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DrFee, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 437
Experience:  I am a Psychologist and Mother of 2.
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My 7 year older daughter is like an "angel" at school and for

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My 7 year older daughter is like an "angel" at school and for all other teachers, but she doesn't listen to what she is told at home. Although her nature is so kind and sweet, she constantly defies us, though I don't think to intentionally do so, but simply because she wants to do what she wants. So she will sneak. And since she was 2 years old, gets herself into trouble. Is is at the point where I worry that I cannot keep her safe unless she is with me every minute (which is very hard to do). She seems to be sensitive to sugar. When she has too much of it, she becomes a different, louder, more uncontrollable kid. Also, she is so self-conscious and gets offended so easily. She worries about problems that aren't even there. She is a truly beautiful child (could be a look-a-like for Selena Gomez), but she looks at the mirror and thinks she is ugly. Even one time when she was 4, she looked in the mirror at herself on vacation and yelled out, "yuck!" She seems to want to look like her sister, who is lighter with blue eyes. These are many issues. I am wondering if she needs more help from a qualified doctor.
Hello! Please remember that my responses are informational only, we are not establishing a therapeutic relationship.

It sounds like you've been having a lot of frustrations with your daughter, which can be so wearing down as a parent!

I have a few questions as well as a few observations to make about what you are trying:

1. Beads: Do you mean that she gets a bead for each day that she is kind and talks nicely all day? How is that going? If it is "all day" that is a long time for many children, especially for those with siblings.

The bead system is fine --BUT, I'd encourage you to give little, verbal positive comments as often as you can, like "I like how you just spoke to your sister." This sounds extremely simple and many parent that I suggest this to respond by saying, "I already do that!" Then I challenge them to count (for a day) how many positive comments they make vs. how many corrective and even negative comments they make. Everyone who takes me up on my challenge is surprised that the correction/negative outweighs the positive.

These positive comments should not be a big deal, but simple, commentary on what is actually happening. "Thank you for remembering to put your dish in the dishwasher." "I like how you brushed your teeth after me only asking you once," etc.

Even though these comments are simple and not a big deal, they reflect and acknowledge the child and mean more than "praise" which is actually not as reflective and noticing of the child.

2. Yelling --yes it can work! But it is exhausting, and you probably know it's not the healthiest approach. The reason it works --as parents we can be like a toy or video game for our children in that they say (not consciously), "Let's see what buttons I can push to make this interesting toy react!" So by yelling, we can become very interesting creatures to our children, and that's actually reinforcing to them.

I'd suggest you check out Howard Glasser's website/book He actually says the "minute per age" timeout is not that effective because by 7 minutes --the purpose of the time out is lost. Alternatively, he says that a time out should be a signal that "the fun has stopped" and only needs to be long enough for the child to stop, think, and change their course of action. Therefore, some time outs may only be 10 seconds, 30 seconds, soon as the child is able to respond this way.

I'd trust you intuition that she is sensitive to sugar --and minimize it!

I am happy to interact with you regarding these points or any other --I ask that you wait to rate my answer until you are completely satisfied with it.

Dr. Fee

DrFee and other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you very much. That is good information and I think will help. But can you give suggestions how to get her to do things when she just doesn't want to (like dressing for school instead of playing)? And also what kinds of consequences are helpful? Also can you help with the issue about her self consciousness?

You are welcome. Thank you for the positive rating and payment. I am happy to answer your additional questions.

First --is your daughter motivated more by rewards or consequences? Some kids are less impacted by one or the other, and in contrast, motivated by one or the other. Have you noticed this with her? If so, I would lean in that direction.

Another thought is if she is motivated by "competition" or "games." If that's the case, here's some ideas:

1. Make getting ready for school into some kind of game. For example, you could have her guess how many minutes she thinks that it takes her to get dressed, then time her, and if she's close to the actual time (you determine how close) then she gets a small (emphasis on SMALL) reward.

2. On subsequent days, the game would be to "beat her record"

If she's reward focused:
1. If you get dressed/ready within X amount of time, then you get X minutes to play before we leave.

If she's consequence focused:
1. If you do not get dressed/ready within X amount of time, then this consequence occurs.

You asked about what consequences are helpful. This also varies greatly from child to child, but the general principle is that the consequence should:
1. Make sense in light of the infraction
2. Be timely (the further the distance from the infraction, the less likely there is a link between behavior and consequence)
3. Be on par (not too light nor too severe with the infraction).

In the situation of not getting dressed, a logical consequence is no play time before school, or no TV before school, etc.

If you give me other specific things that she is doing wrong, I might be able to suggest some consequences.

The self-consciousness is a trickier one for me to answer, because it is difficult for me to tell how serious the issue is for her. Sometimes involvement in a positive activity (something like karate, a sport, or a group like girl scouts) where the child can be successful is helpful. However, if she does not respond positively to achieving success, then I would suggest taking her to a child psychologist.

You could do certain activities as a family that can help build a positive view of self:

1. At the end of each day, each person talk very briefly about two things that happened in their day: One that was "life giving" (gives you joy, energy, motivation), and one that was "life taking" (makes you sad, drained your energy, frustrated you). Over time, you discover patterns to these activities and learn to seek out more of the "life giving ones" and put the "life taking" ones into perspective. (Ask me if you want me to explain this more).

2. On a regular basis --each member of the family tell something to each other member what they like/appreciate or are thankful about them: "I enjoy how funny you are" or "I love that picture you drew." or "It was so cool how you got a 100% on your spelling test" There are similar things to this you could do to change it up a bit (something I'm thankful about this week, Something I'm proud of this week, the possibilities are endless --but the point is to build connection among family members and self-esteem for your daughter).

Please feel free to follow up with me further!

Dr. Fee
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you. This is hard to do over email. Your suggestions are good, but are already things we do. The biggest challenge is getting her to do something she doesn't want to do. We just have to keep trying new things. And we will read your websit recommendation. We will not need further service. Thank you.
Thank you again for using the service and your positive feedback. Yes, I know that many discussions are difficult to do over email, as we can't have that interaction that I think is needed since you've already been working hard to address the issues.

It is possible that you are doing the right things and need some help implementing them in a more effective way with a "live" therapist. Or, perhaps you need some new ideas or more intensive help.

Anyway, thank you again and best wishes to you.