At my wits end with my 5 year old! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 11-08-2011, 02:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am at my wits end with my 5 year old daughter.  She has screaming tantrums about everything! 

 

For example the other day my husband had to go to the hardware store.  My six year old DS and my DD wanted to go with.  While at the store both kids were a little wild and my husband told them to calm down.  DS said okay and calmed right down. DD on the other hand continued to pick things up off the shelf, including the sharp saw baldes.  My husband told her to stop or she would have to hold his hand.  She whipped her head around so her hair would go flying and continued to pick everything up.  My husband gently took her hand in his and she started SCREAMING!  He had to pick her up and leave the store because he was so embarressed.  This happens constantly.  It happened at the grocery store the other day-running around, getting in other people's way, and then having a fit when there is a consequence.

 

Yesterday we were all playing outside.  She was holding herself and crossing her legs.  It had been a few hours since she had last gone to the bathroom so we told her to run inside and go.  She insisted that she did not have to go and when we told her to run in and try she started to scream at the top of her lungs.  She waits until the last minute to go and she sometimes has accidents because of waiting so long.

 

Today she asked me to get her bike out of the shed.  Her scooter was in the way and I pushed it away from the bike. she kept pushing it back in front of the bike with a whining/screaming noise.  Instead of telling me that she changed her mind and wanted the scooter instead, she just screamed.  I admit that I lost my temper and raised my voice. Her tantrums are over everything and anything multiple time a day, every day.

 

These are only a few examples, I could go on and on.

 

I don't know what to do.  Time-outs and loss of privaleges do not seem to work.  Two weeks gao she lost out on going to her friend's house because of the tantrumming about having to put her clean laundry away (2 shirts, a pair of pants, and some socks and underwear).  When the tantrum is over we always go over other, more appropriate ways to handle the situation, and when we notice her handling things more appropriately we let her know that we noticed.

 

If the tantrum/screaming ended quickly that would be one thing, but she will scream for over thirty minutes about having to put her dirty clothes in the hamper before she gets to go and play.  Putting dirty clothes in the hamper is something that she has done since before she was two, and now she acts like I am asking her to do the impossible!

 

She is very articulate and for the most part behaves well at school or at a friends's house.  She can be very sneaky at times (today, when I wasn't in the kitchen, she took two pieces of the brownies that we had baked earlier ) and she is very stubborn.  On the other hand, she is the most affectionate of my three kids, would snuggle with me all day if she could, and she calls me her best friend.orngbiggrin.gif

 

So, if you have read this long, rambling message I would appreciate any ideas that you have...

 

 

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#2 of 17 Old 11-08-2011, 02:23 PM
 
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I think The Explosive Child by Ross Greene would be a good resource for you. Some children have great difficulty being flexible, are very rigid in their thinking, have difficulty letting things go, can't adapt to changes very well, and see requests for compliance as major attacks on their autonomy. Punishments and reinforcements don't work very well (they have little control over their "in the moment" feelings) and they tend to have frequent and sometimes lengthy meltdowns over things that seem rather small.

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#3 of 17 Old 11-14-2011, 07:44 PM
 
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Sounds like you already do this, but just bombard her with all the positive things you see her doing.  Also, try using reflection, like, if you are playing with her just repeat what she tells you.  If she says, "Ohh..I'm going to use the yellow crayon for the mittens." just repeat it back; "You're going to use the yellow crayon" (don't phrase it in a question, like, "Are you going to use the yellow crayon?").  That makes her really see that you are listening to her. Maybe she feels like she is not being heard?  

 

As for the explosive behavior...I know how hard that is.  As a parent there are times when I have lost it and just SCREAMED at them.  I very quickly realized I was doing exactly what my Dad had done to me, so I went into therapy with my own therapist and quickly started Parent/Child Interaction Therapy with my oldest daughter (not for defiant behavior, but for her anxiety issues).  It has helped me tremendously as a parent to remember not to let my young children (they are 6, 5, and 4) get under my skin.  Ignore those bad behaviors (unless they are running out into traffic!) and over exaggerate the good ones.  If you google PCIT you can do a lot of reading about the program.  Good luck, Mama...I know how hard it is!


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#4 of 17 Old 11-15-2011, 09:45 PM
 
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My 5yo DS is much the same way.  Punishments and rewards (especially rewards!) don't work and seem to make the problem worse.  He's always been awful about pitching fits in public or at home.  Constantly whining and having outbursts when things don't go his way.

