9 year old child who becomes emotionally overwhelmed

by Victoria
(Texas )

My 9yr old daughter over-reacts irrationally several times a day, and I do not understand the reason. She is a very compliant child and these "fits" (I don't know what to call them) have nothing to do with not getting what she wants or unwillingness to obey.

She is extremely irritable with her 5yr old brother with whom she has always had a wonderful relationship. She gets her feelings hurt very easily. She especially tantrums when she feels she has made a mistake on a drawing, etc. She melts down whenever something is what she considers difficult to do or something she feels she should be able to do.

When being corrected she looks almost terrified and begins to weep repentantly making discipline seem unnecessary. However I generally follow through and she always accepts the consequence without resistance.

I am always certain to reaffirm my unconditional love for her and my commitment to do what I should that is for her welfare, and she responds affectionately so I have no reason to think that she does not believe me. Once I a while, however, she has responded by saying that she is a "horrible" person and that conflicts with brother are all her fault. I am very careful to be sure to never send that kind of message so I have no idea why she would feel this way.

I was verbally abused by my alcoholic/bipolar father so I am extremely sensitive about saying or doing anything that would wound her or make her feel that she is not loved or valued. She has a great relationship with her father and I. Our priority as parents is to love our children well and make them feel secure and treasured. They are not indulged and are very well behaved and obedient children who are joyful and lighthearted.

This is why I don't know if this just her temperament, her emotionally immaturity or if I simply a behavior that needs to be corrected. When she does have this fits she carries on like a toddler that has been seriously injured. Our home is very loving and stable. My husband and I have a very healthy, loving relationship and adore our children. We spend lots of time with both of them and all play together daily. She is very outgoing, silly and affectionate and is highly intelligent and creative. She has a very stable and loving home and many closet friendships.

I just don't understand her emotional volatility. I worry about her so much in this area because my childhood was very traumatic and crushed my self esteem.

I have bipolar 2 with predominately depression and have only recently finally come fully out of depression after almost 6 years of treatment. My symptoms first appeared when I was her age although I was almost a-emotional because of fear of my father and a emotionally unavailable yet loving mother. I don't know if these are symptoms or simply a behavioral issue. How do I know? What do I do? I am so worried about her and am so fearful that she has bipolar disorder too:(

Hi Victoria

It is wonderful to here how aware and conscientious of a parent you are. Understanding how your history impacts you is important. I think it might be helpful to get your child into therapy. Although I have no idea why she is so sensitive, it may be worth checking into to see if there are issues there which are contributing to the difficulties you are observing.

You said you recently came out of six years of depression. How has that effected your children? Are they aware of it? It certainly seems important to check into why it is so hard for her to be corrected, and also into where some of her guilt may be coming from. I'm sorry that this has taken me so long to respond to. Somehow, I completely missed your submission. Please feel free to update us on her progress!


Kristen McClure

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