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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5130
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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My six year old got in an argument with another six year old

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My six year old got in an argument with another six year old that I babysit. The girl I was babysitting was picking out clothes to wear from my daughters closet and my six year old wanted to pick out the clothes for her instead. The other girl threw the a shirt back at my daughter that mine gave her to wear. My daughter in turn choked the other girl pretty hard and left a red mark on her neck. The girl that got choked said that she was really scared. I am mortified and do not know if I have cause for concern for what my daughter did. I have three children and have never come across anything like this before. What do I do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.


First, let me say I can imagine how worrisome and confusing this situation must be for you. I am assuming from what you've written that there aren't any other major symptoms of any developmental problems or you would have reported them along with the incident. Our main focus here is going to be on the fact that you have only one incident to go on. That is enough to make you worried, but not enough to take action. That means observing, keeping watch without being obvious about it.


It is possible that she may have some developmental or behavioral disorder that is emerging. But that isn't necessarily likely. What we're looking for is information. You have too little of it. We don't know if we're facing a behavioral problem, a neurological problem, or some disorder problem (I don't want to name them at this juncture because you'll get scared and think the worst). We just don't know. What we need is an inventory of symptoms to be able to take to a child psychiatrist or psychologist for an evaluation if the behavior continues. Because her behavior so far is not conclusive.

Another little girl invaded her space. Her closet, her clothes, not only her mom. Remember: the girl invades her family and now she invaded her very clothes. That's a lot for a little girl. That she wanted to control the girl's actions sounds on target: minimize the fear of what else the girl might invade in your daughter's life. That she overreacted is not worrisome in itself. That is was so violent is what you're observing. But it's not more than that at this point. This is enough to explain the behavior in most kids and probably her as well, but you need to be watchful.

So at this time you need to give age appropriate incentive to adjust the behavior and be watchful if there are other symptoms coming up that you might need to begin to act on. And if our little chart and stickers fix the problem, be glad! But there's more for her.

Remember: it sounds as though she has to share mommy with other kids because of mommy's work as a babysitter. That's not easy for her. So you have to also reward as well as punish: WE are going to have so and so play with US today. If WE can be hospitable (play with the word and explain it well) then WE can have a treat. Notice the highlighted words here. She needs to feel she's still your special girl. That it's you two who are having this other girl or kids in the house. It's her house to is the idea.

Let me give you the name of the classic book for working on the anger and better ways. You can read them with her on your lap and make them age appropriate if they are older than for her. But first a book for you to help with skills:

Setting Limits With Your Strong Willed Child by Robert MacKenzie. It's available online.

See if she'll cuddle and let your read to her these books. Here are some great books to work with:

What to Do When Your Temper Flares by Heubner and Matthews.

How to Take the Grr out of Anger by Verdick and Lisovskis.

When I Feel Angry by Cornelia Spelman

Okay. So use these principles and don't try to rush this. As I said, you need to observe. But most likely you've got a feisty, sweet little girl who's trying to do more than she can cope with. I wish you the very best!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for the in depth reply. The little girl I babysit is my daughter's best friend. Her mom and I are very close friends, and our husbands work on the same submarine together. So we see them a lot. Do you think that maybe I should separate the girls for awhile? Her mom has asked me to babysit when she has to work, while our husbands are on deployment. My daughter loves having the other child here, but does try to control her actions. She gets angry when people do not listen to what she wants to happen. She is exactly as how you described, feisty and sweet. However, this is the first time she has done something as shocking as this. She does have a quick temper but then calms her anger quickly as well. I really appreciate those books you recommended. They will help tremendously.
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.
No. Don't change the normal routine to try to elicit a different behavior yet. Why not?


Remember: you're not in the action stage at this time; you're in the observation stage. The goal is for her to learn to deal with her anger and frustrations in a normal and healthy way. So we want to see how she deals with the normal life situations. If doing normal things like reading the books with her, rewarding good behavior, and time outs, etc. for punishments doesn't work in normal daily frustrations, that's what you want to find out.


And if it does work, that's also what you want to find out. And our hope is that it will work and this will fade away.


I wish you the very best!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, Dr. Mark

Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5130
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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