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Please can I have some advice? My 10 year old daughter throws huge tantrums..

(26 Posts)
dinomum13 Wed 11-Oct-17 09:49:13

Hi I'm brand new to mumsnet but I'm hoping some other parents will be able to give us some advice.
Our 10 year old daughter is still throwing massive tantrums at home. She is an angel at school and other times but will literally scream the house down at home when shes not happy about something. She gets very anxious about school and her work and puts a great deal of pressure on herself to achieve better than younger sister(we tie ourselves in knots trying to be fair and not make any comparisons)
I asked our GP for a parenting course but this has been cancelled and I have taken some advice from the local CAMHS unit but it's not enough.She refused all counselling. If I take things away from her she sneers at us when they are handed back (even 6 weeks later when I finally returned her ipad)
Last night I resorted to throwing items from her room in the bin every time she screamed - it still didn't stop her- she screamed louder - she went on for 2 hours! So she lost a great deal of her possessions. It felt cruel and I feel ashamed but I have no idea what to do - can anyone help with suggestion on how to discipline her? My husband is supportive and feels the same - we don't know what to do and of course it upsets our younger child who has to witness huge shouting/screaming matches.
We try not to enter into arguments with her when she's like this but she wont stay in her room and just screams and screams until we end up shouting too (and occasionally swearing back which makes us feel even worse.) I feel such a failure as a parent. My mum verbally abused me as a kid and I feel like I've been thrown right back there, but his time acting like my mum did. I'm horrified that all the neighbours must hear these awful meltdowns too - the whole thing makes me feel so ashamed. Any advice is really welcome

fridayfreddo Wed 11-Oct-17 09:51:53

Does she have SN or something like autism/Asperger's that makes it hard for her to cope at school, and at home she's so stressed by having had to cope all day that she lets everything out?

Talk to her when she's calm. Ask her why she gets so angry. Get her to use her words. Ask what would help calm her down.

In a rage? I'd walk away and refuse to engage until she stops. Or could you hug her really tightly?

dinomum13 Wed 11-Oct-17 10:09:33

Thanks fridayfreddo. I have often suspected autism too because she really hates changes to her routine etc but she is perfectly ok at school so appears in control of her behaviour when is suits her. She does show OCD tendencies which CAMHS told us to ignore for now. Anxiety is definately a trigger and tiredness/hunger too.
The hugging does work sometimes in mid argument but its almost like she gets wise to it after a while, and then just rebels against whatever methods we adopt. We need to work harder with the ignoring her it buts it's so hard when she follows us around the house screaming and crying

Ttbb Wed 11-Oct-17 10:17:18

Have you tired just blanking her when she acts like that? Or would that make it worse? What about not reacting at all and behaving as if she is behaving like she normally does. Whenever I did sonething that my father didn't like he would say sonething along the lines of I love you and will always forgive you but other people won't, you can't behave like that. That worked really well on me. All children are different and they all respond differently and need different treatment. I am very co centre about her anxiety though. If the NHS won't help you you should get private treatment. It will get much worse when she hits puberty.

dinomum13 Wed 11-Oct-17 10:29:34

Thanks I like your dads words. I will use them. Agree about looking at private help however its dd that is refusing to talk to anyone and says its a "waste of her time" . Honestly youd think she was 16 not 10!

hellokittymania Wed 11-Oct-17 10:42:39

Hi, I don't have children but I was very much like your daughter but I have some disabilities. I can tell you from my experience is what helped and what helps now. How do you react when she is having tantrums, I find that when I am around calm people, or I can get away and be by myself, I soon stop. Is there something she likes to do that can calm her down? Reading , drawing? Anything like that? Once I get started, I really really have a very hard time to calm down even now. My go to thing now is coffee and coloring or reading.

I really don't like getting in trouble or being scolded, so that's why I have behaved at school, but I was awful at home. But I was very anxious to, I remember every morning I would check my backpack many many times to see if my homework wasn't it because I forgot it one time at school and my name was written on the board. So for about three years after that, every single morning I would check my backpack over and over and it drove my mother crazy. Can you find out why she is so anxious or why she put so much pressure on herself? Is she telling you the reasons for it? I don't think I ever told my mother Why I would get so upset every morning. But now that I think about it, if she had been with me and we put my homework in my bag together, I think it may have helped. I have a very good memory for certain things, but I am ridiculous at remembering very basic things and I get very anxious if I think I forgotten something. I don't know if this explanation helps you at all, but maybe you could try and find out if there something your daughter isn't telling you.

