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Please help, DD5 is out of control

(42 Posts)
pristinechristine Wed 25-May-16 11:14:28

DD5 is out of control. Her behaviour is escalating and we just don't know what to do.

In case it's relevant - she's an only child. She's very bright (advanced reader, very articulate despite being a late talker, amazing memory.) She's also very affectionate - she tells me she loves me maybe 20 times a day, loves having cuddles. At school she is pretty well behaved. There's been a couple of blips at school but on the whole it's fine.

But her behaviour at home, oh my god. She is so defiant. Absolutely everything she's asked to do she either refuses to do or just ignores us altogether. Every step of our day is a battle - getting dressed, cleaning teeth, going to the toilet, having hair washed, coming to the dinner table, going to bed, everything. She refuses every single dinner which is put in front of her and embarrassingly, I just end up spoon feeding her and basically begging her to eat something.

She also has a temper and this, along with the backchat, has been escalating recently. She shouts, swears, stamps her feet, slams doors and argues all the time. If I said the sky is blue she would probably scream at me that it's pink. I feel like I'm walking on eggshells from the moment we get up wondering what little thing will set her off. She's so rude - she'll say things to DH and me like we need to watch our attitude!

I've been reading about oppositional defiant disorder and wondering whether she actually has something wrong like this.

Nothing seems to work. She doesn't respond well to time-outs, she won't stay in her room. She doesn't seem bothered about sanctions - we've conviscated and even thrown away cheap toys but she doesn't seem to care (although she is upset once it happens, but she still doesn't listen the next time it's threatened.) Making games and challenges out of things used to work sometimes, but not anymore.

We try our hardest to recognise and praise the good behaviour, but it's few and far between really! I'm ashamed to say that I often ending up snapping and shouting at her - and I know that this will be contributing to her modelling that - but I'm really at the end of my tether with her most days.

I don't know what to do. Does this sound like typical 5yo behaviour (I'm sure it's not) and should I be going to see the GP? Will they take me seriously? I've raised her eating issues 3 times in the past with the GP and it was just dismissed really. Please help.

mummytime Wed 25-May-16 11:50:10

Sorry but the thing that leapt out is: She can't be arguing on her own.

"Every step of our day is a battle - getting dressed, cleaning teeth, going to the toilet, having hair washed, coming to the dinner table, going to bed, everything. She refuses every single dinner which is put in front of her and embarrassingly, I just end up spoon feeding her and basically begging her to eat something. "

If she doesn't eat, then let her be hungry. If she won't get dressed then take her to school in her pajamas. If she won't comb her hair, then let it get messy.
If you didn't tell her to go to the toilet would she just wee on the floor? Why don't you see? If she does, then put her in nappies.

Maybe going to see the GP and getting a referral would be a good idea. But that all takes time.
I would try not making demands on her and seeing what happens. Ignore back chat (and ignore her when she does it). Pay attention and be nice when she is nice.

I would basically suggest getting back to basics. What is really important (eg. not running into roads)? What can you let slide? (At least for a bit.)

Keeping a diary might help, you may be able to see triggers.

pristinechristine Wed 25-May-16 12:06:54

Thanks. You're right, she's not arguing on her own. I try really hard not to be pulled into debates but I usually have been before I even notice!

DH and I have talked about just letting her go hungry. All my instincts have always said to just get some food into her (there's not a lot of meat on her as it is and I worry about her getting ill and having no reserves). But perhaps as we move into the summer months we should just do it. She has school dinners but I know she doesn't eat much of them (they get a sticker if they've made a good effort and she's literally never had one.)

Before she started school we had a lot of toilet problems (wetting and pooing herself on a daily basis). Fortunately this resolved itself overnight once she started school but I guess I have that residue of anxiety there and always want her to have a wee before we leave the house. She always claims she doesn't need to but inevitably she does.

I think ignoring the backchat is what we need to do. We're constantly telling her not to talk to us that way and when she's told us that we have a bad attitude she's obviously parroting back what we've said to her.

