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Daycare Center and Family Home Forum>The Child That Must Be First
Meyou 07:48 AM 09-22-2011
I have a DCG, 4 who is highly competitive. She always has to be first and it doesn't matter what it is. First to be done eating, coloring, picking up, in lineups, to go potty, shoes on, shoes off, to win races, to press the button on crosswalks, etc, etc.....anything and everything she thrived on saying, "I'm first!!!" She's been this way since she could walk.

We had a situation a few weeks ago where she pushed someone and hurt them in order to be first to cross a sidewalk. I immediately took away all her firsts. No being leader (we take turns), no pressing the sidewalk button (a BIG deal here), no turns being first in lineups and I gave her as little reaction as I could to everything else. Such as she would say, "I'm done eating first!!" Me, "Eating isn't a race but a full belly is nice. Please take you dishes to the sink now."

She did quite well after the first week and by the third week was mentioning being first significantly less AND had starting noticing other's being first without pouting. All good. This week was week 4 and she didn't mention being first once on Mon, Tues or Wed so I decided to let her have a turn pressing the button on our walk to school this morning. She's been doing so well that I thought I could start giving her turns again being first. Yeah.......it was a bad idea.

By the time we reached the school 15 minutes later she had pushed twice to be first and had yelled out 5 or 6 ridiculous "firsts" The highlights being, "I'm first to pick a leaf off this tree so you can't be!" and "I'm first to kick a rock off the path!"

Soooo....help. Do I take it all away again indefinitely? Or is there something else I can try that may work better? I would prefer that she had her turns like everyone else....eventually. It's a big deal to be leader when you're 4 but I just can't when her competitive nature is so strong that she puts other children in danger.

Sorry so long and TIA.
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laundrymom 08:07 AM 09-22-2011
If she can't manage that " power" it shouldn't be given to her. At 4 I would say, I'm sorry faith, but you act mean when I let you go first, so you will not go first for one whole week.
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melskids 08:10 AM 09-22-2011
i have one like this, he is 3. he will push to be first out the door, slamming the door on the next child behind him, first to finish eating to the point he chokes on his food, etc.

i have completely taken away his chance to be first at anything. i tried giving him a second chance, and like in your case, he was right back to the old behavior.

i dont mind the competitive behavior, and understand the need to feel special, and i dont even mind the annoying little things (like "i picked up a rock FIRST!" ugh! ) but when it comes to hurting himself or others, i cant allow it. so anything i know he will try to be first at that will cause harm to himself or others....i make sure i'm right there to nip it in the bud.

for example, when we eat....i put less on his plate, cut it smaller, and sit right by him and remind him often to slow down. sometimes i even have to take his plate until he finishes chewing. if he happens to gorge himself to be done first, he must sit at the table until everyone is finished anyway.

when we line up at the door to go out, i take his hand before i even announce its time to line up, or position my body while putting others shoes on in a way that he cant get around me.

ETA: i agree with laundrymom too!
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Blackcat31 08:15 AM 09-22-2011
Try getting her to focus on other things to be proud of. For example the next time she finishes her lunch first and says so, tell her "Yes, Jane, you did finish first but look what great manners James is using. Nice job James." Or if she is the first to pick a leaf off the tree say "Yes, Jane you did pick the first leaf but look at what a cool red leaf Billy has found!"

This will help her understand that being first is not always best. Sometimes there are other things people should be proud of. It sounds like she is really looking for some validation for her actions and she has learned that being first is something to strive for. Being competititve is not necessarily a bad thing if it is done in the right way.

By pointing out other attributes in a person should help her understand that there are many things to be proud of besides winning. We can't all be Charlie Sheen!
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melskids 08:15 AM 09-22-2011
...and you know...i had a 7 yr old do this too.

when i dug a little deeper, i realized he wasnt getting much attention at home. mom had a new baby, and also "babied" the little sister.

i made sure to spend a little extra attention on him in positive ways, and noticed that it helped.
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Meyou 08:35 AM 09-22-2011
She does need attention to feel validated. That has been an ongoing struggle as well. She's very jealous of her sibling and overbearing where she is concerned if I don't stay on top of it. Her sister is starting to use her words though and she has ALOT to say about that. Hahahaha, I do love it when the babies learn to defend themselves.

