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Do we really just say 'stop'??

(25 Posts)
MooMummyMoo Wed 22-Jul-15 15:51:03

My Dd1 is 5 but profound learning difficulties - operates at 8-20 months.

She has 3 younger sisters. Although she isn't big, she frequently 'attacks' them. A common one is when they are all watching TV she will suddenly go over and grab one of their hair and rip with all her might.

We have been told by various professionals (paed, school etc) that we just need to ignore it. So we say 'stop' in a strong voice and then move either her or the sister away.

Is this really all we can do? She just finds it funny and I am so frustrated. To her sisters it looks like we are not taking the behaviour seriously as there are no repercussions for DD1 and they are left in a constant state of anxiety in their own house (I know that sounds melodramatic but this is the state we have got to).

Dd1 scratches and head butts me which is very tiring but when she attacks her sisters then something instinctive in me just snaps - my instinct is to protect them and I can't. I am so frustrated. I feel like I am failing them, I feel like I am failing her too.

To be totally and brutally honest, I end up resenting her very existence. What an awful mummy I am to even have these feelings. I just feel so stuck.

Do I just persevere? Will she one day listen and actually stop?? Should I be doing something else? Can anyone help? I feel so sad.

Ineedmorepatience Wed 22-Jul-15 16:32:55

It is really hard isnt it sad

The thing is that until she actually learns what "Stop" means she isnt going to be able to stop without you physically moving her!

Do you think that if you gave her a consequence she would understand what was going on?

I think the situation you are in is really difficult and I dont want to say anything that makes it sound like you havent tried everything.

With her developmental level I would definitely not be leaving her alone with her siblings and would probably be providing her siblings with a safe place that they can watch TV without being in fear although I do understand that that would be incredibly difficult in most homes.

I hope someone comes along with more useful ideas flowers

Ineedmorepatience Wed 22-Jul-15 16:35:48

Oh and you are not "an awful mummy" you are trying to protect your younger children and are probably exhausted and stressed, dont beat yourself up. You wouldnt be on here trying to get help if you were an awful mummy sad

Be kind to yourself cake brew wine

zzzzz Wed 22-Jul-15 16:37:14

I would make the consequences of hair pulling/attack unpleasant.

If she is truly operating 8-20 months learning should be possible. Develop a quiet "no" sound and remove her to another room.

I'd also give the others a safe space to chill in. (Child gates, playpen and barricades can help).

MooMummyMoo Wed 22-Jul-15 17:09:43

Thank you both. I will have a think how I can implement your suggestions in our house. It makes me sad that we can't just be one family. Feels like the only way we can operate is by splitting off in to two halves.

We can't even do simple 'normal family' things like watching a dvd together or colouring, sticking etc. But I suppose that is just how it is. It's just not how I imagined my family being. But I guess that's maybe how we all kind of think!

Right then, better dash. Dd1 has thrown her meal and drink across the table. Again. Urghh angry

BlackeyedSusan Wed 22-Jul-15 23:24:57

well I was toldby the midwife to teach my babies to not bite while breast feeding by putting them down, so small children can learn.

I started putting ds in time out when he was about 18 months as he attacked dd by biting her a lot. dd says that it helped her as she knew it was not going to happen for a couple of minutes and gave us time to do first aid on her. ds has autism and was extremely resistent to learning not to attack. he did get it though.

I also had to use strategies where they were not put in the same room until after he had had breakfast as he was worse when he was hungry, so a bit of tag teaming and separating with playing apart (little ones in the play pen?)

zzzzz Wed 22-Jul-15 23:36:52

It is very useful to become better at spotting the triggers. ALL children are more aggressive in my experience when they need the toilet. Hunger and teething impact as well. You will find things you can do together and things that work better separately. Both are important. Sometimes moving the furniture a bit and marking territory can help.

Montessori schools teach children to work on mats (think towels) that they roll out work on and then put away. No one messes with stuff on each others mats. Clear visual boundaries help.

