S.V. asks from Denver, CO on January 13, 2009
Almost 9-Year-old Lacking Common Sense?
I am a mother of 3 kids; 10 (g), almost 9(g) and 1.5 years (b). My 10 year old is very mature and she got a cell phone for her 9th birthday. (The primary reason for that is so that we can have contact when they see their biological father who isn't very responsible). My other daughter will be 9 this March. She is also expecting a cell phone for her 9th birthday. However, I have told her that she needs to show that she is responsible enough to have a cell phone and she has not done that. I have even flat out told her that she has some work to do before she will get that and as it stands right now she will not be getting a phone on her b-day.
Frankly, I am at a loss at what to do with her. She just doesn't think anything through. For example, I have several laundry baskets in the basement to sort the laundry. I have taught both girls how to sort their clothes. For once, I was caught up on my laundry and the baskets were empty. My daughter decided that she needed a basket up in her room. Her basket had just recently broken and we knew that. We just haven't had time to replace it quite yet. So she proceeds to take the sorting basket to her room and use it. I believe that she had this for a good couple of days. But before I realized that my sorting basket was missing she told me that she didn't have any clean pants for the next day. Not five minutes later I asked if anyone had seen my sorting basket. She admitted that she had it. I asked her if she could take it back down stairs where it was supposed to be and that we would get her a new one soon. I will have you know that this basket was overflowing with her clothes in her room. She went to her room and dumped out all of the clothes onto the floor and was going to take the empty basket downstairs. This is after she had just told me that she was out of clothes. I was speechless. How does that make any sense?
Another example...she has a spider lamp in her room. She hangs her hats and scarves on it because she rarely uses it. Something was burning and I went into her room. She was lying on her bed and I asked her what was burning and if she could smell that. She said that she didn't smell anything. I took the hat off of her lamp and there was about a 2 inch burn hole in the shade. I fixed the lamp and went downstairs and tell my husband. Then my daughter comes down and says that she did smell something but she couldn't find anything so she quit looking for the smell. This was after she had just told me that she didn't smell anything. I would have thought that she would have come to tell me about it but she didn't. She could have started her room on fire.
Last night she was doing belly flops onto a fancy couch that I have in my living room while I was on the phone. She knows better than that, but she was doing it right in front of me over and over. She did this for about 10 minutes. I finished and asked her what she was doing and why she thought that was ok. Every response I get from her she puts her head down and looks at the ground and says "I don't know". I know that she is a very smart little girl. She always understands what is going on in school and whips through her homework.
So, needless to say I would like any thoughts. I could go on and on with stuff that she does that just doesn't make sense to me. I love all of my children dearly. Does she do this for attention? Does she have something developmentally wrong with her? Is she just used to everyone doing everything for her? Do I need to get harder on her and try to get her in the world with everyone else? Thanks so much in advance to all of you. I am anxious to read other thoughts because I am totally out of ideas!
A.F. answers from Denver on January 14, 2009
My 11 year old is much the same. He is soooo literal. so the laundry basket story, I can relate to. He would have dumped out the clothes and returned the empty basket, too.
In my quest to understand my kids, I have found an informative book. It helps me see maybe why my kids do their crazy little things and reminds me I had to figure out how to navigate this world as a kid, as well.
title: A mind at a time
author: mel levine, m.d.
hope this shed some light for you, A.
M.G. answers from Denver on January 13, 2009
My 10 year old daughter is the same way. Just this morning I had to get on her about washing her hair. They take showers nightly and this morning I noticed her hair was really oily and obviously not washed. I asked her if she had washed her hair, she said she couldn't remember. UGH. I asked her when the last time she did remember washing her hair and she couldn't. I had to make her wash her hair in the morning, resulting on her being late for school. She also wants a cell phone, but I won't let her because she is constantly losing her homework, backpack, etc. and I know she will lose her phone.
She is very intelligent, and fun to be around, but I swear I get so frustrated at the small things that she over looks.
So before I ramble on here, sorry, I have no advise, but I wanted to let you know that you aren't the only one dealing with this, and I will be checking in on the advise given to you....because I could use it as well.
D.M. answers from Denver on January 14, 2009
First of all - the first born is typically more responsible and the second more the rebel. That aside, when you went in her room and smelled something burning but she didn't I would have taken her out of the room and walked into another room then back to hers. Sometimes when you are in a space for awhile you don't notice anything different. I would then have had her help look for the source which might have impressed her with the potential danger. No more hanging anything on the lamp or it goes. Sounds like you automatically take care of things (because it is easy and faster - I know) but these are opportunities to wake her up to doing the appropriate thing. Believe me, when THEY are inconvenienced they are more likely to pay attention. Kids this age can easily be in their own world. Your priorities are not theirs but that doesn't excuse living in LaLa Land. If your girls do not have regular chores I would set up a schedule (even brushing their teeth) and have them check of daily/weekly when something is complete. Now is the time to pull this in. Trust me, you do not want to have this going on when they are 13+. I put off getting a drivers permit for my girl because she was spacey and uncooperative. Finally at 17 she will be taking drivers ed and getting her permit. Kids need boundaries and consequences. Do not be afraid to be the parent. You figured out the laundry and just need to apply some logic to the rest of it. Good luck!
L.H. answers from Denver on January 14, 2009
It sounds to me like she is trying to get attention. By doing things she knows are wrong, she gets your attention. My son does this to me all the time. Even though I feel like I give him enough attention, sometimes he just needs more. When I make a point of spending a little extra dedicated time with him, he starts acting 'normal' again.
D.K. answers from Denver on January 13, 2009
I am laughing, not at you, maybe with you.
I do after school child care, most of the kids I watch are around nine. Your daughter is normal, promise.
Kids are developing and hitting weird stages with their brains and bodies. I don't think it is lack of common sense as much as just not thinking. She is preoccupied in her brain right now. Not that it is okay but she needs to be more aware of what she is doing. That takes practice.. Don't compare her with the 10 year old as it is rare that they are really mature at that age and birth order can have something to do with that!
Post up a chart. For every infraction regarding poor judgement, put it up on the chart. When she does something she has done well and thought out well, put it up for her to see. After a week, have her sit down with you and your hubby. Go over the chart. With each bad decision, ask her "well, how could this have been handled differently?", make her use her brain to figure it out. Then discuss what responsibility and accountability is and why it is so important. If the bad decisions outweigh the good ones, tell her for every week it continues it is a month off the cellphone, meaning adding a month to not getting one. So say just for what you listed that is four months out on the cellphone. It should be earned with good judgement but there is nothing wrong with her.
I don't think a 9 year old is needing a cellphone anyway. I think once kids are in midhigh, walking alone to and from school or doing more social things out with friends, cellphones with restrictions make sense. That is my two cents on that. You said yourself that the oldest is more mature and has a father with visitation and that is your reasonings.
I have friends that try hard to keep things "fair" amongst her kids and it is ridiculous as a 6 year old getting the same gifts as a 9 and 12 year old because it seems fair to spread it across the board! The bottom line is some kids aren't ready for the things the older ones are at the same age. It isn't possible nor logical to me to worry about being fair with age as much as actions speaking louder then words and she needs to prove it to you.
Hugs, she is normal! Puberty makes their brains goofy! :)
Consider yourself blessed to have a 10 year old with common sense and don't compare, that will build resentment with the girls. Good luck.