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Is anyone else's dd as difficult as mine? So upset, please help :(

(12 Posts)
just1thanks Sun 10-Jul-11 11:48:06

Am new to all this and am here because I need some perspective on my issues with my daughter.

DD is 5.9. She has always been demanding and hard work right from day 1. I would say that the last 4 years have been very hard for me - difficult behaviour, full on demanding attention - just really hard work. I have been lucky enough to have had help with her from parents so have had time to myself - but the time with her is always so full on, the breaks are soon forgotten!

The upshot of this difficult, demanding in my face behaviour is that for these 4 years I have been, very often, almost every day, a shouty mum which I hate myself for. I wish I could have had more patience to deal with her, but very often my frustrations and anger have boiled over and I have shouted....a lot sad

So here I am now with a dd who, quite frankly, has no respect for me at all. I would say that 90% of what I ask her to do is met with either anger, contempt or cheek. She ignores me, spits in my face, mimics me in a really cheeky way or will shout in my face that she will do what I ask her either in a minute or not at all. She speaks to me like dirt and demands I do this, that and the other NOW. It's really wearing me down - I am in a viscious circle -the more she is rude, the more I shout, the more she is rude. I have noticed that for the last few months I feel more upset and I have cried in front of her, which I hate doing as I look so weak. I have also exploded really badly and feel like I've really lost it a few times. I hate this way of living. I get no pleasure from dd and look forward to her not being around as that's the only way I can get any peace. It cuts me to the pit of my heart that it has come to this - I feel like we are mortal enemies rather than mum and daughter.

She can be so lovely and is very loving - I have spoken to her so often about her behaviour and how it upsets me, she does say sorry - but goes and does it all over again the next day. Sometimes she writes me notes to say sorry - the last one said "I love you mum, I bet you don't love me anymore" - I am so worried that with all the shouting she's beginning to doubt my love for her - I tell her all the time that even when I shout, I still love her and we have lots of cuddles and I praise her when she is good - but our relationship is still tempestuous.

I've tried sticker charts, taking dollies off her and sending them to charity but nothing seems to work. She is excellent at school and is always coming home with good behaviour awards so she knows how to behave. She can be a monkey for dh, but nowhere near how awful she is for me - I get the worse behaviour full barrels that no-one else gets. We have just come back from a family holiday - she adores my sis-in-law who has no kids of her own. It broke my heart to see her running after her like a love-sick puppy - it was Aunty X this and Aunty X that - she was so good for her, I know she'd never speak to her like she speaks to me - I felt really pushed out and unwanted.

Thanks if you got this far! Feel better for just ranting!

ragged Sun 10-Jul-11 13:00:57

It sounds like you've both fallen into bad habits, she gets high intensity contact from you by winding you up & doesn't have a habit of interacting with you in other ways.

I wonder if It might help if you planned solo one-to-one activities which you can be (reasonably) sure will be fun for both of you. Clearly explaining the boundaries & limits before it starts -- like you could say let's go to a movie on X possible days (and it has to be those possible days) and she can choose an age-appropriate movie & you will buy her X snacks (but ONLY X snacks, no matter what else there is for sale) and you will only do X type other things on this outing, and you have to be home by X. Not to say it should all be rigidly planned, but be clear in your mind and with her what kinds of boundaries are fixed and which are flexible.

In other words you need to create new types of experiences & habits, things you do together fully interacting but for fun.

Sorry to warn you, but some people will blast you & say you should come down hard on her (more discipline). Maybe that is what she needs <<Shrug>>, but having a very demanding high-impulse similar age DS myself I can only sympathise and I know with him that zero-tolerance approaches aren't very effective.

Gotta run, my high demand 7yo is battling with stair rails & door frames again (sigh).

You poor thing. Just reading your post got to me so I have no idea how bad it must be for you. My dd is 3 next week so I'm not where you are yet so feel free to ignore me.

I nannied for many years before having my dcs and came across children with behaviour like your dd's - wonderful, lovely child for everyone else but very very hard work for the mums. My best advice according to what worked for them is a total 180 on your previous reaction. It's bloody hard but could you try completely ignoring her demands. If she's shouting at you to do something for her, make yourself a cup of tea, sit down, read a book, watch tv, etc. Just totally act as if she's not said a word. If she gets in your face calmly move her aside and carry on with what you were doing. It's hard, it's massively difficult not to snap and shout especially if there is violence involved, but just do everything you can to not react.

On the flipside of this, if she asks you for something nicely, do it straight away with plenty of praise - "thank you for asking so nicely", "what a lovely 'please', well done", etc. And as ragged said, make time to do an activity with her that you know she will like and praise praise praise when the activity is done nicely. If she can't do the activity nicely then calmly pack up and leave/finish with a simple, concise explanation as to why is ended.

