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How do you deal with this?

(51 Posts)
lougle Sun 25-Aug-13 21:20:25

DD2 (no diagnosis - school convinced NT. I'm certain she's not) is now 6.

She went to Nanny and Grandad's yesterday, did cooking with Grandad. We all came to eat her cooking for tea. She wanted a sleepover and was granted one. She had a lovely time. Slept well, watched telly in bed with Nanny and Grandad, helped Grandad make breakfast. Nanny took her to the swings, etc.

I was cooking a Sunday Roast for us all at our house. They arrived and DD2 was very happy. Her mood in general deteriorated and she was starting to be quite stroppy.

Then, she got really tearful. DH had set the dinner table and placed DD2 next to Nanny. She didn't want to be next to Nanny. Once she starts, she can't let it go. DH is also not great at flexibility. She got really upset and insistent that she couldn't possibly sit next to Nanny. I was in the kitchen so unaware of it.

She tried to rein it in, but when I asked her what the problem was she started crying and said 'I can't tell you.' I said that she must tell me. She then said 'But it's about your parents and I don't want you to be cross.' We talked and I pointed out all the lovely things Nanny had done with her.

Nanny was upset, although being very understanding, but I was cross.

Anyhoo.

At the dinner table DD2 got really loud about no-one sitting next to her. I had moved DM from next to her, to next to me. I explained that as she had made a fuss, I'd moved Nanny, so that's why no-one was sitting next to her.

She started yelling that no-one loved her. I said 'I love you, but you've hurt Nanny and I think you need to do something.' She said 'Sorry? I need to say sorry? But that won't make it ok hmm.'

She's right. But she can't see that it would be a start.

How do you explain that sometimes you just do something because it's the right thing to do?

I dunno Lougle I think my priority would be figuring out what on earth it was she couldn't tell me about Nanny, rather than having to say sorry because it is the right thing to do.

Just consider this (I have no idea if it is what happened but want to give you a flavour of why it might be complex):

She spent the time with Nanny, and, given your fairly large family got loads of 1:1 ore even 2:1 attention and was really spoiled. This is a perfectly okay thing to happen btw. Then when she returned home she had difficulty having to share Nanny, and also being one of many, and not having anyone's exclusive attention. She got upset with the situation, and on top of it felt guilty about having had such a great time with Nanny and her feelings that she might want that to continue triggering guilt because she doesn't think she should be disloyal to you. This made her distressed for two reasons, one the inner-struggle with her feelings and two, her difficulties making it all the harder for her to be able to articulate what was going on to herself, let alone you.

Now I'm not saying that any of the above is what has happened. It would be impossible to say. But I would want to try and unpick the reasons for her behaviour before I began to address it iyswim.

porridgeLover Sun 25-Aug-13 22:13:54

I think starlight has a good angle on it.
Just wanted to add, that my DD1 (who is also undiagnosed) would behave in a similarly, seemingly illogical way.
I find 'How to talk so Kids will listen' a good approach with my DD.
It's as if she has to be coached to understand the feelings inside herself, and I find that the book helped me do that.
God I'm not explaining myself well.....

If that happened with me, my thoughts would be that DD had a lovely time with GP, but perhaps a background feeling of loneliness for home that she couldnt articulate.
And when she got home, the feeling just burst out, mixed with the feelings described by StarL.

And the confusion would lead my DD to seem ungrateful and spoilt whereas she is anything but, and would just be overwhelmed by it all.
Not saying it's the same for your DD....

lougle Sun 25-Aug-13 22:23:27

That's so very helpful, Star.

I think she side-blinded us a bit, because Mum and Dad were signing her praises about how wonderful she'd been.

Then, she came in and within 5 minutes she had pulled DD1's hair for not immediately relinquishing her IPad. She was affronted that I sent her to the naughty step because 'she didn't pull it that hard' hmm

She got upset that the next door neighbour's children had been in to play in the garden while she was away.

She then made a big deal of having gone to the swings with Nanny. Nanny told her that she shouldn't have done that.

Then she generally stropped around like a mini teenager.

She genuinely couldn't tell me why she didn't want to sit next to Nanny, so you're right. I don't think she knew herself. It's like she gets an idea and has to run it to its conclusion whatever the cost.

It's the same as when my brother came for a meal and Mum and Dad's last year and she hid in the dining room and refused to come out, then would only sit at the table if we made sure he was well away from her.

lougle Sun 25-Aug-13 22:24:10

x-posted with you Porridge lover, that's also really helpful.

BTW I'm not suggesting you make excuses for her behaviour. She ALSO has to learn appropriate and acceptable responses 'despite' her inner feelings, as that affects how people around her will feel about her and treat her. But I'd still want to get to the bottom of her distress iyswim.

lougle Sun 25-Aug-13 22:48:09

I agree totally, Star.

My worry is that if she doesn't have her behaviour checked and learn to adjust her tone/facial expressions, she's going to be thumped a few times when she's older sad

I often model more positive responses, which she can follow, but not when she's in the sort of mood she was in today.

porridgeLover Sun 25-Aug-13 23:08:00

Yes I agree with star that it doesnt excuse the behaviour, but (again, IME with my own DD) once the feelings were 'named' or acknowledged, she seems able to get over it more easily IYSWIM?
(hope I'm not projecting too much what I've seen works with my own DD)

PolterGoose Mon 26-Aug-13 08:14:08

I think she was probably just overwhelmed and tired from having such a good time and may have benefited from some quiet downtime.

Handywoman Mon 26-Aug-13 09:28:58

We've often had this kind of incident when spending a chunk of time with family. If the above scenario had happened in dd2's case, it would be to do with the demands of sleeping elsewhere (however much enjoyed) and of not having enough down-time. dd2 would be overwhelmed by a number of feelings she could simply not verbalise. Any attempts to discuss/explain would simply escalate dd2's emotions. My Dad is completely accepting of dd2's stubborn inflexibility and overly-emotional responses, we would simply have adjusted the seating arrangements and carried on. Your DM was probably disappointed that it all unravelled after such a successful sleepover, I can completely understand that. My own dd2 never managed to say sorry until she was aged 7.5. Situations where the word 'sorry' is required seem to be particularly fraught with difficulty because they involve acknowledging someone else's hurt and separating that from your own experience. Not easy (understatement) for a non-NT child. Your dd2 seems to be aware of this but can't quite untangle it. Your DM may need some explanation and reassurance that it wasn't meant personally. In that situation I would have given clear explanation to dd2 about saying sorry because GM was upset so it's the right thing to do. In my own dd2's case this would send her through the roof, though but would be necessary if your own mother was upset. I would have said it once and kept words to a minimum. Very difficult. Hope everyone has 'recovered'.

Handywoman Mon 26-Aug-13 09:33:58

disclaimer: I would try and explain 'it's the right thing to do', but would fully expect it to fall on deaf ears!!!!

sickofsocalledexperts Mon 26-Aug-13 09:37:08

Agree with all that has been said, plus I have noticed with all my kids/step kids that they are angelically behaved for grandparents, but it is a strain to be on best behaviour, so it all falls apart back home when they relax again. And then of course the grandparents think it is their great skills, rather than just kids behaving differently away from home. I do not think some grandparents have any idea of the little horrors we get back sometimes after an angelic visit!

zzzzz Mon 26-Aug-13 12:36:46

All my children behave like this when they come back from play dates/visits. They have usually had a lovely time but they are intensely jealous of any "good times" that have happened when they are away and often a bit show offy about what they have experienced. It reached a revolting high at about 7 but still happens just more subtley with the older ones.

I would push a little for what the problem was with Granny, because "I don't want to tell you" is usually red flag "I need to tell you" because I don't understand/am worried about something. This lays the foundations for your role as councillor/support/sounding board in later more troubled years. My guess would be Granny slurps/smells funny/says things suddenly/said something unflattering about Mummy/will make me eat my greens or even sitting next to her means I have to sit opposite XXXX and she eats XXXX with her mouth open. All of which will be perfectly solvable by telling

lougle Mon 26-Aug-13 13:09:30

All very helpful, thank you flowers

I had a heart to heart with DD2 and told her that she could tell me what the problem was, even if it was that nanny had an extra long knitting needle that sticks out of her elbow which annoys her when it pokes her in the ribs (you've got to know DD2 to make this bizarre notion seem sensible).

It turns out that the issue was one of organisational protocol rather than Nanny herself hmm. DD2 is puzzled because the men sit at the end of the table and the head of the table. She feels this is odd because Nanny has never sat at the end of the table. She doesn't like it that Daddy changed the seating order and it all went wrong when DD3 was placed in the wrong seat.

She said she knows how I feel about Nanny (sad) and how I feel about her (cross) sad She said that she went and hid in her room and used things so that no-one could see where she was. She said that I made her hide for the whole hour that was before the dinner got ready and I did actually make her cry.

sad

I'm a crap parent.

PolterGoose Mon 26-Aug-13 13:40:10

You are so not a crap parent lougle shock and flowers

This is all learning, she is so different to your dd1 and is approaching that age when there's quite a big developmental shift IME, it's all about recognising behaviour patterns and being able to be pro-active, it gets easier smile

Sound like a very talented parent to me, to get all of that. confused

Honestly, Lougle. You can't read minds. With some of kids your own skill at Theory of Mind is just not gonna cut it either. You can't possibly work it out in the middle of a busy dinner with company. To try to would be insane. You can only deal with a behaviour in how it presents at the time and then make the time to unpick it later, which you have done, and done well.

Handywoman Mon 26-Aug-13 13:58:03

That's brill, Lougle, that you got to the bottom of it. Your dd2 seems to have a good grasp of the emotions involved here. Glad it's sorted.

HisMum4now Mon 26-Aug-13 15:38:33

"My worry is that if she doesn't have her behaviour checked and learn to adjust her tone/facial expressions, she's going to be thumped a few times when she's older"

Now i feel like a bad parent because I always opt for an easy solution of moving chairs before the 'company' notices a developing situation. Having to do all this theory of mind and checking, controlling, modeling all the correct behaviors is such a stress. I don't even know whether I can execute this to high standard. I know I am just too lazy, I have to raise my standards,.. but my policy so far was based on the idea that at home Aspies can just be themselves.

But now I am thinking did I fail my DS as he can't be bothered to show the 'correct' behaviour consistently at social occasions? Last week with a guest he made a scene because he wanted the piece of cake i served the guest shock. Nobody would keep DS in employment [in the future] if he doesn't curb this, so how do i start re-educating him?

porridgeLover Mon 26-Aug-13 16:03:20

Lougle, I think you did so well to get all of that from her (dont mean to be patronising).
And now she has had experience of you hearing her out about whats going on for her. Well done.

HisMum, I did a Talkability programme with local SaLT service....her theory was that Theory of Mind is developed by 6 in NT children but much later in ASD children. Note not that it doesn't develop, it just takes much more work, effort, modelling, supporting at ages when we feel that we can step back and let them learn themselves.

I like to think of it as I would with a child who has a physical disability....if I would continue to lift them, dress them, feed them, then of course I can continue to do this social support with my 2 socially delayed children. (and hope that something sticks)

Kleinzeit Mon 26-Aug-13 17:02:57

LougleI’m impressed that you sorted that one out so well!

HisMum4now I know what you mean – me, I am slack Mum smile At least, I never try and educate my DS “on the spot” – I dunno about your DS but I’d rather mine snatched the cake at a social event than that he snatched the cake and then had a huge meltdown at a social event. So I’d just get through the cake situation as best as I could! When he was younger I’d probably just have cut him his “special” slice and put it to one side before the guests arrived. But now he's older I can start explaining that bit of manners to him. I wait for a calm time and think through what I’m going to say first, I use the “social story” style because it works well for DS. And I remind him about it just before the next social event, and praise him afterwards if he gets the “guests get first choice” rule right, but I wouldn’t fuss if he got it wrong. My DS gets stressed by food and letting someone else choose first is very hard for him, he just about has the self control to do it now (aged 15!!).

There are so many different situations that my DS can’t handle and our home would be unbearable (for me!) if we tried to teach him everything at once. So I only do one or two little things at a time, over a long period of time. And the rest of the time I'm slack Mum!

HisMum4now Mon 26-Aug-13 17:40:14

Lol "our home would be unbearable (for me!) if we tried to teach him everything at once. So I only do one or two little things at a time, over a long period of time. And the rest of the time I'm slack Mum!" yes, that's what I mean.

My DS problem with cake is that it is one of his obsessions, he gets some comfort from getting his preferred piece, or the biggest piece, or just the last piece. It means for him that he is loved and secure, he's validated. blush]

I noticed both my DC have meltdowns at home when friends or family come to visit, fighting over stuff and places, which they don't do when they go to visit them. Might it be that sense of security, that at home they are entitled to be [hesitating to say themselves] autistic? What do you think?

HisMum4now Mon 26-Aug-13 17:57:36

I also noticed that "educating on the spot" indeed makes it to blow out of control and out of proportion for sure. This is the case with 15 yo DS and with the 5 yo. Is it something to do with "mum, don't do it to me"...?
This thread made me think.

Kleinzeit Mon 26-Aug-13 18:05:40

Hm, if cake is one of your DS “things” then maybe it’s best to start teaching him “guests choose first” with something that isn’t cake? Sandwiches, maybe? Biscuits even? smile

Your DC could feel very disrupted by the sheer unusualness of having people in a place where they usually aren’t. And other people don’t behave exactly the same way we do in our home. My DS is very bound by routine and familiarity, and if different things are going to happen or different people are going to be around then he’s much better if they’re in an unfamiliar place and not at home where he knows how things are “supposed” to be. Like Lougle's DD having a sense of where people are "supposed" to sit in Lougle's house, which of course Nanny doesn't share.

PolterGoose Mon 26-Aug-13 18:22:39

HisMum can I join you in the slackers corner? (except it really isn't slacking) I'm another who has found, through experience, that I often take the easy short term solution to prevent meltdowns, mostly because my ds is prone to anxiety and suicidal thoughts. So, my number one goal is always to keep him as anxiety-free as possible, which to outsiders may look like I'm ignoring bad behaviour or even encouraging it, when actually I have to pick the appropriate moments, both in terms of his developmental ability to learn that particular lesson and also depending on priority, because we have to sequence new learning carefully. It's only when I look back that I see how far my ds has really come smile

ouryve Mon 26-Aug-13 18:46:18

No answers, but just a few thoughts about our experiences with DS1 and family, which might help to give some perspective.

He gets on great with my sister's DCs. Individually. We all met in a big crowd, today, and he barely acknowledged them. DS2 hogged them and DS1 is fine with that.

Coming home from my parents has always been a flashpoint. Until about a year ago, there was always a massive meltdown when we got home. He's enjoyed himself and can't transition to his home life easily. For the past year, he's been calm enough to stay with them by himself at half term. He has learnt to control his disappointment at coming home and how he expresses it knowing that his ability to go there and stay without us is dependent on demonstrating that he can manage that transition.

Both boys have a certain relationship with people in one setting but a completely different one, often to the point of not even acknowledging them, in others. My parents managed to visit, last summer (they live 100 miles away) and DS1 turned his back on them for at least an hour, when they arrived.

Context is probably a big deal for your DD. Granny is granny at granny's house. Your DD might not have been able to work out a role for her at her own house.

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