5 yo Defiance


HI there,

I have realised in the last two weeks that my daughter has been systematically defying me and running the show (believe it or not, without my realising it!).

Now she is 5 and the ability to deceive and defy becomes more sophisticated. She is a stoic and I suspect, a very intelligent child. She defies in subtle ways like, pretending she didn't understand something (to get me to stay with her instead of her brother - and you would really wonder afterwards if she was genuine or false); when I take charge and decide on an activity to do together, she will dawdle, refuse to cooperate and do it badly or crazily or disruptively (spoiling the fun for everyone) - when told to sit out, she will look utterly and completely miserable and be a total wet blanket and tell me she'll never join in anything again; She will say "I need to pee when you tell her to brush teeth - and when I insist she brushes her teeth first, she will wriggle about, saying she really needs to go - and complain and cry endlessly that I am hurting her when I'm brushing her teeth); She will scream and cry most urgently when she is told to hurry up and I start towards the door to wait for her, then sob and cry, then refuse to do anything I tell her to do (will wail more sometimes); she will act miserable, sad and withdrawn when she has been punished for defiance, and sulk in her room for ages.

I feel like I am in a catch 22 - I also feel like her sullen, pouty moods (whenever she feels like it) has me walking on eggshells around her all the time. The moment her daddy walks in through the door, her mood changes dramatically and she is happy and cooperative around him. I hate to admit it but I did not realise when was it that I have seemed to totally lost control of this child - she seems to constantly be fighting me for control - and seems suddenly completely miserable to boot. It's do-what-I-want-on-my-terms or I'll behave defiantly, disruptively or be moody and sad, stubborn and difficult all day long in elusive ways.

I have punished and over-reacted in the past. She now seems to make it a career to push my buttons and act in ways that are purposefully annoying behind my back or when I'm busy with chores e.g. push her little brother, snatch, defy, loud disruptive behaviour (with the most innocently sweet face you would think she was doing it without any intention). Punishing these behaviours and giving her any attention for it seems to be the reaction she's looking for.

Whatever should I do? I feel overwhelmed!

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