Kid tripping her mum down stairs – red flag?

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  • Kid tripping her mum down stairs – red flag?
  • Premier Icon BigDummy

    Bit of advice chaps…

    Stepdaughter, 12, deliberately tripped her mother yesterday so that mother fell down a short flight of steps. Mother wasn’t badly hurt, but it was a noticeable incident, people came and checked she was OK etc. Stepdaughter laughed hysterically at the fall and the minor injuries. Mother called her out on the trip being deliberate, and stepdaughter denied it (this is categorically not true – it was certainly a deliberate trip, even if it was an impulse decision). She then went into a furious sulk which lasted about 24 hours. (I wasn’t there, but mother and elder sister are fairly clear on what happened). They’ve talked since, and apparently stepdaughter is very angry about a lot of things – mother marrying me, moving, new school, having a mongrel dog not a pedigree poodle etc. etc.. Let’s assume the anger is mainly understandable.

    My question is, is this sort of physical attack normal-ish, or is it something to (really properly) worry about?

    No kids of my own, and this one is fairly new to me. I don’t want to be on a hair-trigger to involve police or get the kid sectioned prematurely/unnecessarily, but I also don’t want people attacking my wife.

    For the little it’s worth:

    – Her father is the sort of person who gets casually called a sociopath. He’s a minor sexual predator but not violent as far as I know.
    – She always finds people getting hurt, having falls etc. very funny. She claims she laughs at people falling because she’s “nervous”, but that’s pretty obviously not true.
    – She’s not generally truthful – she lies a lot, and gets irritated when called on it. Minor stuff like whether she’s tidied her room, bigger things like whole reported conversations that never happened.
    – She’s got no known history of animal cruelty, which I understand would be a major red flag.
    – She’s started puberty in the last year – she was quite different 18 months ago, although she’s had a lot of change in her life in that time as well as the biological stuff.

    Thanks for your reckons…


    No offence but if it was me it would be the bollocking of all bollockings, I’ve no time for genteel parenting so as not to upset the little would me made patently clear it was a **** up thing to do and if it was ever repeated things would be kicking off rather fast and not in the direction she liked. She’s 12 and needs to learn her place in the pecking order.
    Wson, very lucky dad of 2 lovely kids aged 16 and 13.


    For Christ’s sake, talk to a child psychologist. The “good bollocking” might work just fine with normal kids, but if there is a problem, it will likely make things worse. Not saying the behavior is acceptable, just that you may need professional help in dealing with it and a “good bollocking” is probably not going to help matters.

    Or it might work, like it does with lots of kids.
    Not everyone has a mental problem FFS.


    I know nothing about children but I’d be keeping the dog out of her way for everyone’s benefit.


    Or it might work, like it does with lots of kids.

    It will work with kids who are basically well-adjusted and just need a little nudge to get back on course (i.e. kids who don’t really need it). In that case, sitting the kid down and talking to them will probably work just as well because they understand that what they did was wrong.

    The problem is that if the kid really does have a problem, then the “good bollocking” approach won’t help but will probably make things worse because the kid may not accept that they have been treated fairly. The OP’s description makes it sound like it might be a serious problem. A good bollocking is unlikely to improve things if the kid doesn’t accept that the bollocking is justified.


    My niece in law is 17.

    High achieving academically, plays sport to national level, nice boy friend, good family.

    However in the last 10 months her behaviour has gone downhill to the point she has ended up in a Police station being interviewed for smashing up her Mums house and attacking her Mum.

    Background M&D separated over 10 yrs ago. (Dad was genuine nasty piece of work) Mum remarried 6 ish years ago but then this man just walked out on her 1 day about a year ago. Real Dad also stopped giving lavish birthday gifts to NiL. NiL Mum then meets new boy friend.

    Since a young age Mum did everything and anything to make life easier for NiL (not money) but was always there, would always put NiL first.

    Family have been receiving phone calls saying Mum attacking her, verbally abusing her. (All not true)

    Getting child psychologist input is near impossible at min through NHS. Grandparents paid for her to go and see a psychologist in London. The report was next to useless stating anxiety.

    What does appear to be working is partially ignoring tantrums when minor (before they turn violent).

    In a nutshell tough love appears to be working at the min, with the though NiL is actually unfortunately a bit of a nasty piece of work like her Father (unfortunately). It’s a horrible situation for all involved.

    Bollockings only work if child has “the fear” of consequences, emotional or physical. If they don’t have the fear then reason is the only route you can go down, good luck.

    Premier Icon chakaping

    Dunno exactly what you mean by “red flag” but I’d certainly be talking to professionals after that – no need to be on eggshells about it, it won’t hurt for her to know there are consequences to her actions and you’re highly unlikely to get her sectioned inadvertently.

    FWIW my daughter regularly physically attacks me & other family members, but she has autism and a condition called pathological demand avoidance. She’s a bit of handful but does it to vent frustration rather than with intention of hurting.

    I enjoy watching You’ve been framed and bike fail videos, so it’s probably all my fault anyway.


