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Completely exhausted and in tears of DD behaviour - sorry very long post

(23 Posts)
MrsTliveshere Mon 03-Dec-18 10:03:44

I’m at the end of my tether with my 12year old DD (13 next Spring). She has always been prone to a bit of drama and the behavior below has been going on since she was around 8. After she leaves for school each morning I just feel like crying because I am so worried and scared and exhausted by her stroppy and unreasonable behaviour.

It’s as if she is constantly trying to get our attention which is so confusing for us (DH and I) because we feel as if we do give her lots of attention specifically because we have an older disabled sibling in the house (he has support workers with him so he is not always needing our support.) We have actively been mindful to spend plenty of time with her doing things she wants to do because we know there is an impact on family life. We live offshore so I take her to London several times a year to see things she wants to see, holidays without the older sibling, games, bike rides, baking, you name it we do it, special times just with her. Mainly all she wants to do is watch YouTube.

To try and give a snapshot of the things that we are finding tricky:

She seems to have no acknowledgement that she should be responsible for her behaviour and for the things that she needs to do for example we negotiated and have a chart to remind her to clean her teeth or have a shower both of which she resists and argues about.

She expects expensive gifts so for example she frequently asks us for an iPhone X which we have said no to (she has an iPhone 7) and every time she asks and every time we say no she has a tantrum over it.

She doesn’t help with any chores in the house and if you ask her to help contribute we get the rolling eyes and attitude which makes you want to ask her to leave the room because she is causing such an atmosphere that you don’t ask her because you don’t want to deal with the fallout.

Her old brother has his own income and so is able to purchase things that he wants so she is angry about that because she feels that it’s not fair that he can buy what he wants and she cannot. We’ve explained to her that he has his own income and we have given her a list of chores that she can do around the house, which would probably earn her about £15 an hour, but she doesn’t want to do it. I have also sat with her and asked her what things around the house she would like to do so we can agree those, rather than me imposing, but she doesn’t want to even discuss it.

She has a dream to go to an American university however as things are currently looking she is not going to make one of the grades. We have offered to support her at home, we have signed up to two different organisations and classes but she goes once and then doesn’t want to go again. I’ve explained to her that if she wants to go to this university she needs to start now to pick up the grades in the subject that she is not doing as well in but she seems unfazed.

She begs us to get her things ie she wanted to set up a slime shop to sell to make a profit. So we bought the supplies, she made the slime but then didn’t want to make the effort to sell it and was then furious when we refused to buy any more supplies. BTW we do make it clear what the agreement is at the beginning so she knows. Sometimes we even write it down and get her to sign it as otherwise she says we didn’t tell her.

She begged us to let her join army cadets and we were pretty sure that she would go a couple of times and never want to go back again. We had this conversation with her she told us it was all going to be different this time so she went to the introductory classes then we paid the joining fee; she went again once and then refused to go back again because all the other cadets had uniforms and she didn’t. There is a six week wait to get your uniform once you have paid – she knew this.

Fake illnesses including telling me that she couldn’t see the blackboard in class and she needed glasses I didn’t believe her but I took her to the opticians anyway where they did an eye test on her without any lenses in. She said couldn’t read the letters so the optician put in some fake lenses and suddenly she could read everything – he told me in front of her – imagine how that went down! She told me that her foot was painful so I took her to the foot specialist paid privately so that we wouldn’t have to wait on the health service in case there was a real problem. The foot specialist said that she needed insoles which cost £400, however, fortunately an x-ray was needed first which she could not authorise so I got appointment with the Doctor who looked at her feet and was not convinced so sent her to the orthopedic surgeon and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with her feet. She frequently wets and defecates herself and she said she cannot hold it – again hospital tests – nothing wrong with her.

We have to turn down invites to social events or we no longer go out for dinner or lunch where you would also take your kids because her behavior is so unpredictable we daren’t go – she will have tantrums or be deliberately be rude to us to try and get us to rise to it.

She recently began cutting her wrist. I know that this is very serious, and I know that for somebody to do this to get attention is just as serious with somebody who is doing it because they really do feel depressed, but I feel this is something that she was doing this to up the anti. This resulted in lots of attention at school with passes to leave class whenever she wants and she can come and call me whenever she wants. After a few weeks of this we explained to her that we were going to be cancelling our holiday to America next year because we would not be able to get her covered under our insurance due to the mental health issues. I also wanted her to understand that regardless of why she’s cutting herself using this as a method to get the anger out or seek attention is not going to get her the things she wants and will impact her life negatively. After I explained this to her the self harming stopped instantly and she then started saying I’m better now can we go to America but I have said that we need to wait and a year and to be honest I really do not want to go on holiday with her to be on eggshells the whole time.

