New to site....need advice

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by jillm0871, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. jillm0871

    jillm0871 New Member

    I was wondering if I could get your advice. I have a 5 year old daughter who I love "to the moon and back" but drives me crazy. There are many days where I struggle with guilt because her behaviour causes me to have feelings of dislike for her.

    She has always been a very needy person. As a baby, she wanted to be carried all of the time and would scream if I put her down. She is an only-child and I always chalked it up to be that "this is what babies are like". I felt that I needed to have respect for her and be responsive to her cries hoping that this strong bond would support her. Even as a baby, I knew that she was quite "high needs"...her emotional care needs seemed to to go way above and beyond what my friend's children's needs were at that age. That was my first clue....

    As a five-year old, she continues to have a strong need to be physically connected. She has issues over "personal space" and I am constantly trying to teach her about not "getting in my space" (hands in my face, constantly crawling over me etc.). Don't get me wrong, I love to cuddle with her --it is just that her need to be physically close is unsatiable. She is physically large for her age (not overweight but tall and solidly built) and it is getting to the point that she hurts me when she is crawling over me. When I cry out that she is hurting me and ask her not to do it, she doesn't stop.

    Another example of this is that likes to come charging at me and jump on me...even though I have gently told her a million times that it physically hurts me that she does this (that is how hard she is running).

    The other issue and perhaps the more upsetting issue for me is she appears to have no conscience. In general she is very defiant. When I discipline her (time out, take away a toy etc.), it doesn't seem to bother her. She is upset that she has had the toy taken away from her but she is not upset that I am upset with her. When I ask her to say sorry for something, I can tell that she is not feeling any level of regret. There is no sense of this in her body language. I can tell that she could really care less and that she is just saying it to "get it over with". I suppose this is what I find the most unsettling and I don't know what to make of it.

    As mentioned before, she is an only child so my husband and I don't have a point of comparison (i.e., with other children). However, we have had so many conversations where we are at a loss as to what the problem is and how to define it. In fact, writing this post has helped me to organize the issues a bit more.

    We try to be consistent with her and have strong boundaries regarding her behaviour while also trying to not be overbearing. I don't think that this has changed a lot of her behaviour and I don't know what we are doing wrong.

    I find it difficult to talk with my friends/family about this. People will give "pat answers" to these kind of issues...i.e., it is normal part of childhood OR (worse) there is something that we are doing as parents that has caused her to be the way she is.

    I don't know what to do next. I have thought about going to my GP but what am I supposed to say "my daughter is difficult to deal with?" The GP is just going to say "well, all children are like this etc. etc. etc."

    I would appreciate your comments about my daughter's behaviour and/or what you think my next steps should be. Do you think that her behaviour is typical of a five-year old? If no, what should I do?:anxious:

    I should also add that I have been recently diagnosed with Bipolar II. I haven't read a lot about symptoms of Bipolar in children....however, she doesn't have mood issues as much as defiance and neediness issues. Also, physically, she looks like my husband's side of the family so I am hoping that the bipolar bug passes by her!!:tongue:
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi Jill, and welcome.

    There are a couple of things in your post that make me think you will want to do some more research, and probably seek out some assessments.

    Her need to be physically connected and lack of ability in judging personal space can be due to something called Sensory Integration Dysfunction (also called Sensory Processing Disorder). Children with sensory issues have sensory systems that don't process sensory stimuli in the same way that most people do. This can result in a wide range of behaviors depending on what the "differences" are and how the child goes about trying to get their fix for what they don't have. For instance a child who discovers that spinning and swinging make them feel better will seek out ways to spin. A child who finds that sucking or chewing makes them feel good might su*k and chew on everything in sight, whether it's safe/appropriate or not. Your daughter may have tactile needs and needs for deep pressure that make her feel better when she's touching or throwing herself at you.

    If this link rings a bell at all, order the book The Out of Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz. The specialty area that deals with Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) is called occupational therapy and it should be a professional who is used to dealing with kids.

    The fact that she's not showing signs of picking up when you're upset by age 5 can be a red flag for several disorders. Since you mentioned the personal space issue as being pronounced, you'll want to check out Non-verbal Learning Disorder. NLD is not something most GP's would pick up on. It's also common for parents of kids with NLD to say "We know there's a problem but we can't put our finger on it."

    What's her speech like? Any delays, or advanced/adult sounding speech?
    How about her interests--is she interested in the usual 5 year old girl stuff?
    Does she line up toys or household objects in straight lines or formations?

