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5yo's behaviour making life hellish - has anyone else got one similar?

(45 Posts)
ZuluWarrior Sat 06-Dec-14 07:39:46

5.9yo DS1 (oldest of three) has always been high maintenance. Never wanted to be left alone as a toddler. Needing constant entertainment. Screaming when left at any form of childcare.

Fast forward to now - he is in P1 (Scotland). Getting on ok with schoolwork. Teachers report he is happy at school, perhaps not the best behaved but within spectrum of normality. For me and DH however.. He's Jekyll and Hyde. Can be angelic - kind to his baby brother, holding interesting conversations about stuff, logical and reasonable.

The other 50% of the time is awful. Won't go to bed on his own. Scared of un named monsters/dreams. One of us now sits in the room til he sleeps. If he wakes up at night he won't go back to bed. Wails/cries. Wakes up the whole house. DH is up with him now having breakfast. I can hear him wailing. He has to be dragged by the wrist into school because he digs his heels in and says he's not going. All incentives are of no interest. We're doing "What to do When You Worry Too Much" with him to try and sort out the anxiety element but it's more than that. It's like he wants to control everything and have all of our attention, all of the time, with histrionics thrown in. We are exhausted. The poor wee two suffer. There's always a screamfest. Visiting children are a disaster - meltdowns about who plays with what. Going out anywhere is equally stressful.

Does anyone have a similar child? Has anything helped?


Goldmandra Sat 06-Dec-14 07:47:52

I have two girls just like this. They have Aspergers.

The main thing that has helped me is getting my head round the fact that the world is a scary, unpredictable place and that the controlling behaviour is an attempt to manage their fear and anxiety.

When we stopped fighting it and started offering more reassurance and support, things started to get better.

DD2 is 11 and still can't enter a darkened room on her own, even if she turns the light on as she enters. She still finds it hard to sleep without one of us with her and still swaps beds with DH on a regular basis. This is much easier to deal with now we just go with the flow and accept that she will get over it eventually.

ZuluWarrior Sat 06-Dec-14 07:53:50

Thank you Goldmandra. We have never had him assessed for ASD but I have thought about it, and gone through the MCHAT myself out of interest. He scores close to 0. Anyhow, it's sort of irrelevant as the behaviour is what it is I guess.

I think we're in the middle of the process of accepting rather than fighting. it's just so exhausting dealing with the temper, the dramas, not being able to enjoy any kind of social occasion.

How are yours socially? Can they play with other children? Are there anger issues?


DishwasherDogs Sat 06-Dec-14 08:20:26

My 9 yr old is like this. He is being assessed in January.

Socially - depends how much stress he's under and what's going on. He masks at school and appears fine. At home he has one friend who is happy to tag along and do as he's told (not a very equal friendship, but so far it works for ds). He plays badly with siblings unless he's in charge.

Anger - yes. Major anger issues, it's very easy to get frustrated and angry back, but when you stop and watch what's going on, you can spot that it's all anxiety triggered, sometimes over things that aren't real - major meltdown before going to a panto because there was a giant in it - he thought there would be a real giant.

There's a book called The explosive child which is very good, and acknowledges that not all children will do as you say, because you said so, and works out different strategies.

ZuluWarrior Sat 06-Dec-14 08:49:17

That's really interesting Dish (can I call you Dish?? smile). I have read The Explosive Child - it's great but I think he's still a bit too young. do you think he has ASD? Can you talk him down from a meltdown or is it too late by then? (eg the giant episode).


JugglingChaotically Sat 06-Dec-14 10:37:02

We had this really badly with DD3 last year aged 5/6. Awful, awful, awful and really stressful.
It spiralled.
Tried lots of things.
What is working now is :
lots of positive praise.
Setting firm guidelines and sticking to them.
Distraction not head bashing. Not literally!!!! but no I won't, yes you will, no I won't etc
So eg please put your shoes on as we're walking the dog (park etc so fun)- then if it didn't happen I just repeated it with a smile and kept busy eg washing up or similar and ignored the nonsense.
Eventually she would stop arguing and just do it and have lots of fun!
Dedicated 1 to 1 time on a regular basis. And active listening
More play dates - once things things calmed down a bit !
Less screen time. Close to none!
No sweets.
And time - so starting morning earlier, leaving for what ever earlier so delays didn't matter! (Eg shoes again etc or tying hair back for school - not optional at DDs school)
(But we did have to follow through on cancelling a couple of things when tantrums made it late/impossible early on).
In hind sight, we had too much going on.
Now we still have the odd hiccup but only at a normal level.
It's so lovely now I have my happy, chatty DD back but tantrums and constant arguing stressed all of us out.
Took a while though. (Weeks at least and it was a gradual improvement.)

