I see you seem to have a pretty normal 8 year old. I too have an 8 year old and she is a monster. Not the eating calves in a farmer’s field monster, or the hide under your bed and snatch your ankles monster, but an emotional time bomb kind of monster. Every single day is a battle. She throws tantrums when she’s mad, she will ransack the living room if I don’t let her stay up late, she’ll say mean things to me, and then she’s fine. It’s taking an emotional toll on me and I don’t know what to do because I am basically living in fear of pissing my daughter off. What do I do?
You put your foot down and be her mother, not her friend. I have an issue with kids staying up late in the first place. If she’s 8, she shouldn’t be up past nine (my opinion) and to those parents that would say, “I just can’t get them to go to bed”, I say you’re not trying hard enough. Your job isn’t to give in and let them stay up until midnight, you need to draw the line and show them there’s a difference between being 8 and being an adult. Staying up late was a privilege in my house. I had to earn it year by year and it could be taken away in a blink of an eye.
As far as emotional outbursts and disrespect go, I have a zero tolerance policy. NO tantrums past the age of two. Well-adjusted children aren’t born, they are guided. Since your daughter is 8, you’ll have some fast and furious catching up to do, but you need to punish the outbursts with time-outs/spanking/grounding/removal of privileges or anything else you can legally or ethically do (spanking is with a hand, not a spoon or object). On the same note, you need to also reward good behavior and teach her that she needs to talk about things with you when she’s frustrated and not just explode. I don’t know what your family or marriage/dating relationships have been like since she was born but much of this behavior is usually learned..and you need to “unlearn” it. You’re letting her have control when SHE is clearly the child and YOU are clearly the parent.
Keep these points in mind:
1. At 8, bedtime should be 830 (unless it’s a sleepover or something on a weekend) and it can increase by 30 minutes each birthday. So at 9, bedtime would be 9..at ten years old, it’ll be 9:30, etc.
2. Things like playtime, TV, games, and even time with friends are a privilege..they can be taken away. You’re reinforcing the idea that good behavior CAN mean more privileges..this is not a guarantee.
3. You are not your child’s friend. You are their parent and need to make that known. There is a difference between being a fun and loving (but firm) parent and a friend..you need to know that and make the child know that.
4. Don’t give in. If all else fails, do what another parent I know once did. I call it “raining hellfire”: Her son acted up so badly that she took all of his things, boxed them up and “gave them away”. Everything except bedding and clothes. Then, she made him sit in his empty room and talk about things every single day until he finally broke and came to her in tears. He cried, she cried and they figured out how to talk through their issues.
5. Many times, issues like this are the result of an outside factor. Look at the relationships you (and the other people he spends time with) are in and make sure they’re constructive and positive.
It will be hard. You will cry, she will cry, and you will need to keep reinforcing the good while punishing the bad. By the end of it, you should be in the clear. Let me know how it goes.