Need help now?

Ten year old mental health (DV)

Discussion forum for parents in Australia

Ten year old mental health (DV)

Active scribe

Ten year old mental health (DV)

I am a single mum with a 10 year old child. My child is a very smart very savvy, who researches everything and is really REALLY resistant to learning about mental health from others, especially me. (They are also gender fluid so ignore the pronoun switch, all is singular). She has huge explosive behaviour since very young, but it hasn't changed with age. She has obsessions, and tics, and stim like behaviour as well...

We have explored the possibility of ASD/ADHD without much success, but their is a lot of traits that fit, there is also some history of DV, when she was with her dad, almost entirely not physical and am unsure of the severity of the psychological stuff, she doesn't communicate with me about him, once I realised it was beyond grumpy / personality clash stuff I was able to intervene - she has very limited and supervised contact now, at her request, I would never make her see him if it wasn't her choice.

He has a recent diagnosis of ASD, and I suspect PTSD, depression, anxiety. 


She has self diagnosed as OCD and does have traits of this also... She is a hoarder, and gets emotionally attached to things, like EVERYTHING, and she tries to self manage this by not going out, not looking at stuff, and not wanting anything. She is no longer allowed to take the recycling out or the rubbish out because it ends up in their room, as precious. 

Anyway, so today we had a blow up, with her yelling and screaming and crying, and this started because I wanted to get her to help with a few jobs, tidying etc. and I asked and while I was in her room I noticed a puddle in the corner near the bed, some water spilt on paper I thought, so I asked that it be cleaned up, which resulted in her aggressively insisting that I leave her room, I did, and gave her some time to calm down, then went back to get her moving, I was met with verbal abuse, and real aggression, long story short I took her computer and tablet away which resulted in her insistence that she be allowed to close a tab on her tablet. It was the most important thing in the world and I had to let her close it or she'd know I hate her etc. I have played this scenario through so much that I know if I were to allow her to do this that this small fixation will immediately switch to something else to stay in that heightened state. I did lose my temper a little here and raise my voice, trying to get her to leave the space. It went on for maybe half an hour, I mostly kept my cool, I ended up saying that I would look at what was on the tablet if she kept yelling, which she did, so I did (I add here that I have had previous conversations with them around it not being possible for me to guarantee privacy for her at such a young age, and that it is really important that I understand what she's into and talking to, but I do try to maintain some privacy within that, and really I wasn't concerned with what she was looking at, she is really mature in some ways but her idea of looking up rebellious stuff is still really, well, ten year old stuff). 

SO she yelled some horrible stuff, and tried to get violent, I restrained her and I admit I was rough with her, I got her into her bedroom and closed the door to give myself a breather, after I went back I was able to talk her down, and I finally realised what had started it all, It was the **bleep** puddle in the corner... it was saliva (!), she'd been spitting on the paper, and (remember I said hoarder) she was saving it, and desperately scared I was going to throw it out, and also desperately ashamed that she'd done it and felt that way....


We talked it through once I understood the problem, and things got calmer. I asked why I couldn't see what she was looking at on the computer as it was totally fine, and she said that it felt like I didn't love her and that asking me not to do that (and me doing it anyway) was proof I didn't... we talked a little about it being hard for me to be tested when I don't know that is what is happening and my responsibility to keep her safe online...


so I am stuck between 2 questions, and hay both might be true, is my child mentally ill or am I a horrible parent.


She says I don't love her and I 'gaslight' her when I go from yelling to trying to calm things and show empathy... and I do think when she is heightened she is genuinely scared of me... I hate to see and admit that, but she is, I don't think I have earned that, but I understand there is outside influence here as well,.. also I know that yelling is **bleep** and I do my own therapy to try to do better in this.. Also sometimes I am so lost in this and what is causing the problem that I don't have the patience and understanding that I should. 

What do I do here, what if I am just a terrible parent and trying to make it her fault? How can I tell? My psychologist is lovely and affirming of me, but like, that's their job, what if I am a gaslighting monster?



Frequent scribe

Re: Ten year old mental health (DV)

Hi @mum_questions Thank you for sharing this with us. It sounds like an incredibly difficult time for you both right now. 


I want to first say that it’s very clear how supportive and understanding you are with your child. It’s fantastic how you’ve been able to be understanding with them and how much you’ve worked to communicate with them. I don’t believe any of this is your fault and that you are being a very supportive parent. I’m really glad that you’re engaging with a psychologist and are getting professional support. I was wondering if you have any other supports like friends or family?


With your child, I’d like to point out that the effects of domestic violence can have long-lasting and often unexpected effects. From what you’ve shared, it sounds like potentially their history with their father may have influences on their defensive reactions and hoarding behaviour. I know you mention that they are very intelligent and often reject mental health learning. I wonder if it would be an idea to explore some more options with them. Some examples include peer support where they can meet like-minded young people. Would you be open to exploring that?


Thank you again. I want to reiterate that none of what is happened is either your fault or your child’s. It is a complex situation and you both deserve to be supported in the right way. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Active scribe

Re: Ten year old mental health (DV)

Thank you for you response. I would be very open to the peer support type of option and I think my child would be as well, I have tried avenues around gender stuff (for lack of a better phrase on a very late friday night) and have had no luck as they are considered too young for anything in our area, or anything online... not because I see this as an "issue" but just to try and find likeminded friends.


I would be grateful for any suggestions. 


In answer to the earlier question, I do have some family support but it is really Really hard to share this, and to be fully honest with people about this stuff, they tend to think of it all as behavioural, which is really not useful, and even if they are understanding, they tend to assume it is all fine if you don't mention anything for a while. And I don't want to keep bringing it up, my child is delightful and doing so well in so many areas it feels unfair to always come back to the negatives, and so so tiring. 


Super contributor

Re: Ten year old mental health (DV)

Hi @mum_questions, thank you for sharing. I will pass your response onto Emily-RO, I am not sure if they had some particular peer support organisations in mind Smiley Happy

We are really so glad that you have reached out. I can hear that there is a lot of grief, fear and stress happening in your family. It would be difficult to parent a child with complex needs but I can hear that you are doing your best to support your child. The most ideal person to check in with for an honest assessment about additional parenting strategies or where to go next would be your psychologist. It is great place to share your struggles and get that support that you don't find elsewhere in your life. I can hear that you have a really deep level of reflection and so your psychologist might also be a place where you can learn how to step back when necessary.

As I mentioned briefly above, I am sorry to hear that you can't share as openly as you would like with your family. I can understand how some of their support might be unhelpful for you and your child. I don't blame you for limiting your honesty - sometimes you do need to be mindful of what to share and who with.