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(Cedar Park, TX USA)
I watch three elementary school children everyday after school. They are all different ages--I have a 2nd, 3rd and 5th grader.
Recently I have been having problems with the 2nd and 5th grader. They are both girls and I thought that they would have no problem getting along. But lately they have been fighting and playing the blame game a lot. They both have very strong personalities and really big attitudes.
The second grader is my niece and I am starting to feel that there might be some jealousy because of that fact. I have tried working with them and sitting them down and trying to figure out the problem without them yelling and blaming each other.
It always seems that the fifth grader has a bigger attitude and wants to put everyone down and not admit that she may be in the wrong and if you even hint that she is wrong she breaks down and starts the water works. Now she is getting a feel of what it's like to be treated like that because the 3rd grader and my niece are starting to act that way to her. I don't want to start that cycle of them all being mean to each other.
I can't seem to find a happy medium and it seems like anything I do doesn't make the problem go away. They just hide their anger or put it aside and agree with me. I can tell when the problem hasn't been solved and they just want me to go away. I really need help because not only is this stressing me out but its stressing their parents out and causing a strain in friendships.
Please help--I need advice ASAP.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Alissa, and thanks for telling your story on this site. It is great that you want to improve your situation with the three girls you care for. I will do my best to help you.
The first thing I suggest is that you spend some time with your own thoughts, perceptions and feelings about the girls.
1) Write in a journal about what you like and dislike about each child. This is for no one's eyes but yours, so don't worry about how it might look to someone else. Just be honest with yourself.
2) Be aware of any biases you have--which child you like the best and the least.
3) when you've decided who you have the most trouble liking (sounds like it might be the 5th grader...), begin looking for and writing about her positive aspects. Get into a strong mode of appreciation for all of her good qualities and traits. Do the same for the other girls, but emphasize the one you have the most issues with.
4) Do the above journaling processes each day, ideally in the morning, to "set the tone" for your afternoon time with them.
5) Once you feel that you have a more balanced, positive attitude about each of the girls, try some of these activities the next time you are with them, and I suggest you do them daily and on an ongoing basis:
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