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Help with my partners 5 year old daughter

(8 Posts)
Caroline653 Fri 22-Feb-13 16:12:06

HELP! Im afraid I may be about to lose my 3 year relationship with my partner.

His daughter, 5, is becomming increasingly difficult. I think her behaviour is fairly normal for a 5 year old - screaming and tantrums about brushing teeth and going to bed, up every hour in the night trying to get in bed with us. Normal?? I just dont know. However, its her development that also bothers me - she cant count to 15, cant write any words, cant do the alphabet. School have noticed this so the Mum has got her glasses as apparentluy she maybe struggling as she cant see?! - she can see fine at her Dads!

My questions is - her Dad has what I would assume is guilty father syndrome - he shouts at her but nevers follows through with punishment )i.e. is she is naughty at night he still reads her a story, leaves light on etc.) , he wont acknowledge any problems with learning, just laughs when I try do learning with her and she just wont do it - or cant. She is with us every other weekend and 1 night in the week every week - no learning is ever undertaken. What do I do? Do I say something? I know it wont go down well as he treats her so preciously.

KirstyoffEastenders Fri 22-Feb-13 16:18:46

I'm surprised he doesn't want to do that stuff with her, not surprised about the lack of discipline though. Like you say, he probably feels guilty and doesn't want the small amount of time he has with her to be in any way stressful.

What sort of 'learning' do try to do with her, just out of interest?

(my partner has a 4 y/o daughter and we will be doing the alternate weekends thing soon - hopefully)

ZuleikaD Fri 22-Feb-13 17:44:14

To be honest that doesn't sound all that normal for 5.

On the behaviour front she may be acting out her stress at the to-ing-and-fro-ing to some degree (how long have her parents been split up? Would she remember it?). But it may also be a product of the bad/inconsistent discipline she's getting.

Her development doesn't sound up to speed either. Things like not being able to count higher than 10ish and not knowing her alphabet aren't linked to eyesight because they're learned by rote - she won't be sitting in front of a blackboard or anything at this age. Writing isn't so much of a big deal as lots of 5 year olds can't write words - fine motor skills are very hard.

The two issues may be linked, of course - if she has SEN then the behaviour may well be bound up with it. I think you need to have a serious talk with your partner. You may also want to think about whether you are in this for the long haul. I have been in a relationship where my partner spoiled his children from a previous relationship rotten and it was one of the many factors that eventually led to the relationship breaking down. Your partner's daughter is only 5 - there are a lot of years to go. Sorry to be a voice of doubt. sad

knackeredmother Fri 22-Feb-13 17:53:15

My 5 year old does not know her full alphabet yet and can't consistently count to 20, often up in the night too. This is perfectly normal, not SEN at all! I think turning the light off as punishment is harsh and you complain about no learning taking place but you think withholding a bedtime story is a suitable form of discipline ? I think you sound harsh towards the poor child and at the risk of a flaming perhaps a bit jealous? I speak from experience having seen first hand friends feeling this way towards their partners children.

duchesse Fri 22-Feb-13 18:05:32

Grief! Do you have your own birth children?

FWIW Her behaviour sounds completely age-appropriate, particularly with what I imagine must have been an upheaval for her. And you can't let a child go to bed without a bedtime story, for pity's sake! ESPECIALLY if she's only with you 2 nights a week. Please let your DP parent his child. At the risk of offending you, your expectations of her sound very like someone who doesn't have much experience of children.

What sounds slightly less age-appropriate is her academic development, but I do wonder if she is clamming up rather than not able to count/ know her alphabet etc..

duchesse Fri 22-Feb-13 18:12:08

Ok, I've thought again and slightly changed my mind.

What I would like to say is that you sound lovely to be trying to advance her learning, but you must have her love and trust for this to work really well. You will struggle to help her if you don't have a good, loving relationship with her. Being a stepmother is very hard- you can't supplant her own mother, yet you have more responsibility than an aunt. If she is kicking off way more than is really reasonable for a child of her age (and really quite a lot of them kick off a lot at this age), then maybe she is trying to express a lot of frustration about feeling as though she is not keeping up. TBH if the birth parents aren't that fussed, you're going to find it difficult to oppose them. I would be tempted to play lots of games with her without stressing about letters and numbers, but introducing them in fun and subtle ways. This will include reading to her! And cooking- cooking together is fab for numerical skills and is a really loving thing to do with a little child. Counting the steps when you are out and about in town. Number spotting on buildings, gates etc. Ditto letter spotting.

You do sound lovely and concerned but you are between a rock and a hard place. I still think your expectations of age-appropriate behaviour might be a little high.

Piemother Fri 22-Feb-13 18:41:23

I think this child sounds a bit stressed. The strops and night waking sound like she is quite unsettled. If it were me I would want to address this first. How long has the contact been in this schedule?
Separated parent guilt is hard to get over but children need consistency and v clear boundaries. I threaten my 3 year old with no story if she won't let me out her pyjamas on nicely. Sometimes I go as far as just waking out of her bedroom and turning the light off but I have only had to really deny her a story once or twice. However I know I can make to for it the next evening whereas your dp can't. Maybe the story therefore isn't quite the right penalty but you're damn right that you need to follow through on threats for them to work.

Re the it difficult to engage her at all?

Goldmandra Fri 22-Feb-13 22:51:46

Your partner needs to find a balance between supporting his DD and giving her firm boundaries. Leaving her in the dark without a story at night isn't a good way to help her feel secure or sleep better.

It must be hard when he doesn't follow through when he has told her about a consequence. Perhaps you could talk to him about this one thing. Remind him that if he says things he can't do she will simply not believe anything he says. He needs to think about consequences, warn her of what they will be, give her a chance to behave more appropriately and then impose the consequence if she doesn't.

I wouldn't try to teach her any school work at the moment. Children only learn when they are interested and enjoying the activity. I think you should concentrate on having fun together and building a relationship with her for now.

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