By the way, my mother did exactly the same thing as you did when I was 10 years old. She threw all of my Barbies and videotapes away, could you pretend you threw them away and give them back to her when she behaves? That is what my mother ended up doing I remember being very upset when she did it.

dinomum13 Wed 11-Oct-17 10:49:21

Thanks for telling me this. I want to give the stuff back but i think she will just view it as a weakness if i do. I hate the whole situation. I'll try discussing it with her

steppemum Wed 11-Oct-17 10:50:45

my dd throws tantrums too, and I think she does show some apsergers tendencies, although not enough to be diagnosed. I know she also gets anxious about things that the other dc don't, and she doesn't like new things/change

She is also fine at school and melts down over us.
We have tried many things, and I can't say I have any options that really work, but here are some thing we have tried.
1. loads of hugs and reassurance, at all times, not really when melting down
2. calmly saying - I will not talk ot you when you are screaming, and then ignore, ignore, ignore. (not easy when she does it in the car though, and is lashing out at ds and dd1)
3. One punishment only (and I broke this last weekend <sigh>) What I mean is, that once she is cross, she will not respond to a consequence, so saying stop screaming or I will.... just doesn;t work.

Ds used to have big temper tanturms too, when little and I remember reading that when they reach a certain point, their brain is flooded with anger chemicals and it inhibits the decision making part of the brain. As they get older and the decision making part gets more developed and stronger, they can chose to stop an action when angry, but not as a child/pre-teen. Once they have lost it, they only option is to calm them down. We do this be sending them to their room (where dd will then bang the door or throw her stuff) Then once they have calmed down, which happens eventually, you can say - you were out of order, and you hit/broke/screamed etc and because that is not nice I m taking away your i pad for 2 days (or whatever). So for the whole incident, one consequence.
4. when she is calm talking about ways she can express her anger - hitting a pillow, ripping newspaper, running round garden, anger teddy who gets pummelled. Get her to think of how she can express it. In child language anger is often felt through hands feet and mouth, eg hitting kicking and screaming, so finding a way fo expressing through one of those helps it go away.
5. Talking about how anger isn't wrong, it is a normal emotion, but how we express it matters (linked to point 4)

Finally I also read about the anger ladder, where the bottom is hitting hurting someone, through hitting something, through shouting to the top where we are able to say to someone I am really angry because. It made th epoint that we dont go from bottom to top in one step, we work up it. Congratulate her on what she didn't do, and point her one step up.

eg, she used to hit her sister when they had a fight. Now she screamed in her face.
dd - you were angry. Anger is normal and I know sis was being a pain, and I understand why you were angry. Well done for not hitting, you remembered that was not allowed. But you screamed in her face and that is scary and uncomfortable for her. When you are angry, you can go outside and scream, but don't scream in someone's face Ok?

It is hard work isn't it? I have a huge bruise on my arm from last Sunday's in car debacle

2014newme Wed 11-Oct-17 10:54:48

Punishing her isn't working.
Let her scream and rage, ignore it. When she's calm work on some strategies to manage her anger.
When she's screaming put some music on, sit in the car, whatever you need to do to get away from engaging with her. Life goes in while she yells.
Does she do much spirt as it us great first angry kids.
Has some trauma happened to her as she dies sound very traumatised about something
Good luck

steppemum Wed 11-Oct-17 10:55:45

sorry, but long blush
meant to say, dd is nearly 10

also, yes you can give the stuff back. We are human, and make mistakes, you can say to dd, I think it was too harsh to take everything, and then talk about why you were upest and get her to think about it. Ask her what a fair solution might be, eg you have them for a week and then she gets them back

Bekabeech Wed 11-Oct-17 11:08:17

Okay - this might sound harsh.
But you and your DH are adults - so you have the choice not to engage when she is "going off on one".
Do not shout. If possible get quieter. I have been shouted at quite recently for "shouting" everyone else in the house could tell that I didn't say a word (my breathing must have been shouting).
When she is screaming and has "lost it" there is no point in saying or doing anything. This morning I quietly offered a solution to the initial problem, but then basically ignored the behaviour, and when things calmed my solution was accepted.

A basic issue is are these Tantrums which are a conscious effort to manipulate people,
Or meltdowns which are an involuntary breakdown when a person is overwhelmed?

If Tantrums then punishment could be appropriate, but it never is for a meltdown.
Your DD has very high standards for her school work? First is for you to praise her for effort not results. But otherwise you need to help her to do what she needs to do. My DD has to have her homework done, and gets extremely stressed if it is not done. If it is impossible then I do have to write to her teachers, and she will usually accept that. But it is important to allow her to do the things which minimise her stress as far as possible.

