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Brienne

Child constantly needing “help”

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Brienne

Our 7 year old is a high achiever at school and very well behaved at school, but having a lot of behaviours at home.

With every task she wants “help” - getting undressed for a shower, getting a glass of water, getting dressed for school etc, everything she is perfectly capable of doing.

For example: asked her to fold her clothes and put them away today and she through a huge tantrum, crying and screaming that she wants “help”. She does not want help, we try that, what she actually is tantruming for is someone to do it for her. You start “helping” and she stops doing it and let’s you do it, so you warn that if she’s not also helping, you’ll stop. She ignores that and when you do stop and state why you stopped, she yells and screams and tantrums that no-one is helping her. 
 

Honestly, it’s bull. It’s all simple things she does not need help with at all and she’s just being manipulative to try to get people to do things for her. In the mornings, she has wheedled her father down to the point where he physically dresses her just to get her out of the house (I disagree with this, but I’m at work and he just really struggles in the morning to the point where he thinks this is the only way now). Personally, I think he should just drop her off in pajamas with her things in her bag one morning.
 

Who has this problem and has anyone done anything that works? We love our child, but this behaviour over every little task is taking its toll on us. And forget about chores, we can’t even get the basic 

 

It feels like the best we can hope for at this stage that she continues to do well at school and gets a very high paid job so she can hire a staff of people to do every basic task for her. 
 

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Riotproof
Posted (edited)

I think you’re expecting a lot of a 7 year old. Sounds like she needs some parental attention. 

Edited by Riotproof
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Green Sage

Sounds frustrating.

my immediate thought is, when you’re not “helping” her, what time do you and your husband spend with her, just playing? it sounds like she just needs more attention. And it’s coming out in ways that’s driving you batty.

my other thought was, don’t expect too much just because she is capable. My older son is 6, and he is such a good boy, and smart, and responsible, that I do find myself asking him to do a lot more than his reckless younger brother. I have to remind myself that even though he is an amazing boy, and capable of taking on a lot of responsibility, he is still just 6, and I need to reign myself in a bit.

If you think play time may be lacking, maybe schedule in some fun times, play UNO together, or a board game. Do a puzzle,  praise all the good behaviour, and then, only once she is happier, start reinforcing your house rules and expectations. Cause there is nothing wrong with a 7 year old doing housework and doing all the self care, but it has to be balanced with some fun.

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Ernegirl

With my own DD I have found that I catch more flies with honey. So, praising her for doing a great job (e.g. tidying  up her toys without me reading the riot act) has really helped.  Learning to pick my battles. This positive reinforcement has more impact if I raise it way after the fact e.g. on the home run from school, telling  her unexpectedly that she really helped me juggle the morning blast off by getting her own bag packed that day.  She definitely responds better if she feels a sense of pride and also a sense of caring for me by helping me. That definitely works better for us all than my previous demented yelling and nagging.

Still working on the parenting manual though, it's a life's work I think!

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nori_roll

I have a 10 year old daughter who is like this - we get there slowly eventually but every new thing is a battle.

She’s currently waiting for a paed appt for an add/adhd assessment and I do think that plays a part in it.

She fits most of the criteria for pathological demand avoidance - PDA - so I’m definitely going to ask about that.

If your daughter has any anxiety that could be playing into her behaviour, especially if she’s high achieving at school, as my  DD is - home is her safe space where her anxiety and frustrations are released.

 

https://www.pdasociety.org.uk/life-with-pda-menu/family-life-intro/helpful-approaches-children/

 

Some of the info here may assist even if it’s not what your DD has.

 

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BBC

Sometimes anxiety can express itself as demands for service. It tells the anxious child that  they are OK.  Drives the service providers batty though!

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nori_roll

Also find her currency - my DD is better at choosing to do something for herself if there’s a reward - has to be balanced with discussion about how this task isn’t an excessive demand and she needs to learn to do things for herself

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PuddingPlease

It might sound counterintuitive but I find adding additional layers of bureaucracy can actually help with this stuff. 

A big chat about needing to do things when asked and needing to work together as a family and then a list of tasks that she can cross off as they are completed.

