distant 8-yr-old... help!

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-20-2004
distant 8-yr-old... help!
Fri, 08-08-2014 - 10:07pm

My 8-yr-old dd is shutting us out. She is never rude to us, but she just seems very emotionally distant. Some examples:

  • We were going around the table talking about what we'd miss if we weren't Evanses - her siblings said things like our family hikes and making pie. She shrugged and said, "I don't know. Nothing, I guess." Then she got really silly talking about going to live with a family of birds. She seemed very uncomfortable.
  • When we look at family pictures, she is almost always physically the farthest away from the group (and usually has the least happy face.) If the person taking the picture says something like, "Put your arm around mom/dad for the picture" she seems really stiff and awkward about it.
  • She gets sarcastic or silly when we're talking together (on the phone or at mealtimes) and I get the feeling it's a coping mechanism to avoid having to actually talk to us. 
  • When I compliment her, she usually ignores me and I get the feeling that she is trying not to let it sink in.
  • Does not like to say "I love you" when we say it first; she doesn't ever say it first.

I know that dd has low self esteem. She is also a perfectionist and really beats herself up when she makes a mistake - I know that I'm too hard on her when she messes up at home and I'm trying to be better. 

I guess I just don't know what to do. For a few months, we tried doing special mommy-daughter and daddy-daughter dates just where she picks what we do. She seemed to enjoy the activity but couldn't care less that we were there.

Any advice? I miss my dd!

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Fri, 08-08-2014 - 11:50pm

Get to a counselor ASAP.  You need to find a reason for her behavior.  It may be situational, a response to your perfectionism, or even sexual abuse.  There are so many thing sit could be.  Even toddlers can be depressed, and suicide among elementary school kids is a real problem.  Get professional help.

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Mon, 08-11-2014 - 4:40pm
If this is something that has been a more recent change, I would definitely want to get to the bottom of why the change.