Is this normal behavior?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Corrigan, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. Corrigan

    Corrigan New Member

    I'm new and I'm really getting desperate. My daughter is 5 and 1/2 and her attitude is really out of control. It's difficult to explain, because people like to comment on how "good" she is because she's not the kind of kid who has ever colored on the walls or torn things up or been disrespectful to our family and friends. The problem is that the way she treats me and my husband is just beyond our comprehension and we don't know what to do with her anymore. I'm going to call a family therapist in the morning and see if maybe they can help us, but I'd like to hear what you expert parents have to say as well.

    Examples of her behavior include repeatedly refusing to do things she's asked to do, which I understand can be normal at her age, but this isn't just a case of ignoring us. This is her flat out screaming "NO!" at us over and over again, until she ends up in time out. Then refusing to go to time out. Then refusing to sit quietly, sometimes winding up stretching the whole process from the 5 minutes appropriate for her age to 20, once we get her to the chair and get her to stop screaming at us. She's recently begun telling us to shut up, which I can't even begin to understand, because my husband and I never talk to each other that way - NEVER - and obviously we don't talk to her that way, either. Another new thing is that she's begun hitting or kicking us whenever she's angry, particularly on the way to time out. She's also begun insisting that we are calling her stupid or idiot, which we have never and would never do. For instance, if we try to talk to her about her behavior, she screams, "Stop calling me an idiot!" When we tell her we aren't and wouldn't, she then says, "But that's what you mean." This one is probably the most baffling. Whenever we try to talk seriously with her about her behavior, she closes her eyes, crosses her arms and says, "Hmph!" and turns her head away, all very snottily, so talking to her about her behavior is pointless, as attempting to do so only causes her to act that way a few minutes longer. Additionally, she seems to hate pretty much everyone. She constantly talks badly about her cousins. When we're out at a playground or something with her and another child tries to play in the same area as her she insists they're trying to make it so she can't play and tells me they're stupid. She generally won't interact with them at all.

    We do homeschool, but I honestly do not want one more person to tell me that's her problem. For one thing, she's 5 and 1/2 - not even old enough to be required to be in K in my state. In fact, she barely made the cut off, so it's not like she's screwed up from 4 months of homeschooling. For another, she's been this way for about 2 years now - it's just gotten worse and worse. I've tried telling my husband her behavior wasn't normal for at least that long and he's only just today come to agree that maybe it's not. It's not, is it? She's an only child, but I'm expecting a new baby in April.

    She honestly seems like the most unhappy little girl in the world and I can't understand it. I've just spent the last hour crying my eyes out because I feel like I have to have majorly failed her somewhere along the way. We don't spank and never have. We try to be consistent, but we so often feel like we're walking on eggshells around her that sometimes it's easier to ignore her behavior than deal with it - especially when it's never anything destructive or dangerous to property, just to our relationships. It's hard to determine sometimes which will be worse for all involved: ignoring her screaming at us and walking away or dealing with it and knowing it will turn into a 45 minute episode of her screaming and saying she hates us and we hate her. :sad-very:

    She does not act this way to other adults - only us.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have raised five kids. My youngest is thirteen.

    in my opinion this is way out of the normal. I don't think your parenting is the problem, however I would have her evaluated by a neuropsychologist. I have a few questions that can help us help you.

    1/Has ANYONE evaluated her?

    2/Are there any psychiatric problems or substance abuse on either side of her genetic family tree.

    3/How was her early development? Does she make and keep good eye contact with strangers? Her same age peers? Does she interact with her peers in appropriate ways? Does she have any obsessions? Any odd or quirky behaviors? Is she sensitive to loud noises, certain textures, crowded places? Is she able to transition smoothly from one activity to another?

    It is common for kids with disorders to act ok around strangers, but take it all out on us. Kids feel safest around those they know love them. in my opinion you need to get her completely evaluated. As for school, I don't think homeschooling is causing this, but you do need to find out what's going on and, since she is not in school, find out how to do interventions at home.

    I wouldn't let it go. Early intervention is the key to all kids who are wired differently and she seems to be. Have you ever heard of Asperger's Syndrome? She has some big red flags for that one. Their level of frustration can hit the roof until somebody understands them and they get serious help for their social inadequacies. Here's link a to Aspergers in children:

    Welcome to the board, but sorry you had to come :tongue:
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2010
  3. Autismkids

    Autismkids Member

    I would also have a full evaluation done.

    One of my best tools with my son was doing a functional behavior analysis. I have not been able to make too many changes yet, but after tracking his behavior, I now know some of the common motivators. All (most) parents of typical kids say that kids act out for attention. In my son's case, that's just not true. 90+% of his behavior is due to sensory overload and escaping; either escaping a situation, or a task. In the weeks I charted, only 3 incidents were related to him seeking attention.

