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What do you do with a hysterical 10 year old?

(25 Posts)
FiveHoursSleep Thu 01-Mar-12 08:37:35

We've had this a few times recently with our year 5 girl. Last night she got herself worked up about an upcoming music theory exam and screamed and cried for about 2 hours. Her teacher was unfair, she didn't understand anything, her teacher was awful, she hated us, she hated her teacher, we hated get the picture, I'm sure.
DH and I took it in turns to sit with her and try to talk her down, but I would have happily walked off and left her to stew at one point. I said early on that we weren't going to force her to do the exam, but she only started screaming that we wanted her too, to which I replied that it seemed a pity not to when she'd worked so hard towards it. Then she screamed for half an hour that she didn't want to wait to sit the paper; she wanted to do the exam right then and there!
I know it's important to keep calm but has anyone found any way of calming them down quickly? Last night she woke her sisters and brother with her carrying on.
Also do you punish yours in any way for this kind of behaviour? I was thinking she might need to go to bed a bit earlier ( usually about 8:30) to catch up on the sleep she missed from last night.

Trifle Thu 01-Mar-12 08:48:41

My 10 year old doesn't behave quite so extremely but when he's having a rant it's best to leave him to it. I think they need to get their anger and frustration out their system so trying to cut them off mid rant I think is counter productive and Prolongs the hysteria. Once mine has had his rant he's then able to discuss things rationally but it's pointless intervening too early. I don't punish him for it although it is wearing (and providing he has his rant in private) as sometimes they don't have sufficient vocab or experience to handle it better.

OneHandFlapping Thu 01-Mar-12 08:59:41

I wonder if "talking her down" is giving her too much attention for a style of behaviour you want to discourage. When mine get aerated (and it's nothing like that bad), I send them to their rooms and tell them they can come out when they are calm.

imnotmymum Thu 01-Mar-12 09:03:17

When mine have got in a strop just ignore them they usually calm down and feel pretty stupid a cup of tea and a biscuit and watch a dvd or something together diffuses the situation and then we chat to iron out probs that said I have only dealt with usual strops not a full blown thing like you posting but think same will apply treat it like a toddler tantrum

Bossybritches22 Thu 01-Mar-12 09:04:08

Agree with onehand don't give her the attention she is seeking. Make sure she can't hurt herself & tell her you are prepared to talk/listen when she has calmed down.

Start pre-empting these hissy fits by telling her as SOON as she starts going off on one that you will listen to her if she is calm but not if she screams, and leave her alone straight away if it escalates.

The hormones are starting to rage but she can't manipulate you like this.

TheEpilator Thu 01-Mar-12 09:06:48

I'm with OHF I'm afraid. Sounds like you're indulging her tantrum by even acknowledging it. Once you sense it getting out of control I would say that you'll talk about it when she calms down, as you can't really help her while she's getting so worked up, then walk away. Might seem harsh but its more likely to snap her out of it than any amount of reasoning while she's mid-rant.

FiveHoursSleep Thu 01-Mar-12 09:09:29

Yes, that's what I was thinking. Unfortunately my husband tends to go in and try and discuss things with her, which usually ends up in more yelling from both of them. hmm Then I end up having to intervene trying to calm them both down.
I will see if I can get him to leave her to it but I suspect he's not going to listen to me.

Doyouthinktheysaurus Thu 01-Mar-12 09:09:49

I do think that children need time to work through kit themselves when they get themselves to that point.

Ds1 (9) can be prone to dramatic emotional outbursts and I just leave him to it. If he is being rude with it, I ask him to go to his room. I do offer a cuddle but most often whilst in full flow there is a lot of anger and he needs time out before he can calm and benefit from a cuddle.

cory Thu 01-Mar-12 09:13:00

I think less intervention is better with hysteria. I wouldn't punish it, because I don't think it is a deliberate act, but I wouldn't try to stop it or soothe it either. Just sit quietly or get on with what you are doing. As Trifle says, trying to stop it usually prolongs it. You may sometimes be able to divert an incipient meltdown in the way Bossy suggests, but once she is in full flow, it will need to run its course.And if she senses that you are worried or stressed by it, it will only make it worse.

Afraid her siblings will just have to learn to ignore it too. I grew up with a brother who grew completely hysterical: as in screaming, kicking, thrashing wildly around (he once kicked his way through a wooden door in his bare feet). We just learned to get on with our lives. He grew out of it.

Dd has various hysterical behaviours: one of them, which lasted for a few months, was vomiting over her plate at the end of every meal. Her little brother got so used to it that he used it for time-keeping (what time is is? has DSis been sick yet?) Children are adaptable as long as they see that their parents are coping.

rabbitstew Thu 01-Mar-12 09:38:46

She's not dealing with stress and anxiety very well, is she? I wouldn't call it a tantrum when someone gets themselves into an abject panic over an exam. I agree that once someone has got to the point of hysteria, you can't bring them back down quickly by talking - you'll just provide fuel for them to argue against and make the whole thing last longer. However, finding better ways of dealing with anxiety and the fear of failure in the long term would be a good idea, given the number of exams ahead of your dd, if you want your dd to avoid building up to the point of uncontrollable hysteria again. The ideas behind CBT are quite useful for dealing with anxiety, and there are relaxation techniques that work with some people. I think there are also books out there for helping children deal with anxiety. Basically, there are plenty of places where you could get ideas on how to get your dd to think in a more healthy way about exams and why she has to take them, and why she can't just avoid them, and why failing an exam isn't going to ruin her life anyway.

