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OT: dealing with girls? What's normal?

Old 12-29-2016, 11:00 AM
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OT: dealing with girls? What's normal?

Ok, so I have an 18 year old son who was honestly quite easy to raise. He was compliant and obedient and rarely pushed back at me. I was a control freak and pretty strict as a mom. We have always had a good relationship and I never went through any 'terrible' teen years with him.

Today, I live with my bf and his girls who are like night and day to each other. The oldest (11) is super independent, likes to go shopping with me, wants to learn how to cook, and is extremely easy going. She has her preteen moments but for the most part, I can deal with her and don't feel like she's a problem in the home. She can be pushy when she wants to get her point across, but, she's not verbally out of control or explosive with her emotions.

The youngest? She's 8 and she's becoming a holy terror lately. Bf and I are trying to figure out if it's an age thing, a younger sister thing, or if she's on track to follow in mom's footsteps. His ex has some issues with being negative, extremely quick to anger, entitlement mentality, and she is very immature emotionally. I get along well with his ex for the most part, but she often makes reference to the fact that she feels overwhelmed with the youngest and she praises me for being able to deal with this child. Well, I don't have to 'deal' with her, personally. BF does that. I listen to the outbursts and sometimes she pushes my buttons, but for the most part, her anger is directed at her dad or at her sister.

The girl is never happy. You offer her food, she doesn't like it. You tell her to brush her teeth, ain't gonna happen. Her mom told me, "K doesn't brush her teeth EVER when she's with me. She says she does it at your house so she won't do it for me." Ummm, what mother lets a kid get away with that? ARGH
She doesn't want to wear this....."I don't wanna wear THAT!!!!! NOOOOOOOOO!!" The list goes on and on. But when she's doing something she wants to do, she is super sweet and engaging and loving.

The things she picks to fight about are insanity to me and I often have to leave the room to keep from laughing OR to keep from telling her to knock off the whining because it's grating on everyone's nerves. My BF is extremely patient and he tries to do everything he can think of to manage it. Taking away her toys, taking away TV time, rewarding her verbally for when she's being agreeable and a team player in the home, etc. And, rewarding her with a treat if necessary, as well, for special occasions.

She also has been climbing into bed with us on and off for the past few weeks. Coming in at midnight or 2 AM and snuggling up with her dad. She hasn't done that for nearly a year now.

Her mom has called the kids "little bitches" and "shitheads" recently and I found out about it when K told me very matter of fact how her mother talks to them when she's angry. I told my bf and he says he knows and that he's tried to talk to his ex and that he has coached the girls on how to respond to their mother when she crosses that line. His mother in law also called him about a month ago asking him why we don't have the girls more and that she was concerned about her daughter's attitude towards the children.

I suggested family counseling. He agreed it's a good idea. I asked a friend for a referral who had a son with serious oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) for her counselor and I hope that BF gets his ex to agree soon.

But, is any of this normal for an 8 year old? Swinging from being agreeable to literally crazy outbursts and screaming at her father? Yesterday he told her to go clean her room and she freaked out and when he told her he was taking something away from her, she kicked him in the ankle twice. He was calm, told her that wasn't acceptable and that it was painful and asked for an apology, and he still made her go clean her room...which she did while she cried and wailed in her room by herself the whole time! She is super stubborn. Thoughts?
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Old 12-29-2016, 11:16 AM
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Family counseling is a great idea. I couldn't begin to try to diagnose, except that it sounds like a lot of patience is needed. Wide mood swings in anyone is a bit scary. I will say, as a former teacher, that I worked with another educator who was super repressive and controlling with her class. When the kids came to me or another special subjects teacher, often they would act out. I believe they did it partly because she was so hard on them, and partly because they knew they could get their crazies out with me. Not saying that's your situation. Just making an observation. Good luck.
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Old 12-29-2016, 11:16 AM
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She sounds more like my DS11 than my DD9. DD never acted. My daughter sounds more like the older daughter. It may just be her personality that counseling is a good idea. Keep being consistent and setting boundaries and consequences. Rewarding and mentioning when positive behaviors occur. It sounds like you know all those parenting tips though.
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Old 12-29-2016, 11:19 AM
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To clarify, because above post seems murky: maybe she acts out with you and her dad because it is a safe space.
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Old 12-29-2016, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Maudcat View Post
To clarify, because above post seems murky: maybe she acts out with you and her dad because it is a safe space.
She acts out more with mom, according to the oldest and according to the mom herself. Mom seems to think that we never get misbehavior out of this child, lol. Give me a break!

