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OT: dealing with girls? What's normal?

Old 12-29-2016, 03:52 PM
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I read a book once called, "The Language Of Pain."

I don't remember who wrote it.

But, it got into the various ways in which people of all ages, cultures, genders, generations show pain and how they COPE with pain. It also got into how animals deal with pain and how they show they are in pain. Growing up on the farm, we doctored many of our own animals the best we could, unless we really needed the vet to come out to our house. But each type of animal deals with their pain a certain way and gives off signals. Same as looking for symptoms of them being sick.

Newborn babies have their own pain signals. The elderly do too. Those with dementia don't always verbalize their pain, but show it in different ways such as becoming agitated or restless.

Some people are stoic when in pain. Some are quiet and want to be alone and "turn inside"/within. It's actually quite fascinating. Some people get nauseated when in pain. Everyone is different.

Yes, take her in for a good check up if you can, but when you or your BF go with her, try not to speak FOR her. Let her do the talking.
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Old 12-29-2016, 04:10 PM
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along the lines of physical conditions....it is now standard, in a lot of emergency rooms to do a pregnancy test for anyone 8yrs. or older with symptoms that could be along those lines....
because....now days, girls are getting their first menses as young as 8yrs......
It might be a stretch, but she might be having some hormonal shifts, already.......?
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Old 12-29-2016, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by AnvilheadII View Post
i started a reply and it got way long winded (wuuuuuuuut??????) and then my boss came in......

has she been to the doctor for a FULL physical recently? including eyes and ears and blood work? children who act out often have an undiagnosed condition.......

i heartily agree with teatree that when children act out they do so for a REASON. and it is up to the adults to figure it out.

she's EIGHT. she's not the demon seed. she's had a LOT go on in her little short life. she has a mom who sounds half-whacked, a dad who now has another woman in his life that is NOT her mother, and an older sister who isn't much interested in interacting. she must feel lost and scared and abandoned.

THE SAME WAY WE ADULT CODIES FEEL. except she's 8 and doesn't have the resources or experience to manage her feelings. she wants her original family back together because that felt normal and safe....and it hasn't felt that way since they split up.

her dad sounds WAY too passive with her outburts...but more importantly with how the mother is behaving. it is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE for a mother to call her young daughters "little bitches" and whatever the other thing was. my very deceased ex would have had me in a headlock if renee had reported i abused her in any way, or called her such evil names.

IMO, this CHILD is screaming for boundaries and normalcy, consistency and help. if this is not addressed now, VERY real problems will develop. she's already lashing out with violence towards others. she is prone to rages. she is outwardly defiant and disobedient.

she needs qualified help.
Yes, she is and she does, but where is my place in any of this. I've offered my opinion to my bf. I've told him I think he lacks consistency in his parenting and that he is too passive. He agrees but he knows his ex is hard on the girls and he feels that if were too 'drill sergeant' that it would be too much for them. I told him the problem is that one day he's drill sergeant dad and the next day he lets things slide or overlooks their behaviors.

So, when she crosses a line, whatever that is for him, he will sometimes discipline but other times he just asks her, "K are you tired? Do you need to eat? You're acting out again and it's unacceptable." I think he's trying to figure out what works and what doesn't at this point, too.

She has normal scheduled chores to do, she has a set bedtime at our home and often complains that mom is way more lax about these things. She is expected to clean her room, pick up after herself, etc and she does it all but complains about life's unfairness all the time.

She is a contrarian by nature. If I pronounce something wrong, she will make fun of me or laugh at someone for things. In my mind, I find it disrespectful and I've had to tell her that she hurt my feelings or that she is being rude and ask her to correct her behavior.

I can ask her to adjust her behavior but I'm always met with opposition or indifference. If the bf is around, he steps in and asks her to apologize to whomever she has offended and she will, but only when he asks.

Honestly, I think her older sister bullies her. If I ask the oldest, "Hey where's your sister?" She will say, "I don't know and I don't care...." and the youngest will be standing right behind her. I'm not sure about school but her teacher says she's quite agreeable and sweet in class.

