August 20, 2010,
M.G. asks from Lenexa, KS on August 19, 2010
PLEASE HELP!! 9 Year Old Hard to Communicate and Respect Issues...
Totally butting heads with my wonderful 9 year old daughter. Most occasions end with her getting upset and shutting down and walking away. She finds the negative in a situation, and always has to have the last word of any discussion. She works the guilt, and I am afraid I have obliged on this in past, so she continues use this technique. Concerned that she is not communicating her feelings, we get into argument, and then afraid this will translate to other relationships at school as well. How can we communicate respectfully? How can I move away from her using the technique... Thanks! =)
Ex. 1) First day of school she asked me to flat iron her hair. During the process, the steam came out and hit her ear, and she wigged out and stormed out of room. She wouldn't come back to talk about it, or allow me to apologize, or for me to see if she was actually hurt. She wouldn't allow me to walk her to school, as we normally do on the first day to take pics, etc. She finally allowed me and dad to walk her to school, but she was still visably upset and would throw her background on floor, etc when she couldn't find locker, etc.
Ex. 2) Going to friends home that she is really close with too, and she was upset that she couldn't come and started guilting that she has not seen this family forever, and not fair.
Ex. 3) Said that we could get special ice cream treat after dinner one night. Scheduling conflicts did not allow for that exact night, and then she would not be flexible to doing a different night, or after another event, etc. Started back chatting, and wouldn't let it go.
N.S. answers from Chicago on August 19, 2010
Is your daughter drinking the same water as mine? LOL!
I've noticed my 9-year old being totally negative about EVERYTHING! We'll be watching TV and all she can do is criticize the people on TV. She also gets upset and slams into her room.
I've found this to help somewhat, although it's not a true solution and if anyone has one let me know! When she says something negative I totally ignore it. If she says anything positive (or kind of positive) then I immediately respond to that part and nothing else. She came home from a friends' house and said her friend was boring and she thought their house was too hot and all they did was watch TV. So I said "what did you watch on TV?" and she said "Oh, some show about sharks." and I said "Well, you like sharks right?" and she perked up a little bit and said "Right!"
This technique works because I'm communicating with her but I'm not making her wrong or shutting her down. At the same time I'm reinforcing that positive communication is what we want. Those conversations usually end with her feeling a little bit better.
If she's working the guilt (and she knows how to do that!) then I just don't play that game. I just answer her statements with "I can see you really want XYZ, but that's not going to happen." The I ignore all future "weedling" completely.
If she slams into her room, I ignore that too. What she wants is you to come in after her (which my husband does but I don't). If my husband is home and she's weedling and slamming into her room stating we don't love her, he will go in the room and try to cheer her up. The bad attitude will last for over an hour as he plays her "game."
If I'm home and she slams into her room I completely ignore it. She will walk out of her room in 15 minutes with not only a sincere apology but with an idea to do something constructive and positive.
So she will stop using the technique if it doesn't work. She will continue as long as it works!
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E.C. answers from Kansas City on August 20, 2010
sounds like hormonses to me. when my almost 11 year old daughter starts acting like this, i give her our "secret code" that she being silly. It started with me raising my voice at her for not doing her chores (long story...) and in the process, i banged a cup on the counter. She started ducking back and acting like i was about to be her! After i told her to stop being silly and asked her what was going on, she said that the loud noise was scaring her (rofl) well, laughing if that was the case, she was not allowed to ever listen to her ipod again, because i's too lound and started listing all these things she couldnt do because it was too loud, and she had a panicked look on her face, and i said unless she could desensitized herself. she said ok, and so randomly i would start banging a pot with a wooden spoon and singing off key at the top of my lungs, it was so silly that soon afterwards she started in too. now it's our secret code that she is being too dramatic and needs to chill.
as for the guilt thing, dont giver her the power to guilt you. f she doesnt want to eat ice cream on a different day, take her to maggie moo's while you are getting ice cream, and she gets nothing. Do not give her the power to control you, or her teenage years will be hell. good luck
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C.S. answers from Las Vegas on August 19, 2010
Oh M. G, it only gets worse! You have to play her game harder. So some steam burned her, well it couldn't have been that bad or she would have been crying. Let her know you want to be sure she is alright, if she refuses, tell her she has about 3 seconds to pull it together or her hair will stay as it. The end.
Going to friends, let her know it will just be longer if she keeps fussing over nothing.
So she doesn't like the idea of ice cream another night, then just as well, no ice cream. The end.
They come around when you put it that way. We do all the time. My husband and I laugh at how quick the little one comes around. But you have to say what you say and say what you mean, or it won't work.
My friend and I were out of town and she and her daughter had been fussing about her daughter taking the SAT to get into school. She received a text that said, fine I will go take the SAT so everyone can stop being mad at me. My friend was so happy, but I told her to just respond with, "OK, we'll talk". The next day, she received a text that said she did it already. It really works.
Best of luck.
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L.C. answers from Washington DC on August 20, 2010
Do NOT give in to her demands - ever.
She's playing you like a fiddle -- and I think you know it. It's okay to say no and mean it. If you say yes, you had better not mean maybe. I often tell my kids I can give them a no right now or a maybe and I can think about it.
You've got to nip this type of behavior before you've got an out of control teenager on your hands.
If she tries to use guilt, don't fall for it. Call her on it. "You cannot guilt me into doing what you want. The answer is no."
The ice cream thing - that's simple -- no ice cream this week.
If she's going to act like a baby and throw her backpack on the floor, you need to just walk away. This is a temper tantrum. You would walk away when she was 2, wouldn't you?
