6 Yr Old Daughter Saying Things like "I Want to Die"..

Updated on July 14, 2009
M.A. asks from Caldwell, NJ
23 answers

I have a 6 year old little girl who has said things like "i want to die", "I wish you could get a gun so you can shoot me", "I dont want to survive", "your not my mother, I dont want you to be my mother", "I hate everyone in the house", "everyone in the house hates me".. etc etc etc... I dont know what to do anymore.. One major factor to point out is their father died in October of 2007, suddenly.. The were with him the weekend prior and never saw him again.. My son is a happy little boy, who has to deal with his sister being mean to him more often than not it seems. Dont get me wrong, she's ok sometimes.. But it seems to never last. She ruings almost every outing.. she has a nasty attitude. Doesnt like to give the satisfaction of showing happines/excitement. You ask her "did you have fun".. the response is "no", when you know dam well that she did have a great time. I'm seeking therapy for her next week, was just wondering if anyone is dealing witha similar situation... I'm at my wits end.. I dont know how to handle it anymore.. She has had what seems to me anger issues since toddler hood.. She would bash her head against the wall, pull her hair, scratch her face.. But I was told, its normal, she'll grow out of it, but it seems to me morphing into different behaviors.. Please, any insight would be helpful, ask me ANY questions you may have...

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answers from Jamestown on

Therapy is definatly the route to go at this point. Grief is handled in different ways and "mess" up ones mind if not dealt with properly. he doesn't want to get close to anyone in the house because of her loss so she is pushing everyone away...before they leave her too.

Medication for the other symptoms would be a start along with therapy.


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answers from New York on

As a therapist, I am happy that you are taking her to see one. Death is very confusing and even at 6 years children do not fully udnerstand the finality of death. She is probably very confused and wanting to die can be a way to say she wants to be with her daddy. She might be very afraid that if her daddy could suddenly sie that you might also die. We have an expectation of children that might be too high when it comes to expressing how they are feeling especially with such overwhelming feelings such as grief, fear and sadness.

I know it is very frustrating to cope with her behavior but try to remember that she is probably feeling overwhelmed bu all these intense emotions and is unable to express them. Hopefully working with the therapist will help her identify how she is feeling and how to cope with those feelings.

Good luck.

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answers from New York on

I think she is showing grief over the loss of her father and doesn't know how to cope with it. Try to find a grief counselor, since most counselors aren't familiar with the grieving process. Her wanting to die most likely comes from wanting to see her dad. I'm sure people told her he died and went to 'heaven.' Well thats where she wants to go too. Kids her age dont fully understand death and the finality of it. Her saying she didnt have fun is probably guilt for having fun when she is missing her dad. And she probably hates you because you survived. These are all normal stages of grief that have to be addressed and worked through. We have classes for marriage, births, child rearing, but no classes to deal with death. Most people will not even talk about death and avoid people who have lost a loved one.
Until you can find her a counselor talk to her about her dad and the good times they had together. Tell her that her dad will always be with her in her heart. Gather up pictures of him and put them in an album for her to look at whenever she wants. And recognize her need to be angry and sad.
There are lots of sites online to help you understand. Here is a start. http://singleparents.about.com/od/communicatingwiththekid...

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answers from Albany on

M., I am not a therapist, but I can say I believe it is NOT normal and I don't buy that phrase for one second "it's normal, she'll grow out of it..." No, abusine oneself is not normal, and saying those things are not normal. As someone who said she is a therapist suggested, get her to a therapist and do it soon. The way I see it, the younger they are, the easier it is to help them to express it appropriately and beating oneself or others are not acceptable in our society but she's so young, she doesn't know how to.....she has no tools to. You as a great mom calling out for help, get her help and you want to do it early for her benefit, for you, for your son, and your baby girl, but also for your new baby. Let us know what happens with the therapist. I will be praying for you all. May the love of Christ break through your home and give you all peace.

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answers from Binghamton on

Good for you for getting her to a child psychologist. I hope you have found someone good and trustworthy to help you and your daughter find the joy in your relationship again. Good luck to you, and stick with it no matter how hard it gets. She is worth it!

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answers from New York on

Hi Mom,

I can say that hurting her self is a sign she is hurting on the inside.And is in need of more attention than she is receiving.


You didn't respond with HOW you handle her outbursts.

When she says she wants to die , you should respond with
Something very loving and positive such as.

