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7-year old daughter has major rages/tantrums
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7-year old daughter has major rages/tantrums

My daughter is 7 years old.  In most situations, she's a very happy, well-behaved, pleasant girl.  She's does excellent in school and gets along well with others.  She is somewhat shy and typically takes awhile to warm up to new people and/or situations and she is quite attached to me (her mom) and often wants to be with me.  At the same time, once she gets comfortable she is very friendly and outgoing and has many friends.  

Since she was toddler, she has demonstrated major tantrums in which she completely loses control, often for long periods of time.  We've found nothing that can help her get back under control (time-outs, holding her, rewards/consequences, leaving her alone, etc) and sometimes these tantrums last an hour or two or longer.  Although the rate of these tantrums have decreased over the years, the intensity is increasing.  She now has them about once a month.  When they occur, she now will often hit and kick me.  Nothing seems to help her get under control.  She refuses to be by herself, but being with her accomplishes nothing.  Since she behaves violently to me, I try to get her to take some time to herself, but she refuses to remain on her own and will literally chase me if I try to get away from her.  I've even locked myself in a room, in which she just bangs and kicks on the door.  These events have lasted as long as 2-3 hours and can be just horrible.  They never occur anywhere but home and usually just in front of our family (my husband and I, or her brother), but she recently did one while a friend was over (really scared her friend).  After she finally calms down, she is extremely pleasant.  One time she acknowledge she'd gotten out of control and said "but I'm okay now."  She seems to recognize, after the fact, that her behavior was disproportionate to the problem.

In contrast to her behavior with friends and at school, she can be quite bossy with her younger brother.  Often they get along well, but she likes to be in charge, make the rules and have things her way.  Although she is usually very pleasant with me, she gets in moods where she is quite disreptful and talks back. Sometimes these behaviors have escalated to a tantrum when things aren't going her way.

I've been at a loss as to where to turn.  We've spoken with her physician, but she didn't have a lot to offer.  I'm not sure if this is just a maturity issue, if perhaps she has a mental disorder, and I've even wondered if she could have problems with managing her blood sugar as after once incident she was extremely hungry, but 2-3 hours of screaming and crying may do that to you.  

I will add that I had this problem as well.  It seemed to improve as I got older, but I recall incidences in my teens and 20's.  I'm now in my mid-30's and it hasn't occured in years.  I'd never recognized the pattern, so never thought to see if there was something I could do about it, but I'm hoping my daughter will not have to deal with this for another 20 years.
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The fact that these episodes occur only within the family setting suggests that the behaviors are not symptomatic of a mood disorder (e.g., depression, bipolar disorder). If so, the major intervention will consist of a systematic method of behavior management. Such a system involves (a) a contingency system whereby she 'earns' privileges by displaying control over her anger - i.e., she does not display such tantrums; and (b) a discipilnary plan whereby she is punished for any episodes he does display. It would be prudent to arrange for an evaluation by a pediatric mental health professional (e.g., child psychologist, clinical social worker) both to rule out any mental illness and to help you design a systematic behavior management program.
4 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
This sounds a lot like my daughter..same age etc.  She also does well in school, has alot of friends, only has reactions at home etc...It seemed to start escalating shortly before kindergarten and things have progressively gotten worse - to the point that she cries that she wishes she weren't like this and hates her life.  She also "bounces" off the walls,can not "remember" what she needs to do to get ready for school in the AM, hates having her hair combed -"it hurts", can not handle sudden changes in plans, hates the way socks feel, can not fall asleep easily, has energy to burn - all the time , even after playing a baseball game, soccer game and karate class.  I called a Pediatric physical/occupational/speech therapy clinic and talked to the social worker.  She suggested an O.T. evaluation for Sensory Processing Disorder.  She started O.T. and has improved  A LOT in the past 4 months (although she resisted the whole thing at first)- she has occasional outbursts now instead of several/day, will go to a time out most of the time, has decreased the physicalness of the attacks etc.  I suggest reading "The out-of-sync child" by carol kranowitz to see if any of the behaviors sound like your daughter.  Also I think my husband acted similar to this as a child and at times still does...I've been told SPD is thought to have a genetic link.
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Avatar_n_tn
It's so comforting to hear my child being described in the previous posts.  I have a 7 year old daughter who is also having bad tantrums.  They have increased in intensity and she is now having issues going to school (although does not have any behavioral problems at school, it's strictly home). She also does not like wearing socks because they have "bumps" in them. I have given into her tantrums in the past because I am exhausted dealing with her. I have two other children who are now afraid and tired from hearing her cry.  We have recently started putting our foot down and are working with a psychologist. It is the most exhausting and frustrating thing I know of.
It's interesting to hear of the OT therapy.  I will have to inquire about it. Problem is getting her to these places.  She is a big child and I no longer can physically make her do things.  I wish I had put my foot down earlier with all this.
Any suggestions please forward.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi, my 8 year old is pretty much described also in these posts!  Good not to be alone for a change!  It turns out she's got Autistic Spectrum Disorder (although it's not in the least obvious, it comes out as odd quirks, rigidity and sensory issues especially with her hearing, not to mention being unable to wear socks (we get her those surf shoes, doesn't need socks then) among other things.  

We've had her on Zoloft for a year and it seems to dampen down the level of anxiety and the hearing sensitivity but still have the tantrums, verbal and physical abuse.  In the last month I've had a lot of luck with her diet!  We found a really good allergy doctor who's not only a GP, but is also into natural medicine.  He put her on a 'baseline' diet which cuts out all gluten, wheat sugar, dairy, beef and quite a few fruits and veg (probably salicylates and amines) which has immediately made her a lot easier to live with day to day.  Every month we're introducing new items and observing the reactions.  At the moment oil looks like a big no no as well.  This doctor feels she may be hypoglycemic as well as sensitive to a lot of food items (forget all numbers, colours, and preservatives).  In this case hypoglycemic isn't part of diabetes, its the version meaning low blood sugar.  I suppose eventually there'll be a test to determine that.  Its hard but she cooperates with it because she has noticed the difference in herself.  I tell her some foods are okay for everbody else, but like poison to her.

So I heartily suggest going to a food allergy doctor in your various investigations.(one who REALLY knows his/her stuff).  It's important to have the right back up as the child needs the right vitamins etc on such a diet.

good luck
xara
:)
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