I need to talk to the bf once again.
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Old 12-29-2016, 04:30 PM
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May have put your finger on one of the issues: the sibs. My two oldest grandsons didn't get along when they were young. It got vicious at times!
I think consistency of parenting is key all the time--and so hard sometimes--but especially when the children are shuttling between two households. Sigh. Good luck, liz.
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Old 12-29-2016, 05:07 PM
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Wow, Liz. You've got a lot on your hands. It is hard to know what is best to do and say in this situation. It's complicated. When she complains about life being unfair, I'd say maybe she needs to vent about that; maybe that is how she is really feeling at the time. Most kids I know do pitch a fit when they have to clean their rooms. Mine did. I didn't make a big deal about it. As far as being disrespectful toward you, that one would be harder to deal with....Hmm. The bullying from big sister? Not good. If that is allowed to go on it can cause some real problems.
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Old 12-29-2016, 06:24 PM
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I talked to the bf briefly. He said that she is better now than she was when she was younger, actually. He said her attitude when she was little was a huge stress on his marriage and especially on his ex-wife. He said they would get to the point where the room would be bare of everything except the dresser and bed and she still wouldn't bend to their wishes or to their discipline. She actually would say, "Go ahead and spank me, I like it." And, knowing her, I believe it. They would take away every toy, everything she held dear, and they read books on 'strong willed children', and tried various parenting reward systems, etc. Nothing really worked. I hear her whining upstairs now with him because she doesn't like the ball he chose for their ping pong match........can't wait for the teen years! oi vay!

This was back when they were married and seemingly a together family. His ex pulled the divorce thing, according to him, out of the blue. He had lost a lot of money in a business deal and his ex was stressed and the kids were making her crazy so she filed for divorce. He said they were even having sex all the way up until she actually filed and he thought things were normal, aside from the stressful time in their lives. He truly was thrown for a loop when she filed and moved out as he never saw it coming.

Then, she tried to get him back when she realized that she would have to work full time and that she wouldn't get alimony since he was jobless when she left him because of their business deal and the lawsuit that followed (his business partner had liens against him that were unrevealed when my bf bought into the business and then he found out the guy wasn't testing employees for drugs and they had customers complain of weird and drug addicted behaviors, so he sued the guy and it was a year long mess).
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Old 12-30-2016, 01:45 AM
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Liz, there's a book that helped me a lot years ago--Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. It highlighted different traits in my son (and in me and how I responded) that gave me a lot of insights. Some kids are wired to be more strong-willed, or they have traits that are difficult to deal with in a child, that cultivated correctly, can be great assets in adulthood. I liked that this book embraced them in a positive way. I have quite the stack of books on raising difficult or strong-willed children. This was by far my favorite and the most helpful. For $10-15, might be worth a try.

I wanted to tear my hair out when he was young, but the last few years have been incredible. He's almost 17.
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Old 12-30-2016, 05:13 AM
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Liz....this story reminds me of the situation that my sister (half sister) and her husband had with their daughter. One older child..a boy and this one daughter.
Now, this family l ooked great ..from the outside...both well edcucated..he was a successful dentist and they ran the practice as a team....both were involved in community service activities, etc., etc.
When the daughter was about 8yrs. old,,she began some of the same behaviors that you are describing...very, very strong willed.....
They read books, tore their hair, spent a fortune on residential schooling and therapy when she reached the mid teen years.....They went through H..e..l..l..during her teen years....(and, yet, when she was with me..she was the sweetest child and eager to please...)
Now, that she is adult...she is very independent....she is a nationally ranked cage fighter..(very small and cute as a bug)...she has her degree in exercise physiology, is a personal trainer, and teaches martial arts.....We sometimes, talk for h ours on the phone....she is funny, caring and very sweet! Go figure!!
I do think that it was the best move when she was sent away to the mountains of Utah...for a residential school and therapy....she was about 15-16yrs. at that time....that seemed to turn the tide....she got her own apartment when she comopleted that school and worked and went to school.....her parents did help with her school t uition....
That was all several years ago...When I look at it objectively...I truly believe that the environment of the home was not the environment that was suitable for the temprement of a child like her. The parents personalities were just not such that they could cope....(they were a bit rigid in their approach to life and did not have the flexability to be firm AND warm and consistent all at the same time! (my opinion).........I think they could have used some intense family therapy way before the teen years hit...lol.....

