5 yo out of control - dh wants to spank - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 02-08-2005, 04:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi everybody,
i have a very long story, i've talked a bit about this before. But i'll try to make it short - i really need an EFFECTIVE way to get dd to stop hitting, kicking, screaming and swearing at us. She has been doing this on a daily basis for a year or so.

DH says that dd's behavior has gotten worse because I don't "punish" her - I just try to stay calm, hold her, tell her I love her but this behavior is not acceptable, basically talk her down and get to the root of the problem whenever she goes ballistic on us. but she is volatile, and whenever i try something like "go in the room" she'll kick the door and scream bloody murder - and we have a 2 room flat with a little baby! So her screams mean the baby wakes up or at the very least gets scared & starts crying - chaos ensues. I just don't know what to do. Each time the violence happens, we try to walk away (but she comes screaming after us - and I feel bad because I know she really does want me but for some reason she can't vebalize how she feels. We both grew up in sit down-shut up kind of houses and both were hit. But I call it abuse while he seems to think it was alright because it kept him in line. Big difference is that in my family we talk about how we feel. In his, they all still just - uh - sit down and shut up! So he can't handle outbursts of emotion and immediately gets upset and frustrated and thinks they are all bad.

The fact is, aside from a whole host of other life changes this year, our marriage is suffering and we fight a lot in front of her. No violence, but a lot of anger is in the air at our house. She has a lot of fun with dh but when it comes to trying to talk about feelings, she only trusts me. I see that when we are happier her behavior is better, and vice versa.

See the problem is that her behavior presents itself as a "tantrum" ; i.e. she loses the ability to get her energy out with words and uses physical means. However it is ALWAYS against me/us, so then I don't know whether she is purposefully attacking me or if she is so out of control that she doesn't mean to hit me. IF that makes sense.

The issue is, she really NEVER uses her words, and she's 5. Every single issue turns into one of these huge violent tantrums, unless I can talk her down in 5 seconds or less, which I can do when i'm alone with her, but with dh around the tension is too much. Can you help me!?
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#2 of 14 Old 02-08-2005, 05:00 PM
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Hi there! I am so sorry I don't have any great suggestions, as we are still pregnant with our first and I haven't been in the "trenches" so to speak.
However, your post seems desperate and you really seem like you want to help yourself, your husband, and your daughter---and that you really don't want to spank which is a GREAT thing!

I just wanted to respond to give you *hugs* to let you know someone is listening, even though I can't offer much help. While you are waiting for the wonderful replies I am sure you will get from the other experienced Mamas, there is a great thread in this same forum called "I spanked" where a mama spanked and regrets it--however there is A LOT of great advice/tips in that thread that don't involve spanking...maybe you can begin there...

Good luck and please have faith....asking for help is a brave and wonderful step in the right direction!
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#3 of 14 Old 02-08-2005, 05:14 PM
 
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I really feel your pain. I had a 5yo who was like this! (she is 6, will be 7 in Sept). It does get better! Consistency. Rewards for positive behavior (I bought those tickets at WalMart and my kids get them for good behavior). We have a scoring system and our children can earn tickets. Screaming and biting.and hitting.are reasons to lose tickets. Anything else we can deal with. I did spank her when she was younger (before I got wise), but did not spank dd#2. What a difference! Please..find some information for dh on not spanking. It's easy to spank, but it will not produce the end results you want.

Have you found things that your 5yo can help you do? At this age, they want to be needed (I borrowed this idea from No Greater Joy..I don't subscribe to most of their ideas..but there are some good ones..). Keep her busy busy busy. Maybe she just doesn't have enough to do..

You and your dh may need to reattach to her. Families bond by doing everyday tasks together. Working together..helps this bonding process.

These are just some of our ideas. PM me if you want some moral support on a daily basis. I would love you to meet Marion so you can see that it does get better. It just takes time, and a lot of work. Big Hugs.
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#4 of 14 Old 02-08-2005, 06:29 PM
 
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First, kudos to you for wanting to find an effective solution instead of just caving in to either your daughter or your husband.

First, I am sure that you realize that your anger, and that of your DH, is not helping the situation any at all. Can you find a way to deal with this aspect, separate and apart from handling your daughter? Can you use the negative impact this is having on her to convince your husband that you guys need to seek counseling or some other help? I bet a cooling off on your parts would make a big difference in her behaviour.

Next, can you point out to your DH that hitting her isn't going to teach her not to hit? Seems pretty intuitive to me that hitting a child while saying "no hitting" just doesn't compute. She will only learn that hitting is exactly the way to get others to do what you want.

Maybe those first actions will buy you some time. Because, unfortunately, there are no immediate quick answers here and you all need to realize that, especially your husband. But maybe if you can come up with something where you can at least show progress, that might help?

