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unbearable tension at home with DD and DH(12 Posts)
My 9 year old dd is challenging. We struggle to control her behaviour at home. She is addicted to her tablet and it’s a difficult balance for us with letting her have it because it keeps her calm, vs needing her to get on with things which she won’t because she’s watching videos. My dh is hot headed himself (she is like him in many ways), so their relationship is tricky at the best of times. She has HF ASD, ADHD, anxieties. She is extremely demand avoidant. Getting ready for school in the morning has always been difficult. I leave the house early to go to work. I get her as ready as I can before I leave, then dh has to finish getting her ready (breakfast, brush teeth, put shoes on, etc).
It came to a head earlier this week. She refused to cooperate with him trying to get out of the house to go to school in the morning (not unusual). She had a meltdown. He lost his temper. He swore at her (he does get angry, but this crossed a line for him). Since then, they have barely spoken to each other. She has been hiding in her room when he is at home. She only comes out at the very last minute to go to school, and she’s making sure she’s in bed before he gets home in the evening. This is upsetting for both of them, and for me. On the one hand, Dh is sorry for losing his temper so badly and doesn’t want the tension at home to continue, but on the other hand, he is resentful of her ongoing manipulative behaviour and is appreciating that at least she has obviously been thinking about it since then. It is very unusual for her to be in any way reflective of her behaviour.
I’m at a loss at what to do. It is very difficult to talk to her. Her barriers go up as soon as anything controversial is mentioned. She struggles with verbalising her feelings. I am her safety net, which is good because I want her to feel safe with me. On the other hand, I don’t want it to be because she is avoiding her daddy. I know she is thinking about it, because she’s been asking people close to her if they “have ever said the f- word”. But she won’t talk about it beyond that. Since the incident she has been cooperating more in the morning with me, but I know it’s temporary because she doesn’t want to make daddy angry. Once this cools off, she’ll be back to her normal, uncooperative self.
Dh wants to fix his relationship with her, but doesn’t know how. He does things with her at the weekend. She had great fun last weekend when I was out and they did some of her craft activities together. But it’s so quickly forgotten as soon as we need to ask something of her again. Everything only on her terms.
Btw, we are on a waiting list for some one to one parent coaching to help us manage behaviour at home, but we can’t go on like this for 3 months that we expect that will be. Home life is becoming unbearable. I dread going home in the evening. I dread them being home together, everyone walking on eggshells so as not to set her off. Sorry this is so long. I’m feeling really down and I don’t see how any of this is going to change.
After recommendations on this board, we bought the book "the explosive child'
Its been really helpful in reframing why and how behaviors in DS occur and how to approach them and solutions from a different angle for us (me and DH) It breaks down the issue / situation and basically gets you to look at flash point areas in the kid's skills to deal with that, rather than focus on the behavior that usually comes with it. i.e. if a flashpoint is always meltdowns at turning off the tablet, the book gets you to look at what is the precursor to this, and chat through with the kid why this is difficult
He's still quite young (3) so we;re not ready for some of the techniques yet which involve sitting down with the kid, but I can definitely see how it would work
There's lots of great examples in the book which provide some context and help
Do you use PDA strategies?
What makes you think her behaviour is manipulative?
I have a nearly 9 year old dd with asd, adhd and spd. She is also tablet addicted. But it’s the adhd side. She watches it as she gets bored and it’s videos that are moving fast so she gets pleasure from it. Before you tackle dd you need to work with your dh. He’s the adult. Maybe he needs to reframe his expectations of her. Issues in getting ready for school? Maybe a task planner or a visual timetable. My dd would sit on her tablet and then gets cross if we’re rushing her to school. It’s about your dh keeping calm and being organised. I’m lucky my 10 year old sorts herself and I can sort my 5 year old out (she also has asd but isn’t as feisty). My dh is also hot headed. He’s lost his temper before and he’s now working on it because he can’t react to the kids in the way he does.
Start with your dh and then work on ways to create less stress in the mornings.
DH should stop beating himself up about losing it, it happens to everyone. Don't on any account reproach him or make it more of an issue than it needs to be. Which is a small one - swearing in front of a child having a meltdown is not that big a deal.
There's no need DD should make it an issue either, although her SN conditions make it likely that she may for a bit, as she can make a thing out of everything.
De-escalate; ignore the hiding thing and act normally. Let everyone calm down. Back to normality at the weekend - if she resists, let it go, try again next week. Good luck.
Ach it can be so hard to stay calm and cool in situations like that. Many times with hindsight I wish I'd handled it better.
Perhaps you could chat about how sometimes people say things when they are angry or frightened that they don't mean / use a social story?
How is her support at school? For us when DS was at mainstream mornings were terrible. He was clearly so anxious about that day ahead.
