Help! 5 yr old irritable dafiant, hates clothes

Hello everyone!

I am new to the group. I hope to learn lots and maybe even help in some ways!

I am a mom to 2 very trying children. difficult child 2 is the one I am posting about this evening. She is 5 yrs old and out of control! We have had a problem since right before she turned 3.

Here is a few of her problems-

dafiant, argumentative, strong willed, irritable, unappreciatative, moody, has seperation anxiety (birthday parties, church, school, everywhere) sensitive to clothing (shoes, socks, pants shirts, dresses etc) very careful and afraid to do certain things, frustrated easily-if she messes up doing something she gets so mad and will hit herself or whatever is close, always gets mad when playing with friends- she says they don't want to play with her, anxiety builds when she is nervous about something or has to leave me, strongly dislikes school- she says she hates it, perfectionist, she has a very big problem listening- we ask her to do something and its like pulling teeth to get her to do anything, we have used many different discipline techniques- taken priviledges, rewarded good behavior, charts, spankings, taken all of toys away and she earned them back, time outs, nothing works! She has said something like this once before, " I wish that car would hit me so I could die." It was only once but that once was enough!!!
Hitting is a big problem for her. If she is mad, 9 times out of 10, she will hit herself, the wall, has even hit sister, or throws whatever is in her hands. Getting dressed everyday is a problem. She gets mad about whatever she is wearing. Even when she picks it out. No matter what clothes, shoes it is, she will get mad about the clothes, she says they bother her.

Her delightful side-

very bright child, she is so smart, started tying her shoes at 4, rode her bike early, large vocabualary and speaks very well, wonderful memory, and there is more but you get the point.

We haven't seen a dev. pediatrician yet but we seen a child psychologist. She wasn't helpful at all! She basically said that Madison was at a disadvantage because of her intelligence and her ability. She said that it would be hard to get any services because she would be able to handle whatever is thrown her way. Well to a certain point I agree, but then again if she was fine we wouldn't be going to see a psychologist/ or any other doctors.

I am not sure if she has anything, or if she does have something I can't place what it is. Maybe ODD, ADD, I am not sure.

I would love to hear any of your opinions!
Thank you in advance!

Hubby- my husband, 27 no diagnosis but very stubborn!

myself- 25 have always had comprehension problems, no diagnosis

difficult child 1- 7 severe ADHD, inattentative, impulsive, hyper, medicine Focalin XR 5 mg AM and Focalin 5 mg at 3pm. Omega 3 fish oil as well. Trying to get her off the Focalin.

difficult child 2- 5, no diagnosis, above info about her.


Well-Known Member
Hi. Welcome! Here's a cup of tea.

I agree, your psychiatric wasn't all that helpful. She did have a point-- that your difficult child, Madison, is bright and could work around things. But, assuming she's ADHD, ODD, (and since her sibling has it, it wouldn't be a huge surprise if she did, too) and has sensory integration issues (there are some really good books on that, by the way--I highly recommend you buy The Out of Sync Child, as well as Ross Greene's The Explosive Child), then what you need is a child psychiatric who can held you navigate all of this.
Find a new child psychiatric who is into behaviorial training.
You will also want to continue testing to see if she truly does have ADHD, etc., to see if medications will help.

Sorry about my run-on sentences. I hope you made some sense out of all of that!


Welcome to the board. I'm glad you found us. This is a great place for support.

I second the books recommended by Terry. Also, check out this link and see if any of it sounds familiar:

I would make that appointment with a developmental pediatrician or a neuropsychologist.


New Member
We had similar issues with our difficult child before diagnosis. We had him tested for sensory integration issues because he would freak out about socks, shirts with collars, and jeans. He broke a window because his socks were not on correctly. He was evaluated by a neuropsychologist, followed by psychiatrist and psychologist. Oppositional Defiant Disorder was diagnosed along with ADHD and some mood disorder. I highly recommend The Explosive Child. It gives solid suggestions on how to manage ODD children. We have found success in implementing some of the metods.


Well-Known Member
Sounds like my M when he was that age. I hated getting ready to go anywhere because it always started and ended with the grunting and groaning and picking at and complaining about his socks. He read from age 4, smart as a whip, couldn't get along with anyone.

