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Question
Posted by: Lila | 2010/02/03

Is childs behaviour normal

My daughter turns 6 this month. She was born 5 weeks prem. I am not sure at what age they start seeing concequences for actions. She loves animals but from time to time will hurt them on purpose like pushing them into a cupboard etc so we can not leave her alone with any living thing. She also likes to break her toys, she will play with them for a while and then start taking them apart. There is just a lot of things that seems to me she is doing on purpose to anoy us, like stil writing on the walls with intervals. When I ask her why she says that she tries to be good but can not get it right. I am at home full time, she gets a lot of attention and are in Gr R in the mornings.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

This is a worrying sign, and while much younger kids might not realize that what they see as a game would be unpleasant for a pet, by 6 it should be entirely clear to her. When she breaks toys, don't replace them, explaining that you can't aford to replace toys she takes apart, and suggesting she try to fix them, instead.
I agree with Maria and Purple, that while time is useful, a disciplinary code, with clear rules applying to the important things, and clear and reliable consequences for breaking the rules, is very important.
As Maria hints, the hurting of animals is a more sinister sign, posibly, as it can be associated with current or later hurting of people too, so discipline at this sage may be important in discouraging someone from developing into someone who is careless of the feelings of others. But as Purple comments, kids are also unfortunately brilliant at recognizing what sort of behaviour is guaranteed to get the desired reaction from you. And as she says, consistency is absolutely essential.
And kids need limits - not providing any limits is an almost abusive form of neglect

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Our users say:
Posted by: Lila | 2010/02/03

Thanks to you all for your advice. My main concern is to not raise a child that will be destructive or mean as an adult. What boggs me is that she plays well with other children especially the smaller ones, she is very caring and loving, she also has sympathy because as soon as a friend cries over a toy she will hand it to them. Why is it that when it comes to animals she can be mean. Please understand that this doesnt happen all the time, it is just as if she gets this days where she will do everything wrong.

Reply to Lila
Posted by: Purple | 2010/02/03

I deal with things just like Maria does. My son is about to turn 6 so I can assure you your child is normal.

The hurting of the animals might not be sinister, it could just be because she knows she gets a reaction so she does it so that she gets attention.

Make sure that your child gets plenty of good quality attention from you. Even though you are home with her, how much tme do you spend playing games with her, reading to her etc. It' s easy to get busy with our own things when the children are this age, because they don' t need us to follow them around like when they were toddlers.

Use a star chart to encourage good behaviour.

when she does something naughty, you need to show the consequence - if its drawing on the walls, they need to be cleaned by her.

When you are about to explode, time out works wonders. I have a cup of tea while my son is in time out. I feel much better and then we can both calmly deal with the situation. He did once rip his room apart but after I stood over him and instructed him on how to clean it up again, he' s not bothered to try that one again.

Be consistent - if something is wrong - it' s always wrong. It takes energy to be such a policeman, but soon you will find that you just need to give a look or a raised eye brow or say " is that something we allow in this house"  for the behaviour to stop.
By being consistent, you often just have to say " if you do that I' ll take your crayons away"  and she won' t go ahead with the behaviour.

I can' t remember what my son did the other day, but my husband told him to stop or he would take the item away. My son put it down and said " OK Dad, sorry"  and then ran to me and said " ooh, I' d better not do that again" .

Children push and push and push the limits and if they detect the slightest hesitance from you, they push even more.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: Happiness | 2010/02/03

I agree with Maria on the issue of discipline, somethimes we love our children too much it affects them negatively. Sometimes its hard to say no and we give in to their demands, the thing is they know exactly which buttons to push and when. The good thing is you' ve picked up this odd behavior and didn' t make excuses for her like some of us do.

Reply to Happiness
Posted by: Maria | 2010/02/03

Just wanted to add... the hurting of animals is concerning. How does she relate to other kids?

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Maria | 2010/02/03

How do you discipline her when she does something wrong? Children need boundaries to feel safe, and they need you to enforce those boundaries. She is most certainly old enough to understand action and consequence. Explain to her that .e.g if she writes on the walls she will have to clean it and you will take her crayons away for 2 days. If she refuses to clean then she doesn' t get to watch tv until the wall is clean. If she breaks her toys she is not getting new ones. Etc.

I can really recommend Kevin Leman' s books " How to make kids mind without losing yours"  and " Bringing kids up without tearing them down." 

Another thing you can do, if you' re not doing it already, is to make her responsible for some age appropriate tasks like setting the table for supper and folding clean underwear. She needs to feel and understand that she is a valued member of the family who can, and should, be responsible for a part of how the family is run.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010/02/03

This is a worrying sign, and while much younger kids might not realize that what they see as a game would be unpleasant for a pet, by 6 it should be entirely clear to her. When she breaks toys, don't replace them, explaining that you can't aford to replace toys she takes apart, and suggesting she try to fix them, instead.
I agree with Maria and Purple, that while time is useful, a disciplinary code, with clear rules applying to the important things, and clear and reliable consequences for breaking the rules, is very important.
As Maria hints, the hurting of animals is a more sinister sign, posibly, as it can be associated with current or later hurting of people too, so discipline at this sage may be important in discouraging someone from developing into someone who is careless of the feelings of others. But as Purple comments, kids are also unfortunately brilliant at recognizing what sort of behaviour is guaranteed to get the desired reaction from you. And as she says, consistency is absolutely essential.
And kids need limits - not providing any limits is an almost abusive form of neglect

Reply to cybershrink

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