8-yo DD is out of control and I am at my wits end

(31 Posts)
runningLou Mon 29-Feb-16 09:06:26

DD is 8 but is showing behaviour I did not expect before the teenage years. She is incredibly rude and unpleasant to DH and I, regularly storms out of rooms in a huff, slams doors, hits furniture etc. In the past few weeks she has been having meltdowns several times a day - she will get into a disagreement with us about something (e.g. I want black walls in my bedroom / I will not eat breakfast) which will lead to a screaming tantrum and her saying some horrific things - we don't love her, she's not part of the family, we shouldn't care about her ...
I am really, really struggling to parent her right now. I have been in touch with school as I think the root of the problem is bullying and peer pressure. There have been no other triggers at home in terms of changes in the family. I have also been in touch with a child therapist who gave me some suggestions about rewarding good behaviour and sanctions for bad but I have not really been able to implement them as DD just uses these as a provocation.
At the weekend she threw out her diary and said I could read it before binning it. It detailed some bullying incidents at school. I am going to request a meeting with the pastoral lead at school and I would like her to move classes to get away from the girl in question.
Am worried though that I am focusing on school when the issue is her behaviour at home. This morning she had 2 screaming meltdowns before breakfast. She reduced me to tears and I was sobbing in front of 4 yo DS. I am ashamed and guilty but this is ruining our family life.

lavenderdoilly Mon 29-Feb-16 14:34:23

Couldn't read and run. Also mum of 8 year old dd. The little darlings can find school stuff hard to process when all the teenage stuff is ever so slowly kicking off in them. It sounds like the school has work to do in helping you out with whatever is triggering things. Poor you. She won't admit or acknowledge it but she sounds lucky to have you.

Bookridden Tue 01-Mar-16 17:57:33

I struggle with my 9 yo DD, so you do have my sympathies.

It sounds as if you are doing the right thing in getting some support in managing her behaviour, and it sounds as if a toxic mix of hormones, immaturity and problems at school are causing her to act up.

Can you go back to the child therapist for more help? Or can your GP refer you to someone? I echo Lavender above in thinking your daughter is lucky to have you and you will find a way through this I'm sure.

Smartiepants79 Tue 01-Mar-16 18:19:04

Can I ask how you react when she starts showing the behaviour or saying these things.
Both my girls (5&3) say similar things at times when cross - you don't love me, I don't love you et etc.. I never pay it much attention beyond a vague 'that's a shame/ well I love you). It's said for affect, I leave them to calm down and its forgotten 5 minutes later.
What were the tantrums about this morning? The one about breakfast, what happens if you just say 'that's fine' and walk away. Leave her some toast out and then leave her to it?
What about a safe 'calm down' space for just her?
Have you asked her how her tantrums leave her feeling?
I know it's hard and deeply frustrating, my eldest is currently going through a bit of a 'phase'!

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Tue 01-Mar-16 18:23:50

Bullying can be all consuming - don't underestimate the effect it has on whole families.

DD never wanted to go to school so morning meltdowns were normal - she may be testing what this girl is saying "nobody wants you" etc

Don't play into the bullies hands

Yes to moving classes

Yes to school - take the diary

Ignore the horrible stuff she says like pp said - yes well I love you -

runningLou Wed 02-Mar-16 09:08:52

Thank you everyone. I do always react by saying that I love her, and care about her a lot. I do my best to ignore the behaviour when I can, but when it involves hitting herself / furniture / really foul language I feel like I have to pick up on it. I am trying to re-state rules clearly such as 'in our family we use kind language', 'in our house we don't kick furniture'. I try to say this to her little brother also so she doesn't feel picked on.
She is continually frustrated and complains that I say no all the time. I can genuinely say that this is because she asks for things at the wrong time - e.g. this morning she wanted to start a craft project before school, when she wasn't dressed yet. When she was asked to get dressed first, she had a total meltdown.
She said she wanted to kill herself as her life was so awful. No idea where she heard this as we do not allow unsuitable TV in our house and we do not take language like that lightly. I tried to stay calm and told her that her saying that made me very worried, and I was taking her problems very seriously. I called the GP from work and tried to get a telephone consultation but the next one is next Weds. It is booked in but feels a long time away.
I am now sat at my desk at work feeling so low. I e-mailed the school on Monday to request a meeting, but haven't heard back yet. I think I will call again today to ask again.

