Why does my daughter get in these moods? And what do I do?(18 Posts)
DD is 6 and very well behaved out of the house but she has always had these mad fits of anger, always with me, and I just don't know what to do about them.
It will either start out of nowhere: she will literally just say something like, 'That's not fair,' for no reason. Or she will niggle and worry at her brother or me, sniping and teasing or pinching, until I just can't do anything but tell her off.
It will then excalate to full scale screaming, hitting and biting and nothing whatever that I do can stop this happening. It is like she needs to have it happen. Anything I try to do to stop it seems to frustrate her and make things worse.
For what it is worth (as none of it ever stops the tantrum), I will usually start with some simple, calm explanation of what will happen if it continues and how I don't want to have to do that. I will then give her a count of one two three and she loses her favourite toy for the day. This sometimes works. If that doesn't work, she gets a count of a one, two, three, with three being time out in her bedroom. She loathes this and sometimes she will stop on two for a little while. But if it does stop it will always start up again later.
Once she is in her room she is in full tantrum mode. I stop the worst of the screaming and banging as we have a policeman next door who she did wake up once (he works nights) as I left the window open without thinking and I made her go and apologise to him and I tell her she will have to do the same again if she screams.
She will then eventually cry herself out and be distraught that she has been so naughty. We then sit and cuddle.
She has far fewer of them now than she used to and I know they are caused by end of term tiredness at the moment but I am finding it hard going. I try not to react to what she says to me, but it is not pleasant to hear, 'I hate you mummy. I'm going to hit you really hard and then go and find another mummy. You are the worst mummy in the world. And poor old DS age 4 doesn't like it much either. He just shrugs his shoulders and sighs.
It is getting us all down! DH is away on business for the month btw, as he often is. It happens whether he is here or away.
A lot of that sounds familiar. If your girl is anything like mine, she can't stop just because you tell her to. That fact might even be escalating things further - it's scary to be out of control. Getting angry - while so very understandable - really doesn't help in any way.
I set rules for my daughter, she had to go into her room and was only allowed to break things that belonged to her. Also, no throwing things at people, or name calling
admittedly, these last rules were frequently broken. As she got older she started being able to tell when she was going to get into one of her moods, and could remover herself from polite company before she got out of control. This seemed to work most of the time, even if it's not ideal.
I don't know if she outgrew these moods or if she's just learned how to cope with them, but I haven't been told that she was "given the wrong mommy" in quite a few years.
I rarely get angry with her, just exhausted!
You are right, she can't stop. What you say sounds very sensible. My problem with thinking about how it would work for us is that it is always going to her room that causes the major melt down. It doesn't make things better, but nothing stops until it happens.
I do sometimes look at the 'lovely mummies' at school and wonder if she isn't right! They don't seem to have children who do this. No one who knows her would believe how she behaves sometimes with me.
They don't have children who do it in public, but that doesn't prove anything. Neither do we.
Would it help (or be possible) to give her the choice of where to go to decompress, if not her bedroom? She might decide for herself that the bedroom is the best option. Obviously, when she's not on the edge of a meltdown would be the best time to discuss this.
My daughter (nearly 10) has been similar over the last few years.
You make the specific point that sending her to her room is the trigger. This may suggest that she wants an audience/attention. I will never accept negative ways to grab attention from my daughter so have always used her room as a place where she goes until she can be calm.
She gets none of my attention there and can scream and shout if she so wishes. She has learnt that this will not get attention from me or anyone else, but if it helps her calm down then it is fine to do whatever she needs in her room. She gets the praise and attention when she calms herself down, rather than negative attention for the temper itself.
Maybe your daughter needs to learn strategies of how to calm down. Not all children automatically know, they need to be taught.
Would it help (or be possible) to give her the choice of where to go to decompress, if not her bedroom?
That's a good idea. Sometimes my daughter goes and sits in the porch to calm down. She like to be able to shut the door on everyone else and just be alone for a bit.
My daughter can be a bit like this too. You can see that she's unhappy and in a foul mood and picks fights about anything but nothing seems to help until it's just worked itself out. I've tried being strict and trying to head it off before it develops, I've tried being kind and offering cuddles (even when she's being hideous), I've tried ignoring her, I've tried rewarding good behaviour - nothing really seems to make a difference.
We had a major breakthrough a couple of weeks back when she was being horrible about something, I sent her to her room and a few minutes later she came down and apologised - that's NEVER happened before! I don't know whether it's just because she's getting better at dealing with it herself. She's 8 now and has been like this since she was about 5 or 6.
In public, and at school, she's an angel! No-one ever believes me if I say what she's like at home! I figure she's probably got to let it out somewhere but it does dominate home life quite a bit and I feel sorry for my other two.
Try doing the total opposite of what you want to do. You want to shout, tell her to shut up, send her to her room etc. What about stopping what you are doing, sitting down and face to face saying 'right, what's going on here and how can I help darling?'
DS1 behaves like this although it is becoming less and less frequent. Threats and punishments make no difference once he is in full blown tantrum mode, in fact they actually seem to fan the flames.
When he is tantrumming, I take his hand and we go to another room. I give him a drink of water and a cuddle and ask him to tell me what has happened to make him explode like this.
Usually at first he gives a garbled explanation through his sobs or shouts about how it's not fair etc, but when he manages to calm down enough to make sense, he can tell me what has upset him. Sometimes it is just a run of little seemingly unimportant things that have mounted up and he just can't handle it any more.
I find phrases like "your brother broke your lego? Yes, I can see why you are upset, I know how important your lego is to you" really help because he knows he is being heard and then he will open up and it will all come pouring out.
