I have a healthy, intelligent, articulate & very strong minded 5 year old girl who struggles with patience, jealousy & handling her own anger & frustrations. A parent at school has highlighted various physical & verbal abuses of their child, my daughters best friend. When she gets angry or frustrated, she pulls her clothes up, bites them angrily & then lashes out to scratch or kick or bite the person who has upset her. she tells lies to cover up for her behaviour (she did it 1st, it was an accident, i didnt do it etc). she pouts & crosses her arms & when i am there to witness such behaviour, after removing her from these situaitons & talking to her clamly, she finally admts she was wrong & reluctantly apologises. she told another child at school that her baby brother was dead. a friend brought her in a drawing in to school & she remarked it wasnt a good drawing & said she didnt want it.
I have only just been told of these events at school & have therfore been monitoring her behaviour at home & with other friends outside school & am horrified & shocked by her behaviour.
Please, I need advice to encourage better behaviour in her & the way in which to handle these situations to stop them happeneing.
This seems to me to be a real case of jealousy I am assuming she has a baby brother,it is hard for children when a baby comes along, they feel left out and they see the usurper getting all the attention they used to get. the remark about wanting him dead is telling you this I doubt she means it, it is spoken out of frustration and unhappiness, she is acting out...I suggest that you and her Dad give her some extra one to one time, games and fun,to show her she is still as special as her brother .Focus on her positive side and praise her when she does something right.
Thx so much for your advice. btw, the baby brother is her best friends brother - so yes, still jealousy of sorts as she is an only child at the moment. we have been monitoring her beahviour very closely & are shocked to discover that she tells lies frequently when playing, to friends & mainly when we question her about her behaviour. we are now making a real effort to give her 1 on 1 time & praise her for good behaviour, reassure her that we are always here if she wants a cuddle & love her very much. have also tonight taught her to take a deep breath whenever she feels angry or gets a sad feeling in her tummy (her words), let's see if she can do it in practise.
this is a brilliant forum, just knowing you are not alone in the worry of your childs behavioural issues made me feel so much more relaxed & able to think clearly & deal w the situation rationally.
any other advice most welcome. Thx
Hm. Well, I think you have some work to do to help her express her feelings and emotions in appropriate ways. Your line of thinking should be that now she goes to base level actions/reactions/responses when angry, upset, sad. You want to teach her what she can do instead. Frankly, many people never learn how to handle their emotions and appropriate boundaries and while they may not bite someone, they lash out verbally as adults. So, this is an opportunity to help her develop skills that will last a life time.
What I'd do first is go to the library. I know that she is articulate and smart, so I'm sure she enjoys reading with you. So, get many books on emotions written for kids. There should be a whole section at the library on feelings/emotions. Read them and talk about what is happening in the story--------- use the kid language that is in the books. My sons described being angry as a tornado and being in a bad mood about to blow as a storm cloud for a long time.
Next, I'd role play or act something out in which you are quite exaggerated and upset about something. Make it really corny and play it up. React in the wrong way (don't be scary mad, be more silly mad but make sure she gets the point that you are upset) and then work through the problem. Do it about Daddy has something of mine and I'm so mad. Grrr. Then start to do the wrong thing mimicking making something she would do and then stop yourself. Go through the process of stop and think. Show her how you can calm yourself. This would be things like taking deep breaths, counting to 10, going to a cool down spot (one of my favorite things for my kids), opening and closing fists tightly, or using your words to tell someone what is upsetting you. Then start talking to her about what SHE can do when she is upset. Give her suggestions. Then when you see her getting upset or the teacher does, they can say "you look like you are getting mad, what can you do when you are mad". Sounds dumb but it has defused many a situation with my kids. And they start thinking. Thinking allows them to not react so quickly and to make better choices.
There is a great book called "Words are not for Hurting". It has a companion called "Hands are not for hitting" which is also good. Sounds like either would be beneficial for your daughter.
You can talk about being a good friend. Try to make the correlation about how our friends will react to our behavior. Her best friend will not be her best friend for long if she is treated badly. That is the way it works. You have to be a good friend to have a friend. You can talk about a "bucket" that everyone has. You can say nice things to someone or do something kind for them and fill up their bucket. It fills your bucket too because you feel good about yourself when you are a good friend. But . . . you empty someone's bucket if you say mean things to them or hurt them. And then your bucket gets empty too because you weren't a good friend.
Since she is an only child, I'm going to make a suggestion about how you treat her at home. I think that when you and your husband play with her you should treat her like you are a peer. I'd make her take turns with you with her favorite toys. I'd make her let you go first in starting the game sometimes and I'd not always let her win. I'd have her decide what to play but next time, make her let you decide. See what I'm getting at. She needs to practice some basic social skill stuff that she may not get at home because she is the one and only kid. You are really her first play mate so set up a dynamic that allows her to learn how to treat her friends.
Last, I think when it comes to things like biting or hitting at 5, a zero tolerance policy is in order. That means that if she is on a play date and it happens-------- grab her hand, say sorry and the play date is over. Leave immediately. Tell her this is the deal before hand. I'd actually after some time of using the better anger management skills do that for saying mean things to. Consequences then are the teacher as well. She behaves badly, no long discussions or trying to get her to say sorry. The play date is just over and you quietly drive her home. "Love and Logic" is an excellent parenting series and our school district endorses it. It is about natural consequences. It is written by Charles and Jim Fey and I highly recommend it.
Anyway, this was long but I know it is hard. You're doing her a favor by nipping this in the bud now so that she can be a good friend down the road. good luck
Very, very good ideas by the above. Also be aware that because you are dealing with an, "intelligent, articulate & very strong minded". It makes life a little more interesting and also more wonderful later on.
She has figured out (through trial and error) that certain of her actions generate a response that helps her get what she wants. That is normal. But a intelligent, strong minded child can take it to the next level, and fairly quickly make adjustments to discipline.
Her anger control is definitely a problem and specialmoms ideas to help her are very good.
What you do need to know is that with a child like this (heck, probably most kids) you have to be very consistent. Also realize that she will test the discipline, which may make you want to try something else. It takes about 3 weeks on consistent, immediate reinforcement for behavior to change - so don't expect immediate results and don't give up and try something new. The love and logic book is excellent! Another book which goes into a lot of detail on how to manage effective timeouts is, "SOS Help for Parents," by Lynn Clark. Together, they give you some very powerful tools. Best wishes.
Thx so much for your comments, really helpful again. Have purchased 'words are not for hurting' & 'hands are not for hitting' & i'm awaiting their delivery with anticipation.
I've also been talking to her about taking deep breaths & counting to 10 when she gets the sad feeling in her tummy - she said to me 'i wish i knew about the deep breaths yesterday when i was angry w my friend'!! - so she at least recognises when she feels angry & which emotion that is. & can identify that that is when she should use the deep breaths to calm down & not lash out.
I've also printed out a great painting of a boy taking a deep breath & it looks like he's breathing the moon into his tummy. she loves it & has cut it out & stuck it next to her bed.
I've also been trying the play time w toys that i choose... & I'm going to approach the 'friend bucket' scenario 2night. My husband is away on business so when he gets back next week we can start some role playing w her too.
I already feel that we are such a great step further than we were when I 1st posted a note only 2 days ago! Thank you sandman2, margypops & specialmom.
Very best wishes to all xx
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