Pulling hair may be "sensory seeking" rather than aggression. (this is NOT how I think of things but I think is quite well documented and thought out) It might be a good idea to introduce other outlets for her so she doesn't need that "pull hair then crying" stimulus. Find interesting fiddlers and tactile activities for TV watching.

ouryve Wed 22-Jul-15 23:37:43

A calm "stop" is funny, but any more emotive reaction is absolutely hilarious. It's utterly wearingflowers

DS2 is 9 now and has, in the past year, learnt how to be a goady fucker. I have to sit with him, in the car, with DS1 in the front. He got bored of winding DS1 off by kicking his seat, earlier, so started pointing at my head and shouting "doh tuh!" (don't touch). He has a tendency to poke and scratch, so sometimes runs through all the things he's not allowed to poke and scratch, with much hilarity (all on his side) along the way.

That said, rather than biting, since I'd already had a row with DS1 at the start of the journey I pointed back and said "don't touch", myself. He was too bemused to continue.

ouryve Wed 22-Jul-15 23:44:02

And agree with zzzzz about the sensory seeking aspect, hence my initial comment. DS2 is overcome with excitement (and a little fear) when DS1 (highly intelligent, academically, but socially very disabled indeed and living his entire life on an impossibly short fuse) blows his top. DS2 gets a bit of a thrill out of seeing him explode, in much the same way he begs me to set the hairdryer on him, then runs away terrified.

Polarmouse Thu 23-Jul-15 05:35:42

Ouryve my ds is just like that too, overcome with excitement and a little thrill of fear of the effect he has just created, great way to describe it.

I agree the hair pulling could be sensory seeking. If we are out and see a child near ds with interesting hair, such as cork screw curls I know it is only a matter of time before he has a handful! He gets this transfixed expression and and then grabs. I think goes to touch quite fast and hard because he knows he's not supposed to iyswim.

He does also use hair grabbing as a communication device though and when he grabs a handful of my hair I know it is an expression that he really cannot cope with the situation he's in.

MooMummyMoo Thu 23-Jul-15 06:31:04

She is very sensory so it probably is that. But then what do I do to replace it? My guess is that it isn't the hair itself she is interested in but the screaming and crying from the sibling, and then whatever reaction I give (I have to admit sometimes I do see red - I know, I know...)

I can work on my reaction - stern no/stop and that's all I say. But I won't be able to stop the girls crying when she has ripped out a clump of hair.

What sensory thing should I be doing to try to prevent her doing it in the first place? (Sorry if this is a stupid question, I can't see the wood for the trees at the moment)

zzzzz Thu 23-Jul-15 09:02:26

I am NOT the proper person to ask this stuff as I am more "old fashioned Mummy" than "Sensory Diet Guru". I really understand the issue though as I have 5 children and 3 and 5 both have different but quite hard to manage in a group behaviour. (one is asd-ish and one had aggression connected with medication)

There ARE lots of things that help mine. Some are environmental, so places to be separate (these don't have to be obvious to others just jig the environment so she can't approach them so easily (for example make them a den to watch telly from on a low table behind the sofa so she can't approach from behind IYSWIM, or whatever suits your room), consider cutting hair short/plaits/hats. Some are schedule related. Could she do reading while they watch, have her hair done, bath or do something she really enjoys elsewhere (mine liked a tub with water and toys that came out for a bit outside the door).

What does she dislike? Mine didn't like the toys being away at one point, so I would have said "absolutely not" (this is the ultimate "NO" in my house and said firmly never angrily) removed and it would have been tidy up time. Children who have been hurt usually got carried round the place which is desirable if exhausting here.

In my experience it is the emotion that is calling them. The crying and angry atmosphere. If you can not feed that the call of the hair pulling feeling will be much easier to tackle.

It is utterly exhausting to do, but SO worth it. Have your plan. if possible write it down. Change the bits that don't work and do more of the bits that do. You have done this with your other children without noticing. This will take longer and require more effort, but you can win.

Honk honk

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Thu 23-Jul-15 09:05:21

If she is anything like my DD she probably finds the "stop" in a strong voice funny and does it more.