    If you can find out what the girl lived through up to about the age of six that will help with understanding her personality traits. People who are violent have often suffered/witnessed violence.

    Premier Icon Drac

    Edukator has it. It may no be violence but trying to understand what she has gone through or at least knowing may help. A bollicking won’t but yes needs to be told just how dangerous and wrong it was.


    Sounds very much like her daddy’s child unfortunately. Not sure what can be done about sociopaths – whether they can be changed at all.

    Premier Icon stumpyjon

    The dilemma of our times, is it medical or bad behaviour? Personally I think we jump to medical / psychological explanations far too quickly for kids dealing with the trauma of growing up. Once grown up they won’t be treated by society or employers with such kid gloves and hnderstanding. That said with the dysfunctional nature of many parenting set ups maybe it’s not surprising.

    Either way none of us here are really in a position to know whether a good bollocking is needed or not, might belong over due, might make things worse.

    OP, the background you give would indicate that child’s early upbringing may be coming home to roost. She is undergoing see sort of emotional crisis probably not helped by puberty.
    She possibly needs to talk things through with a professional how that’s done varies. Here even with a child in crisis it can take 12weeks to get them seen.
    It’s a tough situation but the child’s reaction is not who she is.

    Premier Icon Sandwich

    You may have to go full ‘Chigaco Way’ on her.

    Ok can I also suggest you forget the labels on the father and unless qualified the “red flags”. She may or may not have some sort of emotional damage from her life so far (to her you may be part of it) but puberty is a big issue. As before you are concerned so get a professional assessment.


    The thing is, deliberately tripping up someone on the stairs is very dangerous – plenty of people break their necks and die, and everyone knows this. It’s not like throwing a tantrum, it’s something more than just acting up.


    The thing is, deliberately tripping up someone on the stairs is very dangerous – plenty of people break their necks and die, and everyone knows this.

    Have you ever met a 12 year old ?
    When in a “bad mood” They don’t in general think beyond the next 3 seconds.

    Not sure what can be done about sociopaths – whether they can be changed at all.

    You are probably right.
    The Diagnosis is in, Best to just leave her in the woods probably 👍🙄

    So my background is teacher and I’ve spent a fair amount of time with kids in crisis in our “inclusion zone”. Kids in this group are impulsive and adversarial but they are dealing with a lot of shit in their lives and in their heads. Christmas is also a massively hard time for them. Their life isn’t the perfection everybody else’s is as far as they are concerned. They are our 5% they aren’t bound by normal behavioural conventions.
    It is massively frustrating from an adult point of view and lots of people will tell you what you are doing wrong. I still have to have conversations with vastly experienced professionals about why what they are doing is not helping “yes it works for 95% of the pupils you deal with but…..”.
    Even with consistent calm voices and non-blame, trying to engage a reflective and restorative frame of mind you’re still shouting against thunder most of the time.
    Again talk to school they might be able to help with outside agencies. It does sound as though she is a child in crisis.

    Take her to a therapist – there are issues there that need to be resolved.

    As for heritability of sociopathic behaviour, I think it’s not as cut and dried as some on here seem to imply.



    Lots of stuff already written ^^
    Have you and her mother been able to find the privacy to discuss how to deal with this between you, perhaps seeking guidance for the two of you without the daughter present.
    The daughter can and probably will throw the “you’re not my father” card at you and possibly resents her mother’s love being focused on you rather than her (in her perception). In simplistic terms she needs her mother’s love, not to see you as a threat to that love and that discipline actually needs to come from within herself as part of a new family unit and that that unit is solid and includes her.
    Good luck.

    Premier Icon colournoise

    As a teacher who works pastorally, I can only echo what has been said above. You need to get professionals involved now (either through NHS or school). Not necessarily for punishment or treatment at this stage but for monitoring and diagnosis. Even if nothing comes of it short term, there will be a record that you reached out if anything goes wrong further down the line. If you can get school on board (what’s her behaviour like there?) and get them to initiate an EHA that will make accessing other agencies a little easier.

    Premier Icon epicyclo

    Get her a puppy (if she would like one and if she’s not a sadist).

    She’ll learn an awful lot about behaviours as she trains it. And even when she’s busy hating the world and thinking it hates her, there’s the unconditional love from the dog.

    The girls in my family all seem to go mad around puberty and stay that way until their late teens. Animals always seemed to have a soothing effect.


    Sign her up on here, and let her ask for advice based on her problems and past.

    The young girls past and what has happened in previous years , as haveing an effect on her development, a family i knew had similar stuff with a son, they put him in a specialist school miles away, he lost weight and his attitude, sometimes time away from family helps for all parties.


