raging tantrums, I am starting to panic that something is really wrong.

(29 Posts)
hellymelly Mon 10-Jun-13 18:24:37

DD2 just turned 6. Older dd was a big tantrummer at the same age, but they were brief in duration and in hindsight (didn't feel like it at the time) easy to handle, though exhausting. DD2 went through a bad patch last year, unhappy and worn out in reception, huge explosive tantrums every day after school and lots of night terrors, I posted at the time, got lots of really thoughtful and helpful advice. I changed tack, and stayed very calm and kind through even the worst rages and they stopped. She went back to school into year one, happier, no issues really, until about 6 weeks ago. She was getting more clingy of me, and she has always been pretty clingy, and hard to get to sleep. The tiredness seemed to trigger night terrors, which have been horrendous, shouting, screaming "help",biting, kicking etc. Then the day tantrums returned, and they are much the same, she will kick, bite, punch and pinch, she screams "help" over and over again, she even shouts "Daddy is hurting me". (We had talked to her about not shouting "help" unless she really needed help, and that people might think her Daddy was hurting her, after incidents where DH was alone with her and her sister and trying to get her into her car seat and a kindly old bloke came to check what was happening. V. embarrassing and upsetting for DH who is a very gentle and patient Dad.) She seemed to take it seriously, but all that happened is that now she shouts "help"etc at every opportunity .
Through all this she has been a model child at school. But then last week I took her in, DH usually does this but he was away, and she screamed the place down when I left, again shouting "Help". Some night terror free nights over the weekend, so she has caught up on a bit of sleep, but today when we picked her up from school, she looked worried. I asked her if she was ok and she lay on the pavement, screamed "help" over and over again, kicked me, shouted at DH who walked back into school to get her teacher, ( we were worried we looked like abductors tbh). Head came out and teacher and head took her back in, where she screamed, kicked, punched me in the face by accident, and roared at DH to "GO AWAY DADDY". Her (lovely) teacher and the head, plus other staff talked to her and then quite suddenly the rage subsided and she was ok, went for a wee walk about the playground and calmed down.
The rages are so extreme and so violent I am at a loss as to what to do. We have been kind, we have been firm, we have confiscated toys, we have had reward schemes, I even smacked her at one point when she tried to run out of the door into the road in a rage. I am very stressed and upset, we can't do anything as a family or go out to lunch with friends etc as we live in fear of a meltdown. She can see the worry in my face if she is on the edge of one and that seems to make her worse, even though I really try and look calm. (That was what happened earlier) . hunger and needing the loo seem the biggest triggers, if that strikes a bell with anyone? My big worry is that DH has an uncle with a serious mental illness and the rages are so extreme I am worried about that , I am also starting to wonder about physical things. We are going to take her to the GP, but I think we also need some proper advice, we can't go on like this, with an hour or two of screaming almost every night and then more explosions in the day.
It has been a stressful year for our family, with illness and bereavement, I don't know if that is a factor, but it has come on again so suddenly. Sorry this is long. I am so upset and embarrassed about the one earlier, and don't know what to do next. I really feel at the end of my tether and like a terrible parent.

Andro Fri 14-Jun-13 14:04:19

hellymelly, you've noted physical tiredness as a trigger, but reading the list of what's happened over the last 12 months or so I would suggest that emotional exhaustion could be a factor. That list would be difficult for an adult to process, how much more difficult for a child? Seeing you take 2 ambulance trips, plus 2 human (and 1 animal) deaths in the family has quite possibly pushed her too far - she sounds to me as though she is feeling too much and doesn't know how to express any of it.

I seem to be suggesting this a lot, but DH and I used emotion faces to help our 2 (adopted after a very traumatic event) communicate what they were feeling, at one point DS was so confused he had 9 different faces on show! We ended up paying for DS to have therapy, he was having more problems than we could guide him through without help.

hellymelly Fri 14-Jun-13 14:55:48

thanks for so many kind and thoughtful posts. I will trot out and buy omega 3s asap! If she does turn out to be coeliac then that can lead to low omega 3, so that is interesting.
I do think that she has had an emotional overload. I am not particularly a bottler upper myself, no, I am more likely to cry and explain to the children why if it is in front of them but DD hated seeing me so upset after my father died, that was as much of a shock for her as his death I think. Even though I did try and save the tears for after their bedtime. One of our two pet hens had to be put down soon after our doggie, so there was definitely a lot of death last year. I was very very stressed, I was told at one point it was likely I had a serious auto immune disease, and had to wait weeks for the test results (they were fine). And then right before Christmas , the day before dd1's birthday I found a lump in my breast. Again, it was fine in the end, but very stressful. It truly has been a ghastly year!
Plaedainpony that is very reassuring about the general resilience of children. I feel so guilty that she is in this general state. Oh and I am Welsh, we are a bit more open and emotional about death as a culture here than in England, but I do think that dd2 is now really scared that I will die (or another person close to her) as one poster has asked. She talks about the relative fitness of DH's Mum vs mine, and seems reassured that DHs Mum is in really good health. I heard her telling an adult friend this the other day. sad

hellymelly Wed 19-Jun-13 10:00:08

An update- we seem to have had a sea-change. After her last huge tantrum I told her that however awful she was to me I would still love her and be here for her, she was safe and loved. And talked more about the tantrums not helping her in any way. Well she seems to have really taken this on, has had only one night terror in the past week and that was ok, no kicking or hitting out. So she is less overtired which helps a lot. But she has been really open talking about the tantrums which she wasn't before, she would just get angry. No meltdowns , she has got annoyed and then quickly turned it around and we have praised her to the hilt. She is much more cheerful. Still quite clingy but I am giving her lots of affection and positive comments about how well she is doing as suggested by the poster above. So far so good! She seems as though something has shifted, so I'm really hoping that this continues. Thanks so much for all the helpful messages, it has helped no end to have a bit of support. smile

CabbageHead Wed 19-Jun-13 14:14:35

Hi hellymelly, glad u r getting some great advice from everyone.. I am an artist so art therapy is a way of life in our house lol! S u could also try getting her to express herself thru painting... Just loud colours or whatever she likes... Dont be too freaked out or try and analyse what she does, its can just be important/ useful to express your emotions on paper..

my middle stepdaughter painted this horrible picture once of all these zombies living under the earth...we still laugh about that picture, it is truly hideous, but just a reflection of the influence of books she was reading at the time (i think! Freaked me out when i first saw it tho and she is such a sweet lovely natured kid!)

My youngest stepdaughter was angry from 6 to 15yrs... No kidding! She was a nightmare, just confused angry unhappy kid...now her true gorgeous nature is more dominant finally! Phew! She is a perfectionist and EXTREMELY sensitive, so much so that she comes across as so rude and obnoxious, but it is because she cant cope with the pressure of her perfectionist side and had major control issues.. A lot of that was to do with having to deal with things that were completely out of her control, (moving houses and schools all the time etc etc).

I also thought u may like to try giving her the concept of visualisation.. Like if she has troubles, worries, imagine putting them all into a hot air balloon where they can sail u p into the sky...or put the worries n pretty little coloured leaves to float down the river, or buried under rocks n garden, whatever she likes.. ( close your eyes and imagine... Whatever it is that u know she will like) u could even help her put her anger on a leaf to send down the river!

(I used to use this concept at work, only i,d place people in the hot air balloon that were really p..ssing me off and hack the ropes away with great gusto and joy and wave goodbye as they floated helplessly away..)Lol!!

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