Right, I'm off to try and practice what I preach with dd. She's soooo much more demanding that ds ever was and I find myself being very shouty. It's heartbreaking when I get to the end of the day and I can't remember a part of it where I didn't shout/snap/get cross.

I really hope this helps or a mum with actual patience comes along to give better advice. Good luck.x

Also, I completely agree with ragged, coming down hard works with some children but with many it just eggs them on and no one gets any pleasure from it. A complete change of tactic is the best bet imo.

confusedperson Sun 10-Jul-11 13:47:05

Hi, I know what you talking about. I have 3.4yo DS like this. I am no expert whatsoever, but you are indeed stuck in a bad habit cycle, both of you. I clearly noticed that the more I reacted (in a shouty-disciplinary-punishing-zero tollerance manner), the worse he behaved. It didn't help that we don't have much break from each other, because DH is almost non existent as a parent. My advice is - try to break the cycle. Once in a while, when I feel very tired, I do so called "lazy", when I allow my DS to watch lots of TV, eat fancy food, lots of cuddles in bed (because I want my lie-in), and ignore misbehaviour where he doesn't do serious harm. Somehow it breaks the cycle very well, because there is no anger/frustration on that day. Then he improves with his behaviour, I recover some patience, and we get going like this.
I would also suggest try to ignore as much as possible. A child is an actor, and he loves audience, whether in positive or negative way. Try to make jokes out of it where possible. Just don't give in. I know it's very hard. Another 10-15 years and they will be gone from us...

confusedperson Sun 10-Jul-11 13:50:41

We have had few very bad days lately with my DS, partially of it cause by the fact that I am in a very bad relationship with my DH, and I have lots of anger for him, which unfortunately gets out in wrong times towards DS. So today, after the church, we bought some pizza, and DS is now eating his pizza and watching Cebebies, and later we will go for afternoon nap together. I also dropped our plans to go to a park today, because it always get more intense when we have to organise ourselves out and about. Our garden will do for today. I am sure tomorrow he will wake up in a better mood, so will I.

just1thanks Sun 10-Jul-11 15:30:47

Thank you ladies - what great, supportive posts with lots of good advice.
Ragged - yes, some well thought out one to one time would benefit, I'm sure....trouble is, I don't really want to do it as I'm frightened of where it might lead. That sounds really selfish, but the way I feel at the moment is the less contact, the better sad...... unless I can be sure that we won't clash and it go titsup, I'm wary......but that could be some of the problem - I don't give her enough quality one to one time. I shall give this lots of thought. Thanks
I feel that by shouting I am tough with her - tho I know deep down that it isn't working and I need to discipline more effectively by other means. PhsycoDuck - thanks, some great tips.....especially the ignore and walk away. I find this nigh on IMPOSSIBLE to do as I feel by ignoring, I'm condoning it by not taking any action. Perhaps I should do this for the lesser misdemeanors and stick to the taking away dollies (which really hurts her) for the more serious stuff....trouble is , I know I'm not consistant, don't always carry out threats or backtract on them to compensate for how shit the shouting makes me feel....God, it's so hard, isn't it!
Confused- yes, that's the key - break the cycle. As you've all said, we are stuck in an awful cycle which needs to be broken. It feels almost like when dd sees me a mental switch switches in her mind and she is in vile dd mode - when she sees others, it gets switched off!
Thanks for your help.

NellyTheElephant Sun 10-Jul-11 16:27:54

I really do know how you feel. I was spiralling out of control with my DD1 (now 6.5) some time back. DH and I were constantly shouting at her, disciplining her, taking things away etc and her behaviour was awful and rude and tantrums off the scale. I realised that I had got to the stage where I almost didn't like her (and no doubt she knew it). We were all utterly miserable. DH and I had some serious talks about it all and we decided we had to completely deconstruct our behaviour patterns. It was like my anger fuse was constantly simmering away at around 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 and so the slightest bit of bad behaviour on her part would set me off. There was no slow build up from 1 (if you see what I mean). I took a huge step back and DH and I agreed basically not to tell her off at all over a period of about 6 weeks (we had to explain this to some friends in certain situations which was embarrassing). If she was being dangerous or her behaviour was particularly bad I might take her to her room or leave (often involving much kicking and shouting on her part, but would try to do so calmly and without anger or shouting from me as far as was possible). I also made a point of constantly giving her hugs and telling her I loved her (e.g. she kicks off horribly, instead of flipping I'd give her a hug and say 'Oh come on sweetheart don't be like that I love you give me a kiss') and just giving her a hug for no reason when I thought of it. In addition I tried to make sure that every 10 days or so after school I would set it up so that we could go out to tea or to the park together just the two of us (not easy with 2 younger children), even if it was just for 45 mins. This was all unbelievably ridiculously hard for me (she doesn't get her fiery temper from nowhere you know!). I kept a note book and jotted down when I thought I had reacted well and kept my cool and when I hadn't what I felt I ought to have done (walk away, ignore etc), this helped me keep on track and see how I was doing with my own behaviour.