I'm not sure what the triggers are. Her mood swings are horrendous - she can be completely fine and lovely one minute and then dreadful the next, seemingly over nothing.

maiii Wed 25-May-16 12:10:45

My DS5 is exactly the same. Can't really help but although he instinctively goes against what I say, mornings are easiest as we have a strong routine.

Hope someone can help more confused

CassandraAusten Wed 25-May-16 12:16:33

Can you think of a sanction that might work - something really important to her? Screen time or a favourite toy? Or alternatively, something she loves doing that she could earn if she gets enough stickers? Make sure it is very clear how she can earn stickers.

Agree with mummytime about not engaging with her arguments and letting her go hungry if she refuses to eat. No more begging or spoon feeding her!

stargirl1701 Wed 25-May-16 12:23:32

Maybe consider PDA?

pristinechristine Wed 25-May-16 12:25:38

I can't think of any sanctions that would work. We've confiscated favourite toys temporarily and have thrown away cheap ones. She started getting pocket money when she turned 5 (£1 a week) and we've withheld that several times. I've taken away favourite films. We always follow through with her threats so she should know we're serious but it doesn't seem to make any difference.

Perhaps going back to the old sticker charts would be worth a try. We always found them very hit and miss when she was younger but admittedly haven't done any for quite a while.

pristinechristine Wed 25-May-16 12:29:21

Thanks stargirl. I've read about PDA and although some of it rings very true (resisting things obviously, mood swings, language delay) some of it doesn't apply. Impulsivity for example. She's quite a cautious child - in playgrounds or soft play for example her favourite phrase is "oh, I'm not sure about this". Also I've not noticed any obsessive behaviours.

I don't know. All I know is I feel like I'm failing big time.

BishopBrennansArse Wed 25-May-16 12:33:02

Be very careful about letting her go hungry. Tried it with DS1 (ASD) and he literally would have starved if we hadn't caved.

DD has ASD, I suspect PDA but as its not dx'ed here we don't have it formally dx'ed.

She can't cope with demand. Doesn't mean you can't get her to comply though, there's more than one way to skin a cat.

So, getting ready for school it's "DD, ten minutes to go. Are you going to brush your hair or put on your shoes first?". She's competitive so we make 'races' out of who can get to bed first, who can out all the Lego away the quickest. She needs choices. Doesn't matter that the outcome of the choice is the same either way, she just has to have that element of control or she panics and melts down.

Worth a try? Does she ever seem anxious?

BishopBrennansArse Wed 25-May-16 12:34:08

C's not impulsive either. In fact she's quite calculating! But if a demand is placed on her she doesn't have control over her response.

pristinechristine Wed 25-May-16 12:45:55

Thanks Bishop. In the morning I give her 5 or 10 minute warnings for things and that does help. DD is also competitive and making races out of things used to work, but not so much anymore. Also they only work if she's in an okay mood to begin with but is just being resistant, as opposed to the horrible mood she's in a lot of the time nowadays.

MessyBun247 Wed 25-May-16 12:49:28

She sounds like a lovely, smart little girl, albeit very strong willed. But you need to take back control and stop pandering to her. If she's able to behave well in school then it just shows that she has control over the behaviour. Sorry, I'm trying not to sound harsh.

Not engaging in back chat is good advice.

If withholding favourite toys/pocket money isn't working, how about telling her if she behaves you can go somewhere nice at the weekend. Swimming, park, soft play etc. if she misbehaves she can't go, and always follow through with it.

Definitely stop the spoon feeding. That seems like a control thing. Leave the food in front of her, if she refuses, fine. She won't let herself starve. Perhaps busy yourself with something while she is at the table, dishes, cleaning cupboards etc so there isn't so much attention on the food issue.

Don't beg her to do things, again she's in control if you are doing this. 'Please will you get changed?' Should be 'Right time to get changed!' Bright and breezy.

You are NOT failing as a mum in any way, so don't beat yourself up. Try and stay upbeat and positive, remember to praise her when she good. It seems like you are caught in the cycle of giving her too much attention when she is misbehaving.

Hope things improve for you all soon

alleykitten Wed 25-May-16 12:49:42

I've got a defiant/v autonomous (depending on time of day) 5yo DD at home and a lot of this behaviour is stuff I can identify with and pretty normal IMO if completely exhausting at times.

