We’re starting to have some serious behaviour issues again with Hunter, and we’re really quite perplexed. She’s always been high-strung, has always struggled with transitions and has always needed structure and routine. But for the past six months – more, maybe – she’d really been doing so well and was much more even-keeled and better able to control her emotions.
But the past couple of weeks it all seems to be coming unglued. It started with some serious attitude. She’d flat out refuse to do what she was asked, laugh off any sugestions of disciplinary responses, goad us, etc. Then we started seeing some real tantrums.
A few nights back she came into our room at about 11.30. She was wandering in and out and I told her she needed to lie down and go to sleep (there’s a mattress in our room for her, just while she’s sharing with Hugo during the renos, so she can come in without disturbing him. It had been working fine up till this point).
She told us in no uncertain terms that she was not going to lie down and was not going to go to sleep. No amount of suggestion, discussion, instruction or, eventually, yelling, made any difference. She screamed and screamed and screamed. Scratched at my hand, kicked the bed. We told her she’d lose a privilege and she didn’t even care. Told her she’d be sent to sleep in the loungeroom, and she said she wouldn’t go and if we made her she’d just come straight back in and keep screaming. There was malice in her tone and we were really at a loss. I seriously didn’t know what to do – it was very clear that we had absolutely no power to affect her behaviour at all. There was a solid half hour of carry on before she eventually settled down, when she chose to.
We’ve been having mini versions of this at bed time at least a few nights a week lately, too, and there was another night time tantrum a couple of nights ago.
On top of this, she’s been saying lately that she does not want to go to preschool. She is getting very obstinate in the mornings, not wanting to get dressed or pack her bags. She cries when I tell her it’s a preschool day. Today she told me she prefers red lights to green because the car trip to preschool takes longer. I’ve asked her what the problem is and she always says it’s because she doesn’t like rest time, but I think that’s just how she’s chosen to respond.
The past couple of weeks, drop off has been getting harder and harder and this morning it all went totally to shit.
She did not want me to leave until her friend phoebe arrived. I don’t want her to view phoebe’s arrival as the solution to her drop off worries because pheobe doesn’t go every day Hunter goes, and sometimes she wants to play with other kids anyway. So I have been working on helping her get involved with activities with the other kids (she’s VERY reluctant to do this – she really lacks the confidence to approach other children). Usually I can help her find someone to play with and she’s okay, though she’s often borderline teary before that point.
But today, she absolutely did not want me to leave before phoebe arrived. And I needed to leave because there was someone due to arrive at our house at 9am.
I told her I needed to go and that she’d be okay, and the director took her hand and tried to lead her away. She clung to me, screaming and crying, and I had to literally prise her hands off of me. It was awful and what I really wanted to do was just bring her home.
I could hear her screaming as I was leaving, “I don’t WANT YOU. I WANT MUMMY!!” She was so full of anger. I can’t even explain the volume and emotion of her meltdown. It was not what you picture when you think about a kid crying at drop off. It was so much more dramatic than that.
I know she was okay shortly after I left – because phoebe arrived. As soon as she got there, hunter stopped short and ran off to play. But what the hell is going to happen tomorrow when phoebe is not there?
I have such mixed emotions about all of this. When she’s screaming and telling me she hates me and kicking I just want to tear my hair out. And then I feel so worried about her. And I wonder what I am doing so wrong.