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  1. #1

    Default Homeschooling kids who have meltdowns

    I am just so over DD10 at the moment. She has everything. Like I have given up so much of my time and ability to have a career or do the things I enjoy to homeschool her for 3 years. I have sent DD5 (who was super fun to homeschool) to school so that DD10 does not get triggered by DD5 being happy loud/excited and end up abusing her (verbally and sometimes physically) all the time. And yet she still struggles with the same issues with meltdowns.

    Its just frustrating because I have removed as many triggers and stresses as I can for her (e.g., school and essentially being around anyone who wants to do anything on a different schedule or in a different way to her) and yet as soon as something in her day does not go her way, she still goes from zero to a million in less than a second and rants and rages all over the house. As soon as she is stressed she goes into a fight response and nothing works to halt it. If I say calmly that she should go to her room and read or write in her angry book, then she just sees that as another thing to fight against. If I ask her to just please be quiet, that we don't expect anything of her other than to not scream at us, she takes that as another thing to scream at us about. One of her favorite things to scream at us then is "if I am not happy, then no one deserves to be happy". If you try calm her by offering to sit with her or hug her or anything, that makes it even worse.

    We can't all spend our entire lives tipping toeing round and changing our lives to cater to her sensitivities because we don't want to set her off. She does need to learn how to live the real world one day, which will be a heck of a lot more stressful than her home life is, and to do it without being aggressive. We have tried so many things for avoiding meltdowns and calming, but everything has limited effectiveness. And if we talk about stuff in "down" times when she is not stressed, we have these great conversations and she comes up with things she would like to try and agrees to try them. Yet when she is getting stressed or has a meltdown, she just refuses to actually do any of the things we discussed.

    I can't send DD10 to school because she would be a so much worse but it is just kind of exhausting to think that this is my life to put in so much effort for so little reward.

    DD5 also really wants to homeschool again, but I really cannot subject her to DD10 again, and especially when I do not have any great options for social activities to send her to for a break.

    Argh. I know I should take DD10 to see someone to try get some help with her having better responses and not being in this maladaptive cycle of screaming and lashing out when she is stressed. But I don't know who, and its really expensive and I don't want to put $ into something if it is the wrong type of person.

    Anyway, not really seeking advice, just wanted to vent that I am so over it! Thank goodness for my weekly riding lesson and volunteering at therapy riding. That's my 5 hours a week of being able to recover at the moment.
    Last edited by NZ_Mama; 05-27-2019 at 02:22 AM.
    New Zealand-based. DD 11 (year 6 [NZ system]) homeschooled, and DD 6 (year 1 [NZ system]) who is currently trying out public school.

    Freelance copyeditor, specializing in scientific text, who will make mistakes in my posts (I don't self-edit).

    That's a kea (NZ parrot) in my avatar. You can learn about them on Beak & Brain - Genius Birds from Down Under on Netflix.

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  3. #2

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    Hugs! Know youre not alone, and your DD isnt some strange psychopath that is destined to be a social misfit. At that age, my son was very similar, would punch or kick holes in our walls, refuse to go to his room to cool off, not stop screaming, yelling, or arguing at us, and would literally jump on top of my car if I tried to flee. “Why am I letting myself become miserable over him?” was something i often asked myself, and the prospect of sending him to public school to give me some time of peace was a real temptation.

    Mine has gotten better, I hope yours does too. Older threads here have a variety of parenting help books, but none of them really worked for us. “The Explosive Child” was a favorite on here.

    Hang in there!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3

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    Thanks. Unfortunately with DD it is more part of her permanent personality rather than a phase. She has been like this since she was a baby (screamed excessively for hours every night), right through toddler/preschool, early primary to now. If anything she is actually better now than when she was in early primary (age 5 to 8) because she is less stressed. We would have upwards of three huge meltdowns a day then and she also threatened to run away and all sorts of other things. She is just super sensitive and gets stressed easily and when she does, she is a fight response. Would be so much easier if she was flight or freeze!

