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I don't think I can cope for much longer. :o(

(71 Posts)
spongebobandpatrick Fri 15-Feb-13 17:21:05

Please can anyone offer me an insight into my DD's behaviour and some advice as to the best way to parent her, because to be quite honest, I am rapidly losing the will to carry on.
I'm not sure what the alternatives are, apart from to keep plodding along, but I'm not really getting anywhere, or at least, that's how it feels to me.
I have decided that the best thing is to be completely honest here, so I hope I don't get too much of a flaming.

DD is 4 and a half.

Most of the time, dd is lovely, she is chatty and funny and bright, but whenever she cannot get her own way, she throws the mother of all tantrums. She is very defiant and destructive and will hit, spit or scream at me. She will deliberately break/smash things too if at all possible. I do tell dd this is not acceptable in a firm voice and then where I am able to, I ignore. dd is not bothered if i ignore her, when she is naughty, she doesn't respond to any discipline whatsoever, nothing bothers her. No matter what priviledges I remove, she continues the bad behaviour. No matter how firmly I speak to her, she continues dribbling spit and screaming.
Short of physically picking dd up and moving her to a safe place, there is not much else that I haven't tried to discipline dd or to get control over the situation that has worked.
I can't adequately explain how defiant dd is.

As a baby, dd was fine, ate well, slept well, seemed perfectly fine, but once she was old enough to pull herself up to a kneeling position in her cot, she began headbanging. The headbanging was ferocious and continuous. I contacted my HV who advised me to ignore, said it was all attention seeking, and I was to ignore at all costs.
I tried this, but to be honest, the constant thud thud thud was beginning to annoy me, so I tried distracting dd. This was not effective for more than a few minutes at most but I continued distracting for years just to make the bloody noise stop. I live in quite a new house and the soundproofing is not good, which means that if dd headbangs over the other side of the house to me, it sounds like someone is hammering a nail into a wall. It has been like living with permanent DIY going on, day in and day out for years.
If I removed dd from the cot to stop her headbanging, she would headbang on any hard surface she could find.
Over the years, I have repeatedly sought advice from the HV, the GP, and have seen a consultant paediatrician. All of the advice was to ignore.
dd would headbang when she was tired or feeling any negative emotion. She would headbang on concrete floors, walls, cot bars, backs of chairs, doors, the back of her car seat whilst in the car and anywhere else she could. It is so violent that my car bounces around and I can feel it when I am driving. sad

My next door neighbours attempted to have me evicted on the grounds of noise nuisance and things are very strained between us even now.
Despite the advice to ignore, that dd would outgrow it, I tried distracting, or removing whenever she was doing it.
It took until dd was 4 before it has improved, and it doesn't happen much now.

Only now, it has been replaced with rocking and chanting. When I say chanting, I mean at the top of her voice. Usually when dd is tired or experiencing negative emotions.
dd rocks herself to self soothe I think, only it has torn apart my sofa, from grabbing hold of the edge and rocking back and forwards ferociously for months on end, every day, multiple times a day whilst rubbing her hair against the sofa, and chanting loudly.
Whenever dd begins rocking and chanting, I can feel my blood pressure rising!! I really really can't abide the sound, so usually cannot ignore for very long, as well as the sound of my sofa creaking and groaning with the force.
dd rocks in bed at night to go to sleep, and has a bald patch on her head from all of the head rubbing.
She also kneels facing backwards on my dining chairs and rocks back and forth, causing the legs to continuously bang onto the hard floor, and it is very loud. I can hear it at the end of my garden.

Nothing stops her. I don't want the noise of her doing it. I don't want my furniture broken to satisfy her incessant need to rock and bang.

My intense hatred of the rocking and banging effects the way I discipline dd. I have got to the point where I will do almost anything to make her stop, although I realise that is foolish.

When dd is naughty, I cannot give her a time out because she will start headbanging. sad
I cannot sit her on a dining chair for timeout because she will rock and bang the legs of the chair.
I usually remove toys, tv or something else she values to discipline her, and speak to her firmly. It has no effect.

