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Where is the border between healthy critique and ‘unhealthy, too-much-praising46; praising for a 6 years old? She shows such a mean attitude that she is scaring me

(28 Posts)
joburg Sun 28-Jun-09 08:57:05

DD is 6 and already has strong reactions towards any kind of criticism towards her actions. She has difficulties accepting any negative words from us and what scares me most is the way she behaves when it happens. I can’t correct her writing exercises without long discussions about ‘it’s ok to do mistakes, we need to practise more, well done for now etc etc, and even so, she is not fully happy. I can’t explain that it’s not nice to go and poor shampoo into the soup that I just finished cooking because then we can all get sick if we eat it, without having her go into her room and making angry sounds…. Most of the times she pretends to accept it in front of us, but then she goes back to her room and I can hear her talking to herself, either blaming us or calling herself a bad girl and threatening to hit herself …. No real tantrums, which I would understand and accept, after all, but instead grudging feelings, silent anger, blaming others, and trying to get revenge in whatever way she can despite the fact that we try to talk calmly to her, trying to explain things …. I’m terrified!!! Is this normal for such a young child?

On the other hand, I have heard from her school, already a year ago when she was only 5, about her keeping an angry mood FOR HOURS, sometimes for the whole day! Even remembering it the next day and trying to ‘punish’ the teachers for her being put on time out.

On top of that, I everyday have to listen to her telling negative stories about the kids in school …. I mean EVERY DAY! Not one positive story about her colleagues! I started to dread the moments when she is coming home and when we are supposed to talk about her day. I tried over and over again to direct her towards more positive stories but then it’s always HER who is the nice girl and in a minute she is back to that girl refusing to play with her, that boy calling her names, etc…. She shows frustration when I try to tell her that there must be nice things that her ‘friends’ are doing! She promptly changes the subject. The teachers are telling me she has friends in the class and many times they play very nicely together, share things, help each others, but she never seems to remember or be happy about those moments…. They are ALWAYS bad and she is ALWAYS good.

I can only assume this is all about her low self-esteem. But is it really? …. If so, what can I do to improve her self-esteem, but in the same time make her understand that children have to accept the consequences as their own fault? She seems so keen on blaming others that it scares me while she is not able to accept any faults of herself (she even goes against the adults. She tried to accuse her teachers of stealing her food, she comes to me telling about her father was trying to teach her STUPID things against what I have told her, she goes to my husband telling him I talk bad things about her and so on … ). She seems a happy, exuberant child and very loving (a bit too loving to everybody ) until the minute she has to listen about her own mistakes.

The reward charts don’t seem to work in the sense where she feels rewarded, but she would rather take it for granted that the star MUST be there every day, otherwise she gets angry …. I really don’t know what do anymore …. Shall I just try to ignore her naughty behaviours for a while and just praise her for whatever she does right? Shall I just try to ignore her mean stories? because, frankly speaking I’m tired of commenting on all those silly, naughty kids/adults/facts she is always talking about …. Is this just a phase???? Do we do something wrong?

Sorry about this long post but I just had to take it off my chest …. DD is coming from school soon and I’m gonna have to drown myself again into her world that is so mean and full of negative stories, It’s just hard to bear and listen to.

EccentricaGallumbits Sun 28-Jun-09 09:03:13

no idea how or why or what to do. My DD2 is exactly like this (is 11 now) and always has been. she is just one of those utterly negative people. everything is difficult and hard work and bad. She is also a bit of a perfectionist. can't bear to make any sort of mistakes or have anything go wrong. she just can't deal with it. (she does have a million other issues though so in that way is different from your DD)

mrsmaidamess Sun 28-Jun-09 09:14:28

My son can be a bit like this. He remembers all the bad stuff and forgets the good stuff. I tell him I'm not listening unless he has something nice to say (of course if he's genuinely upset I would). All that 'revenge' stuff is a bit worrying though. Have you had a chat with your SENCO at school, or is there a family advice person there? It does sound like low self esteem.

