I think that he might be over-reacting and that her behaviour is within the 'normal' range for her age, but I definitely think we need help in figuring out how to deal with it.
As quickly as I can, background is as follows:
- She's just turned 3
- New baby sister (4 months old) who she seems to love, but who is also pretty needy
- DD1 is a typical 'spirited' / high needs kid, and has been this way since birth
- I'm sleep-deprived and introverted - combination which means that I've not been reacting entirely calmly to lots of noise/screaming/crying and have ended up yelling myself far more than I would like.
- *Constant* meltdowns over the smallest things. E.g. I ask her to wait a minute for something, she starts screaming and crying, runs around slamming doors etc. Finally comes back and apologises (sometimes) only to do the whole thing all over again 10 minutes later when I hand her the wrong puzzle... This happens upwards of 10 times a day. Obviously with a small baby in the house this isn't great, as she'll often run upstairs to her room to have a screaming fit, which only results in her waking the baby, who's then miserable and cranky and takes even more of my attention away from DD1.
- When her daddy comes home from work she runs away from him and slams doors in his face. Refuses to say hello, or otherwise be nice to him.
- Dinner time battles; she won't eat, won't sit at the table with us, won't feed herself... I think we should just disengage from this, as I really don't want food to be a battle, but DH is scared of letting her go to bed hungry so he ends up spoonfeeding her, bribing her to eat, yelling... It often ends up taking an hour to get her dinner finished.
- The one that really gets me. She'll say "I want to be naughty. I want you to get cross with me." Then will deliberately do something she knows she shouldn't, like throwing her toys around, spilling her drink. Then turn and say "Are you cross now mummy?" I'll stay calm, explain that that's not acceptable behaviour, ask her to help me clean up and/or give an acceptable alternative. At which point she'll refuse point blank, screaming "No, no, no - I want to be naughty. I want you to be cross." and continue to do naughty things until I end up snapping, yelling and scaring both myself and her. This is the one that I think is most 'weird' - surely it's not normal for kids to deliberately set out to drive their parents over the edge?
1) Is DH right and should I be looking for a psychologist for her?
2) If this is normal behaviour, how do you/have you dealt with it with your own kids?