    I do think an assessment is indicated, but that you'll probably need to prepare really well to get your pediatrician to refer her.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. Good advice from SRL. I'd want her evaluated by a neuropsychologist...but are you from the US? Each country is so different in the way they handle these things.
  4. jillm0871

    jillm0871 New Member

    Thanks for your responses. :eek:)

    I just wanted to add that she sensitive to bright lights. This might be part of the sensory thing??

    Her teacher thinks that she is bright and she does have good verbal skills compared to some children her age. She speaks in full sentences, asks questions (TONS --actually), likes to make up songs, rhymes in the song, understands patterns etc.

    Socially, she enjoys playing with children and also on her own. She also has issues with hugging "too hard". She is physically bigger than other children, she hugs so hard that she picks them up...often times by their head/shoulder area. We have tried to tell her not to do this but she just doesn't listen no matter how many times we try to tell her.
  5. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Yes, the sensitivity to lights can be sensory related.

    It sounds like both with you at home and with peers that she is missing social cues that other children might pick up on naturally. (Just not getting the message even though it's been demonstrated, taught, modeled, etc). Social skills training is most effective when children are young.

    Has she started kindergarten yet?
  6. jillm0871

    jillm0871 New Member

    She is in Junior Kindergarten this year. We live in Ontario, Canada and in our area, children attend 2-3 full days per week. I have work part-time (22.5 hours per week). Prior to JK, she attended preschool for two years (part-time basis while I was at work). She also has cousins her age and she sees them at least once per week and also has a "best friend" that she plays with about once per month. I guess what I am saying is that she does have regular times where she is with children her age.

    I had a conversation with her teacher yesterday because my daughter has been coming home from school everyday since September telling me that she has had to "sit on the chair" (which the teacher calls the "thinking chair" to think about their actions). It is a "good day" (according to my daughter when it is only once...she will actually tell me this quite proudly). There are times when it is 2-3 times per day.

    When I have asked my daughter why she has had to sit on the chair, she says that she doesn't know. When I ask the teacher, she says that it is mainly because my daughter will not pick up her toys. The teacher called her "strong willed" and that every child has different temperments.

    My husband and I have tried very hard to set boundaries for her but it is if we are beating our heads against the wall. Nothing seems to be helping.
  7. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    What you'll want to tune into is the difference between "being social" and "being socially appropriate". By age 5 children should naturally be picking up on appropriate behavior for the setting. Not that they will get it 100% of the time but they should be able to understand the direction and be making forward progress towards the goal.

    One other thought to toss out to you is that sometimes kids with very good speech/language skills can compensate for weaknesses they might have. For instance a child's speech might be equal to their peers but they might be struggling in a classroom setting due to various auditory/speech/langauge processing problems. These might look like:
    1) Not being able to block out background noises so does fine at home but can't discriminate the teacher's voice.
    2) Auditory memory or language processing problems where they can't keep track of multistep instructions.
    3) Not understanding cause-effect statements (ie If you do X behavior, then you will sit in time out)
    4) Not understanding how to handle W-H questions. For instance, when you ask how...or why... answering inappropriately or with "I don't know".

    These problems are subtle in kids who are bright and good compensators but eventually they hit a point where they cause problems for them. It's a lot easier to label them strong willed, behavioral problems than to dig deep and get to the root of the issues.

    Again, I don't know what's up with your daughter but hopefully something here will ring a bell.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    in my opinion someone should check her out for Aspergers Syndrome. She may not have it, but she sure has a lot of the symptoms. Often these kids seem remorseless, but it's not really true. They don't understand empathy. They are often bright kids but they badly need interventions or they can really struggle as they get older. Hanging around with kids while young and actually socializing appropriately are two different things. My son used to laugh and run with the kids, but didn't do much interactive, give-and-take, eye contact, imaginative play. He needed lots of social skills training and is doing much better at 15.
  9. chels

    chels New Member

    I just want to clarify something you wrote. When you say your daughter is unbothered by your disciplining her, are you saying that she's reacting in a way different from your expectations (i.e., you expect her to realize you're upset, and this should cause her to correct her behavior) or that she seems to have no congnizance that you're even upset (meaning she's not interpreting your feelings are recognizing that you have any)? If it's the former, this to me seems indicative of 5 yr old behavior. If it's the latter, it could point to something else, as other posters have mentioned. I just wasn't clear exactly what you were describing.