She acts out when other adults are present, interupts if anyone talks to another DCK at the park or something especially the baby, tells fibs to "one up" others and I could go on and on. It's just typical "need to be the center of attention" behavior. It's not too bad since she's been here for years but it never totally goes away if you know what I mean.

I'll try pushing other things being great and take away the obvious firsts again like lineups. When I think about it I have gotten her to slow down when she was coloring lately. They color before lunch and she does 3 pictures for every 1 everyone else does (so she can compare how many she coloreded to everyone else) and I've been working with her to try and stay in the lines and sloooow down. Her pictures are pretty amazing when she stops scribbling and startings focusing. She has been trying to slow down in that task anyway. I can try and offer more alternatives to being first that way as well.

Thanks ladies.
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laundrymom 08:56 AM 09-22-2011
Had a thought,... Make first unfun. First finished with lunch? First to nap. First in line goes last in turn, first to finish coloring looses turn for glitter. Etc.
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Auntie 09:55 AM 09-22-2011
We have a special kid each week at work and they are the first for that week for everything. Maybe put the kids names on a calendar, hers being last and routate the kids who do things first. I would put her last and make her wait.
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SilverSabre25 10:14 AM 09-22-2011
Originally Posted by laundrymom:
If she can't manage that " power" it shouldn't be given to her. At 4 I would say, I'm sorry faith, but you act mean when I let you go first, so you will not go first for one whole week.
This--and when the week is up, you explain that she can try being first again, but if she's mean, she's going to lose the chance for another week. Make sure she remembers WHY she lost the option.

(and with my 3 yo doing this I actually went so far as to demote her to last for many things and she KNOWS why).
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meganlavonnesmommy 06:51 PM 09-22-2011
I had a group like that a few years ago. I finally banned the use of the word first. I treated it like a swear word. Whomever was caught saying the word first got a privledge taken away. They immediately got to go last for whatever it was they wanted, and then they would lose privledges. They wouldnt get to pick the story for storytime, they would have to sit for a few minutes when we went outside while everyone else went to play. They didnt get to choose the board game to play. etc.
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Meyou 04:20 AM 09-23-2011
I do make her last if she does anything that isn't proper. She expects that now...they all do. Even when they line up for a drink, if they don't say please the first time they go to the back of the line to try again.

There was a little funny yesterday afternoon that told me she knows what she's suppose to do and is struggling to control her impulse to act otherwise. We got home from getting my dd from school and I normally pull the wagon up to the base of the deck and unload the babies. The big kids race up the step and whoever gets there first opens the screen door and gets to hold it for everyone else. This is often where she has trouble. Yesterday though she was holding the door and the DCB's were waiting beside her (and noone was crying/pouting/tattling) when I got to the top of the stairs. She looked at me with big eyes and said, "I used my words and asked DCB if I could open the door. I pwomise that I didn't use my hands or mean words. I PWOMISE! It's the twuth!" She was passionate and pleading. DCB looks at me and says blandly, "Yup, for once it's true." lol
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MissAnn 05:26 AM 09-23-2011
I call kids one by one whenever lining up for anything. I also have flat rubber circles with numbers 1-7 on them. I will say......Susie you can go sit on number 5. That way there is no competition to be on number 1 and they learn to recognize numbers. Some days I have 7 boys....so I never say.....everyone go line up! That would cause injuries! When they get up from the table I say....stand up brave little soldiers, push in your chairs! Then I send them one by one to march over to the circles to sit and then I put soap in each hand and we wash hands then take turns rinsing. Everything is done in a systematic way.....no full groups of kids running to get in line first for anything.
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nannyde 05:34 AM 09-23-2011
We have an order here by age. The oldest child is the leader and does everything of importance first. If the oldest is absent then the second oldest fills in.

