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Losing control of strong-willed child

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Old 10-10-2006, 10:06 AM   #1
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Default Losing control of strong-willed child

My daughter just turned 11, she was 7 when I was injured. She's basically a good kid, good grades, plays piano, sings and in band at school, a Girl Scout,kind-hearted to others and animals, can be quite loving. But the flip side is she's unorganized, room's a disaster so she can't find things, competitive w/ and fiercely jealous of older sister, never picks up after herself without getting on her case.

She's been sensitive and strong-willed since birth. Hated the feel of socks or anything on her feet like footed sleepers, she was always barefoot as an infant no matter how I tried to keep socks and shoes on her. Would hate the feel of various clothes and refuse to get dressed til I threatened to take her to preschool in pj's - and meant it! Loved to watch herself cry in front of the glass oven door, and by 3 would put herself in timeout in her room where she would have a crying fit for 1/2 hour or more - long after she forgot the reason for crying.

She's very bright, was reading before kindergarten, but age-wise the youngest in her class, and emotionally immature. SHe can hold really deep conversations, then throw a fit cause you won't give into a demand this instant! Shows disrespect ALL the time, until called on for it. Apologies are grudging, or dramatic with tears and excuses and 'I hope you still love me, Mommy". She has some good friends but at school often gets a hard time because she is easy to set off, and because she always has the right answer.

I used to be able to deal with her,let her know we love her but keep a firm hand with her. Now she exhausts me and I know I am letting her get away with murder, at the same time I worry I am not there for her like I should be. Some of the acting out is likely pre-adolescence hormones, I know my older daughter went through a thoroughly unlikeable stage before puberty. But I'm worried that if I don't find a way to get a handle on her, we are in for REAL problems with her as a teen. Yet I just DON'T have the energy.

Do you think counseling is appropriate here? Her youth pastor is young and handles jr high, high school and college student groups, don't know how much support she could give, but I haven't asked, either. She has seen the school counselor some dealing with her worries over me and the loss of a pet last year, but she's such a drama queen I can't get a feel for how much she felt a real need to talk vs. just liking being the center of someone's attention.
She does get attention, plenty of it, we just can't make her center stage ALL the time.

How do you cope with such a child when you have chronic pain?

The Bad Mother,

PS - She can turn around the attitude in a heartbeat and be the happiest kid in the whole world, singing, making jokes, giving hugs. It's possible that she's on the edge of the ADD range, but we've always been able to manage her behavior til the last couple of years, when I've really been too tired to fight every battle - it's just constant! And dh is gone from 7 am til 6:30 pm or later most weekdays and some Saturdays, he owns his own business and that's keeping the wolves (barely) from our doors. I'm a preschool teacher , well, I used to be, and don't care for labelling kids or medicating them to make them "behave", so I've never pursued the ADD avenue.....Thoughts?

Last edited by beth; 10-10-2006 at 10:22 AM. Reason: Add more
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Old 10-10-2006, 02:17 PM   #2
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Let me first say that I am not trying to sound like I'm judging you. I have a 12 yo dx'ed with autism nearly 10 years ago, and I have my own neuro conditions (listed in siggy). I know all too well how it is to have to manage a serious health condition and deal with a child's serious disability, but the fact is that as parents, we have to. It's our job.

I was completely overwhelmed with the idea of managing my hypoglycemia, epilepsy, and hydrocephalus at the time of Drew's autism dx, but I also knew I had to, as well as parent my then-5 yo daughter, keep a house, maintain a marriage, and keep from drowning in self-pity. It was, to put it plainly, a living hell. I was afraid I'd never get on top of it all. I'd come to from a seizure and be scared to death my son had left the neighborhood!

You won't be able to manage her issues unless you get a proper dx, and I agree with you that ADD/ADHD is the "disorder du jour," so you'll have to stand your ground and fight for an accurate assessment and dx. Only then can you (and she) start to handle her areas of difficulty. I think counseling would help her, but also, see about getting a developmental ped or ped neuro to assess her.

Something else you said caught my eye: her sensitivity to fabrics of certain types. This may be a sensory integration issue or even an allergy. Ask the ped for an Occupational Therapist eval, too. In any case, you'd be doing something to figure all of this out and help her, which would help you.

