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Behaviour really bad since starting secondary

(13 Posts)
gandalf456 Fri 27-Nov-15 10:34:02

This is not directly related to school work but since my daughter started secondary school, her behaviour has become really appalling. She says herself that she is finding the school work really stressful. She struggles academically and is getting a lot of learning support - the school have been good in that respect. She has also been assigned a special coach and I have to have termly meetings with him to talk about her progress. He is also very open to communication all the time. The thing is, her behaviour is fine at school. It's just the work that's a challenge and there are a few niggles about changes in friendship groups. These are neither concerning to me nor the teachers because this is all normal stuff.

The big however is that it all spills out when she is at home. It is hard to describe that it is but when she comes in, or just when she's at home full stop, it is like a big whirlwind has come in. It is utter chaos. The real flashpoints are when I am busy with something. So, when I am in the shower, on the toilet, getting dressed, cooking. It is all done through her brother, who is 7. As soon as I turn my back, she'll do something deliberately annoying to him, rough playing with him and not stopping even when he's squealing at her, starting a fight with him by snatching something off him or, if it's not that, she'll come to me to make inappropriate demands - such as asking me to find something RIGHT NOW when I'm soaking wet from the shower, sit and help with homework while I'm browning the meat and can't leave the stove, wanting paints out when I am about to serve dinner or getting in the kitchen and right under my feet - e.g. turning on the cold tap for a cold drink when I've filled the sink with hot soapy suds or helping herself to snacks and preparing them where I'm trying to prepare food.

Any consequence I try to issue is counterproductive and she responds very aggressively. If I talk to her when she's calm, she gets it but it doesn't stop her from doing it again and again and again and again....It doesn't matter how cross I get either. I do think she seems to like it but if I stay calm, she just ups the ante.

She has always been a bit like this but started to get easier around year 4/5 but she has regressed to the point that I feel I can't even go to the toilet because I'm having to watch a baby and I am getting more and more upset about it.

Well done if you've got this far. What do I do?

Seeline Fri 27-Nov-15 10:41:27

It's hard, but I'd cut her some slack and try to let things go as much as possible. Obviously hurting or fighting with a younger brother needs dealing with, but could the other things be dealt with slightly differently? eg I know you need x,y or z, but look I'm all wet - just give me two ticks while I get changed then of course I'll help find it.
I know it's hard when you're tired and stressed - but so is she.
My DD has just started Y7 - the step up has been huge. New friends, new building, new subjects, new teachers, homework, travel to and from school, longer hours etc. She is exhausted and prone to bursting into tears at the slightest thing. It's not like her at all - and she is obviously really enjoying school, so no other problems.
I think girls have it harder as at this age they are starting to go through so many changes in themselves too. Hormones are raging.
Hope things improve - perhaps the Christmas holidays will give her a chance to re-charge her batteries smile

mercifulTehlu Fri 27-Nov-15 10:44:46

I'm no expert, but I'd say it's anxiety. Lots of kids find the beginning of secondary school hard in lots of ways (organisationally, friendships, level of work, different expectations from different teachers etc). And if she's struggling academically and having to receive lots of help, she is probably feeling extra-vulnerable.
I'm not one to pussy-foot around bad behaviour at all, but it sounds like she is just very needy and insecure atm and she's acting out as a cry for reassurance and attention. Perhaps showering her with affection and praise, while giving her extra encouragement to talk to you about any worries, might be the way forward. I imagine that, although your irritation is very understandable, it probably makes her even more likely to ramp up the behaviour.

Secondtimeround75 Fri 27-Nov-15 10:48:06

I had this with my ds , he was lashing out & very mean.
I'll skip straight to the advice .
Get these books

1. Get Out of My Life But First Take Me and Alex into Town ( for you)

2 . Starving the anxiety gremlin
( for her)

It will pass flowers

GoddessErrata Sat 28-Nov-15 00:30:05

Could she be craving some attention? It could be that the bad behaviour is at least getting you to notice her? Perhaps try not having any consequences but offering loads of hugs, love and time just with her? The anxiety and stress of being in secondary may mean that she feels the need for some mollycoddling but doesn't know how to ask or doesn't want to come across as being 'babyish'.

