7 yr old girl with explosive anger issues - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 07-22-2010, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My daughter seems to have inherited conflicting personality traits from me and my dh.
She has an highly sensitive nervous system like I do, but even more so.
She has always kind of "flipped out" about smells, sounds, sights, temperatures.......
I used to think something was very wrong with her when she was a toddler because she used to scream and lie on the floor inconsolably from certain smells. I didnt realize what it was and how to fix it until she was about 4.
She has a hard time tolerating a lot of things, but is learning to deal.
She is incredibly shy at school, but does well and has friends.
She's extremely artistic and has always been incredibly focused on what she is doing. She has very adult like conversations and is a deep thinker.
I am like this too and was as a child, but not to this extreme so I know how to deal with this and can empathize with her "hard time" in situations that are so easy for everyone else (heart racing, red cheeks, deer in the headlites looks, inablility to participate...

But- she also has this explosive uncontrollable anger that I cant relate to and have tried every way and so many books to try to help.
She spends little time with and doesnt like my mil, however I can see that she behaves in a lot of the ways mil does from what Ive heard from Dh (and dh used to- he learned to control himself when he realized I would be done with him years ago)
Mil and Dh have a history of completely losing it and screaming, yelling, throwing things in a pretty disgusting way. Thats the way she taught him to deal with things and with some help Dh has learned better coping strategies.

Its an intense wicked looking anger and almost temporary insanity!!
WHen dd is having these tantrums its like she is a rabid animal.
She screams and loses it pretty easily and says horrible things.
Today she told her 5 yr old little brother that she wishes he was a poop and that she could flush him so he's be gone forever.
She also says she wishes he was dead, she doesnt like him, wishes there was no such thing as him, is going to cut his nose off with scissors...
His existence sometimes is enough just to irk her.

They spend plenty of time playing and loving each other but as soon as she doesnt get her way (she's a bit of a control freak) she flips.
Sometimes just him singing a song or making noises (which he does constantly and is really hard to deal with) makes her lose control.
He is extremely outgoing, full of energy and never stops. I can understand why that is hard for her to deal with, but I cant understand the rage she gets into.
She loves him so much and says things during the day like- look how cute he is when he does that.
During these tantrums I tell her she has to go into her room. I say she cannot scream like that in the house and say she wishes anyone were dead.
She doesnt even look like herself when she's in this state.
Its like shes even making herself sick. She says I cant stop, help me!
I say " you are so angry! I know you are mad.. and so on. I try to validate her feelings and say its ok to beangry but not to say such things. These are the things she says to who ever in the family she's angry at. Then she says its their fault she cant stop saying it.
Its so horrible and hard to be loving when she is acting like the devil.
When she is done, she comes out and says she is sorry and that she didnt mean all those things and that she doesnt know why she cant stop.

Things will be great for weeks and then it starts happening again.
Ds has realized what an impact his little annoying behaviors have on her and for entertainment he has started mimicking what she says.
I tell her to ignore it and tell him to stop but its getting to be impossible.

I also have a new baby and this has been the transition I guess.
Having less time to monitor things and having them both home all day together is a lot for them. They go from being best friends to her screaming at him when he doesnt do exactly what she wants. Then he is left with hurt feeling and a bit of vengeance until she says she's sorry.

Anyway sorry this is so long with terrible punctuation and grammar (nursing while typing and really wanted to get this out)
It really bothers me because Ds never had a mean bone in his body and has really started to get sick of this. He has no choice but to retaliate and THAT is just more than dd can handle.
Anyone have any strategies, consequenses, or GD that helps with rage?
Ive read every book I can find and I know there is always an end to these outbursts and everything is always worked out, but I have to teach her a better way to deal with this.

As Im about to hit submit new thread, they are both peacefully readin on the couch next to each other lol.
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#2 of 15 Old 07-23-2010, 10:56 AM
 
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Very, very similar personalities (DD(8) and DS (5)) here as well.

