Friday, September 19, 2008

Tween Troubles

I'm having issues with my tween daughter. I absolutely love her, and she is a great kid. But she is driving me crazy! and I don't know the best way to handle it.

For some background information... she is adopted. Which, to me, does not mean that she's any less my daughter. It was a family adoption- she's our niece. Her mother had given up her parental rights without checking with any family, so we had to go through the entire adoption process, which was completely grueling, but absolutely worth it. She's been with us since she was 5. We did not know much about her living situation until after we had her living with us full time and got some paperwork/background info from the state. She had been in and out of foster homes and had spent much time with babysitters and fending for herself at home. Her past experiences had left her very independent. From the day she stepped into our lives she has struggled for control over just about everything. Fortunately, this seems to be one of the only somewhat negative behaviors she has (I say somewhat, because it's not always a negative behavior).

The first Halloween she was with us, she cried and was horribly upset because we would not hand her a knife and let her carve her own pumpkin (we let her draw the design for us to cut out).

Since day 1 we have had constant battles over her need for absolute independence. I have yet to figure out the best way to handle it.

Now she is 11. And she is constantly racing me to do things! When it's dinner time she will run around the kitchen trying to get everything we need onto the table before I get a chance to do so, or before I can tell her to stop, or before I can even ask her to do something.
She will abandon anything else that she happens to be in the middle of to do so (ie: feeding the baby). Now I certainly don't mind her helping out, but I would prefer that she be asked to do something before just racing to do it. And the big issue with her being in such a hurry is that she will end up spilling things, knocking things over, or making a big mess in the process.

Every single time that we have left her at home with a babysitter we come home to a big mess. Unfortunately the person we use to come watch the kids once in a while totally indulges her and lets her be in charge.

I do let her help me with things a lot. She loves baking, so as a special thing for her and I to do together we will make cookies or some other baking project. But honestly, it always turns into a big fiasco. She tries too hard to do things too fast, and tries to grab the next ingredient before she's even finished with the first one... I've explained to her and talked to her about taking her time and concentrating on what she's doing, but it has made no difference. I'm at a loss.

While I appreciate (and to be honest, sometimes take advantage of) her helping with the two little ones, she tends to go above and beyond some boundaries when it comes to their care. Which is to say she will do things for them and give things to them without asking (ie: getting their bottles/cups, changing diapers, giving them food/cookies-whatever it is she thinks they need, run to pick up the baby when I am sitting right there). Now, I am a big control freak, so that totally gets under my skin. And there's not really a nice way to tell her that. I have explained to her the importance of not giving the baby any food without asking first. And I realize that in all likelihood she is just trying to help. But it really makes me angry when one of the little ones has a sinky butt and she races me to the diaper/wipes stash. It makes me think that it is all about control for her. It's apparent that she wants to be in control of every aspect of her own life, and it annoys her to no end when we treat her as if she's a child (read: when we treat her as a child of her own age). But she really needs to understand that I am the parent and that I'm the one in charge.

Am I just paranoid here?

I know that things are just going to get worse from here on out, as she's not even a teenager yet. So I'm really hoping to get some kind of handle on this situation soon.

7 comments:

Lola said...

Wow, that's a tough one. All the kids I know her age don't lift a finger to help, and I'd hate for her to become one of them.

I'd think it would be really hard for her to give up control if she had such an unstable beginning.

On one hand, reading this made me sad, because from the outside looking in, it seems that she's just so overeager to please you that she moves so fast.

On the other hand, it would drive me crazy, too, since I'm a total control freak. That's a tough one.

Saundra said...

I'm with Lola.

I would applaud her often for her willingness to help, and help her to slow down and savor the feeling of helping someone else.

It sounds like the foster homes did a real number on her.

She seems to have a great spirit and it would be terrible to squash it.

Good luck

Jo-Jo said...

Hi there! Found your blog via Mama Kat's. I have a step~son that is a tween and he is the same way. Over stepping by trying to discipline the kids is a big one. Spilling stuff is too. And I like you sometimes use the taking care of the kids to my advantage...just 5 more mins in bed!

Insane Mama said...

There is nothing worse than a kid who thinks they run the house. I see that she is trying to be helpful, I think you should let a few things slip. BUT stick the the situations that YOU think are clearly things she should ask before doing

Rachel said...

I think it may be a way of acceptance for her...to get approval, to feel wanted in some way...I would sit her down and talk it out with her; let her share her feelings...I'm no dr but it couldn't hurt. Perhaps give her boundaries.

samara said...

there's this great website that if found that has tons of helpful information to make the everyday topics of a mothers life seem a bit less overwhelming...http://hrbaby.com/

Merrie said...

Love your blog.
What a tough situation! I'm just spitballing here, but what if you two determined what certain things ARE her responsibility, and what are NOT. Not that you haven't probably tried this, but what about a list of things that she is welcome to do and things that she needs to let you do? I have no experience here -- just a seven year old and four year old that cry like their heart is broken if I ask them to do anything. I'm not sure which is worse. ;)

Good luck!

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