Honestly, the child can be quite mean as well. She has no patience and gets frustrated with everything very easily. Like I said, we can't figure out if it's age related, new issues stemming from her processing the divorce now (4 years later), or if it's just her personality developing. She doesn't care about her grades, she won't finish her schoolwork and will purposely leave a question missing even if she can answer it, just to push back on her father.

The mom most recently told me, "If she keeps up this behavior and attitude moving forward, I don't think I can handle it. I'm not cut out for parenting." YES.....she said this TO ME! The mom gets easily overwhelmed and she has a short fuse.

The oldest and I were out walking one day and she said, "K is being mean to dad and I don't like it." We talked for a bit and I suggested that maybe K was missing her mom (they went 9 days without seeing their mom because mom was traveling and mom only called the kids once to check on them. Who does that? What mother of an 8 year old doesn't call her kid? That's my rant and my perspective but I just don't understand it.). She said NO!!!! When she's at mom's, she wants to be with you guys and constantly asks to come back over here.......

I'm home alone with her now and I'm tired of her already. I asked her if she wanted Jamba Juice and I get a shrug and no answer. She is playing a game on her Kindle and she's getting annoyed at every little thing and making comments about how long it's taking to load, etc. Over and over and on and on.
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Old 12-29-2016, 11:58 AM
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How does she do with other children? Does she have friends? I worked with girls. Some of them just weren't kind. Their classmates would tolerate it up to a certain age. By about third grade, the unkind children wouldbegin to find friendships difficult. They had used up their cred, as it were.
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Old 12-29-2016, 12:20 PM
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Liz,

Do you know if this DD ever talked to the school pyschologist? It's very difficult for children when the parents are divorcing. I know it's been 4 years, but did this daughter ever speak to someone. I'm only saying this because when my "crazy" daughter told me she was filing for a divorce, I did advise her to let the school know, "just in case" they started to act up in school, or their schoolwork got behind a bit.

My "crazy" daughter told me that both her boys are just fine with her, but when they go to their dads house they both act up over there. That's only hearsay from her, my son told me different. Her youngest son acts up when he is with my daughter, and her older son acts up when he is with his father.

Take care
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Old 12-29-2016, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Maudcat View Post
How does she do with other children? Does she have friends? I worked with girls. Some of them just weren't kind. Their classmates would tolerate it up to a certain age. By about third grade, the unkind children wouldbegin to find friendships difficult. They had used up their cred, as it were.
She has a few friends. Seems to get along well with them. last week she had been with her mom for 2 nights (after not having seem mom for those 10 days) and then she spent 3 nights in a row with her friend at friend's house. The parents said she is wonderful to have around.

She also was on her best behavior when my mom was in town. Super sweet and engaging with her and my mom fell in love with her. The next day, the child was a holy tyrant again. She used to be extremely loving towards me, as well, but the past few months we've seen her pulling away from me, from her mother, and battling her father over every little thing.

She just flat out refused a second ago to go to the grocery store with me. I gave her a bunch of choices of things to do: bike riding, hiking, taking the dog for a walk, playing tennis, or getting juice before we go the grocery store. Nope, she says she just wants to watch TV. I tried arguing with her for a second until she yelled at me that she just plain old wasn't going to go and there was nothing I could do to make her.

Fine. I told her I wasn't going to argue so I'll just go back to my studying and finishing the Christmas clean up and she can entertain herself. I also told her that I don't like to waste time arguing over stuff like that so if she decides she wants to do something with me, she's welcome to ask.

I have no idea how to deal with kids like this, lol. My parenting style is: I don't take bull crap from kids and I expect obedience. I expect respect for authority, etc.....HAHAHAHAHA.....well, God's obviously testing my patience with this one right now because I am not cut out for this kind of arguing and deliberate disobedience, you know?

I usually let the bf take the lead, but he's meeting with a new prospect today and was desperate for me to watch her because her mother pushed the little one off on us last night even though she was supposed to have K last night and today. The mom does this to us often; just texts him and asks if we can take K because she can't handle it anymore or she sometimes makes up other excuses. I feel for the girl, but at the same time, I have no idea how to be in this 'stepparent' role with a difficult child.
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Old 12-29-2016, 12:31 PM
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Two of my kids are like that. It's their personality. On track to follow in her mom's footsteps....I don't know......She's just 8yo and even if she is a carbon copy of her mom I'd be careful of associating challenging personalities negatively with a parent. It's useless and hurtful in the long run. She is who she is and has to manage this world regardless of which parent she inherited that from.