    We have been working through Ross Greene's work. I read the Explosive Child when she was about 2. But just earlier this year found he has a free website and worksheets to do what is called an assessment of lagging skills and unsolved problems. So that is where we do the conversations in down time talking about things she wants to try to solve the problems. But she never follows through on anything. So I think we need some outside help because she is becoming very entrenched in that (meltdown) being her response rather than trying to get better.

    I have also just discovered Stuart Shanker's self-reg stuff, so am trying to work on that as well. But, so little time to fit it all in!
    New Zealand-based. DD 11 (year 6 [NZ system]) homeschooled, and DD 6 (year 1 [NZ system]) who is currently trying out public school.

    Freelance copyeditor, specializing in scientific text, who will make mistakes in my posts (I don't self-edit).

    That's a kea (NZ parrot) in my avatar. You can learn about them on Beak & Brain - Genius Birds from Down Under on Netflix.

  5. #4

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    And I wanted to add that I am no way diminishing your experience or anything because what you have been through is super tough too. My brother was similar (a kicking holes in doors and walls type and really physically aggressive towards my mother), and it was horrible! I am glad your son has improved now. My brother had times when he was terrible in his later teens as well, so I hope you avoid that, but he is a super chilled out adult now.

    I have just spent so much time, well my daughter's entire life so far, waiting for her to grow out of this. Like oh maybe she has colic as a baby, she'll grow out of it; maybe she has the terrible 2's, she'll grow out of it; and so on. Now that we have gone through all these ages and it has been consistent and I have removed all her stressors and it is still the same, I realize it is just her. So now it feels like a parenting fail because I have spent so much time just waiting for her to grow out of whatever phase I tried to put it down to rather than helping her develop skills to self regulate and deal with stress.
    New Zealand-based. DD 11 (year 6 [NZ system]) homeschooled, and DD 6 (year 1 [NZ system]) who is currently trying out public school.

    Freelance copyeditor, specializing in scientific text, who will make mistakes in my posts (I don't self-edit).

    That's a kea (NZ parrot) in my avatar. You can learn about them on Beak & Brain - Genius Birds from Down Under on Netflix.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Arrived RTB's Avatar
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    My experience. . . .

    Hugs. Yep, can totally relate, this was my DD. Walking on eggshells, dealing with meltdowns, dealing with labile moods, my resentment, my fried nerves - yep, yep, yep. All starting at a very early age (have to always be held / worn as an infant, non-sleeper totally gave up naps at 18 mos.). Not a phase, a life.

    My DD has ADHD (along with a panic disorder and some transient depression, but ADHD is the main 'issue'). So much of her ADHD presented as anger / rage . . . and. . . chaos(?). Her behavior literally decided if we (all - me, her, ds, dh) had a good day or a bad day.

    Pre-diagnosis, I spent years reading books and applying what I read - empathetic parenting, rational parenting, supportive parenting, consequences, rewards, grandma advice, friend advice - on and on. It was not enough. In retrospect we were backwards - what we needed was in-person professional therapy, supported by books.

    It took awhile, but we finally got an official diagnosis and found a wonderful therapist that works for us, and she is working wonders. DD says she is "the best thing that ever happened to me".. She sees DD once a week, and us (me and DH) about once a month. I was overwhelmed, and out of patience when we found her - having someone to guide us, and frankly tell us what to do was a God send. Having the therapist say 'you seemed stressed' (in reality - I was way passed stressed - I was at meltdown), as simple as it sounds, was the validation I was desperate to hear (you are damn right I'm stressed and pissed and tired and overwhelmed and confused and resentful . . . . *insert giant sigh of relief*). She has help lift the rage-fog that dd use to live in 24/7 (breaks my heart that was her life). Having a game plan, practical skills to work on, and someone to talk to has made all the difference for all of us.

    DD is still DD. Therapy did has not magically make her a docile / easy going kid free of ADHD or anxiety, or me the perfect parent. It's still a ton of work, we have good days and bad days. But now I know how to parent her better than before, because parenting her is not intuitive for me. Now I know how to help her better than before, because helping her is not intuitive for me. I'm still learning, but now I have a guide, and I feel hopeful - we all do. DD has skills and insight that she didn't have before - that is gold and will serve her for the rest of her life.

