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miss mia

7 yo daughter - mean and spiteful behaviour. Advice please

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miss mia

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

 

my 7 yo daughter has developed some really awful spiteful behaviour. It’s primarily directed at me, or her sister (4yo). And her father if she feels like it. But it’s always me.

When she doesn’t get her own way, or if she’s tired, or hungry, had a bad day (could be anything really!) the fight always ends with her yelling ‘I hate you mummy’, ‘you’re the worst mummy ever. Everyone hates you, no one likes you’. 

I don’t know how to make her understand that her language is unacceptable in our house. I’ve tried all sorts of things: yelling, punishment, time out, taking toys away, cancelling play dates, gentle talking, calming her down then talking. But it always comes back to her saying these awful things to me. 

It is honestly ruining our relationship. I have started thinking about how much I am looking forward to her moving out and hopefully I won’t see her very much. Which makes me so very sad because that’s not the type of relationship I want. But I just don’t know how to parent her the way she obviously needs.

Does anyone have any advice on what I should do. Or how to describe this type of behaviour so I can seek out the help I need from a professional if that’s what it comes to?

thank you for reading

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~Jolly_F~

Your first stop is a GP to get a referral to developmental paed.

It could be nothing, it could be something, never hurts to get it checked to confirm. 

My daughter is a similar age and this behaviour is common in our house, she has ASD!

Please try to remember this isn’t about you. She is having an hard time dealing with the emotions she is feeling. Be firm, calm and let her know it’s not ok to speak that way to you or anyone else no matter how she feels.

It’s really tough to live with a child like this but usually it’s us that cops it because they know they are safe with us. 

 

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Gruffalo's Child

Oh OP, that would be challenging for you to cope with.    My only suggestion would be to either see a counsellor yourself, so you have someone you can vent too, and/or to take your daughter to a psychologist to help her find better tools to cope with frustration.  It might even be worth visiting your GP, saying exactly what you have said in your post and seeing if they can recommend someone for you to see.   Does she also have emotional outbursts at school?  It could be worth checking this with her teacher before seeing your GP.  

Have you ever heard of Ross Greene?  He wrote a book called The Explosive Child, which I loved and wished I'd read years earlier, so I'd highly recommend that.  He discusses collaborating with your child to work together to find a solution to challenging behaviour, and operates on the theory that children behave in certain ways because they don't have the tools to behave more appropriately.   He also has a website and I've attached a link for you.   https://www.livesinthebalance.org/

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MooGuru

No advice but I remember behaving similarly at probably a similar-ish age. For me our lives were changing dramatically. I was old enough to get it but I wasn't mature enough to understand it. So I reacted by shouting at my safe people and saying mean things to them. At the time I can remember bubbling with this anger that didn't actually have a real cause. And my parents were under stress so probably weren't as able to step back and not react with hurt. It is only as an adult looking back that I get it. 

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miss mia

Thank you for your replies. 

Jolly F, how old was your daughter when you sought help? This has been going on for some time now, I hope I haven’t made it worse by thinking it will all just go away.

gruffalo’s child, her teachers think she is wonderful. She considered to be the kindest and. Most helpful kid in class. She never loses her temper and is horrified when I threaten to tell her teachers about her meanness at home.

If something bad has happened at school she definitely doesn’t let on and keeps it bottled up until she gets home.

thank you for the book and website rec. I’ll look them up. When things go really bad, I just honestly don’t know what to say or do

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Prancer is coming

I think it is important not to buy into the ‘I hate you’ stuff.  Do not take it personally.  It is like it is her way of saying she does not like what you are doing at that point in time, whereas you are the parent and need to do what you are doing.

 

I might be a bit different, but if my kid does not like me, I am okay with that.  I will tell them I am fine with them not liking it, but it is something to think in their head and is rude to think it out loud.  I figure if i try and fight them on a feeling it takes away how they do feel, plus it gives them power as they know saying something like that upsets me and hence are more likely to say it again in the future.  I always bang on about how it is okay not to like people, but you must be kind.  I also do encourage them to think things like this in their head and they can talk to be about it later if they need, so I guess if the hate was towards me I could not grumble about them wanting to talk about it.  But again, being nice is the key, and I acknowledge it is okay if they do not like me, and I love them regardless.

