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Old 05-21-2011, 05:21 PM   #1
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How do I make my 8yo DD a nicer/polite person?

Sorry if this gets long. I'm really frustrated and not sure how to handle this. I'm also 38 weeks pg so my patience is thin and I know that's not good.

DD turned 8 in April. Her bio-dad and I divorced while I was pg with her, so she has spent three nights a week with him since she was about 18 months old I think. It's all she knows. I've been with DH since she was 6 months old, so again, the world as she has known it is bio-dad three nights a week and mommy and Ben's house 4 nights. I used to struggle with bio-dad about maintaining a similar schedule and lifestyle at both houses, because I think that would be best for her. For the most part, I *think* we agree on most things. Same bedtime (or close), same eating habits, somewhat similar views on tv/movie watching.

The thing we have struggled with forever is politeness/social interaction rules. I have been telling DD to say please and thank you since she could talk, and she STILL won't do it and has to be reminded. She often doesn't look at me (or anyone) when she is spoken to, and won't answer, or answers so quietly that no one can hear (I often doubt that she did answer, or else she did in her head and not out loud). She is just plain rude sometimes. She doesn't give appropriate answers to people when they ask her a question (rather than saying "no thank you," it's "I don't want that right now" in a snotty voice). She has never been able to tell people thank you when she gets gifts, and doesn't understand that she needs to be nice about a gift even if she doesn't like it (rather than saying, as she would, "I already have this one!"). I have tried and tried to get this stuff into her head, but it doesn't stick. DH blames it on the fact that she is only with us basically half the time, so we can work on it until she goes to bio-dad's and forgets everything. I have had conversations with bio-dad about this and he claims that he works on it constantly as well, but I have a hard time understanding why it's not sticking.

I never realized how bad it was until DS came along. He's now 2.5 and says please and thank you without being prompted every time. He is the most polite child I have ever seen, it blows me away (not trying to be braggy here). It just baffles me that DD still at 8yo can't grasp the concept of being polite.

In the past year or so we have definitely considered that she *may* be somewhere on the autism spectrum, very high functioning though. She carried a lot more asperger's traits when she was younger, and has grown up/out of a lot of them. I won't go through the list of traits that make me think this, it's long. But we have decided that since she is able to function in school and has friends there isn't a need to seek a formal diagnosis or anything else. She's *mostly* a normal kid, except for the rude/impolite part. She is also very sensitive but has gotten better as she's gotten older.

I read a lot about asperger's and social interaction (or maybe got some advice on here, can't remember) and rather than talking about people's feelings, we've tried to approach the rude behavior in terms of "rules of social interaction." We talk about it a lot, and she's very rude and not very receptive when I try to talk about these rules. She argues back at me, tells me that I am basically wrong and that she DID say whatever she is supposed to be saying, even though I can see her mouth NOT moving and can't hear it. She is very argumentative.

Anyway....I just don't know what to do. I'm beginning to be embarrassed by her behavior. She's old enough that she should be able to interact appropriately with people. A friend of mine even told me that she thought DD was kind of rude sometimes, and couldn't believe the things she said/the way she talked to me. It's especially hard for me since DS is SO darn nice all the time. I don't want to seem like I'm picking on her but she needs to change.

Thanks for getting all the way though!

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Old 05-21-2011, 06:44 PM   #2
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Re: How do I make my 8yo DD a nicer/polite person?

If you think she might have a touch of special needs, why not have her evaluated? If she needs assistance with social interaction then it will be addressed (theres therapy specifically for that.)

I really feel for you. Im super big on being respectful and polite and theres been a few times that I wanted to strangle one of my children as well as crawl into a hole
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Old 05-22-2011, 06:27 AM   #3
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Re: How do I make my 8yo DD a nicer/polite person?

Sounds like me as a kid. I had trouble answering questions, looking people in the eye, couldn't make small talk, ect. I wasn't being rude I just had *extreme* social anxiety. I did ok with kids, but grown-ups scared the crap outta me.

