I feel really torn, b/c in one corner I have my very chill dh (who is very psychiatry-phobic) and dd's therapist (a LPC) saying, well she's just four. Then I have my mom, who loves her to pieces saying she's just an only child who doesn't have any competition and is essentially just being a brat. I know I have struggled with anxiety all my life but never so outwardly angry, except some passive-aggressive stuff towards my older brother, but maybe because I would have been spanked? I mean, I can pep-talk her five minutes before we go somewhere, and she's attentive, but then its the same reaction over and over. I can't tell anymore if she's testing boundaries or simply unable to keep them?
I keep telling myself to give things a little more time, but this behavior has been manifesting for almost a year, and there was no indication prior to some scary ER visits last summer, other than prolonged "stranger danger". I keep wondering about whether its time to have her really evaluated, and scared about the outcome (misdiagnoses, meds w/side effects, etc.), not to mention the time I'll have getting dh on board, or just to take the wait-and-see approach for a bit longer. The preschool she is about to start is with the school district and I know they are starting to screen kids based on milestones during the first couple of months... I just get more anxious thinking about if and how much things may escalate before then, and feeling like my love is not enough to help her right now.
Hi curebaby. This sounds so hard.
Your thoughts about how things feel out in public I could have written about 14 years ago when my oldest was that age. He had a knack for embarrassing me in public with his behavioral choices. Here are a few things I've learned over the years.
Kids who are anxious can act badly. Our logic tells us that when a kid is anxious, they should shrink and become a wallflower or hide, but a lot of kids do really belligerent things or rude things instead. Add to this that if the child has a touch of what is known as ADHD (but is really a deficit in self-regulation skills and too much impulsivity), their 'filter' doesn't work as well, so it doesn't tell them, "gee, this really wouldn't be polite in this situation; my mom has told me this 100 times.' So they do the rude thing anyway. A child who is shy internally may also sabotage social situations rather than take time to learn the skills to manage them more successfully. It's easier for them to 'blow it' than to figure out how to do it well.
(edited to add: parents who are anxious can also act badly, and do things they don't agree with--I did way too much reprimanding and dealing with my child from a place of fear. Don't beat yourself up if you lost it yourself. Just try to do better to stay calm, and don't let your own anxieties about the future cloud your ability to respond to her calmly.)
I am not sure what the credentials of the counselor are, but for your own piece of mind, can you find out if there is something like a university based child development clinic, that could do a one time evaluation and give you lots of information? Usually with a clinic such as this, a lot of information is collected a head of time in the form of assessment tools and checklists, so they are 'seeing' the picture at home, not just on clinic visit day. Her future preschool teachers might really especially value the time you took to get some answers so that they have something to work with in that setting. You should never, ever feel or BE pressured to put your child on medication, especially as a 4 year old. But getting information is just that...getting information. I would be very curious, for example, about the effect those ER visits had on her. Medical trauma is real. But I don't have any details of this. Just know that sensitive children sometimes over interpret difficult things.
Hang in there!
Today was actually a good day! The only hiccup was when my childless aunt decided to elicit a reaction from dd who had been quiet and shy during breakfast at a restaurant and chased her around the car. Dd went from nervous laughter to shrill screaming in about 15 seconds, which everyone in the party just thought was hilarious... ***sigh***
Sounds like the extra stimulation from you aunt, sent her self-regulation into a tailspin.
I didn't figure out that we needed early intervention until my son was too old for it!
I handled outbursts a variety of ways. In the beginning I would just remove us from the situation and then try to process and work on a plan to go back in if possible. We left a lot of situations. I tried to make it clearer as he got older that if he wanted to be in these situations (often involving stores, or parties, or other types of stimulating situations) he would have to do some better self control.
Not a lot of time to chat right now but will tell you that these items were a big help down the road,in helping me learn how to support rather than discipline my child for his ways:
Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Kurcinka
How Does Your Engine Run (not sure author, but it is an occupational therapist and this is an OT manual for self regulation)
the Love and Logic series
ADHD books by Russell Barclay.
Transforming Your Difficult Child (this doesn't sound quite right, I'll be back later to double check; there is a website that supports this book, Howard Glasser is the author)
I'll be back later. I'm supposed to be making lunches for school!
My oldest DD1 who is 10 now has struggled with anxiety for many years. She has some other issues that exist along with the anxiety but the anxiety has been the most challenging to deal with. I feel like it affects every single aspect of her life. Like you, we seemed to have the anxiety triggered by one single incident when she was 5. Looking back, and now that I have additional children to get a gauge on what is more "normal" children development , prior to our incident, she had numerous red flags that she was more prone to anxiety. She would never separate, wouldn't tolerate others even looking at her, had to be in contact with me at all times, on and on, and this was all before age 5. It is my opinion, and that of several of DD1's docs or therapists, that an anxiety disorder would of happened anyway with her eventually. Our incident at age 5, just triggered it then.
