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6yo dd persists in doing things she has been told off for. I'm getting this wrong.

(28 Posts)
skyatnight Wed 08-Jun-11 09:49:54

This may sound a bit stupid. Dd seems to have little projects. Her latest one is to do with injuries and bandages and plastercasts. A girl she knows hurt her foot and had a bandage and another friend broke his arm. Dd is very interested in this. She has been asking for bandages, has taken packets of plasters and wasted them all (stuck them to a stick in the garden?) She is fashioning casts by cutting the toes off socks and the arms off T-shirts - ruining good clothes. She seems to have no regard for my feelings. She doesn't seem to care that I have paid good money (I don't have much) for these clothes. I am really cross about it.

I can't watch her every minute and, in any case, I like her to be able to spend some time on her own. I have tried reasoning with her. I have tried shouting. I have tried punishments and withdrawing things she likes. In a way I admire her persistence and imagination but I am worried that she doesn't care that I have told her off and is just carrying on with it. In one ear and out the other. Another thing she does is cut her own hair - aaargh! Maybe this isn't very serious but is it normal for a 6yo to be persistently naughty like this? Any advice, similar stories?

belindarose Wed 08-Jun-11 10:18:48

Is there anything you can give her that it's okay to play with like this? Parcel tape, cheap plasters, flour and water paste maybe? I suppose she's a bit young to understand about the expense involved for you, but it sounds like a fun 'project'. She's obviously very determined! Sorry, but had to laugh at the plastered stick.

piprabbit Wed 08-Jun-11 10:31:23

She doesn't sound especially naughty to me - just very engaged in working through an idea upto (and beyond?) it's logical conclusion.

Can you find ways of encouraging her play (perhaps even joining in and letting her 'treat' you too) while making it clear what is absolutely not acceptable (e.g. cutting clothes). Do you have any old material (sheet/pillowcase etc.) you could give to her to play with instead.

piprabbit Wed 08-Jun-11 10:33:40

BTW - if she cuts her own hair then maybe tidy up the worst and then shrug and let her deal with the consequences. Having a schoolfriend laugh at her funny haircut will be 100x more effective than a lecture from mum.

AgonyBeetle Wed 08-Jun-11 10:39:17

Ah yes, I have one like this, though mine is a bit older (7.5). There's a sensory-seeking element to it, I find - we've had dolls clothes cut up, hair cut off, holes cut in bedding etc etc. It's not deliberate naughtiness or attention-seeking, cos she generally tries to keep it hidden, it's more a kind of compulsive testing out and re-enacting of whatever the current idea is. As well as cutting we've had writing/drawing on walls, smearing stuff on walls/furniture/surfaces, pickign things apart, standing on objects that are clearly not strong or stable enough to take her weight etc etc. We've also had multiple trips to A&E (fracture clinic/wound glue, beads up nose/vagina/ear) resulting from her overwhelming urge to find out 'what will happen if I do this?'

It's a combination of sensory seeking, poor verbal memory (she is notably not good at retaining things that have been said to her, despite a fiendishly good memory for things she's seen or read), poor sense of cause and effect and high impulsivity. She is bright and can concentrate, so it's not a learning disability or ADHD, though it probably is immaturity. Telling her off doesn't work, and can even be counter-productive cos she quite likes the drama of being shouted at.

What has helped? Not much, tbh. Getting her to acknowledge that she has sensory urges helps a bit, as does deliberately giving her outlets for it -- give her old catalogues to cut up, worn-out socks, whatever. I bought a large tub of theraputty which she knows she can ask for when she comes back from school, and I have tried to increase the opportunities for her to do other types of messy play, much as you would for a younger child -- cheap shaving foam, jelly, wet spaghetti, making potions etc etc. If you can get her to acknowledge to herself that she has these impulses, then that's one step closer to getting her to channel them in an appropriate direction. Very calm explanations can also help, esp if you break down the thought processes into very small steps: "what can you do if you want to cut things? Is it a good idea to cut clothes? Why not? What will happen if you cut your T-shirt up? Do you like it when I get angry with you? What could you do instead? What can you do to help yourself remember that? What will you do next time you want to cut something? That's right, you'll remember that I have a bag of things you're allowed to cut, so you'll come and ask me for it, and that way you know you won't get into trouble for it".

