New and here for a friend

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by CorrinaCorrina, Sep 4, 2008.

  1. CorrinaCorrina

    CorrinaCorrina New Member

    Hello everyone. I'm a 39 year old former single mom (recently re-married) with a 12 year old son. I'm here for my best friend, who is also a single mom with 2 young girls, 10 and 7.

    Her first daughter (10 year old) has been difficult from the very beginning. Violent temper tantrums, banging head very hard on things, holding breath til literally blue in the face. Would follow their dog around once she could walk and just pull the dog's hair out (God bless that dog; he never even snapped or growled at her). When her little sister came along, she took to pulling her hair out and pinching her (still did it to the dog as well) As she got older, she would do deliberate things, then either laugh or scream at her parents (they divorced about 1 year ago), and continue the behavior. Apparently, she is an angel at school. My friend has spoken before of the possibility that her eldest might need some sort of help and yet never does anything about it.

    At any rate, she called me in tears over the weekend as they were at the beach with friends and the daughter was really acting out and embarrassing her and making everyone (kids and adults included) uncomfortable. She took the child's cell phone away and noticed that her (the mother's) cell number was in the child's phone as "the thing that I hate". She said she was at her wit's end and that she was going to do something about it. I told her I thought that was the best thing for her daughter and for her.

    I realize this is for the 5 yrs and under set but since the behavior has been present since pretty much 6 months of age on, I thought maybe I should start here. The reason is, in speaking with my friend a few days later, she said she is going to wait about doing anything for a few weeks as she is leaving for vacation (with both daughters) in a week.

    I understand some may feel I'm sticking my nose where it doesn't belong but the situation just continues to get worse. Does this sound like normal behavior, or maybe just an extremely headstrong kid? She'll sit in a room of people (kids and grownups alike) and not say a word, just pick a scab open or pick at a mosquito bite til it bleeds then play in the blood. It's sort of scary. I just don't know if my friend is wise to wait til she gets back from such a major trip (she lives in PA, too).

    sorry if I've overstepped here.
  2. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Thank you for being such a caring friend. It is a heartbreak to watch friends fall away as difficult children's behaviors are displayed. I feel I lost two good friends last year as my son fell apart. I am sure these ladies were just scared and didn't know what to say - they didn't want to hurt me. You are true blessing to you friend. I hope we can help her through you!

    I would suggest that your friend take her daughter for some evaluations. Others will come along to give you the correct names and places of these evaluations.

    Her doctor can refer to psychiatric services. I don't know that we as parents always know that it is good to tell doctors about behaviors. This information would be used by the doctor to recommend evaluations.

    That first step is so scary - to enter a new world of terminology and possible medications - however, this new world will work and finding out what is wrong following treatment plans will help difficult child become healthier.

    Stay by her side - your friendship will give her the strength she needs to do the almost impossible things to face her daughter's problems. It will be a hard road but you can help her through it. We will be your cheerleaders.
  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It certainly sounds like a very disturbed child. Even though the behaviors have been present since birth you will get more input over on the general forum. This is for kids who are still under 5.

    I can say that this sounds greatly like a child who is in need of an evaluation by a psychiatrist (child and adolescent certified) and probably in need of testing by a neuropsychologist. A developmental pediatrician is another route to take - they have been awesome for us, and can shed light on much of this behavior as well as do or arrange any testing that is needed.

    You are a really good friend to hang in there with a friend who has such a scarily disturbed child. She will really NEED you as she goes through this. I would recommend she call as soon as possible for an appointment - many of these docs can be scheduling out several months at any given time. She can find them at any children's hospital and at many major hospitals, as well as on her insurance company website or phone number.
  4. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi C. Thanks for your concern for your friend. I am going to move your thread to the General Board so you'll get age-appropriate responses.

    Personally I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that this is a scarily disturbed child. It sounds to me like an undiagnosed and untreated child. I do agree that she needs help as there is some atypical behavior going on. Picking a scab and playing in the blood isn't something many kids this age would do in public, but one who wasn't in tune socially might. Ditto with sitting alone in a room and not engaging with people. Does she have any friends? How about similar interests as her peers?

    Head banging, pulling out hair, and picking scabs all raise my red flag for sensory integration issues. Do you know if she's super sensitive to clothing or is a very picky eater?

