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8 year old daughter attitude

(13 Posts)
Becksterboo Mon 14-Sep-15 09:25:48

Hi, I'm at my wits end with my 8 year old daughter. She seems to be in a constant bad mood, her mood is particularly bad with me and her little sister (5 years) but with dad she seems to listen more and do what she's told.

A bit of background, we moved house over the summer and the kids changed school. I know my eldest has problems initially leaving the old house and school but really seems to be getting on well now, made friends and said she liked the school. We've spoken and she says she is enjoying it.

Eldest DD has always had a bit of attitude with me (so I know its not all about the move), I just put it down to am there all the time and dad sometimes works away and gets back late so she values this time more. She also has terrible trouble sleeping and often won't or can't sleep till 10pm (on a school night!!) despite trying story CDs for relaxing, reading before bed, warm milky drinks. She then wakes up very tired which isn't helping the mood.

However now it's getting so bad, she is so tired and really isn't listening. It took 8 times to get her to put her shoes on (I was shouting by that point as I was so frustrated). When telling her to please out her hand over her mouth when she coughed she said I know you are just trying to make me more sick (????!!!), I explained that a hand over her mouth would not make her more sick and I would not do anything to make her sick to which she said you make me feel like an orphan, I gave her a hug and said you are not, I love you.

Then we had for goodness sake do something for once in your life mummy (errrr I do everything for the girls!) to which I downed tools and said OK now see exactly what I do (yes childish but it got the point home) and lastly you can't tell me what to do you're not the queen you know!

Dad has had a word with her and her behaviour improves for a short time. DD has said she feels like there is a bad and a good one of her and it seems like the bad one is there all the time at the moment.

I've made it very clear and told her that I love her very much and that it is her behaviour I don't like but things don't really improve.

What makes it worse is that her little sister is incredibly helpful and is a cheerful girl so it feels like we are constantly on big sister's case all the time.

I feel like we need to reset things and start again but I am really unsure where to start. I feel terrible for shouting. We have a rule that we only raise voices if we have had to repeat ourselves 3 times so there is a bit of shouting at the moment!

Would a reward chart work for an 8 year old? What do I put on a chart (keeping it simple) ? Do I do a chart for both? Should we be write down some house rules?

Sorry about the long post, I am so upset and I just don't know what to do. I hate her going to school feeling sad and shouted at sad

Thank you!

sleepymother Mon 14-Sep-15 10:23:03

I expect we'll both get better advice from parents who have already been there and done that with this age. But I just wanted to say: me too! It's so wearing. My elder daughter is 8 too (with a 6 year-old sibling, so quite a similar set up), and I just came on to look for some advice after yet another incredibly trying morning. We get the same - attitude, tiredness, not sleeping enough, despite reasonable bed times and turning off of screens well before bed time, etc etc.
I fear it's the onset of puberty in the case of my daughter, who is tall, and physically well-developed already. So I think we're seeing the onset of all that hormonal behaviour, but just at a younger age than we might be expecting?
I'm not sure about the reward chart. I don't think that would work for my daughter. I think, for myself, I want to try to get to the point where my daughter is behaving well because it's the right thing to do! But that may be a hopeless ideal, and we may well hear hollow laughter from those who have more experience on that one!
But house rules could be good - we have a few house rules, not too many, and those are pretty much 'golden rules'. Not to say that they don't get broken, but we're all very clear that those constitute unacceptable behaviour, no ifs no buts, no arguments. (That is stuff like hitting, shouting in people's faces, etc!)
Courage, my friend. You love her. She loves you. Maybe, if you have time this afternoon, or early evening when her dad is home and can look after the younger one, to go out for a walk together, and you can talk about how these blow-ups in the morning make you both feel. And reassure her about your love and support for her. I found it quite a revelation talking to my daughter about why we sometimes do things that she finds annoying (like not let her do stuff or have stuff she wants). I told her that the bottom line is that everything we do in relation to her is to help and support her, and that all we want is for her to grow up into a happy, healthy, resourceful person. She seemed not to have internalised the idea before that even when parents won't give you what you want, they are still doing, or not doing, those things because they love you and want to help you. Hark at me, handing out advice when I've just got a pounding headache from my own crappy morning! I hope it gets a bit better for you. (And for me!)

Becksterboo Mon 14-Sep-15 10:42:30

Thanks Sleepymother, good to know I'm not alone. Thanks for your great advice.

The chat is a good idea, I will try again tonight when little one gone to bed. It always seems to be calmer when it's just me and her. I think you're spot on about my eldest thinking we are telling her no because we are being mean when it is because we want the best for her and we love her, maybe she hasn't grasped that.

I will most certainly do the house rules but also may try some incentive like if you follow the rules maybe we could have a treat at the weekend (family movie night always seems to go down well). What do you do if the rules are broken?

