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to not have a clue how to deal with ds? (sorry, long)

(26 Posts)
Twuntosaur Tue 11-Nov-14 12:55:20

I've posted about ds before, but have a feeling that things are getting better, not worse sad

He's 5, he's clever, funny, kind and all round amazing, but his temper is crazy and he gets angry at next to nothing and can't calm himself down.

An example from yesterday - he asked for a bag of crisps, but as 1) they were my secret stash of monster munch so hell no grin and 2) dinner was nearly ready, I said no (explaining of course that those weren't healthy, but dinner was nearly ready and would be much yummier.)

He slammed the cupboard door, screamed, kicked the sofa (repeatedly) banged up the stairs, still screaming. I carried him into his room so he'd have some space to calm down. He got worse, was kicking his door so hard I'm surprised it didn't break, still screaming. Tried to hit me if I went near him. Told me he was going to kick my head, etc.

I'm a bit scared that really isn't normal. He flies into rages about tiny things like that, many times a day (I have a million more similar examples, it is honestly exhausting) and just gets worse and worse. I've tried some calming techniques but nothing really seems to get through - I need help to know what else I can try.

The new thing is refusing to go to school. He tried lying about being ill, then admitted that school was just boring. He was screaming, flinging things around yelling horrible things to me, sobbing his heart out - it's heartbreaking sad I made him go to school but had to push him through the door to get him in. Lately he's been really bad at actually going into the classroom. I've spoken to his teachers and we've worked out a technique there, but nothing helped today. I feel such a failure, like somehow I'm making him worse rather than helping him. If I stay calm and stay with him, he says horrible things to me and tries to kick me. If I give him some space he throws everything in his room about and kicks the walls. It's horrible to watch, I feel so sad for him and scared for him, and he must feel so scared too when this is happening to him.

Sometimes I make it worse by shouting, I try so SO hard to stay calm but this is multiple times a day over really tiny things and I feel like it's breaking me too. I feel like I'm really letting him down.

Wise mumsnetters, how do I help him through this? I'm a bit scared to ask if it sounds like ASD maybe (I used to work in this field and some of his ways are very familiar) or just a typical 5 year old? If anyone's had a similar child I'd be really grateful if you could share anything that worked thanks

nottheOP Tue 11-Nov-14 12:58:46

I'd try speaking to a health visitor or GP to see if you need to be referred or if they can give you some guidance on how to deal with the behaviour. It sounds extreme to me and very hard work. Sorry you're having a tough time.

Antiprocrastination Tue 11-Nov-14 13:07:19

I second taking a list of behaviours (without him!) to the gp to see if you can get some help or a referral.

Sorry you are having such a hard time with him. I know how hard it is to stay calm and try to rationalise with them, my son has Aspergers!

NotQuiteSoOnEdge Tue 11-Nov-14 13:15:20

Op I'm dealing with this currently. flowers to you because I know where you are coming from when you say it's nearly breaking you. It's relentless and exhausting and you are alone with it. My DS kicks off too over crisps/coming off the iPad/being asked to treat his sister better etc.

I would ask your GP or HV to refer you to CAHMS. They see my son and also see me to help me parent him through this. My son is not ASD. He is having trouble dealing emotionally with some difficult stuff.

Is there something deeper about school or home that could be worrying him?

Twuntosaur Tue 11-Nov-14 13:37:49

notheOP HV - yes! I'd forgotten about them as the kids are older now, but youngest is due a (very) delayed 2.5 yr check so will pick her brains when she comes over. I've spoken to HVs before about ds1, as he used to headbang constantly when angry when younger. They said he'd just grow out of it. I suppose he has, but he's replaced it with other not-good behaviour. Thank you!

anti thanks to you. Staying calm is exhausting. Or, all the emotions are exhausting. It's exhausting!

notquite That all sounds familiar! I will definitely ask the HV about a CAHMS referral. I do sometimes wonder about depression/anxiety. He often says that he can't do things because he's too stupid, not clever, not good at anything. He's certainly never got that impression at home, he's very much a pfb and much adored! He did have a issue at school where one boy was bullying him but the school really cracked down on it and he says he's friends with that boy now. Home life is normal, little bit stressful at times as DH is pretty stressed, but nothing major. Well, I can be quite shouty when we're on meltdown number 3 of the day when we're running late and but I also shower him with love and the good times are lovely smile Nothing major like bereavements or separations at all. I'm sorry you're going through this too. brew if you need one!

