I am a single dad with a 7-year-old daughter. Her mum disappeared when she was 2. She had borderline personality disorder. My daughter has some behaviour in common with BPD such as 'black and white' thinking. She struggles to see graduations between friendly and hostile behaviour.

She is very melodramatic and righteous when dealing with minor bullying and rough play by other children, which then leads to the other children bullying her more because they know they will get a strong reaction from her. She does a martial arts class which she enjoys very much, but she panics when another child is being aggressive and forgets all her self defence skills.

I have tried explaining the importance of being calmly assertive, which she seems to understand. But as soon as there is any kind of stress for her, she defaults to screaming and shouting. I'm not sure if I should intervene more so that she can learn from how I talk to the other children, then gradually let her take over.

How to coach her out of this pattern of behaviour?

  • 1
    Hi and welcome. "Does anyone have any advice for me?" is "unclear what you're asking", which is a reason to put the question on hold. Please see the help center for more information. Jun 4, 2017 at 0:56
  • Just as an aside, I've yet to meet a 7yo (girl or boy) that is not melodramatic about one thing or another.
    – Paul
    Jun 4, 2017 at 14:11

1 Answer 1


She must reflect on her behavior and how it affects others. This is a journey, not a single trick.

You are also a factor! Men are prone to jump to solutions: If you do this or don't do that, everything is solved! There, I fixed it!

That approach won't work.

I would evaluate the episode, perhaps a recent one, so she learns to reflect on her own behavior. What happened? How did it make her feel? How did she handle those feelings? When she screamed, what effect did that have on the others, did they stop? No? Well, how on Earth is that possible? What did they do - they went on? Why? Etcetera. She must learn to recognize that these events are a string of choices and not like she is strapped in like a passenger in a rollercoaster.

If she has disorders, it is much, much harder. Nevertheless, I see no alternative. There is no-one who controls her behavior but she.

  • Thank you. It is helpful what you say. The situation where this is happening most is on a community trampoline. She gets very intense when there are many children there. She can't seem to talk in a relaxed voice, I feel on edge when she is on the trampoline, like there is going to be an argument at any moment. She gets very righteous and does not accept any behaviour that she judges as unfair, which I admire her for, but she communicates is a screechy impatient voice and doesn't want to give up until all the other children accept her point of view. Jun 4, 2017 at 13:13
  • We do this with my daughter and basically role-play through certain scenarios. To a large degree children need to figure out how to deal with the world around them and what works and doesn't work. But as this poster suggested, working through a recent episode and developing coping skills through role-playing might be a good start.
    – ipaul
    Jun 4, 2017 at 22:34

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