Sympathies, though, it is very wearing, especially when you're dealing with a child who ought to be far too old for that kind of randomness. It will get better, but it may take a while. In the meantime keep all the scissors locked up.

AgonyBeetle Wed 08-Jun-11 10:41:46

And the plastered stick is exactly the kind of thing my dd would do as well. Last week I found a shrivelled balloon that had been covered in little strips of cut up paper stuck on with sellotape and then dressed up in old dolls clothes and hidden down her bed [wtf?]. Her bedroom is full of little weirdnesses like that - her older siblings just go confused.

skyatnight Wed 08-Jun-11 10:46:29

Thanks belindarose. She is very determined! Her little projects would be funny if it wasn't also annoying. I just spoke to a friend about it. She suggested dd is attention-seeking. dd has definitely got a thing about plasters and injuries at the moment but maybe she is trying to get more attention from me and will settle for my getting angry with her as better than nothing. I thought I was giving her enough attention but maybe not. I will try, as you say, to give her some materials for making bandages and casts and do it with her. I'm going to lock away all the scissors though. It will take three months for her latest mangled hair effort to grow out!

skyatnight Wed 08-Jun-11 10:51:45

Thanks pigrabbit. I wouldn't mind about the hair so much but she is to be a bridesmaid soon. And it's just that she does the same bad thing over and over - makes me feel like she's doing it to wind me up. Hence maybe she is attention-seeking?

skyatnight Wed 08-Jun-11 11:03:23

That's interesting AgonyBeetle. Thanks. I WILL keep all the scissors locked-up because they are often her favourite accessory in her little 'weirdnesses' (good word!) I think dd is quite sensory-oriented and is also a bit accident-prone, although not too bad. She once tried running with her eyes closed for the sensual rush of it and fell over a little wall and almost ended up in the stream on the other side (I ran and plucked her out). I suppose lots of kids do this kind of thing. Dd is impulsive and does follow things through to the nth degree. She is also very suggestible and eaily-led, eager to please her friends.
Commiserations and empathy re. your dd. It is very wearing. My dd, and I imagine yours too, is a delightful little girl in most other ways. I love her funny ways. But sometimes I just don't 'get' her and she upsets me - like she doesn't care about the consequences and what I will think.
I don't know but I do also think there is some attention-seeking in it as well.

skyatnight Wed 08-Jun-11 11:14:47

The sneakiness and disobedience upsets me as well as the actual destruction. But some of it can be quite funny too and sometimes I feel admiration?!? hmm confused
Maybe your dd, AgonyBeetle, will be something special when she grows up? Maybe there will be some pay-back for the creative craziness later on. smile

bunjies Wed 08-Jun-11 11:30:11

I have every sympathy with you OP as I have a similar dd who is also 6. However, her behaviour verges on the dangerous as she repeatedly ignores our instructions not to go on the road. In fact she very nearly had a serious accident last week when she went scootering across the road and in front of a car shock. The car had to brake very hard and missed her by a few cms. She was not allowed to leave the garden but did anyway. She has been banned from going outside before as she keeps doing this but she can't seem to help herself.

She also continually winds up her sister, plays with things she shouldn't knowing there will be consequences (time out, withdrawal of privileges etc).

The sensory thing is interesting. I will look this up and see if I can relate it to my dd.

Glad it's not just my dd though grin although not much comfort to you OP.

bunjies Wed 08-Jun-11 11:31:23

We love her to bits though and she has what everyone calls a 'great character' but, yes, it is extremely wearing.

vmcd28 Wed 08-Jun-11 11:49:43

bunjies and skyatnight, my ds1 isnt quite like this, but he too is a "character" who is confident, excitable and makes everyone smile and laugh. I just find it all hard work.

