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At the end of my rope
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At the end of my rope

I am a single mom to a beautiful seven year old little girl.  She has a really bad temper (which she inherits from her ex-Marine uncle) and lately she has been lashing out with violence.  She has always been really stubborn and had the "I'm going to do what I want" mentality, but usually that's just with me.  She is a different kid with my Mom and my grandmother.  She just doesn't yell and scream at them and try to hit them the way she does me.  I have put an abrupt end to these things when they happen and have further punished by grounding, taking things away, or prolonged visits to the time out chair, when the spankings don't work.  So, I thought, maybe I was getting through to her when she went for about two weeks without raising a hand to me.  Well, just yesterday, my Mom received a phone call from school saying that my daughter had kicked a little boy in the private.  when I questioned her on it, her only response was "because he made me mad."  This is the fourth time this year we have had instances of her getting in trouble for being violent with other kids at school.  I don't know what to do anymore.  I have cried for the past two days because I have found a way to somehow make myself feel really responsible.  Maybe I work too much and don't spend enough quality time with her.  Maybe she's angry about something and doesn't feel like she can come to me because we are always busy with something (either housework, my job, or my full-time enrollment in college).  I don't know what it is, and I need help figuring it out.
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As a parent, I never feel like I spend the exact correct amount of time with my daughter. Either it's too much or too little. For many years my husband worked 1st shift and I worked 2nd shift. Life is busy and as long as you are trying to keep food on the table and a roof over your head you are doing the right thing. Try not to be so hard on yourself.

Have you had your daughter screened for a developmental disability? If she does have one it's not your fault. I say this because my daughter has autism and has the worst tantrums. She screams and throws things. I'm not saying your daughter has autism, but it could be something else. I will tell you one thing, spanking a child to teach them that hitting is wrong is very confusing. How does hitting prove hitting is wrong? I think that at 4 years old children don't usually act out to be bad, they are trying to tell you something that they cannot figure out how to put into words. (I am NOT saying you shouldn't punish her though, just try and figure out why she is acting that way).

If her doctor does find a diagnosis the good news is you can get free help in your home. You can hire a PCA. Your insurance pays a home care agency who pays the PCA to help watch your daughter. They can help keep her calm, entertained, feed her, or bathe her.
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If you have a full-time job and full-time enrollment in college, I would guess there is a deficit in terms of time for her.  Not that she shouldn't be evaluated, but be sure to mention a true accounting of how much or how little one-on-one time you have together where your head isn't on school, job or housecleaning.
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Hi there.  Sorry you are going through a rough patch with your little girl.  A couple of things jump out at me.  You mention her dad.  Is he in the picture any longer?  As you say that he has a temper, has she been exposed to volatility??  Kids sometimes learn to address problems in a similar fashion to their parents.  Parents who yell and scream often have children that do so.  The same theory goes for spanking.  We hit when we are upset with our child which really sends a mixed message to them that hitting someone is appropriate when mad.  So, I think that starting at this spot is good to do.  That toning things down in terms of how you yourself handle anger will be helpful to her.

Now, what happens wtih a lot of volatile adults is that they never learned how to handle anger, frustration, disappointment, etc. as a child.  You can do your child a huge favor by helping her learn how to handle things like this now!

So, how can you help her handle anger better?  One thing you can do is look for what triggers her.  This is important knowledge so you can talk about events/triggers before they happen and have a game plan.  You can talk to her about a stress thermometer.  This is a way for young kids to moniter when they are getting out of control and calm themselves back down.  You draw a simple thermometer with the ball at the end and call this just right and color it her favorite color.  My son's is green.  This is where she is calm, nothing is wrong, she is happy, at peace, content.  Talk about what this feels like with her.  What is her body doing (smiling, relaxed, voice is calm, etc.).  This is where people should want to be and the goal is to stay there or get back there.  Then color the next portion up another color like yellow.  This is when she begins to leave 'just right' and is getting agitated, upset, bad feelings are brimming.  Talk about what this feels like to her and what her body is doing.  (smile gone, voice getting a little louder, body tensing, breathing harder, etc.).  Then color another section above such as orange.  This is where she is visibly angry and very upset.  Talk about what her body is doing and how she feels ---  she's probably yelling, saying mean things, body tense, heart pounding, etc.  and then color the last section red. Always red. This is where she's lost control and blown up. She is yelling, kicking you, hitting.  This is NEVER okay. The goal is to notice when she is becoming yellow or orange and then do something to calm herself back down.  

Things she can do is to use her words and explain what she is upset about, she can go to a cool down spot and be alone to calm herself (my boys use a pillow pile behind some chairs)---  here no one can bother her and she sits and tries to calm herself, she can count to 10, she can take deep breaths (square breathing is something she can try--  breath in for 4, hold 4, breath out for 4, hold 4, repeat)), she can open and close her fists tightly, etc.  All known ways to calm down.

On  your end, I do know when I have a bit too much going on and am trying to make it all work, I tend to be less patient myself with my kids.  less fun.  More drill sargent like.  So, think about when you are in this mode and tone yourself down.  it's not her fault that you have a lot on her plate.  She also needs some time set aside just for her activities.  I'd make sure she gets physical activity every day such as running outside, bike riding, swim lessons, soccer, karate, dance, etc.  It really helps keep kids in check.

There is a book I recommend called "love and logic".  It's main theory is that consequences are the teacher.  You never have to get mad because you take something away or such which it sounds like you have tried.  Read the Love and Logic book to take that to another level.  

Also, there is a book called "Hands are not for Hitting."  i really think that would be a good read for her.  

good luck
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