runningLou Wed 02-Mar-16 09:29:42

I am seeing the child therapist again tomorrow afternoon. She has been helpful in explaining how DD is trying to push DH and I into role of persecutors so she can play the victim. It is so hard to stand out side that role play whilst also providing boundaries to her behaviour, which I feel I have to do as a parent.
At the moment she cannot deal with instructions. Lights off is 8:15, which she knows. Last night DH went up to turn of the light at 8:15. DD was reading and didn't want to stop. Cue 45 mins of screaming. We went up at regular intervals. Felt like doing controlled crying with a toddler.
The whole family is bloody exhausted!
I spoke to her about her feelings briefly on the way to school this morning - we cycle together and she can sometimes discuss things better whilst moving / doing an activity. She used words like 'anger' and 'frustration' but seemed incapable of seeing our pov (this is to be expected I guess). She accused me of ignoring her as there are some subjects I will not discuss as they always lead to meltdowns. She was calm on arriving at school. I dread bedtime tonight though.

juneau Wed 02-Mar-16 09:32:06

8-year-olds are pre-teens now?

Bloody hell.

Gingersstuff Wed 02-Mar-16 09:45:56

I'm really sorry for you OP flowers
Can she get some kind of intensive therapy? That is not normal behaviour for an 8-year-old by a long shot and I would agree that a girl that age is not pre-teen yet. I think you need to talk to the school again urgently and yy to the GP appointment.

NewChristian Wed 02-Mar-16 09:50:10

How long has this bullying been going on? Have you been into school yet to ask them what they are doing about it? I would think that if the behaviour is recent the bullying is probably the reason. Please don't underestimate the devastating effects bullying can have. Children do sometimes take their own lives over it.

barnet Wed 02-Mar-16 09:51:08

Sorry you are going through this, it is exhausting. Re. The kicking of furniture/ physical displays. It IS often helpful to get out feelings of anger and frustation physically, to help cope with them. You can have a big punching bag/ cushion/ sofa area where it she can punch and scream. We have a saying 'we hit cushions not people' and I direct DD there when she goes off.
She also started Karate, which seems to help both with confidence and getting excess aggression out in a safe manner, since they use fast movements and shout really loudly when finishing a move. Maybe shouting helps express inner frustation.

NewChristian Wed 02-Mar-16 09:54:05

'I emailed the school on Monday to request a meeting'

Sorry but if my child was being bullied I would be in the school at the first opportunity asking them what they propose to do about it. Your daughter has the right to attend school without being harrassed.

lavenderdoilly Wed 02-Mar-16 09:56:23

Juneau, as a matter of biology, 8 yr olds are preteens. Puberty hormones start their work from this age if not sooner.

juneau Wed 02-Mar-16 11:25:36

I have an 8-year-old ... maybe its different with girls? I only have boys.

lavenderdoilly Wed 02-Mar-16 14:28:43

I think a lot of change has to take place quite a long time before your periods etc start. Hormones will be kicking in several years before that delightful event.
I have so much sympathy with the op if her dd is talking, frankly, self harm. There is only so much you can do to diffuse these thoughts in other people, particularly children. Whether your dd is the bully or the bullied (sounds like the latter), the school has a responsibility to address this and point you in the direction of any additional support you need.

Spandexpants007 Wed 02-Mar-16 14:34:59

She sounds really unhappy. Can you ask her to suggest ways to make her life better? (Not materialistic, just practical small steps). You can support her and make changes.

shamonts Wed 02-Mar-16 14:35:54

I have a lot of sympathy with you OP.

I don't believe 8 year olds are pre-teens and I don't think hormones normally make 8 year olds behave like this.

lavenderdoilly Wed 02-Mar-16 15:03:34

I certainly wouldn't dismiss her behaviour as hormonal. There are clearly other triggers that are making things miserable. This is not normal and the op, her dd and the rest of their family deserve to feel better. Hope the school can help, op.

runningLou Wed 02-Mar-16 22:14:48

I don't think hormones are a factor either ... She is quite immature in many ways, and just average height/weight. I just never, ever expected all this angst and bitterness to be coming out in such a young child. Unless it is learned behaviour from girls at school?
Not happy with the school as I left messages for 2 members of staff today with the office, and neither have called me back. I am going to go in and speak to someone in person tomorrow.
DD had a better afternoon/bedtime today. She was talking to me at bedtime about stuff at school. It sounds like low-level bullying to me (if such a thing exists), name-calling and 'I don't want to play with you' but it has clearly really ground down her self-esteem. I did explain about wanting home to be a place where she could be happy and safe if there were problems at school. I don't know if that registered. She also talked about fears of kidnapping, people climbing through her window at night ... Not sure what to do with that really so just listened and tried to reassure.
I had to repeat instructions 5 or 6 times before she actually carried them out but I know that is fairly normal and at least it didn't descend into a screaming match though she was calling me 'Ma'am' in a sarky tone. God it's all so wearing!

steppemum Wed 02-Mar-16 22:30:49

I have an 8 year old dd too. We have had behaviour similar to this, but not as much.

