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I have a 6 and half year old daughter, she is very sulky all the time and tends to mostly look at the negative side of things. It really drives me crazy but most importantly it seem to affect her trying new things or improving at things she knows. her first reaction to new things is NO. And when things don't go her way her first reaction is anger. How can I encourage her to react to things in a more productive manner?


Ashley Hammond Replied: Children thrive on positive reinforcement and success at any task. Choosing tasks and activities that are easily broken down and that have an opportunity for success at an early stage will be ideal for her. Failure is also an important part of growth. Children express their frustration with failure in many ways as do adults. Parents and family members modelling good behavior at home in similar situations is crucial as this is another domain within which children learn. IN summary; Small steps, allow for success and failure without over reacting to either, model good behavior always.
Posted On 2007-04-11 07:37:46
Beverly Willett Replied: Sorry to hear you're having trouble. The first thing I'd suggest is speaking with her teacher, caregiver, anyone else she spends substantial time with to determine if there's something bothering her. In general, kids often mirror those around them so it's important to think about whether the people around her tend to be negative as well. Try to keep a positive frame of mind yourself and point out the positive things you notice around you and about her. Still, it's also important not to minimize her own feelings if she's feeling upset. Try to honor those feelings and at the same time help her turn them around. If she's using anger to get her way, try and make sure that you're not giving in to that so that she'll learn anger is never an effective strategy. Even at her age, I don't think she's too old for time outs. When I started meditating several years ago, it struck me how meditating is something akin to a time out for adults! Time to take a deep breath and create space in our world between the frustrations we might be feeling and the solutions that are out there that we just can't see without taking a "time out." If you can gently divert your daughter's attention when she's angry and construct some sort of modified "time out," help her create space and then come back to the problem. Then talk to her about solutions. It will take a great deal of patience on your part but ultimately one of our jobs as parents is to help our children problem solve and develop ways of finding solutions. The problems and frustrations of daily life will never end. Hopefully, when your daughter learns to see that she is capable of finding solutions, she'll be able to move off her anger more quickly. Don't forget to compliment her, too, when she's able to figure things out on her own. As for trying new things, again, I'd suggest making sure you do honor her feelings. In order for her to gain confidence, it's important to start small. Think of things she can attempt and succeed at so that she can become familiar with succeeding and start building confidence little by little. And don't forget to tell her what a good job she did. I hope this helps. Good luck.
Posted On 2007-03-13 09:16:26
Jim Taylor, Ph.D. Replied: Your daughter's reactions are consistent with a fear of failure. Are you or your husband perfectionists? Do you focus on results and show disappointment (perhaps with any awareness on your part) when she fails to live up to your expectations (the fact that "it really drives you crazy" suggests this might be the case)? So you should look in the mirror and make sure your messages are about the 3 P's: positive, process, and progress. As for your daughter's anger, that emotion is never the real emotion, but rather a defensive emotion that protects her from a much more painful deeper emotion, usually fear. Ask yourself what she is afraid of (usually failure and the loss of her parents' love). The bottom line is that your daughter is avoiding something that she perceives as too threatening to want to face. You need to figure out what that fear is and how you can remove the fear. If you're unable to figure it out on your own, professional guidance might be helpful.
Posted On 2007-03-12 17:02:17
Brenda Bercun Replied: There are many children who are insecure about trying new things or not wanting to work at improving what they can do. These children may also have trouble with transitions from one activity to another. Is this a new behavior or has it been part of her personality all along? If this is a relatively new behavior is there anything that has happened to produce this change? Has there been a change or a loss in the family, a move to a new home or school? If the answer is yes then this behavior may be part of an adjustment issue and should be addressed. I would encourage you to talk with your daughter at a time when the two of you are spending some alone time. In a gentle, non judgmental manner bring up your observation of her resistance and ask her if she knows why she doesn't like doing new things. Ask her what worries her about it or what she doesn't like about it. If she starts to talk just listen and understand her feelings. If she says she doesn't know ask her to think about it because understanding her reasoning is very important. Let her know that her ability to be happy and successful is very important and that understanding what makes her unhappy will help to work it out. When your child is upset encourage her to talk about what is upsetting her. Help her develop the language of self expression in an appropriate manner. Teach her the meaning of being angry, sad, disappointed, and frustrated. Encourage her to express those feelings. Teach her how to manage these emotions by discussing these scenarios at a calm time and what she can do when she is feeling them. Sometimes she may need to give herself a positive time out to calm down and figure out how to problem solve. You can help by asking her what she can do about this? What does she think? How can she make this better? If she can't come up with answers ask if you can help problem solve with her. Come up with few suggestions and talk about whether they will work. Support her efforts to figure things out with positive feedback and lots of hugs. This process takes time and it will be well worth it. Life is full of challenges and figuring out how to navigate them is an essential life skill. Parents are their children's teachers in developing this skill. I encourage you to pay attention to how you model problem solving to your daughter. Let her know how you have handled difficult situations that are appropriate for her to hear. Talk to her about when you tried a new activity and you didn't know any one or you were uncomfortable because you didn't know how to do something and how you managed it. Or when you didn't get what you wanted. Talk about being sad, upset, disappointed or frustrated. Model your use of language to express being upset. I would also talk to her about your daily successes and ask her about hers. Good things that happen are successes as well as successful problem solving. Put a lot more energy into the successes so that you can each experience the power of that. In our daily lives there are many more successes than not. Most times it is just a matter of where we shine the light. I always encourage building on the positive. Reinforce her efforts towards change with positive feedback. Children thrive on being seen for their efforts and accomplishments.
Posted On 2007-03-09 11:51:28
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