I have never been massively in favour of taking items away from my children, unless it was directly related to the misbehaviour eg. water pistols or phones if used inappropriately. And it doesn't seem to be working for you. BTW defiance is often "face saving" when someone is hurt. People with ASD often have unusual facial expressions/body language/reactions to events - so not usually the child who looks so contrite that you forgive them.

dinomum13 Wed 11-Oct-17 11:42:52

Its a relief to know we are not alone. I think im going to discuss how she can get the items back and agree that there were far too many consequences flying around last night. Im going to contact Camhs again for help but am grateful for the useful advice everyone is giving. She does get overloaded and totally out of control and i think sitting in the car is a great idea! However I think 3 of us will end up hiding from her!

steppemum Wed 11-Oct-17 14:51:53

Beka makes a really good point about the difference between tantrum and a meltdown. A meltdown can be more like a panic attack, overwhelemed by the emotion of the moment and involuntary. Quite common amongst kids with autism.

With dd I did start treating them differently when I realised most of them were meltdowns. In her case she needs to go and calm down, but she won't disengage, she almost wants to wind it up so she can scream and shout, I think at some level it is a form of release of stress.

MadamPatti Wed 11-Oct-17 19:02:40

I have an 8 year old boy who sounds the same. I don’t have any solutions, but I just want to let you you’re not on you’re own. flowers

dinomum13 Wed 11-Oct-17 19:03:15

I agree. I think she has meltdowns and tantrums but I hadn't considered the difference. I've had a good chat to her after school and she seems much happier now we have agreed a plan for her to earn back the items (I feel much better with this too - its obvious the taking things away hasn't worked with her but I suppose we had to learn the hard way!)
I think last night was a meltdown and telling her off was completely pointless. I know there's not a magic wand solution with her but I obviously need to understand ( and more importantly ignore) her better when she's going into one. I feel really relieved hear that other people think telling her off is pointless when she's like this - I think I've been trying too hard to prove that I'm no "soft touch". Being strict is just making it far worse. I've heard too much grandparental advice about "laying down the law to her" but I think unless anyone has been with a child like this, they just don't get that the obvious disciplinary solutions just don't work.
I really wish I'd asked the mumsnetters long before now!

whitehorsesdonotlie Thu 12-Oct-17 08:39:09

I know other dc who are on the autistic spectrum who seem to manage ok at school then melt down at home - it's not unusual.

Can you speak to school about having your dd assessed? if you had a diagnosis and an 'explanation' for her behaviour, would that help?

steppemum Thu 12-Oct-17 08:41:26

you can be firm after the event, but during it, you need to focus on stopping the meltdown, whatever works for her.

Sometimes part of that stopping may be that she needs to get the emotion out, that she needs ot scream or jumo up and down etc.

She is old enough to talk about that, about letting out the build up inside, like a volcano exploding, and get her to think of safe and acceptable ways to express that.

MumsGoneToIceland Thu 12-Oct-17 10:23:00

My dd (was 10 in September) is exactly like this. She has been difficult from birth, doesn't respond to discipline (refuses to go into timeout, won't accept she is wrong, argues black is white etc) and so the tiniest things escalate. Her younger sister gets sister treated the same but responds to warnings and discipline and it's over quickly. I was convinced for a long time she has some SN (the closest I think she relates to is PDA which is linked to anxiety). We have had a better few weeks so I am more convinced that it's linked to anxiety and emotional immaturity.

I agree about there being a difference between a tantrum - brought on by being told No to something in conjunction with her stubbornness and emotional immaturity and a meltdown where she has totally lost control where I believe anxiety has been added to the mix. In a tantrum she throws herself on the floor and kicks her legs like a toddler. In a meltdown, it can take up a whole night (or a good hour or more) and massively impacts the rest of the family. The sanctions escalate and we struggle to get her to respond and stop (which doesn't work in a meltdown) and so the meltdown escalates.

I think there is a difficult balance between being understanding and also disciplining. There does need to be clear boundaries and consequences for inappropriate behaviour I believe else in my dd's case, she will use this understanding to manipulate a situation but a the same time I need to show some understanding of where she is coming from. In my dd's case she still has to accept that there are boundaries, rules and expected levels of behaviour and she can't just kick off and cause disruption every time she hears something she doesn't like. I also need to be fair to my other dd and treat them fairly.

We have simplified our consequences to minutes off bed time or minutes off tv time depending on what's more appropriate at the time. I will try and understand her perspective but if I have listened to her and calmly explained my position, if she continues to be rude etc there are consequences . Everything is clearly warned before it goes and the minutes go up if she doesn't stop. These consequences are my daughters Achilles heal. I

In a meltdown the above does not work and this is where I need to stop and recognise that we are in meltdown and not a tantrum. In this case I need to be more understanding and focussing on calming her down first. Sometimes I have to resort to physically holding her and repeatedly telling her to calm down. She resists it but does calm down within a couple of mins usually and then we can start to talk about the issue at hand and deal with it aporopriately.

