problems with 11 year old girl..tantrums attention seeking.(8 Posts)
Hi, I am new to this. New to it all really as I am a newish steparent of three kids. i moved in with their dad in October. They are 8 11 and 13 (BGG). They live at mum's round the corner and we have them regularly (often all week as we are in the marital home). I am trying to be brief but the middle girl who is 11 is driving me mad. I have no kids of my own (not by choice) and am 41. I just need some advice on how to handle her.
If I start with the first problem. Getting her own way, sulks, and tantrums. This is to the extent that if she doesnt get what she wants (biggest slice of cake/ to go where she wants on a trip) all hell breaks loose. Screaming, crying, completely out of control (last time a neighbour came over to see if everything was ok it was so loud). She answers back "no daddy" in that hideous spoilt child way CONSTANTLY. The other kids are suffering as we tend to have to compromise.
Eating. She arrived from mum last night having had her tea and eats.... A pizza, a slice of cake, a chocolate yoghurt, a slice of pavolva, FIVE garlic doughballs. And is still demanding more. She is chubby. This food thing extends to when things are divvied up she takes control and ALWAYS takes/ensures she has the largest slice/more of what ever it is.
Immaturity. She is 12 soon and will be going to the local comp. She still sucks her thumb, we have to take teddy everywhere and she believes in santa and the tooth fairy. Her emotional responses are that of a toddler or pre school child.
I would love some advice on how to cope. I understand why she is like this. She was the most affected when her parents split (absolutely nothing to do with me) mum left dad for a very much younger man about three years ago and the divorce was very decent in the circs. There is no hard feelings that I have picked up on.
My OH, Dad, is amazing with his kids. Supportive and generous (his friends say he is a mug with his ex) when I hear of all my friends traumas with their ex's. But he is going wrong in killing them with kindness I think.
The girl has been like this since she was a baby. So I cant se that it is necessarily to do with the split and the move out. The family have a phrase for her tantrums. The other kids are great. They truly are very very fond of me and we all have a great relationship and are as close as step parents can be. My OH is a bit hopeless on the issue and tries to indulge them as I understand that he is trying to make up for all that has happened and also for the rather strict life they lead down the road.
I expect many are raising eyes heavenward! That's girls, middle child..ect ect!! However it is ruining the karma of a really lovely family time. Constantly.
Any advice particularly on dealing with tamtrums/attention seeking and geting her own way. Overeating/food issues and is it normal for a girl that is nearly 12 to believe in santa/tooth fairy??!!She will be starting her periods soon!! I am so worried she will be bullied in september when she goes to the comp.
Quite a lot going on for her - like you say the break up of her parents has knocked her for six.
All I can say from experience from having a very strong willed, fiesty 11 yo DD is that keep the boundaries strong - be absolutely clear on what is acceptable and what is not and *stick to it*.
On the food front - who is in charge here? Serve up a reasonable portion on her plate (and everyone elses) and then after that it's fruit or bread and butter. If she goes for the biscuits - stop buying them!
As for the believing in the tooth fairy etc and general immaturity - this will come with time. She may well behave completely differently when with her friends - does she have mates over?
I cant believe she really believes in Santa and the tooth fairy at nearly 12!If she does then someone needs to disabuse her gently before September-'Santa is the spirit of Christmas that makes people happy and want to do good things for each other,like making Mum and Dad buy presents.When we are small we think of this spirit as a man in a red coat but as we grow up we learn that it is inside all of us and very special'.As for the tooth fairy just tell her it is a cute story and she will still get her coin whether she believes or not.On the other matters I agree absolutely with previous poster.I am stepmum to 3 and mum to 2 all grown up now.
I had last baby when DD was 10 - the behaviour you describe is similar to that displayed by her.
Husband had a term for it - regression. Insecurity leading to obnoxious tantrums or baby behaviour. Looking back, it was very much 'I'm the baby - you've got to look after me!' I was so wound up with the new baby, I couldn't make sense of it and would get cross until DH pointed out what it was.
Difficult situation anyway plus if you've got separate regimes in separate houses, that's pretty stressful for a kid as well.
OH sounds great but nice guys can be a bit like bad drivers - never had a crash but see loads. In other words, 'why does every one around me behave so badly?' The answer could be - because you flipping well let them.
Completely off the wall proposal - but what about spending more time with difficult middle child. It sounds like she is the one who does need some attention - but attention of the right kind, not the wrong kind ie for bad behaviour. Trips out, you and her - but on your terms. Going to shops that you like, just you and her. It might just work, and if not, you've not lost anything.
The only advice I can give with any certainty is that speaking as a chubby teenager/slim adult - please don't be too heavy handed re the eating. My parents also got divorced around this age, and comfort eating turned into obsessive dieting. Once you realise you can master your appetite, it becomes an area of your life in which you can exert control - its a short step to an eating disorder.
Previous posters advice re fruit etc after meals is a good idea, provided it is exerted family wide, and not just re 'chubby one.'
My sister has the very same problem and I've sent her a link to this thread so hopefully she'll be on later. She has an 11yo dd, one of twins. They are the youngest in the family. She's having problems that sound exactly like yours; immaturity, throwing tantrums if she doesn't get her own way, sulking for hours etc. Of course I think she is just gorgeous! But I know my sister is at her wits end with it all and it's getting to the point where she's really worried about her.
I know this thread will cheer her enormously, to know that her child is not the only one and she's not alone. I'd be very interested to read what others have to say and what's worked for them.
Best of luck btw, you sound like you are doing all you can.
Does she display this kind of behaviour in all settings - so at school, at her mums, at any clubs she goes to, etc. If she does, then there is a major issue going on for her. If not, then why is she able to "control" her behaviour in some circumstances and not others?
Some children do have an extremely assertive personality, and can be incredibly challenging (DS too much of the time) - does this sound like her?
Thanks so much for the very helpful messages. Another weekend of tantrums, but I am pleased to say that i think i have managed to sort it in my mind. All your observations were very accute and accurate.
She is not like that with anyone but mum and dad with the tantrums, which is interesting and probably targets where things are going wrong. She is as good as gold with me. I have had a chat with my other half this weekend about her attitude and his capitulation. He was great with her and did'nt cave into her demands. so its a start. I have to remember that I too come with baggage and have been parachuted into this family. As a non parent I seemed to be surrounded by these seemingly smug families...I was thinking "where is my angelic apple cheeked smocked dressed t bar shoe wearing enid blyton family then??" I need to take a reality check and was expecting too much!! We do have nice times together always on my terms- and she seems to love it. I didnt mention that the youngest is autistic and the precious first boy in an extended family entirely of girls. Sure that is behind some of the dynamics too.
About the weight. Mum is a fitness freak and makes a big thing about it. So I am going to leave it. I have always had a healthy nigella kind of attitude towards food. I think she sees it as a comfort and a reward and the food is so austere at home thats probably behind it- I am not over worried about the weight but the complex relationship behind it. I am stocking up on interesting fruit!!
I think the point about insecurity is very valid and I am very keen on positive messages and will try and keep it up and its great to hear that I am not alone.
I sound so bl**dy saintly dont I? I am not, just muddling on and trying not to be like the Baroness in the Sound of Music!! "Get your effing hands off my farrow and ball walls!!"
PS as for Santa and the tooth fairy. I cant tell her!! But what you say is exactly what my parents told me.. I will leave that to mum and dad. Its reflective of mum though who was kept very young by her mum. I was told she only had one pair of shoes until she was 17.
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