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Thread: Desperately need help with 5 year old behaviour

  1. #1

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    Default Desperately need help with 5 year old behaviour

    I don't quite know where to start with this except to say that Ashlea's behaviour has got so out of control that today resulted in me in my room crying, and Ashlea in her room crying.

    Ashlea can be the most delightful, mature and helpful little girl, but in a split second turns into a monster. I know this is quite common, but its got so bad lately that i don't know what to do anymore.

    Yesterday I asked her to get dressed. She's always had issues with getting dressed. It ened up taking 2 hours between all the tantrums over clothes. The skirt had a frill on it she didnt like, despite the fact it was a skirt she picked herself and has worn before without problems. The jeans were wrinkly to her, despite just being ironed. She hates the shoes she wore for 2 weeks straight in QLD.
    This goes on and on and on and she cries and yells and screams and slams doors and i end up so frustrated that i smack her.
    I have tried letting her pick her own clothes, i've tried picking them myself, no matter what i do its always a challange.

    When she is finally dressed, she's back to being an angel. The I suggest we do something fun like a bike ride. This is all fine until something doesnt go her way and she ends up hysterical and we are in public and shes screaming cause something isnt right. I get to the point where i take her home and explain her behaviour isn't okay and that she misses out if she behaves like this. So she screams more and more cause i take her home.

    I always follow through with what i say will happen if she behaves like this, and I am always consistent with sending her to her room or taking away favourite toys etc. I do end up smacking her which i hate doing but by this time i'm at my wits end and dont know what else to do. I've tried talking to her and reasoning with her but as soon as she gets the slightest bit upset with something she is impossible, wont listen to reason and wont let anyone help.

    The same thing happens with dinner. She tells me how starving hungry she is and carries on and on and on, but as soon as i give her dinner, which i talk about with her first what she wants, she wont eat it, wont sit still, gets all silly and grumpy and its impossible to get her to eat it.

    After i give up, she tells me she's hungry 20 minutes later. If i give her the dinner heated up she wont eat it again.

    Everything is just so difficult and hard and stressful. Not a day goes by where by lunchtime we havent had at least one major tantrum. She goes to bed at 8ish and has a sleep for an hour mpst days, so its not like she's over tired or anything.



    I'm so sick of doing this on my own with no help. Her dad is an idiot and if i ask for help or try and talk to him he basically says not his problem. He thinks having her every second weekend is him doing his wonderful father duties.

    I spoke to the MHCN about it trying to get some help and they put me onto someone else who said the only thing the can suggest is the Positive parenting program, but seeing as i do mostly everything they teach already they dont know what else to do.

    I'm so exhausted by her behaviour, i'm sick of wanting to do fun or special things with her only for her to spend the whole time having a tantrum or being horrible.

    At kinder they tell me what an angel she is, always willing to help, so polite, so wonderful. Daycare have told me the same. So what the hell am i doing so wrong with her? its so embarrasing the way she acts and I feel like the worse mother because of her behaviour

    Sorry this is so long, I just don't know what to do anymore...

  2. #2

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    Dee the only advice I can offer is some of the stratergies I use with the kids at school ( I am an early childhood teacher)- obviously the differ slightly because when it is your own child it is different. I dont know how these will work from a parenting point of view because Tori is still only 4 month, but I have worked in some of toughest schools in the state and won over some of the hardest kids.
    The method I use is choices and consequence. For example with the getting dressed, if Ashlea can't decide I would put out an outfit for her and tell her you can choose to get dressed, or you can go out in your pj's- then tell her if she doesnt make the choice you will choose for her, and that you choose she will go out in her pj's. Give her a time to think about her choice (maybe a timer will help) say to her "you have 5 mins to make up your mind and then we are going out" if she is capable of dressing herself I would just leave her to get on with it. If by the end of the time you have given her she is not dressed, I would put her in the car and take her out in her pj's- maybe not far, just to the local shops or something.
    When you are doing a fun activity together and she starts to have a tantrum, try the same thing- you can choose to behave in that way or you can join in, I am going to do the activity and if you want to join in you can if not you can choose to miss out, then turn your back on her and continue on with the activity you were doing before.
    Not to sure on the dinner thing, have you tried letting her serve up her own dinner, telling her that she can choose how much she puts on her plate, but that she has to it eat if she dishes it up. Maybe you can introduce a special activity that she likes to do after dinner if she eats a certain amount, and if she doesnt eat it- she misses out on that activity.
    I guess the basic principle that I use it tell her the behaviour that is inappropriate, issue her with a choice about what can do ie. continue to behave badly or join in the activity, then I would walk away and continue with whatever you were doing before the tantrum started.
    These may or may not work for you, but from my experience in the classroom- if you give them control of their behaviour with a choice (but the choices that suit you not any choice they like), tell them the consequence of their choice, and then just get on with what you were doing before more often than not they calm down and want to join in.
    Don't think that you are a bad Mum, I think Ashlea is just trying to see how far she can push you, and when she can engage you in a debate she will, to see how much control she has.
    Good luck with it all, I hope some of this helps!

