Should I get my daughter evaluated?


New Member
We have problems with my five-year-old daughter. I'm not sure if I should get her help or whether she will grow out of it. I would appreciate any input the people on this board have as to whether we should see someone and what type of person we should see.

My daughter sees a lot of the world as unfair to her. She often thinks her younger brother is getting a better deal than she is, even when we've taken pains to give her the better deal. She will often get angry about her brother, screaming, yelling, destroying things of his and hitting, scratching or kicking my husband and me. We try to put her in time-out but she is defiant and just runs back out and continues the disruptive behavior. We don't know what to do in these instances when she is coming after us hitting us or her brother. Yelling at her has no effect. The only thing that makes a difference is when we threaten to tell her teacher about it. Then she usually cries and starts the recovery process. But often the crying goes on for a long time. Once she starts crying she can't get herself out of it. She is well-behaved in school.

We also have trouble taking her on outings, like picnics, trips to the zoo, etc, because she will have meltdowns where she sits on the ground crying and refuses to go anywhere. If we pick her up she screams and kicks. She often fights getting in her car seat. For this reason, we rarely take the kids places. Often these meltdowns are tied to some perception that we've favored her brother.

She also has a tendency to be very loud, speaking loudly, screaming, and completely dominating her younger brother to the point where he can't say or do anything. I worry about the effects of her domineering on him. She also goes through periods where she will willfully try to press our buttons, by throwing food, knocking things over or otherwise doing things she knows she's not supposed to do. My husband and I are pretty placid people but she can make both of us get very angry. She knows how to be bad and she seems to be aiming for that.

Often she seems unhappy or depressed. I always ask her if it's okay to give her a hug or touch her because she will pull away sometimes. She is extremely sensitive to criticism. If we, for example, ask her to not write on the coffee table she will break into tears. She refuses to do bedtime and will often fall asleep in different parts of the house. We've tried again and again to get bedtime to work because we know she needs her sleep but she just isn't having it.

On the good side, she does well in school. Previously she was very shy and wouldn't interact with other kids. Now she seems much more confident with the kids she knows. She has made a good friend in one of the other girls. She is able to concentrate for long periods of time, usually drawing. She previously had bad fears of dogs and water but in the past year she has overcome both of these. She used to go up in the play structure at school and spend a long time growling at the other kids. She no longer does that. She also used to masturbate a lot at school. I'm pretty sure she has stopped doing that at school. Last year, we had to keep her home on Tuesdays and Thursdays because two consecutive days of school was too much for her, she would be in a constant state of meltdown. Now she can handle five days.

So we are happy for some of the improvements but at the same time, the aggression towards us has gotten worse. She is starting kindergarten at a new school in August and I worry about that transition. In general, she seems to spend a lot of time crying, angry or being willfully disruptive. One thing that always works to settle her down is the iPad cartoons. She will immediately quiet down. If allowed, she will spend all day watching cartoons on the iPad. We try to limit the iPad because we don't want it to become a reward for bad behavior but about twice a week she is being so awful and we are so exhausted that we do give it to her.

I'm curious if anyone on here has any thoughts. I often express to the pediatrician at our annual visits that we can't handle her and we need help, even if it's just a support group for us. My husband worries that she will get a label as having mental health issues, but at the same time he acknowledges that we need help knowing how to deal with her. It feels like we spend so much of our time dealing with her negative emotions and never get to have fun as a family. Thanks in advance for your thoughts. I'm sorry this is so long - thanks for reading!


New Member
Hi! I just posted something about my 4yo dealing with anxiety issues. I can commiserate. We started seeing a play therapist about two months ago and it has started to help even though it is a slow process. The therapist explained that young children don't understand what emotions are, and aren't capable of vocalizing what they are feeling internally, so play therapy helps them learn about various emotions and how to better express them. The therapist also taught our son some breathing techniques, which he enjoys doing and seems to help him calm down.

I have to confess, the therapy has helped me as well because I feel like I am finally talking to someone who understands what we (our son, and myself) are going through without being dismissive. It's so hard for me because I keep hearing "that behavior is normal for a kid his age" over and over, but I believe a parent's intuition trumps all others' opinions.


Well-Known Member
I dont think its wise to wait for them to outgrow it because often they dont and get worse. I have always been proactive. Ask your pediatrician to send you to a place where you can get her evaluated. She dpes seem as if she may have some issues that rewuire intervention to help her.

Good luck!


New Member
Thanks for these responses! Weary, I will have to track down your posts. It sounds great to have someone knowledgeable to talk to! We've tried suggesting she take deep breaths but we just get a, "I don't want to take deep breaths!" back. :/ But working with someone as you are doing seems like it would be helpful.