 

Recently I've been employing skills and ideas from Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Becky Bailey.  I've never been able to finish a parenting book but this one really hit home with me because it was about changing myself (especially seeing how I was inadvertently teaching bad behaviour) and not just using "tricks" or "tactics" like timeout and such.

 

Simple things like facing my son's outbursts with "You threw that (you're stomping, growling, etc.), you seem angry" makes him stop and own his feelings and has been opening dialogue for us.  DS:"I don't want to go inside", Me:"It can be disappointing to not get as much playtime as you'd like.  We'll have more playtime outside this afternoon.  Now it's time to go inside and start schoolwork."  I realize now that his fits come from me never really allowing him to own up to his own emotions and express them appropriately.  I have to mirror his emotion so he can stop and recognize it, then explain the situation back to him and if I can offer support to help him in the future ("what can I do next time morning playtime is over to help you come in without being upset, use a timer for our time?, etc.).  I have to remember that he's just 5 and there is still a ton of emotional and behavioural learning to be done.  And there is a lot of emotional and behavioural un-learning to be done on my part....the book really helped me to recognize the parenting I employed and how I learned that from my parents and how that's effected me now.

 

It took that book to get me to realize that my feelings, actions and behaviour directly teach my son more than any words I use with him.  If I'm complaining and pitching my own fits, and not acknowledging my own feelings how should I expect him to?  With the way my son is, I cannot get riled up in front of him.  He seems to take that as a blank check to run amok.  I have to remind myself that he's not doing anything "just to make me angry or ruin my day", that he's dealing with feelings that he's not expressing or dealing with appropriately and I have to take those opportunities to teach him.  She continually states "This moment is as it is." Which has really helped me to step back and use situations as teaching and learning opportunities instead of worrying about what others are thinking and just trying to get him to act perfectly as quickly as possible, preferably at the flick of a switch.

 

I want my son to grow up to be well adjusted, accountable for his own emotions and actions and in control of himself...and able to interact with other people while retaining his integrity and not bowing to others' or mowing them down.  I think the things I learned from this book can really help me to teach him how to be that way.  I know it's sure helped me get started on that road myself!


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#5 of 17 Old 11-18-2011, 07:28 AM
 
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How does she sleep? 


Cathy mom to 13 y/o DD, 10 y/o DD, 7 y/o DS

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#6 of 17 Old 11-18-2011, 08:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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mom2grrls-She is actually a really good sleeper.  Bedtime is 8:00 and she normally falls asleep pretty quickly.  School days I wake her up at about 7:20, weekends she sleeps until a little closer to 8.  She has a rest time everyday after lunch and she falls asleep about 25% of the time during her rest period.

 

BCFD- I looked into the Parent/Child Interaction Therapy that you mentioned, but unfortunately I could not find anywhere in my state to go.  The closest place is an hour and a half away in another state.  It's too bad because it sounds wonderful.

 

I am going to check out the books that have been mentioned. 

 

Last night my daughter and 6 year old ds were brushing their teeth in the bathroom.  They were being very loud and I had just laid 21 month old ds in bed right across the hall.  I went in the bathroom to remind them that their little brother was trying to go to sleep and she became hysterical.  I wasn't yelling and nobody was in trouble, but she started to cry/scream anyway.  When I asked why she was upset she said I had hurt her feelings.  She says that about everything.  All I had done was say "Ssshhhh" as I walked down the hall, and then when I got to the bathroom door, "Guys, C is in bed.  Quiet down, please."  This was said firmly, but it was not in an angry voice, or in any way yelling.  I brought her to her room and asked her if she really needed to get upset because I asked her to quiet down.  She was able to tell me "no" and calm herself down right away, and then she was able to tell me better ways that she could have responded (say, "okay Mommy", leave the bathroom since she was finshed anyway, nod her head "yes").  It feels like she gets so upset almost like a reflex or something, before she even KNOWS if she is upset or not.  Even she knew that there was no reason to be so upset about the situation.  Once she calms down she can always tell me different ways that she could have responded instead of the tantrum, but how can I help her to do those things BEFORE the tantrum?  I  tell her that she does not have to always agree with what I am telling her, but she needs to use her words nicely to tell me that she disagrees.  For example, if she is looking at books at bedtime and I say lights out, she can ask to finish looking at the book instead of starting a tantrum.  As I said, she can always come up with better ways to respond after she has a tantrum, but the screaming is always her first instinct.

