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7 year old is breaking me!!

(11 Posts)
Dougaltmr Mon 29-Jan-18 11:09:30

Hi everyone,
I am after some advice, I really hope I am not alone, but my 7 year old daughter has me at breaking point and I don't know what to do.
My daughter has a happy life, lovely house, huge bedroom, pets - including a much wanted (begged for!) snake who lives in her bedroom!
This may come across as spoilt, maybe! But I don't let her have everything/her own way whenever she wants.
She has a 3 year old brother, they do argue but I would say they have a good relationship in general!
But her attitude is horrific, mostly towards me, I would say we are well into a year of this - this doesn't appear to be a "passing phase"
I have tried to change my behavior to help avoid these episodes, I talk calmly in one tone, I explain the situation and try and defuse the situation, nothing works!
When she wakes in the morning I am very cheery (I try and keep her in a happy mood, very rarely works but I try!)
I usually say "Morning babe you ok? Make sure you have your breakfast and get dressed before TV this morning ok? Or you will be late for school and we dont want that" She is always huffing, puffing, shouting at me to do things for her, not getting dressed or eat her food quick enough so we are always late... I eventually lose my s**t!
I could have talked cool as a cucumber for an hour before I can't take it anymore.
This is a daily battle, every. single. day.
She is good at school, good for grandparents, generally a kind child, but to me she is horrendous.
I feel like a failure because I don't enjoy her company.
Yes sometimes we have good moments, but her attitude hangs over the day like a dark cloud, and very rarely do we have a day without it.
I get "im tired" or "you brought me up like this" thrown at me when I ask why she is so unkind to me.
Anyway I have typed enough, basically her attitude is making me miserable and I end up snapping at some point where I lose my cool and she cries and says im the worst mum ever etc
Not sure where I go from here... I have tried taking things off her, rewards charts etc but nothing works for long.
Any advice to help break this awful cycle will be much appreciated!
Stressed out mum!

Andro Mon 29-Jan-18 11:27:00

I'm going to assume that there are no additional needs/processing difficulties affecting her:

First I'd re-order the morning - she gets dressed before coming downstairs, if she messes then she gets a piece of toast/breakfast bar to east on the way to school (otherwise she has breakfast as normal, with a timer to show her the end of breakfast time).

Shouting/snapping results in a loss of privileges.

You brought me up like this - "Yes sweetie and like anyone I clearly made some mistakes, now I'm correcting them".

I'm tired - "I'm so proud of you for acknowledging that, we'll make bedtime 15/30/however much earlier so you get more rest"

I also verbalised what my dc were showing me - so I would say 'you are clearly unhappy/frustrated/angry, can you tell me why?'

My DD had a 'stroppy madam' phase (that didn't feel like a phase!) but relentless calm and implacable boundaries eventually brought success.

It's not easy, and my dd seems to be moving into 'stroppy madam the preteen edition' sad

Dougaltmr Mon 29-Jan-18 11:50:38

Thank you for your reply Andro!
No she has no additional needs.
She wont get dressed upstairs, we live in a dormer bungalow and her and her brother get dressed in my bedroom every morning which is downstairs, I am not sure how to break this habit especially when I help her brother get dressed so for me it's easier to do it in my room, I lay out their uniforms the night before.

Yes, good idea about the breakfast in the car, I may suggest toast en route as the alternative if she is late. She hasn't grasped telling the time yet (she is a very creative thinker, not mathematical, so is usually slower with that type of task) however I think that would help if she could see how much time she wastes!

If I ask her why she is angry etc I usually get the tired excuse, to which I always reply " Well how about you go to bed earlier?"
Her bedtime is between 7-7.30 school nights, and quite often she is still awake at 8:30, so she isn't great at falling asleep earlier even if we put her to bed earlier.

I allow her to sleep in until 8am - no later, if she is tired, but usually results in being late, however if we wake her at say 7:30am we have a hour or more of "Kevin the teenager" attitude.

I explain a lie in until 8am is fine providing she gets dressed, eats, does her teeth before TV, iPad or playing with the kitten.
Often I get a lot of attitude thrown at me regardless of the time she sleeps/wakes.

Often I have a word in the evening with her about how upset I am, how she makes me feel etc and she says sorry, she wont do it again and that she loves me... only for the next day to be exactly the damn same.

She is sensitive and not an overly motivated child, not sure why, must be her personality, so I find it hard to find suitable punishment for her.