I have tried seeking help for so many years and have asked for so much help, but I am only ever told to ignore the bad behaviour, use positive reinforcement and time outs. I cannot use timeouts because of the resulting banging. No one seemed to take me seriously, until dd started school. Now she has started school, at last someone else can see how defiant and uncontrollable dd can be, not all of the time I must say, but when she is annoyed/angry, which is obviously quite often.
She has bitten other children, and the school are concerned about dd's erratic mood swings. They say her behaviour can be extreme, that she kicks, punches, slaps and bites and can be unpredictable. She can be very defiant, using adult language in context aggressively. (no examples here)
School say she headbangs and kicks out, her moods are difficult to read and her responses are inconsistent.

School say her behaviour has improved slightly since starting school, and when her mood is 'read' correctly, they make progress but on some days, no approach works. Confrontation causes defiance.

I have been living with these behaviours for years, and have asked for help so many times that I am convinced no one knows what to do for dd, so they advise me to ignore, which clearly isn't getting control of the situation.
I have completely lost hope that someone somewhere can help dd, and help me to parent her effectively.

If you have any idea what I can do to help dd, without creating WW3 with my neighbours, or without having to listen to the same chant over and over for hours and hours and hours, or the incessant banging, please tell me.

I wonder if there is an underlying cause to dd's behaviour, or whether it is just shit parenting on my behalf. I have cut out all unnatural foods and drinks from her diet, it has made no difference to her behaviour.

I am dreading this half term holiday. sad

I am a single parent with no support from exp and very little support from family. I am now worried I am going to lose the few friends I have because of dd's behaviour. I'm sure they secretly blame my inadequate parenting. I tend not to take dd to friend's houses over the holidays because dd can be unpredictable and aggressive. sad

It seems that no matter what I ask dd to do, she always always does the opposite. Always!!

Sorry for the long post, but thank you for getting this far.

Ineedmorepatience Fri 15-Feb-13 17:37:51

Hi sponge and welcome to the board, how difficult for you. It is horrible when no one listens to you.

What is your Dd'development like generally? It sounds as if her social skills are a bit delayed.
What kind of thing does she lose it over?

I would recommend starting a diary of her behaviours/issues. Make a note of any behaviours which worry you, what triggers them and how you deal with it(to show consistancy).

While you are completing your diary go to your Gp and get a referral to a developmental paediatrician. Dont take no for an answer you are entitled to be referred.

Also ask school to keep some detailed notes and make some observations of her behaviour.

Keep coming on here for advice and supportsmile

sickofsocalledexperts Fri 15-Feb-13 17:42:35

God, that sounds very very hard.

Do you think that, now school are also seeing the behaviour, you might get their support in a new referral to a paediatrician to investigate things like ODD or aspergers? Clearly this is not normal behaviour!

My boy did head banging too, but not to this extent. I don't think ignoring it is always the best strategy, as that only works when the behaviour is attention-seeking, rather than the far trickier " self-reinforcing" (ie she does it because she simply likes the feeling it gives her).

I think some really good behavioural therapy (like ABA or CBT) could be very effective, but you will need to go via GP or paed or CAMHS (or pay privately, if possible)

There are others on here who are real experts in Oppositional Defiance Disorder and I know they will help too.

Definitely the "system" can give you some help, just go back to GP and ask very calmly but very insistently for a referral to a developmental paediatrician or CAMHS.

Also, a mini trampoline and yoga ball in the house can help get the excess energy out over half term. Or swimmming, long walks?

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Fri 15-Feb-13 17:48:46

You've already seen a Paed, haven't you? Did they have any explanation for why your DD headbangs, apart from for attention? It sounds much more extreme than attention seeking. It sounds like your attempts at seeking help have been largely ignored. sad Do you think your DD may have some diagnosable condition, like ASD or PDA?

There is a behavioural approach called ABA that might be worth investigating. Others on the board can advise you about it. No expert, myself. Could you get SS help to get some sort of safe space for your DD to be able to use time out more effectively? Ie somewhere safe that she can't headbang or hurt herself?

It sounds so draining, I hope you get some good advice. X

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Fri 15-Feb-13 17:50:40

Crossed with sickof. I think I was trying to say what she said more eloquently.

bochead Fri 15-Feb-13 17:53:35

Go to your GP today and ask for a referral to a neurodevelopmental consultant peadiatrician. the early years services have let you down in not doing this for you before. While waiting for the appointment keep a diary and ask school to do the same. If you can video some of the behavior at home and at school it may also help.

Things to look for in the diary.

