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Emotional 5 year old

(23 Posts)
Imstickingwiththisone Mon 11-Jun-18 19:14:16

DD has always been a sensitive child but at 5 I expected less tears by now. We have to deal with outbursts regularly before and after school. I am matter of fact in dealing with it in the hope that she will toughen up. It comes easily tbh as I have little patience for the constant tears and drama.

But it's not working. I need to change tack with a plan in mind. What approach should I have? I'm definitely soft and motherly and playful when she's not, for example, crying over the choice of tea on the table when I know she liked it the week before, or crumbling into a sobbing heap because I've said it's bath time. So I don't feel it's my attitude that's the problem. I take things away (no biscuit or cartoons before bed/no playing out after school) and this can halt things from escalating but not always, and sometimes the suggestion of taking things off her gets her into a hysterical state but once I've said it I do follow through, even though I can see where it's heading. So I do feel I'm consistent too.

I just thought the emotions would be less volatile by 5. Any suggestions that don't involve reward charts / jars?

maribella Mon 11-Jun-18 19:39:20

Having the same issue and also following for advice. It's draining isn't it. Rewards don't seem to work here!

AJPTaylor Mon 11-Jun-18 19:48:25

have you tried ignoring it for a while to lessen the drama?
eg.just run the bath, stick her toys in and point out availabilty of said bath? worked well with one of mine. one of my others was just plain contrary and it was a miracle she made it to adulthood!

bobinks Mon 11-Jun-18 20:30:35

I have every sympathy but no magic answers unfortunately! I think some kids just wear their hearts on their sleeves and will easily get upset and also not be adverse to turning on the tears (!) when it suits. I have an emotional child and a 7.5yrs it is still a problem. We have worked out a few triggers - needing to do something with little warning (ie having to go out/to bed/bath) or a change of routine/expectation (school trips, not having the right t-shirt, etc). So we have lead ups to things (eg running through the evening steps from dinner onwards, even though it rarely changes!), prep talks about day trips/up and coming events, reminders that things might not go to plan, reminders that we will need to leave at XX time, etc. Tiredness is also a big trigger so we have to manage this as best we can and don't cram too much in. For some things we just say that it is just what you have to do (wearing certain shirt for school uniform, eating dinner, etc) or that sometimes these things happen (last minute cancellations/ delayed journeys). I think you have to decide as parents what you think is a reasonable/understandable/genuine reason for them to get upset (anxious/tired/worried) and what is some sort of 'power play' that needs you to set an expectation without fuss. We had chats about outbursts making everyone upset, but I'm not sure this really made much difference! Rewards didn't work at all. Removal of things like no TV, toys in loft, no friends to play did work a bit but we only use this for 'unreasonable' outbursts with no underlying genuine cause (as best we could tell!!). It is easier to reason with a 7yo and to ask them why they are getting so upset (the answers are sometimes suprising) but 5yo probably a bit young yet! Hang in there - you are doing your best and you sound fair and consistent. Once they get to 6 or 7 you can have some useful chats about why the tears appear and this can make everyone feel a bit better xx

bobinks Mon 11-Jun-18 20:37:28

ps - it took me a while to realise that just because your child really cries doesn't mean you have done anything wrong as a parent. You sound much more clued up than me on this aspect of parenting, though!

NotPennysBoat Mon 11-Jun-18 20:39:10

No answers here, just sympathy! I have a very similar 6yo, and tiredness is the worst trigger for us.

I would love some tips on toughening her up! For example, every time she falls over she immediately cries, no matter how minor it is. Her 2yo sister is tough as anything and rarely cries even when hurt. We've raised them both the same - "whoopsy, up you get!" but it seems she's just a crier!!

tethersend Mon 11-Jun-18 20:52:41

What works for mine is empathy- “That’s really tough when that happens”/“Oh no, what a shame, that’s really hard for you”/“You must feel really sad/frustrated about that” and offer no solution. It moves you alongside them and away from trying to fix the problem, which often increases mine’s anger. I sometimes ask her what she thinks would solve it or make her feel better, bearing in mind the limits of the situation (eg we can’t make another meal etc.). I sometimes offer a cuddle.

