Posted by: MomR | 2009-07-14

Seven yr old Behaviour Problem


My dd will be seven this week. She is the oldest of three- ( they will be three and 5 later this yr).

She has always been homeschooled and achieving above average. we do follow a very relaxed schooling enviroment- no extra pressure etc.

I am however concerened about her behaviour 

1. She has a very negative attitude and doesnt like attempting challenges. She gives up quickly and becomes so frustrated when she fails at something.

2. She doesnt like being corrected and gets verrrrry UPSET when we do correct her when needed. She has an attitude of '  I know it all' .

3. She always wants to be incharge of her siblings and if they dont listen to her she gets mad at them...scraeming, fighting etc.

4. She huffs and puffs when we ask her do do any chores esp cleaning the mess she creates in the house.

I just feel like such a failiure because most of the times she' s so mad/unhappy and I feel just as mad at her for this behaviour. I really want to change this problem. Can you Please advise me on what to do.


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Our expert says:
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I'd like to see what other parents might comment about this. I would think that a possible snag with home schooling is both a relative lack of socializing with other kids, and being beyond immediate parental protection, when having to face the face that one often has to persist even if not all tasks are fun, and that one has to meet goals others set, and can't just tantrum one's way out of it. The other side of the coin to poviding loving and caring and encouragement is that one might at times expect the comforting without the performance to earn it, and feel annoyed when rewards are withheld. Your description suggests this development of an excessive sense of entitlement, rather than understanding the concept of earning and deserving approval, and of failing at a task as a prelude to learning, working harder, and improving. She may not have had the opportunities to learn to deal with frustration, with taking her turn and not being the only center of attention.
It's n ot that you're a failure, at all, but maybe have over-dosed her with some well-meaning aspects of care, and so far under-dosed on some others. A child psych could help you to revise your home-schooling and disciplinary rules and regimen to improve this

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Our users say:
Posted by: Purple | 2009-07-14

I think most oldest children are fairly bossy and want to be in charge of their siblings. If she were in a traditional school with others her age in her class, her peers would soon have made it clear that they won' t be bossed around and she would have had to adapt her behvaiour in order to have anyone to play with.

You have obviously made the choice to home school for various reasons and looked at the positives and negatives and found it to be the best method for your family for whatever reasons.
Just a suggestion though, have you considered joining her up wtih some local team sports where she can learn these behaviours and socialisation skills outside of the home? Perhaps soccer or hockey or netball or soft ball or basketball. She' s used to shining and achieving on her own, in those settings she would just be a cog in the wheel.

She' s still of an age where a star chart would work. Give her stars when she shows the kind of behaviour that you do want. Get her to make the star chart with your help and discuss with her what the kind of things are that would entitle her to receive a star. When she has 5 stars, give her a character sticker or something like that. When she has 5 character stickers, give her a meaningful treat - perhaps you can get her input on what suitable treats would be e.g. an ice cream at the beach, a trip to a local play area, to have a friend around for a play date etc, some special time alone with you doing an activity or whatever she finds an attractive reward.
When she shows undesirable behaviour, give her time out for 7 minutes. Put her in her room until you have both calmed down. It doesn' t matter if she plays with her toys etc. Time out is not meant to be a punishment, it' s meant to diffuse tense situations so that everyone cools off a bit (see how they use it in sport). Then afterwards, have a cup of milo together and ask her why she did what she did and get her to apologise to whoever she wronged.

Children who attend traditional schools most definitely behave in the same way, but it does get sorted out faster. I' m sure you can think of creative ways for her to get hte social interaction she needs outside of school time to help her learn these hard social lessons.

I agree with some of what the person above has said with regard to her not seeing herself as one of the children. You probably get her to help you out occassionally with the littlies and give her some special priveleges based on her being older. This is perfectly normal and nothing wrong with it, but because she isn' t seing this in perspective by being schooled with other children, you need to find other ways to make sure she understands that you are in charge and she' s not your deputy.

Smacking doesn' t help. We all complain about how voilent our society is but don' t realise that by smacking our children we are teaching them to respond with violence when they have problems.
Yes, I' m sure every parent has smacked their child in frustration at some point, like they have all shouted at their children. The shock does bring an immediate stop to the behaviour, but it isn' t long lasting and the child never learns what the right way to behave is - just that someone bigger can physically force them to obey. They will go on to repeat the same in their adult lives.

What does work is setting limits so that she knows what the rules are. Have only a few general rules such as - in everything I do I must try my best not to hurt or harm others  have I behaved with integrity. Naturally you have to adapt the wording to suit the age and understanding level of the children, but have a few rules that set limits within the values that are important to your family. Whan an action transgresses one of these broad areas, a 7 year old is capable of reasoning with and talking to about it and discussing a better course of action and having a privelege removed if it is very serious or doing extra chores around the house (such as taking over the chore of a wronged person for a week or so). When children are younger, than about 5 you can' t reason with them, so you just have to after the time out or removal of treat tell them why it made you unhappy or sad to see that behavoiur happen.
It isn' t a democracy - you are the parent, the grown ups aren' t going to arrive and take over for you.

Remember that if discipline is too harsh, children rebel terribly as soon as they get their first opportunity - high school or as soon as they finish school.
If discipline is too lax, they will keep on pushing to find out where the limits actually are, they won' t develop respect for others it' s never been required of them, they will become selfish and not take others needs into account.
The middle ground is by far the best route to go. You want to equip your child with the life skills necessary to be liked and to be successful.
There is nothing wrong with having a relaxed attitude towards school work and life in general, but there must be limits and a structure in which to live otherwise children act up because they don' t have a sense of what will happen next and they don' t develop a sense of responsibilty as they aren' t ever sure what they have to plan for and for when. When you leave your sports kit behind and can' t play in the game, a lesson is learnt. No punishment or smack can teach that lesson of disappointment in yourself for not getting your things ready for the 3pm game or not having your assignment done by the due date. Bosses are not as lenient as parents, especially parents who have home schooled their children.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: 007Boer | 2009-07-14

My guess is that she sees herself more as Mommy' s little ambassador, as opposed to one of the children. My amateur advice would be to treat her and the other two more like children, and less like little adults (don' t know if you do, just hear me out) and more like children when dealing out orders and privileges. And don' t be afraid to put your foot down. You cannot debate social intricacies with a child, you sometimes have to smack them. A household should not be a democracy, the parents should have the last word and the kids should learn to respect that. It sometimes seems as if some kids are like wild horses who need to be tamed. Obviously you won' t climb on your daughter' s back and ride her around the house, but you need to let her know that you are in charge and that you are not amused by her antics.she has to live by your rules whether she likes them or not.

Reply to 007Boer
Posted by: 007Boer | 2009-07-14

I was ready to suggest one of my Calvinist remedies, but I have seen the EXACT same behaviour in my fiance' s household. they are also three children who were homeschooled and the oldest one apparently grew up with the same attitude as you described your oldest having. Obviously if you want to correllate this behaviour with homeschooling, you need a much larger number of cases, but it might prove very interesting to run such a psychological test (nudge-nudge Cybershrink) to see 1) IF it is at all common in homeschooled children, and if so, 2) why.

Reply to 007Boer

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