So frustrated with 6 y.o.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-11-2012
So frustrated with 6 y.o.
9
Sun, 03-11-2012 - 9:25pm

This is my first post. I joined specifically to get advice on this situation because I am SO frustrated!!

I live with my boyfriend and his 6 year old daughter. He has primary custody of her so she is with us all of the time except for spring break and summer break. He works A LOT and I stay home to take care of her. We used to have a REALLY good relationship. We were so close and I really enjoyed doing things with her. I have my education degree, I worked in a day care for 3 years, I used to babysit, etc. I LOVE kids and can't wait to have kids of my own. However, she has been driving me crazy recently. Last year when she was 5 was when we had a really good relationship. This was when I was just moving into the house. She had no responsibilities at this time besides to go to bed (but even that wasn't very strictly enforced.) My boyfriend had a nanny prior to me moving in and she let his daughter basically do whatever she wanted and so did he.

Well since I have moved in and she has started kindergarten it has taken a turn for the worse. She has responsibilities and I am the one that has to enforce those and she hates it. When I ask her to do homework, she throws a tantrum everytime and ends up in timeout. When she has to eat dinner, if it isn't junk food, another tantrum occurs. So my reaction was that she would go to bed without dinner. Then, my boyfriend would feel bad and take her food up. Or if she misbehaved, I would take away treats only later to find out he sneaked her some. This frustrated me SO much so I told him we needed to get on the same page or this was never going to work.

He works so much that she rarely sees him so a lot of her behavior is in response to this. However, he has to work this schedule for right now. He is a musician so he can go from working a ton to nothing very quickly if he doesn't keep up his schedule. I just can't take it anymore though. I used to be so calm but I find myself losing it now. I yell, send her to her room, I get frustrated, take things away, and no longer have the desire to do things with her. I feel bad because I am starting to build up resentment because I do SO much for her and I get taken advantage of and treated with disrespect.

I have started a new system. We have house rules, and a chart with responsibilities. Each responsibility earns a set amount of pennies (from 1-3 depending on the responsibility). The other side of the chart states privileges and how much pennies they are worth. She can earn 23 pennies a day. 2/3 of those pennies are to be spent "buying" privileges that day and the other 1/3 are saved up for long term, bigger things. If she doesn't complete her responsibilities the FIRST time I ask, without throwing a fit, she gets those pennies deducted from her bank. If she does complete the task, then she earns those pennies. This weekend, she hadn't earned enough pennies to go to the movies on Friday. My boyfriend was trying to find things to do for her to earn more pennies so we could go, but that's not the point. IMO, she didn't earn the pennies, she doesn't go to the movies. So she didn't. This is the first week we started this system and it seemed to be working, however today, as soon as her Dad leaves I ask her to start her homework and she says she can't find it. I told her she had to look for it and she starts crying and throwing a fit. It has now been an hour and she is up in her room still crying, no homework done. I am going to send her to school tomorrow with her homework not done and she can explain to her teachers why. I had her all day today and took her out for slurpees, played outside all day, bought her new crayons, etc. Her dad was home for 1 hour this afternoon then left again and as soon as he does she starts with the fits.

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Registered: 04-07-2005
Mon, 03-26-2012 - 3:38pm

I think that is great that it is better!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-11-2012
Fri, 03-23-2012 - 4:49pm
Much better this week! She was great everyday except for this morning so I grounded her for tonight. My boyfriend was home but sleeping and wouldn't get up to help with her. He later apologized and he's backing me up on her being grounded for tonight. Usually he would take her out to do something anyways. Hes been helping out a lot more with her and house stuff. He even got up 3 times this week to take her to school while I slept. I usually take her because I'm a morning person where as he works late hours and is up til 4-5am. I have been showing him the responses here which I think is really helping. He just needed to see it from other perspectives. My patience with her is better and I don't raise my voice or let her see me frustrated or give her negative attention so I think she reacts positively from that.
Avatar for cmlisab
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-30-2011
Fri, 03-23-2012 - 4:30pm

How has it been going the past couple weeks for you? Hopefully better!

