Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Mothers and daughters

Actually, I'm having a hard time on the 'mum' front this year as well, so this 'have it all' resolution is not going at all well.

Here's the thing: daughter has become contrary and ............. defiant!

It's a bit like the terrible twos, but worse. At least when it was the terrible twos, she couldn't help her behaviour and just needed guidance to find out what is acceptable.

Now she knows exactly what she's doing.

She will escalate the most innocent of situations into a full blown confrontation and I don't know how it happens!

However, here's the rub - she only does it to me. Not to husband. He thinks this is funny. As the person who has to look after her for most of the time, I don't! It's wearing me down.

But the worst is when she is deviously and cunningly defiant, almost passive aggressive:

I'll say "Time to go, put your boots on" and she'll put her shoes on.

I'll say "Let's tidy your room. I'll do the lego, you do the cars" and she says "I'll do the cars"

I'll say "Banana or satsuma?" and she'll say "Grapes"

What do I do?

Impose my will and escalate the situation?

Looking for advice and some understanding of the situation I asked my mum if I went through a similar stage to see if it is in the genes and how my mum dealt with it. She said that I was never as headstrong and defiant as daughter and I've got my work cut out with her!

Yeah, thanks, mum!

She also said, with some insight, that this behaviour has developed since daughter started school, and she suggests that as daughter is now seeing how other children behave, she is trying to see what she can get away with.

So, all you mothers of daughters out there, what do you think?

How can we get back to this?

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The Guider said...

It's a long time (5yrs) since I had a 4 year old just started school girl. But I do have a 5 year old just started school boy.

I think she is just testing limits. And if it's just stuff like boots instead of shoes, grapes instead of bananas, let her have the victory.

On stuff like seatbelt on or brushing teeth, stand your ground. My mum always said if they behave in front of others, you know they know how to do it, even if they don't do it for you.

By the way, though daughter and I get on pretty well most of the time, the attitude thing just gets worse as they get older!

Sass E-mum said...

I think the Guider's thoughts are spot on.

She needs to see you stay calm and stand your ground on the things that matter. As her schoolfriends are showing her one way of communicating, you have to keep demonstrating a better way.

The alternative is to turn your life into a shouty episode of Eastenders. Euw - wouldn't that be nasty?

Working mum said...

The Guider - thank you for the advice on ignoring the small stuff, but the prognosis for the future?!!! Don't do that to me!

Sass - You'll be glad to know I don't do shouty. Even when daughter shouts a question from another room, rather than finding me to ask something, I say "This isn't the house of shouting" and she's now started telling husband that when he's too lazy to find me too!

Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

My daughter behaves much better for everyone who is not me. Possibly because I tend toward being a big softy, and have trouble being consistent about what I'll let go and what I'll insist on. Can't give you any tips for how long it will last, as mine is only two and a half. I imagine, if you can bring yourself to be consistent about what you're happy to allow her the choice on and what you won't budge on, she'll probably get bored with it after a short while.

Claire Sutton said...

I can only speak as Mum to 2 boys but most children go through this phase at some point. I found that giving them the choice on things like fruit helped, so instead of saying satsuma or banana I'd say what fruit do you want today. This way you're insisting it being fruit but showing the child that they can have their choice too.

Also, pick your arguments. Does it really matter if she wears boots instead of shoes? Decide what's important to you and what you won't compromise on and let her make her own decisions on other, less important things. She needs to go through this decision making phase, but you can control what situations those decisions are based around.

Also, it may help to ask her to make some decisions although you need some time to be able to do this and first thing in the morning isn't usually best. That way you are respecting her as a person and respecting her decisions and she'll calm down a bit on the attitude!

As for later on, we're now going through a sulky phase with eldest son so you have that one to look forward to!

Stacie said...

I don't mean to laugh, but


My kids are the same exact, um when you find the secret to parenting crazy kids, let me know, thanks.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

WM: I am currently reading, Get Out Of My Life - But First Take Me And Alex Into Town - To help me deal with my teenager, who became a monster overnight, but he's still lovely at intervals... I honestly don't think we can look at how we were parented, nor ask our parentals how to go on, life is very different for our children and teens now - And we need newer ways of dealing with them, or ignoring what doesn't matter as much as other things, i.e. safety issues, as has been mentioned - So I have no real advice, other than to consider buying or borrowing some new parenting tomes! All the best!

Kathryn said...

Hi - I don't have a blog.. but do enjoy yours.
Was just wondering if you have tried giving her opportunity for making choices so she could have some sense of control?

For example, maybe saying, "It's time to clean up, would you like to start with the Lego's - and I'll do the blocks? Or would you prefer doing the blocks?" Then, whichever she chooses. . You can cheerfully go along with.

She sounds like one who will be a great leader.. I'd mention that to her too. Honor her for how well she does things - and thinks things through.. how proud you are of her for that - and find ways to give her choices to make, rather than ultimatums.

Well, anyway, Mom - Your doing a good job, her personality will not change.. but you can do it!! Just a thought from a Mom who now has the cutest grandkids!

A Woman Of No Importance said...