    So, If I was giving advice to myself I'd say, Rebecca . . .
    This f***ing sucks - I hear you! Trust yourself - you know in your bones that this is not a typical behavior issue or parenting style issue. It's ok to give all the parenting books the bird, you are right, they are not working for your situation.The right therapist is out there. Keep going, keep going, keep going.

    Hang in there NZ <3
    Last edited by RTB; 05-27-2019 at 09:26 PM. Reason: info
    Rebecca
    DS 14, DD 12
    Year 8

  7. #6

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    Thank you both!

    RTB, your experience sounds so much like ours.

    Now I know you were not saying that she necessarily has ADHD, but I have a friend whose child is much younger and similar in some ways, and she suspects ADHD. I don't see ADHD in my DD but maybe I don't see the forest for the trees since I am so in the trenches. It is also really hard for me to see what about her behavior is atypical and what is typical because I am so used to it. School used to be great for comparison as I could be around all these other kids and go "oh even they are questioning why she does that". If she does have ADHD she would the inattentive type!

    She is so nice the rest of the time. Then its like she instantly turns into a hydra spitting venom everywhere she can, and if you cut off one of her heads (issues) she grows two more.

    But thank you, yes I am very much tired and resentful and all the rest, and it is helpful to vent here and get some motivation to keep on.

    I hope we can find a great therapist like you have. She has tried a counsellor (not sure what you call them in the US but someone to chat with that does not have psychology training) in the past. And she did play therapy. But it was not very effective because we did not know what caused her behavior so it was really trying to treat something without knowing what the something was.

    I am just feeling hesitant about what way to go because I would have to pay full private fees. Mental health is not well covered under the NZ public health system unless you are like way over the brink already (even when you are over the brink it is pretty poor). It is kind of the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. There is no proactive helping people out before it gets bad unless you go private. And we have a lack of professionals that have suitable experience here. There is an option of going through the clinic for trainee clinical psychologists at the university for free. But I am not sure what their waiting lists are like.

    When I got her cognitive assessment done we had to fly to another city, and those people were good-ish. But I don't want to use them again because I think it would be good to have someone local that she can see regularly. I also say "good-ish" because in her cognitive assessment her processing speed was very low (34th percentile) compared with her other results (>95th percentile), but they never commented on this much apart from saying to try accommodate for that in tests and writing. Whereas stuff I have read online says if they have a big discrepancy like this, it is an indicator that you should look for what causes that.

    She also had all these meltdown issues then and I described them to the pysch and they gave her a diagnosis of ODD. That has never sat well with me and I could not verbalize why. But when I listened to this talk from Stuart Shanker recently, in his opinion, ODD does not exist (in the way that it is framed for these children). Because it would have to be intentional misbehavior that they are choosing to do, but it is not, it is stress behavior that they cannot control and it is being framed in the wrong way. So I am not so keen on going back to those same psychs again.
    New Zealand-based. DD 11 (year 6 [NZ system]) homeschooled, and DD 6 (year 1 [NZ system]) who is currently trying out public school.

    Freelance copyeditor, specializing in scientific text, who will make mistakes in my posts (I don't self-edit).

    That's a kea (NZ parrot) in my avatar. You can learn about them on Beak & Brain - Genius Birds from Down Under on Netflix.

  8. #7
    Senior Member Arrived RTB's Avatar
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    Oooo, the hydra - yes - totally relate! Proceeded or followed by the sunshine-cherry pie mood.

    I think part of what makes our therapist good, is the fact that she is intuitive. Education is important and necessary, but finding a person who can see patterns, read between the lines, and sense things / feelings is not always easy. I hope you can find someone similar.

    DD was probably more hyperactive when she was younger. As she has gotten older she is more inattentive - while being very athletic (so she has learned to be hyperactive in 'appropriate' settings). I think the anger was / is caused by her internal disorder / disorganization - if that makes sense.

    She also spent a fair amount of time in occupational therapy for some sensory stuff and that was also beneficial.

