I am coming to you once again with a parenting issue, hoping you can provide some ideas on how to tackle this. My newly 9 year old girl has always had a bad temper and anger outbursts. She behaves very well at school and in public and saves her "best" for in the family home. I work nights full time and dh is in charge of getting the kids up and off to school. I have been hearing from dh how hard of a time he's having with her behavior, but did not get the full picture until I took off a week of vacation. She is very hard to get up in the morning and chooses this as a power struggle to kick, hit, and scream. Many attempts have been made to wake her up gently with hugs and soft touches, kisses, opening windows slowly, music, alarm clocks (her idea), and other such things. She reacts with violence and rage. When she's finally out of bed and running late, she will yell and slam the door over and over again. I think she knows that dh feels pressured to get her to school on time and takes advantage of this.
My 12 year old is also suffering. It's important for my 12 year old to not be tardy and to get good attendance. She wakes up early on her own and gets herself ready. She is frustrated when her sister delays this, and often dh has to drive the girls to school because they miss the bus due to 9yo's tantrums.
On weekends, totally different story. She will wake up happy. She loves school-- this is not the issue. She is upset when she has to miss school due to being sick.
I have threatened to put 9yo in the car and drive her there in her PJ's with a bag of clothes. I did this once with 12 year old and after that she got ready on time.
Since I do work long night hours I get interrupted in my precious sleep by the tantrums. She is later very sorry and feels bad about it and hugs me with tears in her eyes.
So any ideas?
I agree with following through to bring her in her PJs. She needs to learn that she can't ruin the morning for everyone. I'd sit down and have a chat with her during a good time (not in the morning obviously!) about how her actions are seriously affecting others and that she WILL be stuck in the car in her PJs if she doesn't snap out of it. She has fair warning that this is going to actually occur.
Age 9 was a VERY rough year for my explosive DD1. She had always been prone to outbursts and fits of anger but as soon as she turned 9, it reached an entirely different level. It seemed to last a year, because she is 10 now, and things are finally smoother again. I don't know if it was hormones starting to kick in or what but what ever it was, it reminded me of having another toddler because of how volatile she could be.
How lucky for you then, to never had had the pleasure of parenting an explosive child!
OP, going off this post and only this post, your dd sounds like my ds with early-onset bipolar disorder. I don't have the bigger picture, of course.
That said, the explosive behavior of your daughter does sound concerning, does she do this at any other time? It might not be Abadi idea to get it checked out if you are worried about the behavior and she seems out of control.
A few things come to mind:
* Have you read about the Steiner theory on age 9 changes? This might help you manage/respond to the behavior if you feel it fits.
* Yeah--is she able to wake differently/sleep later on weekends? Nail down what's different.
* Inasmuch as it definitely looks like it could be bipolar, it could also be blood-sugar imbalance (which can look like bipolar). Try rearranging what she's eating so that there is less starch and sugar, and more protein and fat for a week. Just for a week--try removing anything made of flour, potatoes, fruits other than fresh berries (juice and dried fruits are the worst), etc. and stick to veggies (and meats if you are not vegetarian) with some good fats (avocado/guacamole, hummus, nut butters/creams, ghee, etc.) and see if this changes her behavior. You'd be rather stunned. Make sure milk is full-fat milk, etc. If you need help with that, pm me. My own son MUST eat upon waking or we deal with a similar problem, but maybe your dd's is more progressed to where you need to consider what she's eating before bed.
* Check to see if you are giving a multivitamin that has a B-complex. Mental health is significantly affected by B vitamins (and B6 especially).
* If you have a good alternative doctor, I would ask them to run tests for nutrient deficiencies. Magnesium would be the place to start (it has a calming affect and we are often deficient).
Anything you try, try alone. You want to be sure you can nail down the results or changes to a single source.
