My daugh­ter gets re­ally an­gry and tries to boss us and ev­ery­one else around. Please help!

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - PARENTING -

I have a five-yearold girl who is dis­play­ing a lot of anger. She has been an only child up un­til four weeks ago, but this issue didn’t just start then. She’s al­ways got­ten cross. She will al­ways put up a fight when you ask her to do

YOUR daugh­ter sounds like she may have an in­flated sense of her own im­por­tance! She seems to think that she can as­sert her will in al­most any sit­u­a­tion and that ev­ery­one else will have to give way to her.

It is as if she just ex­pects to get her own way and then throws a ‘hissy fit’ if she doesn’t. If the hissy fit doesn’t work, she tries to ‘guilt-trip’ you in­stead. From what you say, this com­bined ap­proach seems to work most of the time, both with other any­thing. If she’s play­ing with an­other child, she wants them to play a cer­tain way and if they refuse, she might hit them, or in frus­tra­tion, she will slam doors or throw things.

When we try to talk to her about her be­hav­iour, she will cry and say things like, ‘But I think you don’t love me any more’ and we have to pull back.

Do you have any ad­vice? chil­dren and with you. While it is good for chil­dren to feel as­sertive and to act as­sertively, it isn’t good for them to be too pow­er­ful, too young. From your de­scrip­tion of your daugh­ter, she may have too much power.

For a five-year-old, she seems very clued-in to ex­actly what kind of ap­proach it takes to ma­nip­u­late oth­ers to do her bid­ding. Ini­tially, she uses ag­gres­sion and at­tempts at dom­i­na­tion. If that doesn’t get her what she wants, she seems to move on to emo­tional black­mail. I think you might need to as­sert your­self more and re­gain some power in your role as a par­ent.

Par­ents al­ways need to be in charge of five year olds. There is no sit­u­a­tion where a five-year-old gets to call the shots with their par­ent, other than in imag­i­na­tive play.

This is not to say that we can’t take the opin­ion of our young chil­dren into con­sid­er­a­tion in the de­ci­sions we make. We can listen to them and what they want, but the final de­ci­sion rests with us, no mat­ter how up­set­ting that might be for them.

In fact, when you make de­ci­sions in your daugh­ter’s best in­ter­est, you are demon­strat­ing real love for her. She is in­cor­rect then, to try to tell you that you don’t love her. You do love her and that is why you say ‘no’ or why you cor­rect her ag­gres­sive be­hav­iour.

You don’t have to cru­elly ig­nore her tears, or her state­ments that she feels unloved. You can listen to them and em­pathise with them. You just can’t af­ford to back down from the cor­rec­tion or the limit that you have im­posed.

Iron­i­cally, when we give way to our chil­dren and let them dic­tate what hap­pens (giv­ing them too much power), it can ac­tu­ally be quite anx­i­ety-pro­vok­ing for them. Chil­dren pre­fer to know that there is an adult in charge.

It takes pres­sure off them when their par­ents (or other adults) have a clear, un­am­bigu­ous plan and make un­equiv­o­cal de­ci­sions.

While chil­dren might not al­ways like the de­ci­sions, or want to stick with the plan, at least they don’t have the bur­den or the stress of de­ci­sion-mak­ing for them­selves. You may get protest at the de­ci­sion, but it isn’t ad­di­tion­ally fu­elled by anx­i­ety.

It is also much safer for chil­dren to have adults in charge. There is less risk of they, them­selves, or other chil­dren, get­ting hurt, phys­i­cally or emo­tion­ally.

If your daugh­ter is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the anx­i­ety of be­ing too pow­er­ful, it may be that she is dis­play­ing her stress in fur­ther anger and ag­gres­sion.

If you can be­come firmer with her, es­tab­lish­ing your­self as the per­son in charge, all the time, you will take pres­sure off her and you may find that her anger sub­sides.

Along­side your firm­ness, you can in­crease your em­pa­thy and re­spon­sive­ness to her. This shows her that you do un­der­stand that she might be up­set about de­ci­sions you make, and yet it al­lows you to hold fast to those de­ci­sions, with­out back­ing down or giv­ing way.

If you can curb your daugh­ter’s ma­nip­u­la­tion by not giv­ing in to her, she may be­come a hap­pier, more re­laxed and less ag­gres­sive lit­tle girl.

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