I would deal with this by being poker faced and just removing her every time and making sure she doesn't have any fun time for a while afterwards.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Thu 23-Jul-15 09:06:15

And give lots of attention to the crying sibling and ignore her.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Thu 23-Jul-15 09:07:52

Also as well as not reinforcing it with a reaction (she will probably find you being angry funny) make sure you praise her lots when she isn't doing it too.

This is all advice I have had from a great professional who works with DD.

chocnomorechoc Thu 23-Jul-15 09:40:20

my Dd would probably find the strong telling off/reaction funny too and keep doing it just to get the response.

When you say stop just don't make abig fuzz. simple stop and remove her. I would also give her loads of praise and the on/off reward (little sweetie, hug or whatever works for her) when she is not showing the problem behaviour. this works best on the choc household. praise the behaviour you want, ignore (to some extent) the behaviour you don't want.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Thu 23-Jul-15 11:17:30

I think if she is operating at that level she won't make an obvious connection with a reward or a punishment but ignoring definitely works, like with toddlers.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Thu 23-Jul-15 11:17:58

I mean I agree with choc. Was just musing about it smile

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Thu 23-Jul-15 11:18:30

Definitely heap on the praise when not doing it. Exactly.

Polarmouse Thu 23-Jul-15 12:13:38

Yes I definitely made this type of situation worse with my ds when he was younger and I reacted in a rather 'excitable' way and he thought it was a very exciting thing to do sad

MooMummyMoo Thu 23-Jul-15 14:06:36

Thank you everyone for all your ideas and advice. She definitely finds it hugely amusing when I shout. I manage in other situations - food and drink throwing for example to look very bored by the whole thing, just say no and clear it up, no big drama. I just haven't been able to do the same with the sibling attacks. But I need to. I know that. It's top of my priority list to sort out.

And then yes there is so much more I could do to organise the house and the schedule day better. It is just exhausting sometimes - I just want some days to take a step back and they entertain themselves a bit etc but the reality that I need to accept is that for our family that isn't going to work. It's up to me to create the right environment for them all.

Your replies have really given me a kick up the bum that I needed. And without any of you really meaning to give me a kick up the bum! But your suggestions really show me I need to be doing more.

Thank you all.

Icimoi Thu 23-Jul-15 19:24:01

Does she have an EHC plan and a care plan? If not I suggest you apply for both immediately. It sounds like you really need the advice of a specialist occupational therapist, and you could maybe access that via the assessment process if you ask for it. A care plan may get you help via something like respite care.

Elisabennet Thu 23-Jul-15 19:47:12

My experience is that it depends on behaviour function. Ignoring can work if the aim is attention seeking. It probably won't work if it is about escaping a demand too hard or if it is about a difficulty to express a need.
I know, it can be hard to identify what triggered a behaviour, and can be even harder to help in right way.

MooMummyMoo Fri 24-Jul-15 06:32:49

Elisa, I think it is attention seeking most of the time. Though as she is non-verbal sometimes it could be something else. I need to tune in to her better.

Ici, we have an EHCP. But it's really focused on school. We have had OT in the past but it has just been to get specialist chair and such like. Ours won't do sensory stuff, though the OT accepts she has big sensory needs. And in our area you get signed off from the OT once you have got whatever bit of equipment you needed. You then have to re-refer to get back on the books again, though it is possible. I am not sure what I would be asking them for though? They just seem to dish out equipment??

Re respite, I started asking 2 years ago. In our area it is very hard to get respite. I have been made to go in various circles and we get rejected each time. We are currently doing a CAF, because though we don't need one, that is another delaying tactic. So we are working through that and maybe this time we'll get past the gate keepers and manage to actually get a social worker. As I say though, we are two years in to trying and we haven't made it past the gatekeepers yet! There is always another delaying tactic we haven't anticipated! But I'll keep going with it and hopefully one day we'll get there.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Fri 24-Jul-15 08:32:26

Also be prepared for it to get worse temporarily if you start to ignore. This is actually a good sign, she will try harder for a bit then hopefully the behaviour will reduce

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