How about making an 'angry box' or something that she can get stuff out of when shes feeling mad, like a squeezy toy, a pad and paper for her to scribble on, something to divert the thoughts of revenge onto something else? (I'm just thinking of strategies I have used at work with children like this)

MildredRoper Sun 28-Jun-09 09:33:06

I bought a book I saw recommended on here called 'How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk'. Now, my dd is still only small and I've only skimmed it, so I don't know if it actually works, but it is about communicating with them and helping them to express their emotions in a healthy way. Might be worth a look?

sweetfall Sun 28-Jun-09 09:38:44

That sounds like its really hard to deal with.

I would personally be looking for professional help on this one.

joburg Sun 28-Jun-09 09:52:18

I do 'music therapy' with DD .... meaning that from the moment i feel the 'storm' is coming i first put classical music on and then go and have the chat with DD. It helped in the sense that she seems to calm down a bit faster then usual, but that doesn't help us with the root causes. She calms down quicker but that doesn't help her understand the whole mechanism of guilt/anger/responsability vs her actions thing. But i don't seem to be able to teach her to accept her own faults. And that always 'punishing/blaming' others for her own acts .... that is so scary.

Miggsie Sun 28-Jun-09 13:37:33

I agree with the others who suggest talking to a child behaviour specialist. She does sound quite extreme and not taking any personal responsibility for anything sounds like it will make her unhappy in the long run.

You don't need to take DD along to the therapist. Just talk it through and see what they suggest. And don't be afraid to see a couple of them to get a couple of perspectives. GPs and schools normally have a list of people they can refer children to but my friend just took the name and made a private appointment as the referral list for NHS/Council funded is quite long.

joburg Sun 28-Jun-09 15:52:53

Other than therapy, which we can not right now do for her, what can i do? 'Home' therapy? Anything? Any advice, pleaseeeeeeee. Any tips for us as parents, please, it would help us ...

FabBakerGirlIsBack Sun 28-Jun-09 16:03:24

My DD is 5 and cries easily when she is told off. She also can't tell the difference when we are laughing with her when she has done something funny or lovely and thinks we are laughing at her.

Just lately I have stopped pandering too her and being scared to say anything in case it sets her off and it does seem to be working.

I feel your daughter is gearing up for a fall and always expecting herself to fail and blaming others as it is too hard to handle. I really think you need professional, specialist help.

wahwah Sun 28-Jun-09 17:44:37

Agree with others who think you should seek professional help, she does sound like an unhappy little girl. In the mean time, you have to maintain boundaries with her and ensure that both you and your husband are consistent in this.

screamingabdab Sun 28-Jun-09 19:40:54

joburg My DS1 is a bit like this in some ways - harbouring grudges, holding on to bad moods, so I can really empa/sypathise. he has really imporved with age though, although I do think it is just a character trait.

A couple of things occur to me. This may sound a bit brutal, but basically, she doesn't have to be happy when you tell her off. You may have to accept that she is never going to turn round and thank you for your criticisms and admit she was wrong (I'm caricaturing a bit, because I'm sure you don't expect her to smile). Don't give her any attention for this behaviour, don't try and convince her. Let her go up to her room and grumble, and when she comes down, don't refer to it.

You are, for totally understandable reasons feeling emotional about this character trait, and worried about the future. It may be, in some weird way, that she senses this and likes the attention it gets her. Almost as if she thinks it's what you want to her from her. (Like mrsmaidamess. I would advise withdrawing attention from the negative stuff she reports. Don't analyse it too much with her).
I can identify with this, because, having worked hard to help my DS1 communicate his negative emotions he is too good at it! Sorry if any/all of this is off the wall. I think a chat with a Child Psychologist, for reassurance and strategies would help, too

screamingabdab Sun 28-Jun-09 20:06:49

So many spelling mistakes ... sorry

manitz Mon 29-Jun-09 13:36:57

yeah i agree with screaming abdad and others. My dd (6) is similar: a perfectionist, can't take criticism, cannot take us laughing near her assumes it is about her. haven't had the revenge stuff but sure we do sometimes, tbh have two other lo's so don't really have time to hear all her tiny moans so ignore her most of the time anyway wink

