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Partners 5yr old is hitting out

(4 Posts)
user1469485133 Thu 28-Jul-16 20:35:04

Hi there,
In brief, im a 41 yr old woman who is in a relationship with another woman. My partner has a 5yr old child (ill call her D). I have no children of my own.
We have been together a year and a half, currently living separately but are in the process of buying a house in joint mortgage.
D is intelligent, funny, articulate, active and has a very high level of imagination. Id say around 20percent of the time its lovely with her and the other 80percent is really challenging. D stays with her Dad half the week and the other half with my partner. My partner left her ex (male partner) after 15 yrs together. She took D to live with her. D has a good relationship with her Dad (the relationship between them was not strong previous to this) and there is little or no conflict between my partner and her ex.
D often tells me she loves me, is very affectionate, but can then change very quickly into a very aggressive child. She has kicked, hit and pinched both myself, my partner, other children and my partners friends, frequently.
She is also verbally aggressive and has recently said how she wants to throw me in the bin, out of the window, onto a flame etc. She shouts, says the most obnoxious things I didnt think was possible! She has quite a vast vocabulary, and this can make her sound like a little adult sometimes - its quite strange. Most recently I heard her telling my partner that I hit her, kicked her and then held her head under water with her mouth open!!! I couldnt believe it...I didnt know how to act/react..
It makes me feel awful, sad, lonely and hurt. It makes my partner feel awful and I'm sure it makes D feel very confused and mixed up too.
This behaviour was happening around a year BEFORE my partner split with Ds father. She would use spiteful expressions and words towards other children specifically, usually if they were younger or less able to express themselves. Mostly she is outrageously demanding towards my partner and will really shout if she doesnt get her needs met instantly.
Its so hard to be standing by and watching it. Ive spoken to my partner about it and we don't know how to handle it. I think thats the problem.
D responds to firm boundaries and if they are bent slightly she will use that to her advantage - as I'm sure most 5yr olds would!
My parents divorced when I was 9 so I have some understanding of how this feels. I know that D must be going through all sorts of challenging emotions - lots of changes, being out of her control. It's just how to react to her when she is the way she is.
I currently don't 'parent' her and feel this is best. I have no parental skills anyway and she already has 2 parents! I feel that Im not clear what my role is, D isn't clear what my role is, neither is my partner clear! Its all very confusing. So if WE can't get it right, how can we expect D to follow?

Please help - I feel very alone with all of this.x

swingofthings Fri 29-Jul-16 07:22:40

Very few children of that age are perfect. They all come with their own personalities and these start to show at 3 or 4 yo. Some kids are shy, others are intense, some are clever and demand a lot of attention, some are withdrawn and need encouraging. Children demand a lot of input in teaching them about appropriate behaviour and dealing with their own personalities.

It sounds like your SD has a large personality which involves some anger that she expresses verbally and physically. She's not the only one! You are doing the right thing not disciplining her, although if she is with you only, you should do as your partner would do with her.

My son has many qualities but the two things that he showed from a very early age is low confidence when first faced with new situations (after he is familiar with them, it's not a problem) and built up anger that explodes. He had a biggest tantrums possible. I dealt with them by firstly didn't make him feel bad for being angry (it is the way he feels and at this stage couldn't help it) but teaching him that there are consequences for responding inappropriately. We cancelled a number of day trips at the last minutes as a result of his behaviour! I also tried to teach him to recognise when he was getting to that stage and helped him to channel his attention so not to let it get to this point, ie. if I knew he was likely to kick off because we needed to go somewhere when he was in the middle of a TV programme, I would make sure to tell him that TV was off before the new programme started, or at least warn him that he wouldn't be able to see the end etc...

It took many years to build his confidence up and to help him with his anger and through the years there were some ups and downs, but he is now 13 and a lovely teenager. He knows that he is naturally pessimistic and he now makes a joke about it and will make himself confront situations going against his natural instincts. The anger is about all gone too as he has learnt to manage it himself and knows what triggers it. He was always a perfectly behaved angel at school, always getting praised at home for his amazing behaviour, all his bad behaviour was directed at me, because as he said himself when he was a bit older, he knew that I would always loved him no matter what!