    There could be a lot of things going on here, so if you were the parent I would suggest pursuing an evaluation.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I agree with SRL. A lot of people automatically think "something's going on with the parents." Sounds like she was born atypical and may not be neurologically typical or may have some inherited psychiatric problem. At any rate, if you were her mom I'd recommend (strongly) a neuropsychologist evaluation, as they are very intensive and thorough. But since you aren't, I'm not sure what you can do--she seems to be in denial if she hasn't evaluated before this.
    By the way, it's common for kids with disorders to try hard to hold it in at school, but then it builds up and the child just explodes at home.
    Without a total evaluation and a good treatment/intervention program, I'm afraid the prognosis isn't very good for her. She needs help for her inborn problems, whatever they are. We would need to know more about her, such as her early milestones and her ability to interact appropriately with her peers or her family's psychiatric history on both sides.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Corrina, I don't think you've overstepped. Your friend sounded really worried when she rang you and like any good friend, you put your thinking cap on and checked out whatever you could think of - and found us.

    We can't tell you what could be wrong with your friend's daughter, but we can provide support for her and maybe another shoulder. I also found this mob gave me the confidence and the backbone to make the changes I needed to, for my kids. My youngest, especially.

    If you think she would be open to it, get your friend to come to this site and read the various posts and threads. It could be the help she needs.

    It is very hard to accept that there could be a problem (serious or otherwise) with your firstborn. Denial or complacency is easier, because ten you can keep telling yourself that it's nothing really, it will all sort itself out.

    If there really IS nothing wrong, then it won't hurt to make sure. by getting it checked out. And if there IS something wrong, then the sooner you find out, the better. With any problem like this, if there is a treatment then the sooner it is begun, the better for the child and for the parents.

    As far as behaviour problems are concerned (if that is all it is) there is a book we recommend (along with others) called "The Explosive Child". It's by Ross Greene. A really helpful book. There is some good discussion on this book in the Early Childhood forum, especially how to adapt it to very young children.
    But one of the important things that can really help, is to try to get inside the child's head, to see if you can work out why she does what she does. And it sounds to me like that is the problem right now - your friend is at a loss there.

    A child who is "fine at school" - yes, it happens. Sometimes it's because the child puts in a supreme effort to stay on track at school. Sometimes it's because school is thoroughly organised, timetabled and predictable, she knows what to expect. And sometimes it's because the teachers haven't noticed, she's just one more kid lost in the crowd. Also, sometimes kids who need to let their hair down at some point in their day will do it at home with the people who they know love them, where they feel safe.

    SRL is right to suggest the possibility that there could be some problems for the child, with sensory issues. There can be many ways this can manifest - maybe a child is slow in toilet training (or conversely, extra fast). The child could be fussy about what she wears based on how the clothing feels. My girls refused to wear anything made form wool because they felt it was scratchy. I remember having the same problem when I was a kid, I hated the prickly feel you get with wool clothing.
    difficult child 1 hated some of his shirts because the sewn-in label would feel scratchy and he was so distracted by it he couldn't concentrate on anything else. I had to remove the labels for him, but I couldn't just cut them out, because that would also leave a stub that would rub unpleasantly.
    Another facet of sensory issues - difficult child 1 would hate to change his clothes. Still does. difficult child 3 - same. I won't remove their clothes from their backs, they have to dress and undress (at their ages!) but it does distress me that when I do all the washing for a week, I don't get ANY underpants from either of them in the wash. OK, these days I do get difficult child 1's undies in the wash, but I have to remind difficult child 3. But then, I have to remind difficult child 3 to change his clothes.
    I remember raiding difficult child 1's bedroom and stripping his bed to wash EVERYTHING. I washed the sheets, the blankets, the pyjamas (or what he wore that passed for pyjamas) and all associated items. By the time he came home the bed had been re-made and all the clothing was clean, dry and folded on his bed. He complained - he said he would never get to sleep, because it didn't smell right any more, I had washed all the familiar smell out of it and 'clean' was too distracting. Not that it had smelled bad - surprisingly, it hadn't.
    He still has this problem - he likes his clothing to feel very soft and to smell familiar. New clothes are a problem (for difficult child 3 as well) so I always used to shop for them at op-shops - pre-loved, pre-softened clothes.
    Food is a problem also for difficult child 3 - creamy textures are a problem.
    easy child 2/difficult child 2 - she can't cope with textures that AREN'T creamy; anything with 'bits' in, she won't eat.
    With all three of the younger ones - they would worry at any break in skin, hole in clothing or frayed bit. With difficult child 3 it is extreme, I often have to cover up any break in the skin with a plaster of sorts, to keep his fingers from making the problem worse.