It sounds like she is a very angry little girl. Do you have the resources for professional help to deal with the anger? I suspect not, but if you do, then I would probably explore that next. Also, you might want to explore a medical assessment and/or diet/allergy sorts of changes while also addressing the behaviour directly.

OK, so now you need a plan of action, one that both you and your husband can agree on and one that you can both implement the same way every single time she is out of control. My first thought is, does she go to school? If so, does she have these sorts of outburst and what do they do? Does it work? Maybe you can adapt that?

Have you thought about a combination of timeouts and rewards for good behaviour? Before, everyone shouts me out on the time-out bit, here is my thinking about why this might be a workable compromise:
* A more gentl approach has been tried and hasn't worked.
* There is a time pressure, in that the husband isn't going to wait for her to grow out of the phase without it getting uglier.
* The husband probably has a typically male need to "do something" and this is about as mild a something as I can think of. WHile it might not be ideal, it might stave off a worse alternative.
* Seems like she needs to learn control and this might help her actually do that.
* Other people are getting hurt in these outbursts and a timeout situation would prevent that.
* It is a sensible consequence in that if you are raging and hitting people, no one wants you around.
* It is an easy thing to do consistantly across people and it can be done every time it is needed and it can be workable with a baby that needs to be protected too.

The big disadvantage I see is that, at first, it will get worse before it gets better. Yes, she is going to scream and kick the wall and whatever. And you are going to have to deal with a frightened baby during these outbursts. But I think if you hang in there, you will see a drastic change relatively quickly. At the same time, I would also try some sort of systematic reward for handling her temper in a good way, be that tickets or extra outings with mommy or whatever. Extra time/attention is probably the most sensible because it is the opposite of being removed from a bad situation, e.g. "If you are nice, people want to spend time with you"

Again, I realize that this might not be the most popular response on a GD discussion, but I'm trying to come up with something that takes into account the reality of the situation, not a theoretical or ideal options.
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#5 of 14 Old 02-08-2005, 06:57 PM
 
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This may be a little off the wall, and it is definately not a quick fix, but...

It sounds like she has emotions she can't deal with inside or express with words, how about some art therapy? Get out some good art supplies and ask her to paint how she feels. Do it as a family. Do it many times. Maybe she will be able to discuss her art more easily than her feelings. Bonus: the physical activity/tactile experience might be an outlet for her.

Or dancing together - you know interpretive dance.

Good luck and peaceful thoughts to you and yours,
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#6 of 14 Old 02-08-2005, 08:10 PM
 
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It sounds like there are some pretty deep issues going on here. Two things come to mind, either one or both could be issues.

First off, it sounds like there's something "not right" with your child. There may be something going on with her physically or chemically that's preventing her from having self-control. We recently put our family on the Feingold Program to help with my 8yo's ADD tendencies- there might be something in your 5yo's diet that's setting her off, or a nutrient that she's lacking. I would definitely look into possible physical causes in addition to art therapy or play therapy to help her handle her emotions.

Secondly, the moment you mentioned that your dh is "not violent" I wondered if there was abuse going on (why else would it have even occured to you to mention if he's violent or not?) Please check out this link on verbal abuse and see if ANY of it applies to your situation. http://www.verbalabuse.com/faq.shtml

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19 (in Israel for another school year), Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 12(homeschooled)
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#7 of 14 Old 02-09-2005, 05:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow thanks for all your replies and words of encouragement. I need them!

It is SO hard to represent oneself and one's family accurately with all their hues in a written, public forum such as this!

I wrote that post in frustration after the first outburst in a week. We had made a no-yelling, no name-calling rule, and the only one who had broken it thus far was dd. Dh and I had been doing well and then there was a scene and I just came and posted. So let me just say we ARE really working on our relationship, and I especially am trying to be hyper-aware of what is happening in front of dd and change and downplay the negatives and build up what's positive in the marriage. It is crystal clear to me that dd is our mirror - when we're happy, she's delightful. When we're frustrated or angry, she's a mess. She acts out of her pain. Problem is now it seems she's got more of the pain than the good stuff lodged inside her and so the acting out is no longer directly relevant to our family mood as a whole, if that make sense.

Let me clarify - my dh is not abusive. He is usually gentle, kind and loving. He believes all the ideals of being bonded with children and respecting them as humans and wanting to nurture them - but he just can't handle the daily stuff of parenting and children's behavior. He has NO patience and can't control his anger. And with the new baby (who cries a lot and wakes up often through the night) he is totally overwhelmed. So in the heat of the moment with dd he wants to take the easy way out -- but he KNOWS that hitting is going to make everything worse. Last night we had a looooong talk about everything. DH clarified that does NOT want to spank! But his anger grips him and he feels like he wants to hit, and says things like "you need a good spanking" which shame and hurt my dd. I mentioned that dh is not violent because I felt it was necessary to say my dd has never seen anyone hit anyone else in our family. She is the only one who is physically violent. DH and I yell and brood when we fight, but I have been really trying a) not to fight in front of dd and b) to maintain calm with him as i would with the kids. It's weird - I am the most patient mother but I have little patience with DH.