Most of the time this works well for her. Sometimes I still lose my shit though grin

TheClitterati Mon 11-Jun-18 21:00:14

I do what @tethersend is doing and it had been super helpful.

We've moved on from states of high anxiety and high stress to a mostly much calmer place. It's very important I keep calm which I mostly do now. The empathising really helps me too / instead of being reactive and frustrated I can be soothing "oh that must be dreadful/oh I wouldn't like that either/yes that is very annoying isn't it" and tut sympathetically and offer hugs etc.

But I'm also no pushover and I am gently and persistently Firm.

Over the last few months I can feel things really changing. She feels understood and supported and therefore calmer and Les anxious.

I've been listening to a few podcasts on anxiety in children and that helps too.

TheClitterati Mon 11-Jun-18 21:01:28

TheClitterati Mon 11-Jun-18 21:03:49

Re meals I've been doing Division of Responsibility after reading about it in here and also seeing HUGE progress with that.

In me as well as in DD who has just turned 7. grin

brimfullofasha Mon 11-Jun-18 21:09:09

My DS is 5 and is just like this. When he gets angry or upset he cries and he gets himself so worked up he can't stop. We're trying to work together when he is calm on thinking about ways he can deescalate a situation when he stars to lose it. We've tried breathing or counting things of a certain colour in the room. I don't want to tell him not to cry or feel he shouldn't show emotions but it is so frustrating.

llangennith Mon 11-Jun-18 21:13:20

Reading this made me realise that very sensitive DGS age 10 doesn’t do this so much any more. Still has issues but fewer.
The bath thing was a pain. Sometimes we’d leave it but sometimes he just had to have a bath so it’d be screams as I put him in and screams the whole way through hair wash etc till I got him out. That was when he was 7 and quite heavy. Bath times were very, very quick!
You sound like you’re coping well so be assured it does get easier. You learn to only push the things they really must do.

Cadencia Mon 11-Jun-18 21:20:47

I have an emotional 8yo DS and I think that, to some extent, you do have to accept that this is how they are. It was a surprise to me as I'm super laid back and so is my older DS, but I think that if you stop expecting them to change it does make the whole thing less frustrating somehow.

Imstickingwiththisone Tue 12-Jun-18 20:40:14

Thanks everyone it's nice to see that others are perplexed by this behaviour in their own children. Both me and dp are quite laid-back so when we say it's time to do some reading (which she knows about) and she acts like she's literally just been shot I'm confused. I can handle moaning over genuinely rubbish things but this is just too extreme and if I wasn't her mum I would laugh at her! I think I need to get into the habit of telling her what's going to happen early on. I know that helps but it's easy to forget and because we don't really change our weekday routine it seems unnecessary, but I've seen it work. I like the empathy idea too, it's basically saying shit happens in kid language and is useful for them to learn that things happen and we can't always fix them, we just have to get on with it. I just want to make her more resilient as we all know life is hard and shit at times and I want her to be better equipped to deal with what's thrown at her as she gets older.

I will look into the division of responsibility mentioned. I am quite a laid-back person yet these constant clashes really ruffle my feathers and I end up feeling like a dragon. So you feel rubbish that your time together has been spoilt, tired about going over it all again, and even a bit blush when there's an episode in front of extended family who we don't see too often as she basically just looks like a spoilt brat even though she's not.

TheClitterati Wed 13-Jun-18 13:36:58

I'm fairly laid back too OP & I hate how my feathers can get ruffled by this parenting!

The Division of Responsibility re food has been a massive change for us. Not only are the DC eating better but I can be laid back again - which is great.

basically your job is to choose and prepare/present the food, their job is to sit and the table and eat what they want. No arguing about anything. They also server themselves mostly - ie you put the food in the middle of the table. Sometimes I have to physically help, but she chooses herself. We all like different things in a salad, so I will make salad as a platter and we all assemble our own on our plates.
Even when 7yo goes yuk, I don't react (At all) and eventually she will try. Its a very rare meal she will have emergency toast now, and she is trying new things - all without comment by me. Its really been a very simple change to make with excellent results all round.