Lisa

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Registered: 11-28-1999
Tue, 03-20-2012 - 7:21pm

Could I suggest that it's time for some family counseling to help out w/ this situation.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-11-2012
Mon, 03-12-2012 - 11:42am
Yes, she is great at school! And she is even good for him. Occasionally she misbehaves when he is around but not very often. However, when he leaves for work is when she normally has to do her homework, etc and that's when she misbehaves. Thinking about it though, if she is asked to do her homework while he is home she normally misbehaves as well but it is far worse when it is just me and her.

He says one of the reasons she listens to him is because she knows if she doesn't that she will get a spanking. He RARELY spanks (maybe 3 times ever?) and it isn't hard by any means so I feel like this isn't the case. He has told me if she misbehaves that it is ok to spank her, but since she is not my child I do not feel comfortable with this at all. I'm not really buying that she behaves because she knows she will get spanked.

Hopefully this week goes better!
Avatar for cmlisab
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-30-2011
Mon, 03-12-2012 - 11:30am

First off, welcome! I'm glad you found us. Secondly, I totally agree with pittsburger, it's obivious you care about her very much and are doing your best to deal with some very difficult behavior. I LOVE your penny system- I'm glad you stuck to your guns and didn't allow her to go to the movies, I know it must be especially hard when your boyfriend is always striving to be the "good cop". It's absolutely essential that the two of you get on the same page with discipline- could you make an appointment with the school counselor or other family therapist for the 3 of you? Sometimes, hearing it from an objective souce helps the message to sink in (meaning your boyfriend may respond better about the importance of being on the same page for discipline ) if the advice comes from somewhere else.

How is her behavior in school? It's very normal for kids to "fall apart" when they get home from school b/c kids use all of the energy behaving at school. By the end of the day, they've run out of steam and arrive home "frazzled and fatigued" (which leads to misbehaving). They feel "safer" acting out at home, knowing you love them unconditionally.

Good luck to you! Please keep us updated and stop by anytime- even to vent!

Lisa

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-23-2003
Sun, 03-11-2012 - 11:09pm
It's important for you to know that her behavior is COMPLETELY normal 6 year old behavior. Even though there might be a little bit of acting out from not having her dad around, sounds like normal 6 year old antics so don't think her bad behavior is directed at you. It sounds like you are providing her with a lot of love and doing a lot more than most girlfriends and even some parents do and it's obvious you care about her very much. It also sounds like you and your boyfriend are going through the typical battles of who's doing what and who's not doing what. These things eventually get ironed out. Your boyfriend and his daughter are very lucky to have you. You should remind him of that too as often as necessary.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-11-2012
Sun, 03-11-2012 - 10:51pm

Thanks! I keep trying to stress this to him. I said the same exact thing to him. He babies her and spoils her because he feels bad that he doesn't get much time with her. However, it makes things SO hard for me. But when I correct him for not disciplining her he complains that I am always yelling at him and that he's just trying to do what's right. Hopefully this coming week will be better. This past weekend I got pretty frustrated and pretty much lost it. I get up in the morning with her on the weekends when he's off. I get her ready for the day (in this case...for soccer) and make sure everything is taken care of while he sits on the couch watching tv. I told him that after dealing with her behavior by myself all week, he needs to take the reigns on the weekend so I get a break. Hopefully things get better!

Best of luck to you as well!

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-23-2003
Sun, 03-11-2012 - 10:25pm
I too have a 6 year old and I can appreciate your frustration and my husband and I go through very similar issues with the tantrums and resistance to handling his responsibilities (homework, piano practice, brushing his teeth, cleaning up toys, being nice to siblings). It sounds like you are doing an amazing job especially given you are not her mother. I can understand her father has a tight work schedule but, when he can be there, it's critical that he back you up in terms of discipline and rewards. Giving into her tantrums, rewarding her with candy is just out of guilt because he's never around and I can't blame him but he needs to understand that's only going to send the message that her bad behavior will be rewarded not to mention that he's inadvertently making it an impossible situation for you. Because you are her primary caregiver, you should be taking the lead and have his support if he's not going to set any rules for her. I think you are doing great! Keep it up! Good luck to both of us! ;-)