6 year old aggression and anger.(28 Posts)
i'm desperate, please help me work out if we need to seek medical help.
6 year behaves well at school, school clubs and at childcare. quiet and in the wings rather than a ringleader. few friends but able to work with others socially and teachers say they not concerned from what they observe.
its not a lock down issue - been a huge issue since 3 years old
has a minimum of 5 outbursts each day, lasting 40 + minutes each time
at any time of the day, even if had 10-12 hours sleep:
defiance, uncooperative , refusal,
screaming, shouting, arguing so loud it can be heard in the front of the house down the drive with windows closed:
about wrong bowl,
sandwiches cut wrong way,
can't find toothbrush,
socks hurt her, second pair wrong
someone has folded clothes away in their room,
the wrong cereal is on the table,
glass given to them filled with juice is not the right glass,
broken biscuit given to them,
they wanted spaghetti pasta, not penne
my cheese (cheddar) stinks and im not allowed to eat near them
we are not allowed to eat onion as this gets them angry
wont let the big sibling play with what they want or play in their own room
screaming/red rage, slamming doors, threatening to break things rages about very minor things lasts for 40- 60 minutes, as above, several times a day
hate you stinky rat
i hate my daddy/or mummy
i want to be angry
slamming door so hard the mirror on wall outside about 1.5 m away shakes and wobbles.
its like a switch has been flipped and we are powerless.
scary that they might hurt themselves and more tangible issue of property damage.
we have tried timeout and it caused to too much screaming distress to the child and we are frightened that she will break the door or kick it in
we consistently try to calm and use calm words or phrases but day in day out, we do bend and say things like "you're not kind/ this is not what nice children do/you are being horrible"
other times when we are too drained we say " it hurts your brains ability to work well if you are are angry" or "you don't have to be angry", "you can do other things when you are angry"
they understand what they are doing. they don't want to stop, or try other things to calm them eg colouring or lego or talk about why they are angry (when they are in a calm moment)
the default is anger. we pussy foot around and can't relax but always say the above things. we have lost hours most days trying to calm them
they want to slap, scratch to leave scrape marks is more common in last 4 months.
i struggle to take them out as doesn't want to walk or wrong jacket and wont wear another, won't get dressed, things will be wrong wherever we are etc. screaming and rage in public places etc. can be heard screaming about something the next street over. i only want to take them out when i have husband.
we are at wit's end. older child is seriously affected as sees all of this
have been to relate but they were shockingly inept going into psychology theory eg brain anatory and this part does this etc rather than actual practical help for us as desperate parents. obviously all the theory is useful but we were desperate for immediate help and after 5 sessions, felt it was literally going no-where and paying £250 plus time out of work which was unpaid
please can anyone help?
do you think my child could have anxiety?
im on AD for last 2 years, i am prone to mild depression but now have very severe anxiety as i feel i can't cope with work, life etc as i can never find any peace and have gained 2 stone
i know this is about the child but we are so drained and every day is unhappy.
i feel so sad that my beautiful 6 year old is so unhappy each hour of each day and that they feel defensive and anger for so much of each day. it must be horrible and exhausting.
where can i go for help while waiting for normal services to resume?
in tears. don't know how to help her. no punishment deters, no age appropriate reasoning works. no tryin to talk about anger when they are calm works. no "be kind" kinda of stuff works.
Bumping this for you. No advice but 💐 to you OP, sounds really hard for both you and DD
If she has sensory issues and massive meltdowns as you describe, she could be suffering from pathological avoidance syndrome. Look, I'm no expert on this but my neighbour's child has similar behavioural patterns to the ones you describe.
What seems to work for her is managed transition. That is, she never changes anything for her child without giving a fair warning. For example, instead of saying "Right, let's get you off to bed" and witnessing a massive strop, she says, "After you've had your screen time and brushed your teeth, we're going upstairs. You're going to bed and then its time for a quiet time. You can read for an hour if you want to"
Essentially, what my neighbour is doing is managing expectations so that her child doesn't react to anything unexpected. She also soothes and comforts her when she's distressed by using calming words. She never shouts either. Amazing lady!
