Hi everyone, new to the forum, was Googling information to help my 7.5 year old and came across this board. I look forward to joining the community in a more positive fashion but right now I'm desperate for guidance.
***I wrote a novel, it's long because I tried to explain the situation and at some points I ramble, feel free to skip to the end where I ask my questions. I'm trying to be brutally honest, even though I'm sure I'll get some hate, I know I'm not perfect and have made some serious mistakes, please don't judge****
I've become a hitter. :( I don't mean to and am devestated afterwards. It's only happened maybe 6 or so times over the span of her life. My daughter is 7.5 years old. She has no underlying health issues that we are aware of and is a very bright talented child. At school she is the second smartest in her grade, her teachers have even suggested bumping her up a grade or taking advanced classes. They all speak so highly of her, her outgoing, friendly, helpful demeanor, has a ton of friends...but lately, when she comes home, she has been a complete nightmare.
I have two younger children, 5 and 2. She normally gets along well with her 5 year old sister (and adores her baby brother) but as soon as something doesn't go her way she gets pissed. At first it was pretty basic sibling spats, usually fighting over who had a toy first. But now, within the past couple months, it seems the presence of her sister is enough to make her erupt. Earlier today, as we got home from school, my older daughter wanted to do the key to the front door, I gave her the key and she ran to the door. 5 year old was already running to the door and therefore ahead of her, so she erupted right there. SCREAMING, YELLING, saying things like "why don't you listen, I told you not to run" (but screaming at her). Once inside, the screaming and rage yelling continued about how her sister can't sit on the bed with her. At this point, my 2 year old is in the room, crying hysterically out of fear because his big sister is manic at this point yelling at me because I'm telling her to stop. My 5 year old is also crying. I grabbed my 7 year old, pulled her out of the room bear hug style (because she started kicking and flailing) and sat her on our bottom step which is our naughty step. I then went into the kitchen and grabbed her juice bottle (we had just gone to gas station and bought those juice bottles with the charactes on the top) off the counter to put into the fridge. She saw me grab it, came storming over, kicked and broke a Halloween arts & crafts haunted house we had all made 2 days prior, rage screamed that she didn't like me, need me or love me and that she wished I was gone. Keep in mind, the other 2 children were also still hysterical and as always have to follow me everywhere I go, even when I'm just trying to step away from it all. I had a 2 year old at my knees screaming for me to hold him and a 5 year old hysterical over the broken haunted house...It was getting so loud! When my 7 year old screamed those words to me, I erupted. She saw the look on my face and took off running. I caught her quickly and put her on the naughty step again, this time with a bit more force and told her I needed silence and that it was now 10 minutes. She told me she didn't have to listen to me because she didn't love me anymore. At that point I slapped her across the face. Hard. Well not that hard, but hard enough to make her quiet her sobs.
This is just one example, but it's happened in the past as well. She tends to get so enraged by the littlest things and as of lately it's getting to the point that the baby is getting scared and trying to cling to me. Within the past 45 days I have hit her 3 times. The other times were once while we were in the car she started punching her sister because she wanted to color in her sisters coloring book, even though she was the one who brought it and was coloring in it. I reached behind and popped her on the head. Granted, I was aiming for her leg to get her attention because I was driving down a highway...she had just happened to lean her head toward me so it sort of lined up...another time was because she was hitting and shaking her sister and fighting over toys, the naughty step didn't work and she kept attacking her sister so I grabbed her and swatted her butt hard but without even thinking or realizing it, I had a hair brush in my hand so I technically hit her with a weapon! I feel terrible.
She does very well when she is not with her sister. It's like a totally different child. The other day, just me, my 7 year old and 2 year old went to church and after, the mall. She told me how much she loved just spending time with me & her brother because she doesn't like her sister.
But other times she'll talk about how much she loves her sister, loves playing with her and every day after school, when I pick them up, they always greet each other with an excited hug.