Now he's at SS he's so much calmer because they are so much better at managing him - he knows exactly what's going to happen everyday and they regulate him brilliantly throughout the day.
At 9 there are most likely a lot of girl 'friendship' things going on too which might be stressful.
It's always worth trying to look at the possible triggers of her behaviour is escalating (also - Xmas term - change in routine with rehearsals for play. It's the worst term I think for autistic kids).
Echo the recommendation of The Explosive Child.
Also visual timetable for the morning too if you don't use one already.
We also use a tablet in the morning because otherwise DS is at a loss with what to do and gets more worked up. It's hard tho if she's in the middle of something and it's time to go. Maybe a transition activity after tablet but before they have to leave? (Pokemon Go was brilliant at this for us for a while).
Solidarity as DS has ASD / ADHD v demand avoidant. DH is also pretty similar. It can be very hard work sometimes.
Just to say you are not alone.
You have pretty much described our life with a 10 year old pda type asd dd.
I really appreciate all the comments. It's reassuring to hear from others who go through the same.
LittleMy77 after so many recommendations for the Explosive Child, I finally ordered it yesterday so should arrive today.
theuntameableshrew I was wary when I used the word manipulative. Dh says she is manipulative. I think she is very anxious and therefore controlling and IRL I don't say she is manipulative so I don't really know why I said that here.
We have used visual timetables in the past. They work for the first couple of days, and then the novelty wears off. She knows the morning routine. She has plenty of 5 minute warnings. It's difficult knowing where to draw the line with the tablet. She has sensory processing difficulties as well. Personal grooming is a nightmare. I have to let her have the tablet in order to be able to brush her hair, so then trying to take it from her afterwards to attempt to get her to brush her teeth is another huge fight. Everything is a huge fight. We give a little, and she takes a lot. We start with boundaries, but they keep getting re-drawn. I give in too much for an easy life, and really, sometimes it helps to let her have the tablet. I'd never be able to brush her hair, etc, if we said no tablet in the morning at all (as professionals tell us we should say). But then dh hears the 'professionals' say things like "no tablet in the morning. Only one hour per day and it's a reward" and he'll use that as the new rule. But it doesn't work when I need to brush her hair and without the tablet, she has no distraction from the pain, so it becomes even more of a impossible task. Same with a punishment. He'll say "no tablet for the rest of the day". To me that's punishing everyone. I would say "no tablet for the next hour".
Marshmallow09er I don't think support at school is great. I hear from the SENCO how she is so much happier this year (to an extent, this is true. It is the first year she has had any friends). But it means they haven't reinstated some adjustments that were in place previously. However, there are certainly a couple of girls who make her life miserable and I don't feel like her teacher this year understands her as well as her last couple of teachers have.
Lots of our problems are because DH and her are very similar (he accepts himself that he has traits which were not diagnosed back in our day, but he uses this now as a reason why she has to toughen up and learn to live in the world we live in, rather than making excuses for her behaviour). They clash all the time because they both see things in black and white, no compromise. It's exhausting but I don't know how to make either of them see the grey.
This is the first in a series of videos by Ross Greene of the explosive child. My husband found these really helpful. He wouldn’t read the explosive child as he’s not a big reader
It sounds like your husband needs to understand his DD better and that you grasp her needs very well
For what it’s wirth I don’t limit screen time but the internet goes off at bedtime. My youngest DS who is autistic self regulates screen time now there are no time limits placed on him. He learns a lot from his iPad and face times friends while they’re playing on the PS4. My best friend does the same, it works well for our children
You might find unschooling philosophy worth looking into, I have so thought I’d mention it
Hope things get easier for you. My husband and I have just separated in part due to differing parenting approaches. It’s very tough I know x
If she is demand avoidant then set things up so that you aren't the ones making the demands. Eg my dds iPad has a timer on it so that she can only use each app for a specific amount of time a day. That way I'm not telling her to switch it off the iPad is just done and she can't argue with the iPad. Recently I invested in smart lightbulbs for the house now the lights turn a specific colour when it's time to do a specific thing, again I'm not telling her what to do the lights are and she can't argue with a lightbulb.
Feel your pain OP. My son is 15 and believe me it's no fun dealing with demand avoidant behaviour for every tiny thing. I've lost it. Many times. And he laughs!! He argues black is white. I don't really have much advice but look after yourselves and don't feel guilty...you're both doing your best.
Its all very well for DH to say he had these problems, so DD should just learn to cope with it, as he had too; but it may be that her problems actually have a greater impact on her; than they did him!
Its called penetrance and variable expressivity. The same genetic mutation is expressed in different ways among different individuals. Here is just one of a number of articles on the internet on this:
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