Can anyone give me any advice on how to deal with a child who acts mean and spiteful but also displays signs of OCD with tics?(26 Posts)
My 7 year old daughter has her good moments and enjoys cuddles. and is also lovely at school. But home she expects me to do absolutely everything for her, even picking her blanket up if it falls down while she's sitting on the sofa, which i think may be OCD related! I have tried many many times to explain to her why she can't keep doing this but she just shouts over me and will not stop shouting/whinging/wailing at me till I just do it and in the end I normally do, the times when i haven't I have ended up dragging her to her room and trying to manhandle her to stay there as she will spring right back out, these episodes are very drawn out and have been extremely stressful for me and her siblings. I feel as if I have no control over her, I would never be able to keep her on a naughty step! The other big issue with her is she often turns into a mean horrible person, she will shove and hit her little brother hard for no reason, she screeches "shut up" at us all the time, she bosses her younger brother about but will never ever do anything for him and she walks around with a cocky arrogant spiteful attitude. I am very ill this week and I tried to explain to her how much pain I'm in and asked if she could help me a bit by doing her own stuff and not shouting at me to come to her all the time but she does not care at all, I honestly think she has some sort of condition where she is unable to see other peoples point of view or care about their feelings, although she cares very much about animals feelings. I've spoken to her doctor who can't offer much help and I've searched online and I can't find any advice at all. I find that I am spending half my life being horrible to her because i resent her behaviour while she acts like she doesn't care at all what I think of her. She suffers with tics as well so I am sure there is something not quite right and I feel I'm parenting her completely wrong but I just don't know what to do, I've tried reward systems and taking things away but I can't change the person she seems to be. When she was younger she had a few OCD habits, bad tics and anxiety, I was extremely close to her and did everything and anything I could to stop her from getting upset, my friends think that maybe by indulging her I have made her this way, somebdoy suggested she might have ODD and that I need to sort out out now but I don't know how! Hope someone can offer me some advice.
I'm no expert by any means ( I was a nursery nurse before being a mum so my experience is more with younger children) but I would say it sounds more like it could autism to me as she loves animals but not people. Does she calm down and be gentle with animals?
I would go back to the gp and ask for a referral to a specialist, maybe CAMS they should be able to help more than a gp. Also talk to her school they may also be able to do some sort sort of assessments or give you a better idea where to turn.Good luck
Hi, thanks ever so much for taking the time to comment. I had begun to wonder about autism but this bad attitude and behaviour is something she only does at home, she has lots of good relationships at school and her teacher loves her! I think that's why I can't get any help, our doctor said that if it's not something she does out of the home then it's much more likely a behavioural thing that requires proper parenting. Unfortunately I am too soft but the fact she gets away with bossing me about is making me resent her! Don't get me wrong I'm not some doormat, I shout at her and take things away but when it comes to all the threats of cancelling playdates or keeping her favourite things away from her for a week I always give in. I just don't know where to get proper parenting advice, I asked my doctor if I could go on a course but he said it is arranged through CAMS so I would be amongst parents who have kids with serious issues and I would prob feel out of place.
With regards to ASD, it is very common for children to be compliant in school and challenging at home. My son has ASD and he has always been very well behaved in school.
I think sometimes it's the structure of the school day that help children like this, so she always knows what's happening next. Have you got a solid routine at home, easier said than done I know but it could be worth a try if u don't, maybe write it it on a big bit paper and stick it to the wall where she can see and refer to it though the day, like if she's eating breakfast before she's finished say when your done you need to go and get dressed ect.
I would definitely go back to the gp, (maybe with a diary of a weeks antics) and be firm your her mum and you have other children so you know the difference between naughty behaviour and something that's not quite right.
I agree, structure and routine really help. When my son was younger I used a visual timetable at home so he could always see what was coming next, this was particularly important in the school holidays. Now that he's older, he copes better with changes to routine, they still make him anxious but he manage his anxiety up to a point.
A low arousal approach works best for us although that's hard to maintain sometimes. When anxiety is high we keep sensory input to a minimum, dim lights, reduce noise etc. shouting is one of my sons triggers so I really try hard to never shout as it is counterproductive in our case.
I'm not suggesting that your child has ASD, just offering some strategies that work for us.
You could ask your GP for a paediatric referral. That would be a starting point to getting a diagnosis or at least getting access to some targeted support.