    I think you have to go with your gut - if ODD feels wrong, keep going. Keep pushing, looking. I think it was important for DD to get some age on her to get a more accurate diagnosis. So maybe seeking out a second opinion now that your DD is a bit older might be helpful.
    Last edited by RTB; 05-28-2019 at 11:21 AM.
    Rebecca
    DS 14, DD 12
    Year 8

  9. #8

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    Could it be something along the lines of demand avoidance? (Not necessarily PDA, itself, but something sort of on a spectrum with it? )

    The basic gist of it is that is anxiety-driven.

    I think it is more of a UK/Europe defined thing -- and it was never a thing I felt comfortable exploring with the school district here in the US b/c I think they would have poo-pooed it and tried to shift to broaching ODD or something like it. Locally that means they consider your child an evil seed, and treat the child accordingly.

    Anyway, when my son was non-compliant and unable to describe why (He has autism) -- I -think- it was driven by anxiety. He communicates much better now and has an emotional maturity now he didn't then. The school was very authoritarian as is the regional attitude regarding children, and that was making everything a lot worse.

    At home we did the whole egg-shell thing (proactive scaffolding) and it worked much better. If your child is a good communicator, the Ross Green Collaborative Problem Solving thing will probably work better for you than it did for us. We had to use the "being a genius" adaptation b/c he wouldn't tell us what the issue was, usually, so we had to guess.

    We are in a much better place at 14 than we were when he was your daughter's age and I really think they have to develop into a certain maturity to understand why they need to attempt to calm down, themselves.

    I suspect there's something chemically attractive on a neurotransmitter level in that upset-meltdown loop, and they need to understand -why- they need to resist it --and then begin the hard work of doing so.

    Since your child is a much better communicator than mine is/was (He never would have been able to articulate we had no business being happy if he wasn't --but I bet he felt like that!) You might be able to use the collaborative techniques to get into her head and see what is bothering her.

    For us, it really did take for us to convince him that we were on his side -- especially after the school tried really hard to loop me into their punitive approach to maintain a united front b/c they were not going to loosen up. I really do think it eroded trust he had for us here and made things worse on that level, too.

    Anyway, I know it can be really hard. Do you take the summer off? I always give my son the summer mostly off and use it for more independent learning and de-stressing. If you do, you can try to use that time to talk to her -- when it won't be as heated and see if you can get her to tell you what is going on. Try to make things light and fun.

  10. #9
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    HinHH brings up a good point about anxiety. I think DD's internal sense of chaos or disorganization caused her a lot of anxiety - which then manifested in anger outbursts (as well as panic attacks).
    Rebecca
    DS 14, DD 12
    Year 8

  11. #10

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    Yes she is very anxious and it does contribute to her stress. She also has many panic attacks. Her specific anxieties are that she is emetophobic (fear of vomiting [others, herself, choking/gagging sounds, people saying they feel unwell]), has anxiety about medical procedures, and has a lot of separation anxiety that mainly manifests currently as constant questioning of me as to when will I pick her up, will I be there on time, etc etc. For the record, I have never picked her what I would consider late to cause this. I have always been on time and as she has got older I think it is acceptable to pick her up 5 min after an activity finishes and she is still getting out of class/changed. The separation anxiety has progressed somewhat in that she is no longer standing there crying if I am 5 min after class finishes.

    I like that the Stuart Shanker model with five domains of stressors (emotional, cognitive, biological, prosocial, and social) includes that sort of thing as a stressor.

    I also found it interesting to learn from his stuff that my perception of her having a total lack of empathy (she never shows empathy if someone close to her gets hurt) could actually be prosocial stress. In that she feels others pain too much so she just shuts down and won't acknowledge it.
    New Zealand-based. DD 11 (year 6 [NZ system]) homeschooled, and DD 6 (year 1 [NZ system]) who is currently trying out public school.

    Freelance copyeditor, specializing in scientific text, who will make mistakes in my posts (I don't self-edit).

    That's a kea (NZ parrot) in my avatar. You can learn about them on Beak & Brain - Genius Birds from Down Under on Netflix.

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Homeschooling kids who have meltdowns