    Keep up, Epicyclo, there’s already a mongrel which suffers from not being a pedigree poodle. 😉

    How about a horse, OP? 🙂

    A word of caution about getting the school involved. If she’s doing OK there I wouldn’t. It might just be a place she functions and she would react badly to parents rocking up and (from her point of view) bad mouthing her. Get feedback from parents evening etc. rather than raising the issue. If it’s going well don’t rock the boat. As a teacher you deal with nightmare kids who are little angels at home and visa versa. It’s only when the kids are a nightmare at home and at school that working together might be beneficial IMO. I went to two parents’ evenings in the whole of junior’s education; he said things were going well, the marks were fine, the teachers we met dropping him off for trips seemed happy. Dr Jekyl went to school and Mr Hyde lived with us.

    Ask how she’s getting on at school and if she is happy there by all means but don’t expect a truthful reply. Does she have friends, is she being bullied? Is there anything you (and your good lady) could invite her friends along to: ice skating, paint ball, bowling… .


    It will work with kids who are basically well-adjusted and just need a little nudge to get back on course (i.e. kids who don’t really need it).

    I can attest to this; when I was quite young, five or so, I was being hauled upstairs to bed by my mum, creating a fuss ‘cos I didn’t want to go, and I kicked her. She just kicked me back – hard!
    I never did it again.


    The lack of empathy seems like a an aspect of mild autism, which can manifest itself at different ages.
    I’d recommend finding the right sub-forum on Mumsnet, which can often provide excfellent advice and a huge range of experiences including blended families and expats / immigrants.


    Oh God, brings back memories this – my son attacked hos Mother when he was 14, threw her down the stairs. I had left about a year earlier. We found the difficulty was getting him to engage with people, if he didnt want to talk to specialists, then he wouldn’t, and it was explained to us by CYPS, School etc that there is nothing they can do if he wont talk to them “we cannot force him to talk” is what we were told. No real advice to offer I’m afraid. 7 years on and son has matured a lot, holds down a decent job but still has flashes of violence which has cost him jobs in the past


    It’s a myth that people on the autism spectrum lack empathy, it’s more likely that agnosia prevents them from being able to judge the emotions being expressed at the time.
    I wouldn’t go labeling the girl, there’s been some big changes in her life and she needs security and guidance. It may help if you also sought professional advice or counselling so that you have the skills to give her the appropriate guidance and deal with her behaviour. There’s a helpline you can call

    Premier Icon D Faff Master

    I’m a teacher for secondary aged children at a SMEH School (Social, Mental and Emotional Health)

    The most simple model is

    ALL BEHAVIOUR is an expression of FEELINGS.

    TRIP = annoyed/angry/frustrated/
    feels like not heard?

    LAUGH = Distraction in this case likely from her own feelings above.

    THE RIGHT TIME – Not usually there and then. Clear calm instruction to a Time Out place (agreed beforehand).

    BUILD POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS – with children with such difficulties, rejection is standard. So often behave in a way so that they control the rejection =less damaging/painful to them

    BUILD TRUST – requires lots of the positive relationships stuff. Step back, reassess and work on this. It’s hard work but it works.

    THEN – If a similar incident happened there would be a strong enough relationship to discuss once calm in a RESTORATIVE way.

    RESTORATIVE Aporoach
    (Dead simple really but needs that positive relationship to be built-up first)
    If possible both people do this. This is what LONG TERM joins the dots.

    Helps the child to understand their own behaviours and the response of the other person.

    ALSO helps the adult to understand from the child’s point of view. You will be surprised if you’re able to stand back that there is often a lot of EMOTIONAL LOGIC involved.

    EXPLORE – what might have happened with different choices. USE

    to explore this area. Changing one of those areas to a more positive choice will have an overall positive affect.

    THOUGHTS – e.g changing feeling angry and wanting to to hurt Mother. To I find it hard at the moment to be positive with my Mother. Agree small positive steps work towards this.

    FEELINGS – Likely deep down feels bad about this but she will be feeling rejected. If she can eventually admit to that it’s likely she’ll admit to wanting to force Mother to reject her (because she already feels rejected, comfort to be found in what she knows) Difficult conversation but also good starting point for rebuilding a more positive relationship.

    BEHAVIOUR – swap TRIP type behaviour for walk away or expression of feelings then walk away etc.



    *EVERYONE in the FAMILY will have to change the patterns in a positive way to help. THE ADULTS need to set the STANDARD and not be afraid to admit if they got it wrong.

    *USE smaller simple areas to set consistent boundaries. This will also on occasion provide (easier) opportunities to explore (thoughts, feelings, behaviour). The bigger things will follow.

    BAD NEWS – she’s a teenager soon.

    GOOD NEWS – there’s two opportunities in life to make big changes to behaviour. Toddler years and TEENAGE years. The brain is primed for change so it’s worth persevering.

    Hope this helps.

    My niece in law is 17.

    High achieving academically, plays sport to national level, nice boy friend, good family.

    He/she may be suffering dine gender confusion so go easy.

    Premier Icon BigDummy

    Chaps, this has all been very helpful (except the Mumsnet thing! 😀 ). Thanks for your thoughts. I’m very aware she is going through a lot, and that I haven’t had any of the experience needed to be even faintly confident I’m dealing with her remotely right, so being able to ask is a huge help.

    Have a prosperous and happy 2019 everyone.

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