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Anxiety or something else. 6year old says she wants to die during meltdowns

(13 Posts)
mooddisorder Fri 26-Dec-14 21:55:33

I have posted this in Child's Mental Health but thought there might be more traffic here. my DD doesn't have a DX but I do feel she has some additional needs.

In my heart I really feel my DD has some additional needs but everyone I speak to seems to suggest that 6 is too young to label a child and that all children act our during the separation of their parents......

My very sensitive and anxious child has always been prone to meltdowns/overstimulation and has suffered separation anxiety on and off Since her sister was born 4 years ago, I have really struggled to parent her. She has huge jealousy issues with her sister which mean I constantly have to reassure that I love her as much as her sister. She has always had meltdowns when overwhelmed/overtired. At times of stress, she can be very irritable and tearful on a daily basis. At the moment she seems to be permanently irritable with me and constantly seeking reassurance.

I find day to day living with her very stressful as she zaps all my energy. At the moment when she has a meltdown it is often triggered by her sister touching her. She then starts screaming, ripping her clothes off and insisting she smells and needs to wash herself. Sometimes she will sit in the sink running the taps and covering herself with soap. Today she screamed that she wanted to die, she wanted me to kill her, she wanted her contaminated arms taken off, she smelt, no one would like her etc.

The normal advice is you ignore tantrums but when I tried to ignore her she shouted at me saying I wasn't helping her and I didn't love her because I was ignoring her.

Sometimes she will kick and push me away and if I leave her to it she will calm down.

I really feel I need help with her. All advice so far seems to suggest I just need to be more assertive with her and start establishing boundaries and ignoring the negative behaviour.

But what if she really is depressed? Would I be right to turn my back on someone who so doubts my love. Problem is I'm the only witness to this episodes which is why everyone I speak to seem to suggest it is me and my anxiety that is the root cause and that only i can change things. Could there be more to it? She has never been assessed by anyone.

Can a child say they hate themselves and want to die and always be doing it for attention only? Is my crap parenting the only possibility here?

greener2 Fri 26-Dec-14 22:04:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OneInEight Sat 27-Dec-14 06:51:16

Perhaps ask your friends / family if their six year old regularly says they want to kill themselves.... I am pretty sure the answer will be "no" because it is not normal for your average six year old and I do think warrants a referral from your GP to CAMHS.

CAMHS does vary in efficiency from area to area but may be able to see if there is an underlying cause for the behaviours e.g. sensory processing disorder or an ASD. There is a long waiting list for this service so try and get a referral now and if when it comes through she has outgrown the problems then fine cancel it but on the other hand if the problems have continued or got worse you are in the system.

In the meantime try writing a diary of the behaviours as this will be helpful for CAMHS and may help you identify triggers for when the behaviour is worst and help you avoid them. There are also books like "The Explosive Child" or "How to talk so Children will Listen" that you may find helpful to find a new approach to understanding and parenting your dd.

I think a child can be depressed - ds2 I think was although we never got a psychiatrist to give a diagnosis - for him though it wasn't so much the saying he wanted to kill himself (although he did) but the total lack of interest in anything and the social withdrawal that accompanied it was the major sign. Luckily, with a move to a tiny school he is slowly improving.

millimoohoo Sat 27-Dec-14 10:32:33

Hello mood, at the age of seven my ds told me he wanted to die, It was the most upsetting thing that has ever been said to me. My ds's problems mainly stemmed from school and in hindsight I would say it was because he couldn't make sense of his own thoughts and feelings (meltdowns), knew he was 'different' to his peers and most people around him thought it was just 'poor behaviour'. The use of boundaries and rewards and consequences didn't help my ds and I learnt that I had to parent in a different way, leaving time to calm down, reassuring, de-escalating. It is tough because lots of people think his meltdowns are due to poor parenting (they still do!) and I thought I was a poor parent for a long time. This is not the case however, please try to remember you are doing the best for your dd and its not easy. My ds got a diagnosis of Asperger's and things have been easier since then. IMO the fact that your ds appears to have sensory issues (smell, touch) I would definitely seek an assessment, it cant do any harm and may lead to greater understanding for you all. Good luck

Ineedmorepatience Sat 27-Dec-14 10:34:27

I agree with one, you need a referral to CAMHS.
My Dd3 has Asd, no one believed us when we described her issues because she is good at holding it together when she isnt at home or with us.

It was my diary that made people sit up and listen and take notice. Make sure you include, what caused the meltdown (if you know) and how you managed it. That will show that you are managing her in a consistent way. Finding the triggers will also help you to put strategies into place.

On our first visit to CAMHS we were told to use strategies that are recommended for children with Asd because they might work and cant do any harm if they dont.

Not suggesting that your Dd has ASD, more that you are free to try strategies used for people with different conditions because if they work it will help you and your Dd.

