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Help me cope with DD's (5yo) monumental tantrums!

(7 Posts)
lisbapalea Fri 30-Jan-15 20:00:09

I am absolutely at my wits end over DD1's incandescent rages when something doesn't go her way, which seem to have been on the increase since the end of last year. Dh and I say it's like the red mist descends and then nothing can get through, but BAM, when she decides to get over herself (often after an hour of screaming and tantrumming), she flicks the switch and turns nice again, with seemingly no care at all for what's just happened.

Recent triggers have been:
- didn't want daddy to sit next to her at dinner (eventually we deduced that this was because she wanted her handbag to be on that chair)
- not wanting a specific coat for school (her usual school coat was in the wash after she had trodden on it the night before, so she had to wear the coat she is usally perfectly happy to wear at weekends)
- The wrong school dress

Today's episode came about after we didn't go to swimming after school, as she had told me no less than 8 times that she didn't want to go (tummy ache, feeling sick, not wanting to pass it to her friends being the reason fiven). I decided to calmly follow her instruction (even though I knew it was a crock of crap, and there was nothing wrong with her tummy) which resulted in an absolute meltdown, including kicking my seat while I was driving, whacking me with her teddy (luckily very soft and light), also while driving, and just acting like some kind of deranged monster.

I have made the decision to give her more of my time and attention, even though this behaviour makes me want to give less and feels like she is pushing me away. She has a 1yr old sister who thankfully isn't that demanding but I think sometimes DD1 resents the fact that I do anything but focus entirely on her, so I am trying to really increase my time with her in the hope it builds her confidence and trust.

But it is so damn hard, especially when the behaviour comes from absolutely inexplicable triggers.

She's also deliberately provicative and it sometimes just feels she chooses to do the absolute opposite of what I ask, just for the entertainment of seeing what happens next. Sometimes this is small scale stuff, but sometimes it is the beginning of an epic episode.

I haven't been great at holding in my emotions so she has seen me cry a fair bit over the last few weeks, but it just hurts me and worries me so much I can't contain it. She tells me she doesn't like me so I say, "that's a shame because I love you, even when you behave like this" and then I get told that she doesn't want me to love her.

I have let her reception teacher know and we have said we will have a 'meeting' with me, dh, teacher and dd1 after half term, just to talk about things, and teacher also said she would try to subtly ask some questions about life at home during their one to one time. She is angelic at school though, and seems to really like it, only having issues twice since starting in september (the wrong coat and wrong dress incidents).

She is bright, reading and writing well, quite precocious with her vocabulary and quite emotionally switched on; empathetic to those around her, caring about her sister, and towards her (most of the time). She's not the 'leader of the pack' by any means, and tends towards the introverted side, but is happy and confident when amongst people she knows well. She's making friends across year groups at school as far as I understand.

Help - is this a phase that's common in 5yr old girls?! Who else should we turn to for support - anger management counsellers for 5yr olds?!! Or what strategies have worked for you in a similar situation?

Blimey this is long, sorry. Well done to anyone who managed to stick with me to the end....

BackforGood Fri 30-Jan-15 22:29:03

A lot of children struggle towards the end of the Autumn Term of Reception - they are just SOOOOO tired, they can't cope. Combination of a long term and all the new things they have had to learn, and all the things they have learned to cope with. How was she then ? Maybe it's just hit her a bit later than some?

As you already have another dd, then your 'instinct' combined with your experience would probably tell you if there were something more than 'tantrums' that were worrying you, I presume ? The whole wanting a chair for her handbag seems extreme - but I suppose how odd this is, might depend on how much you've just "let her" get her way in the past (not intending to criticise, but sometimes it can become a habit to make life easier for the rest of the family, to give in to the more demanding one).

How's her language? Would she be able to talk with you (at a calm time) and tell you why it bothered her so much ? I'm aware she'd have to be quite mature to be able to do this but....

Have you noticed any issues other than the 2 you mention, where something being different from what she was expecting, has really upset her ?