Since year six we originally tried to ignore the behavoiur, we’d talk about it and explain why it was inappropriate, but we tried the softly approach. This didn’t work. We moved to rewarding every positive little thing she did – no difference. We began taking things away and giving them back 24 hours later, didn’t work so took away longer – still didn’t work. We have taken away the internet, ipad, phone, games controllers, tv rights, sleepovers. I began tidying her room in barter for better behavior and to show her I loved her and wanted to make her life easier – didn’t work. In October we took away pocket money and she has to complete the items on her chart, ie, brush teeth, homework, shower, get school bag ready – all things she should do anyway – if she wants pocket money. Doesn’t care – no change.

I really really really do not know what to do. I have been involved with the early intervention team, I have taken her to the doctors, I have paid for her to see a psychiatrist privately we are now waiting to see CAMHS.

I guess I am really scared that if she doesn’t find some self control and motivation her life will go down the tubes – seems a bit dramatic at 12 I know but I want to stop it escalating before we find out she is doing drugs and having unprotected sex at 14.

I am incredibly mindful not to get into the arguments, I remain calm, no shouting from us (I go to the toilet if I feel it getting the better of me), DH and I are a team, consequences are discussed prior to being actioned on. I try to see everything from her point of view and see both sides to the argument. I’m not sarcastic or rude. We both give her cuddles and kisses and tell her we love her every day.

We feel like we are going absolutely insane with this behavior; has anybody got any words of support or wisdom to help.

Lweji Mon 03-Dec-18 10:07:50

What did the psychiatrist say?

MrsTliveshere Mon 03-Dec-18 10:21:09

The aim was to move to family sessions and I feel that DD was hoping the psychiatrist would say that we were horrible parents and should give DD everything she wants! However, DD didn't want to move forward with the family sessions and the psychiatrist felt that was an important next step by DD refused to go back after that was suggested.

In terms of what psychiatrist said to us; she felt DD was immature for her age and had difficulties explaining what it was that was bothering her about our parenting, stating it was quite contradictory and didn't make sense when probed. She gave DD several strategies over the months to help her with her anger but reported that DD did not feel they worked and we felt she had not given them a chance.

We asked DD if she wanted to try a different psychiatrist but she said didn't. She has been seeing the school counsellour who has pretty much echoed what the psychiatrist said. Obviously, the sessions are confidential and we have explained to DD that this is a safe place to say whatever she wants. After sessions I ask her if she wants to discuss anything that came up and if she says no I just leave it.

A580Hojas Mon 03-Dec-18 10:28:54

Heartfelt sympathies op. Your daughter sounds very like the dd of an ex friend who has, eventually (after years of disruption and unhappiness, school refusal, fake physical illnesses, meltdowns and major anxiety) now been diagnosed with autism. Female autism presents very differently to male autism - have a google and see what you think?

RickOShay Mon 03-Dec-18 10:37:26

flowers for you lovely
It’s NOT your fault. You are doing everything you can and imho everything right. I have a 16 yo dd who is uncannily similar. All I can say is stand your ground and hope for the best.

RickOShay Mon 03-Dec-18 10:38:08

Feel free to pm me if you would like to chat

AmaryllisNightAndDay Mon 03-Dec-18 14:47:15

I agree with pp, have a google of girls and autism spectrum and especially pathological demand avoidance. Also google around sensory integration, because resisting showers and toothbrushing, and having weird issues around toiletting could be sensory. (As far as I know there is no physical hospital test for these types of sensory issue, diagnosis is all based on observed behaviour.)

There is quite a lot of logic and consistency in your DD's behaviour, even if not in the way she verbalises it. She has "bright ideas" which obsess her for a while but which she can't follow through. She seems desperate to blame anything (including inventing physical problems) and anyone for the things she tries and fails, and for the things that she finds unusually difficult, perhaps because she needs (and it may be a real need) to see herself as "perfect" and "successful". She is very immature and can't take responsibility for herself in the way that most children her age can.

We have to turn down invites to social events or we no longer go out for dinner or lunch where you would also take your kids because her behavior is so unpredictable we daren’t go – she will have tantrums or be deliberately be rude to us to try and get us to rise to it.