Oh no baby I don't want to hear you saying this sort of thing, it hurts me and I would just die if anything bad ever happened to you. I love you and you are my favorite little girl in the whole wide world. Promise me you would never do sucha thing.

( MOM, I suspect her outburst are after she is told NO,)

And I understand how you must feel like everything is a one sided relationship, but you are the adult and its your job as a parent to be proactive and help her make the necessary changes, You get out of this relationship what you put into it. The more effort to be positive with her, the more likely she will respond to you and her sibilngs in a positive manner. After all she learns everything she knows from watching YOU.

there are many days as a mom when we feel like we are giving and never receiving.

And Unfortunately this is part of life.

I am a firm believer in NOT allowing your kids to watch movies such as cinderella, because they are unrealistic and program our daughter to think that there is a real prince charming. that they are cinderellas, and feel sorry for themselves.

Don't get me wrong its ok to teach compassion, and sympathy,
but its equally important to teach independence, and the benefit of hard work.

Your little girl needs more than what you are giving.

Its not easy starting school and sharing everything with younger siblings, its not easy to hear that your brother is handling things properly and that she is not.

Its not easy for her to lose her father in divorce, have him DIE, and then accept a new father, and new siblings,
new rules,

All the while she still needs you.

You are spreading your self thin, with the additional family members, and its not easy for her,

she has no say so, her opinion doesn't matter, she has no options and choices, and has to help clean up toys, get diapers, help load the dishwasher.

Your pregnant and tired, mother to a newborn, and a 5 year old brother, and catering to the needs of your husband.

She is left to be a BIG GIRL,
When in fact she is still just a little girl barely out of her toddler years.


I would say that this little girl has a lot on her plate for just 6 years old.

Mom, I would say that before this new baby comes, you drop the others off with granny, or a good friend, and take her out to spend a day together. get a manicure and pedicure and sit and talk together, listen to whats on her mind.

THere will be things you can't change.

but you can change your reactions,
to that of understanding how she might feel.

And then since you require her to be a big girl,
have her load the dishwasher as her everyday job.and to keep her own room clean. ( not perfect ust tidy)

AND anything EXTRA that she does she gets paid for.

Such as collecting the laundry. and cleaning up the toys.

Your son should be able to take out the garbage and set the table. as well as keep his own room tidy.

She will be in charge of managing the children.

Her reward for managing the children will be to enroll her in a class such as swimming. Singing, dance, soccer
whatever she likes. ( she deserves time for herself)
( You can pay another mom to pick her up and drop her off)


kids aren't always happy, thats ok, but we have to make every effort to meet the needs of our children.

If your not able to give her what she needs then you have to figure out an alternate way to provider her with what she needs. Giving her daily jobs teaches responsibility, paying her for doing more gives her some control, to say no, or to feel rewarded for a job well done, taking that extra step.

Managing the children puts her on the TOP, so she feels important, and when you acknowledge her job well done,
it should make her feel sucessful.

Having her help around the house, also teaches her what you are going thru. and how much work it takes to care for the family.

Good luck


1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

You state your childs issues, but only link it to her father's death. It seems as though you were either separated or divorced at the time and since then have had one other child and are expecting another. You child is going through SO many changes in her short life. Divorce/separation, then stepfather or significant other-probably the reason for most of what you describe as anger issues she had at toddlerhood and more recently the death/greif of her father and now new children are perpetuating her more serious issues.

It is almost too much to ask of such a young child deal with appropriately. She needs specialized attention not only from a counselor/therapist but also from you, her mom-the one thing that I assume (i hope correctly) that has been constant since she was born. With so much "new" going on in your life and your frustration with her behavior are you spending any quality time with her and showing her that you still love her and are there for her through all this? How is her relationship with her ?stepfather? How was it before her father's death? I am happy that you realize she does need help and for getting it for her now. Please continue her on this path.

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answers from New York on

It sounds like she is doing this to get your attention. Does she act like this for her teachers or other people in general. My son would always do the same thing to me when he was young. I was divorced when he was very young and his dad never came to see him. He had major anger issues and of course he took it out on me. I can't tell you how many days he brought me to tears. I knew I was a good mom and he had a great life and I couldn't understand where the anger was coming from. Getting your daughter into therapy is the best thing you can do. I also went to therapy to learn how to handle his anger and how to help him through his pain. I realized that I was raising my son with guilt because of the loss of his father. Once I got a hold on my own feelings things changed tremendously with my son and I. If she does do this for others such as school etc. then that is a whole other issue that therapy can also address. Good luck and you are doing the right thing by getting her some help.

