Is an 8 y/o being extremely argumentative and emotional a "phase?"

Julie - posted on 04/07/2012 ( 7 moms have responded )

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My step-daughter just turned 8. She has a little sister that just turned 6 and I have two boys, age 3 and 15. My 8 y/o has lived with us for a year and a half and we got full legal custody of them both in August 2011. She has been diagnosed with ADHD and ODD. The last month or so she has become extremely forgetful and argumentative. She also cries hysterically over the SMALLEST things! She starts up with her unpleasant attitude the moment she walks through the door after school. She has been difficult in class too. She is constantly in trouble for blurting out, not following her teacher's directions and has on several occasions ROLLED HER EYES at her teacher as well as myself! She is always bickering with her siblings and lying. She blames everything on them, no matter what. Today she used the bathroom and didn't wipe or flush, an almost daily occurrence. She lied and said it was her sister. Her dad was waiting for her out front (last kid to get ready, others in car seats already!) She went to get her jacket and dash for the door and had no socks or shoes on and simply said "I forgot." She has the same routine and schedule every single day (much needed for kids with ADHD) and I've recently backed up her bedtime because she is SO whiny and tearful. Every day she comes home and forgets to hang up her coat and backpack, forgets to wipe, forgets to change into play clothes, forgets to start on homework, even after several reminders. I've tried consequences and rewards, time-outs, loss of privileges, snuggles and hugs and on bad days, she just gets sent to her room until dinner. She has never been close to her mom and doesn't even want to talk to her when she calls. Mom has lost all visitation and it has been that way since October so there has been no change in that situation. We tried to get her in therapy, but the state denied her and we are struggling to make ends meet as it is. I'm out of ideas and patience!!! Her little sister was so severely neglected that she is having insane struggles in Kindergarten and will most likely be held back and I have NO time to help her after school because my entire afternoon/evening is consumed by her older sister's behavior and lack of cooperation. One simple spelling assignment, the same ones every day of every week, can take her up to 2 hours! And my Kindergartner's teachers are asking me to spend just as much or more time with her! If you do the math, that leaves NO time for dinner, baths or time with my 2 boys. Something's gotta change! Helpful suggestions anyone??

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Eron - posted on 04/08/2012

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wow, you are doing an amazing job and i hope you know that! Unfortunately with ADHD i think that you are going to find that you will constantly need to remind her about everything all the time, no matter how good your routine is. I also think that you will find that rewards and consequences wont work in the same way that they would in a child that doesnt have the condition. I really think you should push for outside help and support, from the school, doctors, therapy - appeal against the state, her school should be pushing for support for her too while she is in their care. She will always have this difficulty and the best way you can help her is to fight to make sure she receives support with it. She isnt trying to be difficult, and this is just as hard on her as it is on those around her. x

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Sara - posted on 04/07/2014

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I have an 8 year old sister too, so I feel your pain. She rolls her eyes and puts her hands on her hips to act beyond her age. Her teacher also says she chats a lot, has an attitude problem and doesn't concentrate. you could sit her down and thoroughly explain as clearly as you can, why it is important to be calm and why crying can't benefit her future. Also, when you ask her to hang up her clothes etc, try to ask in a caring tone, as young children can be sensitive.

Sara - posted on 05/15/2012

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oh i just managed to read it now, my eyes are so sore. this seems like she has a negative attitude when you tell her to behave or like you said when you tell her to sit on her bum and chew with mouth closed she keeps doing it and rolls her eyes- this means she is thinking that you are nagging her when you are actually telling her to use her manners- typical child behaviour, don't worry- i feel for you too because i don't like being ignored or feeling like someone just doesn't care. and im sorry if she has ADHD- it's common. wish you the best.

Sara - posted on 05/15/2012

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im sorry i couldn't have time to read it all i am not feeling well at all lately but still giving advice :) but considering the title, if she comes walking from the gates with an unpleasant attitude ask her what happened at school today and just give her a cuddle xD hope this helped if not- don't confront me! bye x

Julie - posted on 05/15/2012

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Polyleah - You know I used to say "If God brings you to it, he will bring you through it." Instead I feel like He dumped me in the river to teach me how to swim! I have suspected for a little while that it is hormones with her, didn't realize it starts so young!! :( She has tried helping her sister with her homework, but we are having unique issues with her sister that make an adult helping her frustrating! My 8 y/o cracks and gives her the answers! ;) Or loses interest and walks away. Her health is good, she just had her well-child check-up. My husband works 10 hour shifts and is so tired on the weekends that all he does is yell at them, so I wind up stepping in more than I should. My younger SD's therapist keeps telling me he needs to step up more and help with his kids on the weekend. He gets irritated when I bring it up, saying he's tired from working all week. Last weekend, I left. I had a dinner party to go to so he was in charge of ALL the kids, dinner and bedtime! He had a revelation about how much I do while I was gone having fun with friends!! LOL I need to make sure I do that more often!! :D I am concerned about what's going on in her head. She has been with us for quite some time and has never had a close relationship with her mother. She never cares to talk to her but when she does, all she's does is tattle about everything to her mom! She never wants to see her, says she hates her and never wants to go back. But she leaves it at that. Is on to the next thing in life like it doesn't bug her much. She's been getting really angry lately. They both said they did not want to see her on Mother's Day. So we went out of town. My husband had them call their mother in the morning and after they were done talking to her, my 8 y/o asked "Are we going to see my mom today? It is Mother's Day, you know?" But while talking to her mom she told her all about the gift she made for ME!! :( We talk about her often with the other daughter's therapist and she says we should request another evaluation. I need to find out what the state does cover and tailor my answers next time! I think any kids going through what they are should NOT be denied!!! I wish we could afford private counseling. Thank you for the prayers, perhaps they are why my stress-related eye twitch suddenly went away?! ;)

