My 6 year old is going through a behavior shift (for the worst).
My daughter is a sweet child. She's smart, curious, full of energy, sensitive, kind, and very gentle. She looks after animals and won't even kill spiders (even when she's scared of them). She's always been very loving and protective towards her brother, wanting to play with him and willing to share her own treats willingly because she knows it would make him happy. She's generally very well behaved. She listens when an adult speaks, and does what she's supposed to. Lately she's taken on a mean streak. She speaks cruelly to her brother, who adores her. She's gotten lazy about her chores. Rolls her eyes when we try to remind her to do them, and talks back sarcastically when we try to talk to her. She's in an after school program which she really loves, but recently I discovered that she was causing problems for the counselors there. When I asked her about it, she told me she was bored there and she hated it. We had a talk and it turned out that she didn't really hate the after school program, but that her friend was unhappy there and my daughter was allowing this friend to dictate how she behaved. I was able to stop that whole situation by simply reminding my girl that she is her own person and she's allowed to have a good time if she wants to. Within a week, she was fine again. But this behavioral thing is different. I wonder if she is stressed out at school, if her friends are affecting her behavior, or if I am doing something wrong here at home? Any ideas?
It does not sound like you are doing anything wrong at home; however, friends, teachers, school situations, and after school care may be affecting her. Ask all her teachers what is going on during the day and after school. Was there an incident a substitute teacher or some one who made her unhappy? Was she abused in any way verbally or otherwise or was it just a six year old and her friend? Ask your pediatrician for signs of depression in a young child or dig into family history. Go ask and keep reminding your daughter she can be happy.
Wayne Yankus, MD, FAAP
expert panelist: pediatrics