I think the child has autistic tendencies which are in the process of being both diagnosed and understood. Reading up on the subject might be one way of increasing your understanding. It's hard isn't it?
Controlling everything can be a form of anxiety.
Have you read The Explosive Child?
Visual timetables and countdowns to things happening could help
in a way, we do these things most days at many points of the day, eg "bed is in 30 minutes" and give a 10 minute warning.
"after im finished in the shower, i will find you and we will need to get dressed."
"im having my coffee and then i will sort out the toys and set it up with you."
"im finishing the dishwasher and then we will put our shoes on and go outside for a scoot"
snack after maths every morning
we aren't making demands, we are gently trying to help and give her a heads up.
ive read bits and bobs of online articles of the explosive child but i've thought it recommended professionals along side.
thank you for your replies.
i have had an eating disorder when i was much younger and phobia disorder for the last 5 years so yes, i totally know how control is an anxiety feature
That sounds really tough. If it was something like sensory issues would she not still have them at school and have behavioural issues there?
I recently read the Philippa Perry book: The book you wish your parents had read. I found it really helpful, especially in terms of managing/understanding big feelings and undesirable behaviour. It talks a lot about setting and maintaining boundaries, whilst still empathising with and acknowledging your child's feelings and remaining calm. And useful info about actually putting that into practice.
I wasn't thinking autism spectrum until I realised that you are describing a DD, and now I think ASD/PDA. If her issues relate particularly to control then autism and/or sensory processing difficulties could be what's driving this. She sounds anxious, not angry.
Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.
@bluereliantrobin shut up you nasty piece of work.
Don’t have any advice to give op other than to ignore the reliantrobin troll.
It sounds so stressful though
It could be worth speaking to the school nursing team for your area, they'll be able to go through your concerns with you and then make a referral into the relevant service. CAMHS, etc. are all still running even through lockdown.
I'm not s clinician but ready your opening post I'd be leaning towards her experiencing sensory overload either due to anxiety or potentially ASD. It's definitely worth contacting a professional with regards to it.
I have no advice but I’m sure others do. I hope someone else can help you because you all deserve it.
OP, I have 2 DC who sound similar, it's tough enough to deal with the behaviour, let alone when you know they can hold it together at school etc. I find it so helpful that school are supportive, though they don't see any of the behaviour they never disbelieve me or do that 'oh, they don't do anything like that here' blaming crap.
I know it's even more of a pressure cooker at the moment, lockdown is stretching everyone but particularly parents of DC with additional needs. I have been told repeatedly that it is a back handed compliment, that they feel safe enough to show how they feel at home - not much comfort when you're getting sworn at and hit.
I don't really have any advice- work around the sensory issues if possible, make things very routine and predictable, not too much choice as that can be overwhelming, be consistent, that's about it. Just know it's not just your DC who does this.
@blueReliantRobin how on earth Did you get any of that from the OP? It doesn’t even make any sense
Sounds very like the Pda presentation of autism.
Rooted in anxiety and a need to be in control.
Ask for a referral to community paeds.
What do school think? Although bear in mind that many children mask so can apear 'fine in school' exploding in the safety of home.
I would get to your GP asap and ask for a referral to CAMHS; there is definitely something here, very possibly ASD; many of the things you mention are common in girls with ASD (esp sensory issues around food, textures, smells, eating away from other people etc) - don't think that because she is OK out of the home there is something you are doing wrong. She is probably struggling during the day and home is where she can safely have her meltdowns; you will still love her. Dealing with behavioural issues like these can be utterly draining and isolating so get some care for yourselves as well, try and connect with other parents who are understanding and remind yourself you are doing the best you can. Take care and best wishes.
Sounds a bit like my little sister was, although probably a little worse. She was also very well behaved at school, and so at that time nobody suspected any SEN. Towards the end of her teaching career our mother taught at a school for children with autism for a few years. Through observation and work related working she realised that my sister had almost all the traits of girls with ASD, including being able to mask at school and then completely exploding at home where it was ‘safe’. Although she’s not been diagnosed it’s almost certain that my sister had autism, with traits still present in adulthood (although much, much better). When you can I’d take her to the GP and start to get the ball rolling for an assessment.
