It's exhausting and I am worn out. Since day one there have been meltdowns. But now we have meltdowns and tantrums and defiance and targeted anger. This is just in the past 12 hours:
Yesterday evening Little Squirrel's bff was over for our weekly dinner together. As her bff was leaving she stopped to check out a toy we have in our entry way because we are giving it away to a friend since Little Squirrel doesn't play with it anymore. Little Squirrel was anxious that her bff was touching it and was telling her to leave it alone, but her bff (who is also defiant and oppositional) refused and said something that Little Squirrel took to mean as, "it's mine now." Little Squirrel became very upset and hit (lightly) her bff on the back trying to get her to back off from the toy. I saw it and told Little Squirrel to apologize. That just escalated her into a full stomping rage which she targeted at me, so then I was left with a disaster mess from the playdate to clean up, as well as a hell child to deal with. The problem: Little Squirrel desperately wants to have playdates, but she doesn't have the emotional regulation to handle being around other kids and reprimand/correction only escalates the problems.
Then this morning I woke with tentative hopes to have a fresh start and things were fine until the final minutes before leaving for school, in the bathroom. I wasn't rushing Little Squirrel but told her it was time to brush teeth. She has a very annoying habit of throwing everything aside when she is done, usually towels and caps to bathroom products. She actually located the toothpaste quickly which is rare since even though it's always in the same place she can't EVER seem to find the brush and paste. She took the cap off the toothpaste and tossed it. It flew behind some items on the bathroom counter. I told her a few times to pick it up. She ignored me and instead began brushing her teeth (I use the word "brushing" loosely, since 10 seconds then SPIT doesn't really count). I repeated the command to pick up the cap. She gave me the angry eyebrows, and the usual angry "don't watch me!" and stomping feet. She didn't want me to watch while she picked up the toothpaste cap. Instead of further engaging with her I just left the room and went to wait by the door, which means that she went to school today without washing her face, brushing her hair, etc. The problem: she doesn't have the skills to do the morning hygiene on her own but my presence during the hygiene just leads to trouble.
Possible solutions: remove triggers--which means reduce social interactions, especially late day or evening when she is getting tired; frame the corrections as questions instead of commands (can you please pick that up now?); stop reacting to her defiant raging tantrums (even though it's so hard because it makes me so upset inside that I have heart palpitations!)