This seems less a deliberate attempt at sabotage and more a message "I am not coping in this social situation" You haven't said, but I am guessing she is not popular with other children her age and that her social skills around her peers are also poor?

I remain calm, no shouting from us (I go to the toilet if I feel it getting the better of me), DH and I are a team, consequences are discussed prior to being actioned on.

Calm is good. You might also look at an approach that is less reliant on consequences, since it's ineffective to consequence things that DD can't help, and it's seems hard to hard to judge what is really an unusual "can't" and what is a real "wont" for her. Quite a few of us with, ahem, interesting children have got good value from Ross Greene's Explosive Child book and Lives in the Balance website. And the approach may make thinmgs easier even if your DD doesn't have an autism type condition, as it doesn't depend on any specific diagnosis.

I began tidying her room in barter for better behavior and to show her I loved her and wanted to make her life easier – didn’t work.

smile Tidying is still excruciating with my DS (high functioning ASC, 20 yo, very clever and successful in many ways!) and we still do it together. DS can put specific things in specific places - socks always go in the sock compartment - but he really struggles to figure out what to do with general "stuff". Not that people would know he struggles, he just gets very ratty and un-co-operative.

Floofboopborkandsnoot Mon 03-Dec-18 16:04:20

I’m so sorry you’re going through this. flowers for you.

I agree though, some of this this sounds a lot like a school friend of mine who everyone thought was just attention seeking or being difficult. It wasn’t until she was 19 I think that she got diagnosed with autism and everything made sense. She got the right help and support and honestly it was like a different person, everything we loved about her shone through and all the parts she struggled with she got help to manage.

Autism is very different in girls and I would never have thought she had it until she told me. Definitely worth checking out.

ragged Mon 03-Dec-18 20:44:48

What is she like when she's happy & nice to be around? What does she do or talk about?

Does she get rewarded with positive attention when she's being pleasant company?

Sundance2741 Mon 03-Dec-18 22:55:40

Autism and / or ADHD sprang to my mind. My dd has ADHD and has had social communication problems. She finds organisation very difficult, gives up on anything remotely challenging, needs help tidying, reminders to wash, won't do chores unless nagged and does the least possible she can get away with. A lot of it is down to poor executive functioning skills. She's 18 now and will still sometimes rush out the house without checking her phone is charged, that she has money and her bus pass etc. Rewards don't work even if she really wants them - she can't really keep them in mind or else summon the motivation to bother trying to get them. If motivated she can be amazing at sorting things out which makes it look deliberate but I don't believe it is - it really is usually a case of "can't" not "won't".

I suggest you read up on autism, ADHD and PDA (pathological demand avoidance). Also executive functioning. Find different ways to parent her as she's not going to change. Forget consequences and look for ways of scaffolding her to achieve things.

MrsTliveshere Tue 04-Dec-18 09:00:17

Thanks for all the messages will look into the suggestions. I read up a bit on autism in girls yesterday - it doesn't seem like her but I'm no expert.

DD is popular, has lots of friends and people say how charming she is.
She also consistently gets achievement marks for adding to the school community (usually at least one a week). These are awards when teachers notice the girls going the extra mile and usually involve helping others. She sings and represents her year group as soloist. Recently auditioned for a prestigious choir and got in, she is not fazed by the public performances. She mixes very easily in groups, even when she doesn't know the others and good at leading, she'll take charge if she sees nothing is happening rather than stand around but she isn't bossy with it. She's also very good at sharing what she call's 'beef' at school and all the gossip.

When she is having a good day she is kind and loving, funny, very witty. She is so bubbly and lights up the room. She is also very kind and supportive with her older sibling. She is very affectionate - this is all the time actually even when there is tension.

If she is having a sad day, a day when she says she feels really sad but doesn't know why, she will seek me out and tell me. We have cuddles and try to talk through it but she is not keen to try things which might help, such as exercise, even walking the dogs (one of which is hers) or getting outside or distraction so I feel rather helpless as I don't want to push her and then she avoids telling me when she feels bad in case I make her do something.

I bought Divas and Doorslammers and am reading through that - it's helping my perception and will definitely check out the other suggestions too.

AmaryllisNightAndDay Tue 04-Dec-18 10:47:39

Well her social abilities are a bit of a surprise to me smile though there again, I have a young relative who is a just a little older than your DD, she is a great performer and socially doesn't appear to have serious difficulties, but she also has huge anxieties and she too has a very recent ASC diagnosis, so who knows?

