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Advice on handling DN.

(55 Posts)
KungFuPandaWorksOut16 Mon 20-Nov-17 13:41:59

I currently have my niece living with me.
(Quick backstory - DN hasn't had the easiest few years with my sister, bullying at school, eating problem, witnessed a domestic violence, new sibling, new man in the house and sister pregnant quickly again, massive argument with my sister which resulted in niece being kicked out and banished from seeing other siblings)

Now I am having a little problem with DN. I have no experience what so ever with 11 year olds, so I am looking for wisdom off mumsnetters.

It seems lately whenever I ask or say anything, she always has too argue back or have the last word. And it can be over something so simple.

For example last night-
Me : Have you packed your gym kit?
Her : Did you wash it and put it in my room?
Me : yeah..
Her : what do you think then?

Her favourite phrases are " whatever" and " Don't care" when I try and explain the way she's spoken too me isn't nice.

My DH has pointed out if I let it carry on she'll get worse and I'll be making a rod for my own back and she doesn't speak to him like that so why do I accept it.

It doesn't really bother her when I take her gadgets away because as she smugly tells me "mum use to do that. Doesn't bother me". Obviously me talking too her isnt working either.

I know she has taken the situation with her mum badly (understandably her mum won't even talk with her unless she apologies to the new lover man. Even if she does, she doesn't want her back home) She currently has a counsellor in place at school. They have no concerns over DN, and say she has fitted in perfectly and have no problem with her attitude.

I don't know what steps to take next. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Biber Mon 20-Nov-17 14:08:36

I'm a great believer in natural consequences and letting people know how their behaviour impacts on others.

In a situation like you have described I would tell her that what she just said sounded very rude and dismissive and that this has the effect of making you ... and what is the effect it has on you and your relationship? Less willing to be helpful? Getting angry and taking away her things would not be productive, it would make her defensive and just drive further wedges between her and what sounds like the last supportive family she has.

Good luck OP, it was a generous act to take her in.

TrojansAreSmegheads Mon 20-Nov-17 14:16:46

sounds like she is hurting and lashing out. maybe trying to push you away ? maybe doesnt feel safe after all her mother abandoned her so maybe she thinks it is just a matter of time until you do too.

i think that what she needs is even more love and more safety. she will be a hurt and confused little girl and the more she pushes you away the more she needs you to step closer.

you could use some help and support yourself on the best way to help her. im sure there must be specialist services out there who deal with children who have been rejected and abandoned by their parents.

FizzyGreenWater Mon 20-Nov-17 15:03:58

Me : Have you packed your gym kit?
Her : Did you wash it and put it in my room?
Me : yeah..
Her : what do you think then?

You: 'I'm thinking I might not wash it next time... what are YOU thinking?

Possibly not advisable...

user1493413286 Mon 20-Nov-17 15:11:45

I think you just need to persevere and continue with reasonable punishments, in some ways it’s clever to tell you that removing gadgets doesn’t bother her as she’ll be hoping you’ll stop doing it but I’m positive it does bother her even if she’s good at hiding it.
At this age it’s quite normal to test boundaries and even more so after what she has been through. It’s likely that she also feels very rejected by her Mum and is testing you to see if you’ll want her to leave if she misbehaves so it’s even more important that you’re firm on boundaries but continue to show her unconditional love. If you don’t come down firmly her behaviour will escalate but she needs to know that no matter what she does you won’t ask her to leave.

SandyY2K Mon 20-Nov-17 15:18:17

You: 'I'm thinking I might not wash it next time... what are YOU thinking?
^^...^^^...^^^^..
Actually if it was my DD I'd say just that. Plus I'd still take away the gadgets.

If she says it doesn't bother her, then she doesn't need them back does she.

Who would have have had her if you didn't? And really who kicks their 11 year old out?

hellsbellsmelons Mon 20-Nov-17 15:30:27

Some reading?
Maybe something like this?
It's hard enough when you've known your own child since birth so this must be very difficult.
But I agree with your DHL.
Nip it in the bud when you can.
A 'Don't you dare' with a "look" from me was enough to make my DD back off.
But she was still a horror.
It's really hard and you will find your way.

KungFuPandaWorksOut16 Mon 20-Nov-17 15:49:14

I've always been the approachable one, she confided in me about the bullying and her eating bevause of the bullying and I want that too continue.

I make sure I'm extra cautious not to add fuel to the fire because of how it was back at her mums. When I explain how she spoke to me isn't nice she just smirks and says she doesn't care or isn't bothered.
I think in a weird way she's missing being shouted at and the chaos because that's all she's known if that makes sense.

