Feeling very sad for my 5 year old daughter-Divorced Single Mom

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by April2013, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. April2013

    April2013 New Member

    I am reaching out to someone who can help me, give me some support and guidance is very much welcomed. My little girl began showing signs of anger issues at a very early age. Just under two years old is what I can remember. Her Dad and I divorced, for the sake of Her and her dad, I chose to purchase a home in the same town, just blocks away from her dad. Of course, the divorce impacted my little one. When her dad would bring her home, as early as 2 I can remember her heartbreaking display of sadness. She would bang on the front door screaming for her daddy as he was leaving then turn and hit me with her coat, throw a tantrum, push me away etc. Many times, this would bring me to my knees with sadness and I would pick her up and try to sooth her, telling her I'm here, daddy loves you and I will see you tomorrow. (He was able to see her every day. He would pick her up from daycare and bring her back home around 5:30 or 6:00pm when I came home from work). Everyone was upset, her dad upset because now his time was limitted, she was upset because her dad was bringing her home and I was upset for her and him. I honestly did not know how to handle all this and my first instinct was to let her get out some of her anxiety and approach her when she was starting to calm down and except my hugs and abiltiy to sooth her. This would continue for about a year. As she approached 3 and 4 and began to understand more, she would pick up on her fathers conversations with me....(not usually nice, normally some form of criticism and often yelling)

    Her Father and I are very different, I'm calm, he's excitible, I'm not very picky, he is, he has very extreme ideas of how things should be done...(pankakes get flipped with a rubber spatula and never in a pan, must be a griddle) and his exrteme thoughts are carrying over to, no nail polish on his daughter, vitamins should be from the organic store, markers must say Waterproof on them, no ink stamps on his daughter, her shoes should not have glitter on them nor her clothing as the glitter is very toxic, and she should not take vitamins with flouride)....

    One day, he called me up screaming (she was with him), that she should not have worn a belt with glitter on it as the glitter was all over the place and he warned me about how toxic it is. When my daughter came home, she was not wearing the belt. I calmly took the belt, rubbed it on my black shirt and showed him that the gillter he is freaking out over is not from the belt, it's from a project She did in pre-school.

    Needless to say, I could not handle to close proximity anymore and talking to him and compomise was out the window. Please beleive me when I tell you, I tried very hard asking him to compromise and not to express any anger or disatisfaction towards me while she was present. I finally sold the house and moved for a fresh start, in a better school district, better town and I was hoping that things would get better. I did not move to far, only 15 minutes away and her Dad still is able to see her 2 day's a week after school and every other weekend. I realize how much he loves her but I question if his presision is confusing her more. Do I limit the amount of time between the two, do I try and arrange a 50/50 living arragement. (my head tell me, until he and I are both truly on the same parenting page this is Not an option)

    So now you have a basic idea of what I am dealing with and why my daughter is so confused....

    From the ages of 2 until present, she has been hitting me, throwing things at me, screaming that she hates me and the family (meaning me and her sister), she knocks over furniture and stomps on the floor. Is has been getting worse and now she is pulling my hair and will scratch me so hard she draws blood. I am so heartbroken for her and I am not afraid to admit I must have been doing something wrong....never with bad intentions. I should have given her more dicipline when she was little (2-3) instead, I would be gentle about it, tell her not to hit mom, I'm sorry your feeling so sad, moms here for you, when you calm down let me help you, rub her back tell her is okay you will see dad tomorrow.....what the heck did I create here? She seems to blame me or shows recentment toward me.

    I tell her all the time, I lover her, I reward her for good behavior (admittingly, when I was at the end of my rope, she was spanked for hitting me) I feel bad about that.....she's so little . I try not to beat myself up to much and remember that most of us in our 40's or 50's can remember catching a spank from mom or dad once in a while.

    I finially reached the end of the line and decided to take her to a child phychologist. We are in the very beginning stages and this is going to be a very long long road...

    What sets my 5 year old off is when you tell her, she has to get ready for bed, or it's time for dinner, pajama time, etc....if she is not ready to do any normal routine thing, her temper starts.

    Normally I would handle each of these sistuations by giving her a 5 minute warning....or we would agree when she's done coloring then it's time for pajamas, each situation is different but I think you get the point. This method is not working, point blank if she's not ready, she will not submit and im in for a 25 minute temper tantrum and prepar myself to block off her smacks etc. The phycologist suggested I restrain her when she starts to hit me.

    I am so broken up about all of this, of course I blame myself when my emotions get the best of me, my head is telling me I am really trying to do everything I can think of, positive rewards, let her know I'm here, and giving myself some releif of self blame. She just recently closed her fist and clocked me in the jaw and was laughing....it's like a game to her, how can I upset mommy....

    Then later that evening after her tantrum and after she is calm she will hug me and tell me she's sorry and she loves me, one day she made me a beautiful little drawing with "glitter gel" that said I love mom, I love mom...with her little name on it and everything.

    Can anyone please help me. sorry this is so long....
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, I doubt this is just about the divorce, although it certainly isn't helping. But I'm thinking that she probably needs an evaluation to see if other things are going on with her beyond the divorce.

