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Really struggling with our 5 year old daughters behaviour.

posted 9 years 10 months ago
I am a mum of 4. I have a 9 year old son, a 7 year old daughter, a 5 year old daughter and a 3 year old son.
Me and my husband are having major struggles with our 5 year old daughter.
Since an early age she has been prone to tantrums, bad ones. But at 5 years old she is still behaving in the same way as a 2 year old. She does nothing we ask her to (or very rarely), she is a nightmare at bedtimes and will tantrum over everything possible.
She shares a room with her sister and bedtimes are horrendous. 9 out of 10 bedtimes stress me and my husband out that much that we are either reduced to tears or completely lose it with her. (verbally as neither of us smack the children as this is something we feel strongly about).
She also doesn't speak to any adults other than me and my husband. She talks with her siblings and other children fine.
She has just gone into her second year of school and I have already been into school to speak to her teacher about the problems we have with her at home to try to ensure she is totally aware of what we are going through.
In her first year in school she did fine academically but without her speaking (the occasional time she would do some reading or answer a question, but on the whole she wouldn't speak) the teachers found it hard to be able to assess her. This was the same problem they had when it came to assessments in playgroup.
Toileting is also a problem we have had with her. She wasn't out of nappies fully in the day until she was 4 as she would prefer to sit in a wet or soiled nappy than go to the toilet. She uses the toilet now, however she won't ask to go to the toilet in school and if isn't taken then accidents still happen. At night time she wears a nappy to bed as she is still wet at night and when she gets up the majority of the time she will just stay in her wet nappy.
In the evening we have to literally sit her on the toilet to do a poo as that is when she seems to go, but without us doing this chances are she would wait till she had a nappy on and would go in that.
Every morning we are late for school as she will not just get dressed and will just sit messing around whilst the others get on and get ready. She won't tell you what she wants half the time and prefers to play guessing games with you while she makes stupid noises and you have to work out what it is she wants. Let me just stress, her speech is perfect and she was an early talker.
If we don't guess what it is she wants then she will scream and kick and tantrum just like a toddler would.
She is also very particular on the way things are done, like the way she says goodnight to me. It has to be a kiss, followed by one cheek to my cheek then the other, then a hug then some sort of fist pump thing she has created. If this isn't done in the right way a tantrum then follows.
Once ready for bed most nights she keeps coming down the stairs making up excuses as to why she can't go to bed. Most of the time saying she wants a drink. This usually means a tantrum as she will complain that there isn't the right amount of water in the cup.
She is very disruptive in the house and this means her sister is left upset most nights.
When we ask her to do anything she will just talk at us as, usually about something random as though we are not even speaking to her. You cannot make her listen.
I am always being given "advice" by other parents. The usual "just keep taking her up the stairs", or "let her stay downstairs until she falls asleep". Neither of things are helpful things to hear as the first doesn't work and the second is allowing her to rule the roost.
I have done 2 parenting courses, but the rewarding positive behaviour, ignoring the negative, reward charts etc don't work with her. If she doesn't want to do something she just won't. Quite often she will cut her nose off to spite her face and miss out on treats through her own choice.
The other two children have so many late marks due to her making us late in the mornings, she didn't get that many as last year her register was taken later than the others so she seemed on time when looking at the register.
The school haven't been much help as all they seemed focused on was the bed wetting and made us a hospital appointment for that. The bedwetting is not something we are that concerned about as she is only 5.
She is a very bright child and can read, write and draw absolutely fine. We have no issues with her academic levels.
When her little brother was born she was absolutely fine with him, we were worried that she would feel pushed out. But as he got older we started to think that she feels jealous of him. My counsellor has suggested that maybe she is still stuck at the same age that she was when her brother was born.
I don't know what to do as the fact that she doesn't have these tantrums at school shows to me that she has some control over them. Though at home she seems to completely lose it as though she doesn't.
Before her brother was born she was very much my baby as baby no.4 wasn't planned (Neither was she to be honest :-/) and although she was very strong willed and would tantrum badly, her behaviour wasn't causing us concern.
We are at the end of our tether and I am desperately seeking some support from anyone who has been through a similar situation, or has any knowledge on this.

posted 9 years 10 months ago

I feel your pain. My son was impossible for years before I would face the fact that he had ADHD. My husband and I argued constantly because he couldn't take the behaviour and I just kept trying new things in the hopes of finding some help. It doesn't sound like your daughter is facing the same problem though, as you say she is able to control herself in school. However, many of the behaviours you describe are ones we endured as well: not sleeping, tantrums.

Before I ever had him tested for ADHD, I found this book called Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents whose Child is More. There were insights and strategies in that book that really helped me. Even now that he's grown - you never outgrow ADHD - I still use some of those strategies on him. He doesn't even know it. Anyway, it's not terribly expensive. You can get it on Amazon. Just a thought.

