My 4.5 year old just attacked me - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 11-14-2007, 12:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So after me nicely requesting that she help me pick up her toys so I could vacuum the living room, I realized after 3 times that Zoe simply wasn't listening to me because she was watching T.V. and couldn't be bothered. So I said, "Look Zoe, I am going to turn the T.V. off now, and when we are done picking up the toys then we can watch it again, okay?" And after the warning I flipped off the tube a couple minutes later.

She absolutely FLIPPED out. She started shrieking in her loudest, angriest voice I have heard yet, "NO! I AM WATCHING IT YOU CAN'T DO THAT!" and then rushed me, hitting me in the stomach with balled fists, knocking me into the T.V. , which tipped backwards off the pedestal as I fell into it. Luckily, there is a wall behind it, and it stopped it from toppling over. My socks are slippery and I lost my footing as I tried to right myself. It is a 60 inch big screen (yes we have one : it wasn't my idea but a couple years ago my husband decided that it was as necessary to have one as it is to breathe air so we got it with our tax returns--sorry for the run on but I hate all of the obnoxious gluttony it represents. I can't stand the thing).

What was going on in my head? Well, for starters, I have never wanted to whack someone as much as I wanted to whack her in my whole life (I didn't). I was also envisioning myself getting electrocuted by going through the screen and how much that would suck. Then, the fun I would have trying to calm my husband down if the T.V. (his other baby) was broken. What ifs were running through my head as she was throwing a tantrum, screaming at me because I turned the T.V. off. I am feeling exasperated that she hit me, we don't hit her, and I have been trying to instill in her that we do not hit in our house. Yet the first thing she does when frustrated or upset is hit me, or herself, or whatever piece of furniture or wall that happens to be near. I am sick of her hitting me.

I held my hands up (probably because my first instinct was to use them) yelled, no, I roared, at her to go to her room, because I needed to cool off and I know she did too. I just didn't know what to do. I needed her to go away. I know that timeouts are not very GD, but I couldn't deal rationally with this at the moment.

So she spent about 7 minutes in her room and then I told her to come downstairs. I apologized for yelling, and right now she thinks I don't love her, which I am trying to reassure her that I do.

Is there another way that I could have handled this? Because I just don't feel as though I handled it well since my kid is crying that I don't love her anymore . But I don't know what else I could have done at the time. Emotions were running pretty high. I just finished reading Unconditional Parenting and Taming Your Spirited Child (Please don't let the title fool you it is not at all about trying to break your kid's spirit), and they have been so helpful, but there weren't any guidelines to follow if your child almost kills you.

::sigh::
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#2 of 15 Old 11-14-2007, 12:15 AM
 
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wow!!! i'm glad you're both ok! I would talk it out & provide reassurance that you do, indeed, love her, but that her reaction caused a dangerous situation and that you were frightened and upset.
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#3 of 15 Old 11-14-2007, 12:18 AM
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I am very sorry that happened and of course, coming at someone physically or screaming isn't okay.

At the same time though, I think it was not respectful to your dd to just "warn" her and flip off the TV. I imagine if my husband did that to me I would be awfully angry, only I have the impulse control, maturity, life experience, and good grasp on time flow to not knock his block off... but I certainly would be feeling that way if he just decided what I was doing was far less important than what he was doing (because he deemed it so) and made a decision to end my enjoyment without discussion or choice on my end.

Again, it was not right that she came at you physically and I am not saying it is okay.

How I would have handled it (because you asked!) is that I would have had a further discussion about the TV -- waited until she finished her show if she was enjoying it, taken the couple minutes of free time she was engaged to do something I enjoyed and attempted to vaccum in a few minutes. I mean I know vaccuming is something you wanted (or felt you needed) to do and I understand that.... but your dd also felt what she was doing was valid to her and from her perception I imagine she felt you just deemed that completely invalid, a waste of time, not important etc...

I would reconnect before any discussion about the *incident*. I would get to a place where you both are feeling connected, loving and open to eachother again -- however that happens, by coloring or cuddling or whatever. Then, after the connection is re-established (to me connection and the relationship comes first) I would discuss my boundaries and need for physically safety in a matter of fact, gentle, age appropriate manner. Then, I would apologize (not for yelling because you already did and truthfully I don't think that is the real issue) but for turning off the tv without her input and basically communicating to her that what she was doing was far less valid than what you wanted to do (however you want to word that). Brainstorm ideas together about how to meet both of your needs in the future. "Is it that you wanted to finish your show? I will be mindful of that next time" ...

