Exhausted parents of attention seeking 8yr old girl
My 8 year old daughter behaves in such a way that others seem to be put off by her and I do not have a clue how to help her. She has always been quite bossy, over dramatic, and loud but it's now at a point where she is having trouble making and keeping friends and even adults are put off by her constant over-questioning on things that for the most part, truly do not matter. Don't get me wrong, I know kids ask a lot of questions but this is extreme. She exhausts everybody. I can't even have her minded by family any more as she has driven them nuts within a few hours and I have to pick her up, hence I never get any time out from her either as I don't want to ask anyone anymore to mind her cause she always comes home upset that people inevetably get angry with her as she just does not stop. She constantly over dramatises absolutely everything, especially when it comes to sweets and material items. She is extremely clingy when it comes to friends, makes a couple of friends and then promptly labels them bff's then is extremely jealous if the other children want to play with others outside of their circle, so they just end up ditching her.
She is extremely argumentative with her older brother (14) and has an absolute obsession with every morsel of food/drink/treats, always checking levels in the cups/bowls and arguing he has more even though he doesn't. I don't understand it at all, she never misses out and there has not been anything that has occured to make her this way (that I can think of) .
She is highly intelligent for her age and is a prolific reader, often has up to 10 books going at a time, so have moved her to a private school for a smaller class group (which she is happy with and is thriving academically) and opportunity to advance if needed as we and her public school teacher last year thought part of the problem was that she was bored. She seems so grown up compared to other girls her age. She seems to need constant input and it is very exhausting for her whole family (and also for anyone trying to be her friend). We;re totally drained.
She has an amazing ability to see the world in ways we as her family are just astounded by, is a beautiful caring soul but her jealous and greedy argumentative behaviour is destroying her social life and making our home a constant battle zone in trying to stop her from driving us nuts with her constant drive for equality in materialistic and food areas especially (Again, she NEVER misses out on anything). She makes so much trouble over things people just don't usually worry about. ALL day. EVERY Day. Not just here and there. Eg, if her brother gets on the computer to play a game, even though she is at the dining table eating her lunch, nowhere near the comuter, she will scream and run to the computer, "I was just about to get on there, You can't play that now I'm playing it" To which I respond that if she would like to play on the computer then maybe she can have a turn after her lunch and her brother has had some time, say 1 hr and then she can have an hour. Sounds fair. Nope she will argue and argue and when she finally realises she's not going to get her way she screams at all of us what bad people we are, that she was going to have a turn and it's all because of 'him' that she can't. ( Her brother just sits there astounded) Often she'll then try to hit her brother and then blame him for hurting her, even though he didn't do anything and I'm standing right there. All of this arguing, when she has been told she can have what she wants in 1 hr. But no, we must apparently suffer her wrath as she can't have it right now. This is just one example. Things like this go on all day and now she's also not sleeping at night very well, due to the friends at school problem so I get it for three quarters of the night as well now too. I'm so tired and I just don't know how to help her as doctors usually say these sorts of things are normal in kids, however this is extreme and I'm very concerned of where this is going.
She comes from a stable home with parents that love her, we give our children equal attention and do all the family things such as eat meals together at the table and take trips to the museum/exhibitions etc. Neither of our kids lack attention or discipline, Myself being the main disciplanary figure as I'm at home. Point being, we try really hard to be the best parents we can be, but nothing seems enough for her and we just don't get it. This child is so much work! Any advice would be greatly apprecieted. Maybe someone can see between these words somewhere a clue I must be missing?
I hope that I am wrong - but I wonder if you are seeing the beginnings of a personality disorder. I might suggest that you google words/phrases as "personality disorders in children" or "bpd in children" or similar words/phrases. The medical community usually does not diagnose personality disorders until early adulthood but that does not mean treatment cannot help. Again - hope that I am wrong ....
You mentioned your daughter is bright. Some things a lot of people don't understand is that gifted children can be difficult just because they're gifted. The common perception seems to be that a smart kid is an easy kid. Not true at all! Maybe there is something else going on as well, but here's some information I received from my daughter's school when they classified her as "gifted":
They are highly inquisitive.
Often exhibit and attitude of "I can do it myself"
More independent and less subject to peer pressure
Highly developed moral and ethical sense (which leads to "not fair" statements and even losing friendships)
Aware of their impulsiveness and irrationality and show emotional sensitivity
They can be less inhibited than their peers and therefore exhibit "spirited" disagreement
They construct "what if" questions readily and often (are those some of the questions your daughter is driving people mad with?)