This has lead onto me now trying out doing a little gentle meal planning with DC too - so we will have a conversation about what we might all like to eat and I shop to that. Being laid back its all a bit floppy as far as meal planning goes (certainly not MN standards), but it gets them involved a little more.

TheClitterati Wed 13-Jun-18 13:39:29

Division of Responsibility in a nutshell

Imstickingwiththisone Wed 13-Jun-18 19:19:51

So we don't do different meals? We've fallen into the trap of doing separate meals most nights to avoid confrontation and because as you say it's my responsibility to prepare food she enjoys. So, for example, if we have curry then I'll do her something else with rice. So the idea is that we all help ourselves to rice, and then have a choice of curry or whatever she might like in centre of table and we pick what we like?

Do you never do dessert? Because when we do she's just on a mission to eat the minimum amount before we'll allow her to have ice cream. This isn't often, about once per week but it's a nice treat but if she constantly enquires whether she can have her ice cream yet then it wouldn't be compatible with this method if we're not meant to give feedback.

I will get DP on board and we'll give it a bash grin

TheClitterati Wed 13-Jun-18 21:19:22

Yes that sounds right.

Sometimes I will make something dd1 and I like but dd2 doesn't, have an alternative for dd2 but put it all out without comment. Usually there will be things I know she will eat and some new stuff. I do tend to do a few different veggies and salads. I get to eat more of the stuff I like now too.

We often will have fruit after the meal. Tonight dd2 didn't like the dinner and that was fair enough. It was something new that dd1 and I loved. A bit left field for dd2. But she gave it a good go. She ate small amount but there was no whining or anything. She then ate a mango and an apple. She had a hearty snack after school (crackers, cheese, carrot, cucumber, hummus as she is always ravenous after school) so I think that was fine.

We have pudding sporadically and it's not tied to "eat up or no pudding". This is hard for me not to say. I just offer ice Cream for example and we all enjoy it.

It's our third month and I can't tell you how much things have changed. Stress levels dropped for us all. We are all eating a wider variety of food.

The hardest thing for me is to not say stuff. I say "please sit properly/chew nicely" etc as needed, but not "just try .../eat up .../3 more mouthfuls/you won't have any pudding" etc.

It all sounds ridiculously simple and in a way it is.

TheClitterati Wed 13-Jun-18 21:24:28

If I was doing a curry I might put out curry, rice, naan, lentil dish and salad. Bit of yoghurt.
I would eat it all.

Dd1 lentils, rice, salad, naan.
Dd2 curry sauce leaving the meat, rice, salad, Naan.

Both would try the lentils/Dahl. One would like it, one would not.

I am blessed with 2 children with completely opposite tastes. About the only thing they both like is pizza and fish & Chips.

Imstickingwiththisone Thu 14-Jun-18 10:46:46

Thank you clitterati it really does sound simple. I've just remembered that sweet tooth DP started a bad habit some time ago of giving DD sweets after tea. I totally forgot about it, so although ice cream dessert is once per week max (but more like once every three weeks as I forget to buy more when we run out), we have the whole 'have I eaten enough for sweets yet' with crying because she's only had two mouthfuls so I tell her to eat more. It's only about 4 midget gem sweets and it cropped up because he is a total child and used to sneak himself some sweets after tea and she cottoned on. He won't be about tonight so we'll start today and I'll have words with him tonight. I'll be telling her straight from school no sweets too so lots of warnings on the leadup and hopefully no drama.

I'm feeling very optimistic and hopeful of an enjoyable family tea now!! Other DC who is 1 will probably have a meltdown instead though grin

Di11y Thu 14-Jun-18 12:46:55

How to talk so kids will listen is a great book for teaching how to listen and reflect feelings and have discipline without punishment.

Cadencia Thu 14-Jun-18 13:26:02

I would definitely step away from the "you've got to eat a certain number of mouthfuls before you get sweets / ice cream" approach. The whole point of what clitterati is suggesting is that you put the food on the table and then don't comment / bribe etc. So either the ice cream is there and she can have some (whatever else she has or hasn't eaten) or it's not there.

TheClitterati Thu 14-Jun-18 18:59:04

Good luck. It might take a week or 2 to settle in. So don't get disheartened if it doesn't go perfectly first time.

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