The better option is of course prevention if possible. Maybe after each school day, taking her aside and alone with a snack and asking her how her day was, if there was anything she didn't enjoy, found hard etc to try and get her to open up and relieve the anxiety so it doesn't get to meltdown stage.

Things have been better for us since Sept, I think because she seems happier at school. We have had one meltdown in that time (at other times it's been daily) and less tantrums

I would recommending reading up on PDA as this may fit how your dd is and does explain how they can behave differently at school at home because they have bottled up their stress and anxiety all day, when they get home they just explode.

friendlessme Thu 12-Oct-17 10:46:41

My son was like this up until a year or so ago - he is 12. He still has the occasional screaming fit when he is tired, cross or frustrated but we have learned to de-escalate it rather than wade into it as we used to. Giving him a hug even though we felt like throttling him worked as did stroking his hand or neck. He just needed help to calm down which he found difficult to do himself. Punishing always made it worse. We did the workbook ‘Starving the anger gremlin’ together and it made a big difference as it got him to consider how his behaviour was affecting everyone around him, which I genuinely think hadn’t occurred to him. There is also a ‘Starving the anxiety gremlin’ one. I think the key is to rise above it and not get sucked into the drama of it. Easier said than done though when they follow you round screaming if you ignore it or won’t stay in their room.

friendlessme Thu 12-Oct-17 10:49:34

Oh also read up on emotion coaching. It helps them to label and discuss their feelings rather than being overwhelmed by them - stands in good stead for adulthood too I think.

sashh Thu 12-Oct-17 12:50:52

The holding it together at school is not her choosing to behave, it is her hanging on by a thread and then melting down at home.

Can she have a safe 'meltdown place', her room would seem to be the obvious one but somewhere she can go and shout/scream/punch a cushion?

Maybe an outside space where can bat tennis balls about.

One of my friends had a much younger child who would have 'a paddy', he was allowed to just get on with it and then applogise afterwards.

Don't forget puberty can cause mood swings and changes she may not be expecting.

dinomum13 Thu 12-Oct-17 15:03:05

There's some really good advice here - thanks everyone.
I'd never heard of PDA but she seems to have some of these traits (though not all). Aside from these meltdowns at home, she is doing well in school and socially.
She had been to CAMHS once but was absolutely horrified at the thought of being assessed and labelled with something.It caused her more anxiety that she's "got something wrong" despite the fact that we have many friends/family etc who have special needs.She knows there is an issue but wants to deal with it herself (strangely a very PDA response!) She point blank refused any counselling groups etc and the CAMHS lady just sort if shrugged and said she'd get us on a parenting course (which was cancelled...).
I've decided to not pursue a further assessment at this stage for these reasons, because even if she does get diagnosed its not suddenly going to cure it anyway. She wouldn't need extra support at school and desperately wants to avoid anyone knowing or talking to anyone about it. This makes me feel sad because she's obviously feels ashamed of her behaviour at home - but our doctor told me that this was 80% of the battle won anyway. I do worry that she's going to find it harder to cope as she gets older though.
I think in the meantime I'm going to study some of these books mentioned etc and see what other things we can do to support her.

I feel in a much better place than yesterday anyway and a bit more empowered to turn my back on her sometimes and not have to try fix or control the situation whenever she's in a rage. It doesn't mean she's controlling me (which is often implied by in-laws etc.)

AfterSchoolWorry Thu 12-Oct-17 15:08:19

If it is aspergers, it can present like this in girls. Girls are able to 'mask' for long enough to get through the school day and then all the pressure they've built up explodes out of them after school.

Google 'aspergers girls and the four o'clock explosion'.

I'm no doctor though obviously OP. Just something to consider! Hope you get some support with it soon.

Bekabeech Thu 12-Oct-17 18:15:03

The one thing I would suggest is just keeping a little notebook where you record her behaviour that concerns you, and things from the past you remember. If you go down the diagnosis route it could be very helpful.
Do also help her to see people with SN who are normal and even cool, it might help if she does need a diagnosis later.
(Oh and if her secondary school has a good SENCO it might be worth sharing your concerns with them.)

steppemum Sat 14-Oct-17 14:16:17

OP- I have never gone down the diagnosis route, but I do think dd2 has some traits.

I did a lot of research into girls and Aspergers, I know quite a lot about boys, but had never looked at girls. I was astonished at some of the differences, many of which do apply to dd.

Things like imaginative play and approach to reading fiction, both of which are different ot boys.
Have a look, it is helpful.

Once I accepted that she has some traits, it was easier for me to change some of the approaches I use, and that has helped.

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