Hesanidiot Mon 20-Nov-17 16:37:18

Probably is missing it all poor kid. Seems normal for her age but it's a pain to live with. I pick my fights with my teens and find humour works best so the line above about 'I'm thinking I might not wash it again' is excellent. It says you are a person who needs respect it points out you've done her a favour in a sassy way and if she's decent she might feel a bit ashamed, if it goes on then stop washing it and show her how to do it. I wouldn't take stuff away from her talking back is par for the course but I would always say something back. Keep harsher punishments in your pocket for when you need them.

She must be feeling like crap but I assume there's a reason she's been thrown out. Helping her deal with her anger takes explanation not punishment - my kids are a bundle of hormones & emotions are just magnified at that age and I think modelling firm reasonableness and diffusing difficult situations with humour is really useful for them to see. I love making my grumpy 15 y old smile

KungFuPandaWorksOut16 Mon 20-Nov-17 16:45:29

hes her mum kicked her out because of the new boyfriend. The new boyfriend told her to get him something and she responded you're not my dad. He was basically winding her up like will be very soon kind of thing. My niece pointed out he more than likely won't stick around none of her mum's partners does. He then claimed my niece called her mum a slag. My sister then started shouting at her they had a bit of an argument and my sister slapped DN. DN stayed at mine until tempers cooled, but my sister decided it was better with DN out the house ( the eldest is never home neither so 2 kids less in the busy house) and would only talk too DN if she apologised to the new man. But also made it clear even if she apologised she won't be coming home.

My sister hasn't contacted my niece in nearly 3 months. So I do get why she's acting out - but at the same time don't want her thinking that's her get out of jail free card. Looking for tips/techniques and some inspiration in how to tackle it.

Nothingrhymeswithfamily Mon 20-Nov-17 17:03:36

Has she just started secondary? Ive noticed a huge change in my friends children in the few months that they've been in secondary. I think its a combination of the change, hormones and being all billy big balls now they are at big school.

My advice pick your battles, let some stuff go over your head (whilst quietly muttering to yourself). But i do also appreciate theres much much more at play here and she could probably do with some help to work through her complicated emotions. Have the school got some sort of help you could access for her? I only have teenies so i can't give any practical advice on that, if she was a toddler id hug her at that point she was playing up. But I'm not sure that works with an 11 year old!

OnTheRise Mon 20-Nov-17 17:54:53

My sister hasn't contacted my niece in nearly 3 months.

That's so awful. Your poor niece. No wonder she's acting up.

She's behaving this way because it's how she's learned to behave. If you treat her consistently, with love and kindness and reasonable boundaries that she understands and which are carefully enforced, she'll come round. It's going to be very hard work because she's probably feeling very wounded and sad. But it'll be worth it.

Thank goodness she has you.

SeaToSki Mon 20-Nov-17 18:04:36

How do you think she would react if you said

Please dont speak to me that way, I washed your kit because I love you and I’m asking you if its packed so that you will be ready for xyz in the morning, again because I love you. When you love someone you talk to them with a nice tone of voice.

Hold the line, but enfold her with love and show her you arent going to run away from her bratty attitude.

I would keep the removing of devices for serious issues and maybe think about giving her jobs to do if she is bratty (something that contributes to the family like emptying the dishwasher) otherwise you will run out of sanctions really fast while she is in this (understandable) bratty phase

springydaffs Mon 20-Nov-17 18:12:35

3 months! shock sad

She has been soundly rejected by her mother. Also deprived of her siblings and family life. My guess is she is inwardly reeling and in a great deal of pain. Bless her.

I'm sure you know all this. She needs specific intervention and expertise. Perhaps contact your GP to get her (and you?) some specialised support.

All that smirking and 'don't care's' are not at all accurate - she very much cares.

georgedawes Mon 20-Nov-17 18:19:50

Poor kid. What an amazing aunt you sound. I think the fact she's like that with you and not others actually says that she loves you a lot and is terribly worried you'll reject her, so is getting in there first. Not that she would be able to articulate that of course.

I'd say something like "DN I love you more than anything and that will never change, no matter what you say or do. However that doesn't mean you get to talk to me like I'm an idiot" and change the subject. I wouldn't be too hard on her (and definitely not get into a row) but I would spend a lot of time showing her that she is loved and won't be kicked out again.

I'm a strict parent but this kid sounds so scared and confused, I'd do whatever I could to reassure her that she has unconditional love with you. It's so damaging for a child to be rejected by their primary caregiver like that, I had it done to me and it can have lifelong consequences.

JontyDoggle37 Mon 20-Nov-17 18:21:11

Your poor niece, being disowned at 11. Thank goodness she has you, and that you’re taking such a thoughtful approach to her care. I would use silence and a raised eyebrow, much more powerful than words - so when she says ‘did you wash it’ in a sarky tone I’d just stare at her and say nothing. It means the next action also has to be hers and that feels very uncomfortable, but not done aggressively if you see what I mean.

ILostItInTheEarlyNineties Mon 20-Nov-17 18:32:08

Your poor niece probably has a truck load of issues. I'm sorry but your sister has treated her appalling. She should not be putting a new man before her daughter. She's now "kicked her out" after a row. She's just a child ffs!