I tend to think they have to learn to be generous so didn't really expect dd to be that good at it at this age. we tend not to take anything seriously in our family so dh always mock encourages it and comes home ready for some scandalous gossip from the classroom about how someone pulled their pants down/got sent to the head/talked when the teacher was speaking. our nick name for her is 'the headgirl'. Maybe we'll regret this style of parenting in future but it seems to diffuse things if we make her laugh.
I have also been trying to get her to chill out a bit about school, she takes things so seriously to the point that one of the boys was talking to her when they should have been quiet and she was really angry with him, so my mission at the moment is to get her to be naughty!
anyway what i'm trying to say is I think this is a normal development stage and it seems to be more a girl thing though that is not based on any actual knowledge. tricky to help them through especially if it's unlikable as you could get negative feelings towards her which she'll pick up on. Perhaps don't indulge her and use distraciton, when she gets into a moan offer to read her a book etc.

joburg Tue 30-Jun-09 18:25:27

Thank you all for your replies and thank you screamingabdab for the tips to follow at home. I have been away from my pc lately and that's why the late reply. We tried the ignoring attitude but this doesn't rule out DD's grudge that scared us for some time. Is this gonna improve? She is not at all an unhappy little girl, on the contrary, she is way too exhuberant, happy, lovely (reason why her teachers in school also love her her) until the time comes when she gets that little critique .... everything goes wrong then :D but i talked about all these already. I hope to be in touch with a psychologue soon. Do you moms think about anything more specific? We had a couple of lovely days, she was just a darling, i wonder what tomorrow will bring (lol)

edam Tue 30-Jun-09 18:31:10

Might be worth trying these guys for some advice while you are waiting to find/see a psychologist.

saadia Tue 30-Jun-09 18:31:49

I posted last week when my ds came home from school very upset by something his teacher had done. He then drew and picture and wrote a note to the teacher complaining and then put it in the bin. Perhaps you could get dd to try something like this to let go of these negative feelings.

manitz Wed 01-Jul-09 12:42:23

what did you mean specific? i think it's the good-on-the-whole ones who have more trouble taking criticism. They (well my dd) strives so hard to be perfect she finds it completely unfair when she is criticised. of course that doesnt mean that she is actually perfect as she still whacks her sister but in her head this is totally justified. she has to learn to fail and has to learn to take criticism. simple.

however i know plenty of adults who have problems with that...

joburg Wed 01-Jul-09 14:04:51

manitz, that is is exactly what i mean when asking about something more specific. how do you teach them that they are not always perfect, and more, how do you teach them to accept it and WORK on it. DD is quitting everything she starts doing as soon as she realises it might imply a 'bit' of work. she will start grade 1 in spetember (how on earth is she gonna make it with this kind of attitude????) I'm terrified!

joburg Wed 01-Jul-09 15:25:58

DD keeps inventing these mean stories about whoever gets into her attention! I'm so fed up!!!! I so don't know anymore how to react on it (tried ignoring them but they keep coming day after day after day) .... i know i'm repeating myself, it's just that today was again one of those days when she went over the top again.

mulranno Wed 01-Jul-09 19:11:31

I wonder if we do spend too much time listening to our children and maybe we could tell them a bit about our lives...We could say today I saw...it was great/bad/fun/dull....I said x... they said y...then we decided to do z. Maybe just make up some stories that demonstrate that we all have dilemmas ans show her an example of talking thru a problem

manitz Wed 01-Jul-09 22:53:32

i don't know how you react to those stories really. can you laugh at them and indulge her a bit then call it a day? or laugh and then say 'she wasn't really doing that was she?' in a conspiritorial way that lets her know you know she has made it up?
do you know if there is anyone she particularly likes in her class?

i have a rule that if they start a group or activity they have to keep it up for a year. dd is on gym squad and really wants to learn the routines etc but gets v tired. i don't know whether i'm pushy, whether its healthy to train so much or whether she really wants to do it. so when she moans about goign i just ask about the end result ie do you want to do x y z on the beam? she always does so i keep taking her and talking her into it. dunno if that helps.