The bad news is, I didn't have any idea that there were such things as IEP's, etc. You will find lots of ideas here from people who have been there and done that. It will empower you to accomplish much more for your child than I was able to.

I would recommend that you edit your post to not use your children's real names here. When you are looking for help, sometimes people in the public sector, or judgmental busy-bodies will find you here and use what you say in a way you wouldn't want.


Active Member
Being bright does NOT mean "she can work around things" - it is a common misconception that if the child is bright, they can overcome any other problem so let's just not worry about them, she won't need help as she would if she were not so bright.

She will need MORE help because being bright, she is going to be even MORE frustrated at her inability to perform as she feels she should be able to.

been there done that. Big time. Still there.

There are intelligent psychologists out there who know this, but it sounds like you found an idiot.

Heather recommended the website I was going to - that Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) questionnaire is not officially diagnostic but it can really help you 'gel' ideas. You can print the result (regardless of what she scores) and take it to an expert for their opinion. because I was definitely thinking Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), Asperger's, something along those lines. No language delay, so it's not full-on autism then. But the sensory issues are classic; the being angry with herself, hitting herself, very rigid rules and way of playing, high level of frustration, high anxiety, poor social skills - it all fits.

We cope by NOT blocking our kid at every turn. We allow a lot of this - whatever we can tolerate - and work on the bits round the edge as SHE can tolerate it. There are reasons she is the way she is - reasons that make sense to her - and the way through is to meet her where she is and work from there. The book recommended will help a lot there, plus feel free to post any time, a lot of us know exactly what you're going through and collectively, we've all made better progress than if we didn't have each other.

Serious suggestion - do the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) test on your older daughter too. It would be interesting to compare scores. Eleven years ago we had a normal (but very bright) daughter, a boy with ADHD and anxiety issues, a VERY bright younger daughter who was just starting to show some odd brain function issues and a not-quite three year old who was non-verbal and obsessive, but extremely bright - he'd been reading, playing piano and using a computer for several years already. So while trying to find out what was wrong with the youngest, we had ALL the kids assessed. One shrink described the room full of our kids as "a very lively session". But it meant that the experts could see patterns which were familial; patterns which were normal; patterns which indicated disorder.

And speaking of "disorder" - especially with bright kids, we avoid the stigma of handicap in any form in our home, these kids have talents and abilities which we foster, but at the same time we don't punish them for not "getting" it in other ways. Again, Ross Greene's book helps with understanding here.

If this is Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) (or any one of a number of other disorders) the high IQ actually does help the child compensate and SEEM to be more normal. But it is a facade - underneath, they are working hard to convince people everything's OK. This makes them much harder to accurately assess, the older they get. For example, easy child 2/difficult child 2 now makes a positive effort to make eye contact - when she sees a new customer she will comment about something the customer is wearing, so it helps her fix in her memory something she will later recognise - if the customer forgets a bag of groceries and comes back for them, it is then easier for easy child 2/difficult child 2 to recognise the person if she made sure she looked hard at them. But because she now makes a lot more eye contact, someone assessing her for Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) will say she's not Aspie because she looked them in the eye.

Another often hidden aspect to this is face blindness to some degree (easy child 2/difficult child 2 does have partial face blindness - we only realised this a few months ago). If you Google "face blindness" you can find some websites which can help you test - this is another important piece of information. And a bright person will adapt to this also. But a child - how can they know what is normal? difficult child 1 STILL is discovering things he can do which he finds out other people can't. For example, he has short-term memory deficits. So he's adapted by using his long-term memory instead, which makes some remarkable things possible for him. it takes him longer to learn things, but when he finally has the info on board it's there in detail, permanently.

Witz is right about needing to modify your posts and sig to make sure you don't include real names, real places etc. You need your anonymity here if you are to feel really free to express your concerns without fear that someone else (school maybe) can track your posts and know it's you. It mightn't seem important right now but trust me, the day will come when you will be grateful you made the change. Or regret that you didn't.

Welcome to the site - if we don't understand, who will?



You have described my difficult child perfectly. Same age with diagnosis. Was told all those things prior to age 3. ODD. Got much worse.
Advanced a grade in school. Now in 8th grade and still struggling. Hates school. Says same thing about friends.

