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5 yr old girl pouts/feels sorry forself for attention

I am at a loss with my 5 year old daughter. She behaves extremely well & demonstrates great self control/emotional control around me & my husband, but when she is in other people's care she tries to get her way and seeks attention by pouting when she does not get her way or enough attention. Usually the pouting does not get her the attention so she takes it to the extreme by self deprecating herself (I'm no good at this etc, No one likes me etc) and then crying over her own made up things she says.  It creates a cycle where she turns a normal experience into a confusing array of emotions for the people who are watching her, whether it be a neighbor, her grandparents, her aunt or the church preschool. Basically she wants people to feel sorry for her. More than half the time it works since people are just confused why they can't help her which makes her feel like she is in control and her feelings are the sole focus.

I have tried talking to her before she goes out to be with a relative or be babysat and I have tried talking to her after these situations occur. I feel like she pulls my husband into her pity vortex after these situations occur and she believes I am the only one who thinks she should be able to go with other people without expecting them to satisy her wishes or give her sole attention. That is not the way I want her to look at the world. I feel like somewhere along the lines she has learned behaving like a victim works and I am at a complete loss for how to turn it around.  
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973741 tn?1342342773
Hi.  I'm going to ask you to look at this another way as it might be more productive for you.  Now, she may be manipulative and smart enough to know exactly what she is doing but instead of looking at it this way, look at it like she is having trouble coping in enviroments outside of home and with caregivers.  

Then you can problem solve.  One thing that often works when kids are having these types of issues is to offer choices.  The caregiver can give two choices to her and then when she chooses---- she will have some control and be more willing to comply.  It is not as if she is getting her way as the caregiver is in charge of the choice, right?  This worked wonders for my son who had great difficulty in preschool.  Lots and lots of little choices.  Now when you say that she sees herself as a victem/ or she uses that to control things (which is pretty highly developed for a 5 year old . . .)--------  this choice giving will actually teach her that she is not a victem and she is in control of her own destiny (I know, I get that you think she is "playing" the victem------- but that is impossible to do when you were part of the choosing process).  

I think thinking ahead is good.  What triggers her emotional outburst?  What kinds of things is she not getting "her way" on that set her off?  Start trying to find a pattern and work on that.  If not having an adult's full attention is hard for her---------  you work on helping her use her words to ask what she needs, for example.  You work on her seeing that other kids are in need as well.  You practice at home by saying "wait a minute, I will help you after I help X".  That type of thing.

At 5, long lectures after an event are pretty useless.  Things need to be immediate.  There is a great book called "Love and Logic" by Charles and Jim fey that talks about natural consequences.  It puts responsibility for things squarely on the child and consequences are the teacher vs. you.  It is well worth a read and might speak directly to problems you are having with your daughter.

I think also making her a "helper" when she goes somewhere to the person in charge will help.  She will feel like a team with them.  Also we use beans in a jar for when things go right.  If she does well, she gets a bean.  When she gets to a certain number of beans, she gets to choose an outing of her choice.  Catch her doing things right when with a caregiver (have them praise her often for the least little thing) and then you do the same when you see her afterwards.  Switch it to positive attention vs. negative.

Good luck
Helpful - 0
13167 tn?1327194124
Sadly,  behaving like a victim DOES work.  You even see teen girls who pretend they've been kidnapped and assaulted.  Guys don't do that,  it's humiliating,  but girls who are victims are given very special careful attention in the last generation or so,  where before that it was embarrassing to be a victim.  

I agree with Specialmom,  and I'd take it a step further.  

Say,  stop it,  nobody likes a whiner.  Stop whining all the time to acquaintances,  that is not respectable,  and it's embarrassing.  We love you for how strong you are,  and how independent and how smart and imaginative,  stop embarrassing yourself by pretending you're a victim.  You're not a victim.  You're a strong,  bright and clever girl.  That's what you need to show the world,  how smart and strong you are,  and you will have so many more real friends,  and so much more respect,  than the quick pity you get for pretending you are weak.  

I'd say it just like that,  and just as strongly.

Best wishes.  This must be hard.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Thank you both Specialmom and Rockrose, I appreciate your advice. I will definately read the recommended book.

Some of the things you've said are making realize I need to work with her on how to better communicate her disappointments....give her bettter ways to voice herself and move on. I have been trying but obviously need to dig deeper. I fear that having spent 5 years trying to teach her to be a nice girl has taken away her ability to voice her upsets so she reverts to this more passive version? I don't know. I will look at it from all angles.

Maybe she is struggling with less and less attention as she moves into full on big girl territory? We need to work on setting her expectations to be more realistic. I like your suggestion to focus on being a "helper" while with others, I can explain that to her to show that others have expectations of her too.

We've never allowed either of our daughters to just get their way, we've taught that when it's possible you can have a choice, but it's not always possible and you'll have to go with what mommy/daddy say. We've been consistent with appropriate consquences for negative behavior, which is usually a loss of a privilege.  We work hard to teach appreciation and patience. So I guess that is why I am so lost on this issue, where it came from and why it continues. Like I said, I really appreciate the advice/suggestions and will try them out.

Lastly, I agree with being frank to her about being a strong girl, in control of her emotions, believe me, I have talked that over and over again. I want her to feel that way. It is hard to feel like my daughter is fine with us but emotionally unpredicable in the care of others.

Thanks ladies for the wishes of good luck!
Helpful - 0
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