Mine have been in counseling here and there. It does help a little bit and it helps me too because we meet together and come up with strategies etc. One see's a developmental pediatrician. My other two kids are nothing like that and they have the same home and atmosphere and parenting. One's a twin for goodness sake. I don't think it is my 'fault'. I think humans are just different.

It's hard. It's exhausting and relentless and it can tear a person down because we feel like we are failing at the one thing that is most important to us.. and trust me - everyone has judgement for a single mom. Schools, friends, family, people on the street. It's always our fault. I can guarantee you I've been judged and questioned about every choice, every mistake, every shortcoming my kids have, every grade, all their mistakes, it's open season. Their dad has never received a single phone call or question in the last 6 years. Just sharing as a reminder to be gentle with her mom if you can as long as something neglectful or completely incompetent isn't going on. I sometimes do things I should not, like give in or not remain consistent, because I'm tired. I am only human. One human with not enough sleep and to much work and high needs children and no one to share the load with. Sometimes I get breaks the only way I can and I f something else up to get it - and someone, somewhere, is creating an opinion on that.

ETA: Not to say that behavior like that can just be ignored . Obviously it is not acceptable and not good for the child or the rest of the family.. A counselor is a great idea. They have helped us out a lot over the years by finding strategies etc for the kids, for me, for us as a family.
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Old 12-29-2016, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by amy55 View Post
Liz,

Do you know if this DD ever talked to the school pyschologist? It's very difficult for children when the parents are divorcing. I know it's been 4 years, but did this daughter ever speak to someone. I'm only saying this because when my "crazy" daughter told me she was filing for a divorce, I did advise her to let the school know, "just in case" they started to act up in school, or their schoolwork got behind a bit.

My "crazy" daughter told me that both her boys are just fine with her, but when they go to their dads house they both act up over there. That's only hearsay from her, my son told me different. Her youngest son acts up when he is with my daughter, and her older son acts up when he is with his father.

Take care
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No, she did not. She was in preschool 9 (age 4) when they divorced. I suggested to my bf that she is at a new age of emotional development and she is possibly just now processing the divorce with her more developed mind. He agreed that it's possible, hence the reason he wants to try family and/or individual counseling.
She doesn't take things out on me specifically or act out against me in any way that's different than how she is with everyone else. If she's being mean, we all pay the price. She doesn't discriminate and apparently the mom feels the brunt of it.
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Old 12-29-2016, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Thumper View Post
Two of my kids are like that. It's their personality. On track to follow in her mom's footsteps....I don't know......She's just 8yo and even if she is a carbon copy of her mom I'd be careful of associating challenging personalities negatively with a parent. It's useless and hurtful in the long run. She is who she is and has to manage this world regardless of which parent she inherited that from.

Mine have been in counseling here and there. It does help a little bit and it helps me too because we meet together and come up with strategies etc. One see's a developmental pediatrician. My other two kids are nothing like that and they have the same home and atmosphere and parenting. One's a twin for goodness sake. I don't think it is my 'fault'. I think humans are just different.

It's hard. It's exhausting and relentless and it can tear a person down because we feel like we are failing at the one thing that is most important to us.. and trust me - everyone has judgement for a single mom. Schools, friends, family, people on the street. It's always our fault. I can guarantee you I've been judged and questioned about every choice, every mistake, every shortcoming my kids have, every grade, all their mistakes, it's open season. Their dad has never received a single phone call or question in the last 6 years. Just sharing as a reminder to be gentle with her mom if you can as long as something neglectful or completely incompetent isn't going on. I sometimes do things I should not, like give in or not remain consistent, because I'm tired. I am only human. One human with not enough sleep and to much work and high needs children and no one to share the load with. Sometimes I get breaks the only way I can and I f something else up to get it - and someone, somewhere, is creating an opinion on that.