Julie - posted on 05/15/2012

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Eron - our state's budget cuts in health care include not covering therapy for children with ADHD, ADD or ODD. Since these diagnoses are so common, I guess they decided they could save a whole lot of money by denying services to the biggest population needing them. :( She is an excellent student academically and her teacher is doing a good job of managing her behavior, so she is not on an IEP. I know you are right when you say "She isnt trying to be difficult, and this is just as hard on her as it is on those around her." When I ask her what's going on, she just gets tearful and says she doesn't know, or it's too hard or she forgets. I did not realize the constant forgetfulness was a symptom of ADHD. I used to sit and wait and watch her forget to do her routine after school, baffled every day. Now I every day I say, "Please remember what you are supposed to do after school" the moment she walks through the door. If she hesitates, I start the ball rolling by reminding her of the first thing she needs to do. Some if it though is just her being disrespectful or lazy. And that is hard. When I remind her for the 20th time in one week to sit on her bum at the table and chew with her mouth closed and then she rolls her eyes at me and keeps doing it....I gotta walk out of the room to keep from doing or saying something hurtful. Lately I have been taking her chair after the 2nd reminder to stay seated on her bum. That's actually been working better than I expected! :) I have noticed the reward system does NOT work with her! It's great for a week or so and then she just doesn't care anymore. I see trouble ahead though as her sister's therapist wants me rewarding her sister with a small piece of candy every single time she's doing something right or not lying. I guess I will have to do that for all 3 of my little kids. :( I've tried that before and it winds up being that they expect that piece of candy every single time....forever! Perhaps I should do pennies instead and take them to the store once a week with their money.

Polyleah - posted on 04/09/2012

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I agree with Eron, that you are doing a wonderful job trying to manage all of these responsibilities, and taking on this situation. I don't know if you believe this, but God does not give us anything that we cannot bear. It doesn't mean it will be easy, but realize that you do have the strength to do this, and I hope that this 8 year old and her father realize one day how blessed they are to have a woman who is reaching out and seeking help with others for this family that she has taken on. Now you have a few issues to tackle here, first this is an 8 year old little girl, who is dealing with just being an 8 year old little girl lol. I have an 8 year old and 13 year old girl, the hormones kick in around 8. Second she has ADHD, and you have to be prepared to expect the unexpected, it may surface in diffferent ways, attitude, spontanety impulsiveness, and you need to be prepared in advance for those mood shifts. I am in education and have managed several children with ADHD, I do not claim to be an expert, but through my experience I was most successfull if I had many alternatives in place in advance to work with the mood shifts. For example, when I taught preschool, I already knew to be prepared for the child with the condition not to sit during lessons. That did not mean that I lowered my expectations of her, not at all, but if she got bored I had something to engage her to bring her back to the lesson, Or she became my helper. Maybe trying to solicit "help" during homework time from your 8 year old to work with your 5 year old can at least give you sometime to get through some of the homework. Now you have to be able to distinguish what parts of her behavior are associated with her conditions or just pure behavior. One mistake parents make with children in these cases is assumming that regular discipline is not required because it is their "condition" making them act that way. Rolling her eyes at a teacher is just disrespect. There are plenty of kids with ADHD that may not be able to focus, but are not disrespectful. Also, she is dealing with not being around her mom. So focus on the three areas, 1- Her age in general as an 8 year old girl, and the biological things she may be dealing with around that, 2- the ADHD and ODD - there are resources out there to help parents deal with these conditions, (also remember there may be physical things she is going though with this as well, I had a 4 year old student with Adhd who had high blood pressure because of it), and 3 - her physical circumstances, not seeing her mom, and fully being with you and your husband and other children. Make a list of what may be happening to her in those three different areas, and you'd be suprised how you may be able to get help for her or help yourself help her. Make sure you shift some of this responsibility to your husband, I didn't see you mention where he was with all of this. We can do it all, but sometime we don't ask for the help we need. Above all be compassionate, she is a child who is going through a whole lot. God be with you, you are truely special and I will be praying for you and your family,

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