Good luck flowers

Ineedmorepatience Sat 27-Dec-14 10:37:58

I also meant to say, that touch sensitivity can cause extreme stress. The light touch receptors in the skin are the same ones as the pain receptors. When sensory processing in dysfunctional the brain cannot tell if there is pain or not or how bad the pain is confused

Hope that makes sense smile

mooddisorder Sat 27-Dec-14 11:06:22

Thank you for the replies- the touch thing seems to be about contamination rather than sensitivity. If her clothes are touched she can refuse to wear them again, at least before they've been watched. We are verging on OCD at times of stress. Because she doesn't have any problem at school, though is very quiet and has fallen behind with reading because I can't do much of this with her at home due to spending my time trying to manage her behaviour/moods generally.

I think my partner thinks I'm colluding with her. My children eat separately because she won't be in the same room as her sister. I frequently replace meals that have been contaminated in some way. The opinion is that these things don't happen elsewhere because they don't allow it but when I try to be assertive with her, I get all these accusations about me not loving her, ignoring her, loving her sister more. After hours of complaints about anything- I admit I sometimes take the path of least resistance.

I did see a child psychotherapist at one point(he never saw my daughter). He said there were the beginnings of an attachment disorder. A lot of blame was put on my anxiety but the way I see it when I'm with her I do get anxious but away from her I feel normal. The relationship has become dysfunctional over a long period of time but I often think there might be more to it or is she just acting out with me. How can I prove it when I'm the only witness?

PolterGoose Sat 27-Dec-14 13:18:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ouryve Sat 27-Dec-14 13:38:14

Attachment disorder is so often the first thing suggested by a psychotherapist. For the ones who work privately, what better way to get parents (usually mothers) to part with their cash than to instil a massive guilt trip in them.

DS1 is a lot like this, in meltdown, and has a similar intolerance to his brother. he has ADHD and ASD and is highly demand avoidant. He always turns his anger onto his brother when in meltdown and, when he is unable to do that, expresses a wish that he was dead and has, in the not so distant past, begged us to kill him. It is quite harrowing to see a child that y ou love in this state.

One of the issues for a child with a social communication disorder (which your DD may or may not have, and you'll never know if you simply have the blame piled on you by "professional" therapists, unfortunately) is the inability to have a perspective on how they're feeling. Even though I don't doubt that he is is experiencing great misery, at that point in time, I do believe that when he's telling us he wants to be dead, it's because he can't see an end to his current misery, is unable to comprehend exactly how he ended up in such a state of misery (and often fear, too) and simply can't see a way out of it.

mooddisorder Sat 27-Dec-14 19:20:34

Interesting points. I do sort of have a perspective as I think she has inherited something from me. As a child I never had tantrums (supposedly) but was quite an introspective, sensitive child but as an an adult if I get anxious I just want to disappear/ run away. When the storm passes I am fine again but in the moment I really feel as if I don't want to exist.

DD's anxiety tens to trigger my anxiety so in the moment there are two of us dealing with unspeakable feelings.

ouryve Sat 27-Dec-14 21:02:35


I feel like we go into bullet time when DS1 goes into a meltdown/rage. Particularly when I know he's gunning for DS2 and I need to keep him safe and stave off any goadiness on his part (he also has ASD and is severely learning disabled and has only recently learnt how to push people's buttons and regards it as a bit of a sport with little awareness of the possible consequences - seeing DS1 getting wound up actually triggers this behaviour in DS2, unfortunatelyconfused) I feel like I have to risk assess every single breath and blink on the hop, in case it's likely to move him on from laying on the floor kicking the sofa to picking up the nearest chair and hurling it at us. And of course, I have to calmly creep around the room, casually putting away anything that might be dangerous as a missile or be missed if it was broken. And work out whether to reply to anything he says and what to say when I do.

I bloody ache, afterwards.

Levantine Mon 29-Dec-14 10:24:48

This all sounds very familiar and it is so distressing to see your child like this. You should be referred to camhs without too much of a struggle I would have thought, although how long you will wait to be seen is a different matter. My ds was dx with depression at 7, so it is a possibility that your dd is depressed and that it will be recognised. He had a course of CBT which helped quite a bit.

If your dd is diagnosed with asd, or another condition then it may be easier to unpick with school exactly what is going on for her there and put in some measures so that she isn't building up her stress levels to unmanageable proportions.

With regard to how to handle it - my instinct is that life is so hard and stressful for ds that home needs to be as stress free as possible so I make as few demands on him as I possibly can. I may revisit this at some point, but for now it seems to be the best option

Oblomov Thu 01-Jan-15 21:36:46

I totally understand everything you have written. I have experienced similar. You have been given very good advice. I really hope that Camhs turns out better for you - they offered us nothing.

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