Helping An Emotionally Disturbed Child...

Sheri - posted on 03/05/2010 ( 7 moms have responded )

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Can anyone gove me some advice on how to deal with my pre-teen girl? She is acting out and giving me and her dad so much attitude all the time for no reason. Anything we say to her or anything we ask her to do, examples: hygeine, picking up after herself..etc she gets all in a huff, rolls her eyes, storms out the room, mocks us...when she does these things we talk to her in a reasonable tone, tell her that it is disrespectful to treat su that way and we try to give her alternative ideas of how to deal with her anger or frustration that will work for her without getting her into trouble, then send her to her room for a few minutes to think about what was said and to calm down. But this isn't working as she keeps doing the same things over and over again. Also another one of her new things is to pit us against each other, as well as take things we say comletely out of context and twist our words so what she comes out with is so far removed from what was really said it isnt funny! Then she goes to someone else and repeats "her version" to try to start drama! It si so frustrating and I am lost as to what si the best way to deal with this. i WILL NOT yell at her or any negative kind of disipline such as that, as she has had a very rough life and has heard enough harshness from others to last her a lifetime.

At one point she was thought to be on the autism spectrum with a tentitive diagnosis of Asbergers syndrome, but since has been tested at the CDC and the result was that she is not on the soectrum at all but they did give her the diagnosis of "Severely Emotionally Disturbed" I wasn't sure what that really meant or entailed, so I went hunting online for all the information I could find and there is so many different opinions...Is there anyone out there on Circle of Moms that knows about this disorder that could give me some support and a guiding hand? It would be greatly appreciated! I love her so much and we hate to see her struggling and not know exactly how to help and make it better. I am pretty positive that with more therapy we will find out that she has PTSD as well...as i said she has been through alot. Anyone with any questions or advice please write back to me, I would be ever so grateful. Thanks for taking the time to read this post.

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SEicher - posted on 05/25/2014

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The "I" should be "my" below. I can't edit the post because of the bottom screen ribbon that pops up.

SEicher - posted on 05/25/2014

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My daughter is ED. First thing I will say is that a lot of what you describe sounds like a "normal" young woman who is becoming more independent from parents as well as adjusting to hormonal changes.

When I daughter acts disrespectfully to me, I ask her, "is that how you talk to your mama?" amazingly enough, that often seems to change her behavior. that said, probably only you will be able to find strategies that work with your daughter.

Another strategy that works with my daughter is to find ordinary as well as special things that serve as incentives (rewards) for behaving appropriately. Maybe your tween would like to have a friend stay over; go shopping; go to some silly tweener event, stay up late? Whatever it is, it has to be something that she only gets when she jumps through her hoops appropriately.

It is hard to be a mom to a difficult child. Do nice things for yourself also!

Sheri - posted on 03/06/2010

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Amy~thank you so much for all your helpful information! It was so nice to see that someone had read my post and cared enough to respond with something that may be of some help...I would love to talk some more to you about this, if you are willing, contact me privately, as some of the details I won't put out in public view, as my daughters deserves some privacy. Again,, thanks so much for your support, wishing you and your family all the best!

Sheri - posted on 03/06/2010

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Jen~thanks for your response to my post and it is nice to hear that it is normal for a girl her age to act this way...I mean I in a sense knew that, but didnt know how it related to the diagnosis she had recieved. Thanks for taking the time to respond and give a few words of encouragement! Hope all is well with you and your family.

Sheri - posted on 03/06/2010

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I also wanted to add that while I stated above that my daughter has had a very rough life involving abuse and psychological trauma, myself and my husband were not the ones who did it to her. i just didnt want anyone to get the wrong impression. We are just the ones dealing with the fallout now. But in her past she has lied about some serious things that had very serious reprecussions, so this is why her current behavior worries me so. She also has a great deal of anger and rage which I am sure is a huge reason for her behavior. When she is angry she also has a tendancy to self harm. not in a serious way yet...just hitting herself and such, but I am afraid that it, as her other behaviors have, will escalate as the years go by...All we want is to help her, love her and make sure she knows she is in a safe, loving, accepting place now...and that all we want is what is best for her. We ahte always having to "talk" to her and send her to her room to calm down...it is no fun for us either. She is a lovely little lady with such a big, generous heart and so talented...if i could have one wish in this world, it would be that she never had to go through all of what she went through so she wouldnt be such an angry, confused, frustrated little girl. Bless her heart...

Iridescent - posted on 03/05/2010

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Severely Emotionally Disturbed can mean anything at all. It's one of those general diagnoses used to get a child treatment, but basically means they don't fit in another category and their major problems do fit abnormal emotional behavior. The cause (it sounds like) would be her history and her hormones, plus the fact that she trusts you and needs to push you to see how far you can be pushed. It's toddlers all over again, but you are more limited.



Does she see a psychiatrist regularly (like at least a weekly basis)? If not, you should start; she needs someone to talk to that isn't going to report back to anyone she knows unless it's a life-threatening issue. This is so she can learn to express herself appropriately and also learn to cope with her past and her emotions now. It took me a good 8 years of therapy to deal with childhood abuse. Some people never recover, but the sooner it's started, the better.



Make a united front. Who is she telling these drama stories to? Just between you and your husband, it's important that you agree to speak with the other when she says something (blaming) and not put her down when she makes the complaint. Just say you'll discuss it with your spouse, and get back to her on it by x time. Don't accuse her of lying; she probably doesn't think she is. Discuss the situation calmly, and if it can't remain calm, take a break then start over. Make sure you ask how she came to the impression she got from a conversation. She may easily be dealing with paranoia right now, which makes every little comment seem personal and dramatic. When she makes a statement, she will remember words or punctuation differently, and intent. It might actually help to take a notebook, write out what you intended to say, and have her write her reply. It allows you to think before it's "said" and to edit if it appears wrong when you proof-read. It also gives her less to take personally (tone of voice is HUGE, body language, a mispronunciation). I have a lot of autistic tendencies thanks to child abuse; these are all major issues for me. They may help her as well.

Jenn - posted on 03/05/2010

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I don't know about the diagnosis, but her behaviour sounds pretty normal for a girl her age to me.

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