Hope this helps. Pm me if you need any help or additional info!
awwwwwww USAmommy this breaks my heart.
hormones. its gotta be the hormones as she doesnt like what is happening to her. its like a monster takes over and she has no control. that's what my dd used to describe it. poor baby. she is having way harder time than anyone around her.
perhaps really there IS nothing you can do. its a phase that passes.
perhaps put in more one on one time with her. she definitely needs it. and tell her you understand and reinforce that you love her no matter what.
perhaps increase her protein intake too.
yeah try the blood sugar route too since its happening first thing in the morning.
one more factor.
is she in 4th grade? 4th grade is HARD. really hard on the kids. their workload - both in class and home - increases exponentially. they are no longer in primary but secondary elementary school. the teacher is more strict and holds them to task to help them handle the workload. so i feel the stress increases. so your dd IS under a lot of stress and even though she enjoys school, i would guess at times she is NOT liking school too much these days. if she isnt then you know she is feeling the stress.
has she always been hard to get up in the morning? dd has the same issue. she takes half an hour to get up and has 3 alarms going ever 5 minutes. at the end of the 3rd alarm she sits up and then takes her 15 minutes to get to the bathroom.
Are you sure she is getting enough sleep? Can you help her come up with her own morning routine that she can get through on her own? I would start working with her to get all of her school stuff organized and by the door before she even goes to bed to help her in the am. I would also work on providing her with some centering activities she can do in the morning, here are some ideas:
Taking a morning walk
Mindful eating of breakfast, or may'be drinking of tea
Short guided meditation
Reading a few chapters of a good book
HA! Read through some of my past posts. My older son is a definite explosive child. He is six and as he gets older he is slowly figuring out how to manage himself.
Joyful mama of 3.
9 is a rough age! All my boys got "worse" at that age with whatever difficult behaviors we had been dealing with. My DS3 sounds similar in temperament to your daughter. He also has mild autism and severe anxiety and sensory issues, diagnosed at, you guessed it, 9 years old. School mornings were horrible for him. We are now homeschooling but looking back I can see a few things that were setting us up for trouble.
1. He needed more sleep. We were aiming for 10 hours on school nights. Now that he is home, he easily sleeps 12-13! He clearly needed more sleep.
2. Rushing. As I have observed DS, he is slooowww to wake and be fully present and cognizant in the morning. This is a temperament issue. Some kids bound out of bed ready for the day - some kids shuffle around in a haze. So the pressure of getting ready for school was too much for him.
3. Puberty hormones. When the doctor suggested puberty, I scoffed. But sure enough a few months later I noticed the early, early signs. He is now nearing 12 and no where near full blown puberty, but the subtle signs have been present for a while. I think the body starts to lay the foundation at this age for the later rush of hormones. For sensitive kids, this is hard and throw their whole chemistry off balance.
4. Proper motivation. DS is like your daughter in that he behaves exceptionally well for others and can be a monster at home. I believe that this is anxiety-related. He is truly afraid of what others will think of him, and his fear of embarrassment is enough of a deterrent to keep his behavior in check outside home. He was mortified when I talked to his 4th grade teacher about why he was frequently late. So if avoiding embarrassment is enough of a motivator to keep him from melting down in public, then he can clearly control his behavior if he is property motivated to do so. I am NOT by nature a "sticks and carrots" sort of parent, and I still hate it, but with some kids all the reasoning in the world won't work. Find something that motivates her and use it for all its worth! DS loved the Wii and watching Wild Kratts on PBS. So if he'd had appropriate behavior in the AM, he could do that after school. If he'd had a fit, the TV/Wii stayed off after school. Sure this sometimes triggered an afterschool fit, but at least then we were home and could deal with it. We also had some success with him earning longer-term rewards, like Lego sets, by coloring in reward charts.
Big hugs to you mama! I know how frustrating it is to deal with this! I am sorry to
Mom to DS(17) DS(15) DS(12) My gifted, quirky, wonderful teens!
Mama to Jack 11.08 and Liam 9.11 and due with boy #6!
Blissfully married to the love of my life since 8.8.8