Take a note too of any sensory issues - is she at her worst when it's cold, or she wears wool clothes or when the radio is on? Often sensory stuff is overlooked, but there are numerous therapies available now that can make a MASSIVE difference.

Time of day of worst behaviors - sleep problems can cause awful behaviors in young children & it's about quality of sleep, not just duration. It can also pinpoint if there are any transitions she find particulalry hard like bedtime or going into lessons after play etc.

Diet - keep noting if only to rule out for the pead that it's not e numbers central in your fridge wink

When is she at her best? For a long time my lad was calmest when stroking the dog, for another child it may be when they are painting or playing a computer game etc. This will eventually help give you the building blocks you need to help her, so don't think noting what's happening when she's happiest/calmest/easiest to cope with is a waste of time.

Read the book "123 magic" - it's what the best standard parenting courses are based on and you can ingest all it contains in a weekend. Try implementing the suggestions so that you can in all honesty state to any professionals who may ask that you've already implemented the current "gold standard" parenting techniques for children with no underlying disabilities. This may help speed things along a bit.

ilikemysleep Fri 15-Feb-13 18:10:00

Well, I would guess that the rocking and head banging are sensory seeking attempts to calm herself. I would say that as well as doing all the stuff recommended up thread, you try to substitute other acceptable sensory seeking behaviours. How about bouncing on a trampoline, rough swinging, rolling her up in a rug or duvet and squashing her? Or spinning, like on a roundabout? An occupational therapist would be able to give you more specific advice. You can usually get a referral through a pead or a private assessment by looking up OTs locally. When she is rocking and head rubbing on the sofa, can she be distracted out of it? Would a rocking horse serve as a substitute? this sort that rock on a sliding base would be a bit safer for 'violent' rocking than an old fashioned one on the semicircle rockers
or one of these which you can't hurt yourself by falling off

I would also look into a weighted blanket or weighted vest to see if that gives her sufficient sensory feedback to minimise her rituals.

Try (easier said than done) not to allow her to wind you up to much. She really isn't doing this 'in order to' be annoying or because she knows you don't like it. Her body is craving sensation - the reasons for which you need to get investigated. Best of luck xx

spongebobandpatrick Fri 15-Feb-13 18:11:39

To answer as many points as possible;

I don't think dd's social skills are delayed, in as much as she speaks well, can express herself well, and is a proper little chatterbox. In fact, she doesn't stop talking. grin
She seems to be getting to grips with letters and can read and write her own name, although admittedly it is a short name.
She has a fantastic imagination, much more imaginative than other children I know. She talks about things that haven't happened as if they are real, people she doesn't know etc etc. Made up characters in her imagination.

Her development seems ok, although I have little idea of what she should be doing IYSWIM.

She has a huge trampoline in the garden, and goes on that a lot. She loves it!! grin

The paed had no other explanation apart from the attention seeking.
Everyone who gets a glimpse of dd thinks she is a bright adorable little girl, and they tell me her behaviour is typical of her age group, that it is normal to watch a 4 year old like a hawk all of the time, but every time anyone else has watched dd for me, which is rare tbh, they suddenly change their tune.
They tell me that watching dd is harder than watching their own 3 or 4 children. They say that they didn't realise that when I said I cannot take my eyes off of dd for a second, I meant it literally.

I believe my son is HFA, and I am beginning to think there is an underlying cause for dd's behaviour, yes.

I cannot afford private treatment, I am on benefits at the moment, and receive no help or maintenance from exp. I am due to go onto JSA, and I would really like to go back to work, but I cannot foresee a CM looking after dd for me, nor do I think I could expect family members to look after dd. The family members I have believe in discipline that I think is cruel to dd, and not what I would do myself.

SS have been involved and that is because of exp fabricating allegations, he is an abusive man and has never forgiven me for ending our relationship and moving on. I told SS all about dd's behaviour and they thought it was the effect of exp and I splitting and exp in and out of dd's life like a yo yo. I asked them for funding for nursery sessions when dd was 2 and a half but they refused and said they didn't have the funds available. I never asked them for anything else. I wonder if they think 'mud sticks' so I am uncomfortable about telling them that I am struggling tbh. Exp wants dd removed from me to punish me, hence the many unsubstantiated and unfounded allegations. (I know this is sounding worse and worse, so sorry, maybe I am just a crap mother, well I know I am or I wouldn't have these problems or at least I would have a lot more patience with dd, which I'm afraid I don't have, my whole life is one of stress to the point that I get chest pains. Hey ho, that's my life I suppose. smile )

I'm sure the school think I am an ineffective crap parent too because the teacher is constantly advising me on how to parent dd, which usually runs along the lines of 'cruel to be kind, show dd who's boss' kind of thing.