Good luck!

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Old 10-10-2006, 02:19 PM   #3
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Hi Beth....


My six y/o son (going on 14 ) is very strong-willed too...which is a good thing, really, if channeled in the right directions...but it's the channeling part that kicks our butts! And I'm known to be somewhat strong-willed myself, so many are the times when my son and I are nose to nose.

Hmmmm...your comments about the clothes, shoes, etc. are familiar at my house too. Our biggest battles are in the mornings, getting ready for school...I've had to start buying him size 10 jeans (he's really an 8) because he's so 'clothes sensitive'. And socks!? Oh, don't get me started.

My game plan is to just remain consistent and follow through. I'm finding that certain loss of privledges works better now at this stage. Last month, it would've been 'going outside', but this month it will be 'computer time'....he loves his Hot Wheels CD-roms, so I get pretty good mileage out of that one.

Not long ago, I had asked my son to pick up his stuff, and he locked eyes with me (I'm in a wheelchair, so he's already looking down to me), snarled his lip, and calmly said, "Make me." I then proceeded to grab up the front of his shirt, thinking, 'I don't care if this paralyzes my other leg too, by golly I am gonna make him!'.....and this ol' mama did just that. Thought I'd better nip that one in the bud while I still can!

It's difficult, to say the least, to deal with these things when you're in pain. It's so easy to 'let this one slide by...just this once'...I've done it myself. But I'm now on the better side of the pain (now that's an oxymoron!) and I'm trying to be more consistent with the discipline....and more generous with the lovin'.

I wish I had more concrete advice to give, but as you can see, I'm in the midst of some of the same issues.


Spina-bifida, congenital scoliosis, tethered spinal cord. Incomplete paraplegic following cord surgery in '03.
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Old 10-10-2006, 11:10 PM   #4
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Hi and thanks ladies,

I developed Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and RSD from complications of a tetanus booster reaction in 2003. I now have RSD body-wide, but my arms are most painful, with muscle wasting and nerve damage. During the endless round of Drs, tests and therapy, a couple of my PTs' observations sent me to a geneticist, who confirmed something I had sort of suspected. I have a hereditary connective tissue disorder, similar to Ehler's-Danlos or Marfans but unnamed as yet. My heart checked out just fine. But I have long arms and legs for my trunk size, and am double-jointed in most small and large joints, have adult-onset scoliosis and pre-menopause severe osteoporosis. Also a high palate with too many large teeth in a small jaw.

My maternal aunt, uncle and grandfather were positive for sx, and both my daughters are as well. Both were delayed in fine and gross motor at preschool screening, but only in areas where the hypermobility came into play. My oldest, 15, can do everything age-appropriate except for rope-climbing and pull-ups. My 11-yr-old still has trouble with fine-motor skills and has terrible hand-writing, but readable, and can't do pull-ups or rope-climbing either. Neither could ever master the monkey bars. And they frequently pop joints partially out of place, or bend ankles, but because the tendons and ligaments are SOOO elastic, there's never a sprain. I was just like them, but had NO CLUE why.

My mom still doesn't believe any of this! ANyway, the connective tissue disorder involves a collagen deficiency. I suspect, based on what I've learned from many sources, that I reacted to the thimerosal in the Td shot. I did ok with earlier tetanus shots, but in a reaction it is to the accumulation of mercury in your body, and the load of mercury in the shot is the tipping point. Also, for the earlier shots I was younger and had more muscle mass, which helped prevent the toxoid from getting through to the faulty soft tissue.

Now my girls both had several more rounds of immunizations than I did as a kid, many of which contained mercury. I believe Haley, the 11-yr-old, has some minor damage related to the mercury in those shots, the hypersensitivity to clothing being one sx, disorganization, mood swings, crying jags. She was born a week and 1/2 early, 71/2 lbs, seemed fine, but became jaundiced and we came to discover she was tongue-tied and couldn't nurse or suck from a bottle. What a nightmare it was to get her tongue clipped - the pediatrician accused us of child abuse for wanting it done, even though she was clearly losing, not gaining weight at 2 weeks! We finally located a sympathetic oral surgeon.