DN must be feeling insecure angry and unloved. Is this a permanent living arrangement with you?

My only advice would be to stay consistent. Make your expectations of reasonable behaviour clear and always implement the same consequences.
Pick your battles too. It's exhausting arguing with a pre teen over trivial stuff!

It will take time but she'll be happier with firm boundaries and a bit of security in her life.

youchangeyourusername Mon 20-Nov-17 18:51:26

3 months?! That’s appalling!

I moved in with my aunt and uncle aged 12 (different circumstances.) I wasn’t cheeky, because I had been shit scared of my dad up until then. But I did resent being there in a way, even although they were only ever loving and kind towards me. After a while, I did a fair bit of teenage binge drinking and telling them I couldn’t wait to move out when I turned 16, blah blah blah. I didn’t, of course, and I realise now how lucky I was to have them. Stick with her, and well done. You are amazing flowers

cherrycola2004 Mon 20-Nov-17 19:11:06

She’s testing you to see if you’ll “get rid” of her like her mum. Poor girl. She needs stability and love which you are giving her it will take time but she will learn to trust you and stop testing you. You’re a wonderful person. flowers

MakeItRain Mon 20-Nov-17 19:57:08

I agree with SeatoSki that you'd be best off spelling out why you've washed her kit and why you're asking if she's packed it. (Because you love her and want her to be ready).

I would guess she's assuming you're criticising her and she's hearing "I bet you haven't packed it" because criticism is all she's ever known. It probably wouldn't occur to her that you're asking just to check she's all ready for school.

I'd let this sort of response wash over you. I'd probably just answer "oi cheeky, I'm only asking to make sure you're all ready for tomorrow" and give her a hug/quick kiss.

11 is a funny age, still a young girl really, needing lots of hugs, affection and praise, but venturing into the realms of the teenage years, and wanting to appear cool and confident.

Your niece must be very confused and hurt, so I would give her a bit of leeway as long as she's not out and out rude.

Hesanidiot Mon 20-Nov-17 20:04:23

Hi just seen your answer. Do you have toddlers? I read a book years ago that explained that teens and toddlers are basically the same. So I treat mine like I did when they were toddlers.
Each stage is a transition stage ( from baby to child and from child to adult). It is normal and natural for them to fight you over everything as they are forcing you (parent) to let go of the old them. So I used to ignore their toddler tantrums and I ignore this sort of behaviour. Wait till they calm down and engage then. Don't impose sanctions when they are in the red mist, do them after when you can explain what it was they did wrong etc. add to that periods, hormones and the rejection your niece is feeling and I think a good love bomb is in order. but (& I think I'm pretty strict too) stay firm - my mum used to take any shit like she didn't care about herself I have always made it clear that I'm not a doormat and all my kids help with housework.

I imagine it's really hard work and I feel for you, but I wanted to reassure you that it's normal to a degree and my two have really supportive parents. 11 is really young still and she's been through such a lot so maybe she's developing a hard shell to protect herself too. Good luck and keep strong. She is very lucky to have you.

Ps I particularly enjoyed the emotional 2 hour post-mortems of friendships (you just don't understand). Absolutely emotionally exhausting after a day at work. I'm so glad I'm not a teenager any more

heyday Mon 20-Nov-17 20:14:18

It's not an easy situation is it? Could you take her out for a bit of a girls only shopping trip so you could do a bit of additional bonding. Whilst you're there ask her how she is feeling and tell her how she makes you feel when you are rude and disrespectful to you.
Does she like animals at all? If so could she volunteer somewhere where she could care for them, local stables or animal charities for example. For many people connecting and caring for animals is a great therapy and by goodness this young lady certainly has a lot of confusion and pain to contend with.

Bekabeech Mon 20-Nov-17 20:24:23

My advice is: ignore most of the previous advice here and post on the adoption board. Those people have far more experience with dealing with damaged, hurting frightened kids like this. Do you have an official foster arrangement for her? If not try to get one arranged - and get some SW support.

Fluffyblanket17 Mon 20-Nov-17 20:56:49

My son is 11 and has the same attitude, he’s horrific sometimes. I know I’m too soft though, he’s seen a psychologist for other issues, she told me his behaviour is down to me (being too soft) and he needs clear boundaries and consequences, and told me I had to be consistent with punishments, eg if I threaten to take the laptop away, I have to follow through every time.
I really feel sorry for your niece tho, I’m not surprised she’s lashing out, can’t imagine kicking my 11 year old out.

splendidisolation Mon 20-Nov-17 21:00:48

You don't seem to be really getting the fact that your sister has acted like an absolute fucking disgrace.

Your niece has been through a lot - way, way more than any 11 year old should have to.

Be patient and kind for the time being.

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