Right now, at age 10, DD1 is relatively stable. Currently. I say that because we've endured years of heartbreaking pain to get here, suicide threats, attempts to run away, failing school, we've been in and out of more classrooms, therapists, docs, etc... then I can count. She changes day to day it seems, and that is how we take it, one day at a time. She is medicated, has been for almost 2 years now. For us, we had no choice but to resort to medication but in the end, it has been extremely beneficial. We tried to wean her off this summer but she is unable to cope without medication.
Got to go....
Peony, thanks for sharing your struggles; that is definitely one of my fears as at least my side of the family has history of anxiety and depression. I keep going back to the medical trauma, which probably goes back further than I give her credit for remembering (she had carbunkle lanced at 2, positive for MRSA), and the ER visits last summer. She started therapy in the spring, was doing better and then had playground injury (fell and bruised labia on jungle gym) followed by vaginitis from soap allergy, and started with the new, more aggressive responses to triggers after that. Maybe just coincidence... still, I wish I could get inside her brain and figure out why x=y, or in her case, babies and sharing are the devil :P But I guess if I knew that I'd know exactly how to help her.
I think I just have to get it in my head that the new normal is going to be lots of changing plans and putting on my game face...
Decided to surprise (which was probably my first mistake) DD with the Frozen DVD tonight and when she saw what it was, she flipped out. Full-blown panic attack, DH had to pry her away and carry her into her bedroom, and even then she kept coming out and insisting that I couldn't watch it, either. DH finally told her she could stay in her room or come out and watch the movie, but could not dictate whether or not anyone else could watch it. She's opting for her room right now, calmed down after a good 15 minutes of sobbing.
The twist is that she loved this movie in the theater and has been obsessed with it for the last 2 1/2 months... I mean, interrogating her friends about it, wanting to play Frozen make believe games and nothing else. The past two weeks this has even gone to a new level with asking about and gathering facts about Disneyland to the point she asks the same inquiries several times, and she's a smart girl, so I know she hasn't forgotten.
I have actually had to tell her she needs to find other things to talk about with her friends, because I can see some of them are getting uncomfortable with her pestering approach.
I'm wracking my brain for what triggered this... I had her evaluated for for SPD last month and the OT was sure she would test high, but now we're dealing with the insurance company not wanting to authorize treatment. For now we've decided to encourage other interests as much as we can and tell her when we feel like she's spending too much time focusing on one thing.
That is so hard! I'd try to take into account that good excitement can have a very similar effect chemically on the body as bad stress. So it may be that the physical reaction to the surprise just caused her to go into an anxious state. As for getting professionals involved, I'd say trust your instincts. This seems like it goes above and beyond what you would expect for her age. The thing with getting outside help is that you don't even have to have your child take medication or follow any of their suggestions. You get the information and then you make the choices based on that information. You can also always go to someone else if you don't agree with the assessment of one person. I know how frustrating it can be to not understand what is going on in your child's head.
That is so hard! I'd try to take into account that good excitement can have a very similar effect chemically on the body as bad stress. So it may be that the physical reaction to the surprise just caused her to go into an anxious state. As for getting professionals involved, I'd say trust your instincts. This seems like it goes above and beyond what you would expect for her age.
Yes, you hit the nail on the head! Thinking about some of these episodes she's had over the last year make me wonder if her brain can't tell the difference between excitement and fear. Today we wore her out with a 7-mile hike in the forest, and nary a mention of Frozen or Disneyland after the first mile, so keeping her active is definitely going to be a new goal.
I wish my DH was a little less laid back with his interpretation of what is appropriate behavior for her age. Of course, its good to have that calm countering my concern. He tends to just go along with whatever I want to pursue as far as therapy for DD, but he tends not to think about things in terms of "This is a symptom of a much bigger problem". That being said, I will probably just call her pede and let her know the latest and see what she has to say.
Now that school is out, there's been some regressing, and I have to wonder if the change/lack of structure has triggered her. The negative attitude toward tots and babies has been slowly escalating the past couple of weeks (I have long suspected this has more to do with her wanting a sibling and being jealous of the interaction she's missing out on, and she's starting to say as much, but she's not fond of the staring and crying they do) So far its just hovering near them and being obnoxious, but today at the park, she ran over shrieking that she couldn't stand that there was a baby playing nearby. As per usual, I reminded her that she didn't have to like it, but had to get along, or we'd have to go. So she managed about another ten minutes and stomped back over to tell me she was ready to go.
There have been a few other little red flags, like bumping into her preschool classmates outside of school is met with avoidance, though she seems disappointed once they are gone. And while her teacher never mentioned any profound problems during the school year, and complimented DD on her attention to detail and imagination, she said she'd been working with her on eye contact, which grabbed my attention, because I had just noticed the past couple of months that she'd been avoiding it more than I could recall her having done before.
So the OT evaluation said she did test high for anxiety (duh) and some sensory processing stuff, but not definitively. But of course, insurance isn't going to cover OT and we can't afford to pay out of pocket. Hoping the CP will have some more insight but until then, I'm hoping we don't have to hide under a rock all summer long. Its so hard because I know there are times she really seems to be struggling, but I can't help but wonder if I'm being manipulated other times.