Problems with Parents/behavioral changes at home

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Question
I have a 7-yr. old great-niece (only child) Sophia, who has always been highly social, strong-willed, a little compulsive, very energetic, and very bright.  She does extremely well in school, is well-behaved and very conscientious about her school work. Her mother is devoted to her and about to be married to a wonderful man who adores the child.  Together they provide a very stable and loving environment to Sophia who loves and interacts extremely well with Mike, the man  who will soon become her step-father.  Both Mike and Sophia's mother are committed to the concept of "purposeful parenting" though they freely admit to not being perfect.  

Quite suddenly, over the past 2 weeks, Sophia has become defiant and incorrigible to her mother and Mike while continuing to be (according to her teachers) an "angel" in school. Sophia shouts at them, says "no" to just about everything, insists that her mother and Mike don't care about her, and refuses to comply with even the smallest request.

Sophia's mother has tried numerous times to talk with her to try and determine the source of the problem.  She and Mike have tried to recall any incidents or environmental changes that might be responsible for this abrupt and drastic behavioral change and are coming up with nothing.  Sophia's defiance and indifference towards them are, needless to say, extremely disturbing.

It goes without saying that they have also looked at the possibility that someone has "hurt" Sophia, though she is never out of their sight except when she is in school.  They don't use baby sitters because they have family close by and Sophia loves to spend time with her grandparents or her Uncle and his children.  Understanding that child assault often comes from adults who are known to the child, they have even considered then rejected that possibility.

Both Sophia's mother and Mike describe her behavior as mean and out of control.  They are perplexed and of course very concerned.

Two months ago Sophia's mother and Mike became engaged.  Sophia was so excited that she called me on Face time to tell me, so none of us are considering THAT as a possible source of the problem.  We've all been wracking our brains trying to figure out what on earth is going on in that little head of hers and we're coming up with nothing.

They've tried coaxing, removing privileges, talking, playing games, nothing seems to be working.  Sophia's issue seems to be "you don't care about me."  If you knew Sophia's circumstances you would know how absurd that statement is.  They even tried, for a couple of days, letting her be and saying that since she believed they didn't care about her, she could do whatever she wanted.  Sophia's response was "Great!"

Any suggestions?

Answer
Hi Angie;
So happy to hear that another family is being created and that they are working so hard to figure out what is happening.

Sophia is happy about the marriage, it is just she doesn't know how she fits in! They are in the limelight and she is a bystander, so getting attention for bad behavior is better than no attention at all....get the idea!

This is normal, the child is happy with what is going on, it is just that they feel like they aren't a part of the fun part....where do they fit. All Mike and Mom need to do is to sit her down and make her a 'major' part. HOW? Tht is the simple part.

Simply say, ' Okay Sophie, we need to talk to you because now that we have some things for the wedding figured out, the big job comes next....that is where you come in. We need to haveyou give us all of your 'smart' ideas such as: and then give her jobs, a special table decoration that she can make to put on the presents table or the main dinner table, a special bouguet of flowers tht she will carry that matches everyones but has a smile face on it...get the idea?

She wants to be a part of the planning, wants to help in her own little way! Have Mike go shopping for matching necklaces for her and mom that are just from him for his 'two' special girls.......they don't have to be fancy-just special!

I hope this gives you some ideas, you will be suprised at how fast things get better.

Jan Hayner

Problems with Parents

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Jan Hayner

Expertise

I will answer all questions regarding children and parents interaction, discipline, emotional levels,chore planning, childrens responsibilities and everyday problems etc.

Experience

I am the mother of 4 and grandma of 8 and have been raising kids all of my life, not only my own, but most of their friends as well. I use my information from life experiences to give you the best advice and direction that I can.

Education/Credentials
Girl Scout Leader, Boy Scout Den Mother,Bluebird Leader, PTA President for 5 years, Member of E4E (Education for Employment/High School Level), Sunday School Teacher for 8 years, Volunteer for Football(wrote the news), Baseball(set up programs for the kids), and have been involved with all the generations in school with all of my children and grandchildren.

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