My DD became argumentative and fiercely independent... Trying to do things for herself that she clearly couldn't handle. Then getting really angry if I tried to help. Finally worked out that she was trying to 'act big' so that we wouldn't think she couldn't cope with being in secondary. Loads of hugs and lying down with her to chat at reading / bed time... and I've got my little girl back. She's still striving for independence but knows that at home, she can still get loads of cuddles (but God forbid that her friends see me even touch her in public!😃)

Didn't think I'd stopped being a loving huggy mum. But I guess her argumentative attitude had meant I couldn't get near her... So a vicious cycle was developing..

mygrandchildrenrock Sat 28-Nov-15 13:42:50

Oh dear, sorry to hear this gandalf. It reminds me of one of my DDs who regresssed so much when she started Y7. She kept saying she wanted to go back to primary school and then she stopped talking more or less totally. She, like your DD, would follow me to the bathroom etc. It was like having a huge insecure toddler in the house. If I had thought she would have been happier at another high school, I would have moved her but I knew she wanted to go back to primary. She hated the moving round school, hated having to get to know new teachers for every subject etc. At October half term, we bumped into her old primary school teacher (who she had never really liked that much!) and she asked my DD how school was. My DD spoke, for the first time in weeks, and just said 'awful, horrible, dreadful'. It broke my heart but enabled her to start talking about it.
I can't really say what changed, she got used to it, I gave her loads of extra attention (I didn't have any younger DC at that stage, they came later!) and tried to do the strategies you used with toddlers, I would ask her if she needed/wanted anything or say anything etc. because I was going for a shower, cooking etc.
She ended up loving the school, really loving it and in Y10 became a mentor to new Y7s.

TheSecondOfHerName Sat 28-Nov-15 13:47:23

My Y7 DD is struggling too. She has developmental delay, so is quite immature at the best of times, but since half term we have started having tears and tantrums, which is unusual for her. She is needing a lot of extra TLC. This morning, she wouldn't start her homework until she had all of her comfort objects around her, and sucked her thumb while working. sad

TheSecondOfHerName Sat 28-Nov-15 13:49:43

It was like having a huge insecure toddler in the house.

That is such a perfect description of DD when she is stressed or anxious.

mygrandchildrenrock Sat 28-Nov-15 13:56:17

Oh dear, I am sure all your anxious children will develop coping strategies and, with time, will adapt better to being at secondary school.

gandalf456 Sat 28-Nov-15 22:05:50

Well she started again tonight having a massive tantrum when we got home from a day out at the zoo. She wants to go into the town switch on the Christmas lights but we're all cold and tired from the zoo and didn't want to go and she was lying on the floor kicking and legs like a two-year-old then suddenly she got up and said 'I want a hug.' To me, the behaviour looked bratty and entitled so normally I would say, 'Well I don't really feel like giving you a hug after the way you've been' but this time I just sat on the sofa and gave her a hug and then she proceeded to tell me what was really wrong and she had been upset by her cousin whom she had just Skyped. Her cousin was going to see the lights with her friends and she cut dd off rather rudely as soon as her friends arrived at her house so she'd felt rejected. As soon she got that off her ches, she was normal again and then I said to her ' If you have anything to worry about just talk to me instead of having a tantrum and then we can sort out and it will be much easier.' It probably won't change overnight but it's something I can keep plugging away on. I can reason with her if she's calm. I just can't do it when she's mad, which is the problem if I'm halfway through a shower etc

mygrandchildrenrock Sat 28-Nov-15 22:26:30

How good that you and your DD had a calm talk and a hug. flowers to both of you.
As you say though, change won't happen overnight, but hopefully it will gradually.

Elibean Mon 30-Nov-15 09:29:35

Gandalf, I've not had time to read through whole thread but just to nod and say 'oh yes' to your dd acting out her school/friend upsets at home or with you: mine does too. Its a sort of safety valve for her, she ends up with all these muddled overwhelming feelings - much like a toddler does, with hormones flying around - and needs me to be her safe container to roar it all out, splurge, and then sort through.

I get it. But oh its exhausting and at times infuriating and knowing one isn't alone, and that self-centred/irrational/dramatic explosions at the age of 11/12/13 are absolutely normal does help smile

gandalf456 Tue 05-Jan-16 13:45:59

Sorry, just seen this reply. It is vaguely reassuring to hear others have the same.

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