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Behaviour in a new atmosphere.

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Bit of a back story: the last 2 years I've been living with my new wife and her 8 year old child. Her father is not around due to reasons which I won't get into here. Her behaviour is terrible and I believe she's acting out to the new situation she's in with me around constantly, etc. However it may not all be her fault, I am finding myself having a hard time speaking nicely some days (in a nice tone) because it's become a situation where I may just expect bad behaviour. Repeating myself 100 times a day gets a bit hard to handle, even small things she knows she really shouldn't do, she does. She acts like she doesn't know how to do things sometimes just to get attention (tying her shoes once.. she does it frequently but randomly forgot?). So I find that we're running out of options to try and encourage good behaviour and my wife had suggested that maybe my tone doesn't help, and that I seem to just expect bad behaviour so I just default to a certain mood myself. I guess I'm just asking for suggestions on how to resolve these issues. She doesn't seem to want to behave. We've resorted to time outs, taking away things she enjoys playing with (tv, video games, computer, toys, ipod, etc.) and I think this almost works worse because then she has nothing distracting her from bad behaviour... Giving her lines for her attitude, or to try and get it into her head that maybe she shouldn't be doing certain things she's been asked not to several times. I understand this is typical child behaviour, and maybe it's because I jumped into the role of father in a 6 year old's life (shes 8 now). I'm told its a matter of 'choosing my battles' and that maybe I pick at things that I shouldn't. And the attitude is my fault because when she's not necessarily acting bad, I seem to have a tone to my voice which is that tone where you're just tired of repeating yourself and tired of dealing with things. Very mono-tone and fed up. Thoughts?

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