 

if you are struggling, definitely seek help.  There are no medals for slogging through this stuff by yourself whilst feeling more miserable.  If you are at the point where you are thinking things will be easier when she moves out, it is certainly time to seek help.

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~Jolly_F~

We had concerns for a very long time but doctors keep brushing us off as it isn’t being her age, the youngest and stuff but Finally a doctor was like I can see this is breaking you and you have older kids, you know what’s in the realms of norm. She was finally diagnosed at 8, recently new diagnosis really but a huge learning curve and a relief.

Girls are often diagnosed later due to their ability to mask and mimic, they don’t present typically.

I am not saying at all that this is your DD but I am very firm in the if you as a parent think this is outside the norm, investigate. Either way it pans out, you have answers. 

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miss mia

Thank you Prancer. I understand the feeling of being angry and wanting to lash out with ‘I hate you’ and I’m fine with it but it’s her vitriol and spite that. I just don’t understand. I haven’t fully detailed everything here but she can be very mean, physically too.

she firmly believes her sister is loved more than her (by me) and when she is feeling angry she will take it out on her and break her things and be spiteful. She has a bit of sibling rivalry and has done so since her sister was born.

most of the time she’s wonderful. But the minute she doesn’t get her way she turns into this and it’s exhausting.

i love her but I think she’s spoiled and entitled and I don’t know where I went wrong

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Lady Sybil Vimes

Does she get enough positive, connected time with you? I wonder if she’s trying to get attention from you and has realised that being mean to you will achieve that, even if it’s negative attention.

When she’s upset are you vocalizing what she’s experiencing? I find that works well with my DS who struggles with emotions. Things like “you’re upset because Mum asked you to do x” or “you’re frustrated because I asked you to do y when you want to do z”. Sometimes their frustration comes from feeling they’re not being heard or understood but they can’t articulate it so it comes out as “I hate you”.

My suggestion is that you try to avoid giving a big emotional response to her which I know is hard. Decide on a consequence or strategy, tell her about it when you’re both calm and implement it consistently and without anger.

I think you need to challenge those thoughts you’re having about wanting her to move out and not seeing her. She’s seven!  It’s only going to heighten your reaction to her if you’re not able to avoid taking this personally. Your relationship isn’t ruined, you’re just figuring it out as you go along like we all do.

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PuddingPlease

That sounds horrible OP, I can understand why you find it hurtful and upsetting. 

I don't know if this is useful in your case but one thing that is helpful for me is my daughters dad stepping in when she talks to me like that.

It's not about him yelling or being an ogre but a calm and clear statement that she is not to talk to her mum like that and that that is not how we talk to each other can achieve far more than me trying to negotiate with her alone.  

 

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Gruffalo's Child

Miss Mia, sometimes kids use so much energy keeping everything together at school that they explode when they get home and are in their safe place.  I wonder if your daughter might be experiencing something similar?   It would definitely be worth taking her to see a psychologist to discuss this behaviour and see if you can find strategies to help you and her cope.  

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Prancer is coming

 

21 minutes ago, miss mia said:

i love her but I think she’s spoiled and entitled and I don’t know where I went wrong

You probably did not do anything wrong!  Some kids are way more challenging than others.    I used to be so annoyed when people told me to be consistent and give consequences - it did not work!  Just because it worked for them did not mean it would work for us.  And it is not necessarily about you.  Your child is struggling with emotions and it may well be her issue and not yours.  You are only trying to do your best, no need to be beat yourself up (been there, done that).

 

For me though, I did not want a kid I could not manage in public or who I did not like.  I read everything imaginable and tried lots of things.  Professional help might give you other tools to use for a child with more challenging behaviour.  My fall back at present Is connection and consequences.  When things are not going well, I give extra love and make sure I do what I can to be more connected to my child.  I also up the consequences too.

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steppy

I've been there. It is very difficult. In my case there was nothing to be done as both parents refused to address it in any meaningful way. I hope your younger child is very resilient! 

If I could have addressed it, I would definitely have taken her for assessment and tried to get something working for her as a child rather than waiting until she is a teen and can say no if she wants. 

