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Mina, Clinical Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 188
Experience:  Working as a Highly Specialist Clinical Psychologist in NHS. Experience in both children and adults
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My six year old daughter has no regard for rules or the

Resolved Question:

My six year old daughter has no regard for rules or the consequences of breaking those rules despite having explained to her the importance of rules, why they exist, why she has to listen to her teachers/parents/grandparents etc and despite being disciplined when she breaks the rules eg having her favorite toys confiscated, not being allowed to do a fun planned activity etc. She also lies and makes up convoluted stories about why she breaks rules or lies. Any suggestions please?
Mary Spanos
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Mina replied 7 years ago.
Hello and thank you for contacting us.

I am sorry to hear that you are dealing with this difficult situation.

From your description I understand that your little girl has some behavioral problems. It is very common for children to be disobedient or even manipulative and this seems to be the case here as she is rather challenging you. However, all behavior can be changed with the proper learning.

Behavioral problems can be due to many factors such as certain changes in the family, life events, complex dynamics in the family and lack of boundaries or consistency on behalf of the parents. Sometimes parents tend to feel intimidated in a way by the challenging behavior of their children and seem to have "lost" their role and power.They feel that for some reason they cannot handle the behavior and children can pick up this "weekness" making them feel that they are the boss in this relationship. You need to carefully consider what messages you are giving to her with your reactions.

Firstly, you would need to empower yourself. You are the boss in this relationship and she needs to understand that there are certain boundaries that she needs to adhere to as all children do. There should be no battle as this is not a case of who wins. You describe her as if she is challenging you. This can happen often with children but it is down to the parent to show that there is no challenge as the parent has the ultimate power.

To show this, you need to commit to a system for behavioral modification where you and your husband would both be consistent in order to get some results. Consistency is the key in all programs for behavioral change. e.g. if you send her to her room or take away her favorite toy or deny her her favorite activity as a consequence for a behavior of hers but because she cries or shouts, you feel sorry or intimidated and you let her out or give the toy back to her or do the activity after a while, then what she learns is that by escalating her behavior she will eventually get what she wants. You need to learn how to "stick to your guns" and it will be easier after a while.

Positive reinforcement (rewards, affection, encouragement) is also very important and this needs to happen in the right dosages and in a good combination with the rest of the program to work.

If you let her see you get upset, cry or lose control of your reactions because of her behavior , you would be giving her the message that she has the power to make you upset. This is too much for a child this age and she can use this against you . You need to maintain calm at all times, never raise your voice as this shows that you have confidence in yourself and this will give her the message that you are serious. You need to use simple instructions and you need to have already informed her what the implications would be if she does not adhere to these. After that, you need to follow through the implications no matter how she responds to them.

I am sure that you have tried a lot of these measures yourself. However, a program for behavioral management needs to have ALL the elements and in the right dosages/proportions to work. If you are finding it hard to apply it yourself, it would be best to consult a Child Psychologist to take you through each step and target certain behaviors e.g. tantrums, not following instructions etc.

it is also very important to discuss this issue with her school and take them on board in any efforts to design a behavioral modification program so there is the consistency at home and in school.

I hope this helps

All the best in your efforts and remember to involve your husband in all your strategies.


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