Boomtownsurprise Tue 11-Nov-14 13:44:21

Places to look for help; aha parenting, red ted art both online but I fear this might be beyond.... But worth a look.

Have you made a safe place for him? I've seen an ikea tent filled with cushions which when a child had a tantrum they could go to and know it was allowed to have that emotion there. I'm not explaining well I think. Someone else might know what I mean? Certainly seemed a good idea.

MissPenelopeLumawoo2 Tue 11-Nov-14 13:47:14

My DD was a bit like this at that age, lot of screaming, not so much kicking but generally the behaviour you describe sounds familiar. Had a terrible job to get a CAHMs referral, got it in the end but she was not considered a serious enough case for more than a few sessions. We have just carried on best we can but her temper is now much better controlled, I think it has just improved with age. We sometimes get a flash of the old temper, but I hope she will continue to grow out of it. I know it is exhausting, but try the CAHMS route and just keep doing what you are doing! Hopefully he will get there in the end.

MissPenelopeLumawoo2 Tue 11-Nov-14 13:51:42

Boomtown- the 'safe place' was one thing recommended by CAHMS for my DD- after a lot of umming and arring she finally chose a place- but has never used it once. I think that recognising that she needed a safe place, and the choosing of it seemed to be enough for her. It is certainly something easy to set up at home and may bring positive results.

Davsmum Tue 11-Nov-14 13:54:20

It does all sound a bit extreme, and without knowing you or your DS then it would be difficult for anyone to advise how to handle it.

It can depend on what is going on in his/your life at the moment.
Is he like this with other people? Family? while he is IN School? Or is it just with you?
It is very difficult when you are in the thick of it to step back and look at how you are handling it because you are totally emotionally affected by it all.
You do sound scared of the situation so no doubt your DS will pick up on that. He needs you to remain calm,..but to be firm and consistent - and no shouting or reacting in an angry way.
I should imagine it will take some time to sort this out - so you really are best getting some professional help.

Twuntosaur Tue 11-Nov-14 15:03:25

The safe place sounds like a great idea, I will try that.

Davsmum He's like this with DH. With grandparents, he will sulk for the same reasons/triggers and may kick but won't shout - it's more of a silent rage. At school, he does get in bad moods but not violent ones. He will just shut down, turn his back on the teachers if they try to talk to him. Refuse to answer, refuse to move, completely silently. So either he's capable of holding back at school, he feels more "comfortable" in front of me and DH so will act out like that, or I handle it badly and make him worse. All three are possible aren't they sad

DS2 btw is the calmest most stressfree person I've ever met. If I tell him he can't have/do/eat something and why, he just goes "Oh, ok!" and wanders off. If I ever have to tell him off (very rare!) he says "sorry, hug hug kiss kiss now friends!" The difference between them is incredible. Oh, another thing I've just remembered, ds1 finds it very hard to say sorry. He won't, even if he's broken something or hurt his brother, he will not apologise. When he's calmed down he'll be able to say it, but definitely not for a while.

Thanks again for giving me lots to think about, I will contact the HV and see what they can help with, and I'll work on staying calm at all times, distraction, and making a safe place.

Boomtownsurprise Tue 11-Nov-14 15:07:29

Good idea to let child choose/build the safe place. Hadn't thought of that.

notgivenupyet Tue 11-Nov-14 16:15:37

Hello!
I have read this and felt so moved by what I read, that I joined, so, hi to everyone, and hi to twuntosaur (that name made me giggle).

Right, I will try and keep this concise. ( can't promise). I have a 3 children. 2 boys and a girls. My eldest son is 12. When he was 5 I could have written your post, by 7 he was so violent I was scared he would kill someone or himself. At school he would withdraw and exhibit the behaviour you describe rather than react the way he did at home. Getting help was so difficult in fact that doesn't cut it! Getting help was near impossible and mostly I was met with blame, ie. We don't see this behaviour at school it must be your parenting. In fa t I was told that so many times I believed it. I felt very low, I began to hate my son. If it had been my husband beating me up I would have had sympathy from people, my son, well it was my fault! I could talk at length about the 15+ "professionals" we saw. However I will fast forward to the present. I have a wonderful son who is no longer violent and his finally happy and flourishing. I love hugs with him, when before I couldn't even stand physical contact with him due to the violence inflicted by him. The change happened because finally at 11 he got diagnosed with ASD. He is able to explain how awful school was for him now, and how he didn't understand what he was supposed to do or other children and he was so distressed and scared about school he would 'burst' when he got home and he didn't have the ability to explain. The tantrums would go on for hours before bed over fear of school the next day and begin again in the morning and resulted in a school refusal and claiming to feel ill. Being diagnosed has saved our family from collapse. My son wasn't being naughty, he was having mental and physical meltdowns. Now we understand him and he understands himself , he and I are at peace with the diagnosis and he is at a school that understand him and life is good, which at one point I never thought would happen.