She has such a high palate we were fortunate she wasn't born with a cleft lip though. So there are certainly some things genetically and otherwise going on. However she functions very well in school and with most peers and is very bright. I am hesitant to put her and her sister through the genetic testing because if they are labelled with a hereditary connective tissue disorder it might make it very difficult for them to get insurance once they are on their own, or get full coverage.

Both girls are highly capable, talented, fully functioning kids. I just need help handling this younger one and her behavior cause she wears me out. I don't sleep well due to pain, and have little energy, am on several meds, my pain averages 5-6 daily and she wants to defy or debate every single thing I ask or tell her. Or we do something together on the weekend, have fun, and an hour after we get home I hear how I never do anything for her, never do or buy or allow her to do anything SHE likes, she doesn't like me and wishes she didn't live here and off she goes to her room in tears, mad, and NOT doing whatever it is I had asked in the first place which is something like starting her homework or setting the table.

Lately almost every night has ended with her mad and upset about something - and I'm reaching the end of my rope with her! Guess it's something to talk over with my counselor - she may have some ideas. There is a really good counselor for strong-willed kid's here, but costs lots of $$ which we don't have - squeaking by right now.

I'm in the damages phase of a settlement, but my lawyer says it could be quite a while yet - may even go back to trial - God, I pray not!
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Old 10-11-2006, 08:48 AM   #5
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Hi Beth,

My first thought - have your daughter evaluated by a mental health professional. He or she will be able to tell you if there might be more going on....ADD or.....

I have what you would call a "strong willed daughter" and this has been the case since the begining - she is now 14.

I could never keep shoes and/or socks on this child, she was also very picky about things that would touch her. Her moods flipped from one extreme to the next. Our lives and what we did and when became based on her mood at that time. She could/would become violent in her reactions to all of us....her dad, me and her brother. Her brother was afraid of her and he is 2 years older. Yet she is a very kind hearted person.

I knew something was not right and finally when she was 6 years old and had come at me and drew blood I knew I had to seek help. At this point she was also telling me -"just kill me mom I don't want to be like this" this statement was not meant as *attention* she really didn't have control of how she reacted to things.

My daughter was dx'd - ADD, depression, sensory intergration disorder, ODD (oppositional definite disorder). This is not a child that comes from a broken home or an abusive situation. This is a chemical imbalance and part of her DNA.

Medication and psychotherapy has given her the ability to become a wonderful maturing teenager.
Dx RRMS 1984
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Old 10-11-2006, 08:55 AM   #6
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((((((((((((((( beth ))))))))))))))))

it's so difficult to parent and live with chronic pain. it sounds like you do so well!

i would certainly get her in with a therapist just for an assessment. you might be right on target with the ADD. she sounds much like i was as a child, and i live with ADD as well. the frustration coming from nowhere (as well as the sensitivity) is very familiar to me. also, i was showing outwardly only 1/10 what i felt inside and would think, "i'm being an angel right now compared to what i feel and YOU'RE upset???" I remember thinking that alot and being confused by the reactions around me when I thought I was being controlled and good.

therapy could help her to recognize her frustrations and work on them continually. i think it would be great for her age! for ANY child that age.

good luck and let us know!


From the caterpillar emerged
~Strong in flight, beautiful to the eyes, movement laced with grace~
The butterfly

Last edited by kimmydawn; 10-11-2006 at 09:08 AM.
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Old 10-11-2006, 12:18 PM   #7
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Snoopy, that must have been a nightmare! Thank goodness we haven't had any violence, although she and her sister bicker constantly. She lies convincingly right to your face though, even when the evidence is clear. And takes things to her room without asking, odd things you don't realize are missing til you see them in there. She also goes through the contents of all the cabinets and closets - she probably knows the location of everything in the house better than dh and I!

Good to know I'm not the only one that has a child that went through the whole sock/shoe/clothing bit (well, we still go through the clothing bit - she almost never wears jeans, too scratchy), at the same time I offer my sympathy! That reminds me I need to hide away her flip flops - it's getting quite chilly and she still wants to wear them to school.

I WILL talk to my therapist about an appropriate counselor, and possible low-cost testing available.