I want to thank you all for posting. This is the most support I feel I have had in 4 years. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. thanks

sickofsocalledexperts Fri 15-Feb-13 18:16:34

There are others on here who may help with the ex issues! He sounds a charmer!

Ineedmorepatience Fri 15-Feb-13 18:16:43

Sorry, I made the comment about delayed social skills based on the info about her biting other children! Biting can be a phase but generally children have outgrown it by the time they go to school. I wasnt being mean, just trying to help.

Have a look at

Ineedmorepatience Fri 15-Feb-13 18:19:32

Sorry posted too soon, have a look at PDA as well, many proffs dont get it but it is real and very difficult to manage.

sickofsocalledexperts Fri 15-Feb-13 18:21:15

There is a thread lower down about PDA which may ring bells for you and has some v experienced posters on it

spongebobandpatrick Fri 15-Feb-13 18:23:18

Oh please don't think I think you were being mean Ineedmorepatience.

I will answer any questions if it gives me the slightest clue what could be the underlying cause of dd's behaviour. I also thought biting was a developmental stage, I have known of many DC to go through it, and apparently there are a few biters in dd's class, yet the teacher talks as if dd is the only one. She is one of the youngest in her year, she was only just 4 when she started school.

Unfortunately dd now complains of going to school, and doesn't want to go, although she needs a lot of stimulation at home, so it is hard work in the school holidays.
I am appreciating all of the ideas. I think we will go for a long walk this week, I wonder what we can do on the walk. I want to make it interesting for dd.

I will also keep a diary.

School now want to refer dd to the ed psych (sp) after the half term. I have agreed because I think it might give me some answers.

Ineedmorepatience Fri 15-Feb-13 18:33:21

No probssmile
On walks you can collect items to make a collage, we have done leafy ones and even shells and stuff, using really strong glue.

Or you can do collect an object for every letter of the alphabet, be flexible for Q,Z, etc.

Dd3 loves muddy walks and sailing boats in the stream too.

Good lucksmile

spongebobandpatrick Fri 15-Feb-13 18:50:59

I have just read this and the diagnostic criteria.

I can relate to it all. The swearing resonated with me. dd has been known to shout 'bollocks' in the supermarket, has called one of her TA's a 'bastard' and seems to fall out with the same TA over and over, usually resulting in dd kicking this particular TA. sad

utterlyscared1 Fri 15-Feb-13 19:03:55

Would definitely second PDA - sounds very familiar. Good communication/imagination, but trying to treat with "normal" discipline techniques virtually impossible!

Don't beat yourself up. I know how it feels to try everything, deal with a constant battle and then have the bad mother criticism thrown at me.

PDA is better recognised in some areas over others. It took us years to get to, but definitely worth a look. For years we had dismissed ASD due to communication/imagination but hadn't heard of PDA. DS too can be loving and affectionate, but everything is about control. Humour goes a long way with him - joking him out of behaviour is the easiest tactic. Reverse psychology also works i.e. "I bet you can't" rather than "please do this".

Not an expert but might be worth a look.

WilsonFrickett Fri 15-Feb-13 19:25:00

Take the Ed Psych referral but at the same time go to the GP to seek a referral to a developmental pead. Absolutely second the diary and video - some children are very good at 'masking' when they're in front of the doctor. It's hard to argue with video evidence. Make sure you take some time out when she's at school too - take a bath, go to the library. Keep pushing. ((hugs))

Walter4 Fri 15-Feb-13 19:36:27

Sponge, I do agree with you, PDA sounds like it might fit you're dd. I can hear how low you feel and can sympathise. My 4 year old son has PDA and its very tough. As you have found , rewards , sanctions basically ant traditional parenting is not really very effective ,in our case it makes things much worse. Whether it's PDA or not why don't you try treating her as if it is, pda methods really help make life more tollerable. Use humour , be indirect, give her time to process what is needed, use role play.... It's hard work but soon becomes a natural way of being.