As far as your situation, Liz....these are my thoughts....I am very surprised that if things are as bad as you say...that they have not had her in therapy, before now...and why they are not all in family therapy.....
I think you are smart to wonder what it will be like when she hits the teen years....Blended families are hard...teen years are often hard....and, with an acting out child at this age...can you imagine hew difficult it can become?
You are early on, right now...are you sure that you really want to have all of this in your future...? It can be a nightmare for a marriage (or committed partnership).....
Alone, it is a hard road for a step parent....step parenthood is a tricky road to navigate...you are in a difficult position. There are some good books about blended families and the role of the step parent....I had to read one for a course that I took on marriage and families....it really opened my eyes as to how tricky it can be....

I know that I sound like a Negative Nellie, here.....(I am sorry).....
But, Liz, I think it is better to have y our eyes open to all the realities of the situation.....
I like the idea of the book that Praying suggests...I suspect that my sister's family fell into that category.......
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Old 12-30-2016, 06:18 AM
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If I'm honest Dandy, one of the reasons that I don't want to marry this man is because of his youngest. I am not sure I want to commit to him in that way until I see how the future is unfolding. And, I've often wondered why they haven't done therapy either. The mom isn't one to admit a problem, though, because it puts a spotlight on her and my bf is frustrated that he can't talk to the mom about any of this without her getting defensive or making it about HER, instead of about their child. He said sometime the mom will be able to put things into perspective and be rational but it's not often and he is never sure how she'll respond.

My old sponsor got married to a man who had the patience of a saint (it was her second marriage and she had 2 young girls to raise and he had no children of his own). Her daughter, when 15, started using drugs and sneaking out and wreaking havoc in their home. It was a nightmare and she knows it really did a number on her husband at the time. He wasn't familiar with addicts or program. Thankfully, he stuck around and they are still married today and her daughter is 24 now and has been sober for years, but for a while there she was living on the streets.

Anyway, the bf isn't looking to get married, for his own reasons and I'm totally ok with that. Although, his youngest has been pushing for us to marry and she often refers to me as her stepmom. So, in one respect, she will mention inviting the mom into things for her to enjoy and on the other hand, she wants us to get married so that she can have an official stepmom. She's 8, so I don't put much stake into her childhood notions but my heart goes out to her. My sister really struggled after my parents divorced and she was a handful. God bless my stepdad for hanging in there with my mom and my stepmom for hanging in there with my dad because she and my sister clashed BIG TIME, lol.

I'll see about getting that book, Praying. My bf is always open to insight. He's so different from my XAH. With my ex, I would bring home books on Tourette's or how to help kids with executive functioning problems, etc and he would accuse me of labeling our child and of forcing him to acknowledge a problem that he didn't believe existed. Yet, our child was screaming for help.
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Old 12-30-2016, 08:14 AM
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Maybe if you present the therapy as a way to get strategies to improve the dynamic, mom would be open to that. IOW, make it clear this isn't about digging up who did what wrong, it's about figuring out how to raise a happy, healthy daughter who seems determined to be her own worst enemy. It's about putting together a game plan that will be consistent, to the extent possible, across two households.

I feel for you--my older son was one bundle of challenges, from the time he was about 6 until he was into his 20s. He's doing VERY well now, but it's been a rollercoaster at times. He had social anxiety and depression and went through a very self-destructive stage. I'm very proud of him today, but man, there were times when I was sure disaster was just around the corner. (Actually, there WAS at least one semi-major disaster, but we made it through--a couple of other close calls where he lucked out.)
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Old 12-30-2016, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by LexieCat View Post
Maybe if you present the therapy as a way to get strategies to improve the dynamic, mom would be open to that. IOW, make it clear this isn't about digging up who did what wrong, it's about figuring out how to raise a happy, healthy daughter who seems determined to be her own worst enemy. It's about putting together a game plan that will be consistent, to the extent possible, across two households.

I feel for you--my older son was one bundle of challenges, from the time he was about 6 until he was into his 20s. He's doing VERY well now, but it's been a rollercoaster at times. He had social anxiety and depression and went through a very self-destructive stage. I'm very proud of him today, but man, there were times when I was sure disaster was just around the corner. (Actually, there WAS at least one semi-major disaster, but we made it through--a couple of other close calls where he lucked out.)
You hit the nail on the head: She is her own worst enemy. She makes her life harder by being so contrarian to everything that is asked of her. It befuddles me because I'm the type of person who just does stuff when asked because it's easier than arguing or fighting about it. I like peace. She does not, apparently.