Tics could be a sign of tourrete syndrome. Not sure about the other behavioural problems though but it does seem to be an underlying cause not only personality
Just read that irritability, anxiety, ocd and anti social behaviour, are also signs of tourrete syndrome. Work to look into; I am not a doctor but have a sister who has the syndrome; my parents didn't know until they saw on tv; I ferel sorry for her as she used to have lots of confrontation and problems with my mum; she just didn't know how to handle the situation and thought they were habits. She developed it when she was a teenager; she is an adult now and still has tics but she has a healthy child, a career and a job. You can develop it at young age too. I recommend you to look at the symptoms in the NHS. Good luck; it is easy to judge other parents but no one else know the reality and your children better than you.
This autocorrector has a mind of its own. Apologies for all the spelling mistakes
Thanks so much, for the advice, I've found it really helpful and the input feels like support. I've been in the hospital so have only just read everything, daughter was lovely and sweet for the first 5 minutes home then quickly reverted to shouting at me to shut up about a yogurt, which quickly escalated! I think trying to bring a more time tabled afternoon/evening after school is def an idea worth trying so will come up with a plan. Also I have found that not shouting does stop the situation getting more out of control so will work on that, I've just got in the habit of letting myself become embroiled in a row with her so need to stop that. With regard to tourettes, the tics were very bad when she was younger and she was referred to a paediatrician at the hospital with potential tourettes, at that stage her tics were so severe she was slapping herself as part of her tic. I was told at the hospital that she was too young to be diagnosed and that lots of children suffer from tics so I have sort of put it out my mind. I think you might be right that this is something worth looking into again, I'm just so used to the tics now I sort of don't register them and they are quite mild and come and go. We have got her an Edutherapy tag to help keep her calm and help with the tics, no one seems to have heard of it but it's a small fob like tag she wears all the time that is supposed to balance her frequencies, sounds like mumbo jumbo but it's scientifically based and we thought was worth a go. Any more input would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
It looks like she finds difficult to deal with her emotions and control her feelings; I don't think she means to be behaves like that; in my opinion it is because something is not right; her nervous system is not developed properly and she can't cope with simple things. Will some cranial ostheopathy help her? I feel it helps you feel more relaxed; it can also help with behavioural issues? Any other alternative medicine treatments maybe? Was she born full term? Did you have any problems when you were pregnant with her? Does she have any vitamin deficiencies? Best of luck! Human bodies are so complex but there is always a reason for everything. In my sister's case my mum got pregnant 3 months after my oldest sister was born; she was still breastfeeding; her body was not ready for another child.
You need professional assessment and advice. Please don't listen to diagnoses offered here, although well meaning, can't stand a chance of being accurate. Diagnosing an ASD or other disorder is a complicated process completed by teams of people with years of training.
Return to your GP, take written information about her behaviours that concern you, and request a referral either to a paediatrician or camhs.
Also you might want to Google Stephanie Davies Arai she has a good book called Communicating with Kids. Might be helpful.
You have posted lots about giving in when she kicks off. Whatever condition your child has, you are going to make life a great deal harder for yourself by trying to say no to something or get her to do something and then allowing her to make you give in by escalating her behaviour.
Your DD needs you to give her firm, clear, consistent boundaries. If you are willing to give in to her, don't say no in the first place. Just do what she wants. If you say no, stick to that and do not change your mind, no matter how much she screams or shouts.
If she has Autism, she may not easily see other people's needs or points of view but that doesn't mean she is incapable of understanding them. Raise your expectations of her. If you are in pain and she makes demands of you, just keep explaining why you cannot do what she wants over and over again. Later on, reflect on it with her and explain again. Let her know what you expect of her at those times and why. Don't give in and go running around after her and don't get cross with her because you've done that. If you give in, be cross with yourself, not her because you're the one giving mixed messages.
I have two DDs with AS and I have an acquaintance with a DS who also has AS. My DDs have been taught that they can kick off as much as they like, they will not make me change my decisions. They have meltdowns but they happen unexpectedly when they are overloaded in some way and are not a method of getting what they want. Meltdowns aren't punished but they also aren't rewarded and they have to help make amends for any damage later.
