To cancel Santa trip?(59 Posts)
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.
My DS at 6 is the same. But I genuinely thinks it was a promise... we'll see a film ad and it looks good. We say we'll take him to it, but little do we realise he has noted start date and joins the dots thinking he will see it that day. He might mention 7 days until xyz starts, but on the start date cue tantrum when he realises he isn't going. We just have to choose ourlanguage very carefully, making sure he knows what is promised and what isn"'t
I don't think she's manipulating you, you say these are things you have mentioned, I can remember being that age and if a parent had said we might do something I'd have got my hopes up even though I knew it wasn't definite and I'd feel a pang of disappointment if it didn't happen. I like to know what's happening in advance.
My eldest child is 3.5 so much younger but I never say we're going to do something unless we definitely are. I do change plans sometimes about day to day stuff and he deals with it well but generally I try to stick to what I've said. I would suggest you stop saying things unless they will definitely happen. Things that are trivial to us are a big deal to kids.
Oh yes liquid I only have to give the slightest look or bit of banter /innuendo and no matter what happens between then and us falling into bed later he always says ' But l thought l was on a promise when you said xyz or touched my leg at 18:47 this evening ' or whatever.
Thinking about it we are surrounded by demanding children but disguised as elderly parents , mils and husbands.
oh dear my DH does this sometimes. The sad face look I get is priceless
'But you promised you would come to bed early for a cuddle...'
She's 7 , she hears what she wants to hear and believes it to be true. Stop casually mentioning or saying things as a off the cuff remark . If she takes things literally then you have said or promised in her eyes. You are expecting her to read the subtleties of language way beyond her years and also to react well to late nights and being out of routine. Just because you choose to make an effort for her, it is not realistic to expect her gratitude for your effort. Don't cancel Santa she may not want to go next year.
Also meant to say that after being given this insight l did not feel nearly as ragey towards my dad and more recently it has come in as useful knowledge to help me deal with my increasingly demanding m-I-l.
Because now I understand it is not necessarily ingratitude which is very much how it comes across when nothing you ever do is quite enough/good enough and they want more.
Interesting Doitnicely if you saw my post upthread comparing OPs DD to my elderly demanding 'never happy' parents.
I contacted a helpline for support once when my dad in particular was driving me up the wall with this behaviour.
They told me the reason he always 'needs' one more item of shopping even if you've just delivered the entire contents of Morrissons to him or he always finds something you have 'forgotten' is because it is his way of making sure you will have to call round again very soon. Diversely (and it is common elderly parent behaviour apparently) it makes you hate visiting them and makes you feel progressively less like visiting them.
If however they told you they had absolutely everything they needed and everything is hunky dory then you have no practical reason to go back and they might not see you for days. It is very manipulative undoubtedly but it is borne out of insecurity and feeling vulnerable perhaps.
Reading with interest, as I have a similar DD who is 5, always wanting to know what fun thing we are doing in the morning/after school. And complaining about something the minute a big treat (eg cinema trip) has finished.
I try and manage her expectations I don't usually mention things until the night before/or v close, as she goes on and on about them and if something happens to change plans such as illness etc she would be so upset. Actually as she has got older I do discuss things more than I used to as I felt she needed to experience 'waiting'.
She was even talking about Valentines Day the other day, I was a bit and had to remind her that Christmas isn't even here yet!
This has reminded me of something i read in a parenting book, they said this behaviour is often the child wanting reassurance that they will be seeing you/spending time with you tomorrow - a way of connecting before they go to sleep at night. Now I mostly just say to DD1 that we shall decided what we are doing in the morning/after school, rather than saying (promising!!) we are doing x or y so go to sleep now.
I do think my DD has improved a bit since starting school as she now has a more regular routine than she did when home with me/at pre-school. Also most treats/trips out are saved for the weekend and happen less frequently. But now she looks forward to certain days at school "pizza day', 'healthy snack day' etc she is the queen of counting down.
For our santa trip I just surprised her after school and we went and did it then (had a pre-booked thing).
Thanks all, some great posts.
I agree that I've been too casual but k also agree with the posters that think there's a degree of manipulation. She doesn't tend to take me too literally in other areas so I'm not inclined to think its SN. DD only ever remembers these greviances when it's down time and when the party is over, so to speak. She's an only chld and I'm afraid to say I think there's a degree of over indulgence. I feel guilty a lot about making sure she's happy and stimulated and I think she plays on this without knowing that's what she's doing. For example, she could be at the cinema and before the film starts she's asking what fun thing we are doing next. I can feel my blood rise when she does that - the frustration of it really makes me sad, but I accept that I have contributed to it. Take for example the incident that led to this....I told her outside school, all excited that I'd bought her that Xmas jumper she wanted AND had planned a surprise on Saturday. After expressing excitement for all of 10 seconds, she started whining about the jumper.
Me and my partner joke that my dd never knows when she's on to a hold thing, for example, the jumper/Santa scenario. This is true also for things like being aloud to stay up late when we have guests - dd won't stay under the radar so to speak and watch her film/play nicely, she will cause a tom of noise and attention that she ends up being put to bed because she was told off! This is true for asking for another biscuit with one still in her hand, or asking for 5 more minutes tv time and sobbing her eyes out for another 5 straight after.
I genuinely do not make solid promises that I fail to keep but I am definitely going to go with the 'pinky' promises and ensure she knows the difference from now on. I know my child and there are times when I know she absolutely was clear that something was just part of a normal conversation, and whether it was a promise. I've said simple things like 'oh there's a new pizza restaurant open in town, we will go there one day when we save our pennies, and dd cries merry hell that weekend saying I promised! Mostly though, she says I've promised 'time' for stuff that I just haven't, and this is the one that makes me feel so bad because she puts it across like I've just not made it for her. Like I say....she even changes the tone of her voice (goes all baby like, puts on a lisp) and I genuinely feel like its pure manipulation.
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.'
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!"
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
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
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.
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?
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 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
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.
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!
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.
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
I would pre-empt every claim of a promise she might have. Be very clear.
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'
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