It doesn't end in the morning, it carries on throughout most of the time I am with her, simple requests such as holding my hand are never "can I hold your hand mummy?" it's usually shoving her brother out the way, grabbing my hand and saying "HOLD MY HAND!"
And then I don't want to! Because who would?
Or she asks for cuddles if she has been told off or if her dad has told her off, and I refuse because she has been bad, but then she acts like I don't love her! Which is not the case, it's because cuddles after bad behavior isn't the way it should be.

It is possibly the worst phase I have ever dealt with and I never thought I would say that after the "threenager" years!

I think tonight I will have a good chat with her, lay down some solid boundaries and hope for the best!

expatmigrant Mon 29-Jan-18 12:20:27

If your routine of getting dressed downstairs is not working, then you need to change it to them getting dressed upstairs even if that makes you have to go upstairs. Your DS is only 3, so you should not have any problems changing his routine.
And cut out the TV and iPad before school full stop.
Stop pussyfooting around her.
to improve your relationship. maybe try and spend some time with her alone. Maybe swimming or something she really loves doing? If she's a girlie girl go and have your nails done at half term and a bit of shopping.

I have a little madam myself...she's much older now but still has her stroppy moments,so some of it might be personality related. We never managed to develop a really close relationship and during her teenage years could be quite vile to me at times, although having a very close relationship with dad and younger DB. She seems to have closer friendships with males in general. On the positive I do have a much closer relationship with her younger DB who just has a more loving and kind personality.

Dougaltmr Mon 29-Jan-18 12:35:59

Thank you expatmigrant
I am SO worried she is ruining our future relationship, I am SO close to my mum, I adore her! Me and my older sister do girly things with her, shopping, lunches, spa etc and I want that so much with her, but right now I am worried we wont have that bond!
Both she and my son are mummies girl/boy, which in itself is exhausting because it's "I want to sit by mummy, I want to hold mummies hand etc" poor DH doesn't get a look in!
Yes I do try and stop the TV and have done in the past, but DS usually gets up early and we let him watch cartoons in the playroom before me and DH are ready to get up for work/school run, so it's just on!

I have low B12 and I do struggle with my tiredness, so a toddler tantrum at 6am isn't my idea of fun.
I told her we would have girly time if she started behaving, my dilemma is if I do spend time with her alone I am surely giving in to her when she is basically making me so miserable?
My idea was to wait until her behavior improved and then reward her with alone time.

One example of her behaviour is she wants a midi sleeper bed (the ones with a small ladder and a desk space below)
DH said no problem if you behave for the next few months, well she hasnt at all, I often say "Daddy wont get you that bed you want if you carry on" her response is "Well I WANT it! I dont like my bed its broken" (what she means is one wooden slat is snapped, does not affect her bed in the slightest!)
DS had a new bed but only because he was too big for his toddler bed and she knew this, I personally dont see the point in wasting money on a new one but DH said she could if she behaves, nothing motivates her to change her ways.

I have just typed up some house rules for her to read, along with a sticker system where if she gives me attitude she gets a red sticker and 10 or more results in a suitable punishment, gold stickers are for good behavior and 10 or more results in alone time or a treat.
I am willing to try anything right now!

Kleinzeit Mon 29-Jan-18 14:28:05

I have low B12 and I do struggle with my tiredness, ... I told her we would have girly time if she started behaving,

You may have nailed the underlying reason for her behaviour. With your low energy and busy life it could be attention seeking. So nice "girly time" with you should be something she doesn't have to earn, otherwise she wont behave well because it's so much easier for her to earn your time and get (angry) attention by behaving badly.

I have just typed up some house rules for her to read, along with a sticker system where if she gives me attitude she gets a red sticker and 10 or more results in a suitable punishment, gold stickers are for good behavior and 10 or more results in alone time or a treat. I am willing to try anything right now!

Good idea, just bear in mind that the basic rule of human motivation is that you pay attention to good behaviour and ignore bad. Give her a sticker for good behaviour and instead of using girly time as a reward say that when she's collected enough good stickers she can have her high sleeper. (That may be too far in the future by itself, so you might want to have something small like a "lucky dip" every couple of days as well) Try to notice and praise and/or reward every good thing she does. Don't take stickers away for naughtiness, that's like your boss saying "I gave you a special bonus for doing that report so well, but you made a mess of the presentation so now I'm going to take that bonus away".

Separate the behaviour you want for good stickers and the behaviour that earns bad stickers. Ignore as much silly or trivial naughtiness as you can. Reserve the red stickers for the worst behaviour and plan things out so you give far fewer red stickers than the others. In fact, if she is a sensitive plant you may find the stickers work better if you don't have red ones at all. Just focus on rewarding the good and ignoring the (non-dangerous) bad.

it's "I want to sit by mummy, I want to hold mummies hand etc" poor DH doesn't get a look in!