So maybe I should rename this thread "teaching DH and dd to use their words!"

I have tried everything suggested with dd's tantruming except the art therapy and the reward system, and I really feel reward tickets would not work for our family. I have never used rewards and punishments and I don't know, it just doesn't feel right. Plus I would forget all the logistics about it. However, dd is a big artist, so I think art therapy might help us get somewhere.

In general trying to use time out has meant that the tantrum drags on for an hour and it doesn't seem anyone's learning anything and it ruins our day. However, we have been starting mama & daddy time outs which seem to be a little better (though she hangs on our legs and tries to go away with us). I think I'm going to continue with that method and see if it works. But it doesn't help in public. We also found a great African dance class we can do together (including the baby) and she loved it so we're going to go every week. She won't dance anymore with me at home, nor will she help me cook, clean or fold laundry or any of the things she normally would do with joy. She just won't be a helper these days no matter how fun I make it out to be. I agree that we need to re-attach and I've been trying to do that with making special events for us, time together, family outings on the weekends, etc.

I have considered the food allergies, esp since as a baby she had a lot of colic and always has gas like a lion. We're vegetarians and I make most food from scratch, but occasionally give packaged tortellini or something. And the food she has at preschool is frightening. She has some junk foody snacks, usually one a day to my chagrin. She's obsessed with chocolate & sweets. I found her behavior gets a little better when she has EFA's every day. Also I noticed when we are happier as a family she doesn't crave sweets as much. Unfortunately I have an evil MIL who watches dd 3x a week (just picks her up from preschool and brings her home (sometimes they go to an art gallery on the way) - preschool is an hour each way and i can't do it with the baby) and feeds her sugary crap; she nods her head when I talk about natural foods & acceptable snacks and then goes and gives her chocolate wafers and soda! Dd tells me that she had these things and that grandma told her not to tell me! Then I confront grandma and she says "well, dd wanted it!" - that's another thread. GRRRRRRRR. Anyway then grandma blames dd's behavior on "her personality, not the food". and I can't cut her out of the care because I really need her help and we can't afford to hire someone. Plus it would cause untold family issues. My dh already can't handle the pressure of daily life. I think he'd crack if I went and fired his mother from her grandmotherly duties.

I'm so sad to say this but my dd is the kind of kid other parents look at and think "what a horrible little brat!" - whiny, loudmouthed, class clown kind of behavior (this REALLY bothers me) and demanding, and sometimes even mean to other kids. When we say "we love you but that behavior is not okay - we don't hit", she just rolls her eyes and spits out "whatever!" or "I know, i know! So what!? I don't care about anyone else!" But she is actually the sweetest, most gentle and intelligent person and can be very giving. So I want to help her find that true core again. Also she can feel she's constantly being evaluated - considered "our troubled child" and that makes her feel like a "case" you know? I know the violence is not the person dd wants to be - it's coming from a place deep inside that she can't name. But my ultimate fear is that she, like her dad, will NEVER learn to articulate her feelings and will grow up throwing tantrums when life is not working for her.

Sorry this is so long I'm sure it's TMI! Thanks again for all your insights.
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#8 of 14 Old 02-09-2005, 06:01 AM
 
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I read what you wrote and was wondering if you had read Raising Your Spirited Child or Playful Parenting. I think both of those books would be tremendously helpful in your situation. Do you think that she is acting this way because of the new baby?
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#9 of 14 Old 02-09-2005, 09:24 AM
 
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Hi, my son went through a similar phase when he was 4 -- though it did not go on for this long. I think you are correct -- the crucial peice of information is that she is unable to use her words to express the depth of her feelings.

I have some suggestions, but first off I wanted to say that just from what you've described, she sounds a LOT like your Dh! Quick to frustration and quick to the easiest route in a tense situation. Your Dh should be able to relate to her tantrums, if he thinks hard about it, because he himself is apt to take the same route. If he could put himself in her shoes for a moment, I bet he would be the best person to empathize with her and come up with a constructive solution.

I agree with the poster who suggested consistancy. You and your DH need to come up with a strategy for addressing these tantrums, and then respond to the tantrums in *exactly* the same way *every* time. Come up with a plan, and give it a good 2 weeks before you reevaluate your response to see if you need to make changes. Write your plan out, step by step, if you need to.

