Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Attention seeking 10 year old

I am at my wit's end with my youngest daughter who just turned 10 yrs old.  I have 3 daughters one is 21 yrs old a senior in college, a 19 yr old a freshman in college who has a rare cystic brain disease and has had to have 9 brain surgeries in 5 1/2 yrs, and my youngest 10 yrs old and in 4th grade. The 10 yr old goes to private school so she can get more attention due to the smaller class size and they have a no homework policy, as well as daycare. She has been in activities since she has been 2 1/2 yrs such as gymnastics, dance, soccer, band, eco club, girl scouts. Currently she is in dance and band.

First of all, she refuses to go to bed and many nights ends up in our bed, even though she start outs in hers.  In the morning she won't get up and drags her feet getting ready.  I make her breakfast, and lunch, pack her backpack and if she needs her band stuff I get that ready too, plus I load the car.  She is responsible to eat, brush her hair and teeth, get dressed and get in the car.  This am it took her 20 minutes to brush her hair.  She makes me late to work and is rude and yells at me:  Blaming me for everything in life.
It wouldn't be so bad, if I didn't have to be to work on time-but that isn't the case.  I asked her to pick out clothes the night before, but she always forgets.  When she eats and dresses she drops
wrappers and clothes right where she is.  I have grounded her, took her out of girl scouts and soccer, blocked her cable tv and even took away the box for a period of time, yet nothing helps. 
I have cut her some slack at times because of her sister's illness and I am sure she feels that she doesn't get enough attention, but it is just getting ridiculous and I need some help.

Dear Mom, 
If your daughter is seeking your attention, try to turn it around so she gets more attention (praise, and/or earns time with you doing an activity) when she cooperates rather than negative attention when she does not do her chores in the morning or night.  Pick a few specific tasks to target at first.  Let her know if she does these with only one reminder she can earn time with you in the evening doing an activity you both agree on.  Discuss ahead of time what that activity might be, and if it is long, then have your daughter earn some time each night and complete the activity another night.  Pick something she won't be able to play with you unless she earns it.  Up until now, most of your behavior modification has focused on negative consequences.  You want a mix of positive and negative usually.  In your case, I would use mainly positive if you feel she is seeking attention, which sounds likely given your family situation.  The praise and/or activity should be daily if possible, as younger children will not stay focused as well on a long term goal.   Ignore her negative comments, such as blaming you.  The more she engages you in negative discussions, the more of your attention she is getting.  If you find the frequency of the targeted behaviors decreases in the next few weeks, eventually you can target a couple of additional behaviors in order for her to earn "game" time in the evening.  

One other suggestion if she is taking too much time brushing her hair, for example, is to have her look at a clock (in the bathroom) and have her earn time with you if she gets done in 5-10 minutes, or whatever time you think is appropriate.  This could be one of her behavioral goals to earn your time playing a game.  Also, have her do the hair last in the morning, so that if it is not done you can leave anyway and she will have to deal with the hair the way it is.  If you want other suggestions, check the chapters in my book on situational causes of defiance and on strong willed children. Good luck, Dr. Gottlieb

No comments:

Post a Comment