The upshot of all this was utterly astounding and amazing. Her behaviour really did improve dramatically within 4 weeks or so. The hugs became second nature to both of us and snapping her out of bad behaviour with a tickle and a kiss started to become so much easier. We worked out a system where if she becomes angry and frustrated she will take herself off to her room and read or draw or just fiddle around until she feels better again (we often get a slammed door, but she emerges happy again). My love and pride in her now is off the scale and I find it hard to believe how I used to feel about her. Don't get me wrong - she is a very high maintenance ball of enegry child, she is not easy, she gets very cross about stuff, but she is amazing, I see all the good in her now in a way that I didn't used to.

Interestingly her behaviour with her siblings has also improved off the scale. She and DD2 do still fight obviously, but they also have times of playing, togetherness and general love and respect for each other and enjoyment of each other's company that didn't exist before (no doubt because DD1 was crippled with jealousy of my obvious love of DD2 and so tortured DD2 at every opportunity) and DD1's treatment of her 2 yr old brother is the envy of everyone who sees it - she adores him and goes out of her way to love and protect and play with him.

OK, I've gone on too long. Basic advise is STOP. Let her alone for a while, and do the 'fake it 'till you make it' on the love and cuddles front - it REALLY worked for us.

just1thanks Sun 10-Jul-11 18:02:59

Nelly - your post may have just saved my life. Thank you. What you say makes complete sense. I have to take it right back and start again - I think I knew that deep down, but didn't know how. I can so identify with you when you say you were constantly simmering at no 8, whooshing up to full on 10 in a nano second - that's so me! I am going to do my utmost for my little girl's sake (and my sanity's sake) to follow your lead. I wish my dh was as supportive as yours sounds - -don't get me wrong, he is gr8 and we are strong - he's just more laid back than me and can't understand why I let the situation get to me. We have different parenting styles and he thinks there's nothing wrong with a firm smack - I'd rather not do that if I can help it (although I've been doing a lot of that lately sad ). I'll do it with or without his help...I have to . Thanks.

Pancakeflipper Sun 10-Jul-11 18:22:12

Hi OP, I have a 6 yr old and he's a great kid the majority of the time. But he has a fierce temper. There's been some huge flare ups recently. He doesn't know how to deal with his temper and I have been floundering as if I impose discipline - well the roof lifts off. The pair of us have been reallu struggling as I have been reacting, my own temper have been high up the scale in anticipation of his behaviour

Nelly's post is bang on.

I have had to change my behaviour. He's not getting away with it. I am not being soft but this clashing was counter-productive.

I went back to basics. All kids misbehave at times. That's what they do. I stopped picking at everything. I have gone back to picking what battles are important. Not just rolling my eyes to myself thinking " oh bloody hell, here we go again..rah.." I upped the praise, upped the number of hugs, make sure I have time reserved for him and him only.

We have what we call 'big chat nights'. He goes to bed on a Friday night and I hop into bed with him and we lay there with the lights off talking for about 30 mins. I usually start the conversation along the lines off how proud I was when he did this..... but we cover a lot of ground and I find out alot about school, his friends and his thoughts.

We had a chat a few days after the last big flare up, we were both calm and I had got a book from the library about tempers. We read it together and talked about our own tempers and what we can do when furious to ensure we don't go OTT. He was surprisingly open about his frustrations and how he could improve things too. He says at school when he's furious he goes off to hide on the climbing gym thingy and he says at home he will go in the garden or to his room. So far no huge problems since. But it's only been weeks.

You can rescue this. Don't think you can't. It seems mammoth but it's actually very simple. But you need to think it out, you need to stick to it. You need a calm, consistant action plan and your daughter is old enough for you both to go out somewhere neutral and you sit and chat about how things are going to change and improve for the both of you.

And you are going to feel so much happier...

ragged Mon 11-Jul-11 10:24:04

Wow, I love what Nelly wrote. I must try to take that on board.

Gymbob Mon 11-Jul-11 22:24:37

I too love what Nelly wrote - my DD is 12 - and I don't want to hijack this thread, but Nelly, I would like to pick your brains. Can we talk smile

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