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8 year old with low self esteem

(12 Posts)
fudgefeet Fri 27-Nov-15 11:08:51

My 8 year old daughter has always been loud and excitable. She loves to get involved in everything and makes friends easily but on the other hand she clashes with a lot of her friends when she doesn't get her own way, winds her brother up constantly and always has to have the last word. On the other hand she can be very self conscious and gives up easily on things especially lately.

She loves being creative and is strong and athletic but since starting school has struggled with reading, writing and maths. She has great ideas and has started but never finished many pop up books, comic strips, sewing projects but often doesn't finishes things as she gets so disheartened when its not going the way she wants it to and this is slowly becoming her way of dealing with anything.
As soon as she finds something difficult she screws it up, rips it and then gets angry taking it out on me, her friends or brother which then ends up with her getting in to trouble with her teachers or myself. I have spent years trying to help her control her emotions and think of others but feel like I am speaking to myself. As soon as we have a chat and I feel she understands 10 minutes later she is bossing someone around and we are soon back to square one.
I spoke to her teacher the other evening about her anxiety over school and that she feels like she is always in trouble and cant keep up with the class. Her teacher pointed out that she is more than capable but needs to believe in herself more as she gives up very easily. I have noticed this pattern myself at home with stuff that she has always loved doing such as drawing and gymnastics. She has started speaking very negatively about these things and even said this morning that she bets I wish I had a different daughter and she is the wrong one for me.

I know I have been hard on her, Its been frustrating seeing her constantly elbow people out of the way and trying to dominate everything. We went to parenting classes when she was 2 as she would pile all the toys up at toddler group and guard them from the other children. I had to shadow her constantly to stop her hitting others and I think I am still resentful and impatient with her as a result of years of this behaviour.
I have tried everything I can to give my children the childhood I did not have. I have been married to her dad for 20 years and we are a good team. We try to be the best parents we can be but somehow I feel I am failing her and I don't know what I have done to make her so angry. Her teacher said she can be bossy and controlling at school and I would hate for her to start becoming a bully. I can't ignore these things as it will only get worse but I am at a complete loss.

Parietal Fri 27-Nov-15 12:35:51

i'm sorry you are having trouble. you are doing a good job to recognise when DD gets into bad patterns of behaviour - that is the first step to solving it.

For self esteem, you could start with lots of praise for things she does right (sharing with brother, laying the table etc) and projects or crafts which you KNOW she can do so that things do go right. Also spend time with her - work with her on the project so that if things start going wrong, you can help fix it before the anger.

but it also seems to me this might be too big for mumsnet to solve. you could go to your GP for a referral to a psychologist, or find a private psychologist who might be able to help your DD with CBT for anxiety and just advise you on how you can change the family dynamic to help DD be more confident.

Ferguson Sat 28-Nov-15 17:11:24

Has she REALLY struggled with reading, writing and maths all through school, and if so why has more not been done to help her overcome problems? I guess if she sees other children coping well with things she has difficulty with, that can build up and affect her behaviour.

Can you be more specific, and identify exactly what aspects of academic subjects she has the most trouble with?

fudgefeet Sun 29-Nov-15 09:35:53

Thanks for getting back to me. I have been giving her more responsibilities around the home this weekend which she has really been proud of. We have had a ridiculously busy few months and a longer school commute which has meant a lot of rushing about and stress. Slowing down and being more patient has helped a lot. Parietal, thanks for the suggestion of giving her a project that she can do with ease. Again, I think the time restraints has meant I haven't been able to sit down and help her with projects as I have in the past. My husband is a painter and has recently started exhibiting around the world so he is not about as much as usual lately and I have started a prop making business which has been much busier than expected. My daughter loves being creative but sometimes I think her expectations are a bit high as she sees both parents working in this area and she keeps comparing her work to ours.
Ferguson, she has only just started to read independently which she is really happy about but needs me nearby to help out when she gets stuck. We have read together nearly everyday for the past 3 years for about an hour sometimes longer at a time through her choice. She loves reading but often compares herself to her peers who are a lot more fluent than her. She tends to lose track of which word she is reading midway through a sentence so repeats a lot of lines. We are still on large print books with pictures as she gets tired quickly. Her spelling is not too bad when she is practicing for a test but it goes out the window when doing her work. It is all still in phonics and quite hard to read. Her numbers are still back to front and she has not yet grasped her 2 timetables so is quite a way behind the class on that. She hasn't understood number bonds, fractions, telling the time or really anything involving numbers. Her teacher mentioned reassessing her after Christmas.
I think it has been made worse by the fact that her brother has taken to reading really well and will happily sit with a book in bed on his own and will do all his maths homework with ease and a little more on top just for fun. It has really added to the sibling rivalry between them.

Ferguson Sun 29-Nov-15 23:16:40

I will give you a few items that should help with Literacy and Maths:

An inexpensive and easy to use book, that can encourage children with reading, spelling and writing, and really help them to understand Phonics, is reviewed in the MN Book Reviews section. Just search ‘Phonics’ and my name.

