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TherapistJen, LCSW, CPC
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 3826
Experience:  Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Certified Professioanl Coach
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I really need some help concerning my 6 year old daughter.

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Hi, I really need some help concerning my 6 year old daughter. There are several things that are really troubling me and as I single parent I have no one that I can consult or get support from. Firstly, she has always been incredibly strong willed and highly emotional. As a baby and toddler she was easily upset and the tantrums were off the charts. She has now got an explosive temper which often results in screaming very, very loudly, foot stamping and door slamming. She does this every time I put boundaries in place and she doesn't get what she wants. I've never been the type of parent to just give her what she wants, but she behaves genuinely shocked and outraged when I say no. Secondly, her eating is awful. At the age of 1 she started to become more fussy and gradually over the years the list of things she'll eat has got less and less. I have always made hidden veg sauce but she won't eat that now. I can't get her to eat anything remotely healthy. Even meals she has 'always eaten' are now unacceptable. It is deeply worrying that I can't get anything healthy into her.
At school she is quiet and well behaved and helpful. The exact opposite of what I get, which is rude backchat, oppositional defiance and screaming. I'm exhausted from the constant behaviour battles and frankly at my wits end. I know she finds it hard having to go to her dad's every week, and sometimes I feel like she is punishing me because I don't think she's this bad for her dad. I suffer from anxiety and I must get a rest or I become burnt out and I struggle to cope. I have even seen a psychologist with her who said she probably has attachment issues but none of the approached I do seem to make any difference. I can cope with the rudeness and she has a positive behaviour system involving marbles and a 'reward' when she reaches ten. But I don't know how to deal with the screaming or eating problems.

I don't think she is punishing you...she is 6 and is not doing this on purpose. I think she may be reacting to her changing environment going back and forth between you and her dad and is filled with emotion but is too young to articulate it or even know what she is feeling. So why is she like this with you and not others? Because that is where she is most comfortable to let it all go. You are battling with her and I would suggest puling back from all the battles...that doesn't not mean you are giving in, but rather choosing to have some peace and comfort in the house. I would leave the struggle around food as well as this just becomes another area that she is feeling out of control. Enlist her in things...cook together, clean up together and let her know how happy you are that she is your little helper and have her create her own reward chart with things completed and then out for special time with you at the end of the week for all things she chose to complete. You are both holding on tightly to each of your positions but it isn't working right now. Yes, boundaries are important but choose the boundaries that at this time are the most crucial and when she tantrums, make sure she is safe from any harm and then let her tantrum without engaging in it at all. The more you engage, the more it goes on. Stay measured, don't yell and don't battle. Over time, she will get though this, but she needs the love and support as she may be feeling a lot with all the going back and forth.

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