Falling apart


New Member
Hi. This is my first time posting on a site like this so I am a little nervous. I would greatly appreciate any thoughts on this. I have a 4 year old daughter that is totally out of control and I am totally falling apart because of it. I am to the point where I just can't deal with her anymore and she seems to be getting worse by the day. Here is a little background on her. She was born about a month early and spent about 4 days in the special care unit of the hospital as she had a slight breathing issue. She was a wonderful baby. She was much easier then her older sister was, and I'm sad to say, my bond was much stronger with her then with her older sister. I think this was because she was premature and because I had severe postpartum depression with her older sister. But my relationship with her was wonderful. By about 2 years old she was starting to be a little late meeting some of her milestones. Her pediatrician said it was expected as she was born early and that she would eventually catch up. By about 2 1/2 she was meeting her milestones except for her speech. As of right now her speech is behind and we are working to improve it. At about 3 years her temper tantums started to take on a little more violence and became more extreme. Her tantrums were so bad our neighbors at the time came and knocked on our door to make sure she was ok and not hurt. She would scream so loud you could hear her down the street! She started to injure herself sometimes by hitting things or a couple of times she even banged her head into our front door! She had other strange behaviors develop as well. Such as always covering her ears when there was a noise that was a little louder then usual and she, like her sister, would only eat her food at room temp or cold. She also became very picky about what food she would eat. But over the last year is when her behavior took a turn for the worst.
It started when she entered headstart (3K). She has become very defiant and fights any type of routine we have. Her tantrums have become nuclear meltdowns and she fights us on EVERYTHING. She has had the same routine since last September but she fights it everyday! Everyday there is a meltdown to the point that our neighbors are making comments to us about it. Her sleep pattern is no longer what it was either. Every night it is a meltdown over bed time. Some nights she will not go to sleep until around 12am. She has also started to get into things she should not be into. Things she knows she isn't supposed to be in. Some examples are my makeup on the top shelf in the closet, anything in my bedroom is fair game, her sister's paints and everything in our coat closet. She has also started hoarding food at night. I have found all kinds of food in her closet. She does this even if she has eaten all her dinner. There are also some issues at school. From the first day at preschool her teachers have said she is behind and have been unhappy with where she is at with behavior and speech. She still sucks her finger, she speaks at a 2 year level, she will not engage the other children to play, she can only concentrate on school tasks for a short time and she only follows directions about half the time. Now she sees a special education teacher and a speech pathologist. Her speech has improved a little since she started with the speech pathologist but there is still a lot of work to be done. She is also getting tubes put in her ears tomorrow so I'm hoping that will help her improve even more. But back to the behavior. She really is almost uncontrollable at this point. Her tantrums have become so bad she has actually injured her father and needs to be restrained to prevent her from hurting herself. Watching her lose control to that extreme is the hardest thing I have ever had to watch. I am unable to deal with her when she is this far gone as I am 9 months pregnant with child number 3. Her out of control tantrums have become so frequent that my husband has lost his job because of them. I myself have mental issues (severe depression, anxiety and ptsd) and being pregnant I am not physically or mentally able to deal with her anymore. She has also started to steal things from stores. Between the stealing and her meltdowns we are no longer able to take her shopping with us. We have tried to explain to her that you can't steal things as it is wrong but she still does it. We have tried to discipline her with timeout, taking toys away, not letting her play with friends, no TV and no sweets but nothing works. She simply does not care about consequences. She now back talks and refuses to do any kind of chores. When asked to do something she refuses and will have a tantrum if asked more then once. She will not do anything on her own. She provokes her older sister constantly too. She keeps her sister up at night and will break her things unpurpose. Usually she would rather see something broken then to let her sister have it. I am very worried about her behavior. So much so that I have started the process of having her evaluated for ODD, autism and ADHD. I feel like a failure when it comes to her. Her older sister is the exact opposite. I just don't understand what went wrong with this one. I feel so bad about this whole situation. It has got to the point where I hate being around her because everything is such a huge fight with her. Everything from putting shoes on to just sitting in her car seat is a huge meltdown with her. I am actually scared to have baby number 3 because I feel like I no longer know what I am doing. I am also very concerned about how she is going to react to having a baby in the house. She is so uncontrollable that I can't even take her to a big brother big sister class to prepare her for the new baby. She is not capable of paying attention that long and I fear her having a meltdown in public. My 4 year old's behavior has taken away all my confidence as a parent. I feel like if I failed her so bad I will probably fail this new child too. I just can't stand to watch her go downhill like this. I am falling apart more and more everyday because I simply don't know what to do with her anymore. I have expressed my concerns to a close friend of mine that also happens to work for Headstart (not the one my daughter goes too though). She has told me that it sounds like my daughter is on the autism spectrum somewhere. No one in my family or my husband's family has autism or ADHD. I am so lost on what to do to fix this situation. I want the relationship we had back. I want to feel close to her again and be able to do fun family things together without the fear of her violent meltdowns. I do feel a little better after writing this and hopefully we can get an appointment for her evaluation soon. Thank you for listening to my rant.