When DD gets emotional, she also says she can't stop the outburst. We've looked into meditation techniques, and distraction, so that we can do something before she spirals down. She just turned 8, and things are much, much better. I don't even remember when the last outburst happened. She does get angry still, but she copes much better.

We don't have any consequences for the behaviour (and parents whose children are not like this can't understand this, and can't relate). I try to give her a "time in" if I can do it (often impossible, physically or emotionally). Sending her to her room doesn't work--she really needs support during those outbursts, and says that when she is alone, she feels only worse.

For a while we couldn't find what would she need to do to distract herself from spiraling down. (I don't see it as suppressing her anger, but on focusing how to control the emotion in a constructive way. We still acknowledge and validate her feelings.)

Having her own iPod turned out to be the best thing so far. She has stories and fairy tales on it, as well as music, and 99% she will either take it herself or I will remind her. She emerges from it often saying that she is still angry, and we explore the feelings, but it definitely helps her to calm down.

She also likes listening to a meditation tape before going to bed (Self Image for Children). The first two lines sound a bit creepy "Hi, you can call me Mr. G, I want to be your friend", but the rest is excellent.

She also loves affirmation songs. I love those too! We have the first album. This one is lovely:

"Everybody feels feelings
Feeling feelings doesn’t mean I’m bad
But I can choose the feelings I’m feeling
And I’d rather choose happy than sad, I’m glad
I’d rather choose happy than sad

Everybody sometimes feels angry
Feeling angry doesn’t mean I’m bad
But I can choose not to feel angry
And I’d rather choose happy than sad
I’m glad I’d rather choose happy than sad"

(it goes over all emotions)

Have you read Hold on to your Children by Gordon Neufeld? I find the book very affirming, even if it doesn't deal with anger issues specifically. It discusses attachment in older children.

PM me if you have any questions.

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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#3 of 15 Old 07-23-2010, 10:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Anyone?
Any advice on anger management for kids?
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#4 of 15 Old 07-23-2010, 03:21 PM
 
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Your first line about the conflicting inherited traits--that is exactly my dd Our story is long, and we are on the other side of it, but at age 7 we were in family counseling to deal with her rage (also had an infant at the time--aggravating the situation), and that it how the counselor summed it up: she got my sensitivities and dh's confrontation. Result: in your face rage. Gah!

Basically, we had to teach her 3 things:

1. how to appropriately express anger
2. boundaries, and what to do when feeling out of control
3. how to manage her anxiety and sensory issues so that she didn't feel out of control

#3 maybe should be first, because without that, there is no #1 or #2. There is just *REACT*.

Some quick tips: We LOVED the book "When Sophie is Angry, Really, Really Angry" by Molly Bang. I bet your little girl can relate to Sophie! What Sophie does isn't perfect, but is a great conversation starter.

#2 above (boundaries) required consequences for inappropriate behaviors. Every time. We used time-outs. As long as we were willing to negotiate and discuss in the midst of screaming or hitting, it made it "ok" to scream and hit. And, let's face it, in the moment it feels good to lash out and hurt people. She had to learn where the immovable line was drawn. Ultimately, what she wants is my audience; she wants to be heard. Once she learned that she will NEVER be heard if she is out of control, she was motivated to control herself. It still took steps #1 and #3 to complete the picture.
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#5 of 15 Old 07-23-2010, 03:40 PM
 
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My Son was Diagnosed with ODD and Interminent Explosive Disorder.
He was on Risperdal for a little bit and i decided to take him off it cause it was not working anyways. I mean giving it a try isn't bad but why keep upping the medicine if its not working at the lower dosage?
So now we're just looking to get him into ONE ON ONE Counceling. We had in-home support but i found that not working either cause with 2 other siblings he was not getting the 1-on-1 that he needed. So i stopped that as well.
At times i get frustrated cause he doesn't get along with his brother and sister and i am also expecting baby number 4. When this baby comes how is he going to react? I am really afraid that he will do something to harm the baby. He's already making threats that he will kill the baby by kicking me or punching me in the stomach. I have told the dr this numerous times and they just blow it off. I am just at a dead end cause no one will listen to me.

