Advice re DD - how to encourage confidence

(14 Posts)
worrymerchant Wed 01-Jan-14 10:14:20

Hi there,

I have a DD who is bright but has some behavioural difficulties that have been attributed to ADHD\ODD. This is impacting her ability to function effectively at school - eg she often refuses to co-operate or throws tantrums. She is only 4 but I am really worried that unless we find a way to help her deal with her behaviour she will get worse or school will write her off or she will never realise her potential. I have tried all sorts of self-help books. Part of the problem is that DH has main care of her while I am work and he really struggles with how to deal with her - as a result she winds him round her little finger. It is causing such stress in our relationship - eg if she refuses to get dressed in the morning he takes her in late or - worse - lets her stay at home for the day! It therefore falls to me to be the disciplinarian for the both of us which is ruining my relationship with her as she is beginning to hate me. I just feel we are creating a climate of negativity and another consequence of this is that she is socially unconfident. We live in West London and need to find some 'expert' help to manage her behaviour and giver her her confidence back. Can anyone recommend a good therapist - I am told cognitive behaviour therapy would be the most appropriate?

Thank you so much,

WM

AsBrightAsAJewel Wed 01-Jan-14 11:53:21

Why do you feel it is confidence she needs? My DD (quite some time ago) is NT but lacked confidence in groups so we enrolled her in dance classes and brownies and that seemed to help her self-confidence. However, your post talks about behaviour issues and refusal to cooperate/throw tantrums and that may be a totally separate issue to address rather than just increasing her confidence.

worrymerchant Wed 01-Jan-14 12:37:55

HI Jewel,

Sorry - yes, I can see that my post was rather confusing - but both aspects of her personality hold true - the one related to behaviour \ non compliance stemming from the ODD\ADHD but additionally, a tendency for her to be withdrawn in certain social \ public situations. Sometimes it is as if she has 2 personalities - one hyper and one withdrawn - so help on both fronts needed smile

worrymerchant Wed 01-Jan-14 12:43:26

She does do group activities - eg ballet and sports - once settled she is fine socially although sometimes then there will be compliance issues. At school, she plays happily with others, sometimes even taking the lead, but equally happy to play by herself and we are told she is incredibly creative and extrovert with her imaginary play. But when it comes to joining in group activities such as during story telling she will not be interactive - e.g. she will be silent and not answer questions unless directly asked - and even then will react as though she doesn't know the answer - whereas at home she is full of questions and has all the answers! I don't want her to develop a "can't do" attitude!

tethersend Wed 01-Jan-14 12:44:01

Have you discussed this with the school? Have they offered any support or made any referrals?

How are they recording her absence when your DP keeps her off?

worrymerchant Wed 01-Jan-14 12:59:20

Nothing has been said about her absences - however, they have mentioned that she has sometimes thrown tantrums and refused to follow instructions. They think it is a maturity thing rather than anything to be concerned about. But they also said, they have seen this before, particularly with bright children, and that this often leads to them not fulfilling thier potential. They think that DH needs to to be more firm with discipline but therein lies the problem - he either doesn't agree\ doesn't accept\ feels offended \ isn't proactive about finding out how he cna help her. And ultitmately, I apparently am a bad mother for working.

tethersend Wed 01-Jan-14 13:06:35

Hang on- the school have said she will have difficultly reaching her potential and have not offered any strategy to help her to do so?

They do realise that it's their job to get her to reach her potential, don't they?

The behaviour you describe is within normal parameters of reception-aged children's behaviour, particularly the younger ones.

Is this a state school?

tethersend Wed 01-Jan-14 13:07:15

Does she have a diagnosis?

worrymerchant Wed 01-Jan-14 13:42:21

They said she may have difficulty - they seem to suggest that they are responsible for the academic side of things but that we need to work on her social skills. It is a private prep school. SHe has had no official diagnosis but (at home at least) her behaviour goes beyond the parameters of 'normal'. She is so frustrated when we don't understand her or when we "get it wrong" - it is as though the world will come to an end. She can be aggressive \ violent - both to herself and others. SHe never stops climbing the furniture, has no sense of danger or empathy and her desire to control every last thing makes her deaf to rationalising or reasoning. But because of her social inwardness - very few people outside the home witness this side of her. We plan to have a meeting at school early next term to discuss joint strategies to help her and also to ensure all teachers are aware. But what I really could do with is some help encouraging her confidence in class situations and strategies for DH to deal with her at home.

tethersend Wed 01-Jan-14 14:38:39

Yes, indeed- it does sound like those strategies need to be devised with a specialist who has assessed her in detail.

