Parenting Struggles with 6-Year Olds

  1. My daughter is 6 years old and gets angry very quickly, for example when we say no to something she wants, how do I deal with that?

There are many reasons for anger in a child and around the age of 6 they really start developing their personalities. I am assuming nothing is upsetting her at school or with friends, as this can always be a trigger she may not be able to express to you. I would suggest you try working ‘with the anger’ than suppressing it, letting her work through it. Listen to her complaints calmly as to why she isn’t accepting your answer of her not being allowed what she wants, (instead of you raising your voice back at her), this will show her you have empathy, whilst remaining in control.So allow her to voice her argument; then using an authoritative voice ask her if she understands WHY you have said no. As parents, we need to set boundaries for our children, which they will continue to push throughout their lives. Perhaps you can offer her an alternative to what she wants? When you stick to your values she will learn it isn’t worth pushing the boundaries on this. This is always helpful to be backed up by both parents as this gives the child security.
So allow her to voice her argument; then using an authoritative voice ask her if she understands WHY you have said no. As parents, we need to set boundaries for our children, which they will continue to push throughout their lives. Perhaps you can offer her an alternative to what she wants? When you stick to your values she will learn it isn’t worth pushing the boundaries on this. This is always helpful to be backed up by both parents as this gives the child security.It’s helpful to know at this point, this will be a part of life so it’s a really good idea to be firm with this now as it will make life easier for you when you have to say ‘No’ to bigger issues later in life. Once children know their boundaries they stop pushing them if the boundaries are safe and secure.
It’s helpful to know at this point, this will be a part of life so it’s a really good idea to be firm with this now as it will make life easier for you when you have to say ‘No’ to bigger issues later in life. Once children know their boundaries they stop pushing them if the boundaries are safe and secure.
If the anger continues you can look underneath this into the household – is there anger within the family or perhaps she doesn’t feel ‘good’ within herself. Let me know how you get on, as there are other things we can look at but we don’t want you to go into overwhelm.

  1. Does praising your child on her achievements make her overconfident?

We want our children to feel loved and to encourage them to grow up into confident adults. It is great to praise children but be aware of how you are doing it. She needs to earn the praise, so she doesn’t just get a gold star for tidying up the playroom for instance; she gets praise where it is deserved. Or what could happen is she puts her self-worth onto praise and later in life when she isn’t praised she will suffer from low self-esteem. So the key thing here is not to let her ‘rely’ on praise to achieve – she should ‘want’ to achieve the next goal not for praise but for her own satisfaction so the reward comes from inside her.
Children need to learn to accept that ‘failure’ is part of life and that they can face it without devastating effects so don’t praise her for the simplest of achievements (like finishing her vegetables on her plate for example), simply because if she learns that performance equals praise and later in life she fails an exam or faces rejection at job interview she’ll think it’s the end of the world.
Instead teach her what achievement means and praise this with specific words – not just ‘well done’ but ‘That’s fantastic, you played really well in WA on the netball court today’. If she could have played better, say ‘You tried hard today’, next time she’ll want to try that bit harder.
Don’t criticise her but understand that to boost her self-esteem it comes from achievement and not the praise! You are giving her life-long skills by starting now.

  1. How do you deal with classroom groupism when your child is in a minority?

We all want our children to be happy and have friends so if your child comes home unhappy as she feels left out of the group, your instinct will be to make it better but really the best thing you can do is let your child talk it out whilst you remain objective. Don’t try and make it better but give her assurance that you love her and are there for her. She needs lots of hugs and perhaps some extra time spent with her.
So place your focus on helping her, which in turn will deflect the focus from the group, she will learn that you can change yourself and not things externally to grow in life.
You can’t protect your children from these situations and it’s all part of life. But what you can do is help her to keep her own self-respect and values as a little girl. What often happens is there will be a person in charge of the group, someone who determines who is ‘in or out’ of the group and you can’t stop that.
Here are a few things to help her today:

  • Talk to her about the times she has felt rejection before with friends and family and how life can change – it won’t last.
  • Perhaps share your own experiences – she will find this comforting, as she could be feeling alone in this.
  • Are there books or films that have stories about children feeling rejected and overcoming the situations? The key is it’s all a phase.
  • Nurture friends out of school, perhaps ‘home’ friends or encourage new hobbies.

Remember this carries on to later life, we aren’t part of every group or invited to all of the parties, learning to build her own confidence and self-respect will help her deal with all of this to come!

  1. How do I handle a defiant and slightly anxious 6-year-old?

Many parents feel very stressed when their child behaves angrily towards them in an anxious manner, as they would have ‘dreamt of behaving like this towards their parents’. Does this ring a bell with you?
So we need a little understanding as to why the child is being so defiant, perhaps it’s nothing more than a phase; sometimes it can be because the child is being ‘spoilt’ emotionally and materialistically, it could be they haven’t been given the right discipline for their inappropriate behaviour, or perhaps they are being brought up in an ‘angry’ environment. Do any of these situations resonate with you? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there, this doesn’t make you a ‘bad’ parent, it’s just now you need to move forwards.
Sometimes if the child expresses excessive anger it’s because they feel lonely, perhaps suffering from jealousy, or even too much viewing on ipads and TV.
The defiance in a child is a very strong emotion and you as a parent can learn to help the child in many ways. Here are some suggestions you can try today:

  • I always get the parents to look at their own behaviour as a couple first of all – a healthy marriage promotes a calm household
  • Be responsible and not permissive in your reactions
  • Only give praise where you feel appropriate not for every tiny thing
  • Focus on your child’s strengths, not their weaknesses
  • Provide consistent, appropriate punishment if she continues to be defiant
  • Don’t express excessive anger between you and your spouse in front of the child or they grow up thinking this is appropriate
  • Start a gratitude diary for your child – buy a special book where they write (or draw) 3 x things at the end of the day they feel grateful for. If they feel anger, ask them to let it go up to the sky then refocus on the good feelings. This is a great habit to do just before bed.

So as you change your perspective, you will think differently towards your child, being less angry towards them will get different results, parenting more effectively will reduce the stress for both of you – so deep breaths, refocus on what’s good, not the negative, and remind yourself the calmer YOU are, the more calm the household will be.