Clingy 9 yr old - is this normal and how can we help her?
PickledLily · 28/01/2012 16:09
Not sure where to post this, it's not really typical preteen behaviour, but anyway...
We have a very clingy and anxious 9yo girl (middle child) who seems terrified to be left on her own and is constantly seeking attention. If she's with people, she's full of beans. But if not, she's following us around the house. If it's not her dad she's hovering around, it's me, or her big sister (they sleep in the same bed - she is too scared to sleep on her own). She interprets everything we say to mean we are having a go at her, getting very upset, screaming & crying like a toddler. If DP tells the children off collectively for something, her response is 'you hate us don't you' or if it's just her, then 'I don't care' or 'It's not my fault'. They all come through to our room in the morning, but the other 2 eventually get bored and disappear off, but she won't let DP out of her sight without a screaming fit ensuing.
She clearly has low self-esteem and is constantly looking for reassurance; she is also a real 'people pleaser' which worries me as she gets older as she just attaches like a limpet to whoever gives her attention. We give her a lot of love and as much time and positive attention as we can, given that there are 2 other children also desperate for a piece of DP. I had assumed it was just since DP and his ex split up, but apparently she has always been this way. It is driving us both nuts and unfortunately often results in DP getting cross because he is constantly tripping up over her (literally) while he tries to cook/take a shower/answer the door.
It's really upsetting to see and is also testing our patience, which she picks up on and so the circle continues. Anyone else had a similar issue or any experience on how to help DSD feel more secure and confident?
PickledLily · 28/01/2012 16:33
Whoa, is it really that serious? There's nothing we can try to start with? I'm new to the whole children thing, so a bit clueless.
Referral could be tricky - the kids live with their mum and are only with us every other weekend plus a night a week. The ex won't speak to DP; emails/text are his only means of communication, other than messages/arrangements from the mum via the eldest child (something which I think is bang out of order, but that's another story).
RitaMorgan · 28/01/2012 18:32
She suffers from anxiety/fears and low self esteem and has been through a family breakdown - those sound like mental health issues to me.
MCos · 29/01/2012 15:56
DD1 is 9. I think the following seems to be normal enough 9 year old behaviour, horrible and all as it is:
"She interprets everything we say to mean we are having a go at her"
"responses of 'you hate us don't you' or if it's just her, then 'I don't care' or 'It's not my fault'. "
They can be quite the little drama queens at that age.
The clingyness is another matter. No ideas at all on that. Have you tried distracting her with other things to do (things that she enjoys)?
notnowImreading · 29/01/2012 16:20
My DSD was similar aged 13 - she had seemed to manage well for 4 years after her parents split up, then it caught up with her emotionally. It is to do with the break up, and also probably to do with her father living with you when she's not there. Things have happened in her life that are beyond her control and she doesn't know how to deal with it. I would advise trying to get help now while she is still 'little' and try to help her feel as secure as she possibly can (it sounds as if this is your priority anyway, so you are already ahead of 'the game).
Watch out for problems with eating and make sure she doesn't start to use food as a way of controlling herself/her dad/the family or getting attention/comfort/love. Good luck. You've picked up the problem early so you have time to help her before the terrible teens.
PickledLily · 29/01/2012 19:37
Thanks for all the helpful replies.
Yes, I think some of this could be typical preteen behaviour, but I think it's also her pushing for reassurance. She doesn't say it in an insolent or angry way, more in a confused way. Distraction only works if it involves another person; she won't go and read/draw on her own, for example.
notnowImreading - love the name! What you say about control makes a lot of sense. She has always been pushed around a lot by her big sister. I am worried about eating becoming a problem. At the moment, she has a good appetite although she tends to graze given half a chance. I'm conscious that this can disguise how much food is actually eaten so am keeping an eye on that.
This is going to be a difficult one to unravel without some communication and acknowledgement from the ex. It would be good to know if DSD is like this at her mums. Rita suggested CAMHS - I've just looked up what they do. The problem is, the ex IS a child psychotherapist or something along those lines. The 'conversation' between DP and the ex isn't going to go well. Probably time for me to find the step-parenting board...
To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.