I can understand how frustrated you must feel, with your
daughter getting angry many times every day! Thankfully, there is a lot that
you can do to change things.
Some children are quite easy-going by temperament. They do most of what they’re supposed to do
without making much of a fuss about it, and they accept changes to their
routine without becoming too upset.
Other children have a more extreme temperament. They are more sensitive, which means that
they notice and react to little things that another child might easily brush
off. Children like this are also often
intense; they have big reactions. In
addition, children with an extreme temperament are often impulsive; they speak
or act before they think about the possible consequences. They may also be inflexible; if they expect something
to be a certain way, they are upset when it turns out differently. I’m
wondering if these characteristics describe your daughter? And of course, any special need is likely to
add a huge amount of anger and anxiety into the mix.
Unfortunately, there is no magic wand that will make a child
with a trickier temperament suddenly become easy-going. But there are many things you can do that
will help keep your daughter’s mood and behaviour more stable.
Getting enough sleep is very important; it will
help your daughter feel better and behave better. Make sure that she’s going to
bed early enough. Most 11-year-olds need
at least eleven hours of sleep a night, although they often don’t get that
much. If your daughter makes a fuss at
bedtime, or dawdles, or if she has difficulty falling asleep, start the bedtime
routine much, much earlier. That way
even with delays or time-wasting, she will still be getting to sleep at the right
All children need daily, vigorous exercise to
burn off their natural energy. If they
don’t get enough exercise they often become moody and irritable and resistant
to following the usual routines. I
understand that your daughter’s CP may make it difficult for her to get enough
exercise, but there is always a way to manage it once we realise how important
exercise is for mood and behaviour. If
you’re wondering how to do this, I would be happy to talk with you about it.
It’s been found that sugar and refined
carbohydrates (especially any products with white
flour) often make children more moody,
angry and oppositional, especially children who are starting out with a more
extreme temperament. My recommendation would be to remove all sweet foods and
refined carbohydrates for a month and see what results you get. If you’re worried about this, please do check
first with your GP or specialist.
Low blood sugar is often the cause of mood
swings and lack of cooperation. Make
sure that your daughter has a meal or a healthy snack every three hours
throughout the day. Each of those meals
or snacks should include some protein and some complex carbohydrates for
energy, but no refined carbohydrates.
Too much time in front of a screen often makes
children angry and uncooperative. For your daughter’s age I recommend no more than
a total of one hour a day of leisure screen time (television, computer, tablet, Xbox, mobile
phone, etc.). If your daughter often has
much more than an hour a day of screen time, you may find that in the first
week or two this new limit on electronics
will make her even angrier! Stay strong
because she will get used to the new rule, and soon you’ll see the benefits.
Children with special needs may become
dependent on screens if they are not easily able to entertain themselves in
more active ways. You may need to teach your daughter how to play by herself
when screen time is not an option. If
you have questions about this, I can advise you.
One of the ways to help your daughter be less
angry is to give her a lot of positive attention. By that I mean noticing and mentioning all the
things she’s doing right, or almost right, or even when she’s not doing
anything wrong. This technique is called
Descriptive Praise, and I explain about it in all of my books.
Another important way to give your daughter
positive attention is with a strategy I call Special Time. This means spending
some time just with her, without any siblings around, every day if
possible. The emphasis is on having
fun. Special Time helps children to want
to please their parents, and it helps children to absorb their parents’ values.
There are many more strategies
that you can use to help your daughter be less angry. I would be glad to talk with you in person if
you feel that would be helpful. You can also
visit the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting website and browse our free
resources for parents.