5 Year Old Girl's Mood Behavior

Updated on February 06, 2008
S.D. asks from Fort Worth, TX
9 answers

I apologize for the length, I just wanted everything out there for better advise.

Last night our 5yo daughter just cried all evening after we got home. I figured she was tired, hungry and just wanted extra cuddle time. She cried through her bath, ate pretty good and then everything was ok until bedtime. Then, of course, she didn't want to go to bed. The crying started again. I put her brother down while she lay in our bed and when I went in there to ask what was wrong she said she didn't know. I asked if she was sad? Yes. What are you sad about? I don't know. Are you mad? Yes. What are you mad about? Nothing. Then what's wrong? I don't know. So we cuddled more and she fell asleep. I say it was just tiredness. Now this morning she woke early and was in the best mood she has ever been in. Just real chirpy, smiling, talkative, etc.
She's usually not a morning person. The change was so drastic, her father even asked what's wrong with her? I said she's just in a good mood.

I guess after all that, I have to say depression runs in our family and I was just a little concerned. Is she too young to begin showing signs of depression? I tell her it is okay to cry and be upset. It's okay to show your feelings. I want her to be able to figure out why she feels the way she does and deal with it better than me and my family have in the past.

This past year she has begun to understand death. My husband's father passed 13 years ago, but she will cry her eyes out because she wants her papa in heaven. My grandmother passed in Sept. and she has done the same with her. She did it at school one day and the teacher had to take her outside and take a walk just to calm her down. Her emotion is so real and I don't know what to do when she does this. We tell her they are watching over her and would want her to be happy for them, not cry for them.
Anyway, I just want your thoughts and advice. Thank you so much.

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answers from Dallas on

I have a 4 1/2 year old daughter who talks about death all the time. I think it is something new to them that they can't quite get a grip on the actual meaning of it. She too talks about her grandfather and great grandparents in heaven and will start weeping saying that she wants to see them. I think it is just a phase that will pass. We try to explain death to her in a non-scary way and to talk through her emotions but it is tough when they are this young for them to understand. Be patient and I am sure this will pass.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

S.--A couple of things struck me when I read your request. One is that I know that when my son was about that age, he seemed to become aware of MY mortality, my age, aging and asked a lot about how much longer...[i quietly laugh]. He is extremely verbal, and I was able to get hin to express the true fear. I have a deceased brother and sister [my mother passed 2 years ago, as well as 7 other close family members in less than 3 years]. I don't and did not talk much about them 'looking down on us', because when i was young that really bothered me--my sister had died and people were constantly saying she was watching 'over' me. It made me somewhat self conscious, and when i think of it now, I can see why it did--I thought people were seeing every little mistake or thought. Anyway, that is just another perspective on that 'watching over' thing, it seems comforting, but like the santa coming down the chimney--my son is totally creeped by santa breaking and entering--perspectives are going to vary. With my son I say that we miss people from here--I miss my mother, but I can still tell her things or share with her because the heart is always connected, love does not die, only the body does. We also do a lot of sky watching--my son swears that my mom paints him pictures in the clouds, which is a happy thought, so death doesn't seem so frightening, I think it gave him an idea of what people may be doing after they die. And I curbed my serious mourning periods when he was around, because I think often we speak too freely in front of our young children not thinking they understand, they might not fully, but they certainly pick up on the overall picture. Have you ever asked her what she misses about Papa? It may help her to realize that she didn't know him, with my son I would say [about my brother] that I know he would have liked you, but it is great that you have your Uncle Mike, isn't it.....?

I have been through that age period with several girl cousins, my son and my best friend's children. And one thing that has worked pretty clearly is to simply ask when they say they don't know if something is wrong--if they need some mommy time--clearly calling out the need for extra attention. And express that it is perfectly okay to ask for it, that mommy time is available even when you are not crying or feeling sick, or in a bad mood.......that you can be in a good mood and get hugs etc. More often than not the crying clears up and they simply say yeah, i mostly want you, or specifically--I dont want to go to bed! [my cousin [she lived with me] was notorious for finding some serious emotional outburst to counter bedtime, my son is also a pro], but by really talking to them both and offering an 'honest out' where they could possibly still get what they want the crying jags were fewer, or would be shortened by a question--'do you feel like you need to have another story', 'are you not quite ready for bed'. I am really trying to get my son able to express what he wants, and for all of the kids to understand that they can get as much attention positively as they can when something is wrong--which I think that both work to help prevent depression or bottled up emotions or not knowing how to handle emotions, later in life.

sorry for the long answer, hope any of it helped in some way.
I think we dont like to say this, but children learn how to manipulate us to get what they want or need, truly, from birth [it is necessary to do so], and they learn what we fear or what triggers our undivided attention. I try to teach the kids that they can really get what they need by asking for it.

I was a houseparent, counselor for behaviorally challenged children. Depression does run in families [I think it is 10% without looking it up], but helping your daughter identify and really honor her feelings, without giving MORE attention to her dark moods than her light, will go a long way to helping her deal with emotions in a positive way.


answers from Dallas on

Last night there was an excellent show on PBS called "The Medicated Child".
* watch it here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/medicatedchild/?c...