When reading harder books with a child, get him to point to words as he goes along. If he knows the word, or can sound it out, he can say it. If he doesn't know the word, he can hover his finger over it, and YOU say the word for him. Don't stop to analyse or discuss the word at this stage, but try and keep the 'flow' of reading going. Review difficulties at the end, if you wish to. This way, he has the satisfaction of reading more difficult books, without the fear of getting 'stuck' on words.

Practical things are best for grasping number concepts - bricks, Lego, beads, counters, money, shapes, weights, measuring, cooking.

Do adding, taking away, multiplication (repeated addition), division (sharing), using REAL OBJECTS as just 'numbers' can be too abstract for some children.

Number Bonds of Ten forms the basis of much maths, so try to learn them. Using Lego or something similar, use a LOT of bricks (of just TWO colours, if you have enough) lay them out so the pattern can be seen of one colour INCREASING while the other colour DECREASES. Lay them down, or build up like steps.

ten of one colour none of other
nine of one colour one of other
eight of one colour two of other
seven of one colour three of other
then of course, the sides are equal at 5 and 5; after which the colours 'swap over' as to increasing/decreasing.

To learn TABLES, do them in groups that have a relationship, thus:

x2, x4, x8

x3, x6, x12

5 and 10 are easy

7 and 9 are rather harder.

Starting with TWO times TABLE, I always say: "Imagine the class is lining up in pairs; each child will have a partner, if there is an EVEN number in the class. If one child is left without a partner, then the number is ODD, because an odd one is left out."

Use Lego bricks again, lay them out in a column of 2 wide to learn 2x table. Go half way down the column, and move half the bricks up, so that now the column is 4 bricks wide. That gives the start of 4x table.

Then do similar things with 3x and 6x.

With 5x, try and count in 'fives', and notice the relationship with 'ten' - they will alternate, ending in 5 then 10.

It is important to try and UNDERSTAND the relationships between numbers, and not just learn them 'by rote'.

An inexpensive solar powered calculator (no battery to run out!) can help learn tables by 'repeated addition'. So: enter 2+2 and press = to give 4. KEEP PRESSING = and it should add on 2 each time, giving 2 times table.

There are good web sites, which can be fun to use :

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Sun 29-Nov-15 23:27:50

When shes gettung frustrated do you ask her `what can we do to work this out?`
Or if she hits `what could you have done instead?` she will know the answers!!
She needs something she can be bossy at ... acting? So she can let that out... but channeled.
Also, if she screws up her homework,.she will need to explain it to her teacher and take the consequences, rather than mom fixing it, or mom getting annoyed.

Kanga59 Mon 30-Nov-15 22:43:20

Try the book: how to talk so children will listen and how to listen so children talk

Kanga59 Mon 30-Nov-15 22:44:49

ask her "how can we solve this" when she's giving up or frustrated. her confidence will grow as she sees herself solving even just little problems

fudgefeet Tue 01-Dec-15 13:28:36

Thanks Ladies, I will take all these tips on board. I will have a good read through what you have written Ferguson, thanks so much for that.
I do try get my children to think about what they have done and how they could work things out but thinking back, lately I have been a lot less patient than I used to be. I have the how to talk book but haven't read it for a few years so should dig it out again.

Autumnsky Tue 01-Dec-15 13:42:00

She is quite behind in math and English then. Did school give any extra help? And did school suggest any thing?

Also, do you think she is talented in arts? As I believe, some children may be talented in one area, but then is much weaker at the other area.

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Wed 02-Dec-15 16:30:11

Has she been assessed for Dyslexia or Dyscalculia? My DC are dyslexic and DS2 went through a phase of pushing his books of the desk in school because he was scared he wouldn't be able to do things.

On the most basic level have you had her eyesight and hearing checked. DS2 was longsighted and managed to compensate quite well, it was a bit of a shock when we had his eyes tested.

DS2 (also 8) used to refuse to do things because he didn't want to make a mistake because he was conscious that he was making mistakes that his friends weren't. We worked with the school to make it clear that mistakes are normal. e.g. if I was reading to him and I read something wrong I would say that I had made a mistake and needed to read it again. His teachers would point out when they got things wrong. Slowly he got the message that everyone makes mistakes and its ok to get things wrong.

Barrington Stoke produce books that are easier to read - they are designed for dyslexics but I find them clearer too.

DS2 also likes audiobooks which do allow him to access books that he might find challenging to read.

fudgefeet Thu 03-Dec-15 13:42:17

Her reading is coming on slowly. She has been desperate to be able to read to herself and is gradually getting more confident. We spend a good hour or so every night reading and I often have to take the book off her when its getting late. She does guided reading at school as she does need support and we read to each other at home but I'm not too worried about that as she enjoys it so much so I don't think she will get disheartened.
I think she going to be assessed after Christmas but right now the school have been great at working on her emotional needs and relationships with other children. She bottles so much up and wont ask for help and often comes across as a bit of a hard arse but inside she is all over the place. I told the school about her anxieties and they told her she can come to them any time but soon realised that she wont ever do that so instead they have been working on daily goals with her and reflecting on things she felt happy about each day. This has helped hugely as she doesn't seem to feel quite so alone and is starting to trust her teachers.
We have started some Christmas craft projects at home so she has been a lot happier this week.

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