I would get her evaluated. It can't hurt. Telling her she's being rude is probably just making her feel embarrassed, if she truly can't help how she's acting. My mom finally got through to me by telling me that, when I was 14. It helped, but I was 14, I was ready to hear it. I still cried and felt ashamed that all those years people thought I was stuck up and rude, not just shy. And I'm 27 now and STILL have difficulty. I have to MAKE myself respond to people making small talk, thanking people for doing things, ect. I probably don't sound sincere at all, but it's all I've got.

I was reading an article once that basically said that kids living in two households with two separate rules do NOT have any more trouble following two sets of rules than kids living with one set of rules. They are smart....they understand. Sometimes they manipulate that to their advantage...even more proof that they are plenty smart and understand.

So I lean more toward the idea that she has more going on, and it's not "just" behavioral.
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Old 05-22-2011, 06:29 AM   #4
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Re: How do I make my 8yo DD a nicer/polite person?

Until I got to your paragraph where you mention suspecting ASD, I was thinking, "Hmmm, sounds like she's on the spectrum."

What do teachers say?? Does she exhibit the same behaviors at school?
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Old 05-22-2011, 01:49 PM   #5
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Re: How do I make my 8yo DD a nicer/polite person?

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Originally Posted by aunt_freya View Post
Until I got to your paragraph where you mention suspecting ASD, I was thinking, "Hmmm, sounds like she's on the spectrum."
Same here. There are lots of services and methods for teaching these exact skills to kids on the spectrum. I think it would be helpful for your daughter to start looking for those services.
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Old 05-22-2011, 07:45 PM   #6
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Re: How do I make my 8yo DD a nicer/polite person?

Her teachers have NEVER said anything, which surprises me. In preschool she would cry and cry for no reason, I'd have to come pick her up. A few times in kindergarten she had outbursts that required the principal to come and deal with her (she refused to apologize to another kid) and ended up with me and bio-dad having a meeting with the principal. She almost got kicked out of her school for it. She goes to a charter school, it's still public and in our district, but I wonder if the fact that it's a charter means that they don't offer services like that? It seems like it should be offered through the district at least. She excels in school academically, and seems okay socially with her peers (mostly) but it's her interaction with adults that bothers me a lot.

So if I were to get her evaluated, where do I begin? Do I call the doctor? Talk to her teacher? The principal? I just think that people are going to think I'm wacko to suggest ASD, since she seems to function so well.

For what it's worth, I totally think I'm somewhere on the spectrum as well. I have a really hard time with eye contact and had major social anxiety for years, still do to some extent, I can't handle crowds or large groups at all. Looking back I wish that my mom had seen it, I think my junior high and high school years could have been a lot better had I had some skills to be more normal.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 05-22-2011, 08:09 PM   #7
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Re: How do I make my 8yo DD a nicer/polite person?

could be anxiety could be ASD..but a medical professional would need to diagnose. I would talk to the ped Dr. Research child psych in the area....I do think approaching a child with these are the social rules is smart if she is not picking up on the cue on her own. I wouldn't force eye contact but instead practice eye contact... I teach kids that they need to turn their bodies towards the speaker and to look in their direction but I dont force eye contact (Im a ped OT) Watch forcing things that could be out of her control like eye contact or responding excessively quiet. I would consistently deal with back talking and blatant disobedience in a behavioral method using a consistent approach.
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Old 05-22-2011, 10:01 PM   #8
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Re: How do I make my 8yo DD a nicer/polite person?

I'd start out asking your pediatrician for a referal to a psycologist or neurologist (it depends on your area which one of those two would diagnose ASD). And I would recommend looking for some ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapists in your area. They often have names like behavior solutions or behavior intervention...

I hope this helps! You are definitely doing the right thing trying to help your daughter learn the social skills that aren't coming naturally to her. Good luck!
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Old 05-23-2011, 08:06 AM   #9
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Re: How do I make my 8yo DD a nicer/polite person?

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