20 answers

Normal 9-Year Old Behavior?

We recently took my 9-year old SD on a vacation. I was very disappointed in the way she acted, but I'm wondering if it's just normal 9-year old behavior.

We went to a water park. What bugged me was the whole trip was about what she wanted to do, no compromise, no negotiation. If she didn't want to go down a slide again, then she would NOT do it. Even if we wanted to do it again. She just refused, and we couldn't very well drag her on the slide screaming. She wouldn't do it if we asked nicely, she wouldn't do it if we promised to compromised and do the slide and then do what she wanted to do. She didn't even respond to a stern talking-to about compromise. All she wanted to do was what SHE wanted to do. If she wanted to swim in the pool she'd pout or refuse to do anything else. If she wanted to go in the hot tub, then it was into the hot tub or she'd stand and pout. We couldn't very well leave her so one of us would have to go down the slide alone while the other one watched her. She loved the water slides, she'd come down laughing and saying it was awesome. But then she'd refuse to go down later on after we did what she wanted to do for a while.

Basically our entire vacation was around what she was willing to do. I feel like that would be expected for a small child of four or five. But maybe we were asking too much of a nine year old to compromise? Is this what all nine-year-olds are like on vacation? My husband and I talked to her many times on vacation about changing her attitude or we wouldn't take her anywhere else this summer. It helped for 5 minutes and then it was back to pouting and being a obstinate.

Right now I'm not happy that we spent our entire vacation doing what she wanted to do when she wanted to do it. I figured we'd have more compromise with everyone choosing different things to do. Instead it was do what she wanted, or deal with her being upset (or faking a stomach ache or headache, which would magically disappear once we were doing what she wanted). At this point I don't want to take her anywhere for a while!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Maybe I am just mean, but I would have found a hotel that offered child care and left her there for a day or two with the clear understanding that when she's ready to be part of the family and participate in FAMILY activities she was welcome to join you. No child should be running the show. I have only one child and we make it clear we all get input on what family activities will be, sometimes it will be his choice, other times it's mom and dad's choice.

I know it's hard to take that stance when you're already at a waterpark - why should everyone miss out? Have some strategies planned for the next trip. Hope things get better for all of you!

8 moms found this helpful

This child got exactly what she wanted by pouting and being a pain. Next time, just take her out of there - bring her back to the hotel - no TV, no pool, no nothing. Just make her sit there. You can relax and read a book... It seems like a waste of money, to haul her out of there after a short time, but you'll only have to do it once.
Before you go anywhere, explain the rules. We are going to do xyz. If you do a, b, or c, we will leave. It has to come from her father, though. You need to present a united front, but he has to tell her the rules and HE has to follow through. She is a step daughter -- you are the step mother. The rules and consequences have to come from Dad.
You absolutely need to nip this behavior now. She'll be a monster when she becomes a teen...
YMMV
LBC

4 moms found this helpful

More Answers

No, this is not normal nine year old behavior. It's not even normal four year old behavior. This is the behavior of a child who has figured out how to get what she wants and how to work you. Unless you want a very intense and trying next nine years, you need to change this now.

I would highly recommend that you and her father get into some family therapy to find new ways to deal with her behavior.

I would also recommend the book, "No - Why All Kids of All Ages Need to Hear It" by David Walsh. Here is the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/No-Kids-Ages-Need-Hear-Parents/dp/0...

Let her be upset. Let her pout and simply ignore her. If she chooses to have a bad time, tough. Have a bad time. The rest of you should not be hampered by her bad decisions. She's nine and old enough to be left on the pool deck while the rest of you go down the water slide. Or, as someone else suggested, take her out and let her have a time out. Or, and this is my personal favorite, talk to the manager and ask if there is somewhere she can sit where she won't be a bother to anyone but away from the crowds (safety) and tell her you will come get her when the rest of you are done having a good time without her and that if she moves from that spot there will be consequence ________ (be specific and harsh). That way, she can see the rest of you have fun, another adult is involved (embarrassment does wonders sometimes), and she gets a totally natural consequence for her behavior.

Good luck.

11 moms found this helpful

Maybe I am just mean, but I would have found a hotel that offered child care and left her there for a day or two with the clear understanding that when she's ready to be part of the family and participate in FAMILY activities she was welcome to join you. No child should be running the show. I have only one child and we make it clear we all get input on what family activities will be, sometimes it will be his choice, other times it's mom and dad's choice.

I know it's hard to take that stance when you're already at a waterpark - why should everyone miss out? Have some strategies planned for the next trip. Hope things get better for all of you!