Isn't it always when they're at school you feel bad? I hated her crying this morning over another pointless argument over putting shoes on. I really think that getting her a better sleep is key, if I can find a way to crack that I think her mood will get better.

And as for puberty, I hope it's not that although she is very tall for her age and could explain the bad mood and good mood comment my eldest made....I am dreading it!

sleepymother Mon 14-Sep-15 10:57:32

Re the sleep, I think there's a lot going on in my daughter's head about changing schools (we have middle schools where we are, so she's going to a new school next year), growing up, etc. I think that this all surfaces when she finally relaxes and lies quiet in bed. I'm going to see if we can have some time talking through anything she wants to talk through before going to sleep, in case that helps by putting the worries aside a bit.

sleepymother Mon 14-Sep-15 11:00:30

Oh, and if the rules are broken - it depends. Usually a fierce admonishment and a reminder that that is unacceptable actually stops the behaviour itself, and we don't necessarily operate a punishment straight off, only if rules are broken repeatedly, after being told once (or twice!), etc. If a punishment needs to be brought into place then we sometimes withhold screen time, or pocket money. But generally, in fact, they're pretty good at just being repentant for having broken the golden rules, and knowing that they shouldn't.

Becksterboo Tue 15-Sep-15 09:34:23

After a long talk last night Eldest DD did open up about what was upsetting her. It's her new school. She hasn't been told where to go for her lessons and is too shy to ask for help and her friend that she made in class is off sick so she has no-one to play with sad

Poor thing approached some other girls to play with but they said they were doing gymnastics so she ended up finding a book to read and sitting alone. I feel so desperately sorry for her.

Her teacher wasn't available this morning but I have written a note to her and I hope we can sort this out so she is happier.

I am trying to give a bit and let her off the bad moods (she broke the backchat rule this morning) as she is going through a rough time but equally I need to make it clear that I expect her to talk about what's on her mind so I can help and I expect better behaviour.

I am so worried about her, I hate the thought of her being alone and not confident enough to ask for doesn't help that my youngest who is very outgoing has a wide circle of friends at the new school and is really happy.

Right I feel like having a cry sad sad

Cedar03 Tue 15-Sep-15 09:55:09

I have a stroppy 8 year old too. So you are not alone.

Remember that she's only just started at this new school and it is hard to make friends when you are the new girl and other friendships are already established. Your daughter is just learning a life lesson which is that it can be hard to know what to do when your friend isn't there (we all feel like that - anyone who has sat in a pub on their own waiting for a friend to turn up will know it too). Hopefully her teacher will look out for her a bit in the playground and make sure that she is included. It will settle down - it is only a couple of weeks into the term. I'm sure she's not the only child who doesn't quite know what she's doing yet, but of course because she's new it's worrying her more than it might do another child. As they get further up the school more is expected of them so whereas no-one would expect a child in reception to know what they were doing it may be that her teacher isn't making quite the same allowances. Which might mean that she is afraid of asking because the teacher might be a bit short with her.

It is a bit different but my daughter was grumbling because their new teacher was complaining about how they cross out a mistake in their work. They were doing it how last year's teacher wanted it done but this year's teacher wants it done in a different way. It sounds small but I can see that a child who isn't sure of herself yet might see those kind of differences as a much bigger thing and might then worry about asking for help when she needs to. I'm sure a chat with the teacher will help.

As for the behaviour in general we try to praise the good. She has to do chores to earn her pocket money which means that she can be quite co-operative. And I constantly say things like 'don't talk to me like that I don't talk to you like it'.

Also sometimes I think that unconsciously you can find yourself playing off their bad mood. My H does this - so a small thing like a bit of stroppyness can become a much bigger problem because he reacts really quickly to it whereas sometimes you do have to ignore a little bit of it.

sleepymother Tue 15-Sep-15 10:27:43

Becksterboo, I'm glad you managed the chat, but I totally feel for you, and how sad it makes us when we realise our children are having a difficult time. Sometimes schools are so stuck in their routines and their ways that they forget that even new children (and new parents!) might not instantly pick it all up.
Does your daughter's school operate a playground buddy system, or a 'friendship stop' or anything? In our school there's a sort of bus-stop thing in the playground where a child who wants someone to play with can stand, and the other children are trained up that they must not leave someone standing there alone. It's often that the children who are playing in big groups are not deliberately excluding others, just that they don't notice someone sitting on their own, or think perhaps they want to sit on their own. At our school this system really works well, and children find it helpful. Maybe you could ask if there's anything like this happening at your school? Also, older children might be trained as 'play buddies', to help out the younger children with feeling lonely, playground disagreements, etc. They are usually really good at this - the teachers choose carefully, and the older ones love feeling helpful and grown up. If your daughter knew that there were some older 'play buddies' who could look out for her, that might help?

