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22.6.10

She was hoarding all kinds of stuff under her bed...

Last year I got married to a dual citizen from Israel. His daughter came over from Israel to live with us one year ago. Previously she was in a home with her father and grandparents. Her grandmother doted over her and instilled in this girl that she can do no wrong and that she should always be the center of attention. She was nearly 10 years old and could not pick out a matching outfit to wear and usually did not have to brush her own hair. Grandma found self-worth by making this girl dependent on her. Now she is on the verge of 11 and has learned to do a lot of things for herself. The year has been a steep learning curve for her as we try to get her caught up to her peers in her development and social behavior. This fall she will start middle school.

Through no fault of her own she has a bladder condition which puts her at a constant risk for a kidney infection and also means that she wears a big kid diaper to bed at night. We have occasionally found an old, wet diaper hidden in her room and would get frustrated and sometimes angry. About 3 or 4 weeks ago we discovered that she was hoarding all kinds of stuff under her bed - old rotten food, clothes, all kids of trash, etc. We handled this much better with minimal frustration and no anger. We simply made her clean up her mess and then instituted daily room inspections and a period of extra chores. We also made her write us a paper on why she had lied to us about many of the things under her bed (there were many specifics involved here). Her reasoning was that she was just lazy and didn't want to bother and then lied because she figured we wouldn't find out since the other kids lie at school and she doesn't see that they get into trouble.

Yesterday we discovered that she had been hiding old wet diapers in her room from before the room inspections started (we started trying to find out why her room smelled bad). While I was checking the places where she used to hide stuff, I didn't check under her pillows. There were multiple old wet diapers hiding under her pillows!! How gross! When she is mad at us (usually for getting caught lying or having to do her regular chores) she drags her feet and does everything very slowly! This morning, after giving her multiple time checks I hustled her out to the car with her toothbrush, toothpaste, shoes and socks in her hands so that I wouldn't be late to work.

We are exasperated! What can we do to get her to change her behavior? We've tried being encouraging and giving her positive attention, but the minute we stop with the compliments she acts out or becomes dismissive because she's not the center of attention. If we remove privileges she cares for about 5 minutes. If we give her a reward, she appreciates it for about 5 minutes. She constantly kisses up to other adults, gets injured for attention on the playground (or plays up a small injury) and tells us what she thinks we want to hear so that we will back off. She expects everything to be about her having fun all the time and that's just not the reality of life. I know something is going on inside her but no matter what we do to try to find out what it is she either cannot or will not articulate it. I realize that it's been a tough year - it has been for all of us! But lying to your parents on a regular basis and hiding dirty diapers under your pillows is not an acceptable expression of frustration especially when we keep telling her that we want to know what's going on inside her that makes her want to do these kinds of things.

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