All this to say that it takes many years to teach our kids to learn to be well behaved in all situations so there might be quite some time of going over the same discipline before you actually see a difference in behaviour.

user1469485133 Fri 05-Aug-16 20:59:49

Hi swingofthings,

Sorry its taken me so long to reply - thank you for your support, its been really helpful in getting things into perspective for me.
I think its so important that children know that its OK to show their emotions, and my goodness, do they have a range!! I think its the way of expressing those that I struggle with. Like you said, you encouraged your child to express them, and didnt make him feel guilty for having the feelings - but directed him to appropriate ways of dealing with them.

My biggest struggle right now and I have lots of examples of them, is how my partners child talks to her. I find that THE most difficult thing to swallow - and feel that I shouldn't have to swallow it either! For example, we took D camping for 5 days this week. We had a fun time, we did lots of child friendly things, bucket and spade, sandy beaches, woods etc. But as soon as D wasn't getting immediate and full attention, she would say something or do something that adults would regard as challenging in order to regain that attention,. I realise this is normal behaviour but its really constant and it means that we have absolutely NO time to do anything without having to constantly involve her or meet her needs. If she doesn't get her needs met immediately she speaks in the most awful way, mostly to my partner (her mum). Or she hits her, pushes her, screams, goes to tip water on her...anything, so that the attention is immediately directed toward her. The 'pack down' getting ready to come home from camping was a classic example. It took 2 hours of hard work and we tried everything to keep D happy...but as soon as she wanted something and either of us said 'you'll need to wait for a short while because we are very busy packing things away' kicked off. D's an intelligent and articulate child and knows what to say in order to make her Mum feel uncomfortable or hurt and can really come out with some awful things. It makes me uncomfortable and I actually feel myself retract and start feeling low.

swingofthings Sat 06-Aug-16 07:40:56

I know exactly what you mean, sounds incredibly familiar, and yes, very normal behaviour for those children who are in more need of stimulation than others. Unfortunately, kids at that age don't put their behaviour on hold during holidays, actually often are much worse.

I'll say something that I'm sure is controversial, but that I've heard from three different teachers and that is that kids who are demanding in attention as often the brightest ones because their being demanding is a show of their need to be mentally stimulated and that comes with some level of manipulation, ie. seeing how one reacts to their different behaviour.

Two things come to mind with the example of packing down. Firstly, 2 hours of waiting is a very long time for a 5yo, even if spoken to, so it is no surprise that she would have kicked off after some time. Also, it is easy to get involved in what we do and start interacting more with the other adults without realising and only the child notices and therefore acts up to get the attention again.

What I've found with my children was that if we were going to be in any situation where they would need to 'wait', usually travelling, I had to plan every 15 minutes of that wait and ensure they would be kept busy. That's the other thing, neither my kids have much imagination, they don't do imaginative thinking, and certainly don't do 'happy to just watch', so they needed to have something to do all the time.

The second thing is does your partner ever mention consequences for her behaviour? This worked a treat with my son. I would tell him from the start what the consequence of bad behaviour would be. It helps to say it before getting fed-up because you are more likely to come up with something reasonable (the things we shout out of anger and then realise we can't carry out!), and also because this way they are aware. Of course my son challenged me to test whether I would go ahead with them a few times. I made sure I sticked with it each time, even when it turned out to be a real pain (had to cancel at the last meeting up with a friend I hadn't seen for months when we'd arranged for a day out to the zoo, which I felt very bad about, but she understood the importance of sticking up to it) an that worked wonder. After that, I'd just had to mention the word consequence and he knew what he was risking to lose.

What makes it especially difficult for you is the fact that she is not your child, so it's hard enough to adjust to a life with a child, let alone a child who requires a lot of attention, when ultimately, you picked the relationship with your partner rather than the child, even if you accepted they came as a package. Do you and your partner ever get the chance to spend time just the two of you? If you did, I think you would find your partner's child less overbearing.

Whatever you do, don't associate her negative behaviour to her persona because otherwise, you are likely to slowly grow to dislike her. Instead, take that behaviour as a sign that she is an intelligent child with whom you will soon have a lot of fun interacting with. As long as your partner tackles the behaviour rather than ignore it, she will likely grow to be a lovely child and adult with whom you could have an amazing relationship. You will both be able to look back and laugh at her attitude (as my teenage son and I do together now).

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