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Ash

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Argh. I'm losing my mind. My daughter is four-and-a-half. She was a little angel until she hit a year-and-a-half and it all went downhill from there. She is impulsive, explosive, aggressive, mean as a rattlesnake. She does have her periods of sweetness but normally she's a temper tantrum waiting to happen.

I'm having an email conversation with my son's pdoc, which I have done in the past. He has suggested trying medication on her before but I just couldn't. I will end up going in to see him, I'm sure. Therapy might be an option, I suppose.

I don't know if this is a mental health issue, bad discipline, or just her personality. I feel that she is too young to medicate and what if this is just the way she is? Shouldn't I be able to teach her good coping skills so that we don't have to rely on medication??

Her brother, who is nine, was dx'd with Bipolar when he was six. He's been medicated ever since and is pretty stable. He still has outbursts but is normally pretty easy to manage. Discipline works. Since my daughter got back though, he's been acting out more. He does better when she's not around. Role reversal for sure.

I do take this personally. She doesn't pull this stuff with her father, though she only sees him twice a week. She breaks me down and I end up crying too much. I asked her last night if she acted like that with the family in Texas. Of course not.

Any ideas?
 

David Baxter

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Ash said:
Argh. I'm losing my mind. My daughter is four-and-a-half. She was a little angel until she hit a year-and-a-half and it all went downhill from there. She is impulsive, explosive, aggressive, mean as a rattlesnake. She does have her periods of sweetness but normally she's a temper tantrum waiting to happen.

I'm having an email conversation with my son's pdoc, which I have done in the past. He has suggested trying medication on her before but I just couldn't. I will end up going in to see him, I'm sure. Therapy might be an option, I suppose.

I don't know if this is a mental health issue, bad discipline, or just her personality. I feel that she is too young to medicate and what if this is just the way she is? Shouldn't I be able to teach her good coping skills so that we don't have to rely on medication??

Her brother, who is nine, was dx'd with Bipolar when he was six. He's been medicated ever since and is pretty stable. He still has outbursts but is normally pretty easy to manage. Discipline works. Since my daughter got back though, he's been acting out more. He does better when she's not around. Role reversal for sure.

I do take this personally. She doesn't pull this stuff with her father, though she only sees him twice a week. She breaks me down and I end up crying too much. I asked her last night if she acted like that with the family in Texas. Of course not.
Normally, my feeling is that medication in young children should be the last resort, after all reasonable attempts at behavioral methods have failed. The fact that her brother is diagnosed as bipolar changes the situation somewhat but that of course does not mean that she is the same -- it merely adds to the statistical likelihood. On the other hand, the fact that she does not act out in the same way in other locations tends to suggest that it is less involuntary and more contextual/situational and therefore more likely to be amenable to environmental/behavioral approaches.

I would strongly suggest that you consult a child psychologist first. Try a well thought out behavior modification or "token economy/incentives" approach and see if her behavior improves with that - the focus needs to be more on rewards for good behavior than punishment for "bad" behavior, and consistent with her age (e.g., timeouts need to be short and directly tied to behavior -- "come out of your room/the corner/the time-out chair when you are ready to behave more reasonably and less aggressively" as opposed to "stay there for 15 minutes").
 

Ash

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David Baxter said:
Normally, my feeling is that medication in young children should be the last resort, after all reasonable attempts at behavioral methods have failed. The fact that her brother is diagnosed as bipolar changes the situation somewhat but that of course does not mean that she is the same -- it merely adds to the statistical likelihood. On the other hand, the fact that she does not act out in the same way in other locations tends to suggest that it is less involuntary and more contextual/situational and therefore more likely to be amenable to environmental/behavioral approaches.

She has had *many* problems at daycare before, having to sit in the office because she hit/kicked/spit on other children. She will talk back to her "teachers" and generally not listen. I never had this problem with her brother.

I would strongly suggest that you consult a child psychologist first. Try a well thought out behavior modification or "token economy/incentives" approach and see if her behavior improves with that - the focus needs to be more on rewards for good behavior than punishment for "bad" behavior, and consistent with her age (e.g., timeouts need to be short and directly tied to behavior -- "come out of your room/the corner/the time-out chair when you are ready to behave more reasonably and less aggressively" as opposed to "stay there for 15 minutes").