I've had some success this week getting my two to organise themselves for showers in the evening by making them responsible for writing the name of the person whose turn it is to shower first tomorrow up on the white-board each night. 

I do not think that it is unreasonable to expect a 7 year old to dress themselves independently in the morning or to complete other tasks during the day. More time spent together is always great but I wouldn't necessarily assume that this is about anything other than being a bit lazy. My oldest is almost 7 and I had to reiterate the importance of flushing the toilet and washing her hands recently because she stopped bothering with those tedious tasks, sometimes they just try it on to see what happens. 

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nori_roll

Also it really sucks and I understand your frustration! 

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Green Sage
Just now, nori_roll said:

I have a 10 year old daughter who is like this - we get there slowly eventually but every new thing is a battle.

She’s currently waiting for a paed appt for an add/adhd assessment and I do think that plays a part in it.

She fits most of the criteria for pathological demand avoidance - PDA - so I’m definitely going to ask about that.

If your daughter has any anxiety that could be playing into her behaviour, especially if she’s high achieving at school, as my  DD is - home is her safe space where her anxiety and frustrations are released.

 

https://www.pdasociety.org.uk/life-with-pda-menu/family-life-intro/helpful-approaches-children/

 

Some of the info here may assist even if it’s not what your DD has.

 

Slightly off topic, but I only just found out about PDA not long ago, and OMG, it’s my younger son to a tee. It’s been a eye opener to read about it because it’s so hard to describe to the psych and OT and Dr and anyone else we have seen.

My son will say “no” to the stupidest of requests though, just because. I could demand he eat chocolate and he will say “no”, he literally can’t say yes sometimes. It’s like a mental block. Requests just don’t work with him.

maybe we need a new thread about it, a support thread, cause it does my head in!

PDA does sound a bit different to what the OP is talking about though. But who knows, could be part of it. 

Sorry OP, don’t want to derail! But I haven’t seen this brought up often and I got excited. Lol. 

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lizzzard

I may be way off here, but I suspect she may be stressed at the expectations you are placing on her.... 

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nori_roll
1 minute ago, ~LemonMyrtle~ said:

Slightly off topic, but I only just found out about PDA not long ago, and OMG, it’s my younger son to a tee. It’s been a eye opener to read about it because it’s so hard to describe to the psych and OT and Dr and anyone else we have seen.

My son will say “no” to the stupidest of requests though, just because. I could demand he eat chocolate and he will say “no”, he literally can’t say yes sometimes. It’s like a mental block. Requests just don’t work with him.

maybe we need a new thread about it, a support thread, cause it does my head in!

PDA does sound a bit different to what the OP is talking about though. But who knows, could be part of it. 

Sorry OP, don’t want to derail! But I haven’t seen this brought up often and I got excited. Lol. 

I know I only happened on it recently. An eye opener. My DD is very similar to the OP in the tantruming and drama involved. I have a 9 year old DD who is the polar opposite. 
 

DD10 just tells me she’ll live with DD9 when she grows up so she can do everything for her, 😂 

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JomoMum

Our near 7 year old is a high achiever at school also - exceptionally gifted as he’s been assessed. 
He likes help with things like that sometimes, mainly cause he likes the company! So I sit with him on the bed while he puts his clothes away - no way could he fold them himself though. Or we sit and chat while he packs up his play room, and I do bits of that too. But we also have an 8 month old in the house so I’ve wondered if he’s just craving some more time with us too .. which I’m ok with. 
 

I draw the line though when he asks me to keep him company while he’s doing a poop 🙄

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Prancer is coming

Does she have issues with organisation?  
 

I have a kid similar.  He does not tantrum for help, but getting him to do stuff is a nightmare.  Don’t judge your husband!  I too dressed my kid for a long time because it is easier.  It isn’t that I am choosing the easier path, it was more that rewards, consequences and whatever else there is did not work and the morning was just a stressful disaster.  At 11 he dresses himself, but needs reminders and it can take 20 minutes.  He often just has a T-shirt around his head and then gets distracted with something else.

 

He is diagnosed with ADHD, so it is more he gets distracted.  And the more stressed out I get (I hate being late), the more he slows down.  Household chores are painful as often he forgets, gets distracted or because he is spending so long on things like getting dressed, he runs out of time.

