Here it goes, this is gonna be long but I am in desperate need of help here!
My name is Missy and I'll be 24 tomorrow. My husband and I have been married for about 4 months. We met and were married pretty quickly. He already had 2 daughters, ages 2 and 5. They took to me pretty fast, and after only about a month of knowing me, they were both calling me mom. Neither of us had asked or told them they had to, I simply told them if they wanted to that it was ok, and if they just wanted to call me Missy, then that was ok too. I have been their mom ever since. Their real mother passed away about 6 months after the youngest was born, so the oldest was pretty young when it happened. She still remembers her mom and talks about her often. I encourage her to talk to me about her whenever she wants because I don't want her to forget the few things she actually remembers about her real mom.
Here is the problem: Our 5 year old has always been one to throw a fit, but recently it has become worse and worse. I know she has been through a lot of things in the short amount of time she's been alive, with her mom passing away, her dad getting remarried, moving to a different house, starting a new school...that would be hard on a kid of any age. But she has always seemed to be a happy kid, she loves me as her mom, she LOVES school (learning is her thing and she's really smart), and she loves our new house and is excited to start picking out things for her new room. She has a pretty steady routine, she gets out of school at 1:30, eats a snack, and then takes a nap, does her homework, has some playtime, dinner, bath, and then bed. But here lately she wants to throw a fit about any little thing that doesn't go her way, or if we tell her she can't have something or do something. And when I say "throw a fit", I mean this girl can SCREAM! She jumps up and down, rolls around on the bed and the floor, she kicks and yells and screams bloody murder, it honestly sounds like someone is trying to kill her, and I am seriously surprised that our neighbors haven't heard her and thought we were beating her or something. She has given herself bruises and scratches because when she's throwing a tantrum, she will throw herself against the wall or the bed or the floor, and if you try to restrain her she kicks and hits. I am so scared that someone is going to see a bruise she has given herself and think that WE did it.
I don't know what to do. We have tried everything. We've spanked her, we've taken away her TV, we've taken away toys, we've taken away privileges, we've tried rewarding her good behavior, we've tried sitting and talking to her...I just don't know where to go from here. She doesn't act this way at school, she has not been in trouble at school at all. And it only gets worse when she's tired, which is why she takes a nap after school. She is one of those who needs a lot of sleep. When she is in a good mood, she is the sweetest little girl, she says "I love you" all the time. She's very smart and does so well in school. I just don't understand why she has been like this and I don't know what to do to help her.
I love her so much, even though these kids are my step-daughters, I've always just considered them to be mine. They are my world and I would do anything for them. So any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance, and again, sorry this is so long lol.