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Highly Sensitive Child?

(5 Posts)
EleventyGazillion Mon 16-Feb-15 15:31:08

Apologies in advance - this could be long.

DD will be 4 in June. Her behaviour is very erratic, and its really getting me down/ affecting family life. Generally speaking she is very funny, energetic, and quite clever. She lights up when she has achieved something, like a puzzle, she displays very nurturing traits when she is playing 'dolllys' and generally communicates well. She is very close to me and to DH, and spends lots of time 1:1 with both of us. I work 3 days a week, and we have a nanny who she loves, hugs spontaneously when she (the nanny) is leaving in the evening and says ‘thanks for looking after us!’ really cheerfully. We also have a DS, who will be 2 in March.

However, she seems very insecure. Several times, randomly, during the day she will say "Mummy I don't want you to go anywhere", I reassure her everytime, saying things like "I'm not going anywhere, no work for mummy today, this is our day together" (ie keeping it in the moment), or Ive recently changed it to "I know sweetheart, but sometimes I have to go to work or go out, but I always come home because I love you" or even "But I live here with the people I love! Why would I go anywhere?! Who lives here all together?" And she will say "Mummy Daddy DS and herself". I tell her I love her all the time, and she is very physical with kisses and cuddles. I did have to disappear suddenly last Dec for a family emergency and was away for a week, I didn't have time to prepare her, so its maybe stemmed from that. But how do I convince her I'm not some fly-by-night mother?! I find it quite distressing that she thinks I'm about to up sticks and leave her.

The issue is crazy tantrums. She goes crazy and literally can’t control herself. Screaming, jigging around in a kind of running on the spot way, utterly under a red mist. So, say for example, she wants TV and its bathtime. I explain that we've had TV time, its over now, and its bathtime, and we need to leave plenty of time for stories and cuddles before bed. She screams until she is red in the face and actually frothing at the mouth. I try to reason with her, nothing. I ignore her, it just goes on. I try punishment, where she is taken away and we sit in another room where there are no toys/tv etc until she calms down, which she does eventually, and then starts asking for TV again, in a 'well I'm calm now, I can have what I want' way. So the cycle starts again. DS is nearly 2 so can’t be left on his own for too long, so I'm limited in how long I can play this out for. It does work eventually. Or sometimes she has a meltdown because she wants me to dress her, or she just wants me generally and DH gets really cross with her. I don't see this as a massive issue, I obviously have no issue in attending to her if she needs me but DH says I'm just giving in to her, and I'm creating a monster. Then the whole house is in uproar and its a disaster.

After every misdeamour huge or tiny she immediately asks for a hug, and clings on for dear life. She clearly needs a lot of reassurance. After a meltdown she will be roasting hot, wet with tears and sobbing. I know that we are not being consistent, because I actually believe DH is way too harsh, and he thinks I am way to soft. Then I know I’m not being consistent all the time either, but generally my first reaction will always be to try and reason with her.

I’m genuinely worried by her Jekyll/Hyde tendencies. When she is in good form she is quick witted, loves a bit of rough and tumble, and has broad interests and ability. She isn’t a fussy eater and sleeps well. She also bites her nails obsessively, hates loud noises, and has to change any item of clothing if it gets even a tiny bit wet.

I really feel like I’m failing her, and for some reason I don’t feel I’m providing her with what she needs, or the help she needs to manage her feelings.

Any words of advice?

Massive apologies, this IS long, but I’ve tried to make it relevant.

mummytime Mon 16-Feb-15 15:49:20

Okay two things:
a) does she do any pre-school nursery? If so have they spotted anything? How does she relate to other children (other than her brother)?
b) How concerned are you? If you are concerned you should go to your GP and request a referral to a paediatrician.

She could be prefect "normal" or some of the things you describe could be worth further investigation.
I would try to give her more warning of things like bedtime. Does she enjoy her bath? Can you make it more fun? Or could you do it at a different time of day?
Can you do something other than TV before bed?
Can you make a visual timetable? Help her to know when its time for the "next thing", my DC could read digital clocks much sooner than analogue ones.

MonstrousRatbag Mon 16-Feb-15 15:50:09

The big mistake I make with my DD (who also has epic tantrums), I realise, is not setting out in advance what is going to happen. DH is much better at calling out 'Five minutes left' or 'last programme, then bedtime'. I've learned I need to ease DD into changes by telling her repeatedly in advance what the plan is. After that though, the plan does have to be enforced.

And I hug for reassurance after a meltdown too, but only after a calm chat about behaviour, and I expect DD to say sorry and/or explain herself, in however limited a way.

We are quite strict about not allowing playing up one parent to get the other. I think a united front on this is important. I might promise to do something with DD later to sweeten the pill, but if our decision is that DH is dressing her, then DH dresses her and no amount of protest from her is allowed to change that.

Lately we just ask DD to go and play in her room until she has calmed down. I've told her to come and find me for a chat when she is ready to stop shouting and that has worked quite well.

The tanrtums are lessening as DD realises the consequence is never going to be getting what she wants. I had to carry her out of a restaurant screaming last month. She started crawling back in on all fours. It was deeply upsetting to see her like that,, and humiliating, but I had a strong instinctive reaction that for her sake as well as mine I couldn't let that kind of behaviour pay off.

You may have to steel yourself against the tears a bit and find a middle way with your DH. You absolutely should comfort and reassure her, but it's all in the timing.

EleventyGazillion Mon 16-Feb-15 17:44:09

Thanks for your replies.

In reply - she doesn't go to nursery or pre school. She behaves impeccably for our Nanny, as she does if Nana takes her out. Which makes me think it's a behavioural thing that we need to manage better as parents. I do think school will be great for her, I think she wants to learn and will be a great outlet. I am signing her up for swimming as well, starting in April hopefully. I think the structure and discipline will help her organise her thoughts. She (surprisingly) was very excited about starting. What did you think were traits which could merit further investigations mummy?
We do different things on different days, and thb the TV thing was just an example. It might be that she wants a treat an hour before dinner, I'll explain that she can have one after, but it's almost like the injustice of me saying no takes on a life of its own and she can't stop it.
Thanks monstourous I do a lot of warnings, sometimes it works, sometimes things just erupt with her.
Btw despite all the pleadings never to leave her, she is absolutely fine when I leave in the mornings for work, and skips out to the door when I get home full of smiles and kisses and she'll usually produce aomething she made for me be it a Lego something or an artwork.
Like I say, if her feelings weren't so polar opposite I don't think I'd be so concerned.
Any further thoughts/advice?

mummytime Mon 16-Feb-15 18:11:32

Things that might or might not be of concern: the type of "tantrum", repeatedly saying the same thing "Mummy I don't want you to go anywhere" - it may not be her real worry but repetitive language, sensitivity to loud noises etc.

4 is very young to be able to manage her feelings.

Children can often behave better for Grandparents, Nanny, teachers etc. but then relax with the people they feel most secure with (parents) and the bad behaviour comes out then. Similarly bed time is often a tricky time, as they are tired and all the feelings they have been "holding in" all day come out.

I've known teenagers, be fine all day and then in floods of tears when they go to bed.

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