They are quick to spot inconsistencies - which means if your parenting tactics are 100% identical across the board, she will note it and find it unfair
Has few friends
Communicates ideas well
They can be demanding/discipline problems
They can be very picky about eating, clothes, changes in schedules, etc.
Hopefully, your daughter is just too smart and your biggest challenge will be trying to keep up with her. Good luck!
I have been working with a wonderful pediatrition who has taught me that each person's nutritional needs can be drastically different and affect both physical and mental state.
It may sound hard to believe, but my daughters problems were solved with a smoothie with some vitamin supplements and Udo's DHA Oil (omega oil). ( I don't sell it or anything, ha ha, I just think it's awesome!) When she goes off the smoothie the behaviours come back, arguing, bossy, literal. My son is also extremely helped by this smoothie in other ways with his sensory issues, in fact I developed the smoothie because of his needs, and was just pleasantly surprised when it helped my daughter too! I wasn't a believer until I saw it.
If you would like to check out the smoothie I use you can see it on my blog. I think they block links in these messages but it is cdnskmom.blogspot.com, that is cdnskmom and blogspot and com, all with periods in between.
Your daughter could also have a "brain allergy" to some food that is affecting her reasoning ability, that was part of my son's problem, when he has dairy in any form, he gets anxious and extremely loud, he even starts to pace. (Google the term brain allergy).
At first I thoughts among the lines of jdtm and looked up OCD symptoms as the logical choice, but it didn't fit very well. So re-read your post a few more times. By the way, from the effort you put into the post, I can tell you are worried.
Personal opinion is that it may be more a factor of intelligence, sibling rivalry, and a bit of being spoiled. The trouble with being a really intelligent kid (and it sounds like she is), is that they problem solve so fast. As a little girl, her brother being 6 years older, was able to do many things she could not. Being intelligent you start trying various ways to get what you want. A method that works quite well for cute little girls is, being "quite bossy, over dramatic, and loud." Doesn't take a lot of effort and is kind of a by product of the screaming to get attention mode. May not be what happened, but sharp kids will figure out what gets results and really without thinking use that method. And because they are intelligent, they use the system really, really well - because it works for them (and its all they have learned how to use). Most of your post seemed to deal with her not getting her way, and then reacting to get her way.
The question asking problem puzzled me, but asking questions is one way of getting attention and is a learned response. Adults just naturally stop what they are doing when asked a question and pay attention. Of course, it could just be that she has a very inquisitive mind.
So what to do? Hopefully, my guess as to her behavior is correct, and its not some problem like jdtm suggests. I do think that part of this will cease as she matures and becomes aware of what people think about her. Once again her intelligence should allow her to make changes. The other thing is to not allow her behavior to work. Don't reward bad behavior. Its not that what's she doing is necessarily bad as in a premeditated sense. This is more a learned behavior and it can be unlearned. Don't allow negative attention getting. Ignore as much as possible, and give her ways to communicate what she wants. If her behavior gets excessive, give her timeouts until she cools down, and then do give her alternative ways to achieve her goals.
Realize it will take her some time to figure out you mean what you say and that things are going to change. Therefore you have to be really consistent. I would pick just one or two things to really work on and consistently work on that. Probably one thing to work on is the, "I want it right now." The answer is, "you will get it in an hour, and if you make a big deal about it - you not only won't get it, you will get an immediate timeout." And then consistently followup. Experts have said that it can take up to 28 days to have a behavior change, so don't expect it overnight. She will try and problem solve her way around your attempts - just make sure she chooses the right solution!
By the way, this has to be a united front. She will quickly play you off against your husband. So make sure that he understands what is happening
The good thing about intelligent kids is that they usually can adapt quicker to new situations, but it also means you have to try and stay one jump ahead of them.
The friendship problem is age old. Happens all the time, and I am not really sure of a easy way to deal with it. Except that it should not interfere with your lives.
By the way, I don't mean to suggest that you have not been disciplining her! I am sure that she is a "good" kid. Does not steal, swear, etc. Its just that I think that quite possibly she has been training you as you have been training her.
Anyway, that's what I suspect. Hope it makes sense. Even if I am partially wrong, the techniques listed above should help on some of the problems. And if I am right, will help on a lot. Maturation will also help to some extent. Good luck!
I posted the above and then saw that Myenzoorka had published as I was writing. I agree with the list a lot. I had the privilege to work with a lot of very intelligent kids and the list is spot on for many of them. And, of course, is why I wrote what I did.