Did you touch her when you were talking to her and she wasn't listening? I find that helps with dd, when she is engaged and I am wanting her attention -- I get down on her level with a hand on her shoulder or back (gently) and tell her that I want to tell her something (before telling her what I want to tell her). I ask for eye contact "can you look at my eyes a sec so I can see that you hear me?" I say this in a gentle way. This removes a lot of having to repeat myself or not knowing if she's heard me. Your dd may not have even heard you if she was absorbed, and then it probably came as a huge shock when the tv just went off ya know? It might not be that she was "not bothered", I know when I am absorbed in something (reading, online, watching tv, painting) I sometimes don't even hear dh when he says something.

Good luck mama.
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#4 of 15 Old 11-14-2007, 12:20 AM
 
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Oh, man! I couldn't read and not respond.

That sounds enormously stressful and scary and intense--for both of you!

I don't know.....I mean I guess not yell? But, shoot, sometimes it's just right there and if it's yelling vs. hitting--then there you go.

For me, what I'd focus on now is talking it out with her. Talking about how scary it was for you--how you thought the TV was going to fall and someone was going to get hurt, and validate how upsetting it was for her to have you turn the TV off, and how frustrated you were with her not listening, and apologize and reassure, and come up with a game plan for next time.

Bless your heart! And her's, too.
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#5 of 15 Old 11-14-2007, 12:22 AM
 
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I'm so glad you're okay and sorry you got hurt. Is the hitting a new thing or has it been around awhile. I went through some similar times around that age with my wheat allergic dd1. It's hard and scary and very hard to find GD support.

If it doesn't have an obvious trigger, some folks have found The Explosive Child helpful.

I hope you can get a long bath after she goes to bed tonight.
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#6 of 15 Old 11-14-2007, 12:40 AM
 
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I'd try to reassure you that the yelling happened because you were scared. Scared that you were going to fall down, scared about breaking the TV, scared that you were going to get hurt and even a little scared that she had hit you.

Ask her if she still loves you - afterall, she yelled at you when you turned off the TV. And of course she still loves you, and you still love her even though there was some unfortunate yelling today.

Glad you are both OK!
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#7 of 15 Old 11-14-2007, 12:50 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain crunchy View Post
I
How I would have handled it (because you asked!) is that I would have had a further discussion about the TV -- waited until she finished her show if she was enjoying it, taken the couple minutes of free time she was engaged to do something I enjoyed and attempted to vaccum in a few minutes. I mean I know vaccuming is something you wanted (or felt you needed) to do and I understand that.... but your dd also felt what she was doing was valid to her and from her perception I imagine she felt you just deemed that completely invalid, a waste of time, not important etc...
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Ask her if she still loves you - afterall, she yelled at you when you turned off the TV. And of course she still loves you, and you still love her even though there was some unfortunate yelling today.
Both of those are such good pieces of advice!

I've done stuff like that before....turning off the tv. And it's just so good to be able to sit later and talk it through and take responsibility for my part and apologize and come up with ways that we can both do it differently next time.

And you DIDN'T HIT!! That's awesome!
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#8 of 15 Old 11-14-2007, 02:34 AM
 
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Originally Posted by _betsy_ View Post
I'd try to reassure you that the yelling happened because you were scared. Scared that you were going to fall down, scared about breaking the TV, scared that you were going to get hurt and even a little scared that she had hit you.

Ask her if she still loves you - afterall, she yelled at you when you turned off the TV. And of course she still loves you, and you still love her even though there was some unfortunate yelling today.

Glad you are both OK!
What a great suggestion! I would try this because it will show her that no matter how mad either of you get at each other, you will always love each other. My ds and I talk about that a lot. I've told him that there is absolutely nothing he can do to stop me from loving him.

I agree that probably talking about it more upfront and not turning off the tv in the middle of a show is a good idea. My ds rarely can focus on what I'm saying when he's watching a show. Sometimes, I'll pause the show and we'll have a quick chat...so maybe in your case you could pause it and ask her if she'd like to take a break now and help tidy or do it right after the show. But you have to be prepared to put your agenda on hold.

I'm so glad you're ok and give yourself major credit for not hitting her when everything in you wanted to...that's awesome restraint!
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#9 of 15 Old 11-14-2007, 12:49 PM
 
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First, That would've scared me too.

I agree with a lot of what has already been said, particularly by Captain Crunchy. I find it helpful to slow down, connect before requesting that my kids do something, be open to things like waiting until a show is over or they've finished reading their page (it's what I would want someone to do for me, and trying to insist that something get done before the show they're enjoying is over or the page is finished often sets us up for a power struggle-which is totally counterproductive most of the time), be very proactive (if I know I want them to clean up toys, I plan for that to happen before tv watching if possible, for example). I also agree that at a time when you are both calm, it would probably help to talk about what happened: why she was angry, why you were scared, why you yelled, how you wish things had gone differently, apologize for yelling (but not for being frightened or angry), how you need everyone to be safe, maybe make a plan for next time she gets angry (for what she can do instead of hitting).