I often wonder what I signed on for, but she really wasn't this explosive when we first started dating. This rebellion is really just the past 2 months or so. She's always had a bit of a temper and she could be whiny at times, but this anger and aggression seems to be coming from somewhere and the bf and I just aren't sure where it's coming from.

I'm tempted to suggest that we keep his youngest for 80% of the time and just let mom have her every other weekend or something because I truly believe she needs consistency and boundaries and schedules and I don't think mom is keeping to any of that. Maybe the holidays just threw everybody off?

I do know that their school schedule has been weird. They had a week of 1/2 days (out before noon), then they had 2 weeks off, and now next week they have a study at home week with assignments from teachers. The kids have been bounced around a lot more these past few weeks because we all have to work. Some days I'm flexible and can help out, but most days he's in charge because his schedule allows it and mom can't watch the kids much so she asks us to take them at the last minute when she can't get approval to work from home, etc. I don't know.........I just know that she's 'different' and it's really only been since early November that I've noticed it.
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Old 12-30-2016, 02:32 PM
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That might not be a bad idea, as long as you try not to make mom feel like she's the "problem." I do know what it's like to feel so overwhelmed and like you don't even LIKE your kid (even though you love her). It's a crappy feeling. She might be relieved as long as she doesn't feel blamed.
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Old 12-30-2016, 03:39 PM
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Hmmmm.

It's hard to know where the temper and explosiveness has materialized from here recently. Divorce can be traumatizing to children. She's been through divorce; it happened at age 4. When she was that age, she probably felt her world was crumbling down around her. Trauma. I think a good child counselor/psychologist would be very beneficial in unlocking the "whys" without re-traumatizing her in the process and helping her get some stuff on the road to healing. Also, maybe there is stuff going on at her mother's house that is causing this. You don't know what all goes on there....but you have indicated a few things here that would lead me to believe it's not very good. Wounded creatures tend to lash out.
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Old 12-30-2016, 06:42 PM
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"........ She makes her life harder by being so contrarian to everything that is asked of her. It befuddles me because I'm the type of person who just does stuff when asked because it's easier than arguing or fighting about it. I like peace. She does not, apparently."

It's possible she is being contrary because her life is already hard. Or, what she perceives as hard. Also, her living circumstances are totally out of her control. Maybe she really would like peace, who knows? Has she had a very good taste of peace in her short life? Another thing to keep in mind is that she may be protesting simply because she doesn't like the fact that you have entered the picture and it's likely she perceives you as taking attention away from her Dad.
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Old 12-31-2016, 03:27 AM
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Sorry for what youre going through. It sounds like a challenging time for everyone, her included. It sounds like you're bother doing really well under adverse conditions.

A lot of the kids I work with in school (special ed) can be extremely oppositional. They will refuse even on things that they like to do at times, and would seemingly be happy to cut their nose off to spite their face. This can be for a lot of reasons, and certain conditions or syndromes have these behaviours on their list of common traitss. One of which can be fetal alcohol syndrome, but presumably if this was a possibility then it would have been picked up by now. A lot of the time it is pupils who have (or have had) disfunction at home or an upheaval which has left them fearful and uncertain of where they fit in, and angry and resentful about their lives being changed without consultation. Often fear can look like anger or stubbornness. Imagine you're being given no choice about doing something you're scared of (for me, perhaps jump off a high diving board into a deep pool). Maybe my swim instructor would think, she can swim, what's the problem? She liked doing it the other day when she did it from her own choice. If be thinking I need more time and space, and why should I, and who were they to decide what I do or don't do. It would probably look like out and out refusal, and if pushed , possibly even a little violence if that's what it took for me to feel 'safe' again and get out of the situation. All this despite the fact that I 'know' that doing the jump wouldn't hurt me. After all, fear isn't generally the rational of our emotions, and most things I have spent my life fearful of nevr actually happened. Doesn't mean that the fear didn't put me in a painful place.