Amanda, Married to Joe for 10 years, SAHM mom to 4 kids Jacob , April , Ashton and Jada.
 
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#6 of 15 Old 07-23-2010, 07:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mommie020307 View Post
My Son was Diagnosed with ODD and Interminent Explosive Disorder.
He was on Risperdal for a little bit and i decided to take him off it cause it was not working anyways. I mean giving it a try isn't bad but why keep upping the medicine if its not working at the lower dosage?
So now we're just looking to get him into ONE ON ONE Counceling. We had in-home support but i found that not working either cause with 2 other siblings he was not getting the 1-on-1 that he needed. So i stopped that as well.
At times i get frustrated cause he doesn't get along with his brother and sister and i am also expecting baby number 4. When this baby comes how is he going to react? I am really afraid that he will do something to harm the baby. He's already making threats that he will kill the baby by kicking me or punching me in the stomach. I have told the dr this numerous times and they just blow it off. I am just at a dead end cause no one will listen to me.
If its any consolation to you, my dd is in love with our new baby and is very protective of her. She likes to take care of her and help pick out her outfits.
She even consoles her when she is crying ( I was anxious about that setting her off at first) The baby is 12 weeks old and she is not showing any angry behavior at or about the baby. Instead the transition has made her extra stressed out by her 5 yr old brother.

As far as him saying he will kick you in the stomach.
Does he ever follow through with his threats? Does he mean what he says?
My dd says things like she'll cut her brothers nose off with scissors and that she wishes there was no such thing as him, but after the tantrum when she is more rational she always says sorry and feels badly.
It just the anger that she has is unbelievable!
Hopefully your ds is just really mad and expressing his anger (of course the wrong way) and needs help with that.
What help?- I dont know yet because we are still working on it.
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#7 of 15 Old 08-05-2010, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunnmama View Post
Your first line about the conflicting inherited traits--that is exactly my dd Our story is long, and we are on the other side of it, but at age 7 we were in family counseling to deal with her rage (also had an infant at the time--aggravating the situation), and that it how the counselor summed it up: she got my sensitivities and dh's confrontation. Result: in your face rage. Gah!

Basically, we had to teach her 3 things:

1. how to appropriately express anger
2. boundaries, and what to do when feeling out of control
3. how to manage her anxiety and sensory issues so that she didn't feel out of control

#3 maybe should be first, because without that, there is no #1 or #2. There is just *REACT*.

Some quick tips: We LOVED the book "When Sophie is Angry, Really, Really Angry" by Molly Bang. I bet your little girl can relate to Sophie! What Sophie does isn't perfect, but is a great conversation starter.

#2 above (boundaries) required consequences for inappropriate behaviors. Every time. We used time-outs. As long as we were willing to negotiate and discuss in the midst of screaming or hitting, it made it "ok" to scream and hit. And, let's face it, in the moment it feels good to lash out and hurt people. She had to learn where the immovable line was drawn. Ultimately, what she wants is my audience; she wants to be heard. Once she learned that she will NEVER be heard if she is out of control, she was motivated to control herself. It still took steps #1 and #3 to complete the picture.
Sunnmama,
Since you seem to have cracked the nut on this, I thought maybe you could give me some advice on something:
I am doing the best I can to manage #3. I really feel I am doing a good job of this and Im very empathatic to her discomforts because I am the same way.

The anger and volatility episodes happen so fast that I can't see anything but a really mean personality.
Yesterday for example: everything was fine and dandy; DD came up to DS and asked him if he wanted to play 7 yr olds. He asked if he could be a teenager. She yelled "NO way, Im not going to play with you then!" followed by a very hard hit on his back.
Isnt that just insane? These things happen so fast. She just cant deal with not getting her way with him. She knows there will always be a consequence, but really doesnt care. She even feels its worth it to hit, hurt, or say horrible things no matter what. In the end she feels badly, but still keeps doing the same things over and over.
I tried talking to her and even asking her what she thinks she should do when she gets that feeling. She is very logical most of the time and has great answers but in the heat of her rage she doesnt want to do anything else but be aggressive verbally or physically. It's like she might as well get the satisfaction of hurting since she isnt getting what she wants.