Hullygully Wed 08-Jun-11 11:55:12

I think the important thing to remember is that it isn't "naughtiness." She isn't doing it to annoy you, or to be defiant or "push boundaries" or get attention, she just wants very strongly to carry out her ideas. My dd went through the bandage obsession and regulalry went out horribly bandaged telling eveyone of appalling injuries she had.

Agree with keep scissors etc locked up, and do you keep old boxes etc that she can use? And get piles of clothes from jumble sales that she can cut up. Lock away what she musn't use and try and provide alternatives - she'll probably turn out to be a mad genius.

skyatnight Wed 08-Jun-11 11:55:56

That's scary about the near-accident bunjies! shock Perhaps your dd loves speed - that would be a sensory thing? Or the freedom and excitement of being out in the world?
I have had to ban my dd from going outside on occasion for similar (but not as dangerous) reasons. She gets up to a lot of her mischief in our enclosed back garden so I sometimes have to keep her within my sight. Banning her from the garden is a reasonably effective punishment as she loves being outside, climbing walls/trees and making a mess, playing with water and soil. She feels hard done by though because we haven't got a swing or trampoline in the garden as all her friends seem to have. It's only a small garden.

bunjies Wed 08-Jun-11 12:03:02

I know skyatnight. I wasn't there but dh was and he said there would have been nothing he could have done to stop it as he shouted at her to stop but she ignored him. Everytime he thinks of what might have happened he ends up shouting at dd again sad. I know she can't have done it on purpose but she really was that close to being either seriously injured or worse. I can't even bring myself to think about it as it makes me feel sick when I do.

She's got so much bloody energy as well. She's always the first to wake up and is on the go all day. She gets bored watching tv and prefers to be doing something active. Takes her a while to settle down at bedtime too, hence another of my threads about what to do when her and dd1 have to share a room soon.

She's our 3rd dc and we naively thought she would be the 'easiest'. Hah, how wrong we were grin.

skyatnight Wed 08-Jun-11 12:04:59

It is hard work vmcd28. <sympathy emoticon>

I appreciate what you say Hullygully but surely there is an element of deliberate naughtiness if it is a repeat of a former incident that resulted in a major telling off and she does it again. And she doesn't care that it is dangerous or destructive or upset me? I agree though that the only positive way to deal with it is to work with it and your suggestion of clothes from jumble sales is a good one. Maybe the obsession with bandages is a developmental 'phase'. Dd went to a museum with a relative during half term and I was told that she was particularly interested in an Egyptian Mummy!! grin

skyatnight Wed 08-Jun-11 12:19:39

Yep, bunjies, shouting doesn't work but I suppose we do it sometimes in desperation to get through to them about how dangerous it is. It just doesn't achieve anything though.
Dd is also an early riser and I can't get her to go to bed. She is also scatty, a dolly daydream, a dawdler. I have to stand over her and bark orders to get her ready in time for school, etc.. I can't help thinking that she should be more responsible at 6 than she was at 3 or 4 years. She is eager to do her homework though (wonder how long that will last?)
So this behaviour is 'normal', just a bit stressful for parents...

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Wed 08-Jun-11 13:23:57

agree with hullygully.

Kids repeat things over again. It,s how they learn and gain a sense of control.

Your dd has an interest and a developmental urge to explore it.

You are expecting her to not follow this urge, a thing she is feeling now, because you will be upset, a possible future event requiring empathy to understand it. Imo this is asking a lot.

I can understand why you admire some of what she's doing. She is demostrating creativity, ingenuity,thoroughness, motivation. Lots of qualities that will be highly prized in an adult,unless you manage to "discipline" them out of her first. smile

You say shouting etc doesn't work so don't do it (or keep it only for emergencies like bunjies describes. If it happens infrequently maybe it will be enough of a shock to stop her in her tracks).