I was told once that he gets frustrated easy because of being bright. There mind is working so much ahead of the rest of their body. Even though she may be wise beyond her years...she is physically only 5. that is hard to remember when they pull you into their conversations, arguments.

Does she behave in school?


Warrior Mom since 2007
You have also described my difficult child to a tee, with the exception of some of the sensory issues with clothing. I am fairly new here as well and this board has been awesome! Welcome and hang in there - there is a lot of great support here. Be sure to take care of yourself along the way!
WOW! Thank you so much for that website! I answered the questions concerning both of my girls. My oldest daughter's number was 116 and youngest was 88. WOW! Thank you again! I know that is isn't a diagnostic machine or professional but it helps me bring up new points to the doctors.

Thanks again!


Active Member
I'm not surprised at those numbers. Do talk it over with the experts - you sound like you intend to.

Also, if you get a pessimistic prognosis, don't be depressed by it. We were told difficult child 3 would never be able to attend a normal school, could never live independently, would always need a great deal done for him.

I remember a lot of the discussion about savants back then - the main belief system (still being challenged) was that savant skills in autistics were NOT indicative of any real ability or intelligence - these skills were considered to be like a parrot trained to talk. It can use the words but has no concept of meaning or anything abstract. difficult child 3 was almost part of research into that, back when he was 4 or 5. We made contact too late but we were given details and they were hopeful.

A TV program last night was dealing with a mother raising her (now adult) autistic, epileptic, brain-damaged son. At one point while detailing just how much work he was even as they tried to teach him as much life skills as he could learn, she said she was told, "Just enjoy him."
At first she was incensed, flabbergasted. And then she thought about it - there is a lot to love about him - he is loving, honest, curious, he is a happy soul. And if you start from there, it does make it easier.

I've read a lot and now my boys (and middle daughter) are older, we've learnt a lot. Often, we've learnt it by doing the wrong thing and working out afterwards how we SHOULD have done it. There is a 10 year age difference between the boys, so we've had time to learn and apply our new lessons to difficult child 3, even as we try to fix what we did wrong for difficult child 1.

But the most important thing - you meet the child where he/she is. Do what they do, sit with them and imitate them, play alongside rather than with, if necessary. If your child is very bright (and you will sense it at some level) then be very careful - they are VERY sensitive to being patronised and will quickly reject you and what you are doing, if they feel patronised. They have a strong sense of honour, decency and justice (on their own terms, first and foremost) which in time you can bring to a recognition of what society sets store by. But you will clash if you try to cross them in this. You can lead, you can support, but you cannot obstruct or block these kids without a huge battle which, in most cases, you would lose. If not in the short term, then in the long term. And such battles are not healthy for them, even if you feel you are doing the right thing in making them toe the line.

This is why schools so often clash and cause problems with these kids - some teachers insist on absolute authority, when in the mind of children like these, such teachers have not earned it, or there is no logical reason. Sarcasm is to be avoided - it is confusing and they feel like you are making fun at their expense - degrading, which jars their basic sense of what is right and decent. You can best teach these children by your own example, and by gentle, clear, concise direction (when they are able to handle it). Treat them with respect, in order to teach respect. Do not raise your voice - it often causes physical pain. Do not force physical contact - ditto.

mother in law reached difficult child 3 by repeatedly saying to him at every opportunity, "I love you." As a result, SHE was the first one he said, "I love you," to in reply. And I was not resentful - she had earned the right. But one day difficult child 3 came to me where I was sitting, put his head on my leg and said, "I love you, Mummy." I remember thinking, "Maybe he even has some glimmering of what it means - he is trying to do the normal thing, he's seen his sister, he's seen his father."
We ask difficult child 3 for a hug, before we force one on him. He will generally oblige. And now, he will voluntarily kiss me to indicate he is happy, or is trying to thank me. But he seems to feel that the more he wants to show his appreciation, the longer the kiss should be, full on the mouth. I'm trying to gently break that one - he's needing to learn what is appropriate. But maybe by saying, "A long hug is more appropriate," we will make the change painlessly.