 

Control can be linked with anxiety.  If you feel she is trying to control you, she may actually be wanting to create a world she feels safe in.  Mine also gets overwhelmed with tasks, particularly if there is a few parts to them.

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qak

How about you get her to help you to do things, so it's not a one-way street? That way you can spend time together & get things done.

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cardamom

Oof - I'm embarrassed to admit that I do this! Usually I don't actually need/want help - it's just that I want DP to hang out with me while I do whatever the task is. He knows that when I say "want to help me with x...?" it means "can you keep me company".

I'm not sure why I do it. I think it's a way of eliciting care? Or the homely, companionable feeling of chatting to someone while I put away laundry, pack the dishwasher, etc.

No advice OP but just wanted to give a bit of insight into what might be driving it! Good luck :)

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Lady Sybil Vimes
Posted (edited)

There's no way my 7 year old could fold his clothes and put them away. Getting dressed in the morning is slow but he can do it. When I know we have to be out of the house early I tend to dress him myself.

I don't think I'd describe a 7 year old as manipulative. I'd look at what need is she trying to get met here? Is she wanting attention from Mum and Dad? Seven is still little. She may be highly competent at school but when she's at home she wants to be taken care of. Can she get that feeling of being looked after in another way? 

I don't think dropping her off at school in her pyjamas and a bag will do anything other than humiliate her.

I think I would: have consequences for the yelling and screaming, notice and praise the good behaviour, make sure she has caring one-to-one time for both parents to connect with her and accept that this may be a slow process.

Edited by Lady Sybil Vimes
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Ellie bean

She sounds perfectly normal. I think you’re expecting a lot.

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Not Escapin Xmas

She loves you and wants your attention. 😍😍. Plus she’s 7. DD9 still likes company whenever possible. Currently she’s in the bath and I’m sitting next to her so we can chat.

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Silverstreak

It sounds as though you'd like her to be perfect at home AND at school. She is still only seven and even if she is capable of doing a task on one day, she may have difficulty with it on another day, or just need some extra support. 

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Lady Sybil Vimes

Another thought: is she tired? Does she get enough sleep? If she goes to before and after school care then she may just be very tired, both physically and mentally, from being "good" all day. 

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Dianalynch

Ds does this, sometimes he wants company, sometimes he’s tired from a big day, sometimes he can’t be a*sed or organised enough (he probably has adhd I do), lots of different reasons...sometimes I’ll say ds I know you can do this and off he goes and gets it done, but sometimes in response he’ll say he really can’t, and I’ll give him a hand as he does need help sometimes. He’s 6. Folding clothes and putting them away are beyond him. 

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22Fruitmincepies

I get overwhelmed at the thought of folding and putting away the clothes some days...
 

And I have told DD (6yo) that if she doesn’t get dressed I will take her in her pajamas/without her hair done/no shoes on etc. But what works the best for her is to break the task up and then ask “what’s next?” So pyjamas off, what’s next? And apparently it’s actually quite fun/rewarding doing it that way, well for my DD anyway. Telling her to just get dressed tends to lead to lots of yelling and us running late. 

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MadMarchMasterchef

Sounds very similar to my DD.     2 things with her- tiredness and anxiety.   It might be worth seeing an OT. 

DD is very hypermobile and normal things like tying shoelaces, well, she can do them, it just takes more effort.   The anxiety - well she puts a fair bit of pressure on herself. 

Things that help - lots of sleep, down time, lots of exercise ( & OT exercise) - and as a PP said, me helping sometimes. Or agreeing she can have a break half way through tasks. 
Also breaking things down into clear steps, and one thing at a time.  EG not 'tidy your room' it will be 'can you put your books back on the shelf', then when thats done 'can you put your lego away'

And simplifying things, for eg each person would have a labelled tub to put shoes in so they know where their shoes have to go. 

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MadMarchMasterchef
3 hours ago, Ernegirl said:

With my own DD I have found that I catch more flies with honey. So, praising her for doing a great job (e.g. tidying  up her toys without me reading the riot act) has really helped.  Learning to pick my battles.

100% these 2 as well.  

 

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