I don't know what to do anymore. This rage has become a daily occurance. We've taken away all the toys that cause fights, taken away all electronics, even tried seperating them. The littlest things will set her off, if her sister sings, if she dances, if she colors a picture she doesn't like...she goes NUTS! When I talk to her about it, she said it's just the way her body is and she can't control it and that the anger is stronger than her. I've tried teaching and helping her to count to 10, to walk away, to ignore the things that upset her and the will work for a little while but it always goes back to the rage.
Things never used to be so bad. I think that my daughter and I need to move out and go back to being "one on one" again. We spent the last 6 months alone while she did some film work in CA. The younger 2 stayed with my parents. My husband was with us in CA but his work schedule is very hectic so it worked out best to have the kids stay with my parents. Please don't judge. She was a happy, spunky, energetic girl. When we came back to get the kids it was turmoil. But before we left for CA, things were for the most part ok. Spats and stuff but no outbursts. It's gotten 100x worse since we've gotten the whole family back together. I also thought that maybe it was being back on a regular school schedule and lack of sleep, since last year she homeschooled and went to tutors but since she seems to be thriving and doesn't appear to be overly tired, I'm not sure if that's the case. She keeps saying she just wants to move to NYC or back to LA but that's obviously not a reasonable option. My parents said my 5 year old was a perfect angel but it seems that she too is a bit whinier and quick to cry when I'm around. I figured it was just a parent thing though, that kids feel more comfortable with mom & dad so are more likely to let emotionals fly whereas with grandparents, teachers or friends they are more reserved and polite...but I might be wrong.
But I also feel like I'm starting not to like 7.5 year old. I still love her, I love all of my children, but I'm concerned about my 7 year old's emotional well being right now. I've gotten to the point of telling her she is starting to act crazy and that she needs to the hospital. I hate that when she gets in these outbursts that I start name calling out of anger (the things I wrote above are the only mean names or comments I say...well I take that back, about an hour ago she was screaming at me about going to bed and said she was just going to leave because she didn't need me, so I told her I was going to put her in a box and mail her to China because I was over it...random but in the past we used to joke about mailing ourselves places because it would be cheaper than airfare).
I usually try to contain my thoughts and hands but sometimes I react and I hate that I have become like my parents. I swore I would never hit my kids because as a child I got it pretty bad emotionally and physically. :( They are much better now and regret the punishments my brother and I were given but it has still affected me.
Tried calling several pediatric counselors but no one can see us until Dec or Jan because apparently all are booked solid. So until then, what can I do. I feel like I want to run away and am seriously THISCLOSE to heading to the airport and living in a hotel. :(
As far as the hitting goes, it seems to be something you resort to when you feel pressured by the situation, and maybe don't have a clear idea what to do. I find I parent best when I can remember the good qualities my son has. Sometimes that's hard, or even impossible. I've made mistakes and done things I wish I hadn't. Everyone makes mistakes, so it's ok to appologize when you regret an action. It shows your daughter what to do when/if she regrets her choice to yell at her sister. It's a start.
Good luck. You're not alone.
HI u sound like an overall amazing mother. you really understand what it takes to raise a respectful kid. Of course i dont agree with the hitting but i have a even tempered 9 yr old, 2 yr old and 10 week old and have nt been up against it yet. I do know I have a very smart testy 2 yr old that i could loose it at sometimes, but when i get like that i walk away for a minute. Growing up I had a younger sister 4 yrs younger and we fought hard, i didnt want her around, she couldnt come near me...I was pretty brutal to her at times but other times we were best friends. I rememeber every time we fought my mom would force us to hug kiss tell eachother we love each other. At the time it was hell but always lightened the situation. Now at 31 and 27 we are best friends. My mother also as crazy as it seems would lock me outside or in our hallway for 10-15 minutes when i got crazy until i cooled down. it worked. I dont think sending gher to talk to someone about anger would hurt, Mayvbe having sppecial days or times for each one of your children is a good idea where you do something that means allot to that particular child, my mom would say ot was my special say for just her and i. it helped. good luck donbt be too hard on urself.