And for you. Sounds very tough and like you care about your little girl a lot.
thanks for the replies. i've quickly read them and will have a bit of a longer study of them.
i know its very tricky and im guessing bluereliantrobin was sighing that it was just another of case of parents failing to create boundaries and parent adequately! thanks for blocking the comment mnhq.
i think i will start keeping a diary and then think about GP. its worrying, i don't want to get her worried or upset about contacting a professional.
another part of me thinks maybe we should leave it a while longer and see how everything is after cov19 when we are back to the new normal at school.
but i don't know, the behaviour is no better or no worse than pre lockdown, its just we are having 7 days of it rather than 2 and it must be so tiring for her and her little head.
I have found that using techniques that have been created for autism can help with children struggling even if it is something else. I have a child with behavioural problems and once he has one long outburst I know he will have multiple as he exhausts himself that he becomes weaker and tired. It also becomes a habit. As hard as it is stay calm, count for 30 seconds and do not feed the anxiety. Do not leave it as it takes too long as it is, they wont diagnose what isn’t there and she may end up not coping at school.
OP, I really sympathise - I could’ve written your post a couple of years ago. My DS has very similar-sounding traits to your DD and was diagnosed with ASD at a similar age. Hearing the diagnosis was tough at first but also a huge relief, and I find many aspects of his behaviour (e.g. meltdowns due to sensory overload) so much easier to deal with now that I know why it’s happening. I also realised it wasn’t down to my parenting, which was a massive load off my mind.
Don’t beat yourself up for the stuff you’ve said in the heat of the moment - none of us are perfect parents - but try and have some set phrases that are calming, not critical (e.g. “it’s OK, you are safe. We are going to calm down now”) - almost as a script you can stick to. If your DD is anything like my DS, anything you can do to make your own behaviour more predicable is a very good thing. Like a pp, I also found Philippa Perry’s parenting book super helpful.
With my DS, our school SENCO made a CAMHS referral and although the waiting time for a diagnosis was so long in our area (2+ years) we ended up saving to get it done privately, CAMHS did offer us a very helpful 6-week course to help specifically with his anxiety, which he really struggles with. I’d really recommend taking all the help you’re offered and getting the ball rolling as soon as you can - keeping a diary to show the GP is a good start. Be prepared to be fobbed off, just in case - the first GP we saw scoffed when we mentioned ASD as DS “seems perfectly fine” There is a huge amount of ignorance out there so the more information you can arm yourself with, the better.
Some other things that help my DS:
- routine: at home and school he has a “now and next” board, which helps him feel more in control.
- a weighted blanket - helps him feel secure after meltdowns.
- sensory toys - things he can squeeze/chew/rip.
- 5-minute breaks between lessons at school (and a similar rest between activities at home) - helps him process what’s just happened and prepare for the next thing.
I’d also really recommend the SEN boards on here - I tend just to lurk but they’re full of good advice and loads of parents who are going through similar things.
I was devastated when the SENCO first mentioned ASD but I’m so glad now that we got the diagnosis as it’s helped us all so much. I was also worried about scaring DS with appointments but he was fine - we just kept explaining that it was to help him with the some of the things that were tricky for him, and he accepted it. It’s also meant he now understands why he feels so angry and out of control sometimes, and that there are loads of other kids out there like him.
Sorry, that was a bit long - I’ll shut up now! Good luck, and please remember you’re not alone
P.S. not saying your DD necessarily has ASD like my DS - sorry if it reads that way! But if you think there might be a diagnosis to be made then it’s 100% worth looking into (like a pp said, they won’t diagnose something that isn’t there).
Sounds in some ways like my ds, who is also 6.
Can get very angry as you describe although triggers not the same.
Annoyingly we’d done a lot of good work with him before lockdown but much of it has been undone. A lot of the suggestions that pps have made are in line with the sort of things I’ve tried - especially telling him exactly what is going to be happening coming up etc , no surprises etc.
Having lots of things to look forward to and knowing what will be happening really helps, having some good hobbies like kung fu equally.
His teacher has raised issues about his concentration in particular and wants to refer to a speech therapist in the first instance, but I think she suspects adhd / add rather than asd. Interesting to hear what others have experienced though.
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