I have found time outs to be quite difficult because she becomes very aggressive and will not stay where she is placed. I have also found "rewards" to not work well because she will not take them into consideration when she wants her way. Basically she is extremely rigid and will never, *ever* budge. It seems to be her goal in life to "win".

I've found that she meets pretty much all of the criteria for early-onset Bipolar Disorder: extremely difficult to settle, overly responsive to sensory stimuation, hyperactive, inattentive, fidgety, easily frustrated, prone to temper tantrums that go on for prolonged periods of time and she becomes aggressive and violent, bossy, overbearing, oppositional, and has *extreme* difficulty making transitions.

I know that this is not conclusive evidence, which is why I will end up having her evaluated. The only reason that I have not until this point is because of her age and my not knowing what a "normal" child behaves like. Plus, she could have learned some of this behavior from her brother before he was dx'd. I hate this because there are so many things that could contribute to her behavior, one of which is the Bipolar which runs in my family.
 

David Baxter

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Yes, the family history is obviously worrisome -- having her evaluated by a child psychiatrist as well as a child psychologist might be a good idea. The concern I have is that some clinicians might be overly swayed by the family history and not look for other explanations or remedies -- I've seen that happen before.

Having said that, I would not be surprised to learn that eventually she receives the same diagnosis and that she does indeed meet the criteria for bipolar disorder.

Parenting isn't easy at the best of times; add in the real possibility of behavior problems stemming from bipolar disorder and you indeed have a challenge on your hands.
 

David Baxter

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Ash said:
I have found time outs to be quite difficult because she becomes very aggressive and will not stay where she is placed. I have also found "rewards" to not work well because she will not take them into consideration when she wants her way. Basically she is extremely rigid and will never, *ever* budge. It seems to be her goal in life to "win".
One solution that works in some cases is to sit with her during time-outs so that she is not able to leave...
 

wani

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Hey, Ash.

Sorry to hear about your worries. I have some understanding of this kind of situation, having grown up with a bipolar / schizoprenic older sister.

A couple of layman's thoughts, for what they are worth:

Even children with mental health issues need and can learn to behave, to some extent. Sometimes you need a bit of a different standard and then meds are there to help with the things that are difficult or impossible for them to control on their own. It's very important, though, that they be encouraged to honor their family's standards of behavior to the extent that they can. It's important for them, to decrease their feelings of helplessness in the face of their condition, and it's important for their sibs as well. It's much easier to accpet that big sis is doing the best she can to behave than to feel that she's exempt from the rules.

Which leads to my second point: as a child, I picked up a number of the hallmark behaviors of schizoprenia - because they worked very well for my sister. ;-) I was evaluated several times and went through quite a bit of counseling before it became clear that I wasn't ill, just adopting behaviors that got the desired results.

I think you're on the right track to have her evaluated - maybe more than once - and to start a behaviour mod plan with her. That will be useful regardless of what the evaluation shows.


My two cents worth...
wani
 

Ash

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David Baxter said:
One solution that works in some cases is to sit with her during time-outs so that she is not able to leave...

Boy. That would mean physically restraining her. :-(

I spoke with a co-worker who raised a daughter just like mine. She mentioned "strong-willed" and the fact that these children need to be dealt with differently.

What is your opinion on this?
 

Ash

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Thank you for the response, Wani.

wani said:
Which leads to my second point: as a child, I picked up a number of the hallmark behaviors of schizoprenia - because they worked very well for my sister. ;-) I was evaluated several times and went through quite a bit of counseling before it became clear that I wasn't ill, just adopting behaviors that got the desired results.

I can totally see this. Obviously, my son's actions got him what he wanted because as a single parent, it was so difficult for me. I'm sure that my daughter saw that and went with it. I had a hard enough time getting my son to break those habits! My daughter will be even harder. :-/

I think you're on the right track to have her evaluated - maybe more than once - and to start a behaviour mod plan with her. That will be useful regardless of what the evaluation shows.

