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Why has my 6-year-old daughter become so stubborn?

Q: We are a working couple with a six-year-old daughter living in a joint family with my brother and his family that includes his wife and a five-year-old son. The problem is that our daughter has become very stubborn. We feel that in order to get her demands met with she starts crying and if we don't listen then she makes a scene and howls. As a result we are forced to slap her, after which we also feel bad but she leaves us with no other option. Though she loves kids and takes great care of her cousin, she fights with him a lot. She is very possessive as well. If her mother or I take any other kid, even her cousin in our lap, she feels bad and starts crying. Often we have heard her saying that we love the other child more than her, which is not the case. It is getting difficult with each passing day. She is always crying and we don't know what the reason is. In fact now complaints from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law are increasing every day. In marked contrast, she is a very quiet and well behaved child in school and in fact, the remarks on her report card read that she is a very well-behaved and obedient child and very good in her studies. She has got ‘A’ grade in almost all her work. Please guide as to what steps need to be taken by both of us and where are we going wrong. We feel very bad after slapping her and now don't even want to have a second child.

A:You should not slap or hit a six year old child, whatever the provocation. First rule is: Hands off the child!

A girl who does well in school and gets a good report is surely bright enough to understand spoken language and to convey her thoughts. You must have patience to talk to her, listen to her and find out why she feels insecure.

Probably someone in the family or someone who visits has conveyed to her that her male cousin is more special. You should dispel such fears and give her your time and attention. Reward her with a smile and a word of praise when she does things right and tell her that you may have to withdraw privileges temporarily, if she cries. I notice that you use the word "howls" for her crying. This is very unsympathetic of you and reflects your impatience. After all, she is only longing for your affection and to be treated as special in your life. There is no harm in hugging her and making her feel happy.

I am not clear what you mean by saying she is "stubborn". One could easily say she is strong willed! Children are not for controlling, but for cherishing. Please be more relaxed as parents and the problem will settle. Convey to the others in the family that you have decided to be more accepting of your child in order to make her feel more secure.

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