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#7 of 17 Old 11-20-2011, 06:44 PM
 
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OH man...she sounds so much like my almost 6yo DS!!! His lip will quiver and he will start to cry saying I hurt his feelings at ANYTHING that isn't the way he wants it. Last night at 7pm, his bedtime, he ASKED to go to bed b/c he was tired. Brushing teeth was a struggle. I gently reminded him that we were quickly running into our reading time and would not be able to read as long if we weren't finished brushing our teeth in one minute. Bedroom: I ask if he wants to stay in the clothes he has on or put on his favorite pink sparkly pjs for bed and he whines that he doesn't know. I let him know that I'll ask one more time and if he says I don't know that gives me the option to choose. I ended up choosing to put them away. He immediately says he wants them. My one mistake in handling things was I went ahead and let him have them...but then he was putting them on inch by inch trying to delay as much as possible. I let him know that the pajamas needed to be on in one minute or we would no longer have time to read. He continues to stall and I let him know we no longer have time to read and we need to go to bed. Total chaos ensues and he turns into psycho child. He screams at the top of his lungs, he's trying to run out of the room repeatedly and is overall throwing a HUGE tantrum. I took him back to his room a few times (and stayed in it with him) before I decided to sit up against the door and calmly let him know he needs to go to bed now, and I will snuggle with him if he'd like. He continued trying to get out of the room and I stayed against the door, inside the room with him. Finally, at one point, he takes a swing at me and misses. As I'm getting ready to address this, he swings again. I caught his arm, took hold of the other arm, looked him in the eyes and firmly let him know that we do NOT hit in our home. He responds by diving in and trying to bite my face, then spitting on me. I VERY firmly (without yelling...I don't know HOW I did that but I did) said again that we do NOT do those things in our family. At that point I told him *I* needed a time out b/c I felt scared and angry. I left the room, he followed. I shut myself into my bedroom so that I could have some space for a minute and he was outside my door yelling and screaming. Finally, he started screaming that he was scared (he is afraid of the dark these days) and I had to believe him and he was sorry he just wanted me. When I opened the door he flew into my arms crying and at that point he started to come back to reality. He still whimpered about how books were very, very, very special to him and he wanted to read all the way until he fell asleep. This is a normally bright, sunny, easy, gentle and DEFINITELY non-violent child. We are all vegan and he is very concerned with the treatment of animals and humans alike. When we talk about it he says that he can't help what he does and that he doesn't mean to act that way. I BELIEVE him. I know that he is normally a very laid back child until he gets his mind focused on something and then it's intensity. I REALLY don't know how to handle the physical violence aspect of these tantrums!!!

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#8 of 17 Old 11-27-2011, 04:42 AM
 
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Have you talked to her pediatrician?  I would think some professional help would be a good idea.


DS (6.06), DD (10.08), DD (05.11).

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#9 of 17 Old 11-27-2011, 07:32 AM
 
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No I think you're doing the right thing right now.  Talking it out afterwards.  DD2 was very much like this.  We went through a year of it.  She's finally calming down.  Some of it had to do with low blood sugar and some of it had to do with her expectations vs. ours.  Also she stayed home with DH for 2 yrs and wow did he spoil her.  She would say jump and he jumped.

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#10 of 17 Old 11-27-2011, 08:01 AM
 
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I couldn't read and not respond! Your DD sounds exactly like how I was as a 3-6 year old. I was Soooo stubborn, hard headed, and threw the WORST tantrums. Oh my goodness, my poor mother. I can't remember why I would get upset, but anything would set me off. On the other hand I loooved to snuggle with my mom and dad, and was very lovey. Finally my mom started doing what a pp said, acknowledging my feelings and helping me calm down. If I felt my feelings were being heard and understood, I could calm down better. Even if she just hugged me and held me until I stopped crying it would help. I can remember that no discipline would work at all. Time outs, revoked privileges, rewards, I was just a HIGHLY emotional child. I cant imagine how frusterating the whole situation must have been for them (and you!) My parents say I outgrew it almost as soon as I turned 6. I would still have the occasional outburst (I'm still a very affectionate person, but prone to loosing my temper at times), but not nearly as bad as that time between about 3-6. Sorry I don't have any resources for you! Just wanted to let you know that our family went through this, and came out the other side. Good luck mama!

"Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern... it will come out a rose by and by. Life is like that . . . one stitch at a time, taken patiently." - Oliver Wendell Holmes
 

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#11 of 17 Old 11-28-2011, 08:53 PM
 
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She sounds quite similar to my daughter.  I've found that it helps her if her life is extremely predictable.  She always knows what's going to happen next.  Then she has a chance to deal with her emotions in her mind before the challenging event happens.  Of course, this doesn't work all the time, considering that her life has its surprises.  But it does make a big difference for example, if I tell her that she is going to need to clean up the living room after snack time, rather than just asking her to do it at that moment.

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#12 of 17 Old 11-29-2011, 07:10 AM
 
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We are actually seeing a clinical psychologist for similar issues with our daughter.   I just couldn't take the tantrums anymore (and 90% of the time they are just at home).  It just felt like everything was a struggle.  Just getting into the car was an issue...

 

We have seen HUGE improvements since my husband and I started seeing the psychologist.  We are using the Incredible Years Parenting Program (you can google to find the website & book).  It is very similar to PCIT.  Basically there are phases and the first phase was spending 20 minutes a day (or several times a week) with just DD.  You basically are supposed to narrate what they are doing and make them feel like the most special child during that time.  Then we started setting limits and following through, which has been an issue because previously we lived in fear of the meltdowns.  We also really up-ed the positive reinforcement.

 

We have used consequences.  The book had a chapter on logical and natural consequences and is against punitive.  However it does talk about using timeouts for really bad behaviour, although our psychologist does not have us use time out.

 

We are also ignoring undesirable behaviour right now.  Which includes ignoring tantrums once they are to the point of no return.  I know this is not popular on mdc but we have seen improvements after ignoring 3 tantrums.  I just tell her "Ev you are too upset to talk right now, when you have calmed down we can talk/ snuggle etc".   For the first time ever she has started calming herself down and the length of the tantrums is reducing.  Previously I was using the technique of being there for her, and talking her through it... but for us it was not working and if anything seemed to make things worse.

 

I am SO happy we got help.  It is just amazing how just a bit of guidance can help so much.  


Me: Shannon (33) mom to DD Everly born May 9, 2007 and Maisie born May 26
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#13 of 17 Old 11-29-2011, 11:21 AM
 
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This has absolutely nothing to do with this post - Shannie I just wanted to say I LOVE your daughter's name, Everly.

 

That is all. Sorry to crash. Peace.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shannie77 View Post

We are actually seeing a clinical psychologist for similar issues with our daughter.   I just couldn't take the tantrums anymore (and 90% of the time they are just at home).  It just felt like everything was a struggle.  Just getting into the car was an issue...

 

We have seen HUGE improvements since my husband and I started seeing the psychologist.  We are using the Incredible Years Parenting Program (you can google to find the website & book).  It is very similar to PCIT.  Basically there are phases and the first phase was spending 20 minutes a day (or several times a week) with just DD.  You basically are supposed to narrate what they are doing and make them feel like the most special child during that time.  Then we started setting limits and following through, which has been an issue because previously we lived in fear of the meltdowns.  We also really up-ed the positive reinforcement.

 

We have used consequences.  The book had a chapter on logical and natural consequences and is against punitive.  However it does talk about using timeouts for really bad behaviour, although our psychologist does not have us use time out.

 

We are also ignoring undesirable behaviour right now.  Which includes ignoring tantrums once they are to the point of no return.  I know this is not popular on mdc but we have seen improvements after ignoring 3 tantrums.  I just tell her "Ev you are too upset to talk right now, when you have calmed down we can talk/ snuggle etc".   For the first time ever she has started calming herself down and the length of the tantrums is reducing.  Previously I was using the technique of being there for her, and talking her through it... but for us it was not working and if anything seemed to make things worse.

 

I am SO happy we got help.  It is just amazing how just a bit of guidance can help so much.  



 


Certified Crazy™ Wife to my Spiderman husband luxlove.gif(Aug '01)

 

Super proud Momma  to DD (Jan'00), DD (Apr '02) and DS (Jun '04)

Always loving and missing our Baby James angel.gif born sleeping at 19 weeks (July '03).