Anyway. In the school environment we deal with this in a number of way (some that may be useful and some not so useful to you at home).
* social stories to prepare kids for anything out of the usual
* timetables and schedules that they can easily read and follow (using pictures or symbols for clarity and to make things easy to remember)
* time set aside to go through what we're doing today, and for them to ask questions. (Their questions often give us more insight into what's worrying them than what they tell us).
*clear and consistent expectations and reward system (if things have to change one day, be honest and upfront about it rather than hope they don't notice - that little thing that is changing might be something that gives a lot of reassurance to your young person ).
* remembering that outbursts aren't a personal attack (easier said than done)
* giving processing time rather than engaging in arguments - so give the choices (and don't be afraid to say if it isn't a choice - sometimes things are just non-negotiable) and if they push the boundaries just repeat (not rephrase) keeping voice and tone calm and at the volume you would like them to be using.
* don't get into a yelling match. You have more to lose than they do. If you need to walk away after reassuring them that you do care, but you need them to be calm before you can talk, then so be it.
*reassure them of how they can (or have in the past) done things well at a particular or similar task to make things seem more manageable.
*sometimes a conversation gets into such a negative spiral that it's best to abandon it. If so, dont be shy of changing the subject if possible. You can go back to it when you're both calm, and when you've had the mental and emotional space to consider your next move and other support strategies to put in place. It's good to have a few change of subject topics up your sleeve for these times as it's hard to think of them in the face of adversity. And don't expect them to join in with your conversation, it could end up sounding a little like you're talking to yourself. That's okay. If it creates a temporary ceasefire before renegotiate can commenced, then job done. Even if you feel a bit of a loon doing it. One of my teens really can't de-escalate without this. On the surface it must look to others like I'm letting her 'get away with it' when I put on a smiley face and change the subject to food, or notepads, or hot chocolate, or her favourite friends (or whatever other fave topic of hers that comes to mind I the middle of her hitting and swearing ). Thing is, this gives her space to calm. Then, when she's calm she can start processing properly, and then she is usually ready to tell me about her bad choices and apologise shortly afterwards. If I'd carried on the battle then she wouldn't have the chance to do this.
*try to remember that you're supporting good choices and good behaviour rather than trying to eliminate 'bad' choices or 'bad' behaviour. Ensure that there is always a way back, and that way back is clearly signposted for them

None of this stuff works instantly, or even overnight. It's probably worth having a chat with school to see if she's having problems there as well. Sometimes the refusal can be a lot quieter at school, so it might just look like she's not doing so well academically when in fact she's silently refusing to comply. I only have 10 kids in a class (thankfully!!) so it's easier for me to pick up when things change, or kids seem a little off kilter. Alternatively, she may be blossoming there, with the obvious rules and structure and things being very 'normal ' in which case her teacher might be able to help her to find some way of explaining what's bothering her.

I really hope for all your sakes that things calm down soon. Certainly, to most of my young people who struggle with their behaviour, coming up to holiday time was more difficult than usual. Christmas brings so many expectations and changes from the everyday routine, and when things have changed so much and those changes are so out of your control, even good, fun 'different' can still be worrying. And worrying doesn't always look like worrying.

Sending you and the whole family my prayers. BB
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Old 12-31-2016, 07:58 AM
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She is not struggling in school nor does she give any teachers or other students a problem. She is charming and outgoing and well liked by her teachers and class.

And, it's funny, because yesterday and today she has been wonderful. Agreeable, doing what has been asked of her, participating in things with us, etc. I asked her to feed the dog this AM and I didn't have to ask a second time. There was no sighs, no arguing, no stomping around. But, here's the thing......her sister has been gone visiting family for 3 nights now. The girls will be reunited later today and I wonder if this is part of the problem?

As for the anger from the fallout from the divorce......well, she was already a hot headed explosive child, so the divorce certainly didn't help. She is just very spirited and her parents are struggling to manage her so I just do my best to get along and to be a good role model for the girls by loving their dad, by being honest with them, by accepting them and praising them for what deserves praise, etc.

The youngest one is often asking me, "Do you love my dad?" And I tell her yes and she just smiles and then runs off to tell her dad. I wonder if the mom isn't saying such nice things about him around the kids and if the little one feels she needs to defend dad(or stand by his side more) and know that he is loved by someone?
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