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My almost 5 yo daughter has a split personality and is pushing us to the limit

(10 Posts)
maybelaterdarling Thu 21-Aug-08 10:07:29

We have three children. dd1 almost 8, dd2 almost 5 and starts school in September and ds, 5 months. Husband works full time, is fantastic with children and generally helpful around the house. I'm on maternity leave and will be for at least another 6 months. Although ds is young he is a fairly low maintenance baby, he's breastfed, goes for ages between feeds and is generally happy to play on the floor watching his sisters play until he needs a nap.

dd2 has always been a feisty child, but I thought she was really enjoying my maternity leave, she left nursery and was just going to playgroup a few days a week, the rest of the time being spent with me and her much loved baby brother, then with her much loved big sister after school. She has always had a bit of a split personality. When she's happy she is a joy to be around, has a great sense of humour and is wonderful. When she is not happy she is very very hard work, big angry tantrums that last a long time. This has been fairly manageable, but I've always had to be careful about not getting her over tired. Over the last two years she will go through phases, several months tantrum free, then a week or so of daily tantrums, but a consistent approach from us generally seems to stop them quite quickly.

Since the school holidays have begun the split personality has become even more apparent, and the smallest thing sends her off into a huge crying session. Over very very trivial things, I will ask her calmly to sit up so she can have her drink that I'm holding for her (for example), she will not so I will put it on the side, and will go off and do something else. She will then decide that she is ready for her drink, sits up and demands her drink. I politely tell her that I was doing that a few minutes before but she chose to ignore me, I'm not her slave and she can get it herself. That's it then, she collapses into a very tearful and noisy tantrum. I reason with her a few times, try to make the getting drink into a game, (ie how long do you think it will take to get, etc), then ask her if she wants to go upstairs. Answer is always no, so I give her a clear choice, stop crying and get drink, or go upstairs. After several attempts to let her make the choice I invariably end up carrying her upstairs. Where she will spend the next 5/10/15 minutes screaming. I go up to her every few minutes, she won't calm down enough for me to be able to reason with her. Eventually she will ask for a cuddle, she then calms down. But refuses to discuss what has happened. If I ask her why she has been sent upstairs her response is either, I don't know, or it's your/daddies fault. I insist on an apology before she is allowed back downstairs.

This is completely exhausting me. I have got to the point where I don't particularly want to spend time with her, and I dread taking my kids anywhere as I just don't know what or when she'll kick off. I accept that I'm a fairly strict parent (as is my husband), but I also think we are fair, we (generally speaking) have great relationships with our children, we have a lot of fun and respect each other. We haven't suddenly changed our approach so that she's confused. We expect our children to be polite and respectful to everyone, child or adult.

I appreciate that she will be starting school soon and although she is one of the oldest in her class and I imagine will take things in her stride, she is also old enough to be aware that this is a big change. We talk about school occasionally, and she is always positive about it, and I'm always positive too. I tell her very frequently that although I tell her off and shout at her, that I love her very very much and she will always be very special and my baby girl. I don't think she feels knocked out of place by her brother. I am so torn between complete anger about her behaviour and feeling incredibly sad that these last few weeks before she starts school is being overshadowed by tantrums.

I am as consistent as I possibly can be when this behaviour starts, why is it taking so long for it to sink in. We are wasting so much of our precious summer holidays with these tantrums.

Please someone tell me a magic solution.

maybelaterdarling Thu 21-Aug-08 10:07:48

Bloody hell that's long - sorry!

Ripeberry Thu 21-Aug-08 10:20:22

Do you think she is jealous of her baby brother?
I find that lots of girls are like this if they don't feel secure and they love it when all attention is focused on them, even if they are being told off.
With my DDs i've always used the praising technique when they are doing something well and TOTALLY ignoring (unless they are doing something dangerous).
A couple of girls at pre-school used to be like your DD and they would have grade A tantrums just because they felt they were being ignored, but eventually they grew out of it.
Sorry that you're having a bad time, but at least school will be starting again soon grin

pgwithnumber3 Thu 21-Aug-08 10:23:54

I always put bad behaviour down to attention seeking. Whether it is because she is a bit jealous of her new brother or she simply is worrying about new school.

I would try, (I know it is hard!) to spend a good hour playing with her, reading etc when your DS is having a nap.

I have a 5 year old DD, she too can suffer from split personality, one minute she is sweetness and light, the next she is pushing DD2 over...

Attention equals love to a child. I have found that when I am ratty, too preoccupied with housework etc, my children become monsters!

Where the drinks etc are concerned, don't get into an argument with her. Just say "your drink is there" and if she starts a tantrum either remove her from the room or ignore it. She will soon learn that she won't gain attention from doing that.

Good luck!

Ripeberry Thu 21-Aug-08 10:24:24

Also, you must NOT give her too many choices.
It's do as I SAY or pay the consequences.
That way she will know where the boundaries are.
I've never really gone for that diplomatic talk as i find it just makes them angrier.
Once someone at the local leisure center was trying to get their 6yr old to put on their swimsuit and she was being stroppy.
The mum spent 15 mins just talking to her about it.
I would have just said, put it on NOW or you will go in the pool naked.
Just give them CLEAR choices.

ClareVoiant Thu 21-Aug-08 10:27:05

I don't have a 5 year old or even 3 kids so feel free to ignore me :-) just judging from the example in your post i'd say pick your battles. Would it have been so hard for you to pass her the drink when she was sat up and ready for it? Being the middle child probably means that she hasn't really had exclusivity with you if you see what i mean, and therefore she is likely to want you to do more things with her/for her. Pay her a bit more attention etc. My middle nephew is like this.

maybelaterdarling Thu 21-Aug-08 10:27:14

She gets lots of positive praise. I probably should try to ignore it, but it is sooooo loud, and just not fair on the rest of the family.

I'll give ignoring a go, thanks.

maybelaterdarling Thu 21-Aug-08 10:36:53

I know the whole drink thing sounds petty, and probably that I'm just as childish as her. But I am not prepared to respond to rude behaviour from anyone. If she had said please it might have been a different story. She knows how to be polite.

Although she is the middle child, the ages mean that she has had lots of time just with me, by the time she was 1 dd1 started school, I worked part time, so she had two whole days with me.

I should also add that I'm bloody knackered, broken nights are not helping at all.

Ledodgy Thu 21-Aug-08 10:45:21

Is it because she couldn't reach the drink thatshe aske dyou to pass it her? If not she is perfectly capable of gettibng the drink herself.

5 is an awkward age and this has also become really apparent in my dd this summer holiday. She also seems to have a split personality and it is somewhat trying.

Ledodgy Thu 21-Aug-08 10:45:50

Sorry about typos my keyboard is playing up!

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