We do cater to our children's different tastes although when we have a new food which I feel is not going to be too similar to something I know they dislike, I do insist they taste it. Textures in food seem to be more of a reason for this dislike, than taste, although easy child 2/difficult child 2 seems to be like her father - extremely sensitive to bitter tastes in food. In these modern times it's no major hassle to focus on preparing food we all like; or preparing different foods in varying quantity to provide choice.

These kids find the world very confusing and often very frightening, which is why they really like order and sameness when they can get it. Changing tasks is a huge problem. Changing routine needs preparation. There are tricks to doing this and getting what you want, with the cooperation of your child, but it takes patience and preparation.

If you have a bright child who is also scoring a positive on the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) scale, keeping them stimulated in their special interest area is generally a positive thing to do. Give them plenty of material to get stuck into. Where possible, you can also use the high skill area to help you open doors in adjacent learning subjects.

Always believe them when they say they are afraid or anxious. Never try to deny the validity of their feelings - there will be enough other people around to do that for you.

An example - "Mummy, I'm afraid of that kitten!"
"What - a kitten? A cute little ball of fluff? Don't be silly, it's so tiny, it can't hurt you - come on, let's go pat the kitty." (You don't do that - but I did).

That was difficult child 1. He was hysterical at the possibility that the kitten might cross the road and touch him - when the kitten looked at him, he almost climbed onto my shoulders, he was sobbing in terror. That is real fear.
Mind you, instantly grabbing him and whisking him away from the kitten is also not a good idea, it's training him that he has a good reason to be afraid, it's validating the fear. Instead, reassure him that the kitten cannot hurt him, you like kittens and will happily play with it to make sure it doesn't bother him, and he feels slightly safer.
A later time and we were more prepared - a girl approached our car with a very young puppy. difficult child 1 was again afraid and upset. By that time I recognised that his fear was real and I shouldn't tell him to pull himself together - that is cruel.
I told him I wouldn't let the puppy near him because the puppy was only a baby and wouldn't understand his fear, but that easy child wanted a chance to pat the puppy and so did I. So, knowing I would keep my promise to him, difficult child 1 quieted down and watched while easy child & I patted the puppy and it then returned to the girl who owned it. difficult child 1 had had (for him) a close encounter with what made him afraid - and he had not been harmed. Each encounter that he could tolerate was a success and worked him towards the day when he actually got a volunteer job working in a zoo!

Your children are a handful for you, but there are gifts there which you have barely begun to see. Get a copy of "Explosive Child" and there are techniques there to help you become your children's supporter and facilitator, not their obstacle. It works just as well for PCs, in my experience it works VERY well for PDDs. I know a number of parents on this site love it, but a number find it has been no help - I think for those who find it's not working, there are some diagnoses which maybe don't respond as well and need a different technique again. A theory - all ideas welcome.

Jessica, I give you the same advice that was given to the woman on the TV program last night - Just enjoy her."



call 911
Hi J,

I'm in Columbia, SC. If you're near I can recommend a wonderful therapist. You should find one that you like because you're going to be going for a long time by the sound of things. The good news is the quicker you get into therapy the better off EVERYONE will be. Like me, you've tried everything and the only thing that began to help us was a good psychologist. We went once a week for difficult child and I went once a week on my own to cope.
No shame it that at all. Rather the shame would have been if I had continued to think I could change the difficult child and ODD behaviors on my own merit.

If you aren't close to columbia, PM me your town and I'll ask our therapist who is good locally for you.

Welcome - you really have found a great site with so much wisdom and so many different ideas. As far as the clothes...I have a problem (occasionally - like every day) with senses : smell, touch, feel. I thought for years it was Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and then was told it could be Sensory Integration Disorder (SID)'s. I read up on Sensory Integration Disorders and all over.

Again welcome to the family. We're all a little worn but we're a good group of friends.



Well-Known Member
Rather the shame would have been if I had continued to think I could change the difficult child and ODD behaviors on my own merit.

Good advice ... and I might add, that if ever it took a village to raise a child, raising a difficult child takes a village, a SWAT team and C26 cargo plane full of shrinks! :smile:


call 911
:rofl: - TERRY!!!!!! OMG you are TOO FUNNY! I snorted out loud. SWAT team. FOndly thinking back to just mere months ago when my yard in a little rural area was lit up like we were having a midnight auto sale.