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David Akiva
David Akiva, BA, MA,
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 167
Experience:  Counselor; Behavioral Consultant
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Just recently my 5 year old daughter has been saying some really

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Just recently my 5 year old daughter has been saying some really absured things when she is angry. She tends to tell these things to her 8 year old brother and I'm unsure how to handle this. I've mentioned this to my girlfriends and no one seems to know what to say. She's been saying things in anger like "I'm so angry with you I'm going to jump out of the window, and the floor is going to be bloody and I'm going to die!" or the most recent one when my son wouldn't let her get on the computer she told him "If you don't let me get on then I'm going to get a knife and cut my eyeball out!" My son then starts giving in. These are just the few things that I've overheard. My 8 year old is not an aggressive child he's pretty calm and has an easy going nature. She's usually the one getting herself into trouble so, I don't really know if it's something I'm blowing out of proportion or so on. Our family has no history or no one in our family has had any sort of behaviour where we would say something or act like that. Please advise.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  David Akiva replied 6 years ago.
Welcome, I am a professional counselor, Behavioral-Consultant and relationship expert. Do you mind If I ask a few questions to better understand your situation and problem?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Expert:  David Akiva replied 6 years ago.
Thank you. I've got 2 questions:

1) Apart from the negative statements your daughter makes when she is angry, are there any other behaviors of concern that she does?

2) You've given a very clear description of the problem verbal behavior that you have been observing. Yet I'd like to get a better sense of your actual question. When you say "please advise", what kind of information are you looking for, more specifically?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
1) No. Her statements really were a total shock. Her general behaviour is really sweet. Definitely a little spoiled. I don't have any big problems with her. She is strong willed like if I give her a time out she'll run to her room, cry and slam the door. But, time outs and behavioral correction are very rare. She doesn't normally give me any problems. I guess you could say she's a bit of a drama queen. She disregards XXXXX XXXXX sometimes. Like if I ask her to clean her toys, I'll have to repeat myself a couple times. If she doesn't listen then I normally end up packing up the toys and giving them away.

2) The first time she said the thing about jumping out of the window I hugged her and told her in a nice way how horrible those things she said where and tried to reason with her. The second time with the eyeball thing I was VERY firm. I disconnected the televisions and computer(that they use) from the house and sent her to bed early, I was not nice and really let her know that the things that were coming out of her mouth where "ridiculous things to say" and if she wanted to remain being a part of our family she could not use those kind of verbage to get her way with her brother. I know she mostly uses it to get what she wants from her brother but, it just bothers me that she is thinking so graphically. I guess what I'm asking is how to correct this behavior or if I should be seeking professional help. Although, perhaps professional help is a little early to tell???
Expert:  David Akiva replied 6 years ago.
Thank you. Very clear answers to my questions. Sounds like a very easily managed/changed behavior. I don't think professional help is needed here at all. I agree, your daughter may have heard these words from the television or other popular media sources. It's so hard to monitor all the time.

As far as behavior change strategies go, it's really about understanding the function or the purpose of the behavior (what is it's goal) and then teaching and positively reinforcing a more "pro-social" behavior choice that serves the same function or purpose. For example, if she wants the computer, then the function of her negative verbal behavior is to 1) express that she wants that activity; and 2) to try and have immediate access to that activity.

So 2 positive replacement behaviors would include 1) learning how to ask more appropriately (and maybe for now to come and ask you as the adult for permission); and 2) to learn how to chose an alternate activity that keeps her busy and active until it's her turn (chose another activity while you wait for your turn on the computer). You can pre-plan alternative activities to choose from when the desire to use the computer arises. You can also award stickers or happy faces you write on a chart so that she earns extra time on the computer for follow through on comming to ask for computer time etc. You can also use lots of verbal praise and attention for follow through on coming to ask for computer time etc.

It's always best to teach and learn about new postive behavior choices when things are emotionally positive and there's no conflict. It's also good to teach 3 or 4 simple action steps for each behavior that can be stated by the child easily and then you can actually refers the steps that are expected during a potential problem behavior episode. You can actually draw out the steps together and have lots of fun rehersing or play acting the steps together. Teaching and learning with lots of fun (positive reinforcement) significantly increases the likelihood that your daughter will make the proper choice when qued during those times she might otherwise have said something not so nice.

A great set of tools you can get at your local lending library or at your daughter's school is a book and some teaching and learning cards called "skill streaming". Designed for behavior change at school, these are great tools for teaching and learning all kinds of great social skills as positive replacement behaviors at home.

Each card has a 4 or 5 step replacement behavior you can choose based on observing your daughter's behavior. For example, there is an active listening skill you can teach her for following your instructions. There is a polite asking skill and there are some great sharing and problem solving skills (like how to ask for and share computer time).

Sound's like you know how the time out procedure works. 1, 2, 3 Magic is a good resource also as is the book OffRoad Parenting. Not that there are any serious behavior problems here but the behavioral parent training strategies are the same for challenging and less challenging behavior choices alike. (all kinds of great science-based parenting resources here).

Finally it's really important to learn about the incredible power of postive reinforcement. Here are some resources to in addition to the onces already suggested to learn more about postive parenting strategies that really get good results:

Please let me know your thoughts.
David Akiva and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
What really bothered me wasn't so much the behavior because I can definitely take care of that it was mostly the graphic nature of her response. It was really shocking to listen to your five year old threatening to do some damage to herself however, I know she's using it as leverage. Our family is pretty put together and we don't have any disfunctional qualities. But, in my husband's extended family their is one particular family member that has actually tried to kill herself because her dad didn't get her the right car. My children have no knowledge of this incident or come in contact with them. But, when my daughter starts spewing things like this it automatically reminded me of this person.

Of course everything else makes sence. I definitely usethose skills they worked great with my son especially during clean up. Like I said my daughter has more a mind of her own and while she's pretty well behaved when it comes to curbing her character I have to use different tactics and maneuver her more skillfully where she thinks she's making the deciscion. Positive reenforcement works well of course.

But, I will probably go the more severe way and limit their media usage extensively.

Thank you very much for your help.

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