Very true. I need to look into finding a good behavior mod.
 

David Baxter

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Ash said:
I spoke with a co-worker who raised a daughter just like mine. She mentioned "strong-willed" and the fact that these children need to be dealt with differently.

What is your opinion on this?
The popular term these days seems to be "spirited" -- sort of reminds me of a horse that's difficult to control.. :eek:)

However, I agree with your friend -- I think with some children, you can perhapos allow more leeway; with these "strong-willed" children, consistency (and not backing down because it's easier) is everything -- if you allow yourself to give in even once, you are done like toast. I'm not talking about brutality or rigidity, of course -- I'm just talking about making sure you (and other family members) are clear about the rules and consequences and then making sure they are applied consistently and with few or no exceptions.
 

Ash

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David Baxter said:
The popular term these days seems to be "spirited" -- sort of reminds me of a horse that's difficult to control.. :eek:)

Yes, that is a term that my son's therapist gave to both of my children. LOL I think it's a nice way of saying pain in the butt.

However, I agree with your friend -- I think with some children, you can perhapos allow more leeway; with these "strong-willed" children, consistency (and not backing down because it's easier) is everything -- if you allow yourself to give in even once, you are done like toast. I'm not talking about brutality or rigidity, of course -- I'm just talking about making sure you (and other family members) are clear about the rules and consequences and then making sure they are applied consistently and with few or no exceptions.

Ahh yes. My boyfriend and I were just speaking about consistency. My problem has always been how hard that is when you're a single parent. There's no backup and giving in isn't necessarily about it being easier, though that is a component. I think that things will improve when we move in with my boyfriend since he will definitely back me up. Even her father isn't a help; he doesn't understand what I'm going through and he won't really talk to her about her actions at my house.

Ugh. I'm just tired. She had an hour-long tantrum because she didn't want to get dressed. An hour of kicking, screaming, crying... As it stands there will be no tv or gymnastics tonight.

I do need to be more consistent and I need to find a plan that works. My boyfriend pointed out that she thinks she can do whatever she wants. I definitely can't give her any leeway anymore because it doesn't do anyone any good. Do you have any advice on what kind of punishment might work on her? In the heat of the moment she doesn't really care so I know I need to nip it in the bud before she loses control. I complained to my boyfriend this morning how I wish I had more patience. He said that I had put up with an hour-long temper tantrum; how much more patient can I be?

HELP!
 

David Baxter

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Ash said:
I do need to be more consistent and I need to find a plan that works. My boyfriend pointed out that she thinks she can do whatever she wants. I definitely can't give her any leeway anymore because it doesn't do anyone any good. Do you have any advice on what kind of punishment might work on her? In the heat of the moment she doesn't really care so I know I need to nip it in the bud before she loses control.
The fact that she says or acts like she doesn't care at that moment doesn't really mean she doesn't care, of course.

The first step in setting up any workable behavior modification strategy isn't punishment but incentives --
  • see if you can identify something she wants -- special privileges, TV time, computer time, a special toy, money
  • then identify specifically what you mean by "good behavior" versus "bad behavior"
  • then structure a system where with "good behavior" she can earn "points" toward that goal while "bad behavior" will result in losing some of those points[/list:u]
    This will usually work better than a system that is punishment-based.

    You may find it helpful to consult with a counsellor to help you set this system up initially.
 

Ash

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David Baxter said:
The fact that she says or acts like she doesn't care at that moment doesn't really mean she doesn't care, of course.

Of course! LOL

The first step in setting up any workable behavior modification strategy isn't punishment but incentives --
  • see if you can identify something she wants -- special privileges, TV time, computer time, a special toy, money
  • then identify specifically what you mean by "good behavior" versus "bad behavior"
  • then structure a system where with "good behavior" she can earn "points" toward that goal while "bad behavior" will result in losing some of those points[/list:u]


  • Very good idea. I'll bring it up with my boyfriend so that we can unite on this front!

    This will usually work better than a system that is punishment-based.

