T., You must be speaking of my 5 year old son! :) When he turned 2 and a half, he became a different human being. His separation anxiety was abnormal for a child his age (he would rage when I would leave him at school). It got to the point that the teachers were expressing their concern. He also had anxiety and would chew his shirt until it was soaking wet (while at school). I did have a baby shortly after he turned 3 and that was most likely a large factor. He still has jealousy issues but adores her most of the time. He had impulse control problems. ...and he is VERY strong willed!!! I had him evaluated for Sensory Integration Disorder, ADHD, you name it. We were seeing a behavioral therapist for a while (she mostly helped me learn how to parent him and understand him). He only met her once, so she could get to know him. The therapy was mostly for me. I have read a million books. I have tried many of the techniques but still struggle. The books make it sound so easy but very often my son doesn't respond to their recommendations. Anyway, he was diagnosed with SPD but a year later, he became bored with Occupational Therapy and would not participate. I just pulled him out. I do feel like a lot of the SPD symptoms are gone now.
Everything is a battle with him, he wants to control every situation. Is your daughter this way? It's a battle to get into the car and it's often a battle trying to leave our destination. He is not flexible but a very affectionate and loving child. So anyway, I would say don't put her in therapy but do keep reading, reading, reading. Like other's have mentioned, take a class. I need to. I do subscribe to Kirk Martin's email news letters. I recommend doing the same. Great information in there. Our pediatrician recently suggested http://www.for-kids-sake.com/. They are here in Austin. I just haven't contacted them yet.
What I have learned from it all is that he is strong willed and we have very different personalities. I was always a pleaser, he is not a pleaser. I am still learning how to allow him to have a little control instead of battling for control all of the time. However, flexibility and not always having control is part of life. Sometimes I just don't allow it. The child is 5 years old and had a massive tantrum tonight because he wanted more ketchup on his plate than what I gave him. Because of this, he chose not to eat dinner. Most people would say, just give him a little more ketchup, pick your battles. However, sometimes I need to show him that he isn't the boss and more ketchup is just wasteful and he was being unreasonable. Anyway, I probably give him a little more control over things in his life than most parents allow. It has helped a lot. I try to always give him choices. Right down to tiny things. He needs his schedule, he needs down time, he needs control. Sometimes when he is out of control, I take him to his room to calm down, and tell him he is not in trouble. I let him know he may come out whenever he is calm and ready. Sometimes it works, sometimes he holds grudges and stays in there for an hour.
He speaks very disrespectfully. I just learned from a book this week that when they do this, show them no attention at all! Just walk away (this is so different than what I normally do...confront, correct and punish). Then, when the time comes that they ask for something (for example: desert that they have after dinner every night, or their evening book) just say, "no, we aren't having that tonight." (in a calm and kind voice). When they ask why, you can explain it is for speaking disrespectfully. The book is How to Have a New Kid by Friday. I have also learned that he is a little socially immature. However, since he turned 5 two months ago, I am seeing big changes. He's more empathetic. He's calling me out on things I do wrong (in a calm voice). He does well at school too. I think the hard thing is, we don't know how to raise these children with strong personalities. If we don't give up on them and do not crush their self-esteems, their strong will should prove to be a strength in their adult lives. Try to stay calm with her and focus on the positive A LOT more than the negative. I have found that when my son is doing something undesirable and I try and correct him, he will push it even more. He loves the negative attention just as much as the positive. If I can just train myself to ignore the negative!!!!! Ahhhh, sounds so much easier than it is. Lastly, try not to worry about what others think. This is so challenging for me because unless people have a child with a strong personality, they cannot begin to understand how complicated it really is to raise them. I know I must be criticized all of the time when he flies of the handle. Oh, one more thing!!! We did some extensive blood work recently and found out that he is severely deficient in B vitamins and has a wheat intolerance. We just started a wheat free diet and he started on prescription B vitamins a few months ago. Could this be the reason I'm seeing the positive changes in him? Who knows. I'm sorry this email is so unorganized and all over the place. Too tired to go back and tweak it. Good luck.