The other lady will say to me that she has to give her DS x or y when he demands it or he will have a meltdown. She's done this since he was 2. He is now 12 and, most of the time, he doesn't have a meltdown. He is in complete control. He has a house-trashing tantrum which stops the moment she gives in to him. The older he gets, the more control he has over their family life and the less she's prepared to challenge him because he's getting bigger and stronger and can inflict more damage.
Children need the adults to be in control of their lives. They feel anxious if that isn't happening. Although they fight to have control, what they are really fighting for is to find the point at which you will take it. At that point they feel more secure, especially if that point is consistent. You may find that, if you give your DD more consistent boundaries, her tics and other signs of OCD reduce a little.
Ask your school or family support worker for details of parenting courses. There are usually plenty around. If the ones run by CAMHS are the only option, go on them anyway. The Triple P course for parents of children with additional needs is probably what they are offering and I think it would be perfect for you. If you go one one, be honest with yourself and don't look for excuses to validate your desire to give in. Make a new start and be firm, clear and consistent so your DD learns when she is about to cross the line and has a choice about whether to do it or not.
Very good advice from gold. You must absolutely not give in. Or you need to stop expecting her to change while you continue to do this.
When you change your behaviour, she will retaliate and her behaviours will temporarily get worse. But it's temporary! She will start to change when you stick to your boundaries.
Also, she's 7. Not many 7 year olds are good at seeing things from others perspectives, this comes as they develop and grow up
Thanks for your input Goldrandra, I agree with what you say, I can totally see that discipline and boundaries are important, believe it or not I'm actually halfway through a degree in Childhood and Youth Studies which has gone into the whole issue of how to allow children freedom of choice whilst maintaining discipline. That's all very well with a child who doesn't display any of these challenging behaviours but when you're dealing with something like this I suppose discipline and sticking firmly to boundaries over rides everything, but I hold my hands up, I'm not very good at standing firm!
I have bought a big piece of card today to write out our new after school timetable as has been suggested and when it's all written down and I am most definitely sticking to it. I am also going to lay proper boundaries down and not let her win the battle of wills. I'm psyching myself up for a while new stricter attitude starting on Monday and have explained to her what will be happening.
I do need some more advice though, I'm unsure of what to use as punishment, if she hits or kicks her brother or does something naughty which is quite often, do you have a suggestion of punishment, what can I do instead when I have to physically hold her in her room or in a time out place?
Also her OCD is getting worse, just for example, she is constantly giving me options of what she can do, I then have to tell her what to do out of the options but I have to say the right one, she tries to suggest to me what the right option is by the tone of her voice. If I don't say the right option she goes off banging and crashing doing whatever it is being really noisy and asking if I really want her to be colouring or whatever it is, it is impossible to ignore her and let her just get on with it as she'll get louder and more destructive the longer I leave it, I then have to go through the whole process again until I get it right. So when she is finally doing what it is she wants to be doing, she then asks me if I really wanted her to play with her barbies or whatever, I alway try and explain why this is silly but in the end I say yes, so then I have to repeat the whole sentence, then she asks me to repeat the whole sentence again but put 'definitely' on the end, then I have to promise that I really want her to be doing it and I"m not just saying it to make her happy! It just goes on and on and on with everything! How do I deal with this????? Help please! If these are proper OCD rituals is it cruel to send her into total meltdowns by not allowing her to get them done so she can then just get on, or is it cruel to indulge them. Also she has lots of little OCD things like having to say "love you" and have it said back about 10 times before bed, if I refuse to partake in the big ridiculous ones should I refuse to partake in the sweet "love you' ones??
I have actually just signed up to an online course in child behavioural problems so hopefully I can get a lot of tips from that.
Sorry Luna9 I have just read your comments. I think what you say is really interesting, I have always wondered about whether there may be something wrong with her due to my pregnancy. When I was 3 months pregnant my mum out of the blue developed anxiety which quickly turned to a deep depression and by the time I was just over 4 months pregnant my mum commit suicide in a very dramatic way in the middle of the night. As you can imagine this caused me massive massive stress throughout the whole of my pregnancy, I was deeply shocked and I couldn't cope with the emotions and would have fits and scream and sob at my husband. When my daughter started showing signs of anxiety and OCD as a toddler I immediately blamed my pregnancy which is why I think I made allowances for her. I have taken her to one of the best cranial ostheopaths in Europe, Dr Stuart Korth who said she has a lot of tension all inside her rib cage which he worked on releasing, she had 2 sessions but it was very expensive and I didn't notice any change in her. So are you saying that your sister had similar behaviours as a child, had tics , and that your mums pregnancy wasn't ideal, and she now has tourettes? I'm not overly scared of the prospect of tourettes, when she was first referred for it I was distraught but I have researched enough to know that it is very rare to have the serious cases we see on television, and also that often the tics die off in adulthood. Would you agree with that?
