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Possible Attention Seeking Behaviour in 8 yr old - How To Deal ??

(9 Posts)
rockinhippy Wed 03-Aug-11 12:17:26

I'm half hoping you are going to tell me this is all normal & she'll grow out of it, but after yesterday/today it is worrying me, not least because I have a narcissistic Mum, who amongst other things uses (her very real) & invents health problems to control those around her -

I'm currently pretty ostracised from my family as a result of standing up to my Mum on this - she was hospitalised for her diabetes, probably due to her self harming in how she ate, I had DD very sick & couldn't travel & was in pieces when told she had both a heart attach AND stroke, it didn't sound right, but as you can imagine I was in turmoil, eventually making my brother speak with the Doctors & get the truth, as Mum had put a block on the Dr talking to me - turned out she'd had neither, they were keeping her in to stabilise her sugar levelsangry - thats just one example of MANY

So in short, I'm aware that I may well be oversensitive to this.

My worry is - DD who is a bright 8yr old, an only DC, plenty of attention, but not spoilt etc etc, does over act to get more attention still - & she is VERY good at acting - even recently owning up to being able to cry at will - she's at a Dramatic Summer School this week - haha.

I have health problems myself, but due to my back ground try VERY hard not to lay that on DD in any way, usually suffering in silence, though she is aware I am ill, as sometimes it can't be helped.

DD is VERY empathetic to wards others, so much so its even mentioned in her School reports - everyone except ME that is sad - not saying I want sympathy from her, I most certainly don't, but sometimes I need her understanding & NOT over acting anything herself & putting more pressure on me.

This week is a good example.....

I currently have sinus infection & colitis on top of my usual Fibromyalgia etc, so in short in a bit of a state, but getting on with it the best I can, but really glad I have a break this week with her in a Summer School & was hoping I could take this time to heal & recoup, without it affecting her.

She had an accident with her foot yesterday morning - she insisted the School didn't ring me to collect her as she didn't want to miss out - so I pick her up by foot as its a few streets away & I don't drive - I am currently using a stick due to balance & back problems etc - on picking her up, she appears to be in agony, very tearful, hopping etc - yet I can't understand why she would stay at School all day in so much pain, when I am streets away, at very least I could have brought pain killersconfused

It ends up my having to carry her half the way home, something that caused me a LOT of pain, but of course i'm happy to do if she needed it - but I'm not sure she did & its making me feel awful for doubting her, but also very cross that she could play me in such a way.

on our surgeries advice we took her to A&E to be told she has sprained her foot, but she needs to put weight on it ASAP & get it moving again - she pipes up to the Dr - how am I going to get around, surely I need crutches - Dr rightly says no & DD is fine & tries to walk whilst in the office - obviously in pain, but coping - outside its a whole different ball game, she is in floods of tears & it ends up with my half carrying her to the Car where DH is waiting( to avoid a ticket)

my gut instinct is its not as bad as she's making out, but no amount of talking has her owning up, so I accept I might be wrong & feel awful for doubting her sad

7 am this morning I hear her coming, but not quite awake, eyes half shut so I look asleep, but i watch as she walks perfectly normally from her room to ours & gets into our bed for half an hour - that is without any pain killersshock

half hour later I get up, followed by her - & shes limping, hoping & whimpering angry

so I have been quite hard on her this morning, though of course aware she has hurt herself & WILL be in some pain, so not too hard - I am deeply upset that she let me carry her home yesterday & tried to get me to carry her downstairs this morning too.

She does have other health problems too & there has been many a time my instinct tells me shes playing me, but then I feel bad sad - but sometimes I'm starting to fear I have given birth to my Mum as she can be so like her at timesconfused

is this normal at this age & if not, how the hell do I deal with it so that she grows up to be a well balanced adult & doesn't grow up as a narcissist shock & also make her realise the effect this has on my own health, WITHOUT laying on the guilt with a trowel, as surely that would be teaching her that the behaviour is acceptable, as I'd be doing it myself