But I am glad to hear about your DD's social abilities and her warmth, they are a very good sign. You might feel a bit less worried if rather than seeing your DD heading straight for trouble in life, maybe try to see her as someone who might face some very real challenges but also has real strengths that will help her get through them.

flowers to you, and to your DD.

Lara53 Tue 04-Dec-18 15:50:35

I would echo what others have said about possible Autism spectrum condition or ADHD. A lot of what you say sounds familiar

ragged Tue 04-Dec-18 18:53:32

Maybe she's just a madam.
You do sound kind of indulgent, if I'm honest.
My DD has a mile wide entitled streak, would be worse if she was used to being indulged.

JeanMichelBisquiat Tue 04-Dec-18 18:59:59

She frequently wets and defecates herself and she said she cannot hold it – again hospital tests – nothing wrong with her.

OP, this sprang out at me. It seems really, really unlikely that she'd be doing that on purpose at her age - and if she's not, then there must be something wrong with her. Healthcare professionals will often say there's nothing wrong when whatever they've checked for comes back negative. That doesn't mean there's nothing wrong. I'd really be inclined to dig a bit deeper on that and push for further investigations - she can't just be left with continence issues with zero explanation.

JeanMichelBisquiat Tue 04-Dec-18 19:01:45

Sorry - to clarify - if she's actually doing it deliberately, that would also be indicative of something wrong, just a different kind of something!

PerfectPeony Tue 04-Dec-18 19:10:52

*She frequently wets and defecates herself and she said she cannot hold it – again hospital tests – nothing wrong with her.*

When I first read your post, to be honest I was thinking that she is just very spoiled and like a PP said- you have been quite indulgent of her behaviour. (Sorry I don’t mean to be rude- you sound like a great Mum, but I would never have been able to get away with a lot of that behaviour when young.) Then I read this part which really stood out- for her age I think this is quite concerning if she is regularly having accidents. I think there must be something wrong- I hope you get some answers soon.

PerfectPeony Tue 04-Dec-18 19:11:48

Cross post with Jean! But yes, agree this is a big indicator. I hope she is able to get some help.

CrabbityRabbit Tue 04-Dec-18 20:29:46

Not feeling when she needs to defecate/urinate until its too late is a symptom of sensory processing difficulties. Often comorbid with autism.

JeanMichelBisquiat Wed 05-Dec-18 09:39:28

^^ What Crabbity said

BTWifiwithFON Sun 09-Dec-18 00:52:43

Yet another one agreeing this could well be autism. My DD erupted at puberty in similar ways, also massive gender issues and school refusal and eventually was diagnosed with autism, dyspraxia and anxiety. Age 14 was the worst. The obsessions, health anxiety, insomnia and constant rage was horrendous. I really hope you can get some help.

MrsTliveshere Mon 10-Dec-18 08:27:39

Thank you to everyone who has replied.

I've sometimes felt as I can't do right for doing wrong. There have been many many times when I have just wanted to tell her to pull her socks up and get over herself but I have always had this feeling that there is something going on which is causing the anger. I will bring up all the suggestions re Autism etc at our CAMHS appointment.

I have felt that I needed to go through the steps I have taken based on the professional info that I have read and received. All the professionals we have so far been involved with have told me I am doing the right thing.

I also feel though that she is a little madam and its time for some super tough love.

We have remained strong on the slime shop. I bought a Circle device so I can turn off the internet to all her devices at the flick of a switch. She has had no pocket money now since October as she is not completing her chart nor got on board with the tasks. I am not buying her things when we are out unless they are essential, ie, she needed new school shoes.

I am of the view that people only continue behaviours that work for them. She is really strong-willed - however, I turned off the internet on Thursday, all game controllers removed and eventually on Saturday she tidied her room properly - a small glimmer of hope!

All pleading and nagging and bartering has stopped and if she tries to get into an argument with me I tell her calmly that I am not prepared to discuss it any further.

So far so good - I am ignoring the fact that she is not doing the things she needs to do or the puppy dog eyes because she has no money - that was her decision so her consequences.

I have also put on our blackboard:

"Past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour" and everytime I get the "I will do it" - I point to it.

I'm now going to hide under the duvet!!!

AmaryllisNightAndDay Mon 10-Dec-18 16:45:18

Do what you need to do, and see what works. I used a mix'n'match of Explosive Child, conventional parenting and ASC specific, and some days nothing seemed to work. But every child is different. Stay strong and find your own best balance.

I'm now going to hide under the duvet!!!

I go to a nice quiet office grin

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