I hope things get better for you soon.

posted 9 years 10 months ago
Thank you Kidcrazy for your kind reply.
I just feel such a let down as a parent while her behaviour continues and I feel incredibly guilty every night when she is finally asleep because I have spent so long getting angry at her and neglecting the other kids because the attention is so focused on just her.
I am going to make an appointment at my Gp's to see if we can get a referral to someone who can help.
Before she started school the HV tried to assure me that once she started school everything would be fine and that it was down to lack of stimulation etc, but I knew in my heart that school wasn't going to solve this problem.
There are so many positives to my daughter but I feel as though all I do is criticise her and it hurts because I don't want her to grow up feeling as I did, that I was a let down and not valued.
I am currently training to be a breastfeeding supporter, but the stresses at home on top of my depression and anxiety mean I am so behind on all my coursework and my course finishes next month. :-(
Thank you for the recommendation of that book, I will definitely be purchasing that. I am willing to give anything a go.
Thank you for not being judgemental like so many of my friends or dismissing my problems by telling me she is just being a naughty child.

posted 9 years 10 months ago
Hi Lilacwings,

I'm glad I was able to help, even a little. I'm planning on writing an article for Just Parents Magazine, and I wondered if you'd let me use your story. I would make up names and even change your daughter to a boy if you want. The article is going to be about diagnosing mild depression vs. ADHD vs. oppositional defiant disorder. I've been doing a lot of research since we last wrote, and it got me to thinking. My first thought was ADHD, but that idea may be covering up what's really going on, which could be mild depression and/or oppositional defiant disorder. Please know, I am not a doctor. I am just exploring these possibilities academically. If you don't want me to use your story, that's fine, I'll just stick with the research; but, it would really help if I could personalize the article with your story. Thanks Lilacwings!

posted 9 years 10 months ago
That would be absolutely fine. Would you be able to show me before you published?

posted 9 years 10 months ago
Of course. I'm just submitting. They may not even take it.

posted 9 years 10 months ago
Thank you.x

posted 9 years 10 months ago
I ended up just doing an information piece. I never used any of your facts. Even so I went over the word limit. Hope that doesn't count too much against me. Thanks for being so great about it though.

posted 8 years 5 months ago
The fact that she's fine at school and not at home, just means she's more comfortable at home to express herself. Tantrums are just another way of communicating something she doesn't have the words for. My son has Autism and she sounds a lot like him (not saying she has Autism, though you should talk to your doctor regardless). He was fine through his school day, but came home and raged all night (school is overwhelming and the tantrum at the end of the day was actually his release.. he didn't like school. It made him sad to be away from us, too much noise there, lots of bright lights and voices and so much happening at once. He was OVERstimulated, which is very very easy for a child, let alone for someone with special needs). We dreaded bed time and of course, our stress just fed it.. I can't say it enough, no matter how hard it gets, stay calm. You can lose it when she's not looking lol. And bravo for not hitting her.. I'm firmly against spanking and can assure you, it would only make matters worse.

Anyway.. my son was the same in that any deviance from what he was looking for would end in tantrums. Had to do everything just so. Everything he ate had to be very specific and look a certain way (the very few foods he would even touch), he couldn't wear certain things, he was afraid of the toilet, sleep was impossible, he was beyond smart, teaching himself to read before he was two, but was barely speaking. To anyone but us that is.. he didn't start really speaking freely until he was maybe 6. Anyway.. lots of similarities. In the end, we just have to put ourselves in their shoes and figure out what is behind the behaviour, special need or not, because it's usually that they are overwhelmed or overstimulated for some reason and it won't always be what you're thinking. It could be something as simple as missing you or even the lighting in the house or the tv on in the background. As I said, it's so VERY easy for a child to get overstimulated. She isn't having tantrums to upset you obviously; as I said she's communicating something she has no way of explaining to you. Trial and error I suppose. I know it doesn't feel like it, but you're doing great. It can be so very hard to figure out our kids when they can't tell us what's wrong. You'll figure it out Smile

posted 8 years 5 months ago
Have you tried any kind of a reward system? I recently found a "Responsibility and Chore Chart" on Best thing I've ever done in terms of getting my daughter's behavior in line. The way it works is they earn stars for doing certain chores throughout the week. There are several "pre-printed" chores like "Make my bed" and "Brush my teeth," however there's also a few where you can write in your own. We use "Follow Directions" and that's a big one for us. At the end of the week if she has enough stars she'll get whatever reward she decided she was working toward at the beginning of said week.

posted 7 years 2 months ago
Hi Lilacwings, how have you and your daughter been after your initial post? She is about 7 now, is she quite different and behaviour wise improved ever since? I come across your post when I try to find a solution for my misbehaving five year old boy who is being very difficult. I'm running out of ideas and wanting to give up because I truly don't know what to do.

posted 7 years 2 months ago
I have a 9-year-old daughter also and this is what I'm fearing all along especially in this technology era. I always pray over every night so as not to go through this pain.

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