  3. #3

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    Hey Dee

    One of the best programmes I have ever come across for behaviour management is something called 123 magic...it's written by an American Psychologist (Thomas Phelan) and is extremely effective...

    It's basically a time out programme but with the emphasis on reducing the amount of talking/debating/arguing as well as the level of emotion.

    I've used it for the past 8 years or so in my work...I work with kids with behavioural and social problems...and even with really extreme behaviours, it works well...

    Lots of the parents I have worked with love it!

    Lots of government services are offering courses in it now, so try googling 123 magic and see what comes up. You can also buy the book or DVD.

    I don't have kids but when (if) I do...I'll definitely use it.

    All the best!!!

  4. #4

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    Just some ideas that may be worth considering

    Is there an additive or something in her diet that makes her behavious worse? Just an idea, but being an educator and a mother, i have seen how kids behaviours change from eating different food.

    When she is being an angel, can you guys sit down together and write up what is acceptable and what is not. Also come up with rewards when she follows the rules and consequences when she doesn't
    By her participating, she gets to take ownership of the rules and hence her behaviour.

    Is there a time in the day when her behaviour is worse? Perhaps keeping a diary of when the flare ups are occurring. You may find a pattern emerges. I know that my DD goes feral the moment her sugar level drops - so I know that as soon as she starts, I give her something snacky to bring it back up.

    Working out the triggers and how to prevent the situations occurring in the first place is far better than going into war games with her.

    By understanding the behaviour and why it is occurring, the we can best prevent situations occurring in the firstplace. Also by having a game plan in place that she you you have agreed upon will mean that once a flare up occurs - you will have a direction to follow.

    HTH

  5. #5

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    Thankyou all for you replies.

    Ali, I love your suggestion on letting her server up her own dinner. Because its just me and her at home she plays an active role in chosing the food, but then I do the rest. She loves doing grown up things like serving up the food but usually I don't let her at dinner time. I'll definately try that one. The problem with dinner is that even when i let her pick something she wants, she still doesnt eat it when its cooked! She wanted hotdogs last night. Quick and easy and not exactly nutritional but she'd got back late from dad's and it was quick and easy. She loves hotdogs but wouldn't eat it as usual. Last nights excuse was that it was 'too spicy' which is so obviously wasn't!

    As for the getting dressed thing, i let her pick her clothes the night before and we put them on the heater. I tell her that if she gets dressed without getting upset she can wear her clothes. If she gets upset and won't get dressed then I go and pick clothes and she has to wear them. She hates when that happenens, and i follow it through everytime. Its like the second she gets a little stressed out or upset all reason flies out the window and doesn't return until i've lost it and shes lost it and i end up smacking her.

    I do the same when we go out and she chucks a tantrum. I say to her that she can either stop now and we can keep riding the bikes or i'll take her home. As soon as i say something like that she cracks up even more. So i do take her home, but in the process i get so angry myself that yet another fun day has been ruined by her tantrums.


    Monnie, Anything that involves less talk and debate and esspecially less emotion is definatley something i'll try! I'm sick of us both getting so worked up.

    Odette, Ashlea's diet is usually pretty good as I'm a single mum and not working at the moment until ashlea starts school. Because of this reason the food budget it pretty tight and the only snack foods i buy is for kinder which is mainly fresh fruit etc. She eats wholemeal bread as i've found white bread sends her nuts. She only drinks water unless its a special occasion. I know if she eats sugar or lollies she'll go nuts too so we avoid that as much as possible. Is there any common additives that seem to send kids off?? I wouldn't even know where to start to see if there is anything that might be triggering her.

    I like the point you made about the sugar levels dropping, I'm hypoglycemic and all my family can pick if i havent been eating right or enough as i turn nasty! My sis comes up to me when i'm grumpy and tells me to eat a pear. Its something i haven't thought of, but will start looking out for it.

    Her main triggers are getting dresssed, and we have the most problems in the morning. I also noticed that as soon as she gets a little tired she is impossible. She still has a rest most days (she turned 5 last week) and I wonder how she will cope at school next year with such a big day.

