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My eight year old daughter has become defiant and acts out often. She then says, "Everyone hates me." What parenting techniques can be used to encourage compliance and build self esteem?


Beverly Willett Replied: All kids act out at different times for different reasons. But it also sounds like there might be something going on at home, school or somewhere else where your daughter spends her time. Without knowing more, it's hard to be more specific. If you really are at a loss for why this is happening, speak with your daughters teachers, caregiver and anyone else she spends time with to get clues about what may be bothering her. In the meantime, I hope the following general suggestions will help. No matter how small, there must be some instances where your daughter is cooperating. Try and pay particular attention to them and express your appreciation whenever you notice your daughter cooperating. The same goes for her successes and positive attributes. Reinforce them and compliment her. Help build on your daughter's successes, no matter how small, so that she can start feeling good about herself. You might also want to take a look at how you're disciplining her. Life is hectic and, with kids, can often be exhausting. So make sure you're not inadvertently criticizing her rather than her behavior when your daughter is acting out. I hope this helps and best of luck.
Posted On 2007-03-13 07:45:52
Dr. Georgianna Duarte Replied: Your reaction to your daughter is key in understanding her. She is at the stage where she is striving for a sense of autonomy, and independence, and may be that she feels she needs more space. Observe the moments when she is acting out, and why. Keep a journal so that you can reflect at the preceding events, and the underlying reason why she is acting out. Open the discussion with a validation of her feelings. "I see that you are angry...etc so please help me better understand why"...tell me... It is important to understand the 'Why" behind her outbreaks....before deciding upon a strategy. Explore if she is having difficulty expressing anger, disappointment, or wants more independence within the family system. "Everyone hates me" is frequently used as a feeling that "no one understands me" Help her navigate her language and emotions, but letting her know it is ok to feel as she does..(EVEN when we don't agree or see the feelings) but it is how she expresses them that is important. Good luck.
Posted On 2007-03-09 15:22:35
Brenda Bercun Replied: One of the biggest lessons a person can learn is true self expression. Being able to express oneself so that they are heard and understood comes with practice and opportunity. When children are defiant they are expressing themselves in a way that is not clearly understood by others. Sometimes children are defiant because they are testing the limits or are being asked to do something they do not want to do. Sometimes it is because they are upset and unhappy and want others around them to be upset and unhappy as well. Children who provoke a negative response from their parents and succeed may feel this negativity and interpret the negative response as a value to their self worth, i.e... "Everyone hates me." Teaching your daughter to express herself so that others will cooperate with her and she will cooperate with others is important. Being clear in your own communication with her is essential so that she may learn from your example. Preparing her for what is expected of her and giving her honest positive reinforcement for cooperating will help. Reinforcing her clear respectful verbal expression even if she is arguing against what she is being asked to do will be helpful. A simple, "Thank you for telling me your reasons" or "Thank you for telling me how you are feeling", or "I hear what you are saying about not wanting to do ........but this needs to get done and as soon as it is we will be able to....." Be clear, kind and firm. Reinforce unwanted chores or other activities completed with sincere appreciation and reflection on how good it feels to complete things we don't really want to do. When your daughter is being disrespectful and uncooperative give her the opportunity to correct her behavior by asking her to take some time to think about what she wants you to hear and restate it in a respectful way. If she needs help formulating what is respectful help her by giving her an example of how it can be stated, then have her repeat it. Hang in there with her until she is able to speak without a negative attitude and with clear true expression. Again remember that you are her example. As stated earlier, some children are defiant because they are dealing with an issue that is difficult for them and they are unhappy. Take the time to speak to your daughter and find out if she is experiencing any social, school or family issues that need to be addressed. Be her confident. Help her figure out how to manage what is going on. If necessary get involved as her advocate. Many children go through phases of being defiant. What parents want is for this to be a phase and not an acceptable on going method of communication. I've met many children who have developed this pattern because they were allowed to and not shown a different better way of being heard. I find this unfortunate. Eight year old girls who have not learned how to appropriately express themselves grow into teenagers who pout, scream and slam doors. Teaching our children to be good communicators, how to deal with disappointments and the importance of cooperation is a major part of a parents job description. And once again we are our children's role model so lead by example.
Posted On 2007-02-27 00:00:52
Janet Fox Replied: When a child in early school years expresses these sentiments, it often means that her peers appear to manage school work more easily than she feels she can. Her frustration is reflected in her defiance and insecurity. I would begin with assessment: does she seem to struggle with reading, writing, math? If so, rule out possible learning difficulties like dyslexia. Talk with her teacher - perhaps she needs learning strategies not being offered in class (she might be an auditory learner with a visual teacher). Address study skills - be sure she has a quiet time and place to do homework that may boost her knowledge and confidence. Above all, assure her that she can succeed by providing opportunities for her to do what she enjoys - whether it's art or a physical activity.
Posted On 2007-02-25 16:37:45
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