We can then have a rational discussion about what has happened, why he is upset about it and what we can do to make it better. It pretty much always involves his wee brother, so we talk to him too and explain why whatever he did really upset ds1 and what they should do next time. I can tell when it is fully resolved because pretty much every time, ds1 spontaneously hugs his brother and they are pals again and go off to play together.
Before I sussed out this way of doing things, his tantrums could last a long time before he would calm down, and it was very stressful for everyone involved, DS1 in particular.
I found the book The Explosive Child very interesting.
mawbroon (and others) what do you do when there's no reason for the tantrum? Unless I'm misreading the OP, these episodes aren't triggered by anything specific. Certainly they're not where my daughter is concerned.
A few glasses of water flung across the room, and you quickly figure out that the best course of action is to stow her someplace safe and stay out of the way until it blows over.
Her nickname from toddlerhood has been Hurricane, not for this reason
alone but it's an apt parallel.
If the OPs situation is anything like mine and my daughter's, then it's not a normal being angry about something reaction.
Honestly, it's a bit like PMT - although mine has been doing it since she was tiny, and there doesn't seem to be any pattern. I suspect that it's either sensory or emotional overload, and once it starts there's no stopping it.
Although getting her to laugh does seem to help sometimes, if you can manage it.
Sorry. The day got busier than I expected. I'll be back on tonight when my own little hurricane is becalmed in bed.
Thanks for your responses.
I have found that there is always a reason, although it may not be obvious.
Something may have happened at school for example. A couple of times I have asked ds1 if I need to speak to his teacher to find out what's going on. Not as a threat, but as a way of getting to the bottom of it.
When I've asked this in the past, sometimes it turns out that one of his friends has said something nasty to him, or one group won't let another group join in football or whatever. Another time, the teacher had said something to him which he didn't like.
DS1 does model behaviour everywhere else. I've never had any complaints about him anywhere, ever. I see it as a positive thing that he feels safe enough to let it all out at home and hopefully he will feel more able to deal with this feelings as time goes on.
I'm so glad you posted this. I could have written this about my daughter. If she can't find anything specific she manufactures a tantrum out of nowhere. It seems like she needs to blow off all the emotion. She's brilliant at school, but she does put her absolute all into it, and I think she wears herself out.
I've been worried that she is unhappy, but between tantrums seems fine. She is 6, and we have at least one episode a day, its completely exhausting. Just lately, though, she has started taking herself off to her room when it gets going, and this does help. She seems to need the space to cool off.
My dd is 7, she does this too. I think we're lucky if we get through a day without a meltdown. Glad we're not the only ones.
Thank you for all your replies.
Ninja - I think a choice would be a good idea. I'll try talking to her about it. I'll see how much insight she has in to what is going on.
wiffle - I think it might be attention, I also think it is the idea of rejection by and separation from me. She is always accusing me of hating her when she is like this. I thin the idea of giving no attention to the screaming is a good idea. For us it is difficult as we do have a neighbour who works nights and I really don't want to disturb him
lizzie - I have tried the gamut too! It does just seem to want to come out. I've tried cuddles and humour - nowt. Great that your daughter is beginning to get a hold of herself. I too think with my daughter it is because she is so self-contained and often lacking in confidence at school that she just has to screeeeeeam when she gets home. We've all felt like that and I do hav some sympathy for it.
funkyribena - I do. She doesn't get it. Or perhaps she doesn't want it.
mawbroon - I think I have been recommended that book before. You sound like you have a very cool way of handling it. Well done! although as Ninja said, she will sometimes give a reason it's never something she actually wants to talk about. It is just like she is overloaded and cannot cope. I try to think of it as positive that she can express her frustration or whatever it is with me but it is grinding at times and I don't much like being hit and bitten. I'd like to help her better, and me too!
I'm glad I'm not the only one. Although she is happy and very attached to me in between, when you've been told your the worst mummy in the world for the 100th time, you do begin to wonder if you are!
DD3 (5) is similar. Very highly strung. Tiredness is a trigger, but a massive trigger for DD3 is a blood sugar dip.
A couple of days ago she was in a vile mood and I just couldn't get past it. She admitted she was hungry but couldn't decide what to eat and it was getting worse and worse.
In the end I said to her "DD3, I'm your mummy and it's my job to make sure you get what you need. Your blood sugar is low and it's making you grumpy so food is like medicine right now. Mouth open."
Once I'd squeezed a yoghurt in, convinced her to eat a biscuit and a babybel, she calmed down within minutes.
I am able to handle it now because I have tried and failed so many times before finding what worked for us! When I tried punishments, it would make him worse and in the end he would end up sobbing, clearly distressed and wanting cuddled, so I decided to cut the middle bit and go straight to the comforting. It is similar to the way I dealt with him when he was younger. I never agreed with ignoring toddler tantrums and "they have to learn who's boss" stuff.
I agree that sometimes it is just overload. When it looks to be that way with DS1, I might say something like "ok, so there are lots of little things that have all piled up and now it's all just a bit much for you?" Don't underestimate how important it is that they feel listened to and understood. I find that once I have repeated back to him correctly what I think he is saying, he calms right down, like magic.
If he was tantrumming over not being allowed something (usually screens, he would stare at a screen all day if I let him), he still doesn't get whatever it was that he wasn't allowed, but we sometimes negociate about when he will be allowed.
Also, hunger is a big trigger for him too but he is learning to recognise this and will eat something when he feels it coming on which helps keeps him calm.
I hear you about how wearing it is, it upsets everybody in the house.
Thank you for posting this OP. This sounds exactly like my 7 year old DD. She gets in such a rage - hates me, wishes she was never born, wishes she had a new family. I'm sorry you're going through this but glad I'm not the only one. Sending you all positive vibes that we can all sort out our little hurricanes!
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