So 'But you promiiiiissssed you'd get a jumper!' get's 'no, that's not true, it was never a promise.' and change the subject. If you've already spoken about 'it would be funny...' vs. 'I promise you...' then that's as much of a conversation as you need to have at that time. If she keeps on, you can just repeat 'it was not a promise, and I'm not talking about this any more.'

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