ReginaldBosanquet Wed 01-Jul-09 23:29:48

My ds can be like this. He is 12 and is old enough to be able to be told that some of the things he does are just not on. He is so much better than when he was younger when he used to do the vengeful things like your dd - spraying his sisters toothbrush with deoderant, fairy liquid in the milk, tipping my best shampoo down the sink. He has improved, he does a paper round and I make him pay for absolutely anything he ruins, amazingly it doesn't always work and he will still occassionaly break things in a fit of temper. Like your dd he is generally a lovely boy but flips if he is criticized and also sometimes comes home from school and tells me endless stories about other children being mean to him. If he tells me that somebody has hit him for instance I will ask him if he did nothing back and when he says no I ask him if he just stood and took the hits and he then realises that I'm not totally convinced. I try to confront this behaviour whenever I can, although it can be draining and there were times when he was younger that I would just want to let it pass as I couldn't bear his the thought of a destructive temper tantrum. As I have said it is mainly time that has made him better, although he will still look me in the eye and tell me something that we both know isn't true and is just him lying to protect himself. I'm afraid I don't have any real advise to give you, I would say that time has helped a great deal. I actually spoke to him yesterday about this and told him some of the things he did when he was little and he was shocked that he could have been like that.

Jix Sat 04-Jul-09 18:57:19

Hi there... My daughter is also negative about her classmates== she's 5 and can say really hurtful and negative things about them. She does it too us too and up to now I've been trying to explain to her that it's just really negative to be like that.. and it's just not true that they "always" do this, that or the other.
But a friend of mine, who's daughter is very similar and now 8 years old, gave me some good advice the other day.
Apparently it's better not to enter "their" world too much. Ignore most of the negative chat about their day, and if they're horrible to you try not to take it personally (which i was doing).
She said the parent has to be the adult and the "holder" of the situation. Not to get too drawn in, but providing perspective.
You have to keep going, just being honest and then letting her go to her room to work it through in her own way.
when she comes back down, just continue as normal.
Don't know if that's helpful! Good luck!

rupertsabear Sat 04-Jul-09 19:09:08

Hi, my ds (4.5) is a bit like this. He won't apply any effort at all to anything because he's afraid of getting it wrong and he's very full of stories about how bad the other children in his class are. He's quite negative and tantrumy. I'm sure it's about self esteem for him. My main objective is to get him to complete tasks (often difficult as he's a middle child), so he sees that applying effort is worth it as it gets to a result. Things like puzzles, reading a few letters, things that he can do (and without the other los being around butting in).

wishingchair Sat 04-Jul-09 20:44:13

My DD1 (6.5) can be like this. Delightful, lovely girl most of time ... perfectionist but also not willing to put in effort into things that she finds difficult (riding bike, etc), can be v.sensitive and gets very cross/upset/stomps off when we correct her, laugh at something we think is funny, tell her off, etc. We can have had a fantastic day then something doesn't go her way and she'll start to cry and say "I've had a horrible day" and so on. She has had some friendship issues and that has been hard to listen to. It's always them, never her.

I've spent time talking to her about perspective, widening her circle of friends etc. I've also got to the point when I've had enough and make a couple of "oh dear" type comments and then change the subject. Seems to be working.

A friend also told me that it's very normal for children to get negative in the evening. She called it 'misery eyes': they're tired and everything seems miserable in their eyes and they splurge it all out to you. But it's not really how they see everything.

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