Insist that there is time that your children spend with their father. You could have certain things he always does with them (bathtime, reading a bedtime story, special playtime) and no amount of whining gets you involved. Also they will stop asking for you if you aren't there, so if need be your DH can take them out for half a day each week, he can join all the Dads and kids in the swimming pool on Sunday morning while Mum has a peaceful lie in.

I usually say "Morning babe you ok? Make sure you have your breakfast and get dressed before TV this morning ok? Or you will be late for school and we dont want that"

That is too many words, too many instructions and far too much negativity. How would you feel if you arrived at work every day to be cheerfully greeted by your boss "Morning Dougal are you OK? Make sure you write the reports and make the Powerpoint slides before coffee this morning OK? Or you will be late for the critical client meeting and we don't want that". Would that be a good start to every day?

How to Talk... is a good guide to positive communication with kids her age.

Goldmandra Mon 29-Jan-18 14:44:47

Really good advice from Kleinzeit.

Focus on the positives as much as you can. Try to find ways to avoid using sanctions wherever possible.

Turn the TV off when you get up. Do it every day and make is non-negotiable.

Some children struggle with the busy social and sensory environment in school but don't have the emotional processing skills to understand that. They work really hard to comply and fit in at school and then vent their anxiety and frustration at home where they feel safest. They can say they are tired when what they mean is that they don't know why they feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Extra sleep doesn't prevent that sort of exhaustion.

I wouldn't try to make her get dressed away from you. Try helping her instead. Children don't usually accept support from parents unless they need it. Maybe she has some processing/working memory issues and really does need someone to talk her through tasks one step at a time. Try doing it for a while and see if it helps.

Dougaltmr Mon 29-Jan-18 15:22:53

Thank you Kleinzeit and Goldmandra.
Certainly good points you have raised!

I do try and give her time, myself and DH take turns for stories at bedtime, I also get her to read her school book (which is in Welsh) to me once a week, her dad isn't very good at Welsh so probably wont have a clue if she pronounces a word wrong! She often gets shitty with me though as she gets "bored" of reading Welsh books.

I will take on board the stickers, and focus on good more than bad in this case, thank you!

DH looks after them every Monday from 4:30 till bedtime, I work in my office till around 10pm, I am self employed you see, so he does food, bedtime routine, we often take it in turns for bath night, he also (mostly) takes them both to their swimming lessons on a Friday after school, he is a great dad and is very hands on, although his fuse can be short with them if they really play up!

As for the morning, I just try to set the basic rules before she flies off the handle, so I explain the morning routine, or sometimes I ignore her and she still wont actively do what she needs to do by herself.
Having said the my boss (AKA ME!) would probably say that haha

I try to let her do what she wants when she comes home from school, I know how tiring it is (she dances Thursday and Swims Friday) but the rest of the week I let her play, watch TV etc so I don't put too much pressure on her, but that's not good enough in her eyes, she always throws a mountain of attitude at me no matter what I do or say!

I will take her out this weekend, maybe have a chat with her, see what we can do to improve both our daily lives.

Thank you so much for the help!!

Kleinzeit Tue 30-Jan-18 08:13:37

By the way there's a simple way to fix the Welsh reading problem - don't comment on her mistakes smile Instead follow the story and enjoy it with her. Say (in English) "Ah, so it was a red car" and "I wonder what happens next?" Compliment her reading "I really enjoy listening to you read/ you have good expression/ you pronounced <something> beautifully". She will improve anyway just through practice, and having you notice what she does well is a huge motivator to do better.

Goldmandra Tue 30-Jan-18 21:26:24

I don't put too much pressure on her, but that's not good enough in her eyes, she always throws a mountain of attitude at me no matter what I do or say!

If that attitude is a result of her being stressed, nothing you can do will make it better. You need to accept that it's because she feels secure and can let out the stress and frustration with you that she can't around others. It's a very backhanded compliment.

Dougaltmr Wed 07-Feb-18 09:39:22

Thanks for your response Goldmandra, I have read it's good for them to let out their feelings infront of you, so I am glad for that I guess.
It has been about a week since we started the sticker chart and I have noticed a marked imporvement already, I also printed off her weekly schedule from Monday to Friday which is basically what she needs to do either in school or at home, so for example Monday is her computer maths work at home, Tuesday is Violin at school, Thursday is dance class, Friday is swimming, she checks it daily and I really think it helps her manage her week, although I have seen glimpses of attitude it's nothing to the level it was previous and we even had pancakes together at the local cafe on Saturday which was lovely.
Thank you for all your help Hopefully I can post another positive update in a few weeks time!

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