The phrase that stands out for me in your OP is 'walking on eggshells' - the overall tone is that you're on the back foot here, not her. She's bright and perceptive and has clocked the things that you are desperate for her to do and she's pushing those buttons and it's working so well that you want to see the doctor.

Can't agree enough with poster upthread who said you have to let her find her own consequences for the non-essential stuff - and actually having the odd accident at school and being hungry for half a day is not a disaster.

I noticed after fighting this with DD (OK, a friend we were on holiday with told me...) that maybe she knew when she was hungry/needed a wee etc and to respect that. And she was right and now we don't fight about that. She never wants to wear a jumper, she gets cold, next time she chooses to wear a jumper. We now have a mix of non-negotiable routines for essential stuff and anything that isn't essential she gets to decide for herself.

The instinct with a child who is still quite little is to want to protect them by making those decisions for them but it sounds like she wants to be in control of that.

The rudeness and screaming is different, though. Are you reacting to it? If so, as PP have said, just airily go along with it, acknowledging it without any response, and see what happens. Sanctions are def right for that behaviour but it might be possible to stop it from escalating sometimes.

GingerAndTheBiscuits Wed 25-May-16 12:55:09

How's her sleep?

pristinechristine Wed 25-May-16 13:00:51

Thank you so much everybody. Lots of food for thought here on how to start doing things differently.

Ginger her sleep is fine (getting her to bed and staying in bed another story!) but she generally sleeps 7:30/8pm - 7am right through

Just2MoreSeasons Wed 25-May-16 13:03:45

Sorry, not read all the thread as am short on time. But, dd (6) can be similar and it's mostly related to poo. (I notice your dd has had toilet issues too). Basically whenever there is a poo due, her behaviour deteriorates and she gets really cranky.
I also would sometimes spoon feed my dd at this age as she didn't want to eat (with hind sight she was probably constipated) and would be too tired to pick it up and chew. I'd just spoon feed that main bit in at this point and deal with the rudeness for now.💐

BishopBrennansArse Wed 25-May-16 13:04:44

We tried Messy's way. Made it much, much worse.

Might be worth a go, though.

mummytime Wed 25-May-16 13:06:41

If she is behaving in school it does not mean she can behave at home. It is very common for children to "hold it in" at school and everything to be disastrous at home.

pristinechristine Wed 25-May-16 13:13:23

I suspect she does hold it in all day, I'm not sure that complying comes easily to her. As soon as we get in she's dreadful, nothing is right.

Believeitornot Wed 25-May-16 13:14:47

I would ditch the sanctions. Ditch the punishments etc and try a bit of natural consequences and be clear with her. Also pick your battles.

So if she doesn't eat, you tell her she will be hungry and carry on eating your meal with no reaction.

If she doesn't brush her teeth, tell her her teeth will smell and fall out eventually. Yes I say this to my kids and yes it works! We rarely get teeth battles.

Remind her how to talk nicely. So if she is rude, ignore and say "try saying X/y/z". It'll sink in eventually.

Going to bed, make it fun and do it in stages. Eg let's read a story, you choose the story etc. We stay with ours for lights out as they get a bit worried but fall asleep quickly. Also she has just started school so she will be pretty shattered from that. It's a big deal starting school!

MadSprocker Wed 25-May-16 20:54:40

Do you think she could be tired, it is getting towards half term, and I do think it affects children, and they need a break. Perhaps try planning some treats and nice days out together, get her really involved, but make her aware it is all behaviour dependent. Organise some cooking/eating activity and get her involved in shopping to make her own pizza, for example. Make food a fun time. My ds10 loves having his morning routine sorted, and wrote it down on a timetable, so we all know what needs doing. The structure of this may help? With sticker charts you need to find the right reward! For the ds mentioned above, when he was toilet training (which took forever) he would do a wee for going on the Wii! These rewards still work for him now he gets extra gaming during the week for not chewing his school clothes yes really

MrsBB1982 Thu 26-May-16 12:29:06

You could be talking about my DS4 except for the fact his behaviour is now spilling over at school. He obviously had been really trying to get things right at school and then reached crisis point. He's been in trouble for lashing out. I don't have any magic answers but just want you to know you're not alone.

