Daughter throws epic temper tantrums over the smallest things! Advice please!!

Maurin - posted on 07/01/2010 ( 4 moms have responded )

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I'm not sure how many post have been made about this issue, so I'm sorry if you all have heard this before. My daughter, Haylie, is 11 years old and she has been diagnosed with Aspergers. I'm not sure how much I agree with this diagnosis, but that's a different post entirely. I've seen her attitude and behavior change and get worse over the years. She was diagnosed early 2009 and it was by our therapist. No tests were done. I'm not even sure there are tests for it. We are in the process of getting a second opinion. Anyways, the reason for this post is my daughter's temper tantrums over the smallest things. The best way I can explain this is by giving an example. The other day I gave her a time out because she was purposefully being overly bratty to her brother. I know it's a typical thing for a little sister to annoy her older brother, but this was a bit extreme. Once I told her she had a time out she immediately started questioning it and saying I wasn't being fair.....which is how they all go. I told her that she may not think it's fair but she still is going to serve the time out....which is only 11 minutes (one minute for each year she is old). This is where she starts getting defiant. She will sit down and flat out tell us "NO, I am NOT serving the time out"! This is also where I think she may have been misdiagnosed. She is so defiant when she's asked to do something she doesn't want to do. Once it gets to this point a temper tantrum is inevitable. I don't get how she does NOT get that if she would just serve the stupid time out she could go back to doing whatever it was she was doing in the first place....besides annoying the snot out of her brother. What could have been taken care of in 11 minutes turns out to be an all day or night thing...depending on when she gets the time out. We don't back down from anything. Once we say she has a time out, she will serve that time out before she gets to do anything else. She runs to her room to avoid it. Aside from her bed and her dresser there isn't a single thing in her room. Yes, it got SO bad that we removed every toy, every piece of furniture that wasn't necessary and every decoration out of her room. So when she runs up there all she does is sleep. She will come down hours later (usually around dinner time cuz she smells the food) and ask if she can eat dinner before serving her time out. We said yes to this ONCE and what did she NOT do? Yep, the time out. So we don't make that mistake anymore. She doesn't get to do anything until that time out is served. This then restarts the temper tantrum and she runs back up to her bedroom. In the last 3 months we have done that maybe 3 or 4 times so it's not like we are depriving her of food on a nightly basis. Come breakfast time she will eat and usually serve her time out right afterwards. We ask her if it was worth it and she always says no, but she never learns because a couple days later the same thing will happen again. Not necessarily to the extent above, but it takes an act of Congress to get her to do something she doesn't want to do. Anyone else out there going through the same thing? Any advice would be welcomed!

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Julie - posted on 07/03/2010

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This sounds the exactly the same as our daughter (7). We have had this defiance for about 4 years. Cut a long story short we now have a second diagnosis of Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome (not very well known and only really recognised by psychiatrists). Psychiatrists often call it Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Any attempt to ask her to do the most simple thing can result in running, hiding, screaming, throwing, stamping, hitting herself or just all of the above. Time outs and the usual sanctions DO NOT WORK as they cannot get the cause and effect link. She would only stop when her throat hurt so much that she could not scream any more or she fell asleep. Things have got much better after reading the PDA literature. Ask your paediatrician about looking into to this for your daughter it could be very useful. Good Luck

[deleted account]

HI - all sounding oh so familiar!!!

Son aged 8 has High Func. Autism (HFA) and ADD, however I wish he would run to his room - he runs out the house. Yesterday I double locked us in, he still got out, scaled a 6ft fence and ran off......sigh....

he seems to push every boundary, almost all the time.

talking, talking talking works to some point (tho often I see it as arguing back quite often!) They will often need to get their point across, and if you interrupt, they go back to the beginning as they have to do it in one go.....
(I know this as my husband has Aspergers)

Keep being consistent.

Oh another thought.....we were getting pretty desperate last year and finally went to GP to see about drugs (we have been very anti this approach) However I wanted something for occassional use only.
To my horror after going thro limited possibilities we ended up with some form of valium.

However....... the difference it makes is amazing. He never appears drugged or dopey, HE tells me he likes it as it slows everything down in his head and he can think properly without everything zooming by.
We still only use it on the very bad days - but he has changed my thoughts on this - if he was diabetic would I refuse him drug treatment - no of course not. Just need to get my head around this one tho....

Melanie - posted on 07/02/2010

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My daughter was doing the same when she first started the hormonal changes. All you can do is to not give in. You might want to say you may serve your time out in your room or in that corner, spot etc. It gives her a choice and allows her some measure of control. Which, if she is autistic is important.

Nicole - posted on 07/02/2010

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I think a lot of your daughter's defiance could be puberty related and hormonal. However, these kinds of meltdowns do seem consistant with Aspergers or HFA. My daughter was d/x with Autism before age 2 and the tantrums were the biggest problem for us. At age 5, the tantrums are still pretty rough. My daughter is extremely verbal and now she argues with me over the smallest things. Time outs don't really work with her either. Have you noticed her acting up as the school year ended? A lot of kids with Aspergers have trouble dealing with change. I notice that my daughter's meltdowns increase when ever a huge event is coming like a holiday, change in routine etc. Recently, she has become VERY controlling and bossy. During times like this, I give her LIMITED choices. Having a choice, gives her a sense of control without the arguements.

It sounds like your daughter is testing you and my only advice is to not give in to it! She remembers the ONE time you let it slide and she's trying to make that happen again. You are doing a good job of being consistant so keep it up! I think that maybe the timeouts aren't really working for her any more so maybe a different approach is needed. Be consistant with the expectations and always remember to reward the good behavior as well. I think it's good to get a second opinion to be sure and keep an open mind. I had to get 3 opinions until the diagnosis really made sense to us. No matter what comes of it, 11 year old girls can be very difficult to deal with. I an dreading the tween/teen years! Good luck and I hope this helped.

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