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5 Year Old Severe Screaming/Tantrums
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5 Year Old Severe Screaming/Tantrums

I am really in need of some help. My daughter who is 5 1/2 has completely digressed ever since she began Kindergarten. She was Very excited to go to school, but after a few days she began talking about wanting to be a baby and how she didnt like school. We transfered her to another school in November (we were on a waiting list) and she is continuing to get worse
Here are some examples of her bahaviors:
- screaming, biting, crying, yelling, hitting, saying  "you dont love me, your not gonna be my mommy anymore"- because I did not carry her upstairs at bedtime - this lasted an hour
- Screaming, crying, throwing herself on the floor saying same things  because we wanted her to go to her church daycare and then later after we picked her brother up from the church daycare because he got a licorice and she didnt because she didnt attend the childcare.
- yesterday same thing when I took her to school and it was time for me to leave in the morning
- last night same thing after school event - my husband had driven there seperately and she was histerical because she missed him and wanted him to stay in the car. It seems like seperation anxiety, We have three children 5 1/2 4 yrs old and 2 yrs old and I am emotionally exhausted. I feel like I have failed her somehow, or she has some mental illness that I did not recognize earlier. I dont know how to help with the school situation either. I am going to try to arrange some playdates so she can develop some freindships but will that even help with these outbursts?
What can I do in the moment so that I dont compelety loose it - yesterday I went into the parking lot and cried - last night I wanted to spank. I am at the end of my thin thin rope and my husband and I need help. I really appreciate any insight or advice. THANK YOU!

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   I think every parent has spent some time hiding in a car crying, but I am glad you got out your frustration that way instead of spanking your daughter--that took a lot of self-control and you did both her and yourself a big favor. Spanking tends to increase aggression and anxiety, so you do not want to go down that road.

   Sometimes problems that were there developing over time are revealed when we change something for the child--placing her in school is a perfect example. Often children who become aggressive after a new stressful event are highly anxious, and are becoming aggressive in a desperate attempt to maintain control. Little children who are this aggressive tend to be very unhappy, frustrated and anxious people. Their behaviors are happening for a reason, they are not random. For some reason your little girl does not have any better way she can think of to cope with feeling overwhelmed. Try to think of the behavior in those terms--that she is trying very hard to deal with strong emotions that are very upsetting to her.

   I would recommend you seek the help of a psychologist who specializes in young children. First visit your pediatrician to rule-out anything medical that could be causing behavioral changes, and ask for a referral. The psychologist may recommend an assessment (see my Medhelp article on Developmental Assessment to learn more), or may recommend you begin therapy. The most effective therapy at this point will include significant time spent working with you, the parents. You and your husband can learn positive ways of helping her choose better coping behaviors than the ones she is using now. You can also improve your ability to understand things from your daughter's perspective and learn 'emotion coaching' (helping her identify, label and deal with her emotions). Ask for a clinician who uses Parent Mangement Training or Parent Effectiveness Training, but make sure you do not end up with a clinician who wants to work exclusively with your child without involving you in the process. Individual therapy for her alone is  not likely to lead to much change.

In the meantime, check out these books: The Kazdin Method by Alan Kazdin (an excellent guide to positive behavior management) and How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (an amazing guide to preventing and reducing power struggles through improved communication). Good luck.

Best Wishes
Rebecca Resnik
Disclaimer: This Medhelp post is written for informational purposes only. It is never intended to replace face to face psychological or medical care. This Medhelp post is not intended to create a patient-clinician relationship, nor to give or rule-out a diagnosis.
1 Comment
Have you ever heard of Love and Logic parenting?  I have had an amazing experience with it.  We were having some extremely stressful situations with our 4.5 year old son and the local elementary school was offering this class for parents.  Check out the website, there's even podcasts and lots of books.  It will help you remain calm and in control while you handle your child in a very firm and loving way.  Good luck!
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