My 6 year old daughter is amazing in many ways - she is smart, creative, likes school, gets along well at school, is independent...on her good days.
However, I'm really struggling with her at home. Her teacher says "she's a friend to everyone" at school, but at home, I feel like she is defiant, disrespectful, manipulative and a bully. She basically makes my life a living hell when she does not cooperate.
Specifically, she is defiant. When she is in this "behavior twilight zone," she will ignore instructions/requests to follow rules like "stop running in the house" or "stop screaming like a chicken." She will yell "No!" sometimes, if she feels like being defiant, even for perfectly reasonable things. Trying to engage her in a conversation is infuriating because she won't answer even polite questions about why she won't put on her jacket in the freezing weather. She will do things incredibly slowly (it seems like it's just to annoy me) when we need to go someplace. About half the time she behaves like this defiant demon and the other half of the time, she is motivated and perfectly, independently capable of getting out the door for school, for example. That's why I can't figure it out. Who is this child? Is she a nice, smart girl? or a deeply disturbed psychopath?
I know that sleepiness and hunger can be major causes of this type of behavior in her, but even accounting for that, she seems to behave so poorly sometimes.
Whenever I try to respond to her behavior with negative consequences, she has huge meltdowns. Now, I know you're probably thinking: what child DOESN'T have meltdowns when they don't get what they want? Well, her meltdowns can last hours and she is persistent. She begs and begs "Give me another chance" but the whole hour leading up to this point, she was whining and manipulative and then as soon as you give her another chance, it will be another hour of dealing with that behavior (don't worry, I recognize these moments and rarely give in, BUT I'M RUNNING OUT OF STEAM). Also, often during these meltdowns, she will flail around on the floor and make horrible sobbing sounds. She will often tap an arm or leg on a piece of furniture and then use that as an excuse to melt down further. She often drools and lets her snot run down her face for dramatic effect. I know that when she taps her arm or leg it's not serious because I'm standing right there...it could just be a brush against a cup or something that could never in a million years hurt someone, but she uses it to escalate this terrible scene.
To make matters worse, I find that I have an actual physical sensitivity to sound (it is stronger at certain parts of the day) that make the whining and crying and screaming almost unbearable (on top of the regular discomfort of having to listen to a six year old whine non stop for hours).
The worst part, though, is how verbally abusive she is. She says incredibly rude and hurtful things, sometimes without realizing it. However, even when we try to talk to her about it, it's like she doesn't understand that she could possibly hurt anyone's feelings. In particular, she makes comments about my cooking. Every. Single. Night. And yes, we are poor, so we can't afford to eat out EVER and I do actually slave in the kitchen for hours trying to prepare healthy and tasty meals that my husband and children will eat, so it really hurts my feelings when she says the food is "disgusting." (It's not disgusting, but just for the sake of this post, if you don't believe me, just pretend you do). Other times, she just talks to me in very disrespectful ways. My husband and I are pretty good about addressing it right away, but talking to her is not working. It is clear that she is ignoring us while we're talking or distracts herself so she doesn't have to listen. On top of all this, we have two younger kids, whom she is often responsible for "riling up" by chasing them around the house or starting games that encourage rough housing, etc.
I try very hard to squash this bad behavior right away and my husband tries to do so as well, but some nights I have to check out because I'm so upset and I don't want to also become verbally abusive to her. I will just signal to my husband that I've had enough and go watch tv on my computer alone for hours. Those nights, he has to get them bathed and put to bed, which is something we normally do together.
I know that some of her bad behavior developed after I had the twins (they are 4 years old) and I struggled with depression and anxiety and PMDD for 3 years after they were born, but I have received treatment and therapy for my issues and have always been proactive in dealing with her behavioral issues. I even had her in therapy but she was so well behaved that we were "discharged" so to speak. It seems like recently her attitude has gotten intolerable and she has really hurt my feelings a couple of times recently. I tell her that she's being rude and that it's not appropriate but then I end up isolating myself and crying about it and I feel really stupid for that. I'm worried that she is a trigger for my depression and anxiety. To be honest, before I had the twins, she wasn't a super easy child, but my confidence was in tact. After, her behavior has caused me to feel so bad about myself that if she weren't my daughter but just someone I knew, I would cut her out of my life entirely, but I obviously don't want to do that to my own daughter, who I love. I already resent her for some of this. Help me find a way to cope!