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How can I make my child less helpful? She needs to do less and I'm running out of options!

Recently my 9 year old has been doing too much for me, she cleans and runs around like a crazy thing. I regularly tell her to stop and last week I told her no, you will not do this, it is my job, enjoy yourself, be a child. So I thought it had stopped for a few days. However I got up this morning and she'd woken up in the night to fold the clothes, sweep the floors, lay out her siblings clothes for the day and then had proceeded to do a general tidy.

I know it sounds crazy but it's got to stop, she's tiring herself out and I just want her to be a child. I think I need to convince her that I'm okay and that I need to be the one to look after her. We suffered the loss of her father and sister a few months ago and since then she seems to think she should look after me. It's almost as if she's trying to take over her father's role and I've tried talking to her, I've tried doing every possible thing, I've tried drawing her up a chart and saying she has set chores. I'm just really saddened by it almost, she's just a baby and she's trying to take on too much. My house is clean and my work always gets done so I don't think it's that she feels more needs to be done as one of my friends suggested. I have a feeling that punishing her will do more harm than good. Maybe she's trying to keep herself busy, I just don't know.

We go to grief counsellors and I mentioned it but she dismissed it and basically laughed it off (these people are absolutely rubbish...) so I'm just looking for some way to distract her maybe? Or to prove that she shouldn't do it? Or to lightly punish? She's a little godsend but I want to look after her, not the other way round!

Sorry that this has been so long winded, I'm just so worried.


Asked by leah_rai at 8:32 PM on Feb. 14, 2011 in Tweens (9-12)

Level 19 (7,665 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (10)
  • I have a feeling that this is her way of working out her grief - I've been like that before. I think maybe you could set some rules about her health - like "you can't be doing chores between 10pm and 8am" but then just let her do her thing the rest of the time. That way she gets sleep, but she still has her outlet?

    Another idea - maybe she just needs to keep busy and feel useful... you could help her find a hobby like knitting, painting, making collages. You could offer to let her redecorate her bedroom. If you had enough cash you could get her a laptop (with some safety monitoring maybe) and let her start a blog... just something she could do late at night that wouldn't be as physically straining as cleaning...

    I agree with prior poster - if counselors are not responsive then you need new ones!

    Answer by angelm523 at 9:31 PM on Feb. 14, 2011

  • You may want to have her evaluated for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Have you tried talking to her about her father and sister's passing? It seems like she may be avoiding it or that she's feeling such an immense amount of grief that she doesn't know how to deal with it so instead, distracts herself in any way possible.

    Answer by MamaStuart at 8:37 PM on Feb. 14, 2011

  • Awe, bless her heart, and yours.
    Maybe you could make a chart of her chores and ask her not to do anything after she's done those. That you want to do your part and want her to have fun as well.

    Answer by genagina at 8:35 PM on Feb. 14, 2011

  • hugsIf your grief counselors aren't taking it seriously then maybe you should see someone else. I agree with MamaStuart, she might not know how to deal with her grief.


    Answer by mommy_jules at 8:40 PM on Feb. 14, 2011

  • Find another counselor. There are alternatives. You have not found a good one and you are aware of that. Find another one. Contact compassionate friends group and see if some of the parents can give you recommendations. There are also groups for youngsters that have lost someone. It would give them someone to talk to.

    Answer by tootoobusy at 8:41 PM on Feb. 14, 2011

  • This is a good thing, let her do whatever makes her feel good, this is her way of dealing with her loss, we all do it differently.

    Answer by older at 8:42 PM on Feb. 14, 2011

  • her someone to talk to that is experiencing the same type of loss.

    Answer by tootoobusy at 8:42 PM on Feb. 14, 2011

  • She's never had any Obsessive tendencies before but I may ask about it, perhaps they could help even if it turned out there was nothing wrong? Yes, I try to let her talk to me but sometimes it seems as if she's protecting me from what she's feeling. I spend every night with her and my other children who are old enough to understand and we talk one on one about their fears, hopes and grief. I asked the counsellors if there was anything else I could do and they said I just had to wait it out, that she'd talk more when she was ready. Maybe you're right mommy_jules I should just find some new counsellors. These were the ones that were basically 'prescribed' for us almost. Maybe elsewhere we'd find more help.

    Comment by leah_rai (original poster) at 8:42 PM on Feb. 14, 2011

  • I agree looking into new counselors might help. It sounds like this is her way of dealing with everything that has happened and I am not sure if you could break her of it right now. I think that you are helping her and supporting her and letting her know that you are there for her if she needs to talk. I also think that reminding her that you are going to take care of her is a great thing. I am sorry I don't have any more advice.

    Good Luck and I am sorry for your loss!

    Answer by cornflakegirl3 at 9:51 PM on Feb. 14, 2011

  • Find a group for children that are dealing with grief and find a different counselor. She needs to be evaluated by a child psychologist to see if she has a mental disorder that needs treatment. I would not punish her, this could be her way of dealing with the grief. Sorry for your loss.

    Answer by tyfry7496 at 9:53 PM on Feb. 14, 2011