    That's a good point. Especially since consequences don't mean diddly to her. :-/

    You may find it helpful to consult with a counsellor to help you set this system up initially.

    I'm in the process of looking for someone. I certainly need help getting this started because parenting a "spirited" child can be a little overwhelming. hehe
 

Ash

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Update. I finally figured out the main issue I have with my daughter. It's the fact that she's so rigid! That's where the problems (and fights) come into play. That's also why disciplining/reasoning with/talking to her doesn't work ever. She gets stuck in a particular mindset and can't get off of it until some time has passed and she calms down.

She's just like her brother was before he was dx'd and placed on meds. I can't decide if she has the same issues or if this is just a personality trait. I really don't know how to deal with it because she takes so much patience and time. Any suggestions?!
 

momof5

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Wow Ash, I'm reading this and totally understanding your tiredness to deal with this.

My 11 year old son, sounds a bit like your daughter, however in this house, the discipline comes from me and is accepted from me, but not his dad/my husband. There is such a wall there. He doesn't even like being touched by his father at all.

He has a ton of behaviour problems, and suspect bipolar after reading an article somewhere on your site.

My problems though is finding a child psych that is repeutable. I fear so much doing him more harm by going to a quack (not inteneded to offend you david) that I don't sechedule an appointment.

Also, my husband is a tormentor, and he doesn't leave Joey alone. IF he knows something bothers you, he does it. Over and over and...... And no matter what I say bout this making Joey worse, he just doesn't get it.

And I just get so tired of the contsant dad leave me alone that goes on in here all the time, its like dealing with 2 children with him and his dad. I know its wrong, but sometimes I just tune things out becuase I just can't handle it at times. I know I have to get joey to respect his dad, but when his dad doesnt do anything to desreve that respect, what do I do? Joey is veyr mouthy with his dad, sometimes with me, and I correct him for all bouts of this. He gets time out facing the wall. He is so different from the rest of my children, they were a breeze next to him, and I just don't know how to handle it either. (don't mean to hijak your thread, I'm sure that this could be moved to another thread of its own) I sort of rambled a bit more then I intended to!
 

Ash

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momof5 said:
Wow Ash, I'm reading this and totally understanding your tiredness to deal with this.

Ugh. I feel like a horrible mother not being able to handle it. Unfortunately, it's a daily battle and it saps so much of my strength.

He has a ton of behaviour problems, and suspect bipolar after reading an article somewhere on your site.

Another good site is http://www.bipolarchild.com/. It was created by Demitri Papolos, M.D., who wrote the same titled book. I would recommend checking the site AND the book out.

My problems though is finding a child psych that is repeutable. I fear so much doing him more harm by going to a quack (not inteneded to offend you david) that I don't sechedule an appointment.

CABF has a whole section on "good" psychiatrists in different locations. I would start there. There is also a contact who can help you out.

Also, my husband is a tormentor, and he doesn't leave Joey alone. IF he knows something bothers you, he does it. Over and over and...... And no matter what I say bout this making Joey worse, he just doesn't get it.

I wish that your husband understood that his actions are never going to help the situation. It's rough.

I know I have to get joey to respect his dad, but when his dad doesnt do anything to desreve that respect, what do I do?

I had the same issue with my daughter's father in relation to my son. He just never believed the fact that my son is "different" and has BP. He still believes that my son should be treated the same as everyone else, stable or not. I've given him The Bipolar Child to read but he basically distrusts any kind of "psycho-babble". Geeez.

Joey is veyr mouthy with his dad, sometimes with me, and I correct him for all bouts of this. He gets time out facing the wall. He is so different from the rest of my children, they were a breeze next to him, and I just don't know how to handle it either.

At least he'll go into time out. LOL I would literally have to sit on my daughter. <rolling eyes>

(don't mean to hijak your thread, I'm sure that this could be moved to another thread of its own) I sort of rambled a bit more then I intended to!

I don't mind the rambling at all. :) I understand how hard it is with certain children. I wouldn't even know what raising a "normal", breezy kid would be like. LOL

I'm always willing to help any way that I can.
 

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