7 year old so needy and dependent!! Losing my mind please help me

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 07/18/2013 ( 18 moms have responded )

581

0

54

Hi ladies , I'm very frustrated with my step daughter and don't know what to do. She is 7 years old and so needy and attention seeking that I feel I'm going nuts. She tells me she can not do simple things such as get herself dressed, brush her hair, and even demands to be carried out of the bath tub and into her bedroom to get dressed. She will not go to sleep on her own and God forbid I leave the room she is in or she will freak out and demand that she comes with me wherever in the house I go. I feel I Just want to scream " please I need one second to be alone!". Ive been around plenty of other kids her age and she is incredibly more needy then the average 7 year old. If I ask her to throw her plate in the sink or to throw trash in her garbage instead of the floor she refuses. She is in constant need of attention and I can not have a 5 second conversation with her father without her interrupting and complaining of some problem that doesn't exist. If the attention is taken off of her at iall then it's whining to get it back on her. She has always been a needy child ( I've known her since she was 1) but its so much more noticeable now that she's 7 and should be able to play for 5 minutes alone while I put laundry in the wash! I feel she does these things for attention and am so lost on how to handle her. She has a happy home with people that love her and I can not understand these behaviors. She has been to counseling for the fact that she still pees her pants consistently every day. The psychologist said she's doing it for attention and to ignore it when she does ( yes we've had her checked if it was a medical condition that was wasn't in control of and the dr said everything was fine physically and recommended the psychologist) . He also said " she's just a tough kid" which leaves me even more frustrated thinking It will always be this tough. I need help on what to do bc while I do love her I am not enjoying her at all and it makes me feel awful

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Mary - posted on 07/24/2013

3,348

31

119

I have no experience in a situation like this, but it seems very clear that a huge part of the problem is that you and her biological parents are not consistently and uniformly dealing with her behavior. I think that it is critical that the 3 of you sit down (with or without her child psychologist) and hammer out some firm guidelines and expectations for acceptable behavior and consequences.

For example, it should be the absolute rule at both your house and her mothers that she put away her dishes after every meal or snack. There is no argument that a 7 y/o is more than capable of this small task (most 3 y/o's can do this!). The problem is that there is no consistency in the enforcement of these rules, which has taught her that she can avoid doing things she doesn't want to, and she can manipulate the adults in her life to do things the way she wants to.

You need to make your husband understand that your motivation here IS about your love for your stepdaughter. In truth, you are not really being negative about her or criticizing her; rather, you are acknowledging that her "bad" behavior and manipulative behavior is the direct result of the adult responses and reactions she gets. He needs to understand that continuing on in the present course is detrimental to her. Giving in to her manipulations and guilt are only making her a dysfunctional and unlikable person, and will have negative repercussions on her relationships in both her family and the outside world.

Amber - posted on 07/21/2013

19

0

0

OMG that must be Hell. Sorry, but geez!! I too was the product of divorce at around a year old. I don't think that's a valid excuse for her behavior, because you are all united in co-parenting which you should all be applauded for. That's a truly wonderful thing. Having said that I suppose it's unfair to assume all children handle things the same.

If you have her in counseling, you are headed in the right direction. The next step would be to enlist the help of her father when she engages in rude behavior such as interrupting an adult conversation. We tell our daughter gently it's rude to interrupt and continue the conversation. Give her the attention afterwards so she still feels her needs are being met.
She sounds as though she is regressing. She is resorting to childish behavior, because let's face it, it's effective. Kids are intuitive when it comes to doing what works. You can't give in to her demands no matter how much she may throw a tantrum, scream, or cry. For your sanity you have to take control of the situation. There may be times when you have to count to ten to remain calm or try to distance yourself so as not to show your frustration, because let me tell you kids sense it and feed off of it.