I am waiting for the Sophie book from the library and Im reading some anger books recommended by other moms here.

Another thing I think of sometimes is that my own sensory issues might amplify her yelling. Also, I am unable to relate to rage. We are so alike in so many ways until I see her practically foaming at the mouth. I dont know. I just do know that my job is the teach her it's not ok to act like that and to help her navigate through this. I just dont know if its working.
If you have any ideas as to where I can find the missing link, I'd love to hear.

I also dont want her to sound like an impossible child. I am crazy about her and she is VERY awesome most of the time.
Right now, after little blow out w/ her brother she is cuddled up next to him. He just gave into her panicked (on the verge of hysterical) begging to let her be his teacher.
I know what would have happended if he said no.
I have tried coaching things and it still ends up the same.
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#8 of 15 Old 08-17-2010, 02:38 PM
 
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Your post (and this thread) are of great interest to me because my 6 y.o. DD is of a very similar bent and blending of temperments. She is a bright -- dare I say brilliant -- and artistic child who is also very strong (physically), athletic and strong-willed.

She is a "model child" in any structured school/day camp/after-school activity setting, and has never, ever had an issue with acting out or talking back or getting physical with another child or adult. Home, however, and especially in that always challenging period between dinner and bedtime, are another matter. When she flies into a rage, she hits -- and its me that she goes to hit. She has no siblings at home (her half brother is 18 and lives with his mom), so in a way I am that surrogate sibling {sigh}.

Even when she's mad at DH, she charges at ME. It is a very troubling and difficult behavior. I have tried the Ross Greene ("The Explosive Child") approach and discussed the "problem" in a calm moment, in the morning, when she is rested and not tired. She clearly cannot still identify why it is she does this. I talk to her about being angry, and how it is ok to be angry, and that we will always have times that we are angry. She gets angry at others, and doesn't hit them. When I see it coming, I do intercept it by grabbing her wrists and/or turning it into a high-five or tickle fest, but sometimes I don't see it coming.

I do understand that certain issues will provoke her -- feeling nagged or cornered, for instance, so it's not that I tip-toe around her but I have found other approaches that work better, a win-win for all.

I do know that her diet and degree of overtiredness are a factor and do my best to control for these (not easy, as she's a very picky eater too...).

Anyway, I am keenly interested in this thread and if I come up with any suggestions as to what works, I will post them...
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#9 of 15 Old 08-17-2010, 05:21 PM
 
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Reading along as my 5 y.o. occassionally has problems with this, as do I . I have learned a lot and have changed a lot to improve my own behaviour and self-control, but there ARE times when I lose it. Example: life with a newborn, sleep deprivation, we've all been caged in the house on a Saturday, it's the evening and the two girls are fighting AGAIN, hitting, both yelling, have tried numerous times to teach/redirect/distract/separate them, etc. Finally during a very loud episode I just lose it and shout, "BE QUIET! GO UPSTAIRS TO YOUR ROOM!" at the top of my voice. Not good. It's hard to enforce rules I myself have problems with at times, yk?


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#10 of 15 Old 08-17-2010, 06:12 PM
 
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the ONLY thing that works for dd - that keeps a tantrum as a tantrum and not a exploding physically expressive anger is

- enough exercise
- enough rest
- food - never really having a hungry stomach (sometimes though its enough liquids. she says she's hungry when actually she is actually thirsty).

EVERY SINGLE TIME she has had an exploding tantrum - right from the age of 2 i could ALWAYS trace it to one of the 3 reasons. i have a moody eater. so i have a huge variety of food at home. and in the car. at all times.

and yes certain issues she takes harder than most. when i am misinformed and accuse her or dont believe her. she just cannot handle that.