    My son has gone through a divorce and has a young son (four). His wife ran off with another man and they have 50/50 custody. They are both very different, but my grandson isn't acting out the way your daughter is. He sort of did at first, but he is calming down and accepting the new arrangements and kids are resilient and do get used to two parenting styles when parents refuse to get together. This is more common than you may think! Although it sounds like your ex is rigid and extreme, also sounds like daughter likes being with him and I wouldn't stop that. I think it would cause more problems than it would end. She needs both of you in her life. It would be great if you and ex could sit down at the psychologist together, but doesn't sound like that will happen. It rarely does. Do you have soul custody of your child where you can decide all her major decisions?

    Beyond the divorce mess, and it is always a mess!, are there are psychiatric or neurological issues on either side of your child's genetic family tree? Anything she may have inherited? Any substance abuse? Any form of high or low functioning autism? Bipolar? Schizophrenia? Anything at all? How does she relate to her same age little peers? Hitting you is not "normal" even if she is going through a divorce. Most kids that age will respond to normal parenting methods, and she isn't. That's why I suggested evaluating her and I like neuropsychs for that. I have raised five kids to teenagehood and the only one who hit me when he was frustrated was my son who is on the autistic spectrum. It is not what most kids do.

    Seems like you're looking for a fix, such as "If I do this, then things will get better." It probably isn't that simple.

    Some last few questions: Do either you or your ex have a new SO? If so, how do they handle your daughter? I pesonally never saw spanking change the behavior of a child. Makes no sense to me to say "don't hit me" and then hit the child (spank).

    I think you need to get her a lot of help. The therapist is a good start, but I would get an evaluation. Your psychologist sounds like he is giving you tips for a typical child, but our difficult children rarely respond to regular parenting tactics. I would definitely get her to a neuropsychologist and go from there.

    Hugs and keep posting! Others will come along with their thoughts.
  3. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Hello and welcome. I'm very sorry you had to find us, but hope we can offer some support and help. My first question would be if their are any psychiatric or developmental issues on either side of your daughter's family tree? It sounds as though your ex may be either very controlling and emotionally abusive, or have some Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) issues (or both). It is possible that your daughter may have inherited a predisposition to any genetically based issues found in her family tree, but it is also possible that this is learned behavior.

    My own daughter was/is very difficult and negative. What helped when she was younger was creating as predictable an environment as possible, we were absolutely rigid. How does she do at school? Is she getting along with the other children? Making any friends? Any extreme behavior exhibited there? Sometimes kids hold it together at school and fall apart at home (mine did) but sometimes you can get clues as to what is going on from school.
  4. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi I agree with the others, there is probably some other complicating or underlying issue going on....if you can have her evaluated by someone who works in a field called "neuropsychology" that could be very helpful. These people are psychologists with additional training in neurology so can evaluate a broader range of challenges. How does your daughter play? Does she have any issues with attention? Is she over or under sensitive to touch, smell, sound, lights, etc. Is she rigid in what she eats or how you have to do things?

    The specific behavior problem you're describing is called difficulty with transitions. Switching from one thing to another. Often worse when switching from a preferred activity to a less preferred one but also difficult for any switch. Thats why a rigid routine helps and yes, it's hard to start that especially.

    She is so young that time limits are too vague. Many times a visual method helps. There are visual timers. But an easy method is to make small cards (use index cards punch a hole in the corner and put the cards on a ring.)

    On each card write one of the following : 1, 2, 3, Go (in green color), Stop (in red). You use the word "minute" but really the time doesn't matter as much as your routine. Use this for every transition.

    So you go up to her and happily show he 3 and say three minutes then bath (or whatever ) then some time later, show the 2 simply saying two minutes....then one, then the Go picture, "go!" time for bath........

    Happy calm voice no matter the reaction which is likely to not be good at first (afterall, this is new so itself is a transition).

    You have the stop card (used less frequently ) for times the only option is to stop an activity or behavior. You can imagine how go is more positive.

    This can be used anywhere for any activity or behavior and because its visual it uses more of her learning modalities (hearing and vision). If you're not opposed to treats, give a small reward immediately when she transitions (even if not perfect but not after aggression of course) and once she predictably following the method you can give it every other time then fade to random times.
    I've used this with my own son and many students. It is not magic and does not take all battles away but it usually dramatically reduces it because the routine becomes predictable and consistent. If she likes games practicing this (and if you can get easy child to go along with it too its a great role model) in a fun way with lots of treats helps make it a happy thing.
    May sound babyish but I swear for some kids its comforting.
    Notes : don't force her to "look" just put it in her line of vision and dont reward on a sticker chart or anything where she has to wait for a reward. That is a whole other skill and often doesn't work with g'sfg.

    There are many options like this but this is really simple and if you find you need a real life extra minute you can stretch out the presentation a tiny bit. (Don't wait long periods of time) or vice versa if you need to rush you can present them every thirty seconds.
    Many of us also use visual schedules where we put the order of the day with little pics if needed so they have a mental map of the day. It helps many kids (not all of course).

