good child/bad child

Dear bn,

I have two children.  My 4 year old is a dream and always has been easy to care for.  My 6 year old on the other hand has, since the age of 2,  been a difficult child.  She is demanding, ungrateful and angry.  I hate to say it, but it’s hard for me be with her.  It’s only a sense of duty that keeps me going.  My mother-in-law says it’s just the way she is; and my mother tells me I’m too soft on her.  I don’t know what to do.


Dear anon;

Thank God for duty at times like these.  So many parents weather difficult periods on principle and I have deep respect for the many parents who do despite their feelings of despair.

But, as you may be hoping, there are things to be done to re-build the closeness you once had.  An angry, uncooperative child is a child who isn’t feeling connected.  Since your child([and every child, and every human for that matter; we’re herd animals) is longing to connect, it isn’t that hard to do.

First is to practice Special Time* with her.  Set your timer for a set amount of time, if possible especially while you re-building trust, every day.  Then, within the parameters of safety, do what your child wants to do.  You follow her lead.  You let her win in all play.  And you notice what helps her laugh.  Do that again and again. No tickling, though.  This play is to allow HER to be in control.  My guess is that after several times, her stronger feelings will surface.  Just stay close through her tears and her anger. This is good. Your job is to keep her safe, talk little and show her your love (which is under YOUR other feelings).

Second, get someone to listen to you, without judgment.  Just a listener.  Then shout out all the things you’d sometimes like to say to your daughter but know would hurt her (and sometimes does leak out of the best of us).  Then with that listener, remind yourself of the things you love about that child.  Allow yourself to cry and laugh as well.  Talk too of your attempts at Present Time, of the things that went well; and of the difficulties that surface.

I think you’ll be pleased at the closeness you’ll be able to achieve if you persevere.

the blogging nana

*developed by Patty Wipfler–


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