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I don't know how to help my DD. What support does she need? Please help me.

(27 Posts)
lotusbomb Thu 18-May-17 06:59:13

My 5 year old DD has always been what I would consider to be Hyper emotional, she is what I would consider "highly strung" for her age. Recently, things have escalated and I am utterly heartbroken by it.
We are currently overseas and she is in a school that I never would have chosen for her if we were in the UK. We are currently in a region that doesn't fully understand or provide constructive support for kids with behavioral and/or emotional needs. This is one reason among a whole host of others that I have made the difficult decision for her to return to the UK and live with my mother while I complete my contract here as breaking my contract would create more problems for us than not- I am a single parent and the sole source of finance as her father is NC by his choice.

Living with my mother is not new for her, we all lived together up to the age of three, my mum and I basically raised her together as I was a single parent from pregnancy. She absolutely adores her grandmother, they are incredibly close.

Recently, I've felt that shes more and more angry. Her tantrums are way beyond what I would consider to be "normal" for a 5 year old. When shes not tantruming, shes stropping like a teenager. Again, I've not seen behavior like it from a 5 year old. I have to stress, she is by no means, wrapped up in cotton wool. Shes no stranger to discipline and consequences. I worry about getting the balance right because even though I know she is struggling emotionally and trying to figure out why, I maintain boundaries etc because I don't want her to go through life thinking stropping is the way to get what you want. Nevertheless, I am so so worried about her.

We generally have a good relationship, and her life is stable. She met her father for the first time at Christmas after speaking with him on the phone for a few months before he decided to bugger off again so I wondered if there might be a sense of abandonment? I have a new partner who she absolutely adores and he is wonderful with her. She refers to him constantly as being part of our family and always wants us to have family cuddles etc. Again, I wonder if his presence has been a factor? He has not encroached on much of our time together. I spend one evening a week at his place (not overnight, she has a regular babysitter) and he spends one night a week at our place where we do stuff together all 3 of us so there shouldn't be a reason for her to feel like she is being pushed out but the mind of a 5 year old is so complex that it might be?

Her emotions are really spilling out at school. She is lashing out at other kids which is horrifying for me because I've never known my child to be violent. The school are really playing it down but they seem to be making a big show of reassuring us both rather than getting down to the root of problem, which is why I'm so grateful that shes moving. She is making hugely emotive declarations such as "nobody likes me, nobody wants to play with me", "everybody is ruining my life" which again I feel has been played down by the school, they don't seem to realise the severity of such declarations from a child as young as 5.

So, we have a month left before we return to the UK. She has also said that she wants to leave the country we're currently in, again because everyone is ruining her life so i wonder if the move back to the UK to live with what in her eyes is basically her other parent is going to make a difference. I feel like it might on the surface but that there is still a deeper issue that is making her react so emotionally. I am trying my best to essentially "love bomb" her through everything but at the same time, she can behave so poorly that discipline is also needed and I feel she is beginning to dwell on the negatives more than the positives. I reward her as equally as I give her consequences.

I feel like I am failing her as a mother. I love her so very much even though she is sometimes incredibly difficult to be around because of the tantrums and defiance. I just want her to be ok but I don't know what to do. I moved out here because I thought the opportunity was going to improve our lives greatly but it seems I've just made it worse. Whatever I am doing clearly isn't working because she emotionally and behaviorally she is escalating rather than getting better. If anybody has been through something similar, please let me know. I just want to be able to help my little girl sad

Flowersinyourhair Thu 18-May-17 07:04:24

Can you elaborate on what you mean when you say "discipline"? What sort of sanctions and rewards are you using?

lotusbomb Thu 18-May-17 07:14:32

@Flowersinyourhair its usually a loss of privilege such as TV time withdrawal or sometimes it a timeout or she cant have something she's been asking for etc. I tried a reward chart once but it didn't really work and more recently she's taken to saying "I don't care" if I mention a consequence for whatever behavior.

Something I forgot to mention is that more often than not, after she's had a meltdown or a strop, she will come to me of her own accord and say that shes sorry. I know that she understand but it's like the behavior is so impulsive that she can't stop herself even though she knows it's not going to get her what she wants.

SavoyCabbage Thu 18-May-17 07:17:35

I don't think that saying 'nobody likes me' etc. are hugely emotive declarations. They might be emotional for you to hear which may be why she is saying it.

Quite often children of this age say that nobody wants to play with them and what they mean is that nobody wants to play the same thing that they want to play in the way they want to play it. Which can be hard for children to understand at school as before this their relationships and play have been more managed by the adults in their world.

BrevilleTron Thu 18-May-17 07:22:33

OK. She is testing her boundaries to see if you will still love her. You are doing fine.