I would think that it would be a good idea for parents of a new child entering the school at a different point from others to be asked in for a 'settling in' meeting - have you had that? Maybe you could request a meeting with the class teacher, just to get you up to speed with the way things work at the new school, and that could help you give your daughter more confidence and strategies for dealing with the 'every day' things that can be so hard if they don't know about them.
I hope it gets better quickly. And I'm sure you're right to relax on the hard discipline right now, but continue with the gentle but firm things like 'I am not shouting at you, I don't want you to shout at me'.
Good luck! Keep us posted.

Becksterboo Tue 15-Sep-15 13:37:03

Thank you, had my cry now and it will be time soon to see how things went for DD today. I hope she gave the note to her teacher. I will follow this up with her teacher today if I can see her (don't want to be the embarrassing mum and talk in front of her classmates though!).

I think I hadn't anticipated how much of an effect the change of schools would have on her. She is really shy and it took her 2 years to build up her friendships in the old school, it's early days, she has made one good friend and the rest will come.

I haven't been told of any buddy system in the new school, It's a great idea which I will follow up.

The good thing is DD teacher is great, very approachable and I'm sure she would have helped her today....I'll keep you posted.

Tillytoes14 Tue 15-Sep-15 14:32:55

Our 9 year old son is exactly the same. Things we do, my son has to be ready by a certain time in the mornings, otherwise he won't play football after school with his friends, this works really well, I used to shout and storm outside the door when my fuse was short and start the engine, this never worked, he used to end up crying and being more defiant. We try not to get into arguments, which results in power struggles. Bad attitude and he is sent to his room to reflect, then we talk to him afterwards, if he refuses to go upstairs after we've told him, then he will lose a privilege, things are much calmer in the house now and my son has more respect for us now as a result, children this age definitely need firm boundaries and consistency.

Cedar03 Thu 17-Sep-15 10:34:54

They definitely need the boundaries! My 8 year old has been ill this week. We could tell she was feeling better when she started being rude and defiant again. And rolling her eyes at us. But she is a mixture of being horrid in a way I wasn't hoping to see for a few more years yet and then young behaviour which reminds me that she is only a child.

Becksterboo - hope that you've had a chance to talk to her teacher about things and that you can come up with a plan that will help with that part of things.

With things like putting shoes on when she isn't listening to you, get down to her level and make sure she is facing you. Then you know she is paying attention. I try to do this with getting ready. 'You have 10 minutes, please go and get dressed for school'. It helps that my daughter now has a watch (well sometimes it helps, sometimes the little pedant is busy telling me that actually she only has 8 minutes not 10 minutes smile). Sometimes I race her - see if you can get dressed before I do.

This sometimes works but other times she drifts off into her own little world and then I get a bit ranty. So it's certainly not perfect in our house but expecting her to do something and not reminding her every two seconds does seem to work a bit better.

Becksterboo Thu 17-Sep-15 14:11:25

Thank you everyone....Oh it is hard being a mum to stroppy ones! I have tried for most of this week to see her teacher, she is normally available after school but not this week. I have emailed her and written another note (DD said she didn't give her teacher the earlier note this week as her friend was back and she said things didn't seem as bad).

Apparently to add to the mix there are some other girls in her class who are making things harder, trying to steal DD's biscuits, telling DD that she can't have school dinners if she has signed up to packed lunch. DD said it's OK as I just ignore them but have asked her to let me know if there are any further problems with them.

She has also been under the weather with a cold and her eczema has flared up again so poor thing getting it from everywhere!

I will give it time, It's a new school and I'm not expecting things to happen overnight but I do want some time with teacher plus I'll head along to the next PTA to ask about a buddy system (or something similar).

I will keep you posted.

sleepymother Fri 18-Sep-15 10:21:34

Poor mini-Beckster - that sounds like she is having it rough. I think you're absolutely right to keep trying to see the teacher. It's a shame to hear that there are some other girls making life harder, and even though it's great that your DD has the strength to ignore it, the teachers will want to know, as that sort of thing can spread if not dealt with, and it affects everyone.
Good idea about going along to the PTA to ask about a buddy system. How visible are the governors at your school? It is usually a good idea for schools to make it very clear who the governing body are (maybe on their website? maybe on a noticeboard in school?), and then you should be able to suss out who are the parent governors. You could ask one of them (or a teacher governor, if you can't make contact with a parent governor) to introduce discussion of playground buddying, etc, at the next governors' board meeting, as something you've heard works well elsewhere, etc. They should be keen - well, they are at our school - to be responding to parents' questions and engagement, and writing it all down in their minutes to show to OFSTED!
Good luck.

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