Sorry - lots of questions, but I didn't want you to go unanswered.

mamalovebird Fri 30-Jan-15 22:57:51

I could have written your op tonight as my ds is exactly the same. So much so that tonight I actually broke down while he & dd were having tea. I've never done that before.

I wondered about tiredness, but in my opinion it's no excuse for the way he talks to me.
I wonder if I don't follow through on punishments enough which has led him to actually not give a shit about what I say because he'll get what he wants one way or another.
I also wonder if he's highly sensitive as he displays some other signs which aren't mood related but I also don't want to slap a label on it and therefore not have to question myself.
I've thought it might be diabetes as his mood swings are so sudden and severe.
Or is it just normal, spirited 5 year old behaviour? He's great at school, well liked etc.

I don't have any answers but just wanted to let you know that I feel your pain. It's so upsetting.

lisbapalea Sat 31-Jan-15 00:22:46

Thank you mama. It's crap that you are going through it too, but reassuring that it's not just us!

We have tried punishments, and have followed through on threats to confiscate certain toys for a day / week etc, but that doesn't seem to correlate with a particular improvement so I have stopped making constant threats as I don't want to have to keep being a mean mother.

I would describe her as sensitive though and she sometimes has a maturity when talking about stuff that makes me think her head must hurt from all the changes it's having to go through, so I wonder if it's just some kind of developmental leap that is almost too much to handle for her at times. That's my armchair psychology response that I use to pacify myself with, anyway.

backforgood it could well be cumulative tiredness. She goes to bed well (usually asleep by 7.30, up around 7) but does seem quite wiped out sometimes. I really hope that is all it is. We have a quiet weekend planned, and nothing fancy for half term, just plenty of time for her and me together, three days of which will be fully "just the two of us" while dd2 is n nursery (I have booked those days off work).

Instinctively I do think it is just tantrumming. Her older cousin was very similar and has thankfully turned into a pretty well balanced (give or take!) 13yr old, so I hope it's the same for dd1. The handbag thing was extreme but I think even she knew that, and even admitted today to being embarrassed about it when I spoke about it.

No other specific instances of things being different that have bothered her. She's not great with change, but neither is her dad, so I usually just manage it with plenty of warning and chat about it so it usually doesn't cause problems. I totally didn't expect the coat thing to be an issue as it was a change for a coat that has always been well liked. I vaguely understood the dress thing, but when I said "just get everything else on and we'll talk about the dress afterwards" it fell on deaf ears...

Donthackmenow Mon 02-Feb-15 06:06:30

My 5yr old dd is the same. My biggest bugbear at the moment is that she turns everything into an argument/drama. So you ask her to get dressed 'no, I'm the worst mummy ever, she is going to tell on me and won't be my friend anymore', go to the loo/have a bath/clean teeth/have tea in fact do anything other than watch YouTube or play with her toys and this is the response you get. It is so wearing and I don't know where we have gone wrong.

Last night I heard me turning into my mother and I am so ashamed of
myself- I told her that if she wasn't prepared to do as she was asked then she could go live somewhere else blushsad. I obviously apologised and we talked after reading stories but I feel awful. However, I still don't know how to manage her so any tips would be amazing?

lisbapalea Mon 02-Feb-15 13:44:26

Oh, donthackmenow it is so tough, and I have definitely been there on saying things I regret, but sometimes it's impossible to keep calm when they seem to be pressing every button, and spoiling for a fight at every opportunity. I worry about what I am doing to dd when she sees me react with tears or shouting, when I am at the end of my tether, but I think it's important to talk afterwards, when things are calm, and apologising for things that we have said or done that we regret. I like to think that's teaching her a valuable lesson as well...?!

I just took delivery of the book "how to talk so kids will listen, and how to listen so kids will talk", so I am hoping that might give me some ideas.

Still open to hear from any wise mumsnetters with advice!

PeterParkerSays Mon 02-Feb-15 13:57:52

I would divide these up into what you can ignore and what you can't. for me, distracting you whilst driving is a no-no and I'd have pulled over and asked her what she thought she was doing as it was dangerous and we wouldn't be driving off until she said she wouldn't do it again.

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