How do I handle my daughter's mood swings and constant nagging to have her way?
Our daughter does great in school and has a good group of friends. The problem is you never know how she will react to a comment or question. She is either happy and loves yo to death, lovable and wants to be by your side hugging you, or she won't even look at you. The one-word answers are annoying, the constant need to prove you wrong and get her way is driving us crazy. We say no to a sleepover and she haunts and haunts until she gets her way. I know we should not give in. Help me... what can we do?
This sounds like a very frustrating experience. How old is your daughter? Has she always had difficulties with her mood or is this a relatively new development? In my mind, the answers to your questions point to different factors that may be influencing her behavior.
However, at this time, I can affirm what you already know. It is very, very important that you and your partner apply loving, but firm and consistent parenting. You mention that she complains and harasses you when she receives an undesirable consequence and that you eventually give in. It is absolutely imperative that you do not give in when it comes to consequences. You are unintentionally reinforcing her complaining and she is not learning the necessary lessons from her inappropriate behavior. And, perhaps more importantly, you are teaching her that SHE is in charge. She is learning that she has more power and influence than you because she can influence your behavior. It is actually quite scary for children in circumstances like this to discover that they are more powerful than their parents. To a child, the world is a big, scary place, and it is quite frightening to be in charge. As a result, children in this position are prone to act out due to anxiety and the stress of carrying this burden.
Thus, you are actually doing your daughter a huge favor by setting up a structured environment with rules and firm consequences. It is a relief for children to find that their parents are in charge. She will most likely continue to complain and whine when she receives consequences (it may even intensify for a short period of time as she discovers that you are really serious), but she will eventually settle down and behave more appropriately.
So, listen to your instinct. If your instinct tells you that you should not give in, do your best to remain firm. You are actually helping your daughter by doing this very difficult part of parenting. Good luck!