my DD1 (6 years) is getting very, very emotional intense and sometimes it is really frightening me.
She is going to an afterschool program every day except thursday, thursdays we have OT with her. So no afterschool, homework not done. Last thursday I put her to bed, and she started screaming: I am bad, I am Soooo BAD! (swearing words) and she started to hit herself.
I was totally freaked out, and asked what was wrong and she said that she forgot to do her homework, and how it's too late know and how she is the worst little girl in the world.
I hugged her and calmed her down and we solved the problem.
DD and her brother did not stop fighting, and I warned them, that if they won't stop there would be no time for story before bed. They did not stop and I told them that there would be no story because it was already so late.
DD freaked out, screamed and cried and said things like: I am the worst kid, I can't obey my mom, I can never do what my mom tells me, I am going to hurt myself!
And she started hitting and biting herself. There were marks on her arms.
I don't know what to make of this. I did calm her down, and hugged her and told her that I love her and that she is not bad and things like that (still no story thought)
I don't know if she is "acting" this behaviour, and if so, why she would do it, or if she is in such a place and how she got there. I never ever spoke like that to her, never told her, that she is a bad kid or something like that, never hurt her physically, never used swear words or stuff like that (I do say things like: You kids are driving me mad. Or I need a break from you guys now. And I do yell when I get upset.
I don't know what to do about this.
I think there's a third possibility somewhere in the middle. I expect she's feeling strong emotions, but doesn't yet have the tools to work through them and diffuse them on her own, so she's externalizing them to get help processing them, using whatever behaviour and words will ensure that she is taken seriously. In her mind it's probably a case of "I feel really badly, and I want people to notice so that I get help feeling better." And of course, you do notice!
What you're already doing is probably helping her: you're giving her tools to problem-solve and find solutions. I think it would be helpful to reassure her that she will still be taken seriously if she expresses her upsets simply and clearly with words, and that the explosive histrionics are neither necessary nor appropriate. Model the language she needs to use instead:
"Please don't hit yourself. And we don't call anyone in this family 'bad,' not even ourselves. You're upset about something but you need to stop the hitting and tell me with your regular voice: what is making you upset? Is it the homework? Then say 'I'm really disappointed in myself for forgetting about my homework.' Say it that way." If she can't express it verbally without shrieking and yelling, ask her to write or draw how she's feeling.
See if you can get her to tone her behaviour down even just a notch. Once you've got an appropriate expression of the feelings, move in and do your problem-solving, cuddling, supporting, consoling. Remind her at the end that she needs to say what's bothering her, no swearing, no hitting, no biting. Point out that when she said (or wrote down) what was upsetting her you still took her seriously, and in fact it was a lot easier to talk things through together and find solutions. It will probably take a fair bit of ongoing work, but it's so worthwhile.
Thank you Miranda, that is REALLY helpful!
And just to offer a reassurance -- virtually all parents scream sometimes and say things like "your driving me nuts!" I don't think your occasional expressions of frustration are the cause. (If they were, both my kids would be beyond hope now! )
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