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Originally Posted by honeydee View Post
I am feeling exasperated that she hit me, we don't hit her, and I have been trying to instill in her that we do not hit in our house. Yet the first thing she does when frustrated or upset is hit me, or herself, or whatever piece of furniture or wall that happens to be near. I am sick of her hitting me.
Do read The Explosive Child. It sounds to me, from your post, that she is a child whose emotions escalate very quickly, that maybe she has trouble regulating her emotional responses particularly when dealing with a frustrating situation. I have a child like this, and what happens is that she quickly becomes upset to the point where she isn't thinking clearly--so she doesn't remember, doesn't think about, and has trouble accessing all the information she has about other ways to handle her frustration. So she hits, despite our efforts at teaching her that hitting is harmful and not tolerated in our home. It's the first, default option in her "what to do when I'm angry" file. It doesn't feel good to her, as I'm sure it doesn't feel good to your daughter, but she has a hard time remaining calm, thinking things through, and solving her problem a different way. These are really important skills, and it's easy to forget that they are skills, that these are skills that aren't well-developed at age 4, and that for some kids developing these skills is harder than it is for others. The Explosive Child does a great job of explaining this, helping parents identify where there kids need help, and giving parents an approach that helps kids learn these skills. It has helped us a lot.

www.thinkkids.org has great information about the ideas and methods described in The Explosive Child.
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#10 of 15 Old 11-16-2007, 04:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Captain Crunchy, you are right. I guess she probably didn't hear me (or did but it just didn't register). When I asked her afterwards if she wanted to talk, she said, "Mo-om, you pissed me off! I really wanted to watch T.V.!" And I said ok I'm sorry next time I'll wait till your show is off. And we talked about how what happened was very dangerous, I could have been hurt, and that we don't hit in our home. We made up, and she knows I love her.

Now that I think about it, I am really proud of myself that I didn't lash out at her. I mean, I really wanted to. It would have been so easy to do so. I have been working on this for several weeks, and I feel like dealing with her in a gentler way and thinking things through rather than always reacting is finally kicking in.

I just ordered The Explosive Child from Amazon. I cannot wait till it comes in! Sledg, I bookmarked that link too, I just haven't had time to check it out.

Thanks everyone for the feedback. I gotta go to bed.
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#11 of 15 Old 11-16-2007, 08:40 AM
 
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when my kids get sucked into the tv, I usually say, after this show, we are turning it off, did you hear me, and I make sure they did. Then I do exactly as you did, and when the show is over, I turn it off, bc they never will.

Try giving her more warning time than a couple of minutes, give the oppurtunity for her to finish what shes watching and dont beat yourself up for yelling... it happens. Tell her you do love her and that is that. I wouldnt dwell on it because I think that makes it a bigger deal than it is. I always tell my kids, I love you but I was not happy when you....

Also, if you often get this reaction over TV, you may want to start limiting it more. I kind of try to get away from it once in a while, it seems to creap into our lives and they watch more and more, and then I have to be like.. ok too much tv. Then I try to be more aware of how much they are watching and I start cutting back.
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#12 of 15 Old 11-16-2007, 09:13 AM
 
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I just wanted to add one point. At the beginning of your original post you said that you "requested" her help in picking up toys. To me, a request can be denied. It's implicit in what a request versus a demand is. It has been helpful to me to be clear with myself first if I'm making a request and willing to hear "no" or if I'm going to make a demand. And, I try to limit demands. HTH and hope your new book is helpful.
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#13 of 15 Old 11-16-2007, 09:31 AM
 
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Originally Posted by honeydee View Post
Captain Crunchy, you are right. I guess she probably didn't hear me (or did but it just didn't register). When I asked her afterwards if she wanted to talk, she said, "Mo-om, you pissed me off! I really wanted to watch T.V.!" And I said ok I'm sorry next time I'll wait till your show is off. And we talked about how what happened was very dangerous, I could have been hurt, and that we don't hit in our home. We made up, and she knows I love her.

Now that I think about it, I am really proud of myself that I didn't lash out at her. I mean, I really wanted to. It would have been so easy to do so. I have been working on this for several weeks, and I feel like dealing with her in a gentler way and thinking things through rather than always reacting is finally kicking in.

I just ordered The Explosive Child from Amazon. I cannot wait till it comes in! Sledg, I bookmarked that link too, I just haven't had time to check it out.