    I wouldn't attempt to change anything until she's been evaluated and you've tracked her behavior (I could add more about tracking if you'd like).
  4. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi Corrigan,

    I'm sorry it's taken me so long to respond--I've been out a lot these past few days.

    I agree with the others that I would have a full evaluation done on her. What you want to do is to find professionals that will go beyond just wanting to give you methods to handle or modify her behaviors. You want professionals that will do a wide range of assessments in their fields. We usually suggest at these younger ages that you start with a developmental pediatrician or pediatric neuropsychologist as they tend to be more thorough. If there are speech differences such as delays or speech that is much more mature than peers or adult sounding then a speech/language evaluation is also in order. If you're seeing sensitivities to sensory input (ie overly sensitive to light or sounds, very picky about foods or clothing or major hysteria with situations like baths) seeing an occupational therapist is also a good idea.

    Two book suggestions for you:

    What Your Explosive Child Is Trying to Tell You: Discovering the Pathway from Symptoms to Solutions by Dr. Douglas Riley

    The Explosive Child by Ross Greene (also see the thread on this book at the top of this forum).

    I'd suggest laying low on things like discipline and obedience for now until you get a grasp on what's going on. Safety issues are important so keep her and those around safe but letting go of some of the stuff you would assume she's developmentally ready for can help reduce the explosive behaviors. You can pick back up when she's emotionally ready and/or you have some tools that work based on what you learn through assessments.

    Hang in there--it's so tough on a mom to pour so much into a child and have them respond like your kiddo is. We're here for you.
  5. tictoc

    tictoc New Member

    She sounds so much like my son at 5 1/2. It is exhausting. I agree that you should take her for an evaluation. The best place to start is a neuropsychologist.

    And, this clearly is not your fault or the fault of homeschooling. I suspect that if your daughter were in 'school,' these behaviors eventually would show up there, too.

    Good luck. Keep us updated.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I fully agree with you. Even if you had been home-schooling her for several years and she was 8 years old now, I would still highly recommend you don't immediately blame home schooling.

    Mind you, there is home schooling and home schooling. difficult child 3 is a correspondence student, which means he works from home with me supervising him. He can choose what worksheets he will do today and if he chooses to change to a different subject, he can do this if and when he wants to. But he has good worksheets, plus teachers he can telephone or email if he has a query I can't help him with. PLus he does get out to meet other students when we have Study Days (which are optional).

    A friend of mine recently chose to home-school her sons. She pulled them out of school and let them stay home. She was very laid back about it. She would give her older son a book of maths problems to do, she would encourage her younger son to read a book to her. But I know form seeing this - if the phone rang, she would talk for hours and the kids would look after themselves. mostly playing in the backyard. They also had to mind the baby when Mum wasn't paying attention. Or if it was a nice day they would go for a walk. She considered these walks to be vital to their education, which they would have been if she had used the opportunity to actually TEACH anything. But most of the time the kids would be idle and they simply would maybe go to the beach and make sandcastles, or collect shells. Often not even that. It was all lovely for the kids and they were fairly happy, but bored and not stimulated. Recently the elder son asked to be sent back to school.

    You seem to have really sussed things out, though. All I'm pointing out - a lot of people don't fully understand what home-schooling is, and could be thinking that you are like my friend when you are clearly not.

    And as for home schooling being bad for kids socially - Nope. I know it's the standard propaganda line, but if it's done properly, then home schooling can BOOST social skills.
    The sort of environment that does not provide good home schooling is the same sort of home environment that would be bad for the kid socially anyway, mainstream or not.

    I believe you are right to be concerned. If you can, get your husband to lurk here too (or post if he wants to) because it can help you to both read what other people have experienced as well as to both read your posts and the responses to them.

    You've had some good advice so far. Some tips on where to begin, in finding out what could be the problem. Some great books to read. And validation.

    I don't know for sure, because some of the things you have said worry me more, you say you don't know where she gets these words from, like "stupid". That worries me a lot. She has to be getting it from somewhere, it has a bigger influence on her than you like but you don't know? That is a worry. Not that you lack the knowledge of who is in contact with your daughter, more that she has picked up something and you can't identify the source. In other words - my concern isn't bad or overly-casual parenting, it's that somewhere, somehow, something is having an undue influence on your daughter, unknown to you.

    Why are you home-schooling her? Remember, I am not critical, just curious. Your reasons could have been a gut thing, or you could have already carefully reasoned out this. But it also could have a bearing.

    I must admit, I also was thinking about possibly Asperger's. But there are still too many questions.

    I guess the first things first, in what you can do -

    1) Get her evaluated NOW, yesterday if possible. She needs a neuropsychologist assessment (probably a good idea with the home schooling anyway - it gives you a baseline to refer back to in the future, something to point to and say, "she started here.") Also I would suggest you throw in a good Speech pathology assessment. You want to look not just for whether there is receptive or expressive language delay, you want to really dig down into the fine detail of her current language capabilities. If you get this done first it would be good - feed this info to the neuropsychologist.