Aaaaghh it feels like a mine field confused

if you got that far - thanks for reading & any tips, insights much appreciated smile

rockinhippy Wed 03-Aug-11 14:40:15

Did I put this in the wrong section??? -

or just being impatientblush

lucindapie Wed 03-Aug-11 15:54:04

Hi Rockinhippy,

I can't offer much advice, children are often attention seeking, it doesn't mean that she is going to turn out like your mum. But if I was in a position, I would seek a counsellor, (maybe a family one?) as it sounds like your family has some complicated issues around illness, and I think you need someone qualified to untangle all the complex behaviour. I would say being a good actor is a great skill! Just need to encourage your daughter so she will always use it in an honest positive way rather than to end up as extreme as your mum. At her age I think it's too early to label her as 'just like my mum' with the right guidance and advise you can make sure her acting skills develop in a positive way.

rockinhippy Thu 04-Aug-11 11:22:28

Hi Lucinda - Thanks,

I did go off on a bit of a rant there, so I can see why you would make that suggestion, but I was just back from a stressful walk to her Summer School with her insisting on using my crutch as it was the only way she could walk therehmm ( the crutch is from a recent leg injury I had) - on picking her up I also learnt she had used it all day, despite neither needing it & being told not too - A&E advisehmm.

Turns out my instincts WERE righthmm - she made a miraculous recovery on the walk home after I expressed my sadness that as it was such a beautiful day & her being in so much pain & couldn't walk etc, meant we couldn't go out to the beach & that her Dad wouldn't be able to take her to the park - she walked the rest of the way home without a crutch & was running around the house as normal - without pain pills within 1.2 hr, trying to convince me she was okay for the beachangry - didn't happen of course, as she has to know there are consequences to that sort of behaviour

& you are right, the issues with my Mum ARE complex, not least because she genuinely does have some serious health problems & I suspect also Bi Polar as a result, hence why I'm seen as can do no right in her eyes - but DD isn't exposed to any of it as we live a long way away & they haven't actually seen DD many times at all.

The problems started with Mum after I left home, which is a VERY long time ago - so no childhood baggage to pass on as such - & I have had very little contact with my immediate family as a result for years, my Mum stopped speaking to me when I fell pregnant with DD & controls my Dad into the same with her health & its been mostly off since then - something I deal with fine & have already seen a counsellor years back for coping tips - apparently I was doing fine on my own.... if I'm honest its actually much easier without her in my life - so family counselling not is just not an option

I'm more looking for tips for coping with DD & putting her on the right track, as I am finding this whole thing very stressful, not least because we have had some genuine health scares with her recently, so you do feel bad when you disbelieve her & also the time wasting - 3 hours out of our lives with A&E & our GP the other night - with both DH & I already exhausted - though in credit to DDs acting skills, she even managed to convince our GP that she had probably broken itshock - hence the trip to A&E

& yes we do encourage her acting in a positive way, she is in a Theatrical Summer School this week - they are very impressed with her acting skills - wish I bloody was grin

rockinhippy Thu 04-Aug-11 11:24:48

I'd be grateful for any advice from others who have dealt with similar please - thanks

clangermum Thu 04-Aug-11 11:51:36

Natural consequences are great - as you did with the not going to the beach. Having trust issue with my dcs at the moment too (both similar age) so I just think this way all the time. I find it a huge handicap to us as a family, and spend a lot of time explaining to them why we can't do certain things because I can't trust them - pointing at past examples of sabotage (which makes me sound like I have a real downer on them, but I do it calmly as if I'm really sorry about x but that's just the way it is because they have chosen to show me they can't be trusted).

Recently we started a system of trust tokens - could use anything, just have a jar out somewhere visible and each time they've behaved in a way that's been worthy of reward, we put one in. So for example going out on trips is usually fine until it's time to come home when they often kick off, even if I've given a countdown and prepared them. So at the weekend I said beforehand that I'd like them to behave a certain way when it came to leaving the park. If they did, they'd get a trust token, if they didn't it would be the last time we went to the park for the foreseeable. It worked that time, but it's early days...

I'm trying to get them to see it as like making deposits in a bank, and you can't do something special until you've built up enough credit.

