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My 6-year-old daughter is generally a very optimistic, probably happy, smiling kid which likes to play with her sister and others. But... only until everything goes according to her expectations.

Whenever any situation, decision or even a sentence or word turns against her, whenever anything is not like she would like it to be -- she immediately starts crying, yelling or becomes hysterical.

Her older sister is pretty much different. She was much more "emotionally stable" in the same age and we managed to let her go to primary school (there was some time in Poland, when you could decide, whether child is starting primary school at the age of 6 or 7 years). Younger one is not that stable at all, cries often (very often from time to time), many other people see that this might be a problem already. And, of course, we can't let her go to school. She must stay at a kindergarden until next year (until being 7 years old).

Is this something that I should concern about? My wife says that our daughters are just completely different and that this is pretty normal that some kid cries often, when situation is against him or her and that our older daughter was just a bit more emotionally stable a bit earlier.

  • Does it bother you that your daughter has tantrums? Is it something you can remain emotionally stable about yourself, ie stay calm and in control of yourself, or do you find yourself raising your voice and getting agitated by that behaviour? – strongbutgood May 23 '18 at 11:11
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    It is hard to answer your question. Does it bother me? Yes, of course. I assume that tantrums (especially if they happen very often) are perfectly normal around 1-2 years, maybe 3-4. But not 6. Can I stay calm. It depends on the situation. When I wake up after a really bad night, tired and I am "welcomed" by long serie of tantrums then I might overreact. The same when tantrum serie last for hours. Otherwise I'm trying to stay calm. – trejder May 24 '18 at 11:08
  • As Aravis has pointed out, children do learn ways to cope but if we don't actively teach them a way to cope they will find their own. Their way might not be so desirable when they have grown through teens to adulthood but in most cases their way will stay within the boundaries of socially acceptable behaviour. Good work for staying calm as best you can, it provides a model for your daughter and reinforces the words you use. – strongbutgood May 24 '18 at 11:31
  • Unclear why “of course, we can't let her go to school”. Why not? The teachers will have dealt with kids like her before. Most likely she’ll be better-behaved at school and then the feelings will all come tumbling out when she gets home. – A E Jul 14 '18 at 9:44
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    @AE The kindergarten's overview states that, unless we really want to do so, she should stay for the last year in there. Here, in Poland (and only currently) paren ts have an option to decide whether their child can start primary school at 6 or at 7. Older girl got the very same overview with exactly opposite opinion -- that she should start primary school at 6 unless there are other really important circumstantes to not doing so. – trejder Jul 16 '18 at 11:56
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Nothing you said here overly concerns me. Your wife is correct that children, even siblings, can have very different temperaments. It is most likely a maturity issue. Small children are unable to control their emotions, but as they get older, they should learn ways to cope. It sounds like you are lucky enough to live in a place that is quite understanding and accommodating of the different rates at which children mature. If you have a choice whether to send her to the next level of school this year or next, there will undoubtedly be other parents making the same choice as you, that their child is not ready at age 6.

In the meantime, encourage her to express her feelings in words. At first, this will probably have to be after the fact, as a child in the middle of a full tantrum won't be very receptive. But after she calms down a bit, you can go to her and ask her how she felt about the incident. Did she feel angry? Frustrated? Disappointed? Sad? After a while of practicing this, you should be able to head her off when she starts ramping up towards a tantrum by asking her to tell you how she's feeling.

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It's a maturity issue, but she's been definitely treated "too well". In my native language we have a proprietary word for this kind of personality (llasticë). Children grow over time through events and situations. Your daughter has found everything ready, and she has learned to achieve what she wants through crying. She is not an attention seeker, but she surely knows how to win your attention when she demands something, or wants to behave in some specific way. The best way to make her learn would be ignoring her. Maybe not in public, but at home you could explain to her why she can't have something, or she can't do something. If she keeps crying and screaming, ignore her until she stops. When she stops you can reward her with what she demanded. This will teach your daughter she can't achieve anything with an hysterical attitude.

Even if you don't want to deal this way, life is going to teach her proper behaviour sooner or later. 6 years old, as soon as she starts school she'll feel uneasy in front of so many other children. She'll start being more reluctant about crying and screaming. If the teacher behaves properly and doesn't grant her every wish, your daughter will start changing in a few months. I can guarantee you, by the age of 12-14 she will be completely another person. Don't worry, this is customary with children that come from good families, raised by caring and hardworking parents. It does not mean you are a bad parent, but I'd truly recommend being a little harder.

Learning this trait of parenting is very important for you. You daughter will surely learn some manners and be more serious and contained, but by the time she is a teenager, she might show some strong signs of laziness, procrastination, superiority complex etc. Children should learn that nothing can be achieved without the proper amount of work and dedication. I was a lazy teenager too, my parents had a nice restaurant, worked a lot and I got granted every wish (toys, food, trips etc.). While I was 14 to 20 years old I thought life was easy, I didn't need to work my butt off and things would just come naturally. It's better to learn gradually while being a teenager, rather than receiving speed (and hard) lessons of life at 20 years old.

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    In English we’d say a “spoilt” child. One who won’t tolerate having their demands refused. Violet Elizabeth Bott in the Just William books is a good example. Mostly they grow out of it, a few become world leaders. – A E Jul 14 '18 at 9:53
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How about using a mirror to help your child view their own behavior while also patiently asking them to calmly explain it to you? Make it about them though, not about any other sibling or any other person. The child obviously needs to build confidence, security, and to relate to feelings that are going on inside. Working with the child will help build trust and social skills that they need around their peers in many situations when you are not around at that moment. Once again it's important to truly relate to the child by using eye contact while communicating and listening to them. The mirror helps the child relate to what they are doing when they are old enough to evaluate what they are viewing about themselves in the mirror.

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