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Any ideas on how to manage my 7 year old's extreme rage?

(5 Posts)
needalargegin Thu 29-Nov-12 14:21:44

Hi there - it's my first time posting so have no idea how to abbreviate any of this I'm afraid.

I have a 7 year old daughter (school Year 3). She is an only child and her father and I are happily married.

She has always been a fairly demanding child and a fussy eater and has always been very quick to lose her temper. Recently she has become increasingly anxious about everything - going to Brownies, decided what to wear, going to bed - she finds just about everything a huge dilemma.

Her temper tantrums have always been extreme and she has never responded to time out during them - my husband or I will put her in her room and she will simply follow us downstairs. Such is her stubborness that I once counted over 50 attempts to get her to stay in her room during one outburst.

In recent months her temper has become what I can only describe as utter rage. It is almost always triggered by something she seems to see as unjust - having to come in for tea, not being allowed her ipod at bedtime, not being allowed snacks immediately before meals etc. And she goes from zero to 100mph in the blink of an eye.

During a rage she will lash out, throw books, toys, phones and even furniture around - I'm currently sporting deep gouges to both my forearms where she literally gripped onto my skin while I was attempting to get her to her room for time out.

She screams so hard that I'm certain she will damage her voice and she will stamp so hard she can make the downstairs light fittings shake. And she can keep this up for HOURS!! My husband is convinced a neighbour will call the police as it sounds like someone is being murdered!

My gut instinct and all the advice I have been given is to completely ignore her, but I am finding that almost impossible to do as she has to have an audience. Like I say - put her in her room as she follows you downstairs, turn your back on her and she kicks and punches you, try and reason with her and she starts throwing stuff around, ask if she wants a cuddle to try and calm down and she name calls - all the usual "I hate you" "I wish you weren't my mummy" etc.

At the moment she is having at least 3-4 of these episodes a week. Her punishment is to be grounded but it makes no difference long term - simply doesn't seem enough of a deterrant to stop it from happening even though we remind her when we can see a rage building of what the consequences will be.

All this would be hard enough to deal with if everything else was pretty much "normal" but is fussy at every meal time, anxious about going to bed which leaves us all shattered, crys when I drop her off at school each morning (although teachers assure me she is fine once she's in there), she's uncooperative, she lies about little things - says she has brushed her teeth when she hasn't, has washed her hands when she hasn't...etc.

I feel as though I am losing my mind! And as each day passes I feel as if I am losing the ability to communicate with her.

On a positive note there have never been any issue with her behaviour at school and she is exactly where she should be developmentally and educationally. I do take comfort from this but it doesn't make home life any more bearable!

bealos Thu 29-Nov-12 14:33:27

I'm hesitant to give specific advice, as often I've found when my son went through a very rageful period, I really wanted a chance to be heard and acknowledged by my friends, rather than hear other people's answers and solutions.

However, I sympathise. Take courage in the fact that she feels comfortable enough with you at home to let this emotion out - unlike at school where she wouldn't dare (am guessing!).

I've been reading this fantastic book Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves recently which has really helped me think about how I react to my child's behaviour and how I can help them without going down the route of 'time out' and other such tools.

needalargegin Thu 29-Nov-12 16:10:20

Thank you! I will check that book out.

I have to say your point about her feeling comfortable enough to let it all out at home is a really refreshing way of looking at it. I've been so wrapped up in the "What am I doing wrong?/Why is she like this?/What is wrong with her?" that seeing anything positive about any of her behaviour has been really hard. I've even studied developmental psychology to degree level - must have completely forgotten the chapter about secure attachment eh?!

Thanks again.

TryingToBuyAHouse Thu 29-Nov-12 18:35:24

Stop the punishments and hug and hold her instead, she may be testing you because she feels unloved so she will test further and further and the more you punish the more unloved she will feel. You could try stopping adding distance between you by groundings and naughty step type of punishments and choose connection instead. Playful Parenting is a wonderful book and might help your situation. She could be having stress at school and its being released at home. Her having a tantrum might not be about coming in for tea but about something completely different which you don't know about and she taking her anger and frustration out on you, in her home environment where she feels safe. Pull her closer rather than pushing her away. Look for the root of the problem rather than simply reacting immediately to the behaviour.

TryingToBuyAHouse Thu 29-Nov-12 18:39:09

I know this is aimed at younger children, but the similar ideas might be used.
Also, is she getting enough sleep? Having enough snacks/drinks straight after school so it's not low blood sugars/feeling thirsty?
Hugs to you.

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