I do feel like I need someone to talk to about it. I'm really a talker. When she was a baby I had a few other moms with "difficult" babies with whom I could talk, but we moved out of state. At first I talked to the other moms about it but it became clear after a while that the issues my daughter had were worse than what they were dealing with. I started to feel that my talking with the other parents was hurting my daughter because they might begin to think of her as "troubled" and not want to associate with her. So I've shut up since then. It's hard though because I feel like other parents judge us by her behavior. I want to say, "Look, I've got two other kids who are angels. It's not our parenting, it's that genetically she has some emotional issues and we are trying to help her as best we can." Instead I act like what she is doing at that moment is an aberration and very out of character for her when in fact she's like that every day. Honestly, I don't know how to handle parents who only have normal kids.


Well-Known Member
Remember, parents are not professionals either.

If anything is wrong catching it early rather than later helps the long term prognosis. Too often serious childhood disorders such as autism are missed and passed on as "she will grow out of it." Then they are 12 and still struggling, maybe doing drugs. It hurts more to help than to keep an eye on things with good professionals who understand childhood disorders.

I raised five kids to adulthood. If they start out different they normally stay different and without interventions it gets worse as they age. Its your choice but while talking to other moms help YOU emotionally, it doesnt help the child.

I suggest a neuro psychologist (a psychologist with extra training in the brain) or a pediatric team of professionals, each whom evaluate different areas of your childs development. You can find both at university hospitals. Usually they accept medicaid.

If you wait for your child to "grow out if it" it is often very bad for you and your child. Your mom gut is telling you that your daughter is different. This is likely right. We know, but some of us try to hope it disappears. It rarely does if you in know she needs more than other kids. That she is not like her peers. It may seem to get better better in K-3, but once your child is more on hero own, usually grade 4, (this is when my son began to falter) the child is struggling socially and academically. I am not talking about emotional problems. More like ADHD, autism, sensory integration disorder, learning problems, etc. Neirologically differences that make our kids struggle more even if they have very high IQs. Yes, they can fail socially and academically with high I Qs if their brains are wired differently. This glitch CAN be helped!! My son is 24 and doing amazing now.

It is up to you. I wish you luck.
Last edited:


New Member
I'm not thinking of it as an either-or, either I talk to other moms or I talk to a professional. I'd like to do both. I'm also looking into this "explosive child" program, which looks like it might fit our situation.

A dad

Active Member
Was everything fine until her brother was born? Now this might seem strange but could it be some sort of extreme sibling jealousy?

A friend of mine who is an psychologist told me that there are cases where and older child regresses and changes its behavior after just so it can gain your attention.

As you pointed out she knows what to do to make you mad so you give her attention now I do not know if you can outgrow it but she seems to have formed the kind of respect for her teacher that usually should be towards her parents meaning you.


Roll With It
Your family needs help. Your daughter needs help now. It is time to get her evaluated. This is NOT normal behavior. I know, I lived through it with my oldest child. After our daughter was born he changed dramatically. He loved her, but could not cope with her. He behaved much like your daughter does and it didn't stop until we finally had to arrange to have him live with my parents when he was 14. He kept trying to kill her. Actually murder her, and murder me to get to her because he had to go through me to get to her. He has very high functioning Aspergers, a type of autism, and for some reason would just get super angry and she was always his target. It wasn't that she did anything to him. Anything could make him mad, and then that anger had to be taken out on her. We spent YEARS where we could not leave the 2 of them alone for even long enough to go to the restroom. Either my husband or I had to be at home because sitters couldn't handle him attacking her. We only got to go out as a couple about 2 times a year when my parents would visit because they were the only ones who could handle my son.

Get your daughter evaluated by a neuropsychologist and an autism specialist. Also get an Occupational Therapist to evaluate her for sensory problems. Often children have problems with the brain not knowing how to handle input from their senses. THis means that they go into overload. A new sibling adds so much new sensory stimulation, especially after school, and this is likely more than your daughter can handle. I have sensory issues and sometimes what would be the smallest thing to someone else can send me into the BIGGEST tailspin and just completely make it impossible for me to cope with anything. I am a full grown adult and this happens to me. It happened a LOT more when I was a kid. It was super hard to handle because no one really understood back then although my mom got it more than most other people. Getting a handle on sensory issues can help eliminate a lot of tantrums. She may be overwhelmed in places like the zoo and that may be the cause of her tantrums.

One thing that I think is CRUCIAL for parents to remember is that children do well when they are ABLE, not when they want to. Something is causing a problem for your daughter and it is your job to help figure out what it is. This is why you need to have her evaluated and not hope she will grow out of it. You DO need to protect your younger child. He has a right to grow up in a peaceful home where he can flourish and feel loved and cherished. I always evaluated the therapy suggested for my older child in the light of the impact it would have on my other children. It always has an impact on the family and that is important. One therapist wanted me to give my older son a chip each time he did something nice for my daughter. Those chips could then be redeemed for prizes. I was supposed to pay him to be nice to his sister.