There's no squabbling about it or jockeying for it. They just grow up that way knowing eventually they will get to be first.

Being the leader also has it's down side. They are responsible for more cleaning and are my personal sherpa. They are the one who is ultimately responsible to make sure everything is done properly with the toys after each cleaning time. We have a LOT of toys that have to be sorted back into spot so it's a big job to do that check every day.

I have two little girls coming today that were raised here from birth. They are older than the oldest child here so the oldest of them will lead today.

If I had them interjecting unnatural firsts into our day then the word first would be banned. I've never had that happen.
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Country Kids 08:45 AM 09-23-2011
Originally Posted by MissAnn:
I call kids one by one whenever lining up for anything. I also have flat rubber circles with numbers 1-7 on them. I will say......Susie you can go sit on number 5. That way there is no competition to be on number 1 and they learn to recognize numbers. Some days I have 7 boys....so I never say.....everyone go line up! That would cause injuries! When they get up from the table I say....stand up brave little soldiers, push in your chairs! Then I send them one by one to march over to the circles to sit and then I put soap in each hand and we wash hands then take turns rinsing. Everything is done in a systematic way.....no full groups of kids running to get in line first for anything.
I had put ***x's on the floor for them to sit on but this weekend we are going to number circles. Thank you so much for this idea!!!! This will be fun to do and teaching at the same time!
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momofsix 12:37 PM 09-23-2011
Originally Posted by Blackcat31:
Try getting her to focus on other things to be proud of. For example the next time she finishes her lunch first and says so, tell her "Yes, Jane, you did finish first but look what great manners James is using. Nice job James." Or if she is the first to pick a leaf off the tree say "Yes, Jane you did pick the first leaf but look at what a cool red leaf Billy has found!"

This will help her understand that being first is not always best. Sometimes there are other things people should be proud of. It sounds like she is really looking for some validation for her actions and she has learned that being first is something to strive for. Being competititve is not necessarily a bad thing if it is done in the right way.

By pointing out other attributes in a person should help her understand that there are many things to be proud of besides winning. We can't all be Charlie Sheen!
Charlie Sheen!
I like this but I would also make sure that you point out other things that she does do be proud of too, not only the other kids.
Have you heard of the 5 love languages? Maybe hers is words of affirmation and the only way she knows she is going to get this is by being first. (possibly reinforced at home?) Just a thought! Sounds like you're on the right track though
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Meyou 01:08 PM 09-23-2011
I do praise her when she does the right thing. She's actually my best helper with the little ones alot of the time so she gets lots of praise for teaching them and helping them with hard tasks. She's also an awesome cleaner upper and leads the cleanup. She really is a naturally born leader.

Today I let the oldest be first for everything just to see how she would react. She actually had very little reaction. She asked me why DCB was first each time and I said "because he's the oldest" and the most she said was, "Oh, Ok. Can I be second?" Sooo...this may be the way to go. She would get to be first on Mondays when the two that are older than her aren't here but she would be third the rest of the week if we go by age. I'll update and see how it goes.
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Meyou 05:47 AM 09-30-2011
Update:

It's a week later and I've continued with the rule that the oldest is first for everything. She's accepted that without a complaint and is pretty mellow now waiting for the oldest to be first for everything. She's still racing to eat/color/run and be first each time but the major issue of her getting physical to be first has ended (fingers crossed). She gets to be first one day a week when the oldest stays home with mom and she's the oldest.
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momofsix 06:08 AM 09-30-2011
Originally Posted by Meyou:
Update:

It's a week later and I've continued with the rule that the oldest is first for everything. She's accepted that without a complaint and is pretty mellow now waiting for the oldest to be first for everything. She's still racing to eat/color/run and be first each time but the major issue of her getting physical to be first has ended (fingers crossed). She gets to be first one day a week when the oldest stays home with mom and she's the oldest.
Great news!!! It's great when we can come to thsi forum, someone gives us a plan and it works!
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