JugglingChaotically Sat 06-Dec-14 10:43:32

A couple of other things,
I wondered also about aspergers when things were at worst.
But it wasn't.
Anger and frustration huge - so I had to choose what to deal with what to ignore.
Worst tantrum was well over an hour.
The only way we found was to disengage , leave to calm down in bedroom (with lights below shaking!) and lots of cuddles afterwards.
Once started she just didn't know how to stop.
DD is bright and curious and that seemed to make frustration worse.

ZuluWarrior Sat 06-Dec-14 13:56:20

Thanks juggling. lots of food for thought. I'd love to think this was just a phase but we're starting to accept this is just him. Awful.

JugglingChaotically Sat 06-Dec-14 15:03:59

I spoke too soon.
Party this pm. Didn't leave enough time for slow post lunch prep. It's a busy time of year - no excuse!
So major melt down over choosing socks, who tied laces etc etc etc.
DD2 had terrible melt downs till 8. Keeps reminding me of this and that it will be fine.
Frustration, anger etc - it does work out as they get older.

JugglingChaotically Sat 06-Dec-14 15:06:34

Zulu. Please don't label him.
I did last year and pretty much gave up.
So glad I didn't though .....
Honestly, other than the odd blip, it's fine now. And the odd blip is easier to handle.
But it was hell.
And older DDs tell me it was months. At least.

ZuluWarrior Sat 06-Dec-14 15:33:58

I will allow myself a tiny bit of hope then! I keep hearing other people's plans of going out with their kids and being so envious... so tired of walking on eggshells.

NeedsAsockamnesty Sat 06-Dec-14 15:37:54

Have you considered getting support from a triple p program?

ZuluWarrior Sat 06-Dec-14 15:38:44

A triple what programme?!

Upandatem Sat 06-Dec-14 15:38:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DishwasherDogs Sat 06-Dec-14 16:10:25

Whether a child has ASD or not, the strategies are often effective, more so than trying to reason with a child who is feeling out of control.

Zulu, you asked about meltdowns - when he's having a meltdown there isn't really anything we can do apart from getting him out of harm's way, and away from his siblings. We have to wait it out, and there's always a period of depression after I've found which he can be distracted from sometimes.
A major meltdown can take several days to properly get over.

I know several people whose dc have gone through phases like this, it's taken a lot of patience and perseverance, but they've come through it, so there's definitely lots of hope that things will improve.

We got to the point with ds that there was no improvement, only more signs of something not being quite right and he struggles so much with so many things, so we've had no option but to peruse a diagnosis.

Goldmandra Sat 06-Dec-14 20:03:58

How are yours socially? Can they play with other children? Are there anger issues?

Goldmandra Sat 06-Dec-14 20:10:41

How are yours socially? Can they play with other children? Are there anger issues?

DD2 is 11 and prefers the company of adults or younger children. She tries to play with her peers but that often ends in conflict or misunderstandings and she gives up because she is upset or angry.

She has had anger issues, resulting in a few trashed rooms, broken mirrors, etc, but things have improved dramatically since school provision has been better, we bought a book called The Red Beast which helped her understand her anger and we installed a punchbag in her bedroom.

She is angelic in school and only ever expresses her anger at home, although it is often triggered by events in school.

DD1 is 17 and has only recently become interested in socialising with her peers and I put that down to now being in a really excellent school where she is very well supported so she feels less anxious.

fredfredsausagehead1 Sat 06-Dec-14 21:08:53

I have a child like this, remove him from our 4 children and our family is harmonious, he has meltdowns etc and ruins our lives a lot of the time.