Our child did grow out of it but that wasn't until 16 and may have had more to do with major rejection from school friends over behaviour rather than anything any parents or teachers said or did. Thank God it was over. It is the most draining, horrible thing to try to deal with. 

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CallMeFeral
2 hours ago, miss mia said:

When things go really bad, I just honestly don’t know what to say or do

Just on this, in the meantime maybe see if you can find a 'Tuning into Kids' course in your area. They can be helpful with feeling like you at least know what you're supposed to be doing. 

But PP's are right, and there could be more stuff going on with her, I would go and get her assessed as well. 

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miss mia

Thank you for your replies, I appreciate all the feedback. None of my friends or family believe anything I say as she is always perfectly nice and pleasant around everyone else. It makes me feel like I’m going crazy sometimes.

Her sister is the sweetest and most forgiving child ever. The differences between them are so stark and apparent.

i’ll look into some psychological help for her, and me. And see what I can do about assessment. I worry that she won’t let a doctor/therapist know her true feelings.

all of the advice here has been very helpful 

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NeedSleepNow

That sounds so tough, OP. In addition to having her assessed, I think it’s incredibly important you see a psychologist for yourself and consider completing Tuning into Kids, or another positive parenting course. Obviously you are frustrated, but I think your posts really highlight the way you have internally framed her behaviour for yourself and how you feel about her versus her sister. Children perceive far far more than we think they do. 

You also say that other people see her positive qualities, so in the interim I’d try to view this through the lens of her finding it challenging to regulate her emotions and behaviours, rather than her being a spiteful and mean person (I.e you said she is the stark opposite to her sweet sister). I’d also start highlighting her positive behaviours’(no matter how small), and ensure you are connecting with her in a positive way as well. Sometimes our negative thoughts/emotions can dominate, so I’d be deliberate about spending some positive time with her (I.e taking her out for lunch or to do something she enjoys).... provided you aren’t in Melbourne!

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MumsyToBigOnes

From your initial post I was ‘meh’, it’s age typical for a lot of kids and particularly girls, but your follow up post indicates it’s deeper than the description initially of the ‘I hate you/wish you were not my mum’ etc when they don’t get their way or are angry/upset. My definitely NT girl used all of that language and that age and so did a lot if my friends kids (funnily all girls, no one had similar issue with boys). Going in about unacceptable language would have been useless and if anything fuel to a fire so it was just ‘okay, well I love you, make sure your teeth are cleaned, thanks’ and basically ignore rather than engaging with it. But the physical stuff you later reference in conjunction with intense sibling rivalry from birth flags that there may be more going on than a typical development stage and I would get that checked out as outcomes there will determine suitable strategies. 

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foxbread

It's heartbreaking to feel like you've somehow failed as a mother but it's also a parenting lesson I think most of us experience at some point. Kids have their own internal worlds that we can't control.

My child can also act mean, entitled and rude far more often than I'd like. As others have said, underneath the angry reactivity is usually a poorly articulated need or feeling on her part. I just have to connect with that... as easy as that!? It's always something pretty understandable that i can empathise with, but sometimes it takes a lot of effort to help her find it and not get stuck on the surface reaction. 

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No Drama Please
Posted (edited)

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Edited by No Drama Please

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MsLaurie

My cousin was fairly spiteful as a child, very rude and brutally cutting with the way she would talk to her parents (especially her dad), and had lots of sibling rivalry with her little sister. She absolutely could never see things as fair unless it was identical or she got the better thing. She was older, you see, so deserved the better/faster/newer toy. 

At the base of it turns out to be a massive anxiety issue, which she has only now in her late 30s started to admit to and articulate as her young son is also having significant anxiety issues.

Basically she was always in fear that she wasn’t good enough/loved enough/clever enough etc etc, so always pushed and pushed with nasty words and behaviour to test things. Really hard for everyone. But a model enthusiastic and compliant child at school and basketball etc. Possibility for your daughter perhaps?