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#11 of 15 Old 08-17-2010, 07:05 PM
 
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My daughter has an explosive awful temper too. She focuses hard on fairness, or her perceptions of what is fair. After a horrible playdate blowup I realized I needed to learn more about this, and started reading "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It's been really helpful in getting me to think about the triggers of these temper fits, and try to prevent them in the first place. It has made me realize that some of this is her nature - she is just oppositional and argumentative and she gets angry. I can't force her to be different, I can't force her or punish her into doing what I want her to do. But I can try to accomodate her more and prepare her for situations. The book hasn't been a magic bullet but it has allowed me to see her in a different light and be kinder and more sympathetic with her. I have learned that a little empathy goes a long way with her and rather than letting my blood pressure go up and the harsh words come when she starts misbehaving, she really needs sympathy, kindness and when she calms down, a hug.

I don't have the complete solution, but she has been hitting a lot less lately, and I count that a good thing.
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#12 of 15 Old 08-17-2010, 07:53 PM
 
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Have you tried therapy for her?
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#13 of 15 Old 08-18-2010, 05:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Freud,
We went to a therapist for a while and it was going no where.
My DD is the "perfect child" almost everywhere because she is extremely self conscious and shy. With the therapist and anyone else she is shy but has no reason to get upset.
Its when something doesnt go her way or she feels an injustice, or just is really being nasty for lack of anything else to do.

She takes everything out on me and DS.
She knows how she reacts is wrong and after an episode we discuss it and we can usually get to the underlying reason it happened. Its the controling her self that is impossible for her. She NEVER cares about the consequence while she is acting out. Its worth it to get the satisfaction of the hitting or awful things she says.
She always eventually apologizes, even on her own.
I am just working on trying to not respond while she is calling me names and screaming in my face. This is the last thing I can try.
Today she screamed (blood curdling) in my face "I dont like you"
In the car she pulled her brothers hair and made him cry so badly.
We told her she was going to have some time by herself for a little while to think about what to do next time she felt like hurting someone.
She then said " I wish you got so sick you almost died".
I remained very calm and just stayed quiet and she went on for a while until she was done and said she didnt mean it.
Im going to try just not responding or showing any emotion when she does this. Its the last resort and I hope it helps.
Ill update next week.
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#14 of 15 Old 08-29-2010, 01:49 AM
 
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well, i will answer this post the same way i answer all similar ones. i imagine mamas are getting tired of me. . . . i am a big believer in the biological basis of behavior. i get rage issues myself when i don't take my supplements. we are most of us deficient in these things because we are eating too many grains, and because our soils are worn out and the fertilizers and pesticides they use prevent the uptake of nutrients in plants, and so the deficiencies go on up the food chain. the supplements to help rage in general are: magnesium (there's even a brand called natural calm); calcium- because the calcium from vegs is poorly absorbed, and sometimes dairy, vitamin D3 which is necessary to absorb the mag and cal; efa's, preferably from fish liver oil, gaba- gamma amniobutryic acid (a calming neurotransmitter); tryptophan or its metabolite 5htp to increase serotonin; and a b-complex. also look into food allergies- my kids are wackadoodle aggressive if they eat wheat- like have to sit on them to keep them from hurting self or others. dairy is also known to cause aggression- for my kids a little dairy doesn't do this, but when we cut it out we noticed a change in a week or 2. also food additives- check out feingold.org. heavy metal poisoning can also cause aggression.
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#15 of 15 Old 08-29-2010, 03:33 AM
 
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Does she seem to be completely out of control in these moments? My daughter, once she reaches that crazy phase, seems to stop being herself, I can't reason with her, I can't really even talk to her. There is no punishment that works. The best thing I can do is try to avoid the temper fits. Head them off, because the triggers are fairly clear - if she's hungry and you combine that with social stress, she is a mess. If I can't head them off - the best thing I can do is offer to give her a hug when she calms down. Sometimes that works. Punishment, scolding, all of that does not seem to help.
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