    This morning we've had a great morning, no tantrums or anything, but she also hasn't had to get dressed yet as my nephew is alseep in her room! We'll see how she goes

    Thankyou again for your responses

  6. #6

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    Dee, My oldest maddison was still having 2 sleeps a day the month before Prep & I was freaking, she managed, was exhausted the first few months, but she loves school now!!

    Apparently I was much like your daughter, I wanted to always wear the most uncoordinated outfits & my Mum would end up in tears because she'd have some clothes for me to wear & I'd refuse them put on these strange outfits... In the end mY Dad told her to just let me wear whatever!!!!
    I now let Maddy choose her own clothes when we go out & always tell her he looks good, even though I am often left wondering what the???....

    But making her take ownership for her decisions is a great way to get results....

    I know my DD#2 is gonna be a handful, she's already stubborn & determined....

    Good Luck!

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    Tracey, Ashlea can't wait for school! she asks most days how much longer until she can start!

    I wouldnt care how bad her outfit was if she dressed herself without the tantrums, but unfortuantely even when she does pick her own clothes, when it comes to actually putting them on it gets nasty! She just really really really hates getting dressed Although once the clothes are on, 5 minutes later nothing matters, if she hated them or loved them when getting dressed, its all forgotten once the tantrum is over, its just that the tantrum lasts so long.

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    Dee, just suggestion - I find when my DD carries on about getting dressed - usually she just takes forever - I suggest we have a race to get dressed. Obviously this only works when you're not dressed either. I find making the chore into a game helps motivate Viv.

    Good luck.

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    Great suggestion Rachel!

    We used to do that when i was living in Melb and working and always had a tight morning schedule. Somehow i forgot about it, cause usually it worked.
    Thanks so much Tomorrow morning the race will be on!

    Ali, today Ashlea served herself dinner and ate three bowls! It was spaghetti bolagnaise but it was laced with broccoli, zucchini and carrot grated so finely she didn't know! Oh, and we successfully got through a whole day with no tantrums, a fantastic bike ride and play at the park, and some gardening. What a great day!

  10. #10

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    Dee, I am no expert as my children are younger than Ashlea, so I may be barking up the wrong tree here, but some of the behaviours you have mentioned are frighteningly similar to Olivia's..............

    I have read loads on the tantrum issue, and one thing keeps coming back to me from one of the books......

    "The tantrum is very rarely about the issue, it is about power"

    This makes sense to me, with Olivia, and I am wondering if it is the same for Ashlea?

    ie She is not really bothered about the clothes/getting dressed issue, but she subconsciously knows that by creating a scene every morning over clothes/dressing that she is the one that holds the power? Same with food......it is not really about the food or hunger or taste at all, but that she subconsciously knows that she holds the power?

    Olivia is only 2.5, but I realise that this is what she was doing. She created merry hell and tantrumed over having her hair brushed every singel time, to the point where I was just never bothering, & letting her hair look dreadful, as I couldn't face the tantrum every morning!! I then realised I had "relinquished" the power to her totally. SO I left it a week, then we talked and talked and talked it over, then I just calmly took control and let her scream & DIDN'T react AT ALL by any of her performance over the hair brushing.....it only took 4 days of me staying TOTALLY calm and not responding to her tantrums and they have now stopped. (This was about a month ago.)

    Not sure if that helps?

    Although it sounds like you had a great day today! Well done!!

  11. #11

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    I agree with Lucy completely! I often used to try and overcome power struggles by returning the power to Paris as well. Giving her options, allowing her to become involved in whatever it was rather than her feeling as though she's to do this and do that.

    Sounds like you guys have had some success so thats great news!

    *hugs*
    Cailin

  12. #12

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    Good suggestion there, Lucy about staying calm.

    Dee, I'm so glad that you've had a good day, and Ashlea obviously enjoyed having the grown up responsibility about serving her dinner.

    Viv still loves racing to get dressed - she's so competitive! It can flow onto 'who has the shiniest teeth' or the 'healthiest lunchbox' or whatever. It challenges them to think and achieve. Sure we don't want everything to be a competition and it all being about winning, but it makes it a bit more fun, and oh so more tolerable.

    Good luck honey.

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    Yesterday morning when she got up, the first thing i did was give her 2 kalm kids vitamins. I don't know weather they helped with the 'calmer' day we had, meaning no tantrums and a much more reasonable child, but has anyone else tried these with their kids and noticed any difference?

    We had an easy morning again today, except that it usually is easy when its hot because skirts and sandals aren't usually an issue. Its pants and socks and runners that are.