If school are having problems , you could use this to help you get a diagnosis. Print off all the info on PDA and take it in to them together with educational guidelines. If they try using it and it helps them ( mine do and he's not even that bad at school) then they might be supportive rather than advise you on your parenting.

Take care

Inaflap Fri 15-Feb-13 19:53:02

I know money is tight, but may I recommend cranial osteopathy. It looks like woo but it does work. My son was 4 and it was a bloody miracle. Other thing I wondered was eye sight and visual perception. The extreme head banging and rocking suggests a need for intense sensory feedback. Perhaps a wobble cushion for sitting and a weighted blanket. Appreciate that these things cost but you might be able to scour ebay. Its so hard. I used to be at my wits end with my eldest tantrums. They went on for ages. I do think ODD or PDA are the routes to go. Unfortunately your GP might not have heard of either. Get the school on side would be a good route.

Good luck. You aredoing an amazing job.

magso Fri 15-Feb-13 20:26:17

Your posts remind me of some of the struggles with ds (now a teenager!) when he was younger, so I have sympathy and I also got close to breaking point when ds started school. Ds has sensory processing disorder and is also on the autistic spectrum, so liked to rock (still does that but he rocks on a thick rug now) and chant and screach at full volume and the noise and constant need to be hyperalert was hard to live with. I can only say life has got (somewhat) easier since we got to understand his sensory, communication and learning needs. So I would say yes to the EP referral at school but alongside ask for referral (via the GP) to the developmantal paediatrician and push for occupational therapist for sensory assessment. The later may need the paediatrician or the GP may be able to refer directly. Although ds has a Dx of ASD he fits the profile for PDA (not a diagnosis recognised where we live) and can still be at times shall we say challenging to parent, - but now we get some understanding and support! He is loving, kind, funny, sociable (ish) energetic and spirited.

MareeyaDolores Sat 16-Feb-13 13:40:22

Good advice from everyone upthread. Will concentrate on quick fixes myself.

Screeching (either of you can wear them wink)

Rocking and bouncing
£8 Ikea rocker
jump o lene
hoppy horse
boingy steps
£7 cheap gym ball at argos

Occupational therapy assessment. Ideally via school, but worth getting a private 'sensory trained' OT for a home visit first. Apply for DLA (just from what you've mentioned so far, at least middle care / lower mobility: ie about £70/week).

popgoestheweezel Sat 16-Feb-13 13:45:03

We are in the PDA camp here and it does sound like your dd has some issues in that area.
wrt social skills, it's not just about being eloquent or having a good vocab but also holding a reciprocal conversation (as apposed to just talking at people) sharing, taking turns, eye contact etc etc so there may be more subtle things to look at there. Social identity is usually a prob for PDA. Does she recognise authority? Does she accept that she is a child and that adults have responsibility/power that she does not?
It sounds like there is loads of sensory seeking stuff going on so to help with the head banging it might be worth looking into other more positive ways of her getting the stimulus she requires. Encourage as much trampolining as poss, maybe bouncing on a gym ball or space hopper might help too. There's some ideas here
123 magic is considered by the professionals to be the ultimate solution so I would familiarise yourself with it. If you read up on PDA handling techniques though, you'll find they are the polar opposite of 123. 123 would be the worst possible way to handle a child with PDA and most of us parents spend years trying to 'break' our children and get them to comply because we are conditioned by society to think that it must be because we are bad parents, not consistent enough, or just plain lazy.
If you have tried traditional discipline (naughty step, consequences etc) and it was a disaster then I would try PDA specific tactics and see if they are helpful.
Look at especially the article 'Helping your child with PDA to play' which gives lots of useful strategies.

popgoestheweezel Sat 16-Feb-13 13:47:07

Sorry, realise now she has stopped the head banging- still that blog link might have stuff for rocking too.

MareeyaDolores Sat 16-Feb-13 13:47:40

form genuine massive help
get date-stamped form, money backdated to date of phone call

MareeyaDolores Sat 16-Feb-13 13:50:20

Don't chase a PDA diagnosis, especially if you've had social problems (even if it fits her best, and you know it's 'really' correct). PDA is too easy to misdiagnose as emotional issues, ASD is much better recognised nationally as 'neurological'

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