FiveHoursSleep Thu 01-Mar-12 09:59:06

rabbitstew She's usually okay about exams, I have the feeling that this was more a tantrum about how her teacher had marked one of her mock papers.
We do talk about nervousness being normal, and being your bodies way of making sure you do your best. She knows EFT and uses it often if she does feel overwhelmed but yesterday was different ifyswim.

Chandon Thu 01-Mar-12 10:06:39

I leave my highly strung 9 year old on his own, and tell him I will come up to talk when he has calmed down.

I never enter into and discussion if my DC are crying, screaming or hysterical. I make sure I tell them I am not angry (even if I am) but that they cannot make sense until they are calm.

works pretty well most days, as crying alone in your room is not that much fun, and I really really LISTEN once they have calmed down (my 9 year old once said he gets "mad" mainly if he feels nobody is listening) and then see if there is anything we can do, go through the options together. Nothing is ever hopeless and everything can be discussed.

Sometimes I get cross and shout though. blush Am only human after all

QuickLookBusy Thu 01-Mar-12 10:12:30

I agree that you should leave any discussion until she has calmed down.

There is no point in trying to have a rational discussion with an angry/upset child. I would have said "We know you are upset, when you feel a bit calmer we can have a chat about it"

Actually as it was bed time, I think I would have taken her downstairs so she didn't disrupt the other DC, and left her to calm down in the kitchen.

FiveHoursSleep Thu 01-Mar-12 10:32:17

QuickLook Have you ever tried to take a raging 10 year old anywhere? I tried, but she preferred to stay in her room where she could disturb as many people as possible.
At least she came in this morning and apologised without prompting.

jshm2 Thu 01-Mar-12 10:32:50

Yes. The quickest way to calm them down is to tell them to sit down else lay down. If that doesn't work then change the environment and tell (don't ask) them your all going out for a bite to eat.

You've been pandering to her for too long and she finds it acceptable behaviour. Not saying you should flip 180 degrees overnight but you need to reward her better behaviour and be more aggressive to her bad behaviour.

Part of the reason she's not doing well at school could be that she's having her meltdowns accepted at home and she expects the same at school.

QuickLookBusy Thu 01-Mar-12 10:37:08

No Five I have never tried to take a raging 10 year old anywhere. I have however told a raging 10 year old to go somewhere else, if they were disturbing/upsetting their younger siblings.

PurplePidjin Thu 01-Mar-12 10:42:32

At that age the words may not be related to the feelings iyswim. So reassurance about the exam won't reassure her about whatever issue has triggered the melt down.

Could you encourage her to write/draw her feelings then use it for discussion once the tears are over?

TheEpilator Thu 01-Mar-12 11:00:28

Five, you're doing well if she'll apologise to you without prompting!

Perhaps take that as an opportunity to explain to her that you understand that she gets angry and anxious and that things get said in the heat of the moment which she doesn't really mean. Tell her you'll do what you can to help her, but that next time this happens you won't be getting into any discussions until she's back to her usual lovely, sensible, calm self grin and you can discuss the issue properly. At least that will be a warning about what's to come next time, so that she's not totally bewildered when you don't respond!

Amaretti Thu 01-Mar-12 11:02:09

He absolutely needs to stop trying to talk to her, he is making it louder and longer. If he won't listen to you can you find a book recommending this?

startail Thu 01-Mar-12 11:35:34

Pretty much the same advice as everyone else, ignore!

It's bloody hard, but trying to talk to DD2 when she's in a rage is utterly impossible.

At that age I used to storm off to my room and have good rant (usually at my poor Dad, who was really only the last straw on top of school, friends, Mum wanting things tidied and life in general).

When I was slightly older I'd cycle around, or go for a walk.

DD2 is now 11 and is getting a bit better. She's easier to talk to the next day and I've even had a sorry the other day.

I think it's just a very awkward age you aren't a little girl anymore, but you have non of the respect the Y6s get. People just want you to be "sensible" for want of a better word. And I think we expect girls that age to be more sensible than boys which doesn't help either.

rockinhippy Thu 01-Mar-12 11:43:57

Too much attention - follow your instincts & DO back away & leave her to stew

you will instinctively know when its any more than just attention seeking over dramatics - trust me, we just do & its all normal -

mines 9 & we get it from her too - when it suddenly became something else - ie she was the victim of a bullying campaign at School - it was different & obvious that there was more to it, even though at that point she wasn't saying, so cut yourself some slack & leave her too it, sounds like you already know what its about, but are allowing DH to sway you - just remind him - a mothers instinct is never wrong wink

FiveHoursSleep Thu 01-Mar-12 11:59:46

Thanks everyone. Very helpful!

corygal Thu 01-Mar-12 12:04:17

Two hours is very long for a strop. Back off. Put her in her bedroom, shut door and say you'll talk when she's calmer.

Then disengage.

emjones0115 Mon 23-Nov-15 01:21:55

My 4 year-old daughter has always had, and still has, crying/tantrum episodes every single day. it’s humiliating. Bed time is so stressful EVERY DAY! And this is not the only time she is out of control.
I have tried it all; talking nicely, positive reinforcement, games, etc, etc., still, nothing works. We can't figure it out...we would appreciate your input...I'm all ears!!! Thanks!!

Jenniemele Mon 23-Nov-15 01:27:53

My baby is already 5 years old, but I can remember bedtime horror like it was yesterday. I had some advice from my mother; my favorite was time-outs...sparingly. Depending on the child, using a time-out occasionally, beginning at about the age of 18 months, may help her manage feelings better when she has a tantrum. A time-out can be helpful when your child's tantrum is especially intense and other techniques aren't working.
Also there are videos online on how to talk with your toddler correctly. Most of them are rubbish, but few are gold. I found this one helpful and this one is not bad too good luck!

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