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My 8 year old daughter is out of control
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My 8 year old daughter is out of control

I have an extremely bright, beautiful 8 year old daughter.  She loves to read, loves school and does very well.  She has lots of friends but can be a bit bossy and sometimes gets in trouble at school for talking and socializing too much.

My problem with her is at home.  She is bossy and critical of her younger brother and sister, and is very sassy with me and her father.  Two incidents have happened within the past week that are very worrisome to me.  The first incident happened when I wouldn't allow her to go shopping with me because she didn't clean her room.  I left her home with her father, and because she was upset with me she called 911 and then hung up.  Of course the police called back and my husband explained the situation.  We told her how wrong it is to call 911 when there's not an emergency, and she seemed to understand the gravity of the situation and was sorry.

The second incident happened in the car.  My daughter was opening a bag of chips and spilled them all over the floor.  I stopped the car and said, "What happened? Did you spill?" She then screamed at me, "YES!" and threw the bag of chips in my face.  I was appalled at her behavior, and when I told her to stop, she kept saying things like, "I don't have to," "I don't care what you do to me," "I hate you."  

When she gets angry with me at home she tells me she hates me and wishes I were dead.  I don't understand her sassy, defiant behavior at home.  She doesn't have a problem with authority at school or with her friends' parents.  

Is this a stage she's going through (although she has always been difficult discipline-wise, ever since toddlerhood), or could it be a chemical imbalance or mental problem?  I'm concerned that if we don't get it under control now, she'll be a nightmare as a teenager!

Thanks in advance for your help.

Haysie
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It's god news that your daughter does not act in a defiant way outside the home. Such good news does not make it any easier for you at home, but makes it less likely that she's displaying symptoms of severe emotional disorder. It sounds to me like your daughter was born with an oppositional, willful temperament. Such children are probably the most difficult to parent, because they challenge the jurisdiction of their parents at every turn. It's important to have a systematic behavior managemnt system in place, and to maintain your equanimity. You can find a thorough description of the sort of behavior management plan I'm alluding to in Lynn Clark's book: SOS Help for Parents.
4 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
My son is almost 6 and suffers from the same behvorial issues as you daughter. He is also bright, social, funny, and compassionate, but he has a dark side that enables him to swear at us, hit, and throw unspeakable temper tantrums. I admit that my husband and I have not always been good models of behavior but he has not witnessed our anger enough to warrant his outbursts. He has always been difficult to deal with at times; however, he has shown marked improvement, like in kindergarten. He has had some problems there, but he is getting much better. But he seems to take out his anger and frustration on us at home. I take it all very personally, which would exacerbate the problem with him. How can I handle his tantrums in a calm way? I feel so out of control and I do not want to spank him because we have felt incredibly guilty when we have done so and we also believe that spanking sets a violent example. He doesn't need to have these negative tendencies reinforced through spanking. I feel very out of control. We also have a 1 year old at home who is becoming somewhat aware of what's going on. My older son is surprisingly good with him but this is affecting the dymanics of the entire family. Please give advice.
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Avatar_n_tn
My son is almost 6 and suffers from the same behvorial issues as you daughter. He is also bright, social, funny, and compassionate, but he has a dark side that enables him to swear at us, hit, and throw unspeakable temper tantrums. I admit that my husband and I have not always been good models of behavior but he has not witnessed our anger enough to warrant his outbursts. He has always been difficult to deal with at times; however, he has shown marked improvement, like in kindergarten. He has had some problems there, but he is getting much better. But he seems to take out his anger and frustration on us at home. I take it all very personally, which would exacerbate the problem with him. How can I handle his tantrums in a calm way? I feel so out of control and I do not want to spank him because we have felt incredibly guilty when we have done so and we also believe that spanking sets a violent example. He doesn't need to have these negative tendencies reinforced through spanking. I feel very out of control. We also have a 1 year old at home who is becoming somewhat aware of what's going on. My older son is surprisingly good with him but this is affecting the dymanics of the entire family. Please give advice.
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Avatar_n_tn
I came across a wonderful book that has totally changed our family.  It's called The Explosive Child and it really has helped us to understand our daughter's behavior.  She seems to have a problem with handling frustration and anger, and most of her terrible outbursts stem from times when she is really frustrated.  This book outlines how to deal with a child before he/she gets totally out of control.  We've totally changed the way we respond to our daughter when she's starting to have a meltdown, and we have a happy, calm family again.  No more screaming back and forth!  I would recommend this book to anyone who has a defiant, out-of-control child.  Good luck!



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