I prattled a bit before there about a self-help book I'm using with my Grizzling teenager - I don't know where my comment has gone, but please message me if you would like the title of the book - Parenting these days is not what it was for our parents, or for us growing up - We live in a vastly different do our children and teens!

auntiegwen said...

Oh I've got one of those ! have you met BBD ?

if she knows husband thinks it's funny the unconscious message is that it's ok to behave in that way with you.

You will survive, they go through times when their behaviour is challenging but it will pass. Keep calm and stick to your limits,

much love xx

Maggie May said...

If you can predict the way she will answer..... you want her to put on boots, then say "I think its a shoe day today", knowing she will put on boots.
I have used this many times and the child thinks that THEY are choosing, not realizing that they are being quietly manipulated!
You know this...... its only a phase! (A life long one!) LOL

Tara@Sticky Fingers said...

I absolutely know what you're talking about as my 3 year old is the same.
If I put her shoes on and she doesn't want me to, she will take them off, put them back in the wardrobe, sit down on the bed, get back up again, open the wardrobe, take them out and put them on.
And all the while she's giving me the most evil glare!

I keep chanting to myself 'it's only a phase, it's only a phase' which I find helps. Sometimes!

Mummy Cow said...

I have been coming increasingly amazed that I can get a class of 30 16 year old disaffected pupils to do exactly what I tell them, yet I can't get my daughter to do anything without a fight or strop! Like you, I'm the only person with whom she is like this. Her redeeming features make up for it all and as she gets older (she's 9 now) she gets easier to talk to. It isn't getting worse - just different! Just carry on being consistent.

Working mum said...

What a lot of advice! I'll try and summarise it in a post and see how it goes. Thank you all!

Mean Mom said...

Compromise is good. It's good for the child to make decisions and have some control over the smaller choices in his/her life. My Health Visitor pointed this out to me, when I was having similar problems with my eldest son. There isn't as much resentment, when they have to do as they're told over the more important stuff.

I feel that teenage rebellion will be much worse if they have been kept in a straitjacket for most of their childhood.

Children will often save their worst behaviour for the one who is closest to them. They know this person inside out. They feel safe and secure in the knowledge that this person will love them, in spite of their bad behaviour.

I found it very difficult to remember this when my eldest son was giving me a hard time. If someone else upset him, he used to pick an argument with/take it out on me.

I used to get very annoyed with my husband, when he didn't 'unite' with me to discipline the children. I feel that it is important for your husband to let your daughter know that he disapproves of her behaviour, if she is being awkward with you over something important. He should still speak to her, even if he isn't there, when she is misbehaving. My husband would rarely agree to this, or would agree reluctantly, but I think it is essential. Sorry to sound patronising!

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

Yeah, I agree with your other commenters. The good news is that this to shall pass. The bad news is we don't know when! :)

Polly said...

Yes I suggest something similar to Kathryn - give her the choice to make, however she must choose from the options that you give her. Too many options can be confusing.

Lots of luck WM

PS I love that my word verification this time is endit.....

lets hope we help you End it!!

Iota said...

I really have no answers, but on occasion, I find humour a way forward. You know the kind of thing. Real ham acting where you pretend absolute fury and shock - but in a way where she knows it'a joke ("Grapes?! Grapes?! You said Grapes?! No-one says Grapes and lives to tell the tale in this house.") Or a joke. "Did you hear about the girl who ate so many grapes that ...." and make up a funny ending.

I find you can just move the moment on and forget it. But it's not everyone's answer. And I can't do it more than once a day. And now I write it out, it sounds very silly.

With my older kids, I've watched Anita Renfrew's version of a mother's day set to the William Tell overture (easy to find on youtube). So with them, I just sing "I'm the mom, the mom, the mom, ta-da". (You have to see the video to know what I'm on about.) That makes them laugh, and occasionally re-establishes some vague attempt at maternal authority. Or I just go and watch it again myself, and it makes me laugh so much that I forget my parenting woes!

Pam said...

You sound like a wonderful mother! Just hang in there abd be consistent. When my daughter was 14 I really wanted to pull every hair out of her pretty little head! She had such a snotty mouth - Mercy!!! But, I stuck with it, didn't let her get away with that type of behavior and we are truly best friends and have been since she was 17. I can't imagine a life without her. I'm also very close to my mom so for me it's just a wonderful situation. Girls definitely try your patience, but it's all worth it down the road.

scrappysue said...

having 4 daughters (2 teens and 2 pre-teens) i think i have a little experience in the matter (hehe). 4 actually mirrors 14, but without any rationale or life experience!

barbara coloroso ('kids are worth it'), says if it's not illegal, immoral or unhealthy, then let it go. diane levy ('of course i love you, now go to your room!') talks about the arrows.

the arrows are verbal barbs. if she fires one at you, it stabs you (figuratively) and you are hurt. if you take that arrow and fire it back (a verbal retort from you back at her), then SHE is the one that gets hurt.

if you ignore the arrow and let it fall harmlessly to the ground, then no-one gets hurt.

i have spent YEARS of my life letting arrows fall harmlessly to the ground!

i totally emphathise. it IS hard being the adult sometimes!