I've also he just badly behaved or is there something more to this?

teacherwith2kids Thu 26-May-16 12:41:35

How much exercise does she get every day?

DS was ... exceptionally strong-willed [insert less polite versions of this as you wish] young child. One of the things that he absolutely needed was a significant amount of high intensity exercise every day - running, jumping, climbing. Not so much 'organised' exercise, though he did get that too once he was a bit older, but sheer physical movement - our trampoline dates back to that point and he would bounce for HOURS, or run round the garden like a crazy thing, or cycle / scooter up and down the lane repetitively. It was like he needed to 'uncoil' something that was wound up tight inside him, if that makes sense.

I'd check the basics - sleep, exercise, constipation - make food plain but easy to eat (and easy for you to make, so if she doesn't eat it, it doesn't matter) and ignore a LOT. Have a strict and predictable routine that is based on the 'impersonal' clock not your personal decision (the clock says it is 8.15 and time ot get your shoes on) and leave things undone / uneaten rather than coaxing, leading to natural punishment of being cold, arriving at school in pyjamas etc, rather than you having to create 'artificial' punishments.

QueenC Thu 26-May-16 13:01:30

Completely normal ime (mum of 3). I sympathise with you as been there , done that when every day feels like a battle. If behaviour is fine at school then I wouldn't necessarily rush to the gp yet.

Have you looked into any local courses? I did the nurturing course and it was fantastic. It was run through my local children's centre so look that up or ask school or HV if they know of anything. I considered ODD for one of mine but it wasn't of course-I just needed guidance with my parenting skills.

It sounds like you have both got yourself in a cycle of battle of wills and the more you shout at her the less she will listen. You're doing the right thing by rewarding/noticing good behaviour. Maybe get some stickers/marbles and each time she does something well or when asked then she gets a sticker/marble. Start off small so 5 marbles equals a trip to the park/coffee and cake and then increase to 10 etc. You could also have a chart/jar for yourself for her to reward you when you haven't shouted at her so that it makes it a 2 way thing.

Try and spend some quality time with her regularly-so let her choose whatever she wants you to do however boring.

Wrt to eating ive always been fairly relaxed about it. If they don't want something they don't have to eat it but they'll go hungry. Do you eat with her and have family meals? Make meal times fun and lots of conversation of we often play games of eye spy etc. If they're tired I'll happily let them eat in front of the TV occasionally. Maybe that could be a treat on a Friday afternoon or something?

Honestly, with a bit of hard work it will get better.

GoblinLittleOwl Thu 26-May-16 14:26:00

Your daughter does not have oppositional defiant disorder; she is able to behave at school and has dealt with her toileting issues without difficulty; if she can do this at school she can do it at home. She behaves at school because she doesn't want to be embarrassed in front of classmates, and she has quickly learned that teachers are not going to be manipulated by her tantrums. She is not out of control; sorry, but you are.

I notice she won't do what she is 'asked'; you try to negotiate and bribe her, and it clearly isn't working. You need to make it very clear what you expect her to do, (pick your battles) and make her. That simple. (but very tough).Half term is coming up so it is the ideal time to start.

Tell her you are both very concerned about her bad behaviour, and that it is going to stop. Then tell her ( not ask) what you expect her to do, ie, eat breakfast.One thing at a time. Tell her she will have two warnings, and if she refuses she goes back to her room, and stays there. She does nothing else until she eats properly.You and your husband must be in total agreement. If necessary, you or husband sit outside to prevent her leaving; put her back firmly but dispassionately if she refuses. Repeat at lunchtime and for evening meal; it won't hurt her to go without food for a few hours. If she capitulates, praise her, but not excessively, and then tell her the next thing she will do. If she continues to be defiant, you do not give in. You have to maintain calm, don't lose your temper or appear upset, just be as determined as she is. Praise her when she does what she is told, but do not reward her.

You have to win this; you simply cannot allow a five year old to behave to you in the way she is doing, and as for telling you to watch your attitude: well!

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