I'm afraid I don't know of anyone who will do this privately (hopefully more posters who do will post), but you can ask for a referral for a Clinical Psychologist assessment via your GP. It sounds as if a diagnosis will help her access support.

I have to say, I would be concerned by a school which did not see a child's social development as part of its remit. Your Dd is very young, and this development is part of her academic development. Does the school follow the EYFS?

IME, many children with challenging behaviour suffer from low self esteem/confidence, and the withdrawal is another side of the same coin IYSWIM. Strategies to help her feel confident speaking out will vary in their efficacy depending on what exactly it is holding her back, as this will vary from child to child. My DD (5) has only now started to make verbal contributions in class, and has been at the school for a year. For her, it was a case of working out and reliably predicting the reactions of other children. For your DD, it is likely to be something else.

It may be worth having a look at Circle of Friends as a strategy to use at school. IME, it is very effective.

Again, I'm not sure how it works in the private system, but I would be asking school to refer your DD to the Educational Psychologist for an observation and an assessment. You may have to fund and arrange this yourself; if this is the case, make sure school will facilitate this.

Good luck smile

tethersend Wed 01-Jan-14 14:49:05

In terms of strategies to use at home, things that may be effective include:

-giving plenty of notice that a demand will be placed on the child ("You need to get dressed in 10/5/2 minutes"). A timer may be helpful.

-choices given at every available opportunity ("Do you want to wear this dress or that one?")

-giving an instruction you know will be refused and presenting the instruction you wanted to give as a compromise (this one can be VERY risky in the long term, should be used sparingly)

-visual timetable; having a visual timetable of all the morning's activities (get up, brish teeth, get dressed, have breakfast etc.) on laminated cards which can be velcroed onto a timeline means that the child can remove each activity as it is completed. This serves to allay the child's anxiety about what demands will be placed on them, and knowing what is coming next means they are less likely to display a 'fight or flight' response or an avoidance tactic. Make sure that non-preferred activities are interspersed with preferred ones.

As I say, it is impossible to know if these strategies will work with your DD until the cause of her behaviour is known.

tethersend Wed 01-Jan-14 14:50:12

Can I just ask who it was who attributed her behaviours to ADHD/ODD?

worrymerchant Wed 01-Jan-14 15:52:01

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your excellent thoughts and ideas - it is such a support. The idea of ADHD and ODD came from friends in the SEN\teaching profession who have observed her. DH is not keen at this stage to go down the clinical route as he does not want her to be stigmatised by a label and is worried this may count against her in terms of future applications \ assessments. I am worn out from worrying so much. Are you a specialist of some kind?

tethersend Wed 01-Jan-14 16:24:11

Not a specialist, just a teacher who has worked with children with SEN and complex behavioural difficulties for a number of years.

As a teacher, I would advise strongly against taking a teacher's assessment as evidence or diagnosis of a condition; we are simply not qualified to diagnose, no matter how much experience and knowledge we have. If your DH is resistant to a Clinical Psychologist assessing your DD, might he be more open to an Ed Psych doing so?

She is very young to be diagnosed with ADHD and/or ODD, so I would bear this in mind, and be open to other possibilities. There is a clear case for assessment from what you've said, although you may have to get it done privately.

With regard to diagnosis and labels, another poster (Starlight I think?) said it perfectly on another thread- (I paraphrase) A diagnosis isn't a label, it's a signpost you can choose to hold up if people around your child seem lost.

It is against the Equality Act for any diagnosis to count against her for future applications or assessments- I'm assuming that your DH is concerned about her getting in to future schools? If a school refused to accept her on the basis of a diagnosis, they would not be the school for her, and may be breaching the Equality Act.

You don't sound like a bad mum at all BTW- your DD is lucky to have you addressing these issues on her behalf smile

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