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Struggling to help 9 yo daughter with her rage and pain - help please!!!

(4 Posts)
Lamoya Sat 23-Aug-14 04:41:41

First time on Mumsnet so a bit nervous. And apologies in advance, I think this might be long.

Right, I'm a single parent, one 9 yo daughter. Her dad lives round the corner and has been very involved in her life since we split up (she was 3). He loves her to bits but his parenting is not the best it could be. Biggest issue is his work - it always comes first and as he works shift patterns although he sees her a lot it never follows a pattern. I've talked to him about this repeatedly but he feels that he has no option - this is the way it is in his field of work (partly true I feel).

Our daughter is a high-achiever at school and generally gets a lot of positive attention for being "grown up" and "well-behaved". Always used to seem happy and stable, but has recently entered a complete melt-down! Lots of challenging behaviour and issues:
- her confident behaviour has tipped over into arrogance and she is losing friends due to her clever subtle but definite put-downs "I give money to Water Aid each month - what charity do you give to? oh, you don't???" She's constantly trying to shore up her own self esteem by comparing herself favourably to others
- constant smart-alec behaviour with me and others - constantly pushing it, always has a challenge or smart-arse comment
- whenever I try to talk calmly to her, say that I love her but this or that behaviour is not acceptable, try to get her to see the affect it has she immediatly flies into a storm of emotions. Shouting "it's not my fault! I can't help it!" There seems to be no space between her being happy and relaxed with me and extreme rage and pain. No space for any kind of helpful dialogue.
- she's hyper sensitive about any perceived criticism or snappiness. I have really worked on my tone of voice when I'm angry, I keep my voice steady and low, but now she objects to this! Basically unless I'm perky and smiley then she can't cope.
- her dad has entered a relationship (first time since split) and she is freaking out. Has constructed a whole story about when him getting married and having a baby. Won't hear anything about how this might not happen and if it did, it might not be quite the catastrophe she thinks.
- is having nightmares about a wedding between her dad and partner and a baby arriving - has got herself into a state about these so the run-up to bedtime becomes full of hysteria, shouting, rage and fear.
- she seems to almost revelling in her pain and anger, there will be times when she calms a little but then kind of revs herself up again to continue the emotional storm. I've tried getting her to hit a pillow to let the anger out - actually seems to get her more angry. Have offered to do breathing with her, or meditation body scans (she used to like these). Also offered to work on the nightmares, during the day, talk through how she could change them etc. She refuses to consider any of these "they won't help".

I am trying to be calm throughout, to not lose my temper, to beam waves of unconditional love at her throughout as she is clearly a very insecure and scared little girl, underneath the rage and lashing out. However I am finding this increasingly hard, as she can rage for hours. We have good days then post-supper descend into this emotional storm. Her dad tries but is little help, just gets annoyed with her anger. I've lost it a couple of times, shouted at her (which actually snapped her out of it, but I don't like scaring her). Have burst into tears when it just felt too much.

I sense that she is saving this up for me as perhaps I am the one person she feels most secure with. I guess she has done a lot of sitting on her emotions and this is the backlash. I am trying to believe that it's one of those situations where you just have to work through the hellishness to get out the other side, but at the moment I don't feel that I have the emotional strength to get through this, or to get through it without making things worse by shouting at her when I get to the end of my emotional tether.

Have found a counsellor who will see her from next week and when we go back to school will talk to the school about support. But this feels unsustainable for both of us. I work full-time, love my job but am finding that after nights of this I am fit for nothing the next day. Despite trying to start the bedtime routine early, to take into account all this, by the time she's asleep it's late and I fall into bed. There is no space for me to do anything to give myself a bit of TLC. I have resorted to using food (my number 1 drug of choice!) to comfort myself, but of course that's not the answer I know. Feels like my reserves are empty.

I would dearly love a little help with this.
Has anyone else had a similar situation? what helped / didn't help?
What do you do with a child who can cry shout and emote for hours, and refuses to do anything positive about this?
How can I help her express and let out her emotions in an appropriate way without her feeling she's being told to squash it all down?
How can I be there for her and not walk away from her emotions but put boundaries in place and not lose it myself?

Sorry, this is REALLY long but I think I needed to write it all out to separate out the issues and challenges. Would appreciate whatever you all have to offer. Thanks in advance.

Josiejumpismyname Sat 23-Aug-14 04:55:13

Hello. I'm sorry but I have no useful advice to offer but didn't want to read & run. I've no doubt someone will be along soon to offer more but in the meantime know that you sound like an amazing mum! Mine are much younger than yours so haven't yet experienced what you're going through but you sound like you're handling a very challenging time admirably well. Hang in there, it will get better in time I'm sure. flowers

Heyho111 Sun 24-Aug-14 09:29:16

Hi. She is at a development stage where children become very aware of reality - parents can't fix everything, death, changes in life situations etc.
Her dad's shift patterns are fine , that happens in a lot of families.
When some children go through this development stage they can have difficulty regulating and understanding their feelings.
She could be trying to assert herself with her friends as she is beginning to be self aware but hasn't developed understanding or empathy of other peoples reactions. She will understand the obvious ones but not the very subtle ones. This too will come with time.
She is taking it out on you because your a safe person she can do this too. Back handed compliment.
Because your mum she won't want to listen to you. Let her see the councellor and your roll is to be there for her.
Tiredness is really linked to worrying/ stress that's why it comes out at night.
Don't panic it will pass and getting her help will make such a difference.

fonduechinoise Sun 07-Sep-14 08:32:22

Hello. No advice to offer but just read yr post and wondered how you are. Am going through oversensitivity issues with my dd at present and it is hard. I hope things are getting better your end smile

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