You are already putting the scissors away and going to provide opportunities to explore her interests and i think that's great. Maybe read "unconditional parenting" to help understand why shouting etc doesn't work and help untangle behaviour you dislike from "naughtyness". See the unconditional parenting support thread (may have dropped off the parenting board now) for rl ways of dealing with annoying situations in different ways.

Good luck. smile

AgonyBeetle Wed 08-Jun-11 13:26:38

"surely there is an element of deliberate naughtiness if it is a repeat of a former incident that resulted in a major telling off and she does it again. And she doesn't care that it is dangerous or destructive or upset me?"

I'm not sure that's necessarily always true, tbh - I think it's just that the internal impulse to do whatever is stronger than the external reasons for not doing it (prospect of getting told off, upsetting parents, toys/clothes getting broken). So although they may intellectually know that cutting up clothes is wrong, and that people will be angry with them, that knowledge is completely overshadowed by their overwhelming need to do it. I"m not saying that makes it all right, but I don't think it's naughtiness in the "Mummy said I shouldn't, but I don't care and I'm going to do it anyway, so there", kind of way.

I'm a big fan of Theraputty (get the big tub, not the pissy little one, and the softest grade is fine). It's quite sensorily tempting in its own right, so you can channel them to come and ask for the putty when they feel the urge to fiddle with stuff. It can also be made into quite successful bandages (but ideally should be kept out of hair).
[eye roll]
[ask me how I know]

AgonyBeetle Wed 08-Jun-11 13:29:17

And I agree with others that shouting best kept to a minimum. By all means let her know you're cross, but do it calmly, making sure she's looking right in your face. For some kids (sensory-seeking esp) shouting can be quite reinforcing, cos they are the centre of attention and drama. That's not a dynamic you want to feed.

montmartre Wed 08-Jun-11 13:37:07

I would agree with removing all scissors! My 5yo is only allowed controlled access to them.

Trying to provide other materials for her bandage obsession is good though. She sounds v like my DD grin

skyatnight Wed 08-Jun-11 13:40:38

I know. I have to keep a check on myself. Things have got more challenging with her recently (the bandages habit) and I am reacting to it instead of thinking it through positively. I do worry that I am getting it wrong and potentially warping her / damaging her in the long run.
There is definitely an attention-seeking element in dd's case because her behaviour goes predictably downhill when I am busy or preoccupied. I need to remind myself to actively parent her in a positive way. She is an only child of a single parent so she is very focussed on me when we are at home on our own, although we see friends and go out and do things as much as is possible.
I will look into the putty. I probably don't give her enough access to craft stuff due to my laziness and not wanting to supervise and clear up. It is probably not surprising that her creativity takes a more negative turn if she is bored.
Thanks for your help.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Wed 08-Jun-11 13:47:55

if you know you are going to be busy and distracted can you start by setting her up with a sensory activity before hand, and keep half an eye on her/chat while you get on with what you need to do?

Agree with agonybettle re naughtyness, that's what i was trying to get at in my pp. smile

skyatnight Wed 08-Jun-11 14:27:37

Yes. I think I found it a bit creepy that she was copying people she knows who have injuries - a bit 'Munchhausens'. Like she was envious of the attention these people were receiving for having broken their arm, etc.. so I didn't encourage her, so she took the plasters and did the other things without my permission Perhaps, instead, I should have encouraged her, along the lines of practising to be a nurse, giving her the materials to act it out. I will have another little chat with her calmly and give her more access to craft materials and other sensory play things, when I am otherwise engaged.
I am still a little shocked though that she is deliberately disobeying me. She knows what she has done is wrong. I'm worried that she has lost a bit of respect for me recently - is acting out like a teenager would- and is giving me lip service and then still doing the opposite.
I know she is only 6 and you have given very good advice, it makes sense that she is just acting in the moment without thinking it through...and I am the adult here and the only one who can turn this round to the positive. Anyway it's not that serious or the end of the world so I'll just try to be more positive going forward. Thanks.

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