I think that this is actually a difficult age. dd2 is dc3 and the first two also went through a patch like this at this age. Not sure what triggers it. Oldest is now a teen and actually easier than when he was 8!

I know that for dd2 what she actually needs is a cuddle. When she is screaming and kicking and having a meltdown, it stems a lot from anxiety and frustration, and what she needs is reassurance, and hugs.

I try never to deal with anything/make a decision in the midst of a melt down. Then after it has finished I am very clear that it isn't an acceptable way to behave. I expect apologies, and restoration (eg picking up all the folded clothes she has chucked on the floor)
There is a struggle between growing independence and wanting to stay little. So when she has kicked off (eg bedtime) it sometimes works to turn tables - what do you think is a good bedtime, why and how would you enforce it? Then talk about a compromise point.
eg, the issue is that she is in the middle of a chapter when it is lights out time. Let her come up with a solution eg alarm clock set for 8:10, and then she can put it on snooze for 5 minutes and then she knows she has to go to bed, so when you come in, it isn't a surprise.

steppemum Wed 02-Mar-16 22:33:57

just seen you last post.
Is the bedtime battle related to being scared of people climbing in her window?

dd has just been through a phase of being worried about fire.
I have been round the house and shown her all the things we do/have to be safe form fire (trip switches, smoke alarms etc)
I have told her firmly that our house is not going to burn down because we do all these safe things.
But then when she is scared at night, I need to give her a cuddle and say that mummy WILL come and rescue her and her favourite teddy and carry her downstairs to safety if there is a fire. Like with a much younger child.

runningLou Wed 09-Mar-16 14:51:08

DH has now spoken to school - pastoral lead is going to meet with DD separately. I took DD to GP yesterday. Doc said she seemed perfectly healthy, normal height and weight etc, no cause for concern around general health. Had phone conversation with another GP so DD couldn't listen in, mentioned concerns about language she's using, hating life, wanting to kill herself etc. She may end up with family counsellor referral.
DD was utterly vile last Friday night - repeatedly said she hated me, I was unfair, I should go away etc. I totally lost my temper (feeling so stressed at the moment) and ended up yelling. Felt awful afterwards, as if I had undermined all my messages about dealing with anger rationally. Not that I said anything horrible to DD whilst yelling, I always let her know I love her, but you know that guilt when you have lost it in front of a child ...
Anyway since then she has been a lot better, meltdowns containable, actually trying to earn points on her new reward chart.
We'll see how things are over the next few days as things always deteriorate towards the end of the week as she gets more tired ...
Meanwhile DS has started to act up also, I think it is a copycat thing for attention.
So tiring!!

nicky160 Mon 21-Mar-16 11:29:57

How is your DD going? I am experiencing all these things with my DD9, it is very tiring sad

wonkylampshade Mon 21-Mar-16 11:37:16

I'm also getting a lot of this kind of thing from my 8yo dd.

It's almost like she thinks she IS behaving like a teenager (she hero workships them hmm), and gets completely caught up in the drama of imagining herself as the victim sometimes. Anything can spark off a strop, right down to the wrong kind of ice cream!

It's totally wearing and she comes across as being full of ingratitude which drives me mad.

Funnily enough she is also complaining of being left out of things at school by one girl who she has pegged as her nemesis...I believe there's a bit of back and forth and dd will not be entirely blameless but we have parents night this week so I'm going to raise it there.

starry0ne Mon 21-Mar-16 12:54:14

I have 8 year old DS and had my testing times..

I think they are almost in no mans land..They don't really want to do babyish things but aren't teens yet..

I have found board games really good for connecting..getting him involved in cooking, things that make him feel more grown up.. ( although he is usually bored before meal finished.) but I have also heard him listening to pre school programs on TV while I am in bed( never in front of me) so I know he just likes the reassurance...Kisses and cuddles.

If tantruming I send him to his room...AS PP said nothing is going to be resolved mid tantrum...

I would also add though they are not toddlers either and are quite capable of been manipulative...My DS had a tantrum a few weeks ago and didn't get on with the jobs he was supposed to do before school..So we obviously had to leave at the same time but was given extra time after school...

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