I think you are already at the stage where due to you previous experience are recognising that this could be ASD.

My advise and plan of attack would be..
1. Contact school and ask for a meeting with HT, class teacher and SENCO and ask school nurse to attend. Be 100% honest, give them your worst day. Say you need help. This will be hard if its the first time, tips for this meeting include not wearing mascara, taking your own tissues and bringing along someone who you trust and cares about you!

2. Attend a gp appointment with list of behaviours and insist on a referral to paediatrician ( you may have to be extremely firm) some wont even accept new referrals after a certain age!! its 7yrs round here) some gps will want to hear that school are on board before referring, hence step one, meeting with school!

3. Go back to school and say you have had a referral now and you wish them to instigate a team around a child meeting and bring in professionals such as ED phycology, Behaviour support, ASD outreach, school nurse and other support agencies they have access too. ( again be prepared to fight, they have to fund these agency involvements and try and not spend their budgets)

4. Make contact with parent partnership who can attend these meetings with you any other local support groups and organisations because YOU need support. Its exhausting dealing with a violent child. Home start have been amazing support to me, do you have a local scheme?

5. Contact social services if you feel you can and say you cant cope, if you feel you can, that step took me years to make!

6. Understand that a 5 year old does not want to behave like this, think how you feel after you get angry? Its scary for him to feel that way, he probably scares himself and it is my guess he is behaving this way as a cry for help. This sound like a very unhappy boy and you need to help him for the sake of himself and you and your family. I think you said you have a younger child? What happens when they are at the receiving end? Your other children have the right to be safe too. You have to get this sorted because one day, like my son he gets bigger and stronger than you, and you haven't sorted this out and you can no longer pick him up and put him in his room and you have no other way of controlling his behaviour, you have a dangerous situation.

7. Don't feel guilty, I felt so ashamed and used to minimize his behaviour and some in truth had become normal to me. Now I feel angry, angry that all my worries and concerns were dismissed and blamed on my parenting rather than being addressed properly largely it seems because of budgets and over stretched services which we were told we were not bad enough to meet threshold for involvement, which meant things had to get to that breaking point of bad enough before we got help and that is wrong.

This has been so long. Sorry. If you would like to pm me, please do. If I have been really unhelpful I am sorry! - I had good intentions!smile

justkeeponsmiling Tue 11-Nov-14 16:22:35

Hi OP, you have my every sympathy! My DS is 5 1/2 now and his behaviour in the past sounds very similar to your DS. Lovely, sensitive and very cuddly but with temper tantrums of epic proportions and over the slightest thing. I used to be so upset over this and it used to make me feel completely powerless.
Over the past few months things have gotten better thank god! I think this is mainly due to jow DH started dealing with him. I used to try a gentle, loving approach, tried ignoring the behaviour, nothing worked. In the end DH settled on a "tough love" approach. I would never shout properly at him (I think it shows that you are losing it) but whenever he started I would come down to his level, hold his shoulders, look him in the eye and say in a loud firm voice: that is enough now! If you don't stop it I will put you .... (in your room or to bed in our case, depending on the time of day!) And if he didn't stop it there and then I would follow through. In the beginning this meant a couple of super-early bedtimes and once or twice no tea (his tantrums were at their worst around teatime, hence he ended up in bed). He used to be hysterical but once he realised that we were absolutely serious and he would be staying in bed he'd eventually calm down. In the end he would come out of his room and sit at the top of the stairs until DH or I spotted him and we would make up. Still no tea or pudding though - he would have some toast maybe and a hug and then bed!
In addition we decided that part of the reason he was having a tantrum was perhaps because he would often get his own way. For example I'd say "I'll brush your teeth now" and he would say "no I want dad to" and we would usually accommodate him. But I think in the long run this has meant that he started thinking he could always have his own way. So now we just stick with whatever was initially decided and he has to accept that.
I think these things have helped greatly. I'm quite gentle and easygoing and usually quite soft and I think when I turned tough it was quite a shock for him! Before I would often try and reason with him and be kind and understanding - your example of "no, no crisps now but tea will be ready in a bit and it's really yummy" could have come from me! Now we have introduced a few rules, never to be broken, eg no sweets before tea. So in the rare occasions he asks for some I just say a firm "not before tea, you know the rules" and he might sulk or whinge a bit but nothing like it used to be!
In addition we have greatly reduced screen time and also brought his bedtime forward. He is much happier when he gets plenty of sleep so that has also really helped.
I don't think he is any less happy with DH and me and we still have lots of fun and plenty of cuddles and loving moments. But I think it helps that he knows his tantrums will just be a total waste of time and that I'm not a pushover.
Oh, and any violence at all is an immediate time-out in his room or on the stairs! When he started hitting in a temper we immediately took a zero tolerance approach yo that so he knows that it is completely unacceptable!
I hope this is of some help to you OP thanks