When I split from DXP I moved away (I had to)
My DD did similar and I remember being like that as a kid myself.
Just keep being consistent with the discipline and keep reassuring her that you will still be in contact when she moves.

Maybe set up a calendar for both of you with the countdown to when your contract ends and you can be together again. Make plans with her and write them down together.

It's shit. I know.
But you sound like a really great Mum. Hang in there flowers

lotusbomb Thu 18-May-17 07:35:07

Thank you for your replies

@SavoyCabbage I think you're right in that it's incredibly difficult for me to hear. I didn't have the easiest time at school as a kid and remember making similar declarations although I was older at the times

@BrevilleTron The calendar thing is great for her. We use it often, usually to count down to when we're going home to see Grandma for Christmas or summer. I haven't spoken to her about moving just yet as mum and I want to do it together. We have long summers so she'll have a good 2 months to get used to the idea before I have to travel back here.
What you say about testing boundaries to see if I will still love her also makes sense to me. There is a part of me that worries that she will think she's being sent away for being naughty which couldn't be further from the truth.

Justmadeperfectflapjacks Thu 18-May-17 07:39:15

If she has a great relationship with your new dp maybe she is frustrated that he isn't her df as her real one is such a let down?

nicknameofawesome Thu 18-May-17 07:41:07

She's been through a lot and so have you. How long does your contract have left to run?

TenThousandSpoons Thu 18-May-17 07:41:43

How long will she be back in the U.K. Without you?

lotusbomb Thu 18-May-17 07:51:35

If she has a great relationship with your new dp maybe she is frustrated that he isn't her df as her real one is such a let down?

That is a possibility, she referred to herself as his daughter quite recently. We've been together less than a year so I wouldn't quite go down the route of embedding that within her but at the same time, I think she's desperate for that traditionally family unit and his presence definitely gives her that. It all seems like such complex thinking for a 5 year old but maybe I underestimate her?

I will be away from her for 9 months but will be able to travel back to visit for Christmas etc. I probably wouldn't consider it if it wasn't for us having lived with my mum for most of her life. I don't want to go into too much detail about the school but living away from me really is the lesser of two evils.

gamerwidow Thu 18-May-17 07:58:09

The dramatic declarations themselves are not an issue. My Dd(6) told me she hated her life and wanted to die because I made her read her reading book before she went on the iPad.
The violence at school is more worrying. It's hard because I can see how much you love her and want her too be happy and she isn't at the school.
9 months is a long time though and if she's struggling with abandonment issues because of her dad this may make things worse. I know your not sending her away because she's naughty but she might see if that way if you're not really careful.

Timmytoo Thu 18-May-17 07:58:51

She reminds me of myself. I was also highly strung, highly emotional and anxious. I was diagnosed with ADD and generalized anxiety disorder.

I imagine she might have the anxiety disorder. I was never given any supplements when I was growing up as it wasn't well known then for anxiety. I now take Vitamin B calm for anxiety and Himalayan mental for ADHD.

Please take her anxiety seriously I really struggled in life and my mom was very over protective because of my anxiety, but she just thought I was just emotional. This caused major issues through my life as she fought all my battles for me and gave me no life skills at all. I'm flying now because I've helped myself.

Point is don't downplay her emotions or think she just wants attention, chances are she's dying inside and her confidence and esteem is suffering as a result. I'm only saying this as what you said in your post about her behavior, is almost identical to how mine was so can really relate to her.

Timmytoo Thu 18-May-17 07:59:59

Sorry it wasn't meant to say Himalayan Mentat not mental blush

lotusbomb Thu 18-May-17 08:08:15

I know your not sending her away because she's naughty but she might see if that way if you're not really careful.
You're absolutely correct, I've thought a lot about how to manage this. Thats why I want to wait until next month and sit her down with my mum so the three of us can talk about it together. We're going to do the whole thing of decorating her room, letting her chose a new bed etc etc. I want to make her as comfortable as possible before I leave.
She really doesn't have any proper friendships here for various reasons and she's desperate to establish some. Back in the UK, she has friends that are equally as desperate to have her back (family friends, cousins, sunday school friends etc). I know none of this is going to serve as a replacement for having her mum around but I'm hoping it will at least be enough of a distraction to soften the blow a little.

lotusbomb Thu 18-May-17 08:11:23

@Timmytoo Thank you for sharing your experience. It is definitely something that I think could be a possibility. I was also highly strung and highly emotional in some ways i still am but less of the defiance and tantrums. If it is an anxiety issue, she will get far more support at home than she will here. In fact, I doubt she'll get any here sad

gamerwidow Thu 18-May-17 08:14:12

That's good to make it something she can look forward too. So hard, I wish you both the best flowers

