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Advice needed

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  • Advice needed

    The API group in my area just folded, and I'm in dire need of some advice and support from like-minded moms. Whenever my daughter, who is almost 3, is faced with any sort of change, she resorts to frightening, violent behavior. This time it's a new preschool, but other changes have triggered this in the past (for instance, I hired a mommy's helper to come to our house, or I had to work on a project outside the home -- any sort of schedule or person change will do it).
    She is spirited. She's tested negative for sensory disorders and on-par with or beyond her peers for development. Since she was about 3 months old, we've gotten three months or so of great behavior, and then something in our lives will change and this scary side comes out:
    Everything is cause for tantrum (the broken cookie syndrome, only it doesn't build throughout the day, it starts with waking up). The screaming lasts 30 to 45 minutes followed by up to a full hour of outright sobbing. Tantrums can include puking, peeing on herself, and hyperventilating, not to mention hitting, kicking, throwing things and trying to rip off your clothes. Between tantrums, we get incredible, nonsensical demands yelled at us, an over-the-top need for order (it's nearly impossible to play with her because you can't do everything the 'right' way), transitions and simple tasks that normally take her 5 minutes are stretched to 30 minutes. She's overall just very angry and very sad. Let me add that she's an angel at daycare, and they're always shocked by the tantrums she throws when I tell her we have to go home. We tried daycare a year ago, and she was so upset she stopped eating and drinking while there, so there is progress in that regard.
    Now, in between these rough times she has three or four month stretches where she's a happy, well-adjusted little girl. She was breastfed until age 2; I've worked from home with her for the most part until about a month ago; I even dissolved my home-based business because I thought the irregular schedule was making her worse, and took on a regular part-time job. She hasn't experienced any death in the family or witnessed anything traumatic. She's shy, but communicates fine when she's feeling OK.
    I come to this forum for advice because the physicians and parenting centers in my area insist there is nothing wrong with her since the behavior goes in spurts and she's not developmentally delayed. I've also been told -- big surprise -- that it's my parenting style that has caused this. If I would just let her cry herself to sleep ... yeah.
    Whether this behavior is, or is not, caused by some disorder, can anyone offer some advice? How do you get through the day? How do you face the thought of going out in public knowing she could kick in the car windows if you have to take her to the car because she's going off the deep end? How do you keep her from hurting herself or others when she's going nuts? She doesn't respond to anything typical (use your words, removal from the scene to calm down, distraction, explanations, etc.) She's using her words alright. She's screaming how mad she is while she smacks me, and she's too big and strong to remove to a quiet place and keep her there. How do you keep from feeling totally burned out and shutting down emotionally? I pay for any breaks with worse behavior. How do you keep restaurant managers and family members from stepping in to "help"? Any and all advice is welcome and appreciated. I can't possibly be totally alone in this. I'm in this sort-of no-man's land: technically, there doesn't seem to be a real disorder like Autism, but she is really, really hard to deal with.

  • #2
    Hello Mountain Girl.
    I am sorry your group folded.. is there anyone who used to be involved with it you could call to hang out?

    A couple thoughts..
    Have you looked into food sensitivities and allergies? I have heard of severe and violent behavior reactions in some children as a result. She also might be very sensitive to food additives and dyes alone.
    I haven't read the entire articles, but thought they might give a overview with links if you were interested in looking into it.

    I've also been told -- big surprise -- that it's my parenting style that has caused this. If I would just let her cry herself to sleep ... yeah.
    I totally agree with you! You are being a wonderfully sensitive parent! How would being unconnected help a child who tantrums?
    This may just be her personality at this time in her life and yes it is difficult being the mother of a spirited child. Look onto NVC if you haven't already. Keep us updated!


    • #3
      I don't have personal experience with this but I just read an article about mood disorders in preschoolers and you are describing what the article focused on: bipolar disorder. Apparently many doctors think it doesn't exist but it is a real and very frightening thing, like you are describing. I can't remember where I read it or else I would link to it I think newsweek or time? Anyway, have you consulted an API friendly therapist? And one who specializes in childhood anger issues? Maybe he/she could help and can figure out if you really do have a mood disorder on your hands.


      • #4
        I can't think of any specific advice that would be helpful to you but was thinking that you might want to talk to some parents of special needs kids. They may have some great tips/advice to share with you that would be applicable even if your daughter doesn't have a "real disorder". The "special needs" section of this forum might be a good place to start!


        • #5
          Thanks to everyone

          Thanks so much for all the helpful tips and advice from parents to my post. I'm going to check out all those wonderful resources, and perhaps repost in the special needs section.
          Also, I do plan on having her evaluated for therapy in a few weeks when she turns 3. I have read a bit on anxiety disorders in toddlers and she does exhibit some signs of anxiety, particularly OCD.
          And thanks, most of all, for everyone's support; helps keep me going knowing we're doing the right thing by treating our children with respect, regardless of the naysayers.
          And someone did ask about the dissolved group and previous contacts. I may try to dig up a number or two. The group here wasn't particularly strong.
          Thanks again, everyone!


          • #6
            Oh, and I forgot: yes, she does have an egg allergy and I have considered one of these special diets such as Feingold. I think it's time for me to go ahead and read up on that. We're whole foods eaters at home but the daycare serves a lot of prepared food.


            • #7
              I just finished reading a book called Delivered from Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey both M.D. chapter 15 talks about child bipolar. I too think that the symptoms you have described sound similiear to Bp but i am not a dr. so you might want to talk to child pschologist. here are two websites that might help you find one that could see you and your child in your area. and

              keep up the good work parenting. May you both find peace.


              • #8
                I was going to say, it sounds like OCD + maybe some other issues. Some advice (and by the way, this is my first post in this forum YEAH!!) get her to a psychologist that specializes in children. Try to convince them to fully test her. DD was originally diagnosed as ADHD, ODD, language disorders etc. THEN they said, oops, nope bipolar. THEN, when we switched therapists and they did the RIGHT THING, which was to fully test her, it comes back as ADHD, Asperger's, receptive and expressive language disorders, which fit SOOOOOO much better. It is amazing, with the right therapies, medications, and just KNOWING the dx is right, changes so much for the better.