justkeeponsmiling Tue 11-Nov-14 16:30:18

Just read notgivenupyet 's post. Obviously only you can decide how severe your son's behaviour is and how urgently you need professional help. Obviously if you have serious suspicions your son might have ASD you should follow her advice! My son was never diagnosed he just displayed extremely challenging behaviour and my advice may not be of any help if your son does have ASD x

Davsmum Tue 11-Nov-14 19:01:23

What a breath of fresh air your post was justkeeponsmiling
A Mum who was prepared to change how she dealt with her DS and took Her DHs way, on board.
I am so glad it all seems to be working better now.
I often think there is too much explaining and reasoning and negotiating with children when basically they need to feel someone is in charge and trust that what is being said is meant. That is what discipline is...Teaching a child what is acceptable and what is not and being consistent, firm, but also being loving.
You have not changed your child, You have changed yourself in how you deal with him and as a result, he knows where he stands and can behave better.
I bet he is much happier.

notgivenupyet Tue 11-Nov-14 19:58:14

I would add that any child ASD or not needs firm and consistent boundaries, they still need to learn what is and isn't acceptable and that there are consequences for unacceptable behaviour. Its just if there is ASD at the route cause, finding that out sooner rather than later can be life changing for everyone involved and help you to understand the whys? of the situation. My son used to say he was stupid and he hated himself for example because he felt different and now he hows why he feels different to peers and is far happier in himself and the kind, funny boy I remember is back. The agencies we hot involved help bring that diagnosis and they helped resolve school issues which took away the anxiety that was the trigger for the meltdowns but there was also a lot of calm, consistent boundaries put in place too.

justkeeponsmiling Tue 11-Nov-14 20:57:43

Thanks Davsmum smile Your post made me a bit blush
I feel that he is much happier now and as a result the whole family is also much happier. There is still some way to go but we have turned a huge corner and his change in behaviour has made such a difference to all of us.

Twuntosaur Tue 11-Nov-14 21:49:05

Thank you so much for the latest posts! Everything is really helpful and lots of things to take on board thanks

I'd like to think that boundaries were ok, I often worry that I'm too strict and think I should go easier on them! But I'm going to think about how to frame things better, try talking to him when he's calm to see if we can make things easier when he's angry (he's actually good at thinking of these, but we're still struggling to get him to use them when he's angry)

notgivenupyet thank you for all the ideas and support . It sounds like you both went through such a struggle, it must have been awful to feel like it was your fault sad Your son sounds amazing now - and so do you! That oist was really inspiring thanks

justkeep Thank you! It must have been great to see that change and think - yay, I did that! I will do my best smile

Twuntosaur Tue 11-Nov-14 21:49:28

*oist?? grin Post!!

Coyoacan Tue 11-Nov-14 22:00:37

Is your child getting enough sleep? I find they become like little madmen when they haven't had enough sleep, especially if this happens consistently.

Also I notice with my dgd that hunger can also have this effect on her and she has to be feed frequently

Hairtodaygonetomorrow Tue 11-Nov-14 22:25:21

If you have worked with children with ASD before and already have some bells ringing, then I think it is a bit different than if you don't.