My niece was pitching a fit so I gently picked her up off the floor, set her on the couch and told her she wasn't to move from that spot until she calmed down. I didn't raise my voice, I didn't get angry, and I remained calm. By not escalating my emotions, I was able to calm hers from 10 to about a 3. She of course tried to get up but I didn't let her up until she calmed down. It worked. I'm not hitting, yelling, or berating her-just trying to diffuse the situation so I could deal with her when she was calm.
Try positive reinforcement as well as "time out." When she does do something that is independent praise her for it and tell her how proud you are. Make a really big deal out of it so she wants to do more "big girl" things.
Try compromise. Tell her you won't carry her to her room but you will hold her hand and read her a story. Get her one of those cool night lights that reflect around the room so she feels safe.
If you made plans, tell her she can't go if she doesn't do things like brush her teeth or hair. Or offer to brush your teeth with her. Tell her she can pick out her own outfit if she dressed herself-only let her choose from weather appropriate items or you'll have another war on your hands (you can hang coordinating clothes together so all she's doing is choosing matching outfits).
If she wants to be with you all the time put her to work. Let her fold towels or something. Give her a basket or grocery sack to help pick stuff up with as well as put away. Let her put the laundry in the basket. Let her help with dishes by rinsing non-breakable items. If she complains say, "if we get this done together, we will have more time to play later." Chances are she may ditch you when she realizes you are going to be cleaning or chores.

Utilize the time she spends with you to make her feel secure-that you're not going anywhere so she's free to play on her own. Engage in conversations about things she likes as well as remind her what "big girls" do.

As far as going to the bathroom on herself. That's a tough one. She's in school. Does she do that there or just at home? If she only does it at home, that just proves she has the bladder control to hold it. No doctor necessary. If she does it at school too, her issues may be deeper than you realize as most children wouldn't do it for fear of embarrassment.

It sounds to me like she has been this way for a while and nothing has been done by her biological parents to ease her into the transition of becoming a "big girl." You shouldn't be alone in this. Sit down with the two of them and let them know how you feel so that they can support you as well as assist in making her more independent.

Try not to get too frustrated as I'm sure she is in school at 7 years of age, so you can decompress in her absence. Do something relaxing such as a spa day or a massage. Take up running or any type of exercise that helps you to let off some steam.

You have been loving and patient with her, but also too permissive yourself. Don't give up on her or your marriage. She'll thank you when she realizes that you cared enough to stay in it for her.

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

18 Comments

View replies by

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 07/23/2013

581

0

54

Amber, you hit the nail on the head . Her mom doesn't have a job and has no other kids so she definitely uses me as a source for a break. I on the other hand have left my daughter 5 times for a few hrs each in 18 months. I am 7 months pregnant and again will have Both of my kids without a break but I choose for it to be that way bc I actually enjoy being a mom unlike my step daughters mom. She has actually gotten very angry at me if she asks me to keep my step daughter on a day she's scheduled to be with her and I say I can't. I'm assuming asking her to keep her an extra day will not go over too well

Amber - posted on 07/23/2013

19

0

0

I don't see anything wrong with cutting down on the time you solely have her. If its fesible for her mom to take her more then she should anyway. It would also be a great idea to have her dad spend some quality one-on-one time with her too. I understand not wanting to burden him or feel as though you are speaking negatively about your step-daughter, but it's hard for parents to see what's right in front of them. Especially when it comes to their daughters. Maybe they don't know what to do either do they're allowing you to care for her more often to get a break! Lol.

JPatrick - posted on 07/23/2013

50

0

2

"My husbands guilt kicks in and goodbye to the discipline he was trying to enforce. She sees this and manipulates his feelings constantly..." and
"I almost feel awkward talking about her behavior to her dad even though he clearly sees it and gets frustrated himself . I don't want him to feel as if I'm talking negatively about her. I would love to be able to do things with regards to discipline but she will always manipulate it into me being mean."
I see your problem, based on these statements. You need your husband's support 100%. If you tell her one thing and he allows her to do otherwise, especially if this is recurrent, nothing will ever change. She is capable of picking up her trash, etc. If she doesnt' do what's expected, or as she's told, there needs to be a clear, consistent punishment that BOTH you and her father agree on, and enforce. If he bends, and/or if you are not comfortable discussing with him to begin with, get ready for some more challenging times ahead. You can also try positive reinforcement once you see things changing ("you've picked up after yourself all week -- pick something fun to do", etc.).
I couldnt do what you are and it's situations like yours that make me glad I decided not to stay with my boyfriend of a year when it came out he had a newborn daughter with another woman. Who knows what bio-mom is doing, and even if you try to do everything right, you still have to face challenges that wouldn't seem so bad if it were your own child. Best of luck!!