He is also and introvert and overachiever, massively, but also controlling, Jekyll and hide.

Such a kind, kind, kind, loving boy who in the next moment wants to kill me!

Hard work

And believe me I have every strategy going but don't ever tell a patent with a child like this tips and strategies! None of them work and we've tried them all wink

ZuluWarrior Sat 06-Dec-14 23:58:29

Thank you all. This is really helping xx

SearchingMySoul Sun 07-Dec-14 02:59:48

Hi Zulu, and everyone else. I also have an incredibly difficult 5 year old DS1 and can relate to a lot of what you are saying and feeling. I am exhausted and desperate at times. He exhibits a lot of the same characteristics you have described - he is very smart, very creative and can be incredibly sweet and loving and conscientious and caring. But then it's like a switch flicks in his brain and he goes mental. With him it is not so much fear (at least not fear that he shows). It's like he remembers that he is supposed to be disruptive and disrespectful and get in people's faces (mine and his little brother's mainly) until I have to remove him or his brother lashes out at him, which now happens instantly upon any contact. It used to be mainly at home but this week we got a note from his Kindergarten teacher saying he is struggling to sit still and pay attention and keep his body under control in class. DH and I have discussed and agreed that we are probably a lot of the problem because we have been quite stressed (difficult to know if it is cause or effect) over this and other things and have been getting a shorter and shorter fuse with him. I don't smack him but I have occasionally (and regrettably) yanked him by the arm or shoved him into his room when I was at breaking point. I feel like all of this has just made things worse but I really don't know what to do sometimes as it is not a tantrum - it is more a deliberate provocation pushing and pushing until I lose it and then he breaks down in tears and anger and frustration. It breaks my heart. Today was his brother's birthday party and we gave him jobs to do, let him participate in everything and gave him loads of attention but I still had to remove him to our bedroom to be on his own five times during a 2 hour party. Seriously don't know how this is sustainable. I have also wondered at times if there is something else going on.

Thereshallbeaspirin Sun 07-Dec-14 03:45:21

I used to describe my DD as a sort of Midwitch cuckoo - it was as if she had learnt all the behaviours really, really well - certainly well enough to fool almost everybody- but sometimes she encountered a situation that hadn't been programmed for and, bam. Off she went.

where i think a dx really does help is when, in the midst of having a child irrationally screaming at you, it helps to know it isn't your fault, their fault, or anyone's fault. It's simply a horrific anxiety coming to the surface, and the child needs help to lance it. That knowledge gives me the headspace I need to keep calm, and is a rock to lean on. When the meltdown is over I can usually ask a few questions and work out what the anxiety stems from and we can deal with it. It is never ever whatever kicked off the meltdown/deliberate (provocative) naughtiness/irrational controlling behaviour. Without that knowledge I would still be strung up myself from trying to deal with each episode of behaviour and process it 'logically'. You can't when the behaviours aren't logical but are just a means to an end.

JugglingChaotically Sun 07-Dec-14 09:23:40

Upandatem by "label" I meant just that. I have one labelled "quiet" by school who has turned mouse like and lived down to it.

And as I said above DD3 who I sad tried hard last year not to label as difficult. Easier now but it was a very long "phase"

A diagnosis is something completely different.

As said further up the chain, we have all tried many strategies.
It's so different as they get older as you can't carry them to their room/car/buggy if they refuse to go out or do something.

But it's not the child's "fault".

And once my DD starts, there is no reasoning, no rationale behaviour and nothing works but time, calm and ultimately, when all over, hugs.

We seem, for now, to have passed the worst.

Good luck Zulu.

Upandatem Sun 07-Dec-14 11:11:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ZuluWarrior Sun 07-Dec-14 13:41:49

A lot of your examples are striking chords with us - thank you. I also think I'd find it easier to cope if I "understood" what was going on in his head when he screamed blue murder/deliberately tried to get a reaction/tried to dominate a situation. Last night I had him threatening to kill me because he had to go to bed. So difficult.

ZuluWarrior Sun 07-Dec-14 14:43:39

Upandatem, I've been looking at the stuff on PDA. Interesting.

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