or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › DH thinks DD has psychological problems
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

DH thinks DD has psychological problems

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

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.


Problem behaviours:

- *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? 


So questions:

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?

post #2 of 30

Have you asked her why?

post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 

Yes, but she doesn't seem to know.  She knows what's acceptable and what's not when I catch her in a calm moment, and she can tell me things she can do to help herself feel better, like taking deep breaths, hugging her soft toys etc. But then a few minutes later she'll just go ahead and do all the things she knows she shouldn't anyway! :sigh

post #4 of 30

I'm not sure this is entirely the reason at all, but I'll bet when she does finally provoke you to snapping, you completely stop thinking about the baby in that moment, and she gets your undivided negative attention. That can be a very satisfying feeling, to know you made the grown ups totally focused on you. Same thing at dinner. She ends up being spoon fed! Again, she ends up getting to be the baby, or at least get as much attention as the baby. It is 10x easier for a three year old to do this by being naughty. Niceness is so easy to overlook, kwim?


Personally I think this is all completely normal for a 3 year old with a new baby in the house. I don't think you did anything wrong--this is just the way some children respond to a new baby. They might love the baby but it is profoundly upsetting to be displaced as #1 baby in the house!


I really hope mothers of two or more kids can come here and give you some good books to read. I only have one child and have not dealt with this firsthand--but I have seen MANY posts in here over the last 10 years dealing with this very problem with 3 year olds!

post #5 of 30

I just want to add that at 3 years old I would not expect her to be able to know why she acts this way. She is too young to process her feelings objectively. I am sure the answer will lie in you and dh getting on the same page as to how you will respond, in a way that does not feed the negative attention she tries to provoke. Also, it is SO important to catch her being good and shower her with positive attention. I think it would be a good idea for you both to explore some regular activity you can do alone with her. At that age my dh took ds out for half an hour when he got home from work. They went for a walk, or to get ice cream, or to feed ducks at the park. The lure of getting to go out 'on an adventure with daddy' was like magic--it always got ds in a good mood!

post #6 of 30

Oh.My.Goodness. She sounds just like my dd did up until a few months ago. She was horrible, and there wasn't even a new baby in the house (though there was, and is, one in my belly). My dh even wondered if she needed psychological help as well!!!! However, I know from reading this GD board that 3 yr olds are sooooooo difficult that if we just did our best with her and stuck it out she will outgrow all these behaviours. At this point (she's 3.5yo) she is already WAAAYYYY better. So I don't have any specific help for your exact situations, I think you know in your heart how to handle them, you just have to try your best to get through this difficult stage and not destroy your relationship with her, or her strong personality, in the process!

post #7 of 30

Honestly, it just sounds like she is crying out for attention.  I think those behaviors seem perfectly within the range of normal for a 3 year old child who has a new baby in the house.  She has found ways of getting that negative attention from you/your partner and it sounds like it has become a vicious cycle.  She becomes the focal point due to her negative behaviors, not the baby.


How to deal with it is outside of my realm of experience.  My dd was 23 months when my ds2 was born and just a baby herself so we really didn't have many adjustment issues.  I also chose to arrange childcare for her for three hours a day twice a week for the first couple of weeks ds2 was home which many here would be uncomfortable with but was a lifesaver for me.


For myself, I would find whatever books I could that had ideas for solutions and try them all until I found what worked for my family.  I know I've read several mentioned here about spirted children.   

post #8 of 30

That sounds just like my 2.5, right down to the misbehaving to get a rise. "Do not ride the dog!" "I WILL anyway and I don't CARE"<stomps foot> Then hits me and shrieks when I remove her from the situation. Arrrgh.


I always thought it was well within the range of normal though. Dd is just a very intense kid, esp compared with her mellow older sister!  And we don't even have a new baby to add to the mix as you do!


So just from your post I vote normal. Crazymaking for the adults, to be sure, but normal! I loved Heartmama's suggestions....I have a really hard time controlling my own temper sometimes, especially when my dd hurts her sibling.


Here's to this phasing out soon.champagne.gif

post #9 of 30

Sounds normal to me.  I did not have a three year old in the house when my second and third (twins) arrived, but I did have a two year old.  A friend/neighbor gave me the advice to make individual and undivided time for my two year old each day.  For me this meant making sure my twins were fed, dry, and safe and taking time to read with my older child before nap time - no interruptions.  I also spent time each night with my older child alone as my twins had an early bedtime and we could spend time reading and snuggling at bedtime.  These were short periods of time, but they made all the difference in the world.  

post #10 of 30

It sounds perfectly normal - and a great chance for "playful parenting."  When she says " I want to be naughty," that's a great opportunity to totally run with it. Say something completely outrageous. OK - you be naughty and I'll be so mad - steam will come out of my ears - GO!

post #11 of 30

DD was really tough when she was three.  Verbal and easily frustrated and badly needing to learn manners...it actually IS better now that she is five.