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spr_maiden

This probably hits a little too close to home for me. I have a sister who was and remains like that. She is a bully in the real sense.  She continues this pattern of behaviour well into adulthood, upping it to many incidents of emotional, verbal and targeted physical violence, and sabotaging many many of my relationships with family, some of which seems irreparable. She has also sabotaged other family relationships, however a number of my family became enablers despite the pattern. When my sister is lovely,  she can be wonderful,  I love her a lot! It is not all bad all the time. Others who have not experienced it, do not believe she does these things. Even people who have seen it can end up believing it was the victim's fault, her emotional manipulation skills are that finely tuned. It's taken me 40 years and help to openly see she perpetrates the abuse cycle sometimes subtly but definitely. I don't think any of this brings her true joy when she thinks on it too deeply. She has at times tried to change,  it seemed she had for a little while,  but it didn't stick. She continues even though she has had a lot of different forms of support in all areas of life. 

Listen,  this is worse case scenario. Your daughter is still really really young, and is having a hard time dealing with big emotions.  It's human to have flaws and poor coping skills. She needs love and compassion. But! This is alongside firm boundaries and love/compassion for you and your other child.  I agree - get professional support for ways to address it,  and emotional support for you. None of this feels good for anyone involved. I'm sorry your family is experiencing this. It's hard.  

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PhillipaCrawford

DD1 was similar and our relationship was fraught until she was nearly 17 - she would fight me over everything. And she was an angel at school.  She also has been treated for anxiety as an adult

I found I had to take a deliberate mental step back and remind myself that her behaviour wasn't a reflection on me, it was her choice to do this, the words were meaningless and I couldn't control her reactions. That helped take the sting out of the relationship a little. 

You have the added issues of her destroying siblings property - it sounds as if it is a way to get at you however.

I like the idea of seeking help, but in the meantime

I would call a family meeting to discuss expectations for how everyone treats each other - let her set the rules but the rules apply to everyone. So if she thinks it ok to break someones stuff then  that's what happens but her siblings can break hers too. Write it down, put it up on the wall. the rules come from the kids and only apply if they are unanimous.. I would start the discussion with I am worried and we need to decide together how to fix it.

FInd a quality activity to do with her and just her. Cooking. A story time together. Girly nail painting session gardening. Whatever floats her boat - but for that time she is your sole focus and the centre of your world. Some kids just need more, it is about equity not equality.

Remeber what you see is a symptom for what is happening inside it is your ability to help her which will determine what she becomes. He behaviour is the tip of the iceberg   https://parentingfromscratch.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/behavior-is-an-iceberg/

 

Also how long has she been like this? Has Covid made all her anxieties worse?

 

 

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ainira

Hi OP, my DD1 is the same age and similar. She also has learning difficulties, ADHD inattentive, poor executive function, and prone to anxiety. We are getting better now, but that's with psychologist help, learning supports, etc. 

It sounds like your daughter is struggling and you're her safe person. It's hard, but it's important to stay calm in the face of any meltdowns and outbursts to help deescalate the situation. 

Hope you are able to find supports that will help your daughter. 

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Etta

I haven't experienced this but I would acknowledge (in retaliation to her hateful outbursts) that you hate her behaviour but you love her. Also - even though her younger sister has not done anything wrong, she may be jealous of her so even acknowledging that yes, it can be hard having a younger sister, I see how that would annoy you etc . Also acknowledge that you can see that your behaviour may not seem fair but you are her mother and that is your job, and because you love her you have to do your job properly.

My DC has not carried on to this extent but these sort of arguments/appeals would take the wind out of his sails. I hope something similar works for you because it sounds really really tough for you at the moment.

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feelee

I'll preface this by saying that I've found this post and the language you've used around your daughter somewhat triggering.

I imagine my mother would have said similar things about 7 year old me and my younger sister.  I was very good at school but could be absolutely horrible at home.  Spiteful, scathing and mean.  As an adult I can appreciate that this would have made life very difficult for my parents and my sister.  But what no one seemed to recognise was that I was so terribly, terribly anxious all the time and struggling hugely.  I was also massively ashamed of how I'd behave.  Anxiety and shame are very big feelings to expect young children to deal with on their own.  It's really only when I got to my late twenties that I began to get proper help.  I am a (reasonably) well functioning, kind and considerate adult now but things would have been so much better for everyone in the family if we had the right support from the beginning.

Now I have no way of knowing if things are the same for your daughter.  But she's very young still and seems to need extra support of some kind. Don't just write her off.  I'd definitely recommend getting involvement from a good child psychologist at least.

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