My daughter recently turned 7, but I still remember my grandmother looking into her eyes when she was just a newborn and declaring her an old soul. She says things sometimes that just awe me or crack me up, things beyond her years. In other ways, though, she is a typical child. She likes attention from her parents, would rather play than do chores, and sometimes believes she knows it all. She has been known to get upset when she does not get her way. Here’s the thing, though…sometimes she gets incredibly upset when she doesn’t get her way about seemingly small things. This is where I imagine it has more to do with SPD or things being out of her control rather than a “spoiled” child acting out.
For example, brushing her teeth and showering cause such turmoil in our home. The tooth brushing is actually getting quite a bit better and will hopefully go by the wayside like her hand washing issues of the past, but showering remains an obstacle. She loves the water and swimming, which leads me to believe that it is not related to the feeling of water. Is it a control thing? She brushes her teeth in the morning before school without issue, but often of it is on the weekends, or especially bedtime, that brings on a meltdown.
In part, I think sometimes the struggle is related to bedtime, as she showers at night and has to brush again before bed. Have others found that when you begin to engage in activities that signal bedtime, it triggers a strong reaction or meltdown in your child? Bedtime has always been an issue for us. Darling is prone to anxiety, and bedtime certainly brings it out more, being alone in a room at night and all. Unless one of us lay with her for a while, which we do only on occasion, she is not a fan of bedtime. She has a night light, her favorite blanket and bear bear, we spend together before bed and read stories in her room. I also check on her after I tuck her in so that she knows I am still around. I am not sure what else to do to help her handle bedtime more successfully and lessen the instance of these strong and defiant reactions.
At the same time, I do not think her shower issue is all about bedtime. I actually tried to talk with her about it the other day, and it seemed part of her resistance is that it is just so much work and she lacks the energy. Don’t I know it! I have oft wished to be able to snap my fingers and poof…I am all ready! Her OT over the summer said Belle’s core is weak, and that some kids like this get tired quickly just sitting or standing because their body is working harder than a child with a strong core. Could it be the energy, not the bedtime, or could it be both, or vary day to day? I know parent of SPD parenting is being a detective, but Sherlock Holmes I am not!
Darling is the picture of obedience and does well at school and in public, but meltdowns, though improving, continue show up at home. I know this is common; I accept this and would rather her meltdown safe at home with me. I still want to find ways to help her, though. When she loses control, even for a reason that any kid might get upset by, like feeling her brother is getting more attention or a hard day at school with too many changes, her reaction is so intense. She is always depleted emotionally and physically afterward. She also feels guilty. This all breaks my mothers heart. I do not want her to feel bad about herself. It is good that she apologizes for her behavior as there is sometimes hitting and usually hurtful words, and I always hug her and accept her apology and tell her I love her, but I know she just wishes it wouldn’t have happened in the first place. And she feels bad. We both do. The first times she yelled that she hated me, I was hurt…for myself. Now when she gets to that point, I hurt for her, because I know that what will follow is an intense angry meltdown, followed by tears and crying, finished with feeling bad about the whole thing and leaving her drained.
Darling is resilient, and truthfully I probably dwell on this more than she does as I just want the best for her. We talk a lot, and I listen to what she has to say. I look for clues and support her while trying to find that balance with boundaries as well. Things are improving all the time, and I make sure to praise her when she does well, especially when I see her struggling internally and on the brink of anger, but she pulls herself back. She is definitely happy, helpful, and behaved more than she is anything else…but hormones aren’t here yet and we want to get things on the right path sooner rather than later! If any moms or dads out there have insight into angry meltdowns, tips for transition and bedtime anxiety, or advice related to this post, then in the words of Frasier Crane…I am listening.