With the naughty thing, could you turn it into a naughty game?  So the first time she does something and asks if you're mad instead of saying no, say "Yes, I am sooooooo mad!!!  I am coming to get you!!!!!!" and chase her a bit, or humorously tell her how very, very bad she is?  That way she gets attention, but you don't have to lose your cool for real? 


DD also went through a thing where she was really rude to her father for a while when she was 3 or 4.  It passed very quickly!

post #12 of 30

I was going to suggest making it a game too like: "oh your so naughty I bet you would go to London and stick your tounge out at the Queen.  I bet your go to the zoo and pull the lions tail".  All sorts of mad things she couldn't really do.


Have you asked your dh what he thinks a physcologist could do? his answer will help you decide if it's needed or if you could do that thing in some way without professional help.  People assume that a professionl like phsycoloist will magicaly come in and change a situation but they wont.  And if you do see someone it helps to know what you want from them.  From what you've said I don't see any phsycoloical problems just a v young child wanting some attetion after a sibling arrives.


Can you ask dh to back off meal times for a set time like a fortnight and see what happens? What is he so worried will happen? Being hungry a few nights won't hurt her.  having to fix food sepratly or deal with a hungry grumpy toddel would be difficult but the current situaion is difficult.  Keeping doing the same thing will keep resulting in the same thing.


Good luck!

post #13 of 30

:) Tell DH you have a full fledged 3 year old

post #14 of 30
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reassurance mamas! My feeling was that it was fairly normal, especially given the circumstances, but neither DH nor I have any experience or contact with other kids, so it's hard to know for sure.


My gut feeling was that she needs more attention too, so it's good to have that confirmed, though I'm still stuck on how to give it to her.  She's very HN, and before DD2 came along I spent a large portion of the day focused on her exclusively, and I just physically cannot manage anywhere remotely close to that amount of attention now, especially since DD2 is also quite HN and fussy.  I guess I'll just have to keep working on it...


Thanks for the reminder to catch her when she's behaving well too - I do try to do that, but I've mostly been focusing on positive interactions between her and her sister.  I need to praise her for other non-big-sister-related good behaviour too.


WRT the playful parenting thing - I read the book and really liked it, but either I'm doing it wrong, or my DD is just not 'parentable' in that way, because no matter what I do it doesn't seem to work (for negative situations at least).  I've tried the playful parenting response to the "I want to be naughty thing".  It went something like:

DD1: I want to be naughty.  I want you to be cross with me mummy.

Me: Ok, what kind of naughty thing do you want to do? Do you want to stick your tongue out at me? 

DD1: *screaming at the top of her lungs* NOOOOOOO I WANT TO BE NAUGHTY

Me: Yes, screaming is a naughty thing to do - okay now I'm cross with you (trying to make an amusing cross face)

DD1: *still screaming, throws herself on the floor kicking and thrashing* YOU'RE A HORRID MUMMY I HATE YOU

Me: *getting down on the floor too* Can I play too? I can roll on the floor too

DD1: Hits me


I don't tolerate hitting or kicking so that's when I stop being playful.  I hold her hand and tell her sternly that I can't allow her to hit me.  I ask her to go to her room to cool off.  She refuses, so I walk away to try to cool off myself.  She follows me, rugby tackling my legs, still screaming....  (This is just an example - we've had many many similar interactions with me trying various playful parenting ideas)


I'd love to just be able to distract her and get her giggling, but it just doesn't seem to work for me.  But I was never able to distract her - even as a baby, when the advice was all 'distract, redirect' etc. there was just no redirecting this kid.  She gets something in her head and that's it - no way to get her off track.


I've been talking to DH about this, and a problem we're running into is that he thinks that spending quality time with DD1 is just rewarding her for her bad behaviour.  He wants to withdraw attention and affection from her as a punishment.  I understand the feeling - I'm the one at home all day being driven round the bend with her, but I can't see that this is the best approach.  But at the same time I think maybe I need to get a bit more strict with her - maybe I've been too lax because I'm just in survival mode right now.  All I want to do is get through the day relatively unscathed - I just don't have the energy to do any more.  I don't think time-outs will work, because there's no way I could get her to stay in one spot.  Time-ins don't work either though because she will run away from me, and if I try to hold her gently she'll just hit or kick me.  I'm thinking maybe removing privileges? But the problem with that is that the 'privileges' she has are things that allow me some time to deal with the baby.  Like she gets to watch a DVD while I put the baby down for a nap, because without that she's on her own for half an hour or more (DD2 is also a horrible sleeper..) so if I take away her DVD privilege then I'm left trying to get the baby to nap while DD1 runs riot downstairs or stands outside the bedroom door shouting for me.  AGH - I just don't know

post #15 of 30

Maybe she wants to be naughty to get your attention. Maybe, when she misbehaves, whatever her consequence is, make it involve as little mom as possible. If your dh is home, you get quiet and DH removes her from the room or you leave the room while he does whatever needs to be done (i.e. time out, talking to, extra chore, toy on time out, etc). Then, be extra good to her and pay attention when she is behaving. 