If she back talks at home or throws a fit, tell her she can do that in her room. When she is ready to be civil, she can come out.
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K.L. answers from St. Louis on August 20, 2010
We tried to used the philosophies of The Family Virtues Guide as our son was growing up. We weren't always successful as parents, but whenever we used that approach, it always worked. The trick is to learn to 'think in virtue' rather than to simply 'think in behavior'. We often think about what our child is 'doing' and what we want our child to 'do' rather than what virtues our child may be exercising (feeling - being motivated by, empowered by, inspired by, etc.) and what virtues we need to encourage them to employ.
In this case, for example, it sounds as if you daughter is exercising some independence, some self-preservation, some audacity. Each of these can be strengths, but however wonderful any virtue is, they all need balance. Even kindness without justice can get us in trouble, as would justice without kindness.
What seems to stand out to me from the scenarios you describe is that she is not exercising forgiveness, tolerance, consideration, or unity. It is possible that she may be avoiding these more extraverted virtues because she feels some need to be excessively self-preserving.
In the virtue-based approach, it is important to not shame the child by calling her 'selfish'. Rather, you can let her know that the desire to preserve oneself, to preserve dignity, safety, etc, are honorable virtues. Then, you can explain that, as we mature, we learn to use these instincts to preserve the dignity of everyone involved, not just ourselves. As we grow, we learn to use forgiveness and compassion with our determination and sense of personal dignity. We develop the skill of using courtesy to say what we need to say with frankness. One of the signs that we are maturing is that we do not feel so much that we have to choose between having the audacity to speak up for ourselves and the consideration to speak up in a way that protects the unity of loving relationships. We learn to exercise combinations of virtue.
Once you have this understanding established with your child, stressful and challenging situations can actually become somewhat pleasant learning opportunities. It becomes a 'find-the-virtue' game. When a child comes at you screaming and rude, rather than using arbitrary punishments or shaming, you can respond with something like, "It will be very hard for me to understand you or try to help or support you if you talk to me in this way. So, if you would like my understanding and generosity, I'm going to need you to use more than your courage and determination when you are speaking to me. I am going to need you to use your wonderful skills of respect and thoughtfulness.
By naming these latent powers, the child is reminded of the potentials within, the strengths they have inside which they can call upon. It takes some amount of time and effort to learn to see the virtues in ourselves and in others, but oh, how powerful we become as parents when we make this effort!! Other than teaching our child about God and prayer, this is the most important and effective thing we did as parents. We weren't very good at it and it took years to get the hang of it, but the fact that we tried and learned this made all the difference in the world for our son, who is now 24 and lovingly and sacrificially volunteering a year an a half of his life overseas.
There are many books out there that teach parents methods and ways to speak, etc. This book teaches you how to understand the role of the parent, which is to raise a soul to be an empowered, happy, and successful human being. The secret to all human happiness and true power is in developing strength in virtue. Learning to see your child via the virtues they are developing allows them to know that you are seeing them honestly and honoring them in the most respectful way possible. I cannot begin to tell you how beautifully this will preserve your relationship with your children as they grow up and how it will empower them to develop virtue awareness in all their relationships. This is the awareness you want your child to have as they choose a spouse, a boss, a partner, an employee, etc.
For more information about The Family Virtues Guide, by Linda Popov, you can visit www.VirtuesProject.com. There, you can also order CDs from the various seminars and workshops Linda and her husband, Dr. Dan Popov, have given over the years and around the world.
I hope this is of some help to you and your wonderful 9-year-old Sweetie.
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S.H. answers from St. Louis on August 20, 2010
she's 9, this is what almost ALL 9 year olds try.....the question is whether or not you can/want to live with it! You are both unhappy & it shows.
From the sound of it, you're ready for a change. I have found that humor gets me further than being strict. When faced with issues like this, I do the exaggerated drama queen act. For instance, with Ex#1: I would have made sure I hadn't harmed her, & then amped up the volume & said, "omgosh, & it's the first day of school & I've maimed you for LIFE. Omgosh, is your ear going to fall off? Omgosh, I am such a bad Mom!" By being absolutely ridiculous, she'll learn to find the humor in such situations & not be sooo hard on herself & everyone around her. & honestly, it sounds as if you''re being too hard on yourself, too! & please remember, it was the 1st day of school......drama is normal.
With Ex#2, I would have said, "Omgosh, you are the most ill-treated child in the entire world. Omgosh, I forgot that, as an adult, I am not entitled to an adult night! I cannot believe how inconsiderate I am to not have planned to take you with us. Are you ever going to be able to forgive me?" Again, by being absurdly ridiculous, you are still addressing her issues.....but, by putting them in another context, hopefully that humor will bounce her out of her mood. That said, I am not recommending you become a clown or other such nonsense.....I'm simply saying "try a little humor" & life may be easier for all involved. & I do understand her disappointment.....she felt left out!
Ex#3: you told her she could have ice cream & you broke your word. Good for her! She's strong enough to challenge your choice! Be proud of her for being able to stand up to injustice....(in her eyes!).....
Soooo, in the end, what's really jumping out at me is her need to pull normal 9 y.o. emotional junk......& a whole lot of other emotional junk on your end! By sitting down together & having a heart-to-heart talk, you may find that you have more in common than you thought! You're both hard on yourselves & each other. Time to learn how to give & take, how to be mother & daughter, & how to respect each other. If you can't do this together, then it's time for a mediator to teach you how to treat each other!
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P.W. answers from San Francisco on August 19, 2010
I think you need to use an actual example of what goes on; I can't really understand your dynamic.