How do I handle tantrums/meltdowns in a 9 yr. old?
My heart goes out to you . . . Reading your post is like reading a day in my life (for the last 9 yrs!). My 9 yr old dd is easily frustrated and can go from calm to tantrum in 60 secs at times. She has had these tantrums all of the time since she was a baby.
I know she is allergic to corn and when she is on a corn free diet, she is much better at regulating her emotions. Currently, we're lax about the corn free diet (this means no food w/o corn syrup too which is in a lot of foods) and her ability to regulate her emotions has been extremely difficult this summer. You might want to check food allergies or other allergies that may make it more difficult to regulate her emotions.
We see our dd's inability to regulate her emotions in all venues (home, public, school, etc.). She is seeing a psychologist who is helping her develop tools to use to calm her down in these situations.
She has been diagnosed w/anxiety which can trigger these outbursts. Anxiety in the way that feels when she wants something to go her way (what we call getting "stuck" on something), something unexpected happens (forgot her homework) and her body reacts w/an anxious feeling. She is able to describe how her body feels when she starts into a tantrum.
I encourage you to talk w/your daughter when she is calm. Let her know that you want everyone to see the loving kind person she is and that it appears she is having trouble "settling down". or controlling her emotions.
I encourage you to ask her why she thinks this is happening; how her body feels when she begins to start acting this way; why she thinks she can't settle down - what is causing her not to stop, etc.
I've also asked my daughter whether she wants to act like this - and my daughter really doesn't want to get out of control, but seems to not be able to control it (we have tried very consistent boundries, consequences, etc. everything in the book).
See if you can find some classes through your dr. or in your city that deals with Emotional Regulation, Anxiety, Expected Behaviors, etc. These are some key words I have found and classes my daughter has attended (you can google these words and your area to see if anything comes up). www.communicationsworks.com
is a place in our area (CA) that has these resources. You can log on there to see the kinds of services they provide in trying to find something similar in your area. You could also email them to see if they have a recommendation in your area. It took me a long time to find resources as I didn't know what I was dealing with (and am still trying to figure it all out).
In an Emotional Regulation workshop that I went to, they explained they teach the kids Green light - feeling calm/handling the situation, Yellow light - feeling upset/agitated, Red light - tantrum.
They teach the kids to use their tools at yellow light to get back to green w/the objective to not go to red. This concept has helped me to talk w/my daughter about her emotions and how to deal w/them as they come.
My daughter recently id'd 3 stages: 1. Feeling upset about something (a lot of times not getting her own way); 2. sweating and feeling weird inside; 3. tantrum. She has agreed to find a tool at Stage 1 and try to avoid Stage 2. This is something she came up with on her own over the course of several months, so I think it works better because it's something she designed for herself, so she's open to hearing me when I remind her that she's in Stage 1.
We have been able to put together a tool box of things that help her to settledown - playdoh, clay, and a "balloon filled w/starch" (that is usually used for people to strengthen their hands.) , her blanket. Also, pleasing thoughts in case those items aren't around - thinking of her pets, a movie, a video game, etc. Many times, I have to remind her, go get "starchie" Or, you need to settledown before we can talk. At times, I'll ask her to hold my hand.
Another thing I am going to look into is Sensory Processing (or Integration) Disorder. Take a look online http://www.sensory-processing-disord...checklist.html
to learn more about it. I think this has a part in her "getting stuck" too.
I know it seems that your daughter is acting out because she is defiant, etc. - not getting her own way, etc., but I have learned that it's more w/not being able to deal w/the unexpected, regulating her emotions (disappointment, etc.). Consistent boundries and consequences are still needed, but I am more successful w/her if I tell her the consequences after she is calm. If I don't, then the tantrum is much longer.
A couple of books you might want to read are Love and Logic as well as The Out of Sync Child (which deals w/sensory issues - I haven't read this yet, but plan to). Since things tend to stop working w/our dd after sometime, I use different strategies that I learn from others, books, etc.
I hope this helps and hope that this response finds you in a place which is better than when you first posted. With our girls in the tween years and soon to be in the teen years, I hope we both can find a solution for them before their hormones start flowing, so they can have a smoother puberty. I feel like I've been going through puberty w/her all of her life on the emotional side.