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 07/23/2013

581

0

54

Amber, all I want is to just be able to enjoy this child for one second. I almost feel myself pulling away from the situation emotionally because it's too stressful. I tried so hard to be a good step mother and honestly loved this child like my own, but it's getting harder and harder to feel that love for her when she makes my life so chaotic. I hate feeling like she's a " responsibility" of mine instead of seeing her as a source of enjoyment. I almost feel like telling her dad that I mentally can not handle having her so often and need to cut down on the time im solely responsible for her. Is it wrong of me to tell her dad I need her mom to keep her an extra day a week on a day her father will be working long hours anyways?

Amber - posted on 07/22/2013

19

0

0

I was a young step-mom. My step-daughter hated me. Her parents were never married and broke up when she was two. I didn't come into the picture until she was twelve. I walked into a hostile situation between the parents combined with the fact that her father had never really had a serious relationship with a woman until I came along.

The situation was a difficult one and I wasn't emotionally equipped to handle it. I regret that I didn't have more experience dealing with a child that has emotional issues brought on by her mother's mental illness. I could have handled the situation much better than I did. I will always wish I could go back and have a "do over."

We are in a much better place today as I have tried to make amends for my part in our relationship not being where it should be. She has also conceded to the fact that she intentionally made my life a living hell growing up. Lol. I love her. She is my daughter. I can't erase the past, but I can sure as hell make it up to her now.

I responded to your post Danielle, because you are working a heck of a lot harder than I did to make it work. I think there's hope for you and a little girl who needs you.

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 07/22/2013

581

0

54

On Easter we took her to my dads house where she proceeded to humiliate my husband . She kept crawling under the table, wet her pants right on my dads couch, threw a major temper tantrum when asked to go to the bathroom. The kicker in this story is that as we were leaving there was a coat hanging on the rack which my dad asked me if it was my step daughters. I couldn't remember her bringing a coat and told my dad " UHh I don't think it's hers" she screamed in my face " yes it is mine you liar" and grabbed my arm and pushed me so hard i lost my balance all while i was currently 2 months pregnant with our second child. Her father got extremely angry and wouldn't hear a word she had to say for that incident but that's bc he saw it with his own eyes. My own father was pissed that this child grabbed by arm so hard and pushed me while carrying his grandchild and he doesn't feel safe with his grand kids around her. My dad and family went out of their way ( and always do on every holiday) to make her feel just as much a part of the family as anyone else and always spend just as much money on her with regards to gifts as my daughter. I can't contribute her behavior to anything else but attention seeking. It's to the point where I wish we didn't bring her along bc I can't even have an enjoyable holiday anymore with my own family. My husband can't even make memories with our child during these times because he's too busy constantly chasing after her and worrying she will do something to embarass him. I feel as if she's taken over every part of my life

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 07/22/2013

581

0

54

I do take into consideration that her parents seperation ( they were never married) could be hard for her, but on the other hand they split up when she was 3 months old and I've been in her life since she was one. She doesn't know anything else besides her parents living in seperate households so it's not as if she had the traumatic adjustment of remembering them being together and then the split up. I feel her behavior is due to lack of discipline and lack of expectations from her parents. It amazes me that when my husband does discipline her then at that exact moment as he is telling her she's losing a privilege then she cries that she wishes her parents live together. My husbands guilt kicks in and goodbye to the discipline he was trying to enforce. She sees this and manipulates his feelings constantly and never mentions the seperation any other time. I asked her to please start putting her dishes in the sink after eating . My husband didn't hear my conversation with her so as he walked into the room she said " daddy I'm so tired will you put my plate in the sink?". She then turned and gave me this shitty little look as if to say " see I always win and will never listen to you". I can't go on feeling so unhappy when she is here and I feel like running away from my own home. It's very hard to feel as if I will either be living in hell for ever or I'd have to leave my soul mate in order to get some peace and sanity. I never scream at her and feel as I'm more patient with her than my own child for fear of her turning my husband against me. It is very hard to have a child around that influences my daughters behavior and that I'm responsible for so often when I feel I can not treat her the way I need to in order for her to have some respect. It's like walking on eggshells in my own home where as a home is supposed to be someone's source of comfort