Someone once defined children are being like mentally ill adults. If you think of them as adults, they would all be mentally ill. LOL..they said it much funnier. But the point is, children need to be considered different. Bizarre behavior for an adult is all normal for a child. She is 3. That is why she needs parents and is not off living on her own. She needs parents to guide her and love her and teach her how to be. Your dh just needs to get in to the child mood and understand how children are, and enjoy these years. 


Good luck!

post #16 of 30

Oh, and mention to your dh, that while 3 is a hard age, 4 is often worse. I am convinced that is why they invented kindergarten at 5. By the time they turn 5, you want them to go. LOL (and I home school and still, all my children have gone to kindergarten). My daughter was, well, a HUGE patience tester at that age. I think she was 4 when she had a knife and acted like she was going to stab her cousin. I was mortified and thought for sure I had serious problems on my hands. But, she is 14 now. She is amazing. She is strong willed, but that has been channeled for the good. She is a high A student, all her teachers think she is great. The neighbors think she is great. She is so different from others (the strong will means she is not a follower) with her great behavior, her kindness, her high standards for herself, etc, I have other parents asking me how I got so lucky with her. She is way ahead of grade level. She is in 9th grade but taking mostly 10 and 11th grade classes. 


So your 3 yr old is very normal and all will be fine in the end as long as you keep at it to channel her in the right direction. She sounds like she is quite smart too.

post #17 of 30

My dd started her tantrum phase when she was three and the tantrums were often like you describe.  When she was younger she wanted a cuddle when she was upset but when she was three she didn't want to be touched, she wanted to be furious and let the world know about it.  I prevented the triggers as much as possible and that helped her have less tantrums.  I also slowly began to realize that she needed more freedom and lower expectations and that helped a lot.  I always thought that three was this magical age where kids would be able to do so much and it actually isn't.  My expectations were way too high and she reacted by melting down a lot.  When she did have one I empathized and told her I was there if she needed me but pretty much just let it run its course. 


It sounds like your dd is also dealing with having a new sibling on top of being three (a very hard age for many parents).  It sounds like she has figured out that she can get a lot of attention by being naughty.  I think you and your husband should try to have one on one special time.  It sounds like your husband really needs to rebuild the bond because she has a lot of anger towards him.  Maybe your husband could take her out alone for a apple cider or hot cocoa date on the weekends or on a playdate at the park or an indoor play place so they can rebuild their bond while doing special things.

post #18 of 30
I think you DD is acting like a lot of 3 year olds, it doesn't sound like phychological problem. But she knows how to push your buttons and get away with it. She has the power over in your house and makes you play by her rules by getting you angry and refusing to go cool off in her room when you ask her. she is clearly asking for you to step up and inforce the rules you are imosing on her. I know a lot of people on this forum do not think that time outs are GDf do not like to use time outs as a punishment. However timeouts (mostly to cool off)worked for us in similar situation. There is a book "Beyond Time Outs" it does not advocate for any sort of spanking or harsh punishment. It has a logical step by step plan how to deal with situations before you are in it and how to deal with your child if they refuse the time out.
post #19 of 30
Originally Posted by Lisa1970 View Post

She is strong willed, but that has been channeled for the good. She is a high A student, all her teachers think she is great. The neighbors think she is great. She is so different from others (the strong will means she is not a follower) with her great behavior, her kindness, her high standards for herself, etc, I have other parents asking me how I got so lucky with her. She is way ahead of grade level. She is in 9th grade but taking mostly 10 and 11th grade classes. 


So your 3 yr old is very normal and all will be fine in the end as long as you keep at it to channel her in the right direction. She sounds like she is quite smart too.

This is so amazing to hear, because this is exactly my hope, as (not the OP) a mother to a very strong willed 3.5yr old girl. I 've had enough people tell me similar things that I know they are good qualities for girls and women to have & I don't want her to lose her personality even though at 3 and taken out on Mama, it's so difficult to handle!!!

post #20 of 30

How is her sleep schedule?  Although 3 is a rough age, not getting enough sleep can make it 100x crazier.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Gentle Discipline
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › DH thinks DD has psychological problems