I have a dd who had epic tantrums from about four onwards til she was 9, including outlandish threats against me and herself (which at the time I felt deeply concerned by) but in her case it does seem that she has grown out of them to a large extent- partly by me being very firm with her (being softer didn't work, I don't mean being nasty, I just mean remaining very calm but always nipping behaviour in the bud before escalation including putting her in her room as she trashed it!), partly giving her an escape (so we agreed she would calm down in her room), no tolerance of violence (with her losing a day on the computer per throw/hit of something- we reached something like 13 days over one episode but that really did alter her behaviour) and partly just her growing older.

I don't think you should be more strict- but more consistent and calm (I know hard as it is so provoking).

However, I would be more concerned about the school refusal because it sounds like your son can't manage his emotions at school or at home- him sitting refusing to speak to the teachers etc does sound like a distress thing as much as anything else, which is perhaps why the ASD is ringing a slight bell for you.

I also recommend How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk although your son might be a bit young. But the advice on really hearing what they are tantrumming about does work- my other has the odd paddy and I can calm her down very quickly by acknowledging what she is upset about (even if it seems irrational). I realised that I was often saying the wrong thing which denied their feelings which then made them scream more to get their point across and act out.

Having said all of that, there may be something underlying all this- I would take the advice of the poster who said to contact the school and ask for a meeting with all of the relevant people- because ok, you will need strategies even if there is an underlying reason, but it will make it so much easier if it weren't all so bewildering for everyone.

blackeyedsusie Tue 11-Nov-14 23:34:42

sounds completely normal to me, but then ds has ASD... I can see why you would think that too.

(ds at five could be violent in a melt down.)

strategies. staying calm. (you say you do that mostly, we all know it works best, but then again we are all also human and have liited tolerance)

feeding him regularly. low blood sugar=meltdown imminent

calming activities.

restraining when melting down as he is a danger to himself/others. (this was a regular occurance when five)

rewarding good behaviour. incentives.

intervening at the speed of light.

reminding him of the consequences if he carries on the behaviour.

giving him options. (both of which achieve the objective I want but in two different ways, eg he eats healthy food... so he chooses when he eats his banana, what topping he wants on his toast, etc)

Darkandstormynight Wed 12-Nov-14 03:54:35

I have a cousin that had a child like this. She is now 15 and while she has an angel/devil personality at least she can control herself. She does not have any disorder.

Her tantrums started when she was 2 and went to about 4. They were almost exactly like you described. She was in the grocery store once when the little girl started one of these hysterical, non-normal tantrums. A kind woman who was in the store, went on a limb and begged her pardon, but that SHE had a child like this, and went on to tell my cousin about a special preschool that they enrolled her in.

My cousin was very conscious of what people thought, and the idea of her dd being in a special classroom (especially since it wasn't a typical SN classroom, it was more of one for children with a lot of anger) didn't appeal, but she was at the end of her rope and went through the process and got her dd enrolled in this "anger management class" for preschoolers! It worked wonders! She was in that class which taught (for lack of a better phrase) "anger management techniques" plus they taught the parents techniques as well...it Really helped this little girl!

Now, like I said previously, this girl is now 15 and she does have a very, very strong personality. She will not hesitate to tell any one off, whether they are an adult or a child...in a way she is frightening, I'll have to be honest. But she is much, much better than she used to be - she would scare the bejeebies out of me when she was in nursery. At least she manages to control her anger. That classroom was a lifesaver for her - and I have to stress again it wasn't typical SN: it was more anger management.

Balaboosta Wed 12-Nov-14 06:41:55

Some fantastic posts on here! Love the contrasting approaches of justkeep and nevergive. As parent of child with ASD I think this is the key question. The strategies are very different depending on whether there is an ASD. It was because the strategies of clear boundaries, consistent parenting, sanctions and rewards was so clearly not working with my son that I knew to consider the possibility of a more systemic difficulty. These days I love my Aspie boy and would not change him for anything! ASD is a thing he is - not a thing he has - and every day with him is interesting.

Littleturkish Wed 12-Nov-14 06:52:30

If you have no luck with the GP or HV I would ask the school to refer him to CAHMS and enquire about a play therapist. He would definitely benefit from talking this through with someone detached from the situation in a child friendly way.

So sorry you're struggling with this.

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