ETA: Not to say that behavior like that can just be ignored . Obviously it is not acceptable and not good for the child or the rest of the family.. A counselor is a great idea. They have helped us out a lot over the years by finding strategies etc for the kids, for me, for us as a family.
Honestly, if anything, I understand the mom better than my bf does. She and I talked about how the bf and I have the opportunity to tag team the kids. I spend time with the oldest while he tends to the needier younger one. She has no help, no partner to assist her when she's stressed out. She came by for Christmas and spent some time with us and I got up and hugged her and welcomed her in. I even gave her something for Christmas. She joked about how we could be BFF's if it weren't for the man we have in common. The other day she told me that she used to be a super strict parent but that she had to loosen the reigns once she got divorced because juggling a career and kids as a single mom is tough. I agreed and we commiserated about that as single moms because I felt the same thing. I had to give up controlling every aspect of my son's life when I went back to work and trying to manage life on my own.

Yet, at times, she also complains to me about my bf and she tries to get me on her side about things that rationally don't make sense to me and I think she forgets that my primary alliance is to her ex-husband. She throws my bf under the bus when she can and I try to not get triangulated into a mess by staying neutral and changing the subject or just nodding to go along and get along, you know?

And, you're right. The daughter is just who she is. She's a tough cookie, that's for sure and I'm SOOOO not used to it. I grew up in a house of sisters and even though my younger sister was stubborn, she was never this angry as K is.

I hope counseling gives my bf and his ex some answers and some parenting tactics that help. He and I both think she needs consistency but it's so hard to work on that when kids are moving between houses so much.
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Old 12-29-2016, 12:51 PM
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So she isn't mean to her friends but she is to family? Interesting. I haven't a clue as to what is going on with her, but I applaud your patience. Sounds like she could benefit from counselling. Therapists to children are very adept at getting to the why, and can offer coping strategies for the family . Also seems that her mom just can't cope, so...lucky you, you get the pleasure of the child's company!
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Old 12-29-2016, 12:54 PM
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When kids act out, and most of them will....there is usually a REASON. There is a reason for every human behavior. Whether it's open defiance, opposition, passive-aggressiveness. Maybe she is not getting all her needs met, but doesn't know how to go about asking for that. I think most kids [deep down] have a desire for their parents to be together, not apart and not with someone else. "I wish my mom and dad were back together and we could be a happy, normal family". Going between two households is hard too. She's got three parents here: You, her dad, her mom.

It's okay for her to protest, it's okay for her to verbalize, to question. It's not okay for her to kick anyone, though. I wouldn't get into any power struggles about clothes unless she wants to dress in a highly inappropriate way. But, at this age she is going start having certain taste for what she likes in clothes. I remember when my daughter started to get VERY PICKY about what she would wear. My mother didn't really tell me what to wear by the time I 8 years old.

She is an individual and is emerging with likes, dislikes, troubled feelings...maybe she is really hurting inside and doesn't know how to express it. If you stop and think about, her situation sort of stinks at times. She's goes between two households, two parents, each different. You know what it's like to juggle a few things at once as an adult. Kids haven't developed that maturity yet. They're kids. When life upsets them they tend to act out.

I am all for counseling.

In the meantime....you as dad's live-in girlfriend/stepmom need to try and not take what she does personal. She is 'acting out' and kids do that a lot.
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Old 12-29-2016, 01:02 PM
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counselling sounds like a good idea. Sometimes when the child doesnt feel like anybody listenes to her/him, they refuse to do those small things they have the power to change - dont brush their teeth, picky eaters, etc. She is young and her behavious may be caused by her agerssive mother, divorce...etc. But its the parents who must fix this, its not her fault.
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Old 12-29-2016, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by teatreeoil007 View Post
When kids act out, and most of them will....there is usually a REASON. There is a reason for every human behavior. Whether it's open defiance, opposition, passive-aggressiveness. Maybe she is not getting all her needs met, but doesn't know how to go about asking for that. I think most kids [deep down] have a desire for their parents to be together, not apart and not with someone else. "I wish my mom and dad were back together and we could be a happy, normal family". Going between two households is hard too. She's got three parents here: You, her dad, her mom.

It's okay for her to protest, it's okay for her to verbalize, to question. It's not okay for her to kick anyone, though. I wouldn't get into any power struggles about clothes unless she wants to dress in a highly inappropriate way. But, at this age she is going start having certain taste for what she likes in clothes. I remember when my daughter started to get VERY PICKY about what she would wear. My mother didn't really tell me what to wear by the time I 8 years old.