    Sensory issues can be a facet of any one of a number of conditions. It can also be something someone has a trace of, within the spectrum of what is considered 'normality'. But an evaluation will either set the mother's mind at rest, or pinpoint something which can then be dealt with.

    We cover all age ranges on this site. You posted initially on the Early Childhood forum which was not quite the right age range, but over here on General we can help. The other forums are good for different areas of our issues with our offspring.

    Your friend says she wants to wait until after her holiday - I suspect she is finding the thought of having to DO something, a bit confronting at the moment. It really shouldn't be difficult to at least make a few appointments before she leaves. There can often be waiting lists, and for an initial consult with someone, it's highly likely that she would have to wait months anyway. The sooner she puts the child's name down, the sooner they get to the head of the waiting list.

    A strong suggestion for you - don't do too much for her yourself. Your friend has to do this. SHE has to make the firm decision to either do something, or to choose to NOT do something. Just letting things hand is part of pretending there's not a problem. Chances are, this is what she has been doing for some time now.

    If you do something to force your friend's hand, then it's not her decision and she doesn't have to own it. She could 'change her mind' and leave you standing there with egg on your face. So be there to listen, let your friend talk, but make HER make the decisions. Then it should be easier to help her stay on track.

    Good on you for caring. We all need our friends.

  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi Corrina,
    wow, that's going to be some vacation!
    I would suggest that your friend make a child psychiatric appointment for an evaluation NOW because it takes weeks to get in, and waiting until she's back from vacation is just going to make the wait longer. (I always like to set things in motion first. :) )
    What a wonderful friend you are.
    You've already gotten some great advice here (books, ideas) and I hope your friend is open to it. Maybe if she sees that she's not alone it will help. Surely this must detrimentally impact her new marriage, too, not to mention the sibling.
  8. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Through the school of hard knocks, many of us have found that it's tough for a parent to suggest specific help for a friend. Many mothers get very defensive right then and it can put a strain on the friendship. If there's any way you could mention that you found a website to help parents of difficult kids, we could probably help her more that way.

    We could delete your initial inquiry thread for you if that's a concern.

  9. Christy

    Christy New Member

    I haven't had the chance to read all the replies so forgive me if I am repeating someone else but I think you should share this website with your friend. It may be the encouragement she needs to seek out help for her daughter. She will find that she is not alone and that her daughter's behaviors are not her fault.

    Your friend is lucky to have you! There is a tendency for people to ignore things if they feel it would embarrass or make the other person uncomfortable. Don't hesitate to offer your support by sharing this website and your concerns.

  10. CorrinaCorrina

    CorrinaCorrina New Member

    Wow, thanks everyone! Actually though, it was me who was recently remarried; my friend divorced her husband about 1 year ago. I certainly have no intention of taking any steps myself but I do want to encourage her to do this. She has spoken on and off over the years about doing it but this time she was very distraught. I really feel there is an embarrassment factor involved; she thinks it will reflect negatively on her. The child does have a few friends and I would guess she is interested in the same things her peers are; make-up, clothes, nikelodeon. She isn't picky about food at ALL; this kid will eat anything you put in front of her and very much enjoys trying new and different foods.
    I think I will mention this site to my friend and hope she visits. Thank you all so very much for your suggestions and also for helping me to not feel like a nosy, over-protective friend. Oh and could someone please tell me what difficult child stands for? Sorry to sound silly...
  11. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    difficult child = Gift From God - or the difficult child that brought you here.

    You are certainly a good friend!
    I recommend you sit down with your friend and make a list of all the things that seem not so typical for a child this age. List the things through the years that have seemed different to her.

    Then read through this and see if she seems to fit anywhere.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2008