Thanks everyone for the feedback. I gotta go to bed.
I second the recommendation of Explosive Child. I read it all the time, reminding myself about the "baskets" with my explosive child. Basically the best advice is to choose which behavior is worth inducing a meltdown for. I still have trouble being flexible with this myself. I tend to be inflexible most of the time. My son who is 9, is the only one of my four children who hits me. The girls never have. If they get hurt or mad or upset, they cry and whine. My son if he gets hurt or angry (not ALL the time with the anger, but all the time if he say stubs his toe or bumps his head)he kicks, punches, pinches and bites. Hes always done this. When he was 2 and would get hurt playing or whatever normal stuff he was doing, he would immediately stop, drop to the floor and continue to bang his head on the floor. He is my challenging child that I am learning how to parent daily. Just the other day I was handing him his book he was reading (rather heavy as he is a great reader) and we were in the car, so I was handing it behind me and didnt realize he was coming up to the front to get it and it bonked him on the head. I immediately said oh baby im so sorry are you alright? and he started punching me hard. I just crumpled into a ball and started to cry because I didnt want to yell, and I certainly wasnt going to hit back. I have a tendency to yell too...and I am trying to stop myself. So far, the only thing I have come up with to do is crumple into a ball, take the beating and cry. Because everything else doesnt work...but he is also very very intense and most other techniques dont work with him. Ive tried hugging him and holding him and telling him I love him, ive tried relaxation techniques, Ive tried talking gently, ive tried redirection....and finally ive tried leaving him alone while he's in vapor lock/meltdown...and he totally wrecks the house and breaks things. So, I am still at a loss of what to do. I havent yelled in days..I think I yell really when I am pmsing. I need to get some EPO for that though and havent even had time to nurture myself these days. our counselor says that ds definitely does not take social cues and he hasnt learned many things socially so he expresses himself physically. I do agree with that. We were trying to get a dx, but i just kept thinking, what the hell am I doing this for? Putting him through 8 hours of testing--thats ASKING for a meltdown! Thats not fair because I know in my heart he cannot handle such testing. Plus we just cannot afford testing and they dont take our insurance. What would be the point anyway, to label my son? I am just going to have to work extra hard getting to know him and what he needs and how to handle the outbursts. Thats why I am here, so I can be a better parent and not yell. Ok im done lol!

PS--we dont get alot of tv time here because when they used to get tv (years ago) they would be glued to it and i think it actually induced meltdowns. All that flashing light got to his little brain I think and he overheated when it got turned off. Also I learned to give warnings before something like that needs to be shut off...usually a 10 or 5 minute warning. like I said, I have to learn to be flexible too and learn that my cleaning can wait 10 minutes. Now they are allowed to watch tv once or twice a week and we dont have cable so they only get PBS. they dont complain because we are always so busy lol!

Mamma to my four wonderful, amazing and unique children~~Wife to my true soulmate who sees things the way I do, together we are truly a team!
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#14 of 15 Old 11-16-2007, 12:44 PM
 
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Well, first of all. It really isn't very nice to turn off the tv in the middle of a show. I will turn it off at the end of a show, and even offer to turn it back on as soon as we are done picking up.

If you want her to help pick up toys, TELL her "After this show, we are picking up toys". Never ask, never end anything with "O.K?" when it wasn't meant to be optional. O.K is optional. If you say O.K, then be prepared for the answer to be "no".

As far as getting mad at her for attacking you like that???? HEck yes, I'd be mad! I'd be livid! I would have apologised to her too, but I would also hope she felt sorry for attacking her mother like that. The first thought through my head is "My husband is going to kill us both if this tv is broken"

She needs to respect you. You need to respect yourself. You should only tolerate what you are willing to tolerate from the other people in your life. Is your husband allowed to hit you and push you like that? Why would it be acceptable for your child to treat you like that?

Of course, I don't know HOW you should go about teaching her that you will not be attacked like that. But, I haven't read any of the books, so I know someone here will know what to do.

They say time out is a "no no" here. But, kids really do need a time out. They don't need to be punished. But, the really do need some time in their rooms to chill out a while. Seven minutes might not have been long enough. When you see the pot about to boil, send her in her room to clean out her toy box, or listen to tapes. She will feel so much better after having some alone time.
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#15 of 15 Old 11-16-2007, 01:37 PM
 
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There are two issues.

The first is how you dealt with the request and the tv.

The second is your response once she hit you.

I think roaring is an acceptable response, and so is apologizing after roaring. Attacking people is a big deal, and responding in a big way matches the intensity. If she's feisty enough to rage at you, she's feisty enough to survive a roar.

I wouldn't ask her if she still loves you, because little kids often get confused about their own feelings of rage and love. Reassure her that you love her, and that being angry never changes love. That way you're modeling a way to think about angry feelings.

Reconnect, and when you're both feeling up to it try and problem solve the cleaning/tv situation together.
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