I realise that with health issues it's much more murky and you are really at her mercy in a terrifying way because of the fear of getting it wrong. Taking the natural consequences to the extreme though, if she really enjoys acting - could you say that although it's great that she's coming along so well in classes, unfortunately if she doesn't know how to confine acting to classes/performances only, then she won't be able to go anymore?

It's such a hard one. ds was going to kick boxing and it was doing wonders for his self esteem and focus, but he started using what he'd learned in class in the playground, so we stopped him going. It's not exactly the same thing, as acting/pretending/manipulating can be so embedded in behaviour, but I'm just trying to think of a natural consequence that would really hit home.

diyqueen Thu 04-Aug-11 12:28:41

I think 'milking' injuries etc. for attention at that age is pretty normal, though, other issues aside. At around that age I sprained my ankle and made the 'recovery' last for ages...! Can even remember reminding myself to limp, little beast that I was. I'd just carry on as you are, not doing activities that would be harmful to a genuinely damaged ankle, ignoring obvious over-acting etc. When she's quiet and not over-acting, maybe before she goes to bed, you could try pandering to her a bit and offering to give it a gentle rub and put a special bandage on it, and use the time just to talk about school and friends and stuff and make sure there's nothing else bothering her. Using a crutch is just a way of guaranteeing attention from her peers, I think many kids her age would do the same given the opportunity. With the carrying etc. you can just simply explain that you're not able to carry her, but perhaps she could go downstairs on her bottom/crawl on hands and knees/whatever - that way she can carry on making a meal of it if she has to, but you don't suffer as well. Try not to get too upset or over-think it, chances are it's just fairly normal irritating 8-year-old behaviour.

rockinhippy Fri 05-Aug-11 11:33:17

Thank you, both of you smile -

its VERY reassuring to know its normal 8 yr old stuff smile

it caught me on the hop a bit, because usually she just cannot lie, even to the extent of openly getting herself into trouble & is so translucent when she has tried its actually been quite funny smile so this sort of dishonest behaviour from her has come as a bit of a shock & had me questioning my instincts, so got myself pretty stressed over it hmm

We've continued with the consequences thing - she's been made to wear one pair of high top trainers - because they support her poorly foot - she's fashion mad & has to have everything matching her outfit, so that one REALLY stung grin - she also missed youth club & a skateboard class & no park etc
- because of her poorly foot & my not believing it could get better that quickly unless it was a miracle grin - she also didn't get the new top she wanted me to make for her last day at Summer School - because I wasn't well enough due to the stress & having to carry her - that REALLY stung grin - I've also been quite cold with her, leaving her Dad to deal with bed times etc - which he has blamed on my not feeling well - that has bothered her a lot, so I think we have got through - at least I hope so

All of this has ended up with her owning up to exaggerating the injuryhmm, so lots of stern talking too about the effect that this has had on me (from her Dad) & how disappointed we are in her for lying, she's broken trust etc - she said didn't understand it as a form of lying & explained she thought it was a bit of a game & she got carried away with it - but does now, so its going to be interesting to see if it happens again & she also owned up to liking the attention from using the crutch hmm

I like your trust bank idea clanger & might end up resorting to that if we have any more problems with her

thanks again both of you smile

clangermum Fri 05-Aug-11 12:46:01

Yes - always good to have a plan b up your sleeve if straightforward talking isn't hitting the spot, but it sounds as though she's getting the message.

That's really interesting about the distinction between exaggerating and lying.

An ed psych I listened to at a conference suggested having a truth chair - the idea being when they sit in that chair they can tell the truth without fear of consequences. It's an interesting idea. Have to admit my first thought was it sounds a bit like a 'get out of jail free' card. However I'm trying to teach mine the bigger idea that in the long run, telling the truth is always the best option, so in these terms it's a step on the road. But I don't use it specifically. It's just something I mentioned to them. The way it works now is that I've found my son tends to dwell on things that bother him, and so sometimes out of the blue he'll say he wants to go and sit on the chair, and out it all comes. And it's usually something I had no idea about! I think it helps him with this type of festering guilt, so in that sense it's useful. But I haven't used it for times when I'm asking them a direct question about who has just done what, if that makes sense.

Anyway, I was just reminded of it so am mentioning it in passing smile

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