Gazelda Thu 18-May-17 08:19:10

How long will she be living in thenUK without you? How often can you return for a visit? Have you sought any professional help, I'm not suggesting she needs it for her behaviour, but someone who can help you with some strategies to help her adjust.
I know that this must have been a very difficult decision, but she has been through so much change, so many people have come in and out of her life. It's vital that she doesn't feel abandoned by you (particularly as you will remain with your BF). I worry that she will feel as though you're just another adult who has chosen not to be with her.
It sounds such a worry for you. I can't imagine how difficult it must be. Is it really impossible for you to return home too?

munchkinmaster Thu 18-May-17 08:27:17

I wouldn't. You're her mum. She is testing how far she can go and still be loved. No matter how well I intentioned and sensible this will feel like a rejection. Her dad has already rejected her. She moved away from her gran. None of this is your fault but don't make it worse

lotusbomb Thu 18-May-17 08:29:20

How long will she be living in the UK without you? How often can you return for a visit?
It will be 9 months and I'll be able to visit fairly regularly, including 3 weeks at Christmas.

Have you sought any professional help There is virtually none here unfortunately. The little intervention I have had from the school has been dire to say the least. They just don't recognise these kinds of problems in this region.

I'm not suggesting she needs it for her behaviour, but someone who can help you with some strategies to help her adjust. I think this is exactly what she needs tbh. I'm at a loss trying to work it out here on my own

It's vital that she doesn't feel abandoned by you (particularly as you will remain with your BF).
Ironically, that is not the case. My DP is also leaving to return to his home country as neither of us are from here and his contract ends before mine. We will be in an LDR for a while.

Is it really impossible for you to return home too?
Unfortunately it is. I've considered every angle and every possibility but without going into too much detail, it would be far more detrimental to both of us in the long run if I broke my contract.

munchkinmaster Thu 18-May-17 08:34:20

What about Skype help, I bet you there are child psychologists who work privately in the uk who would work with you via telephone or Skype. Why don't you go on British psychological society website and find some one local to you in the uk (in case you want to follow up later) and ask them about long distance work?

mylaptopismylapdog Thu 18-May-17 08:35:39

If these strops are usually at the end of the day I would wonder if it is a part of being tired as schoolwork becomes more demanding. It also it might be worth looking at books like this:- childhood101.com/2015/05/books-about-emotions/. , with her so that she can realise that she is not the only one who feels upset sometimes and learn different coping strategies.
She realises enough about emotions already to know she was out of order and she should apologise which is half the battle in getting her to modify her behaviour, so you are doing a great job.

lotusbomb Thu 18-May-17 08:43:34

What about Skype help, I bet you there are child psychologists who work privately in the uk who would work with you via telephone or Skype. Why don't you go on British psychological society website and find some one local to you in the uk (in case you want to follow up later) and ask them about long distance work?

I hadn't thought of this, I'll look into it. Thank you. I completely understand your point about rejection, I'm worried about it too. I agonised over it for ages with our family and it still came out as the most viable solution with DD's best interests at heart.

munchkinmaster Thu 18-May-17 08:44:22

Could your mum come over for a bit to support you? It's tough going it alone.

lotusbomb Thu 18-May-17 08:52:46

If these strops are usually at the end of the day I would wonder if it is a part of being tired as schoolwork becomes more demanding.

I wish there was some kind of pattern as I'm sure that would make it easier to tackle. This mornings strop at stupid o'clock in the morning was because I dared to take a shower before her! Massive strop session about how I had stolen her shower and it wasn't nice to take other peoples things etc etc, despite me explaining that she asked for more time in bed so I showered while she was still sleeping! IT went on and on and on to the point where we were almost late for school. When she eventually brought herself out of the strop, she apolgised and explained that she was used to being the one to get in the shower first (this is true) so she didn't understand why it was different this morning. The problem was, she was so busy stropping about it that she wouldn't listen to my explanation despite the fact that she kept asking me why I had taken the shower. It sounds ridiculous but in the mind of a 5 year old i suppose it's serious stuff. The problem is, it's daily, and often multiple times daily. I'm exhausted by it all.

That being said, I do think shes knackered and that may be a contributing factor too. She's had a grand total of 3 weeks off school since September. The academic calendar here is horrific.

She realises enough about emotions already to know she was out of order and she should apologise which is half the battle in getting her to modify her behaviour, so you are doing a great job.
Thank you for this. It's important to still remember the positives when i feel so bogged down by the negatives.

lotusbomb Thu 18-May-17 08:56:56

Could your mum come over for a bit to support you? It's tough going it alone.
She does as much as possible, she was actually just here last month but she works too so she can't be here on a long term basis. It is something else we had thought about when weighing up options but she can't afford to give up work.

I'm actually more fortunate in terms of support, I have friends here that I knew from the UK so I get a break and some head space every now and then but I think DD needs so much more than she can be offered here.

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