They said that children as young as 2 and 3 years old are being heavily medicated and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. However, excessive studies have shown that medicine for depression do not work the same in children as adults and many Dr.s cocktail several meds together to experiment what may work with children.

Perhaps she is going through some struggles that she isn't talking about and may need to see a counselor, just to learn to cope with some emotions. I just said everything earlier in case you run into someone who wants to medicate your child without excersizing alternatize coping methods, or who diagnoses her with depression.



answers from Dallas on

Your post could have been mine just a few months ago. My 5yo daughter came home from school just sobbing and couldn't tell me what was wrong. The rest of the evening went just as yours did...woke up the next day just fine. I was really worried the entire night, but thank goodness this hasn't happened again. Don't get me wrong, she is still moody and somewhat emotional, but she bounces right back and is her happy energetic self. We've also dealt a lot with questions about dying lately. I think 5 is just a hard age for girls. (maybe boys too, but I only have experience with girls at this age so far)
Anyway, I think they are becoming so much more aware of real vs fantasy. All I can say is just continue reassuring her and hopefully this is just a phase that will soon pass. There was a neat book I picked up last week at B&Noble called, Just in Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado...if you get a chance you should look at it.



answers from San Antonio on

First and formost dont ever apologize for wanting to help your children, the more info you give the more someone can help you. I am not a medical professional but I do have 2 children that I would die for. First thing if there is depression in you family history I would take my child to see a professional.No one needs to know you or your childs business but you and your husband. If your child was very sick you would take him to your family doctor. Depression is very hard to deal with and I can only imagine depression in a child, he or she might not be able to articulate in words how he or she is felling and might not understand why they feel the way they do. I personally think you are doing a great job by letting her know its ok to cry and about grandparent being in heaven wanting us to be happy she is in a better place. But just me personally I would see a perfessional. My husband went through a bout of depression, he was on medication for high blood pressure and cholesteral. Even as an adult being able to use the right words to describe how he felt was difficult. What eventually helped him was to change medication and on a daily basis would talk to me about how he felt before and after the change in medication. All I did was listen, I know it helped alot. It was sometimes tiresome to here the same thing over and over, but eventually he felt better. In my mind I gave him time to deal with the medication and changes at work, but after a period of time If I didnt think he was getting better I was going to insist that he talk to a professional. I would not know how to deal with a child in a depression state. Just to be on the safe side with your daughter I would strongly suggest you first see your family doctor and maybe he could suggest a professional to see her. I would make sure you and your husband would be comfortable with whomever you chose.I wish you and your family the best.



answers from Austin on

Hello I am a mother of 3(9 girl,5 boy,9 mo boy) they are all born at home and I am a midwife. Is she in school? or do you home school? My daughter will be fine all day and at bed time she will start to cry and freak out. It usually turns out to be something that hurt her feelings during the day that seems to come out later in the evening. Shes just being 5! it is a very emotional time for a girl. Please dont label her as depressed yet. That may be true with your genetic history but it is also true of 5 year old girls! they seem to have the weight of the world on their shoulers, I was amazedat the influence of others around her at 5 and 6 years old. By the time she was 7 she had found more of "her self" ITS A MAGICAL AGE!!
Sam Evans LM CPM



answers from Dallas on

I don't know about girls yet, because mine are just almost 3 and almost 2, but boys go through hormonal changes throughout growing up. My oldest who is 13 now, went through a horrible crying stage at about 7. If you even looked at him funny he might cry about it. Other times, he would be fine but if he got in a mood, he would resort to crying.

Now I am seeing this starting in my other son, who just turned 7. I believe it be normal stages they go through in understanding emotions. For the majority of their lives, they cried to get what they wanted and when they were hurt. They are older and put more thoughts into life and what is going on around them as well.

I wouldn't start worrying about depression until she got into slumps where she didn't care about her appearance or taking care of herself or became very negative all the time for weeks, not just over a days time. I am not saying I wouldn't watch her closely, I just wouldn't jump on getting her on medicine or anything. This may just be one of those normal bumps of growing up.

I am a woman, and I have times when I just need a good cry. But I do suffer from depression too! Try not to worry, keeps your eyes and ears open and let her have her cry moments. It is tougher being a little kid than we as adults remember.

good luck!



answers from Austin on

Did she by any chance sleep with you all night and then woke up happy? If yes, then it has something to do with being alone or something to do with being in bed. You better check into this.



answers from Dallas on

This would concern me too. You only describe one episode however and it could be a passing thing that needs to be addressed of course. Age five is the age that kids begin to conceptualize and it could be something as simple as a new concept that frightened her through a movie or story book or an adult conversation she overheard. See if you can determine what it is that has upset her through gentle conversation and reassure her whenever possible, but if this behavior continues, do not hesitate to seek medical help. Also I would suggest that our children pick up on the mindset of their caretakers often without hearing a thing. Your reference to "Papa in heaven" from a death so long ago suggests that it has been on the minds of adults who have somehow conveyed their saddness to this child. It may have been a bit too much too soon for her. If it passes, let it be.
C. S.

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