You might try looking into the book Siblings Without Rivalry. Also, try to find time that the two of you can be together without the other children. She's getting to an age where she will be craving a connection with you more and more. For my daughter, when she reached that age, we would go to a coffee shop together and chat, or just grocery shop together, or whatever, but it's grown to include movies, roller skating, and other things. My younger one has me alone LOTS, but since she's in school all the time she was never alone with me, and it was hurting her. Do you have someone at home to leave the other two children with while you and your older daughter spend time alone together?
I think you'll find if you can mend that connection and work on the sibling rivalry problems, things will greatly improve. Also, you can apologize to your daughter for things you've done in the past and tell her you're working on finding better ways to work with her. She's old enough to appreciate that, and it will teach her that she's able to improve her choices and make changes in her behavior as well.
*As I don't have children that age myself yet, I'm drawing from advice I've seen posted on similar threads, hopefully some more mamas who have been through this will comment soon*
I wanted to start off by saying that although you have done things you aren't proud of in the past, what's important is that you're trying to change now!
I know many girls go through a pre-puberty stage between 6&9 where their hormones are starting to go crazy. Maybe this is part of what's going on with your daughter?
Have you tried any diet changes to see if that improves her temperament at all? Perhaps she is sensitive to food coloring, additives, dairy or gluten?
You said you wanted to move in with just your eldest daughter. Do you get any one on one time with her? I would try have 30 minutes of special time with her daily or 2 hours to reconnect on the weekend before I made a big change like that. I read a great article about spending 10 minutes every day reconnecting with your child, but I can't seem to find it- hopefully one of the other mamas here will post it.
Lastly, make sure to get time to yourself! Take time to do some yoga every day, take a nice hot shower (or even better a bath!), or just relax and drink a cup of coffee. If you feel yourself getting too mad at your daughter, remove yourself from the situation for a minute or two, in order to calm down. Hopefully, with time your daughter will learn from example and do the same for herself.
A'ing, ,,, Momma to one DD 1/1/12 . Trying to and hoping for a next time!
I'm asking a few questions, but it's just to clarify. There's no judgement going on, I just want to make sure I understand. How often did you have contact with your younger two children? Phone calls/skype/visits? Was your eldest daughter involved in those calls/contacts?
Frankly, I think the living one on one caused this, so maybe that'd be a bad solution. I want to speak clearly, no judgement is intended. Due to your eldest's job, you and she were living essentially alone together. I'm assuming that she thought this was awesome- she got do do a fun job, and had ALL of your attention, so when the job ended she had two huge, essentially life changing disappointments right? That fun job is over, she doesn't get to be a star anymore. But that's ok, because she is still the center and only thing in your universe, except you have your other two kids, and your husband too. It's totally fair for a kid that young to be feeling like she hit the lottery because these other two people that had your attention don't get it anymore! Yes! And then to freak out because now this really intense relationship between you two isn't there anymore. And on top of that, she doesn't have a tutor and you homeschooling her, she has to share a teacher, with how ever many other kids are in her class.
I'd want to move myself to a hotel too, this sounds so difficult for you. But I think if you and your eldest move away from the family again, I think it will just make the eventual transition to full family life harder. She is part of a family, she needs to learn how to live in one, not be moved to isolation again. If she wasn't so clearly traumatized at not being the center of the universe anymore, I'd ask if it was possible to send her to her grandparents for a short time, but that would most likely make her feel abandoned by you, and unless there are other children at her grandparents house she'd have the whole center of the universe thing going on again, which would do nobody no good.
I'm going on the assumption that you called your younger kids daily, but your eldest was working, or being tutored at the time. So while your middle child is a bit whinier, perhaps because she felt a little bit abandoned, she had contact and she knows she's in your heart so it seems like she's transitioning easier. But your older girl maybe didn't get that impression, and now she's acting out to punish you for splitting your attention, and it's working because while she's being naughty, she's getting all of your attention, good, bad whatever, it's all hers.
If I'm mistaken in any of this, please correct me, but I have three suggestions.