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answers from New York on

I am glad you are taking her to therapy. It really sounds like depression/grief issues. If the therapist you have isn't a good fit keep looking. Art therapy and play therapy can be really helpful for younger kids who have trouble verbalizing feelings. Also, hopefully the therapist can give you some ideas to cope with her behavior which is probably effecting the whole household. If she is negative about things can you get her to laugh about it with reverse psychology. Get her to tell you about the horrible, terrible time she had if she "didn't have any fun." Exaggerate until you can get her to laugh.
Can you arrange things so she can get some alone time with you (maybe she will talk)? I'm sure it must be hard with 3 and another on the way but even a few hours a few times a month might help so she knows she is important to you.

Also, my sister used to push my mom's buttons with tantrums and "you aren't my real mom" stuff when it was obvious by looking she was. It drove my mom crazy at the time but my mom said later after much therapy it was my sister (the drama queen)'s trying to connect emotionally.



answers from New York on

Hi M.,

I am so sorry that your daughter is going through all of this. It sounds incredibly intense. I agree with some of the things that have been shared, such as she is grieving her fathers death and the fact that she now has to share your attention with others, not to mention you probably don't have much energy because you are now pregnant. I think that it is incredibly important to try to focus on her now because it will be harder to treat her depression as time progresses, not to mention that she will be entering Middle school in a few years, which will add it's own pressures. Your daughter is crying out for help, and take what she says seriously because you don't want her to try to act out on her feelings. I think that we should not take our children for granted because they are children.

You sound like you love your daughter, but need direction. Have you tried to do some research on the web? Taking her to therapy is definitely a great move, but in addition to that, it will be good for you to get help on how to help her. Also, it will also be a good move for you to get help for yourself, I'm sure that this is taking it's toll on you.

I will say a pray for you and your family. God is powerful and can do anything!

D.,wife and mother of a 5 year old girl.



answers from New York on

Oh my, I would not pause a moment before I had this evaluated. She is the oldest and of course misses her dad the most but "anger issues since toddler, death wishes" and so on isn't something to be ignored. You don't mention how she's with her siblings or the new "dad" and that may be an issue as well. Please don't ignore this whatever you do and I wish you the best with your family.



answers from New York on

Dear M., I am sorry for your loss and for the issue you are having with your son. You are right to bring him to speak to a professional. My heart and prayers are with you. God wishes, Grandma Mary



answers from New York on

I would look into a therapist for her. I would ask the pediatrician and find a person who specializes in children.



answers from New York on

Find a good child counselor. It sounds like she is having a hard time dealing with the loss of her dad. It wouldn't hurt you all to get some help. You to know how to help the children and yourself and the children how to deal with their loss. DO IT ASAP before she gets violent with you or her little brother. A.
P.S. Don't take it as failure on your part but as something that can happen just because we all handle things differently. For some of us we deal right away and for others it takes some time until the reality sets in and the pain starts. Take it from someone who has been through loss and should have gotten help and didn't and the next major loss in my life (years later) sent me into depression and counseling and needing medication. Getting help is NOT a sign of weakness or failure but is brave and benefical to all!!! God Bless!



answers from New York on

Hi M.,

I'm so sorry to hear the things you're going through. Your daughter has so many things to deal with, first a new sibling when she was toddler, the problems between you and her father when you were together - kids can't stand it when parents fight(I'm just guessing), the divorce/separation and having to go back and forth between parents, the death of her father, and now another sibling. It's no wonder she's acting out.

I'm so glad to hear that you're seeking therapy for her. When my BFF went through a divorce, it's was extremely difficult for her middle child (then age 11) that began cutting herself. Both individual and family therapy helped the entire family.

Although I don't know much about it and haven't experienced it myself, have you checked to make sure there's nothing physically wrong - like diet, sometimes certain foods can affect a person - or possibly hormone levels?

How does she behave in school, with friends, or activies not directly related to the immediate family? Has a teacher mentioned anything to you? These are things that may help the therapist to help guide your daughter.

It is true that a toddler who throws an occassional trantrum (banging head, pulling hair) or a six year old you may rarely mention after an agrument "I want to die" is normal or a phase. However, all of the behaviors you've discribed combined are not normal.