Uh, no. I don't think so. I am not going to tell my young daughter that she is so worthless that I have to pay her brother to be nice to her. I went to the supervising psychiatrist (it was a teaching hospital) and discussed my objection to this, namely the impact on my daughter. The head doctor was furious that it was even suggested between staff, much less that it was actually told to a parent. It would have damaged my daughter greatly had we done that, and I am glad I followed my instincts and refused. Always follow your instincts - you know your kids MUCH better than the doctors do. You are with them FAR more than the doctors are. The doctors know medicine, you know your kids.

My oldest often had the perception that we favored his sister. I got sick of it the year he had a tantrum because she got more black jelly beans than he did. He got more jelly beans total, and he loathed black jelly beans, but she got more black jelly beans. Cue the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth! I promptly gave ALL the jelly beans to my daughter. Took them out of his basket and gave them to her. If they were going to be such a huge fuss, he didn't deserve a single one. Boy did he have a fit, but he stopped when I told him she could have all the chocolate if he wanted to keep fussing. After that year we did a family basket instead of individual ones. He had to share everything with everyone. It worked quite well.

It also gave us the phrase "we don't bean count in this family". If we got into a discussion over who got more of a petty item, all I have to say is that "I am not a bean counter" or "we don't bean count" and my kids will stop because they know I will give it all away. I have given whatever they are arguing over to homeless people, I have taken it all for myself, I have given it all to the child who is not participating in the argument, it all depends on my mood and the item in question. Mostly they know that I HATE the "he got more than I got" nonsense and I won't deal with it. You get what you get and you don't throw a fit or you don't get any. It takes a few times of not getting any to learn, but they do larn in time. It isn't fun as a parent to be the mean one, but it does work if you are consistent.

Please don't take this as any type of criticism of what you feed your child. My kids were all picky eaters and I am the pickiest eater you would ever meet. But one thing that helps kids cope is to have regular snacks that are high in protein. When you take snacks, look for ones that are at least 1/3 protein. I learned to keep those zone or balance bars with me at all times (or other similar bars that are at least 1/3 protein) so that as soon as I picked my kids up from school they could have one. You have to read the labels because a lot of the bars out there don't have much protein and are really just cookies pretending to be healthy. The protein really makes a difference, at least it did with my kids and with many of their friends. I used to figure on a meal or protein heavy snack every 3 hours or so if we were out doing things, or else the kids would end up having tantrums because they ran out of fuel. I was often the chaperone on field trips with my kids and I watched it happen on more than a few field trips. If it was the type where we broke off into groups and went our separate ways, my group was always better behaved because I gave them snacks more often (I always got the 'difficult' kids so I knew them and what they liked for snacks and I was prepared. - no one understood why they behaved for me and not for the teacher or anyone else, lol). It isn't a magic trick and won't solve everything, but it does help.


New Member
A dad, no, it started pretty much Day 1. She was a very difficult baby who became a difficult toddler and so on. The rivalry with her brother only began around the time he was big enough for them to play together.

Susie, thank for this. It's interesting to hear another parent's story. I put in a call to the pediatrician to refer us to a child psychologist. We will see how that goes. We are also very interested in this "Explosive Child" approach. My husband read the intro online, a story about a girl who has a meltdown over waffles, and he was like, "That's us!" Book should be arriving today. We will give that approach a try. I have to say that reading the intro to that book was really cathartic because I felt like someone might be describing what we are experiencing. It's not ADHD, it's not autism-spectrum, it's something different and I think the author has pinned down our issue.


New Member
A dad:

Overall, she is better now than when she was a baby and toddler. It's different, obviously, but there are times when for a week or two, she is very good. Still the bad times can be very bad.

That said, I do think sibling competition is a big part of it. She and I went to her grandmother's house for a month last summer while my husband and her brother went overseas to visit family (I was pregnant and didn't want to go). We called it our divide-and-conquer strategy and it was indeed quite successful. For that whole month, she was a little angel. I did things with her that I never do at home. There is a grocery store a half mile from her grandmother's house. We walked there together every other day. We walked there, we shopped, and we walked back. No tantrums. No meltdowns. Completely. Fine. She was a different child that month.

Sometimes I think maybe she'd be happier living with grandparents full time, but neither set of grandparents wants to raise a child right now. So her younger brothers are a reality she will have to deal with. Siblings are a trigger, but not a trigger we can remove indefinitely. She is going to stay with her grandmother for three weeks this summer. I think it will be a good time for her to chill out and enjoy life a bit more.