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Posted by: ILSEO | 2012/11/25

WORRIED ABOUT 6YR OLD''S ATTITUDE

I HAVE A GORGEOUS 6YR OLD WHO I LOVE TO BITS, BUT I FEEL LIKE I AM LOSING MY MIND WITH HER BEHAVIOUR. SHE FLAT OUT REFUSES TO DO THINGS E.G YESTERDAY WAS HER GYMNASTICS YEAR END CEREMONY AND SHE FLAT OUR REFUSED TO PARTICIPATE. SHE DOESN''T PARTAKE IN SPORTS AT SCHOOL BECAUSE SHE DOES NOT WANT TO. I TRY TO ENCOURAGE AND SUPPORT HER BUT I AM AT MY WITS END. IT IS CAUSING PROBLEMS IN MY MARRIAGE AS MY HUSBAND GETS VERY ANGRY WITH HER ABOUT HER ATTITUDE AND I GET STUCK IN THE MIDDLE. SHE HAS NO PHYSICAL DISABILITY AND HER SELF CONFIDENCE IS FINE. IS THIS A POWER STRUGGLE THING? IT FEELS LIKE SHE AND I ARE CONSTANTLY FIGHTING ABOUT HER NOT LISTENING TO ME AND SOMETIMES EVEN REFUSING WHEN I ASK HER TO DO SOMETHING. I FEEL LIKE THE WORST MOM ON THE PLANET! SHE''S AN ONLY CHILD AND SLIGHTLY SPOILT I MUST ADMIT. I WANT HER TO BE BALANCED AND OFFERED THAT SHE TAKE SOME ART LESSONS NEXT YEAR, BUT THE ANSWER WAS THAT SHE DOES NOT WANT TO, NO PARTICULAR REASON. PLEASE HELP!!!

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

I'll let some of the Wise Women and moms who are regulars on this forum, provide the main responses here, on the sort of issue where they're usually so helpful.
There's surely a power struggle at play here - children realize, at various ages, the huge power they can wield by saying NO.
When a child is, for a time, in such a negativist frame of mind, its usually easier to get her involved in school sports by strongly suggesting that she shopuld NOT tqake part. But do explore why - is she simply being stubborn, or has she, as many kids do, had some bad experiences in relation to sports being teased or bullied, for instance ?
Frankly, school sports are often worth very much less than they're puffed up to be. For every child who gets to enjoy healthy exercise, there's another child who gets to be teased, defeated and with damaged self-esteem.
Instead of focussing on arguing with her about why she doesn't want to do whatever you suggest, take an alternative approach. Ask HER to suggest which of the available alternatives SHE picks to take part in, as out-of hours activities. Its like the old example fo the kid who doesn't want to get dressed to go out - instead of arguing about whether she will get dressed ( where she wins by not getting dressed ), argue about whether she'll wear the red or the green dress, and whichever one she picks, she's dressed anyway.
You're far from the worst mom, so don't think so litle of yourself. Its so easy to get into fights aboutchoixes where it actually doesn't matter which choice is made.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Just another mum | 2012/11/27

OLSEO I am glad the input helped.

However, I read through your post again and noted that your daughter is unwilling to participate in all sports at school - possibly you need to look at why she is not wanting to participate in ALL SPORTS at school and not focus
particularly on her reasons to not participate in gymnastics.

Most schools require pupils to participate in either PE/swimming/tennis netball/soccer practices during school hours -IS your daughter at least participating in some sport during school hours?? If she is not partaking in the normal school sports/PE routine what is she doing while the rest of her class does PE? This problem may go beyond just being stubborn. Not participating in what the majority of her class is doing may make her feel like an outsider and/or may result in her being teased.

Also I agree with Maria''s comment about having clear boundaries &  consequences, following though CONSISTENTLY and picking your battles. Your daughter may not have any major reasons to dislike gymnastics as an extra-mural - she may have initially liked the idea (or chosen it to keep you happy) and has now simply changed her mind (if she has been allowed to refuse to participate in school sports she may have very unclear boundaries here) but if she CHOSE this then you need to stress that she has a responsibility to at least complete the year (although many 6 year old''s will probably struggle with the idea of long term consequences for their own choices - be gentle - BUT this is a point you may have to consistently make for at least the next 12 years of her school career so it is a good idea to start now). At the same time  if this turns into a battle of wills, a good strategy may be to just take the pressure off completely for a term or two (even a year) and see how things go. I would however try &  get her to agree to participate in some basic sport (preferably at school) and explain that this is a requirement of the school (I assume it is) and maybe stress the health benefits (both physical and mental) of regular exercise.

