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Luann
Luann, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 158
Experience:  Licensed Psychologist, 24 years experience working with children, adolescents, families and adults.
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My 5year old grandaughter is very angry most of the time.she

Resolved Question:

my 5year old grandaughter is very angry most of the time.she will bite and hit family members and it can happen at any time.she has also started cutting herself with scissors and also a razor and can not tell you why.she is very bright and has a very good ability with words and in many ways advanced for her age,she can also be very loving.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Luann replied 6 years ago.
Luann :

Hello

Luann :

Your granddaughter and family need help dealing with these aggressive behaviors. What she is doing is dangerous. You said you tried behavior therapy and did not find it helpful. Behavior therapy is going to be much more helpful than any verbal interventions such as talk therapy or talking to her. She is too young and out of control to reason with. Often with behvior therapy you will see behaviors get worse before they get better. Your granddaughter is going to resist change and will act out even more with a change in how family members handle her behaviors. You have to stick with it. You have to outlast her.

Customer:

what do you mean by outlast her, we have tried each punishment for at least 6 months and there is no improvement,we have asked all family members to use only the one thing we are trying to keep up consistancy but to no avail.

Luann :

What I mean is to keep working with a behavior therapist and keep implementing the plan. Each time you waver or give in, you reinforce your granddaughter's behavior and she keeps it up believing it will work. Therefore you have to outlast her by sticking with the plan. I hope that the behavioral plan is looking at rewards not just punishment. Rewarding behaviors is much more effective than punishment. A good behavioral plan will break down the behavior you want to see into small steps and have you reinforce these small steps toward the desired behavior.

Customer:

we have been seeing the behaviour therapist for about 9 months and have not been given any plan.but every suggestion they have put forward we have done.as my grandaughters second primary carer and having raised three children myself,and coming from a big family myself i have seen different ways to rear children myself i do not agree with smacking and have always used the praise method, also with my other grandchildren.which works well with them but not this one grandaughter.

Luann :

Your granddaughter's behavior is outside of the range of "normal" childhood behavior. Your granddaughter is lucky to have you as a support person in her life. It sounds like there should be a meeting with the therapist, all care providers and anyone else working with your granddaughter to discuss the treatment plan and current struggles. If the therapist can not give you a plan, you may need to look around for someone else to work with. Some people say they are doing behavior therapy but they are using behavioral techniques and are not behavior therapists. Is the school system involved? Most school systems have early childhood programs, if she is not in kindegarten yet, and may be able to provide services too.

Customer:

the behavior therapist contacted the school and my grandaughter has one to one with someone at the school.but it is like she dosnt know how to express any emotion except with violence,she lived at my home with her mum for 4 years and never saw any violence as i believe most things can be sorted with talking quietly but this has been going on since she was nine months old.when at that age we would take her away from the situation.

Luann :

It sounds like there are a lot of good services being provided for your granddaughter. You are right, how the adults react to her makes a big difference. Being calm is much preferred, agitation will only increase her behaviors. That should be part of the therapists job to instruct the adults on the best way to respond. The primary intervention with your granddaughter will be in what the adults do, not so much what she does. It sounds like she is not yet able to manage her behaviors, so the people around her have to manage her by manipulating the environment and by their actions. If her behaviors continue to be problematic you may need to consider medication. A psychiatrist could best evaluate that. Medication may be necessary just to calm things down so she is able to be successful and start to build skills to manage herself.

Customer:

thankyou for your comments they have been very helpful.Idont like the thought of medication

Luann :

I certainly understand your concerns about medication however you have to consider the effects of her angry behavior. Besides the impact on family relationships, she is probably having difficulty forming friendships too. She realizes when she is out of control and "bad" and this has an impact on her self-esteem. If medication can help her not be so angry this would be a big plus for her normal development. You are doing all of the right things, hang in there with her, she needs your love and support.

Customer:

thankyou i will get my daughter to take her back to her doctor,fingers crossed, will contact you again if i need more help.

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