- I think its important to immediately remove her to a private setting when she looses control. To protect her dignity but also to have a quiet place where you can process with her effectively.

- What is your daughter's personality like? Is she passionate and "feelings" oriented? Or is she logical and "thinking" oriented? This should determine your first words to her. You start with what is most important to her. For example, my child is logical and a thinker. If we approached him during a tantrum and talked about his feelings, he would escalate to the point of no return. Our approach was to use a business like voice and ask "Can you tell me the problem?" And then work on problem solving until he deescalated. And then finally, talk about the feelings and better ways to express them.

If your dd is more feeling oriented, the best thing to do is to immediately recognize and validate what she is feeling, with YOUR words. And then as she deescalates, talk about how to better express herself next time. But don't try to reason with her until she grasps that you "get" what she feels.

- I also want to suggest that role playing be part of your response, after she has calmed down. Brainstorm with her "how to act next time" - allowing her to think up as many of the ideas as she can with coaching. And then "pretend" the situation again, using new words and actions that "work better" for her. Actually acting it out and playing the role will help her to rehearse the words that she will need access to the next time.

- Finally, I think its important for to "check in" with anyone she has injured during her tantrum. Well afterwards, when you've come to a point of trust again. Gently nudge her to acknowlege that she's hurt you or DH or woken the baby. I do not force apologies. But it is important to me that our kids will at least SEE and recognize when they've hurt someone, and take whatever action they feel is right. Sometimes they will say, "I'm sorry." Other times they will say, "I should not have done that." Sometimes they just say, "Oh, are you okay?" All those are fine things to say. So long as they are focusing for a moment on the problem they caused and paying some mind to it.

Good luck to you. I know how stressful it is, and how much this sort of think can rule the emotional climate of a family.
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#10 of 14 Old 02-09-2005, 09:29 AM
 
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Oh, I meant to say also that I love the idea of "draw what you feel" in a tense moment. It would not work with my kids because they are just not wired that way. But I can totally imagine how it could help a different sort of kid to calm down and get their feelings out.
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#11 of 14 Old 02-09-2005, 09:47 AM
 
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Mamaduck, I think I'm in love !

I deal with this a lot with my 5 yo. dd. I can totally relate and sympathize. You've gotten such wonderful advice here... the key is consistency, consistency, consistency! And don't be afraid to let your child know how YOU feel. I've always been loathe to let my child know exactly how her behavior affects me. Then I see my very brash, no-holds-barred teacher friend deal with kids in similar situations... example: "Ya know what? Your whining is really annoying me. I feel very frustrated right now. You need to speak to me properly and I will be glad to help you." That sort of thing. That way, you let some of your OWN steam off so it doesn't build and build and build mercilessly, and your own child has a direct connection between your pissiness and their behavior. :LOL
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#12 of 14 Old 02-09-2005, 11:31 AM
 
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Sphinx,

I just wanted to tell you how impressed I am with your post. You sound like a thoughtful mom who is working hard to help your dd through a tough time. Your sensitivity and love for your family shine through your post. I hear you balancing a realistic view with the confidence it will be better, balancing the ideal with the practical.

Hugs and peaceful thoughts to you all.
AM
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#13 of 14 Old 02-09-2005, 06:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you W. I'm trying!

MamaDuck - I have done and/or do everything you suggested. She's a feeler for sure. Role playing - she rolls her eyes, or says "i dunno" when we talk about what we could do differently next time. I end up doing the role play by myself! I am going to keep trying though, I will keep trying the dialogue, just talking about feelings as much as I can (I try validating and she just looks at me like "I'm onto you"!) Or we talk about how we can help the person who was hurt and she looks away and laboriously exhales an insincere "sorry" (though I've never ever made her apologize - she still seems to view it as a forced issue).

Dds been pretty depressed for almost a year (briefly: huge changes - new country, language, preschool, no real friends yet, parents fighting, big city living doesn't suit her, misses "home"). I agree that consistency is probably the major issue here. Which means I'm back at the drawing board! i.e., when dh can show a modicum of patience and we as parents have a united front, dd will stop aggressing on us and everything will get better. If I can just keep the dialogue going, I guess we're headed in the right direction. ?

I have gotten so much great advice and I really appreciate it all. I guess I just want to hear that there is hope, a light at the end of this tunnel...
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#14 of 14 Old 02-11-2005, 01:51 AM
 
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I'm currently reading a book called The Explosive Child. It has been SO helpful. We've been through a lot, as it sounds like you have, and there is always hope. Just when I honestly thought I couldn't take another day, I realized I wasn't alone.

I am thinking of you today

I have retired from administration work, so if you have a question about anything MDC-related, please contact Cynthia Mosher. Thanks!
 
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