Another idea: some children/adults are simply perfectionists and when they realize they are not going to excel at something then they stop doing it completely. Possibly you need to stress to your daughter that you do not require her to excel but just to participate, have fun and get some exercise.

Reply to Just another mum
Posted by: ILSEO | 2012/11/26

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR YOU INPUT. SHE CHOSE TO DO THE GYMNASTICS. I WILL HAVE A SIT DOWN AND CHAT WITH HER AND TRY TO FIND OUT IF SOMETHING HAPPENED THAT SHE DID NOT TELL ME ABOUT E.G. TEASING OR AS SUGGESTED MAYBE SOMETHING THAT TEACHER SAID. WILL GET TO THE BOTTOM OF IT AND GIVE SOME OF YOUR IDEAS A TRY. THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN!

Reply to ILSEO
Posted by: Maria | 2012/11/26

It sounds as if your child needs some structure and discipline in her life. I suggest you read Kevin Leman''s books " Making Children Mind without Losing Yours"  and " Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child''s Attitude, Behavior &  Character in 5 Days" . You must put boundaries in place for your daughter, make it clear what the consequences will be if the boundaries are crossed and then FOLLOW THROUGH CONSISTENTLY. Children who are consistently parented and know what to expect and what is expected from them are much happier and more secure.

Don''t stress about the extra-murals at this stage. Be active as a family - go for walks, cycle, swim together. Get a trampoline for her.

Pick your battles. With a strong willed child (and I have one of those too) it''s best not to nitpick about every little thing. I also find that my daughter responds MUCH better when I talk to her nicely (without being a pushover). When I get angry (which unfortunately happens too often) then she just pushes back harder. Also pick your time, when they''re tired or hungry they are less likely to cooperate.

Good luck.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Just another mum | 2012/11/25

I support all Cyber Shrinks suggestions and comments and especially his idea re taking an alternative approach - ask her to suggest alternatives/ Also explain why you feel she needs to do this extramural but discuss this with her and be willing and open to hear her side/counter arguments/reasoning.

Some ideas:

She may have very good reasons (but has stubbornly decided,in her mind, that you will definitely not listen) so try &  be subtle in your discussions with her and tease it our of her.
Don''t immediately counter her views with your alternative view/argument - give her time to just explain and you must give her the impression that you have the time to just listen and will not argue with her/are interested in her reasons/open to suggestions.
In my experience children who simply say NO have often just given up on ever thinking their parents will truly listen to them.

Another point -why is this causing problems in your marriage. Does your husband think it is your responsibility to deal with these issues? Or  are you the parent who decided she do gymnastics - so now you feel you must ensure it is followed through? You and your husband need to be on the same page (in total agreement) in how you deal with this. If he is not also supportive of her gymnastics (and how you deal with it together) you are never going to win.

Maybe she is being teased in the class, maybe she just does not feel she is doing well (the teacher''s attitude is a big factor). Children pick up on comments they have heard (sometimes from the teacher or pupils) that they find deeply wounding- the comment may be minor to an adult but hurtful to a young child.

If you think your child is just being spoilt and trying to get her own way -Explain why you think this extra mural is good for her (after you have listened to her side). Give her some incentive to continue. If she chose to do this extra mural then make it clear that you expect her to complete it to the end of the term/year. Explain you have paid for it and addition you expect her to follow through with her commitment. If she does not like gymnastics  she can choose to do something else next year but must complete what she committed to this year.

Did your child choose this extramural OR did you choose it for her?? If the choice was more yours then hers (a mistake I have often made with young children) then next year maybe involve her in deciding/choosing her extra murals for herself BUT make the point that if she does choose an extra mural she has to be committed to all the practices/prize givings etc. until the end of the term/year. If she says she does not want to do any extra murals next year - maybe surprise her and say that is fine with you (by the middle of next years first term she may be begging you to do ballet) and then you can set out the terms upon which you agree that she can do this - try &  encourage the idea that extra murals are a privilege/treat rather than a chore.

A final point: Many parents who both work use extra-murals as a sort of substitute to make up for the fact that they are not with their child. Consider your own motives carefully. Why do you want your child to do this extramural? Is your child doing too many extra murals?

Good luck - and remember some children are just difficult and it has nothing/very little to do with your parenting - the child is just who she is. All you can do is help her/guide her as best you can.

Reply to Just another mum

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