Thursday, 1 September 2016

Challenging behaviour in a 6 year old girl..........with attitude!

Forget 2 year old tantrums, threenagers and impending teenagers, 6 is the new 16!!

I never realised 6 was going to be a tough age. My eldest daughter has had her moments in the past, but since finishing the school year back in July, it is like a monster has taken her over!
She is rude, she is answering back (with an answer for everything!), she stamps her feet, she throws things, she even kicks out at me. Where has my beautiful girl gone and why is she lovely one minute and hell on earth the next?

I am not the only one struggling with this. Talking to the Mums of my daughters closest female friends, they are all experiencing similar traits. It is a relief to know it is not just me, but is it something purely developmental??

I have had a look into this challenging behaviour, and found some interesting reads. I had never thought of 6 being "middle childhood" but according to one article by the New York Times it is!!
According to the article : "it is a time of great cognitive creativity and ambition, when the brain has pretty much reached its adult size and can focus on threading together its private intranet service"
So perhaps sometimes the brain is just trying to deal with too much information all at once? I didn't even realise her brain was almost adult size!!

Then I stumbled across a very interesting piece on Rudolph Steiner, whom I had studied when doing my Foundation Degree. He described something called "Teeth and Rebirth"

It could be possible that my daughters change in behaviour could have something to do with the emergence of her new adult teeth! An interesting theory and quite possible. Other sources online think it could be a developmental hormone surge!
It is difficult to underline the true triggers to this behaviour, but as I am not alone I can only imagine that it is totally normal for 6 year olds to go through this phrase.

Now on to how I am dealing with it all......

I have reverted back to behaviour charts. This is something I started up again back when she was 5. I started a "Smiley chart" placing a smiley face for each day she was well behaved and then offering treats for 5,10 and 15 smiles in a row. This seemed to work for a while, but its effectiveness soon began to falter after a while. I thought  perhaps the fact that I was using a sad face symbol when she had had a bad day was a little too homing in on the negative. I have begun a new system this week, involving a jar on a piece of paper with lots of circles to colour in inside. There are 50 altogether, so when she has coloured all of them, she gets a treat. She gets to colour in so many per day depending on her behaviour. A really good day gets 3 beads. A good day gets 2 and an ok  day gets 1. A bad day gets 0, but this is not really seen on the chart, she just knows she didn't earn any on that day.

When the behaviour is happening, I was reacting to it. I was losing my cool with her.....the constant rude back chat and the way i was being spoken to riled me. But, that is what she wanted. On holiday, I was used as a kick bag. She objected to the fact that she didn't have a bedtime story because she had been rude and promptly lay there kicking my back as I tried to get her sister to sleep.

I calmly told her that I wasn't happy with her and that she was hurting me and she continued until she realised she wasn't going to get a reaction from me. Yes, it hurt, but in the morning once she had slept on things and was refreshed, I sat her down to tell her how cross I was and how she would have to have some privileges taken away.
Just this evening I was told "I don't want you anymore, you are mean and nasty"
I just replied "Ok, Goodnight" and left her to her ramblings. I know she doesn't mean the things that she says, she just knows that she can hurt my feelings by saying nasty things. 
If I do not react, she soon tires of it and just does what she was told to do (Although it can take a while!)

It is a very trying and testing time. She is still generally a lovely girl, but has that little streak which rears its head when she is tired or when something happens she doesn't like.
All I can say is roll on school next week!!

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