DD (3 1/2) is asleep now following another epic meltdown and I'm just devastated. I'm hoping that someone can offer some advise or opinions.
She will sometimes try to hurt herself when she is upset -- slamming her legs on the ground or scratching herself very hard (no blood yet), pressing her nose as hard as she can with the palm of her hand. "I'm trying to hurt myself!". I gently stop her and explain that we are gentle to everyone, even ourselves, and that this sort of behaviour is not acceptable. She rages on, demanding that I let her do this, she says she has to. Sometimes she'll scream and not try to hurt herself, like the filthy 30 minutes of epic spiralling crazy we just had that leaves me wondering what the hell I've done wrong that my beautiful sensitive child is raging like this. The trigger is usually something seemingly small, and impossible to avoid as we don't know what will set her off (I cut the straw to the wrong length, she wanted to be the one to put the banana peel in the compost bin, but now it's too late because aggghhhhhh, etc). It doesn't always happen, and I don't see a pattern.
Here's a familiar scenario: She will be beside herself screaming and crying asking for Mama, and as I approach screams at me to "go away! GO AWAY!!". Ok, I'll be just over her if you want me, sweetheart, you let me know when you're ready. As soon as I get to the spot she whimpers something like "no one is going to come for me" "i'm all alone" and I'm right there. I say, "I'm here, baby, Mama's here" and she just wails "noooooooo!"
She gets very frustrated if things aren't perfect and will destroy paintings in a rage, often feeling very sad after. She says she can't learn and that she''ll never be able to do X. We give her lots of love and encouragement and show her that making mistakes is part of learning, but I don't think she's convinced.
She has twice now asked me to hurt her. "Mama, please hit me. Please." I explain that I would never intentionally hurt her. When I ask her why she wants me to do this she just says 'please'. I don't think she's ever seen anyone hit a child, except perhaps one child hitting another in the playground.
She is a very bright, healthy and deeply loved child. She can be very friendly and social (she often walks up to people she doesn't know and says "can I join in?") but struggles with transitions and group activities. My husband and I are happy, we do not (often) yell at her and never use punishment. For the most part she is sensible, charming and funny. But man, when she flips one, she flips it hard and it's pain for all involved.
I've tried talking with her about what happened later on, but she won't. It almost seems like she doesn't really remember, or just doesn't understand and would rather move on so I don't push. She's always seemed more intense than her peers, has bad dreams (sometimes wakes screaming since birth) and the bad times seem to come in waves and after a while I think it's all behind us and then blammo, right back in the stink.
Normal toddler stuff or something else?
Thank you so much for anyone who has made it this far. I'm heartbroken.
My son would have explosive, inexplicable meltdowns over the smallest things. His teacher (bless her!) noticed that these melts didn't happen all the time but rather after he ate. We decided to try removing food dyes from his diet and like magic - the meltdowns stopped. Food dyes can make kids nuts.
Also, making an ABC chart for her is a good start.
A = Antecedent - what preceded the meltdown
B = Behavior - behavior exhibited
C = Consequence - what consequence did you enact and it's effect on the situation.
After a week or two, you should be able to see a pattern.
I'll try that ABC chart, thanks for that. I had suspected wheat sensitivity but no longer think that may be it. It's def not e numbers as she doesn't eat anything with those in, but the chart may reveal some other pattern that I have not been able to see without keeping track on paper.
How wonderful that you were able to help your son!
I think that sounds really reasonable. Maybe write a food diary and notes about how she responds. Something might be triggering it. Or she may lack some critical nutrient a naturalist can diagnose?
Food plays a huge issue or meds-my sons behaviour went violent and psychotic when on a medication. He also screamed for me to go away then pleaded for me to stay-he was so messed up and was shaking all over, he didn't know what he wanted or needed. Changing his diet and adding vital supplements of what he was shown to lack changed his and our lives!