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How to handle an adamant and compulsive child?

Q: I have a four year old daughter who is adorable most of the times but is becoming very adamant and compulsive by nature. She likes things her way, and if she cant get them that way, she gets upset and frustrated. She disobeys when spoken to, though only at home and is fine most of the times at her nursery. My husband and my mother-in-law are both compulsive by nature. In particular my mother in law, who is finicky about everything in the house. She does not even let my daughter play with steel utensils on the kitchen floor as she considers that a mess. I try and calm the situation but it seems that the behaviour is rubbing off on my daughter and now even my husband is admitting that the root problem is in the environment at home. Both of us are concerned if this would make her become compulsive like my mother-in-law as this could cause her adjustment problems in school, which she starts early next year. I am expecting my second child at the end of the year. I was hopeful that with company she would calm down but her signs are concerning and I hope that her behaviour does not cause her problems in future life. Please advise me what we can do to help her temperament? She is a very sensitive, sweet natured and affectionate child who displays her affection at us too. She does get timid when amongst older kids if they are strangers to her and if they were to push her, she won't defend herself, as happened recently. Though we were just round the corner, it has left an impression on her mind. Would she risk getting bullied at school? She is not that shy and timid in her day care nursery where she has gone for years. I fear at times that she is like a child trapped in a cage when at home and there are so many restrictions as my husband fears he will have to sort things in the house if they get broken. I tell him that with kids it happens, but with his and my mother-in-law's temperament, it is hard for them to understand. I too get overworked with my daughter and often shout at her and then feel guilty though I don't over compensate. I am very confused. I want to give the best to my daughter and our coming child but somehow fear that these little things will lead them to be maladjusted in society as adults. Do we need to take our daughter to a child psychiatrist? Please advise what I can do best in this situation.

A:Your whole family needs counselling-not just your child! It is obvious that the strict rules at home are stifling the childs natural behaviour and curiosity. This is evident from the fact that she disobeys at home and throws tantrums out of rebellion, but is well-behaved at nursery school. She has not learnt to deal with elders, though she can deal with age-mates. If things are not changed at home, the child may turn out to be aggressive and defiant. The best way of parenting is to use warmth, acceptance, patience and reasoning along with discipline and limits. You may not be able to change your mother-in-law by criticizing her, but you may show concern for the child and request the grand- mother to participate in counselling for the child. Your husband and your mother-in-law may therefore be tackled indirectly. Blame does not help at all. You can show a good example through your own behaviour.


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