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What can I do for my child who is perfect outside and the opposite at home?

Q: I am not sure where to begin. My 9 years old girl came into the world stubborn but the trouble started 3 years back. She is wonderful in school, everyone likes her, and her teachers say she is the prize student. We are so proud. However, when she is at home with her family, she is a nightmare. It is like she changes her personality when she gets in the car after school. I know it could be due to sibling rivalry, but this just does not seem normal. She says she hates me, or any of us, all the time. She starts arguments with all of us. She just seems not to care what I, or her father, say about taking privileges away or sending her to her room. I am at the end of my rope. I have talked with the school counsellor and she was shocked. Who should I talk to and do you have any suggestions? We have done everything to behaviour charts to spanking but nothing seems to work. Others just can't imagine her behaving this way. I am worried since my other children (aged 4 and 7) too might take on this same behaviour. Please help.

A:You would definitely be having a hard time coping with a child who is perfect to the outside world and a difficult child at home. It is not easy to pinpoint the exact reasons for this difference in her behaviour, but since the problem started 3 years ago, it may be linked to a) birth of the youngest sibling or b) pre-adolescence. Children these days are going through adolescent traumas earlier than before. A confusion in self-identity and a rebellious attitude at home are some indicators. My suggestion would be to get a complete psychological assessment done. She needs to be listened to very carefully to understand what themes underlie her stubbornness and defiance. The best alternative in dealing with her is to try to ignore her undesirable tantrums and negative comments. She is probably using them as attention-getting devices. On the other hand, try to give her adequate warmth and attention when she appears to be calmer and in a good mood. Finally do remember that children go through phases and hopefully she will come out of it soon. Try to be patient and serve as good role models yourselves.

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