Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).
Could you please tell me more about this behavior? For how long has she been that way, and is she this way about everything or only around specific areas?
As her grandfather, I just started noticing this behavior recently. If asked to decide between two situations she completely disintegrates into hysterics. Ex: If asked to decide between reading to herself in bed or watching a favorite movie (both things greatly desirable to her) she waffles between the two unable to decide. Usually ends in tears and indecision because her mother finally gets tired of the indecision and refuses both. However, when asked to decide between multiple choices of actions there is little or no indecision,.
I am sorry to know she has been undergoing this problem. Do you know if she has a hard time at other areas, like for example coping with boundaries, discipline, responsibilities, challenges or sad news-incidents?
You said you just noticed this behavior, then it could be that it has not been that serious - obvious before. What do her parents say about it? In your example you said she gets tired about it. Could you please comment a little more on those points?
Since kindergarten she has been bothered by one or more bullies that have really scared her. We have been teaching her to stand up for herself. She is intelligent and does well in school, has friends, plays sports. Doesn't seem to have any problems in the other areas you mentioned above. Probably the biggest change in her life was the birth of her sister with an age difference of 5 years. She has confided in me however, that she does get jealous of her younger sister at times.
I see, thank for for clarifying. Having a younger sibling could easily cause or trigger behavioral problems, thus such life event and current reality must be taken into account in order to teach and support her how to adjust to such challenges in healthy ways. The main problem you reported, could show she is experiencing high levels of anxiety when not sure about what would be the best option. The sad and frustrating fact you mentioned around her being victim of verbal-emotional abuse by other children is just very serious, and most tiems such tyoe of issues do cause children to develop anxiety problems.
My suggestion is for her parents, and then you -close family members not only to teach her how to cope with abusive people, but also to take more actions in order to stop any form of abuse she has been experienced at school, once it could deeply and seriously undermine any person's mental health, even more if it's about a child.No form of abuse should be allowed at all. If adults develop serious mental health problem from bullying at workplace, imagine how damaging it could be for a child, who is just developing her personality, learning about life, and more, it could be very traumatic and powerfully hurt her personality and mental health.
I've mentioned this situation to my daughter (after a recent episode like mentioned above) and she tells me that she has noticed it too. She and I have talked about it and our current handling mechanism is to try to limit the times she is put in this type of situation. We have also taken the bullying situation to her school's administration and staff. They are being very supportive of her and are aware of the children responsible.
They way you would need to consider to support her when feeling this anxious, is to show real empathy, patience, understanding, gentleness and compassion, letting her know that it is fine, that you can understand and support her, literally helping her to calm down and learn to cope with her anxiety and see how things could be just fine. Loosing temper, becoming upset or reactive in negative ways out of patience, would not help but worsen her problem.
I (we all) agree with your most recent advice about letting her know that she is ok, and by us not putting her in the decision-making situation in the first place, will limit her anxieties. We will expand the positive and reduce the negative responses to this matter. Let us take this path for now and see if this helps her. Thanks for your advice.
I feel relieved to know that, since for a child that young to have been suffering chronic abuse for years is just very serious and should not be allowed under any circumstance. Limiting the situations where she has to choose between two appealing options is assertive but I do not suggest such approach to be the only one, she needs to learn how to cope with anxiety from such situations, and the way to do it is by having a sound support system, where real empathetic, understanding, loving and supporting people help her calm down, re-learn to feel OK with her feelings and improve her self-confidence and esteem while facing such challenges. Thus eradicating any form of abuse at school and providing healthier parenting, should eb able to take good care of this problem.
You're very welcome.
Thank you for your trust.