mccormom3 asks:

My 7 yo daughter gets lots of positive attention, but seeks more constantly

My daughter is manipulative, prone to tantrums, and has angry outbursts. My husband and I tried to combat it with lots of positive attention and rewards for good behavior(like an extra 15 minutes at the park) Lately she has been so explosive and angry, and no matter what we do she yells, won't go to bed and is incredibly defiant. We have some mixed variables, like her adult sister just moved back home for financial reasons, i started nursing school and her dad has an anxiety and bipolar disorder and recently was granted disability. it has been extremely hard to understand her. She actually bit me yesterday when I went to pick her up from a neighbor's home because she did not want to leave. She always pushes the envelope for "5 more minutes" 1 more drink, etc. We are at our wits end! Thanks!
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago



Hand in Hand
Sep 4, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

You certainly do have a lot of changes going on in your family now. I'm glad you reached out for some ideas on helping your 7 year-old adjust and I hope you are getting the support and attention *you* need to adapt to all the stress you must be feeling right now.

Just like adults, children need someone to listen to them when their piled up feelings cause their behavior to go "off track." Children need regular access to an emotional safety valve, and they need us to care about them while they use it. That safety valve is the chance to cry broken-heartedly, to tantrum at full throttle, to thrash and shriek and tremble if they’ve been frightened, and to laugh and giggle (but not because they’re being forced by tickling) for good long stretches. They come equipped to get from “difficult” to “sunny,” through the passionate, eager expression of whatever feelings are stuck inside. As we listen and care (and sometimes, hold a reasonable limit or expectation), they unload their emotional burden. It’s simple, and it works! The underlying assumption is that, when children are pushing our buttons, they can’t feel anyone there. And more than anything else, they need to feel connected. Connection is oxygen for their minds. Listening to them while holding a reasonable limit helps them regain that sense of connection that allows their minds to shift into “I’m glad to be here!” mode.

I've added a link below to an article about children and manipulation that will give you some helpful suggestions to work on.

Children also need clear limits set with warmth and authority and held, gently but firmly, while they have their feelings about those limits. We sometimes need to remind ourselves that while all behavior is not acceptable, all feelings are. So, while it's unacceptable for you to be bitten by your upset little girl, it is OK, and perfectly normal, for her to get upset. I've included a story about setting limits and listening to the feelings behind them in the second link below. It's a story from a parent who uses our tools and how they have helped.

I hope something here helps you and I wish you and your daughter some relaxed and connected time together over the holiday weekend.


Julianne Idleman, Hand in Hand Program Director

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