 

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#14 of 17 Old 11-29-2011, 03:32 PM
 
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So, my DS (4) is prone to serious melt-downs...he is very emotional, loving and controlling.  I can totally relate to everything you guys have said.  Sometimes there just doesn't seem to be any cause for all it.

 

All I can say is little ones often see things differently than adults.  So, I try to understand where he's coming from and give him as many choices as possible. Of course, it's mostly frustrating to me because I used to work with children with behavior issues.  They were older than DS, and lot of things that worked for them does not work for a 4 year old.

 

Shannie - In my experience ignoring an unwanted behavior often works better than anything.  A lot of times tantrums and other behaviors are completely attention seeking.  Often times DS will calm down much faster, if I just send him to room and tell him I will discuss it when he stops crying.  When he is in the moment it's hard to get his attention...he doesn't listen and will sometimes think I've said something I haven't.  Then get even more upset.

 

Sometimes when he is just completely put out with me, I'll let him call his grands.  That seems to give him an outlet  to express his feelings to someone else.  Once he has told them why he is upset, he will change immediately. 

 

And of course, the worst of the melt-downs happen when one or both of us are tired.

 

Sounds like everyone is dealing and responding to these tantrums in right way, buy teaching the apporpriate behaviors.  Just know that sometimes behavior gets worse before it gets better and it doesn't happen overnight. 

 

Stubborn is tough. 


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#15 of 17 Old 11-29-2011, 09:08 PM
 
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I am going through the same thing.  I've been thinking about seeing a psychologist for a bit now about my sons tantrums and defiance.  This thread really helped me to feel more confident but also realize I need to do something.


"Breastfeeding is a robust, biologically stable activity so central to our evolutionary identity that it names the class of animals to which we belong" (Breastfeeding Atlas, Third Edition)
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#16 of 17 Old 11-30-2011, 05:29 AM
 
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I have no words for advice but just wanted to give you some (((hugs)))! I'm having some slightly different problems with my 6 y.o. DS (he's acting up suddenly at school, hitting other class mates and today he apparently even bit another child in the hand greensad.gifafter thinking she called him names..)  and can only imagine how trying the situation with your DD must be! 

I'm at the end of my wits with my son and will certainly check out all the books and methods that have been mentioned here!..

 

Good luck to you with your DD!!!


~*Val*~ Vegan SAHM to DD (2/02) DS (7/05) 6x and wife to my best friend.
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#17 of 17 Old 11-30-2011, 05:51 AM
 
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This sounds very much like how my older dd was when she was that age. She had huge tantrums through age 5 and into age 6 I think.

 

For her, tantrums really were a loss of control, just like for a toddler, so punishment and consequences didn't seem like a good choice. In my opinion, tantrums are a sign that a child hasn't learned one or more important things, and the goal for me is for them to learn those things so they get past tantrums, rather than trying to stop them.

 

What my daughter hadn't learned was that the world didn't rotate around her and that everything was not going to go exactly how she wanted, and more than that, that it is OK and everything works out fine in the long run even if you don't always get what you want.

 

What I did was to briefly empathize and/or state how she was feeling (depending on how much she was able to hear - she wasn't generally in a state to take in too much that I was saying), but something like, "You sound angry" or "You wish you could have X" or "I wish it weren't rainy today too" or whatever. But I think why she held on to tantrums so long at first was because I was the bad guy - it was my fault she couldn't do something - so she would rage at me in the hope that I could change things. I tried to create wording that put her and me "on the same team." So, "I wish cookies were healthy breakfast too" instead of "You can't have cookies" for instance. But anyway I tried to make her feel heard as well.

 

Then I would let her know I was there for her when the tantrum was over, and I'd wait it out. I wouldn't really ignore it, but I wouldn't stay involved either. It was her tantrum, not mine, and being involved seemed to feed the drama and escalate and prolong things. When she got over her tantrum, I'd give her love and go on as if nothing happened, because the final lesson I wanted her to get out of it was, "I fuss and fuss and it changes nothing, and everything goes on just the same."

 

My little one (almost 3) has never had a tantrum. I think it's mainly because she has an easier disposition, but I do think that approaching her disappointments this way helps too. They are her disappointments and her issues to work through, not something I have to enforce or do to her. My job is to be a steady rock to cling to, not to remind her of how the world doesn't rotate around her. That's a sad and ugly lesson but we all hopefully learn it eventually or we have tantrums as adults when we don't get the parking spot we wanted.

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