My 8 year old seemed to snap. I need advice?
I have an 8 year old daughter. She always has been very good; even as a baby, she never fussed or cried. My wife and I recently went through a divorce, and I'm starting out with someone new. My new girlfriend and my daughter seem to get along very well, and my daughter has been doing so well throughout the divorce, the move to live with her mother and going to a new school, and just all the changes in her life overall. However, yesterday she seemed to suddenly snap. We were at a carnival, and she wanted a candy apple, but the candy apple stand was closed. Normally, she just would have accepted it, been a little disappointed, and moved on. Yesterday however. she was screaming at the top of her lungs, kicking and biting me and my girlfriend, and overall just acting out of control. All efforts to calm her down failed. Why do you think she suddenly decided to act this way over a small disappointment, when she's never acted this way before?
- James BlackleyLv 74 weeks ago
I think there are several factors at play here-
1- Puberty- Her hormones are kicking in, which is causing chemical imbalances in her brain. Girls at the start of puberty, tend to have raging mood swings, and can go 0-60 ina snap, even if shes not displaying outward developments, in her brain the hormones are already changing.
2- Stressors: Her entire life has been tipped on its side over the past year or so! She's dealing with her parents divorcing, the aspect of her father being involved with someone else who isn't her mother, moving out of the only house she's ever known, switching schools, as well as the covid pandemic. That's a lot for an adult to deal with, now stop and think that this is a girl barely out of diapers, that is being asked to deal with ALL of those changes in such a short frame.
You say she's fine? I don't buy it! Have you actually sat down with her and asked her how SHE is doing with all these changes? Odds are you haven't, and given she's a child, she a) doesn't know how to process things at an adult level and b) she wants the approval of BOTH her parents, so odds are,she's trying to bury it, and put on a fake front.
What I think needs to happen? You and your ex need to get on the same page here, you BOTH need to have an honest discussion about where your daughters head is at, and then come up with an action plan on how best to help her navigate through all these changes going on in her life.
- Anonymous2 months ago
So your daughter had a meltdown in public, because the pain of what she's been through over the past year or so finally caught up with her. You might THINK that she was adjusting well to your being out of her life and then taking up with someone new, but all you really could see was what was on the surface- and kids that age are usually masters at letting parents see only what they think the parent wants to see. They're good at hiding their real feelings, and the truth is that your daughter hasn't had a chance to process all the changes and the fact that you've basically disappeared from her life. I'm sure she probably feels you don't love her anymore, and that she may blame herself because you and her mom aren't together anymore. Most children of divorce generally do that. I know, because I was your daughter's age when MY parents split up- and within a year of that time, my dad moved more than a thousand miles away to another country, and I went from seeing him every week to seeing him once a year if I was lucky. Then he remarried when I was 10- and my new stepmother was anything but friendly. So I understand where your daughter is coming from, because I've been there. She's MAD at you, pal. Really, really MAD. Mad at you for deserting her and her mom, and mad at you for rejecting her. You have a LOT of fences to mend with her, and the way to start is by making a point of spending time ALONE with her, and giving her your undivided attention. You need to learn how to talk to her on HER level, not your own.
As for the meltdown, your daughter didn't just suddenly decide to act up- she's been in pain- very real PAIN, for months, if not years- and it just got to be too much for her.The meltdown could have happened anywhere- it just happened to occur when you were at the carnival. I had that happen to me when I was her age, too. It took me YEARS to understand that my parents had divorced each other, and not me- and even more YEARS to accept that my dad was gone and was never coming back. Your daughter isn't old enough or mature enough yet to be able to express her anger and pain in a constructive, adult manner, but that doesn't mean she doesn't FEEL IT. She also isn't mature enough to understand why you and her mom can't be together anymore.It will take time and a lot of patience and hard work on your part to help her understand that what has happened isn't her fault and that you still love her. And I would COOL it with your girlfriend for a while. Seriously, I would. Having a stranger around isn't helping your situation, and I am sure that your daughter is also jealous of her.
- Anonymous2 months ago
I agree with most of the comments. life as she knew it is completely different. she isn't a bad kid now, but until she is adjusted and has addressed what her needs are with you (not your girlfriend), she will continue acting out until she becomes those rebellious teens in movies. im being dramatic, but serious. when my mom dated new people, I never disliked them unless i found valid reasoning. I always felt like my mom was neglecting me. when she was preoccupied with her new boo thang, she became meaner too (not on purpose). when we talked about it and she adjusted her behavior, things were able to feel better.
but look out for your girlfriend too. she will easily and quickly feel like an outsider- especially if your family traditions differ around holidays. slowly introduce and combine family traditions so your daughter keeps her routine with you, but becomes familiar with things your girlfriend likes. for example, my parents alternate christmases and summers (since I was 4) but when my moms boyfriend came in, we started doing thanksgiving with his family out of state and occasional dinners with his parents. if me and my mom didn't talk about the changes, I would oppose and hate going to his family gatherings out of spite, but we did and they feel like a second family to me.
I do disagree with immediate counseling. you need to be her safe space unless she wants otherwise. adding another stranger into her life could continue the stress and cause her to keep things to herself even more
- SarahLv 72 months ago
Maybe she has been upset or stressed about changes going on in her life (her parents divorcing, and you moving on to a new gf). Maybe she's been having trouble with your divorce and has been hiding her stress, but she snapped. Try to talk to her about it.
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- wldswedeLv 72 months ago
I think reactions like hers are pretty common when kids have been working so hard for so long to keep things positive for mom and dad and "be good"... it's bottled and shoved down until what seems like something insignificant (like a candy apple) is too much. While she seems to be doing well and managing the changes in her life, it's still a good idea to give her space to express her feelings and develop coping skills to help her manage those feelings, rather than pretending everything is fine until she just cannot anymore. It might be a good idea to get her into counseling with a therapist who works with children to let her have that safe space to feel upset, angry, sad, confused, etc over the recent changes.
- heleneLv 72 months ago
Where do you live that there's a carnival? Indoors or outdoors? Trade shows, conventions, state fairs all be cancelled here because of the epidemic. Which, if there is a word of truth to your tale, is more than enough reason for a little kid to flip out. That and losing all her friends.
You're really dense, aren't you?
- Coach SimonLv 72 months ago
Oh Dear - you REALLY don't get it, do you?!
This poor little girl has had her whole world as she knows it turned upside down, and she has felt obliged to go along with everything the adults in her life throw at her.
She didn't "decide" to let it all out as in a rational decision. She has been under enormous emotional stress and confusion, and if her mother understands, you definitely do not! I was not so very different, I suppose, so I am in no position to criticise you, but I would urge you to read up on the subject. One thing I did do was to assure my children constantly that they were loved and cherished, even though as an adult my behaviour did not seem to reflect that (wife left - not without reason, of course).
You have been her male rock - the one hugely important male love of her short life and you have let her down by choosing someone else and flaunting it in front of her.
Don't think your male logic and rationale can assuage her turbulent emotions. Give her some of your time without your current woman - and read the books!
- LizBLv 72 months ago
Chances are very good that the breakdown was not really about the candy apple. With you recently divorced and already seeing someone new, it's no wonder your daughter is stressed. Too much in her young life is changing all at once, and she isn't being given time to adjust.
I think you need to talk to your ex-wife about this to decide how to proceed, as co-parents. A family therapist would also be advisable. I think it is important to emphasize that while obviously kicking and biting when upset cannot be tolerated (especially in a child too old to throw temper tantrums), the fact that your normally well-behaved child is suddenly acting out in such a dramatic way cannot be ignored. And if you only discipline her, you won't be addressing the deeper issues.