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Okay, there were sooo many red flags in your original post! Let's start with her bedroom. She has more toys than all 3 of my kids combined! And I do understand how it happens.... it's so easy to do when you only have one child to buy for.... plus, if you were knocked out of things from having surgery, and then were injured, I can imagine a lot of toys were bought out of guilt, or just a need to keep her busy, or whatever.... I do the same thing at times!

Anyway, that would be the first thing to address. She has WAY too much stuff and would greatly benefit from a nice downsizing exercise. You could take her to a soup kitchen or just show her stories on the news about the hurricanes and earthquakes over the past couple of years (if you go that route, make sure to show her LOTS of pictures of the destruction), and show her kids who have absolutely NOTHING, then talk about how much she has, and what a blessing it is that you can provide for her. Then talk about what she can do to help those kids who have nothing. I've done this several times with my own kids and they always surprise me with how willing they are to give away their stuff! It not only teaches generosity, but it also teaches your child to appreciate what she has.

Next, I'd take the tv out of her room, or at least get rid of the cable. If you want to leave her a tv so that she can watch dvds, I think that is okay (my kids have a tv and dvd player in their room, but it's up on a high shelf where only their dad and I can reach it.... my oldest can operate the remote once it's turned on, but that's all more for the benefit of keeping the dvds safe from the younger kids!

Nothing wrong with dress up or Barbies (or any toys she likes to play with), but downsize.... maybe even by half if she really has that much stuff. I mean, how many Barbies can a girl really play with at once? And how many dress up dresses does she wear at once? I know she has friends that come over to play, but if you're worried about being short dress up or Barbies, you could invite her friends to bring their own dress up or Barbies to share (that's what we always did as kids!). I just focused on Barbies and dress up because those were two specific things you mentioned, but the same applies to any toys she has.

I totally get the not turning the tv off after 20 minutes dilemma, but if you aren't right there to enforce it, don't count on it getting done. It's just too easy to get sucked into the next show and lose track of the time. Even if you set a timer and it beeps, it's still too easy to think, "Oh, I'll just watch until commercial and then turn it off...." It never seems like it's that long, but then suddenly an extra 25 minutes have passed and mom's yelling about it! It happens here all the time! Instead of leaving it to her to turn the tv off, tell her she has until you are done with the shower, and then you will come turn the tv off. And tell her it might be 20 minutes, or it might be a little longer, but that as soon as you are done in the shower, the tv goes off and YOU be the one to turn it off.

It sounds like you are trying to crack down on her, but unfortunately your methods seem to be coming back to bite you in the arse! It sounds like her punishments last too long, and it seems to me like she figures if she's going to be in trouble all day for one infraction anyway, what's the point of ever being good?

Time outs and groundings are great forms of discipline, if they are used correctly. Time out should be one minute per age of the child. Groundings should be in the form of having a certain activity or toy taken away. I would not take away family time or friend time though. If you are having family time, like in the pool, and she does something wrong, you might give her a time out from swimming, but then let her join the family when the time out is over. It actually will make a difference in her attitude. If she figures she isn't going to swim today anyway, then what will motivate her to want to be good? But sitting out for 7 minutes, knowing she'll get to join in the fun soon, will actually help her to want to be good more often. Does that make sense??? If she is grounded from a certain activity or toy, start with grounding her from it for a whole day, but then tell her she has the opportunity to earn it back for the second half of the day if she can change her attitude and behaviors.

The opportunity to earn anything (privileges, money....) can be a phenomenal teaching tool.... especially for a child who enjoys helping and staying busy. Give her daily chores to do. My girls have a morning chore chart, and a nighttime chore chart and they get a quarter for each when they complete it on time and with a good attitude. Their chores include things like unloading and loading the dishwasher, setting the table, wiping the table and vacuuming under the table after breakfast and dinner, making their beds and cleaning up their rooms, getting dressed and putting their pajamas away, keeping their bathroom straight, and keeping their toys put away when it's not playtime.

Then we have the "BIG" chores once or twice a week, like dusting the house, vacuuming the carpets, mopping the floors, cleaning the bathrooms, laundry (sorting, putting it in the washer and dryer, taking it out of the dryer and shaking it out),etc... they can earn anywhere from $0.25 to $1.00 per big chore, depending on how quickly they accomplish a chore, and their attitude when doing it.

And NO, I'm not one of those moms who sits on the couch and benefits from child labor! I am always right there doing chores with my girls and helping them when they need help. I don't expect perfection (they're 2, 4, and 6 years old!) and I base my expectations on their age. Surprisingly, my girls enjoy doing chores most of the time, because they love earning money! They each have a money jar (a big plastic applesauce jar that we decorated with fabric and cut a coin sized slot in the top) and as of last night, my oldest had over $25 saved, and my middle child has over $30! Our 2 year old is just now starting to do chores, so her money jar isn't quite as full.... but she sure loves putting her money in there!

ANYWAY.... moving on....

I'm not sure you need counseling just yet. I would sit and have a long heart to heart with your daughter first. Talk to her about your surgery and injury and what a great help she was at those times. Tell her that you love to have her helping you around the house and then introduce the possibility of chores and earning money.

Then talk to her about the burdens and responsibilities (but keep it short and don't make her feel guilty for what you have to do!) of being a grown up and how you do NOT want to see her have to shoulder those burdens at such a young age. Talk to her about being a child and playing and age appropriate responsibilities verses being a grown up with grown up responsibilities.

Next, talk to her about showing respect towards grown ups and towards her friends. Be frank with her at this point. Tell her that grown ups don't usually like kids who are disrespectful and bossy (those who laugh about it are usually laughing to be polite, or because they don't know how to react!), and that it hurts her friends' feelings when she is disrespectful towards them. Ask her how she would like to be treated and then ask her if that is how she is treating others. Tell her people will treat her with love and respect if she treats them that way too. Come up with a code between just the two of you, that if you notice she is being too bossy or disrespectful, you can gently remind her with a code word, where only SHE will know what you are talking about and it won't embarrass her in front of her friends.

As far as children being seen and not heard.... it's not always a bad rule to live by, but no, you don't want it that way all the time. Talk to your daughter about having grown up time, where just the grown ups can talk and visit. Allow her time to come in and say hello to the grown ups and have a brief chat, but then tell her it's grown up time and have her go into another room to play. If she doesn't want to be in another room, she can stay in the room with the grown ups, but if it's grown up time, she needs to listen quietly and yes, be seen and not heard. Again, use the code word so that you can gently remind her of how to act.

Your daughter sounds like a sweet and loving little girl who probably got caught up in the act of being a grown up and just needs a little guidance and love to help her get back to that sweet little girl that you are missing. You CAN do this! It just takes some time, PATIENCE (I know, so much easier said than done, right?), and consistency. Good luck! :)

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