Have you considered some therapy for yourself (not to imply that something is wrong) as it may help you to deal with your daughter's behavior and to help her "heal" more quickly.

I wish you all the best.



answers from Albany on

Ohhh what a terrible thing for such a young person to suffer so many losses & so much change! All I can say is that grief nearly tore me apart when I lost my first baby. It is an awful emotion and it can linger on for many years. Most adults have a hard time coping and expressing their feelings while on their journey through grief. I can't even imagine how hard it is for children. Everyone who is touched by intense grief copes differently. My heart goes out to your daughter. She clearly needs some help handling her emotions. I'm sure that a child psychologist who focuses on grief issues can help--I agree that counseling is needed asap!



answers from Albany on

Please bring your girl to an EFT therapist. I'm sure this will fix the problem. You can also go to the EFT main website which is www.emofree .com and check it out first to understand what it is. Most people can self-treat but I would highly recommend an experienced therapist first.

I would also bring her somewhere and get her tested for food allergies. Oddly enough many psychiatric disturbances come from allergies and are quickly reversed. A lack of amino acids in the brain can also wreak havoc. Check out Julia Ross's books The Diet Cure and The Mood Cure.

This little girl needs help and it's highly doubtful that a regular therapist will deal with this correctly. She could be going for years on end and make little progress. Talking about it with a child is almost entirely useless since she is unlikely to be able to express deep emotions insides. EFT works almost instantly and the problems don't come back and you don't need to be able to put the problem or feeling into words.

I would love to hear feedback about this.



answers from Buffalo on

I lost my father when I was 11 and I went through a similar period. I was so terrible to my mother and brother, I'm so thankful they both knew it wasn't really me just my grief. Children don't know how to express that awful hurt they feel, so they lash out at the people around them. It's a very good idea to seek help for her now. My mother sent me to therapists for a few years on and off and now that I look back it did help me get through it. You and your family will be in my prayers - no child should have to face this.


answers from New York on

Hi M.:

I find that children, along with feeling their own upsets, tend to reflect their parents' own emotional challenges as well. Have you worked through your own upsets? As a suggestion, explore your deeper emotional life, along with your daughter's reactions; all with the assistance of a qualified healthcare professional.

All the best to you and your family!

Holistic Healthcare Practitioner



answers from New York on

You have done all you can do without professional help. It is good you are starting to take her to therapy. Her pediatrician should have recommended this to you long ago when her father died. In addition, it sounds like there is another man in your life and she may resent him and the fact that you appear to have moved on. She may think you have forgotten her father or don't miss him . You may need to find a amily counselor as well, but start with something just for her.

This is not a simple and quick process. You may need to interview several professionals to find the right match for your daughter. You should find a good child psychologist, someone with a PhD. Your daughter's issues are deep and complex. Someone who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker will not have the depth of training to handle this. You may also find she needs different types of therapy. Art therapy can be very effective with children. Again find someone who is well-qualified and someone your daughter can feel comfortable with. Pet therapy can also be helpful; perhaps soon she might be interested in a small pet, such as a guinea pig, that she could help care for.

I am sorry for your loss in 2007 and the resultant trauma. I will keep your family in my prayers as you seek peace for your family.



answers from New York on

Hi M.:
I agree w a lot of the other posts- one thing to add, it sounds as though you need her to show satisfaction and happiness, I'm sure out of concern that she's not happy. Even so, the reason she's probably not showing it to her is that she may not feel like her grief is being validated, because you're focused on getting her to seem happy. Best thing to do is to go to counseling together. Don't make the mistake of thinking you know what she needs right now. Also be warned- going to a counselor may not be the answer either, grief is such a huge, mysterious topic. In many ways your daughter is on her own with it, and always will be. However if you haven't explored individual and joint counseling, you probably should.



answers from New York on

Ironically I was just talking about this to a friend last night about someone very close to me who was like this as a child, now in her 30s. She is still a very miserable, negative person who does not have many friends. She used to sit out on the curb around 5 yrs old and sing "I'm adopted and nobody wants me." When that wasn't the truth at all! I'm very glad to hear you're getting counselling for your little girl NOW, so she hopefully can deal with her issues before she grows up into an adult who is constantly miserable and can never be happy for herself or anyone else. This person I knew SHOULD HAVE gotten counselling many many years ago.



answers from New York on

My prayers & thoughts are with you and your family. It can't be easy. I hope you did follow thru with the therapy - maybe as a family. Best of luck

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