First: in a calm moment (I know, if you can find one. Maybe you should make this a just you & your eldest daughter, first thing in the morning, maybe even before breakfast. Possibly take her out to breakfast, just you & her.) Let her know its ok to have the feelings she does, but it is never ok to be mean about it. Apologize for hitting her. (Maybe bust out the love is like fire thing candle thing where you say, I love your daddy light a candle, use it to light a second, I love you, light a third, light a fourth, I love your sister, and light a fifth, I love your brother. But you don't need to be scared, because love never runs out... YMMV if its too cheesy for you, and works badly if you use any quick burning candle, like a birthday cake one.) Then let her know that each day, you're going to spend some time alone with her, her sister and her brother. Let her know what the new consequences are going to be, and tell her that you hope she can follow the rules because they (the consequences) don't sound like fun at all. Be clear that the rules do not allow her to boss anyone around, and what your goal is for you all as a family. Ask her for her help in that, not because you need her help, but because she'll have more fun if she does. Don't count this as her alone time for the day, unless you go out for breakfast. It'll be a heavy conversation for you both.
Second: When your eldest is misbehaving, give her a little isolation. I don't mean lock her in the basement, but certainly baby gate her in a room without toys since she won't follow the naughty step time out rule. Tell her once how long she's in time out for, and why. If this needs to happen more than twice per day, tell her the time out won't start until she stops flipping out. Use a timer with a good loud ding, call out to her that she's allowed back out to play nicely, and continue whatever it was you were doing before the timer went off. This sounds kinda harsh, but it's not rewarding bad behavior with what she wants at any cost (your attention, at the expense of her sister.) Make sure to praise her when she's getting along with her sister, let the good stuff get attention. At seven, I'd give only three time outs per day before putting her to bed for the day, but that may or may not work for you right now. Also, that only works if there's no toys in her bedroom.
Third: Make sure you give each of your three kids 15-20 minutes of uninterrupted mommy time daily. They each need it, and they each need to know that you love all of them.
You said that DH's work schedule was hectic. Do the kids behave better for him? If so, maybe ask him to do step one, because it is less of a battle with mommy over mommy's attention and more of a daddy expects this; it'll be easier for him to come across as matter of fact without her ego hurting.
Do you remember the feeling you got when you could use as many stickers as you wanted? I have that now. Thanks for the smileys!
As far as the sibling rivalry goes, that most likely will fix itself once your eldest daughter stops feeling like she needs all of your attention.
And don't beat yourself up to hard. Everyone makes mistakes, its how you bounce back from them that matters.
Do you remember the feeling you got when you could use as many stickers as you wanted? I have that now. Thanks for the smileys!
There's so much in your post that it's difficult to give practical advice. You sound overwhelmed and that makes me wonder if maybe your family isn't a bit over scheduled. Do you think it may help to cut way back on stressful activities, settle into a child-friendly routine, eat well, spend family time together, make sure everyone is getting space and needs met? When I imagine 6 months away from home and from part of the family I think it would be really hard on my DC (she's 11 now).
You have to get to a place where you are meeting your needs for rest and peace so that you can start to focus on what's going on with your oldest child. Start with VERY basic self-care (sleep, food, time to yourself). Care for yourself. Call in favors to make this happen. Give it a few days and get your head clear. Then simplify things for you DC.
Get a good book on child development for you child's age. Brush up on some parenting skills with books from the library. You'll get lots of books recommendations here if you ask. You can do this, mama!
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You can do this! You've got purpose!
I feel the same way lately with my six year old. And it's embarrassing. And it's not logical at all for me. I've been through a LOT of stress lately and it seems like whenever my daughter would make even one wayword comment, sometimes it would be enough for me to just turn her over and really spank her HARD. and she would cry. and then I would sit there and cry and then apologize.
Luckily, I have come into a little bit of a better situation for us where I'll get much more support than I had before and already I'm feeling tons better and I know I can get a handle on myself.
I know you can do it too. It's ok to go through what you're going through. You know it's wrong and that's the first, most important step. It's the parents who think they're hitting and it's RIGHT that worry me.
Do you have any time at all to relax? Even just ten minutes a day or so would possibly help to get you back on track. And stay connected here! This is a great tool for finding help, empathy, and venting space.