Well-Known Member
I would have her tested ASAP by a neuro psychologist. It sounds very much like my son who is on the autism spectrum.
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Active Member
Hello and welcome. You are in the right place. I am so sorry that you are watching your precious daughter self-destruct, that must be the worst feeling in the world. The good news though is that she is VERY young and you have a great deal of time to make a difference in her situation.

First, please know that none of this is your fault or your husband's. It is possible her premature birth may have caused some issues, but that is NOT your fault. Some kids are just difficult even when none of the other children in the family have those characteristics. Don't blame yourself. You have done, are doing and will continue to do everything possible for your child.

Second, are you in contact with social services? It's great that you are in the process of having her evaluated. Something - perhaps multiple things - is definitely going on with her. The most pressing concern in my eyes is her older sister and your soon to be newborn. It would be awful if your troubled daughter hurt (or worse) your new baby, and sadly some of these kids ARE indeed that disturbed. And the fact that your husband lost his job because of this child - I am assuming because he had to take so much time off to deal with her - says to me that the situation is just not sustainable the way it is. One of you has to work after all!

Social services can help you identify support and if necessary can involve the child welfare system as the fact is, from what you describe, if she is not a danger to her older sister she will almost certainly be a danger to her new sibling. The authorities have an obligation to help you protect your new baby as well as her older sister. You cannot sacrifice the older children for this one, they deserve as much love and attention as she does. It may be necessary, sadly, even at her young age, to consider some kind of therapeutic placement where she can get the therapy and structure she seems to need 24/7.

I agree that some of the behaviors you describe do sound like autism spectrum behaviors. Some though, particularly the antisocial piece where she is stealing, etc., seem like they might be something else. I agree with getting a thorough assessment, and please also involve CPS in your area. They will help you in many ways.

Best of luck and keep posting!


New Member
Sounds like there is a lot going on and a complete neuropsychologist evaluation is in order. A lot of her behaviors sound like some sort of sensory processing disorder, which could explain her aversion to loud noises, hot food, certain types of food, difficulty in the car seat, difficulty out in public at the store, etc. Even the head banging could be some sort of sensory seeking behavior. While you wait for your neuropsychologist evaluation, you could investigate some less expensive interventions like brushing, a weighted compression vest, or a weighted sensory blanket for sleeping. I think an Occupational Therapist (OT) diagnoses sensory processing disorder. Being premature could explain her being non-neurotypical even if it doesn't run in your family.

Best wishes.


Well-Known Member
I agree with much that others here have said. The first step is to have her evaluated. Next find a good councelor or councelors for both her and your family if you have not done so. I agree that since she is so young there is a good chance that she can be helped. My sympathies and prayers are with you.