Have you diagnosed your daughter with OCD or does she have a formal diagnosis?
Are you seeking professional help?
Really sorry to hear about your mum's death OP; I think it definitely impacted you and your child; maybe you should try a different osteopath; no need to go to the most expensive one; you should also treat yourself; you are probably still suffering from it and unfortunately kids perceive our feelings; 2 sessions are not enough. Maybe other sort of therapy?
That's why I think people should never judge other parents;you never know the true story and you know your children better.
I feel my mum's pregnancy with my second sister was not ideal and it had an impact on my sisters health; that's my theory anyway.
All the best OP; really sad to hear your story; I hope you and your child recover from the shock your mum's death caused you. I know someone at my DD school who suffers from depression; another mum; for the last few years; I worry for her; I do try to be more in contact;it seems to come and go in her case.
I think it's always much easier to put the theory into practice with other people's children than with your own
I don't tend to use punishments or sanctions. They just make things worse for us.
Use praise and positive reinforcement as your first strategy. Whenever she does the slightest thing that you like, let her know and thank her if appropriate. It could just be "Thank you for hanging your coat up without me asking" or " I love the way you always take your plate to the kitchen straight away."
Try to use natural consequences, e.g. "Oh dear. We won't be able to go to the park if you can't even walk far enough to get your blanket, will we?", "We can't get the xxx out to play with because you haven't put the yyy away yet and we don't want the bits to get mixed up and broken" or,"What a shame you will have to miss your tv programme now because you've kicked your brother so he's going to need to watch his programme to help him feel better while his leg is sore."
It can be really hard to decide where a condition like OCD is the reason behind a behaviour and where it is just a child being controlling and difficult because she can. It's even harder for outsiders to see that difference. Clearly, the more you indulge her behaviours, the more some of them will escalate. If the OCD rituals are linked to anxiety, refusing to engage in them at all might make her feel more anxious and cause the rituals to increase. My thoughts would be that you need to find a balance between engaging in some of them but, at the same time, trying to help her see that, if she doesn't do absolutely everything she feels the need to do, nothing bad happens.
I think you probably need professional help, from someone who is experienced in working with children with OCD, to work out where to draw that line and what language to use to help her.
Her trying to force you to validate her choices doesn't sound great. How does she cope with that not happening at school? That's probably a logical first thing to refuse to participate in because she can't carry on insisting that you lie to her to make her feel better.
Remember that you didn't choose to put yourself in a stressful situation in pregnancy and, although there is some evidence that stress hormones can have an effect on a baby's development, there is also a genetic element that you couldn't have controlled either. You have nothing to blame yourself for. You have done nothing wrong.
Sorry I haven't had the chance to reply to the last comments, I was really moved that people have actually taken the time to think about how to advise me and I've found the comments really helpful and encouraging.
Firstly ovumahead, thanks for your encouraging comments. I have had nothing diagnosed and I'm not desperate to go down that road as a matter of urgency unless it will help in any way. Although it would be good to understand my daughter better and know techniques to deal with OCD.
Goldmandra, thanks so much for all the comments. What you say about rewarding the positive behaviour more and trying to guide her into behaving better is very good advice that I have been putting into practise. It's all so confusing with the fact that this OCD thing doesn't appear to be happening at school so what is motivating it? I think I really do need some professional advice with OCD as this is becoming more and more a part of her normal pattern of behaviour at home and I"m clueless as to how to manage it.