    Another often helpful phrase if she wants something right away but you need to finish something or she needs to do something else first is......." first ________, then _________."
    Remember, the ticket is routine, even if she seems to fuss at first.

    May not help you but thought I'd share something that helped us a lot.

    A couple of books that are helpful for kids who don't respond well to traditional parenting methods are "What Your Explosive Child is Trying to Tell You" by Doug Riley and "The Explosive Child " by Ross Greene.

    Glad you found us. There are many parents who have been through divorce /co-parenting challenges and I'm sure they will be supportive and helpful to you on those issues.

    Hugs, Dee
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  5. April2013

    April2013 New Member

    Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. More details for you: My daughter knows what she is doing, understands that there is a better way to be angry and she wants to try to handle her anger rather then hit.

    Her father has always been a little Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and extreme, he was raised that way. At his core, he is generous and kind but he almost has no concept of compromise and zero tolerance for open opinions. This mentality is absolutely rubbing off on my daughter and I firmly believe her issues are "learned" and hitting is the way she can express her dislike and it is eaier for her to hit rather then communicate her feelings?? I'm guessing because through the years I have always told her to use her words and she has many times screamed "your not understanding me".

    The psychologist was able to get through to him last night and I feel better today knowing a professional is starting to open his mind a bit.

    She is not sensitive to smell, touch or lights but she is a picky eater. I was a picky eater as a child and I have no disorders in my family tree.

    In school, she seems to do well. She follows instruction and is kind to other children. She does not make friends easily; I think that is because of her shyness?? Her teacher informed me that it is difficult to work one on one with my daughter and often she will smile at her teacher when asked a question. Why would this happen??

    I will re-read the thread above and learn new phrases and better time keeping tricks. I will also try to stick to routines. My gut tells me I am dealing with a child with a "learned" behavior issue and I have to find better ways to communicate, recognize her emotion so I can help transition the anger.

    Do you think a school social worker could addressing issues my daughter is having such as making friends and being able to answer questions from her teacher? Will that benefit?

    Your thoughts?
  6. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    You definitely need a good therapist for both you and your daughter, both separate and together. The right one can also help you decide how much time and what kind she should be spending with her father (obviously court will have a say in this, but the therapist can also go to court with you and speak on your daughter's behalf about what is best for your daughter).

    *HUGS* hon. Protect yourself, protect your daughter.
  7. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I disagree with the 'learned' opinion. Just look at her dad's own behavior. I am thinking it is genetic. Could be why she was so upset to leave him. They are more alike and he 'gets' her because he is the same.

    I think you are going to have a big learning experience here that may even have you understanding your ex a bit better.

    Just my opinion.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I disagree with learned behavior too for either her or her father, but the issue is her. My feeling is that if s he isn't evaluated, she will just get more into herself and frustrated. High functioning autism (Aspergers) comes to mind. The shyness with other kids and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) behaviors lean that way. I think a neuropsychologist would help her and you the most.

    My guess is that a behavioralist will not help her nor can a therapist. in my opinion she needs other interventions, not those. Many of us have tried only to find that they did not work with our differently wired children. I think that she is genetically wired like her father and keeping her away from him would upset her and not change her one bit, other than to make her upset that she can't see him. Although she knows what she is doing and that it upsets you, that doesn't mean she can control how she behaves. I think something is going on that prevents her from acting on what she knows, and that it is not behavioral in nature.

    Good luck, whatever you decide to do.
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    At least, none that you know of.

    Just reading your posts on this thread again...
    I'm going to echo the others and say that it sure sounds like she's wired differently.
    For example, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)/Aspie kids can often "say" the right thing, but what it means to them is not what it means to you - OR, it may mean the right thing but only in certain settings (they don't generalize well). Picky eating can be a sign of sensory integration issues.

    You have the most to gain by getting a comprehensive evaluation and understanding what your child is really dealing with. Therapists, in general, have been a wash-out for our family - because they are not trained in how to deal with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)/Aspie kids, and the kids are not wired to work well with talk therapy...
  10. April2013

    April2013 New Member

    Hello busywend,

    I think your reply was dead on.

  11. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Yes, it will help, but don't rely on it as the ONLY help, just as extra help.
  12. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks! That does not happen often - haha! I do think you will end up parenting her in nonRtraditional ways. Which is hard because we are comfortable with what we believe is right. It just is not always right for every child.
  13. April2013

    April2013 New Member

    Thank you for the additional eye opener. I am in the process of taking suggestions seriously and looking to have her further evaluated. She could very be a Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)/Aspie child. Thanks to all for taking time out of your busy day's to help me!!!
  14. Angela41

    Angela41 New Member

    Oh my goodness! It sounds like your husband had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - it's a heritable condition and causes outbursts if the person is unable to complete rituals or has to deal with unpredictability. People with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) have obsessive, perseverative thought processes, which is why it coexists with conditions like Aspergers. Given your husband's situation, it's imperative that you talk with a specialist about your daughter. Sounds like you're doing that. I would dispute that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is learned- perhaps worsened by an environment, but not learned. I've read that it's a biological condition, tending to run in families, and can respond well to therapy and if necessary, medication.