(Obviously don't mean hysterical as in funny.)
Long, so bear with me please.
DD has been having tantrums since she was a year old. As your typical 1-2 year old she had the usual screaming angry "I want!" or "I don't want!" tantrums, which have continued into her third year.
But lately (last 2-3 months) she has just been out of control. If she is told she can't do/have something she goes into a screaming fit. She bangs her head, throws things, hits me, bites me, spits at me, hits her brother, kicks walls, slams doors... you name it, she does it. This can be over something as big as not wanting to go to bed, or something as small as me telling her I can't get her a drink right now as I'm changing DS's nappy, but I'll get it in a minute.
I'm going CRAZY. I don't know what to do. Rewards don't work. Time out doesn't work. I don't smack because she reacts to even just a swat on the hand with violent punches and slaps. If I ignore her she throws things at me or destroys toys, or chases me and attacks me (biting, hitting, kicking).
Another worrying element to her tantrums is a new kind of tantrum she has developed. This happens at least once a day. Basically it starts out as a regular tantrum with the raised voice and so on. Then she demands a cuddle. If she's tantruming because I'm busy (bathing DS, changing his nappy, whatever) I say I will cuddle her in a minute, I just have to finish this, I'm sorry. She instantly has a meltdown and starts screaming. And I don't mean angry screaming. I mean hysterical, high pitched, deafening screaming that, honestly, makes it sound like she is being tortured. Imagine a siren of ascending screams, each about a second long. She hyperventilates and sometimes even retches.
Sometimes I can't cuddle her because as soon as I do she thrashes and claws at me or just nags me to have what she originally wanted, and when I say no, this is when she goes into her meltdown.
She will grab my hand, try to climb up my legs, or if I'm sitting down she will climb onto my lap and continue to demand what she wanted (typical tantrum). If I try to cuddle her to calm her down she usually dissolves into hysterical sobs for several minutes. If I truly cannot cuddle her, she throws herself down and thrashes and screams until she is retching.
Honestly, a lot of the time when she does it I just have to walk away. I'm dealing with upwards of a dozen tantrums before we even get to lunchtime, EVERY DAY, and when they are about literally every single thing I ask her to do or refuse to allow her, my temper gets short. So when I feel myself getting angry I tell her to calm down and I will be back in a minute. I go to my room, shut the door and take a moment to myself (obviously not if DS is around and could get caught up in the tantrum). DD will then stand at the baby gate in the hallway and scream "Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!" hysterically for a few minutes. She then quiets down to just saying "Mummy,", then after a few more minutes she walks away and goes back to what she was doing before the tantrum. But the second I emerge from my room she's at me for whatever she wanted, and another tantrum begins instantly.
Distraction does not work. It usually goes something like this:
DD: I want ice cream.
Me: Not right now, maybe later. Let's go draw a picture!
DD: No picture! Ice cream!
Me: Ooh, what's that?
DD: Stop, Mummy! (tantrum begins as she is now aware she is not getting what she wants).
It is wearing very, very thin. Sometimes she tantrums like this in public or around friends. Today she went into a meltdown multiple times because a young relative (4yo) wanted to play. DD usually loves playing with this girl but for some reason she went crazy as soon as this young girl said "Let's go do xyz." DD started screaming for me, climbed onto my lap and just sat there saying "Mummy. Mummy. Muuuuummyyy." In a two note, endless whine. It was like a tic she just couldn't stop; even though I was cuddling her she just kept repeating in over and over.
Later, I tried to escort her inside to draw pictures with her friend (which she usually loves) but she went into meltdown again and just went limp from the hand I was holding, screaming and sobbing and shrieking "Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!" over and over. I ws trying to calm her down, just saying "DD, listen, DD, it's okay, don't cry, calm down, take a deep breath," But she just kept crying "Mummy! Mummy!" over the top of me. Soon after, she was happily drawing pictures but that was only because she wandered inside with her friend and the door was closed by someone else, so she was stuck in there. Instead of crying to be let out she happily sat down and drew.
I don't know what more to try. I have looked up so many methods for dealing with tantrums but I can't find anything about this utter hysteria. I just can't calm her down when she gets like that. She just says "Mummy" over and over.
I can't even talk to anyone. As soon as I get on the phone or try to have a conversation with anyone she butts right in with "Mummy. Mummy. Mummy." I ask her what, and she just responds with "Ummmm..." and silence. I resume the conversation and she gets extremely agitated, whining "Mummy. Mummy! Mummy!" I ask what is it, and she cries "Mummy!" Cue tantrum.
The only conclusion I have so far come to is that she gets spoiled at her father's house (we have been separated for a year and a half). She goes there every second weekend and her behaviour is at it's worst right after she comes home and, strangely, right before she is due to go back there. When we were together he did give in to her every whim so I suspect this behaviour may have continued. XP has admitted he spoils her and "she gets away with a bit." She is the only girl there (apart from her grandmother) so apparently she gets treated like a princess.
I have anxiety and depression myself but this developed when I was a pre-teen after the death of a family member. I wonder if she has inherited this.
Also worth mentioning is the fact I believe her father has an undiagnosed 'something'. He shows all the signs of having ASD (as does his father) which I was begging him to be checked for the whole time we were together as I wanted to be sure for my kids' sake, but he refused, because, in his words "I'm not a [r-word]". I did try to tell him that having ASD is not a 'bad' thing, but he always had it in his mind that if he admitted something was wrong then people would tease him about it and all his friends would abandon him. I'm not saying he is on the spectrum but he did show all signs of it, so I'm wondering if something like this could explain DD's behaviour? Is there a genetic connection? Just speculation and possibly meaningless but I don't know
I don't give in to tantrums. DD gets plenty of attention and love. She gets lots of one-on-one time when DS is asleep. She adores her little brother and plays with him all the time. She is not spoiled at home. She's an extremely picky eater, to the point I'm often concerned that she will end up malnourished. I avoid giving her sugary foods. She only drinks milk and water.
She gets extremely frustrated with her toys and this leads to huge tantrums too. She refuses help when I offer to help make a toy work. Lately she simply says "I can't" to any request I make (from "Close the door, please," to "Time to pick up your books), then tantrums. She is ALWAYS asking for something, usually something she knows she cannot have (chocolate, lollies, my phone, iPad). Sometimes things I have never let her have.
It is now at the point where I am hugely relieved when I drop them off to their father every second weekend. I used to only have to retreat in desperation to my bedroom once a day, or less. Now I find myself needing to take 'time out' several times a day because I simply cannot calm her down and she is driving me crazy.
I'm sorry this has been so long but please, if you have any advice, I welcome it. I'm desperate, frustrated, angry and miserable.