8 moms found this helpful

Hi - you have received lots of great advice. I have a 9 year old daughter who tried to ruin our Spring Break to Hawaii - it was all about control but she also has a hard time with transitions, especially in a strange place with a 5 hour time difference and unpredictable weather.

The best advice you received is setting expectations of appropriate behavior and consequences when she doesn't behave that way. And you MUST be consistent. Once you don't allow her something she wants to do, she'll know you mean business.

Don't listen to those who tell you it's not normal. It's totally normal for a smart kid who has learned how to manipulate to feel in control. It's totally normal to want to be in control, but it's way too stressful for a child to think they need to be in charge of everything. Good parents relieve children of this stress by taking charge, setting and enforcing expectations..in a loving way.

4 moms found this helpful

Most kids will try and push the limits and do what they want if they can get away with it. My 4 year old tries this all the time but he knows that if he had a tantrum his chance of getting whatever is over (at least until he calms down and asks nicely). She has probably learned that she can get away with this kind of behavior (if her parents are separated she may have to deal with multiple sets of rules and other big changes). If you are taking her someplace again try a day trip and discuss what is expected first (everyone gets to do some of the things they want to do). The sulking and pouting are a big kid version of a tantrum. Ignore it when you can. With little kids and tantrums it works to just pick them up and leave wherever you are if they have a tantrum and sit in the car or go home. It is harder to do this with an older kid though you can still leave or have her sit someplace for a while. If she is a very stubborn kid she may make up her mind and then not want the "loose face" and change her mind. My mother lectured me repeatedly on this one ("Don't cut off your nose to spite your face" which was momspeak for don't be stubborn for the sake of being stubborn). If you can find a way to not get into a direct confrontation it may help.

4 moms found this helpful

This child got exactly what she wanted by pouting and being a pain. Next time, just take her out of there - bring her back to the hotel - no TV, no pool, no nothing. Just make her sit there. You can relax and read a book... It seems like a waste of money, to haul her out of there after a short time, but you'll only have to do it once.
Before you go anywhere, explain the rules. We are going to do xyz. If you do a, b, or c, we will leave. It has to come from her father, though. You need to present a united front, but he has to tell her the rules and HE has to follow through. She is a step daughter -- you are the step mother. The rules and consequences have to come from Dad.
You absolutely need to nip this behavior now. She'll be a monster when she becomes a teen...
YMMV
LBC

4 moms found this helpful

It does no good to make threats that you won't take her on vacation the rest of the summer. That's like disciplining a 2 yr old several hours after the incident happened.

The best way to make sure she takes you & hubby serious would be to do something drastic such as: 1)stop what you are doing & take her back to the hotel room & make her sit 2) see if the hotel had childcare 3)make her sit at the poolside while you & hubby had fun

3 moms found this helpful

What I don't understand is... why... everyone has to do things her way?
Regardless of her age?

A family trip, is a family trip.
So, you the adults, plan it.
She is a PART of the family.. .and needs to go with it.
Regardless.

What was her Dad saying about it?

Put it this way, my daughter at 2 years old, 'understood" what "compromise" was. That is one of the FIRST words I taught her, when she started talking.
My son, is 3 almost 4... and he KNOWS what "compromising" is.

But she is a Step-daughter and who knows how she is 'raised' at home by her Mom, as well.

I would have.... taken her to the childcare on-site that hotels often have... and signed-her up for that... then you/Hubby go sight-seeing. See how she would have liked THAT "option." Instead of her pouting.

3 moms found this helpful

Does your stepdaughter live with her mother and have visitations with you? If so, non-custodial fathers often have an underlying feeling of guilt about not being with their kids full time anymore, and therefore cater to their every whim. (Been there! I once witnessed my then 11 year old SD throw a royal hissy fit because her Dad made rice and put butter on it. So -- he quietly made her her own batch of unbuttered rice! Unbelievable!) Your SD has learned to manipulate him to the fullest extent. What you'll end up with is an insufferable spoiled brat, whose behavior will only get worse.

The other issue that you may be dealing with is this: if she lives with her mother full time, you don't know what the mother may be saying about her father, and possibly you. She may be acting out like that because she's internalized a lot of negative comments that she's heard at home (Been there, again! Got lots of horror stories there!)

Still, 9 years old is WAY too old to be having tantrums. You and your husband need to be united in stopping it and consistent in saying, "No" to unacceptable behavior. Since you're "only" the stepmother, he has to make sure she understands you have authority over her, too. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

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