    As for the power struggle, i completely agree there and know exactly what you mean Lucy and Cai. Ashlea is incredibly stubborn and pig headed and hot tempered, she reminds me of myself waaaayyyy too much. The one thing with her is that I refuse to give in and let her have her way, i've always been like that with her. My problem is tryinbg to stay calm myself through it, and obviously when i lose my cool, Ashlea bounces off that and reacts the same, so I realise half the problem is my fault at times for not being more patient. I've been making the hugest effort the past few days to try and stay calmer and it does seem to be helping also.

    The getting dressed race didn't happen this morning because she got dressed while i was in the shower! Like i said, summer is alot easier because she doesnt mind summer clothes. Her clothes isn't doesn't seem to be about power, more about her being a pedantic little nut! She hates clothes if they aren't ironed to perfection. She hates frills and fancy things. She hates layers of clothes, but yet will wear a t-shirt no problem, but hates a long sleeved top if it doesn't have a singlet underneath it. The t-shirt and long sleeved top could be exactly the same except one has long sleeves and she still HAS to have a singlet under the long sleeved. She wont wear socks if the toe line isn't exactly straight across her toes and the heel isn't sitting perfectly flat on her heel.
    Oh, and she wont sit on a picnic rug if there is any kind of crease in it or if a corner id folded over. Pedantic i tell you, I was almost convinved she had Obsessive compulsive dissorder.

    Thanks again for all your suggestions

  14. #14

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    Hey Dee

    Ashlea's quirky preferences for the right type of clothes could also be something to do with sensory processing stuff...Kids with sensory processing difficulites can be hypersensitive to how things feel...and then have unexplained reactions to what seem like tiny things to us...

    I've seen it alot with some of the kids I've worked with. They can't stand clothes that feel scratchy or tags on the back of their neck or socks that aren't pulled up fully, etc. Some of they can't stand haircuts or light touch...but then they respond really well to heavy pressure touch...

    I've heard it described that these kids are hypersensitive to some sensations but then incredibly sensory seeking to other sensations (e.g. want to feel it more and more)

    Sensory processing stuff is dealt with by paediatric Occupational Therapists. They do alot of work in helping kids tolerate different textures, touches, pressures, etc.

    If it is something you want to check up, make sure you see at OT who specialises in sensory processing...

    Not sure if that helps...but good luck!

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    hello.... i am new to this so plz be patient if I get it wrong. Firstly I should tell u i am a yr 1 teacher and thus deal with chn a little older than yours all day. I am also a mum of two teenagers , most of their lives i've been a single mum . I sympathise with the getting dressed thing , i used a have a similar problem with my son ( who is now almost 18) and I solved it by refusing to fight with him about it , it was getting dressed for school that was the issue . What i did was stop fighting/nagging and took him to school in his pj's . Of course, by the time we got there he was dressed in his school clothes in the car. Fastest dressing you ever saw. Sometimes kids do this stuff because you react ... mine still try it.
    hope this helps
    annie

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    Monnie, i really think you may be onto something there. Shannon suggested in another thread that i take Ashlea to a GP to get a referal to a pead. to see what they say.

    Like i've said, yes Ashlea is stubborn and pigheaded, and a typical 5 year old girl, but the clothes issue has always seemed to be more than just putting up a fight over what to wear or who picks the clothes. Its that even the clothes she loves and does choose to put on, when it comes time to put them of she 'hates the feeling' etc. One skirt had a seam across the front and she hated the way it felt across her legs when she walked in it.

    I'll definatley look into the sensory proccessing thing some more, I had a look at some stuff today and although most of it doesn't seem like her, the reacting to loud noises and the not wanting affection, other parts of it describe her exactly. They also talked about foods and eating habbits that were similar to her aswell. Thanks for the suggestion


    Annie, if I took Ashlea to kinder in her Pajama's she wouldnt settle and get dressed quickly in the car, it would distress her more than anything
    The thought of her being a teenager scared the hell out of me!!

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    No problems Dee!!!

    I know that Occupational Therapists do great things for kids with these difficulties...there's lots of things they do to help kids be more tolerant of different sensory experiences...which then helps with behavior greatly!

    You don't need a Paediatrician's referral to see an OT...though you may still want to see one for a full paediatric review. If your interested re. an OT, check out the OT Australia website where you can do a search for a private practitioner. Look for someone who specialises in sensory integration (listed under specialist services). The other avenue is through state government services...in WA we call then Child Development Centres...not sure what they are called in VIC.

    All the best to you both!

  18. #18

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    Thanks Monnie, having a look at the OT Australian website now

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