She is an individual and is emerging with likes, dislikes, troubled feelings...maybe she is really hurting inside and doesn't know how to express it. If you stop and think about, her situation sort of stinks at times. She's goes between two households, two parents, each different. You know what it's like to juggle a few things at once as an adult. Kids haven't developed that maturity yet. They're kids. When life upsets them they tend to act out.

I am all for counseling.

In the meantime....you as dad's live-in girlfriend/stepmom need to try and not take what she does personal. She is 'acting out' and kids do that a lot.
I totally agree. Actually, in the past month or so she has made reference to the parents getting back together to her dad. Well, she doesn't come right out and say that but she'll say, "Remember that hike we went on last month? Can we go again soon and this time bring mom?" Her sister berates her for wanting that, though, and I think that hurts the youngest's feelings at times. I try to be understanding as best as I can and my son has been a good sounding board for her, as well. He said she opens up to him and complains about how hard it is to be bounced around from house to house and he, as a child of divorce, commiserates with her and then plays some football with her and she cheers up.

She loves my son and really enjoys his company. He doesn't know how to say no so he tends to just oblige her requests. She's always laughing and having a blast when he's around but he's 18 now and has a job and is finishing high school so he's not around very much, unfortunately.

It's not my job to parent her. I let the parents do that. I act as a sounding board for my bf and I contribute what I can, knowing what little I know about parenting ( my son was easy peasy compared to her), and I don't take what she says personally. If I were her only target, I'd be more sensitive to it, but she lashes out at everyone in the house. It's truly who she is but the parents need to figure out how to manage it better so living in the same house with her is more pleasant for all of us. Her sister is always desperately looking for ways to get away from the youngest. They are not close at all and it's hard to see siblings literally despising each other. Makes my mom heart hurt for both of them.
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Old 12-29-2016, 01:38 PM
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Her sister is always desperately looking for ways to get away from the youngest. They are not close at all and it's hard to see siblings literally despising each other. Makes my mom heart hurt for both of them.

They are three years apart which is a big difference for children. The 11 year old is approaching those tween years. They probably will get closer when they both become teens or young adults. Maybe 8 year old is feeling that separation also and is desiring more together time. Keep those lines of communication open.
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Old 12-29-2016, 01:43 PM
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Amen, MAYA. This eight year old child has absolutely no control over her living situation; going between two households; two sets of 'rules'. I feel for ya, Liz. Being the step mom is not a cakewalk.

Ages 3,4,5 are some one of the worst ages for parents to split. But what is done is done and here you are....

Here's food for thought: Something I came across before..... It is sometimes the 'rebel' child of the family who cares the more. It's the one who speaks up; who protests. Now, I don't know if that's really true or not. But consider that a person who protests in however manner they protest is in a way taking the more difficult route....because in many cases it is simply much easier to "go along, get along". And while the 'go long-get along' method has it's place, it's not always the most functional.

The older girl may not be giving you much grief right now, but who knows what's brewing under the surface? I was that "go long/get along" child growing up....the "peacemaker"....the middle child; the one try and smooth things out. That's not always healthy either. And while my parents were not divorced and I wasn't going between two households or anything like that, there WAS dysfunction in the family. My next youngest sister was the rebel, the black sheep, the one who did not just fall in line like what was expected. She was my number one rival on one hand; but my best playmate on the other....We were close in age.

Looking back on all of that now, I see very clearly what some of the issues were and why she behaved the way she did....and she has had to work through the issues as an adult. She had very low self esteem as a child. She now works for a psychiatrist and whenever I need some good insight on a psyche issue I can usually get that from her.
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Old 12-29-2016, 01:54 PM
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Liz. I know you don't feel it's your 'job' to parent her. But consider what it is like from a child's perspective. When she is at her dad's you are the mother figure in the home. So, whether you like it or not, you are sort cast into a parent-type role. And as long as you are living under the same roof, I don't know how you can escape that. Maybe this is what you are trying to figure out and I don't envy you one bit. Ever see that movie "Step Mom", with Julia Roberts, Susan Suranden, Ed Harris? It's a good one.
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Old 12-29-2016, 03:26 PM
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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.
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Old 12-29-2016, 03:51 PM
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I was thinking check-up to rule out any physical conditions would be a good idea as well. Just to be sure. And how is her eyesight? Kids can be weird about that stuff sometimes. Just make sure she is physically okay.
I almost hate to say the "B" word, but, are we sure she isn't being picked on or bullied at school? Sometims the effects of that come out sideways. Food for thought, that's all.
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