    Next (or actually, first - do this after you make the appointments, but before you see anybody) - read "Explosive Child". In fact, go up now, after you read this, and check out the Sticky at the top of tis forum. Do it now. Trust me - it helps. I do wonder if your current problems with her are being aggravated by your interpretation of her behaviour. You are interpreting her behaviour from the perspective of her being a normal kid, a easy child. And she definitely is not. The more you judge her from a "normal" perspective, the worse this can become. "Explosive Child" can help you turn this around and improve things as far as they can improve. I can't tell you how fat that will be - but what will be left, is whatever the underlying issue is. I say "issue" and not "problem" because it actually may not be a problem.

    You only have the one child. No others. Yet. It would help to have some answers before this next one is born, because there could be a bearing on the baby. Not only on whether the baby will have similar issues, but also on how she will connect with the baby. So many things. PLus you will be busier after the baby is born, you need answers NOW.

    When I say "issue", I'm thinking it could be Asperger's, it could be any one of a number of other disorders, or it could be that she is simply a highly intelligent child possibly with some Aspie traits (which happens fairly frequently especially with really bright kids). Having an exceptionally bright child is something a lot of parents think they would embrace joyfully - trust me, it's no bed of roses. it's very challenging, because you're not raising a typical child by any means. But is it a problem? Not necessarily. However, I believe that the same sort of vigilance needed to support a child with serious learning problems or some sort of disability, is also needed if you are raising an exceptionally bright child. They need a great deal more stimulation and support than the average child. Even a self-starter bright kid needs a lot more and shouldn't be simply left to learn at his/her own pace.

    The assessments I recommended will help identify where she fits into the scheme of things.
    The book will help you find ways to understand and manage her behaviour, but in ways which I feel have a greater chance than the usual parenting methods which we were all raised by. Yousound like you've already tried those, and tey don't work. And if something doesn't work - you replace it!

    Welcome, sorry you need us. But definitely, we can help. Even if it's just a sounding board of parents with similar experiences.

  7. MO2

    MO2 New Member

    As I try to type this, my 5 1/2 year old is "exploding" over his 2nd warm drink of the morning...

    Your situation reminds me SO much of mine! I can't tell you how many compliments we get on "AND's" behaviour, he is very mindful of others, shares, speaks fluently and clearly, and has been taught to leave an area just as he found it (ie playgrounds, Dr's offices, school/aka he picks up after himself), but he goes psycho when he wants a drink, he wants it warm and he wants it in a certain glass and he wants it NOW. He usually keeps everything together for awhile (at daycares) then he feels comfortable enough to let down.

    I wanted to tell you something the dr told us last week. We were describing to her some of the words he uses (hate, stupid, bad) , some of the "dark" things he talks about (death, killing, cutting heads off), we are baffled! We don't say we hate anyone or anything/one is BAD, we definately don't talk about death or killing or cutting someone's head off, WHERE? does he get this information??? We don't even let him watch Sponge Bob for goodness sake! The Dr. said, it's how he's putting things together it's how he's associating things in HIS mind.

    So, my advice is to find a professional Dr., you feel comfortable with and trust, be completely honest about everything and hopefully that will help to provide some insight on how she is putting thoughts together. Sometimes some pretty personal stuff can have a bearing on what your child is going through, it's going to be a family process.

    I do have the Explosive Child Book, it is helpful. I too had a 2nd child in the midst of realizing "AND" had problems it's hard, I'm not going to lie. But it has also been a blessing to see "it wasn't ALL US??? It isn't just our ineffective parenting skills???" "JAD" listens when we say No, he goes to time out and sits for his 2 minutes, then goes back to husband and I just sit back and go, "so, this is what it's supposed to be like? THIS is easy!" ha, ha, ha!

    Well, I have to go get that warm drink...
    Hope to hear updates soon!
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2010
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Oh boy, this sounds familiar! easy child 2/difficult child 2 is extremely specific about her wants. She's like Phinneas Fogg from Around the World in 80 Days - her bath has to be drawn at exactly 43 C (109.4 F). She does permit latitude of a couple of degrees either way. But she uses a meat thermometer to ensure the bath is exactly right. Food - no "bits". Nothing touching. We consider her problem to connect to Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), part of the borderline Asperger's in her.

    On the concept of kids putting concepts together - I remember reading a book 30 years ago on the research into language development and capability in chimpanzees - the research with the chimp Washoe was fascinating. They taught her Ameslan, only used Ameslan to communicate with one another in her presence. They made the interesting discovery that Washoe could 'invent' her own words where she needed to say something and at that point didn't have the vocabulary. They gave her some watermelon for the first time - and in describing it, she put together the word for "drink" and the word for "fruit". "Drink-fruit". That sure described watermelon!