Whats actually happened as a result of all this discussion is that whereas before I was just pulling my hair out thinking how awful things were becoming and resenting my horrible daughter, talking about it like this and reading what you guys are thinking has made me face that actually there is something not right here, this isn't normal and there may well be a real condition causing all this anger and frustration on the part of my daughter. Plus my parenting really isn't helping at all. Because of that I have totally changed my attitude towards her, I'm now full of compassion and concern for her, I am being more strict with her but I"m also lavishing her with hugs and love and spending a lot more time talking and listening to her instead of trying to get on with cooking, cleaning etc and packing her to bed as soon as poss so I can de-stress. The results of this have been fantastic, she is so much happier and her behaviour is so much better! And she has gone back to being the loving little girl she was! Obviously the OCD is an issue I can't resolve so for now I'm just going to try and be sensible with it and indulge it when it's not too ridiculous and try to distract her when it gets out of hand. Yesterday she was totally flipping screaming and bitting her hand because she was not managing to complete her routine of blinking twice, shaking her head then doing the perfect hand stand. Her hand stand would go wrong or one of her brothers would interrupt it and she'd go into meltdown and have to start again. I managed to distract her by telling her nothing would happen if she didn't finish and we really had to finish decorating our timetable which she was really looking forward to doing.
Luna9, thanks so much for your support and understanding comments. You raised the possibility of Tourettes to me again which is something I had brushed under the carpet since being told she was too young to be diagnosed. I have been doing a lot of research again and I don't want to look like I"m pouncing on an idea but I am convinced my DD has tourettes. Her tics have come and gone since the age of 3, they get stronger and stronger and every teacher she has had since pre-school has come to me to discuss her tics at some point. Then after they have escalated the gradually fade and for a while she is tic free, that is very characteristic of tourettes rather than any other tic condition. She has motor tics and verbal, currently her tic which is getting more and more frequent is a high pitched squeak that she does throughout the day all the time now, even when she's playing alone in her room, she's also just started to stick her tongue out quickly after a tic. I have now realised that OCD is very common in children with Tourettes so that would explain it and I'm now much more patient with it.
So basically thank you so much for all your advice everyone, it has really really helped! I feel much more positive and relived to have had some good advice and support. Things have definitely improved as a result of it!
I'm glad things have improved. I guess it goes to show that not all of difficulties are fixed if she has responded so well to a change in your behaviour. She sounds like a very anxious young girl.
However it concerns and puzzles me as to why you continue to think you're qualified to diagnose her. Accurate diagnosis is a complicated process, and is done by professionals for good reason. Why would you avoid this process?
I do not think I"m qualified to diagnose her, I am just saying that in my opinion this is what I think. I have been to the doctor twice, the first time he said he thought she was definitely showing signs of tourettes and referred me to a specialist at the hospital. The specialist said she was far too young to be going down the road of being diagnosed and that he would never want to diagnose a child with tourettes until they are around 10 years old. There is no cure and nothing they can do unless her tics are causing her distress in which case a psychologist can try and teach her ways to relax, but her tics don't really bother her so don't see the point in dragging her to hospital and giving her a complex that there's something wrong with her.
When I recently went back to the doctors about her behaviour and anxiety he assured me that he was not concerned, he said that his daughter had been awful for about a year and that it would pass. His had a very firm opinion that because she is fine at school with strong friendship bonds and is doing well academically there was nothing wrong with her, he said it was a behavioural problem that she was only doing at home so it was something she was doing for a reaction. That is why i asked for advice on here.
Aside from this I am a client of Jane Lloyd who has pioneered a treatment called Edutherapy designed especially to help children with anxiety, tics, and all manner of issues. We are currently receiving her ongoing support and treatment. I have also started a course in childhood behavioural problems. Short of demanding some kind of diagnosis or referral from my Doctor I don't know what more I could do.
What a shame your GP has been so dismissive! Even if it is a behaviour problem that occurs mostly at home (which the tics aren't by the sounds of it) they should at least refer you to camhs so she can be assessed properly and then, even if they don't offer anything, they may be able signpost you. I'd go back personally, but that's just me!
Since I changed the way I am with her her behaviour has improved so much. I have to admit I really had lost my way with her and she has responded so well to my new attitude. I'm now not concerned about her confrontational angry behaviour so don't need any professional help with that.
But now that I have stripped away all that other stuff I can really see how bad her tics are and her OCD. I think I will go back to the GP and discuss this with him again. Although I'm not sure what help they will be able to offer even with a diagnosis. I have 2 close friends whose children have both been diagnosed with Autism, one has even been taken out of school to be home schooled and the other is in the process of fighting to be moved to a new school. The parents just seem to have constant battles and haven't received any support or help from any professional bodies at all. The only intervention has been a slight input into the fight to get a place at a new school which has basally involved observing him at school.
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