Personality disorders are far more difficult to treat than anxiety disorders. OCD is one of the anxiety disorders and although it might be co-morbid with a personality disorder, they are not the same. An example of a personality disorder would be BPD (borderline personality disorder). There are others - if you google the phrase "personality disorders" you will be able to find them.
Personality disorders are long-term patterns of thoughts and behaviors that cause serious problems with relationships and work. People with personality disorders have difficulty dealing with everyday stresses and problems. They often have stormy relationships with other people. In addition, they tend to feel entitled and are very self-centered - the world revolves around them. New research today indicates a pattern of thought that originates from a deficit in the brain's structure although the medical community will state personality disorders result from both environmental and genetic causes. Frankly, I think the genetic component is by far the greater influence. One more point - there is hope in the mental health field that if a child is properly treated as early as possible, the future will be much more promising. Hope this clears up the misconception ...
Hi, I'm so pleased I have found your story. My daughter is 7 1/2 and acts almost the same as your daughter. She constantly shows off and requires attention. Doesn't listen to the word 'no', even if she has offered someone a sweet, she will insist that they have one. She forces herself onto whoever she is seeking attention from! When we have guests or her brother has a friend round, she just walks into his room several times to gain attention. I have tried speaking to her before and after guests and times when she may act like this. She says that she will behave but can't help herself. She has always been hard to handle and always needs to be busy and gets bored in 5 minutes flat. She alienates her friends cos she is so clingy, rarely gets invited to parties and we, as a family find her very annoying! This shouldn't be.
I have considered that she has some kind of personality disorder. She is very intelligent, however apart from occasionally not listening at school, she is well behaved most of the time in class. She is very tiring and I'm worried that if she doesn't change now, she will find it very hard to have the right social skills as an adult. Plus she is building herself a reputation for being a brat or an annoying person and will lose what friends she has now. I'm wondering if to take her to a GP to refer her for help but it's getting them to listen that this isn't a stage she is going through. Also, her Dad and I aren't together and he feeds her attention seeking and doesn't listen to me. (I might add, she is very happy at home with her step-dad and I) Reading your story about your daughter has made me feel like I'm not so alone, so thank you x
Outside of the excellent comments given above, it is always possible that your daughter could have ADHD. Have you looked into that. This site has pretty good info on what to look for. http://************.com/lib/childhood-teenager-adhd-symptoms
Darn, they are still blocking that site. Oh well, this is also a very good site.
This is also a good site
Two books I would recommend: The Pampered Child Syndrome, by Maggie Mamen & The Self-Esteem Trap by Polly Young Eisendrath. Also, Willpower by Baumeister. These books show how we as parents, living out our current cultural norms, create children like this. These are terrific books, and anyone with children should read them.
The following is also a terrific ebook about motivating change.
You know, I found this site looking for info on my anxious, attention seeking daughter. But reading your description, your daughter is a lot like my son, and I already know what makes him tick. I'm not a clinician and this may or may not be a fit for your child, but my son is a bright child on the autism spectrum.
He lacks the ability to see things from another point of view (hence if he thinks he was going to use the computer, the promised hour coming later doesn't jive with his version of what he expects, and he can't adapt). He lacks the ability to connect cause and effect (hence huge tantrums when he doesn't get his way, because we are mean for not giving in, and he lacks perspective to see it any other way). He isn't spoiled, but he is exhausting and does not learn from my consistency because his brain is wired differently.
Sweets, screen time, and material items are his main reason to cooperate. "Good job" isn't enough for him, his response is "what do I get for that?" and we're constantly negotiating reward charts. He argues for exceptions to the rule like a lawyer. And yes, sometimes refusing to take no for an answer has consequences. But he can't seem to learn from them. All the reward charts in the world don't motivate him, I simply chart sensory issues and periodically issue a reward when he's accumulated enough points.
What does work? Find a moment when they are calm. Draw a cartoon of a situation that went badly with thought bubbles. It will be easy for your child to fill in what they were thinking. But can they identify what other people in the room were thinking and how they felt? If not, if your child really has no idea how they are affecting others around them, ask a doctor about autism spectrum. My son finds it an unpleasant shocking revelation to see things from another point of view but sometimes it can have positive longstanding results if I do get through. Good luck.
Very nice post. Thank you for taking the time. Your post reminded me that I just saw a review for a book called "Beyond Rain Man" by Anne K. Ross. "What one psychologist learned from raising a son on the Autism spectrum." I think you might find it interesting and maybe helpful. Check it out.
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