DAKOTA - posted on 07/22/2013

1

8

0

I may not be a parent but I have a friend with a child who used to do the same thing he has ADD ADHD and had symptoms of what they call Aspergers and at time there were problems and yes he still has issues but look into it divorce sucks I understand I 16 when my mom and step dad spilt. Sit with her and ask silly questions and about how she feels about y'all being together kids maybe kids but they have feelings I was excited that a man loved my mom even though he wasn't dad but he was the father my dad wasn't love yall

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 07/21/2013

581

0

54

Thank you for your advice amber. She does not wet her pants at school which is another reason why I don't buy into her saying " I can't help it" when asked why she does this. I almost feel awkward talking about her behavior to her dad even though he clearly sees it and gets frustrated himself . I don't want him to feel as if I'm talking negatively about her. I would love to be able to do things with regards to discipline but she will always manipulate it into me being mean. For example, I stopped letting her demand I make seperate food for her when she will tell me she wants one thing and change her mind after I already cooked it. She then told her dad that I didn't make her breakfast and I "starved" her. I get so overwhelmed with the manipulative behavior and even though her dad has caught her in lies ( she once told him I was screaming at her when she thought he was sleeping and he actually was wide awake and heard my whole conversation with her and I definitely wasn't screaming ). A little part of me is so afraid she will turn her father against me if I try to do anything that she doesn't like

Tiffany - posted on 07/20/2013

2

0

0

oh my gosh your a better woman than me! i couldn't deal!!! i have a 7 year old and when she whines like my 3 year old I'm already done with her! I won't even speak to her until she knows how to talk correctly to me!! goodness you have put up with a lot! does she act like this around her dad too????????? and get away with it?

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 07/19/2013

581

0

54

I understand that the separation of her parents can contribute to this behavior and I sympathize for her but with that said it still does not make it any easier to cope with the behavior. I am a human also that has my limits and wants and needs And I feel I'm over my limit . I don't yell or let her see im frustrated but instead will walk away and cry in my locked bedroom. I just feel I can't live like this forever and only see the problems getting more out of hand the older she gets. I love my husband dearly ( or I wouldnt have been able to stay this long) but I almost felt I'd have to leave him or I will end up in a crazy house!

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 07/19/2013

581

0

54

Sorry for the same repeated posts it seems my Internet went haywire

Jo - posted on 07/19/2013

6

0

3

It sounds as though she is having a hard time adjusting to the fact that her father is remarried (yes even though you have known her since she was 1). Sometimes young children act out because they have frustrations that they do not know how to vent out. The best thing to do, besides getting frustrated, is possibly seeking the help of a child counselor. Some one on one time with the counselor may shed some light on her behavior. It is never an easy situation when a household is blended or when you are a step-parent. It was the same case for myself when I remarried. It took a few years for my daughter to adjust to the new situation and to having new step-parents in her life. She is now 12 and a very level headed young lady. Divorce is never an easy thing on children and it takes a lot of patience and love to help a child weather through the tempest of emotions that they feel through out.

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 07/19/2013

581

0

54

Her moms in the picture ... We share split custody of her and we all co parent very nicely. I even take the kids places with her mom which seems to make my step daughter very happy

Danielle Elizabeth - posted on 07/19/2013

581

0

54

Oh and she refuses to wipe her own hiney after going to the bathroom ! I absolutely refuse to wipe a 7 year olds butt so she will sit there on the toilet crying for as long as an hour until she finally gives up and does it herself!! Everything is such a battle and it's so mentally exhausting that sometimes after a long day of constant whining, crying, and temper tantrums I feel like leaving my husband even though I love him so much. I feel like I can't live like this being so frustrated everyday for the next 12 years

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms