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Alarming behaviour 8year old step daughter(19 Posts)
I was wondering if anyone has any experience of any of the following issues that my step daughter is exhibiting;
1. Bullying other children - physically hitting people a pretending it is an accident eg swinging a pencil case so it hits a particular person on the head, denying it and claiming it's an accident
2. Sexualised language- asking boys to have sex with her, asking how to 'do it', stating that "if you swallow you can't get pregnant"
3. Persistently punching people- it appears to be an impulsive behaviour, when asked why she says she wanted to or she doesn't know
4. Repetitively asks the same question
5. Asks adults in school for hugs
6. Exposes herself or says things like "I'll rip my knickers off if I don't get..."
7. Inappropriately touching people- including learning assistants (she tried to bite ones boob last week)
The list is actually much longer than this.
The background is that her mum died when sd was 1, lived with grandparents and father until age 3, grandparents only til age 7, moved in with me, my daughter (15) and dad age 7. Behaviour has been an issue forever not just since school or move to our home. Camhs involved and we are waiting for an Ados assessment for asd, possible adhd, salt referral, ot referral. Triage appt with camhs March 2015, next appt June 2016, just had classroom obs in Aug (in Scotland). We have no timeframe whatsoever for any of the above and yet the behaviour is alarming to say the least. Partner and I to start parenting course next week. This is affecting my daughter to the point that she will do practically anything to keep away from sd. She has developed stress related health problems. I am not coping and quite frankly feel at the end of the line with what I can do. I have spent hours and hours researching these potential conditions, spent a lot of money on books to help her and to help me understand more.
What else can I do? Has anyone else experienced any of these issues? Is there light at the end of the tunnel?
I hate myself for thinking this, but have I just got myself and my daughter into a dreadful situation that we need to get out of?
Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.
So sorry to hear this. No personal experience of behaviour as difficult as you describe but I didn't want you to get no replies as you sound like a wonderful step mum. I've heard of some spectrum kids whose lack of social understanding leads them to be over-familiar, so it's worth investigating. Last year i had trouble with our ASD 7yo DS hitting me and in the end I started "quiet time" where we sit and read/chat/play a game of his choice at bed time. It really improved his behaviour by giving positive attention as other parts of life had got negative and confrontational. Sounds like you/your partner could maybe try this daily with your SD and you with your DD to try to make both feel more secure and less anxious. I'd maybe try making a designated "safe place" where each of the girls can go to get away from it all when they feel overwhelmed. Our DS goes off to bed with his blanket and tends to come back much calmer. Now we are learning to be less emotional when he does inappropriate things, he has to go off to his safe place less. I think that the sexualised behaviour sounds very worrying as what she is saying can only have been learned from age inappropriate contact with books/video/people. Who could have supplied this? I'm sorry to say this but If I were you I would make very sure that this person would have no contact with with my DD. Good luck
This does sound like a very difficult situation, and agree with tartan that the sexualised language and behaviour is particularly worrying in an 8 year old. It's very important that you try to indentify the source of this and ensure your SD isn't in contact with this person. I'd also be thinking about reporting them, it's a serious safeguarding issue even if the source is another child.
Did she have much contact with your DP while living with her GPs? Does she see her GPs regularly now? The changes in living arrangements might account for some of the challenging behaviour. Although I know you've said her behaviour has been challenging for a long time, have there been any changes more recently? If you can identify some of the triggers for the aggressive behaviour, for example, you might be able to avoid some of it. Keeping a diary is really helpful for spotting less obvious patterns, I've found.
I'm not in Scotland and I know things work differently there, but I think you (or your DP if you don't have parental responsibility for your SD) need to be pushing every agency involved for some more urgent action. So Camhs, SS if she has a social worker, school, GP surgery, whoever is running the parenting course.
Good luck OP, and hugs to your DD. 15 is a difficult age to have all this going on around you. Try to carve out some special time for you and her, maybe outside the house - go for a walk or a coffee together - while your DP looks after your SD.
Thank you so much for your replies!
It is a very isolating and worrying experience. I really take your advice on board.
In terms of the sexualised language and behaviour I am at a complete loss and it terrifies me to think she has been exposed to even the idea of anything. She's so young! I have been through every possible place/influence and I just can't put my finger on it. She goes to an after school club but the children there are all primary school age. She spends time with her nana (her mums mum) and her aunts, uncle and cousins all of whom are older except one the same age.
I am a teacher and in all of our child protection training we are told to watch out for these signs as possible signs of abuse. Again- where could this be happening? Her dad won't even discuss it, I think he is just too horrified by the idea.
She has very limited access to computers/iPads as she gets obsessive about certain games etc. Five night at Freddie's was a trigger for many months of sleepless nights. I can't control what happens in other people's homes with regards to iPads etc. Despite asking for her to to be allowed onto them I know she still does at her paternal and maternal grandparents and other extended family.
When she lives with her grandparents (dads mum & dad) she slept in the same bed as her gran as she would not sleep otherwise. This took us about 9/10 months to change when she moved in with us. Since she has lived with us she hasn't stayed over with anyone else but does have contact with her grandparents and extended family on both sides. This has been a source of tension with her maternal grandmother who seems overly desperate for her to stay the night and to take her away.
When she lived with her grandparents I would say she did see her dad pretty much daily but I would say he has not been so much of a father figure for her, more like a big brother maybe. Talking to him about this is really hard as he gets quite defensive about it.
We have family support involved who are an off shoot of social work and I have raised my concerns with them. I have raised my concerns with camhs and the gp. It feels like they think I am being overdramatic or something as no one seems to be taking me seriously! It's is frustrating. I am a third party so the speak and feel that a lot of the previous behaviour - violence, inattentive, rude, disruptive, defiant, the list goes on- has been brushed under the carpet because her mum died. While I understand that this will have impacted on her life, I do not feel that it can be used as an excuse for her behaviour. I know that might sound cruel but having been in education for 15 years of my working life I know that, sadly, the number of people affected by the loss of a parent is more than you would like to think.
Thank you so much again for your replies and I will try the suggestions you have given me too. The situation is completely overwhelming.
If it was me, I would go and have a long and frank conversation with her HT and be prepared to have dp have to live elsewhere and manage her alone until it is sorted. Everything you say should have been part of your safeguarding training.
Is no one else in the wider family concerned about the sexualised language and behaviour? When did it first start? I do think you need to take this seriously. What do family support say?
I've had safeguarding training too and the behaviour and language described in your post would be a huge red flag.
Someone (her dad) also needs to step up and start ensuring the adult family members she sees are being responsible about online access, iPads and the Internet. Five nights at Freddie's is very disturbing and wholly inappropriate for an 8 year old, and if that's an example of what she's accessing online it's quite likely there's other age-inappropriate material too.
A vulnerable 8 year old with the difficulties you describe shouldn't ever be unsupervised online.
This is the problem with the wider family on both sides- because sd is often hyperactive and behaved inappropriately the iPad has basically been used as an electronic babysitter. When watching YouTube videos and playing games she can sit still for hours. unfortinately she seeks out inappropriate stuff. And actually even if she looks for mine raft there is a lot if inappropriate stuff that comes up anyway despite filters. I am too scared to let her on unsupervised and I don't like the obsessional behaviour when she is on and supervised so I'm afraid I've been a total cow and banned it in my house. I even have issues using the laptop for homework (supervised) as she then starts asking continually to go on you tube or play games or talking about the games (particularly this five nights one). On a side note her cousin turns 9 in October and is having a five night themed birthday party. Her nana said it just what all the kids her age are into.
In terms of the wider family, I think they very much see me as overreacting and too strict. I won't get her an Xbox or let her have a to in her room- sleep is another issue! In fact I have the feeling I have a very bad name within the family as before I met dp everyone wrote off her behaviour as a reaction to her mum dying and I dared to say that I felt there was a lot more to it than that. She has always been 'wild' in her grans words.
A lot has changed for all of us. During the time we have been together (Jan 2013) my sister died, the living situation changed first with her dad moving in with me and my daughter, then she moved in, she changed school (to one which has been much better at accepting there is more to her behaviour- adhd/asd-, I found out I was pregnant the month she moved in (we now have a 6 month old son), her grandparents she lived with are still in regular contact but are also enjoying frequent holidays often last minute.
The school have said the sex stuff was because I was pregnant. I find that really hard to deal with as it started before she knew I was having a baby (we told her in October and she had started exposing herself and talking about things when she started school in August/September) and we answered her questions in a basic and age appropriate manner and I feel it is a round about way of saying it's our fault.
Honestly though no one seems to be upping the anti despite me mentioning abuse! I'm at a total loss. I might be completely wrong.
I am now doubting myself which is why it is so fantastic to be able to hear everyone else's thoughts.
My parents keep telling me I need to get out of this situation, as do my friends who can see the impact on dd and myself. It's easier said than done as now I feel trapped to a certain extent as if I'm not pushing for help for her who will? I then feel guilty as j have dd and ds to protect too.
Part of me feels that a special school might be he answer but without a diagnosis and potentially another year or more until there is one and the demand on places it's unlikely we could get one for her. her gran told me on Friday that I just needed to 'hang in there' and not let it drive me and dp apart. Unfortunately I feel like I am very alone. Dp works hard and has found the transition to full time parent difficult to say the least! The onus is on me, yet round about me people are dismissing what I say! It's hard. I'm not her mum but I am trying to do what is best for her.
ps sorry for the enormous posts.
That does sound like an extraordinarily difficult situation. If things don't improve, you might need to take the advice of your parents and friends and put yourself, DD and DS first.
Your DP really needs to take the lead with his DD and be dealing with the rest of the family. It sounds like he is too used to handing responsibility over to other family members. Why wasn't he parenting his DD until he moved in with you? Even if she was living with the GPs he could still have been an active parent.
Good luck, and for you.
Now I wish I could answer that! Because he was grieving? Because it was easier? Because his parents said it was fine? Who knows, he is a master at avoidance so doesn't give straight answers to the difficult stuff!
I'm between a rock and a hard place! 😞
Thank you so much! 😊
There is a number, call them and tell them everything (nb write down everything you can remember first with dates and what happened)
They will advise and support you.
Please don't take her siblings away and leave her in the hopes that "it's just her".
Thank you. I will phone.
It sounds like she has been sexually abused.
This is a real fear of mine. I have brought it up with people I thought might be more proactive in guiding me towards the help and support she might need.
Would a private psychologist be the right person to talk to? (because I don't seem to be getting anywhere with nhs services)
Not sure. Nspcc probably first port of call.
I'd personally be looking carefully at who would have had the opportunity to commit this crime and seriously consider restricting any access until you've been able to get further information.
Thank you so much for your help. It make me feel a bit less like I'm going mad with my worries and concerns.
Your SD is lucky to have you looking out for you. Just remember to look after yourself too.
Thank you, unfortunately self medicating with cake which isn't helping the waist line! Going to have to substitute with exercise I think!
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