Thanks everyone, you've been so helpful and shared so much. Kimmie, it's great to get some insight on how SHE likely feels when these problems blow up! Like I said, we have been able to mostly get along til the last couple years when I've been less able to function, and she's gotten older. But the kind of misbehavior a preschooler/early elementary age child typically gets into are mostly a lot less scary than what a pre-teen/teenager looking for trouble will find - and I HAVE to get a handle on her now if I'm going to protect her from those kinds of things.

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Old 10-14-2006, 07:23 PM   #8
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I have 4 boys all diagnosed with ADHD and most of them dont have the sensitivity and behavioral issues.

Now.. Adam my 11 yr old.. I am trying to have tested for Aspergers or High functioning Autism or Bipolar or other behavorial problems. He has the sensory integration issues where he doesnt like feeling of clothes, doesnt like being touched, etc. His mood swings are crazy. He stims (hand flapping in infancy and now hand claps and "chomps" his teeth) when excited. He doesnt keep like to keep eye contact much. He doesn't interact with his classmates and pretty much keeps to himself at school. At home if he plays with kids they are around 7-8 or maybe 9 yrs old. He is like obsessed with playing wrestling games or fighting games. He is EXTREMELY artistic and very advanced in his drawing. YET he only likes to draw things like swords or star wars or GUNS.. Violent stuff.

The school finally paid for him to be in counseling when he wrote a paper at school about how he is going to kill another boy (not a kid at school so the school was relieved) when he gets a little older because this boy took his girlfriend. He wrote how he is going to do it. I had been telling the school for a couple years that he had emotional and behavioral problems but they didn't see it... TIL THEN.

I agree I think your daughter would benefit with counseling. I think possibly there MIGHT (but Im not a doctor ) be more going on than just ADD..

I can understand about how its hard to keep up.. All of my boys are ADHD, 2 are in counseling for anger problems. Im a single parent trying to raise them and I can't hardly clean my house let a lone keep up with them. BUT with God's help I try.

I'll be praying for you.

Today I've had my 14 yr old yelling at me and blaming me for messing (not his word) up his weekend..He didn't do his homework and so he had to stay home instead of going with his dad and brother and friends for the night last night.. Let us know how things go.

GM (Gina Marie)
GinaMarie - Basal Cell Carcinoma Nevus Syndrome (BCCNS) also known as Gorlin Syndrome, Multiple other stuff, Mother to 4 miracle boys.
Nathan - Adhd,
Caleb - Adhd,
Adam - BCCNS, Adhd, Chiari Malformation,PDD-NOS
Noah- BCCNS, Adhd, Chiari Malformation, Bronchial Stenosis, Asthma
Thank you Jesus!! He walks with us thru all of this because he will never leave us nor forsake us!! He is my BESTEST friend!!!

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Old 12-17-2006, 04:28 AM   #9
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Default The Difficult Teen --Grows Up!

Hi all!

I've been there, done that with high-emotional-needs kids, and both are in their late teens now. The only thing that held me together was the thought that every child has three parents (Mom, Dad, and God) -- and at least one of us knows what he is doing! So, for what it is worth, here is a little wisdom I learned along the way:

People (even teens) have the right to be wrong sometimes.

Love is not the most important thing -- being understood is far more important.

Fights and tears are fine -- they are the debits of a relationship. As long as you keep up the deposits of fun, love, companionship, respect, etc., the net balance will always come out positive.

Usually a teen doesn't want Mom or Dad to solve things for them, only to sympathize. Give advice like spice -- a little at a time and only when the stew is strong enough not to be overpowered by it.

There is a reason I have my problems and they have theirs --obviously we are supposed to work on them together.

My child is not responsible for my reactions to him/her: my physical wellness, frustration, anger, embarrassment, or whatever is my own problem. I can express my feeelings, and take action to help myself (a great opportunity to model coping skills) without encouraging or allowing the child to feel guilty or responsible.

(That last was the hardest -- and it has to be the parents that bring it up and keep teaching it.)

Hope this helps! --Shari
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Old 12-19-2006, 06:15 PM   #10
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There is an excellent book I would recommend called

Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach
by Howard Glasser

There's also another one but I've not read it. It comes highly recommended to me by a very special person and I trust their opinion. I just haven't had the dollars or the time to read it yet. It seems to be more of a book about her whole journey as a parent rather than a type of parenting manual though.

"A Special Education" By Dana Buchman.
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