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I'm afraid of my 3.5 year old daughter! Please advise!

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I'm feeling afraid of my 3.5 year old. I would call her spirited and I have always considered her rather difficult, but all and all I've felt as if I had a handle on things and that I had struck a good balance between giving her a sense of control and freedom, and yet not losing control myself. Today, and lately, though, things have seemed increasingly bad. We had a playdate at our house, which is not the norm, and my daughter was acting pretty out of control. When I tried to "discipline" her by taking her away from the group to her room to calm her down (this after several attempts to calm her down with reminders and by stopping her, looking her in the eyes and talking to her) she started kind of clawing at my ears and face.


We have a history of problems with her hitting, particularly when I say no or force her to do something she doesn't want to do. I do try to employ creative techniques to get her to do what I want her to do, try to let less important undesirable behavior slide, and give her choices when I can, but sometimes my lack of personal resources (energy level, patience) and time limitations make taking a stand and forcing the issue the only option. My only recourse with the hitting has been to give time outs and/or to tell her that if she doesn't hit that she will get an after dinner treat.


Anyway, it got so bad this afternoon (after playdate had ended) that she started saying things like, "If you don't do X, Mommy, I'm going to hit you all day and all night."  I feel like I have a psycho child on my hands!!


I know it's hard to evaluate a parenting situation when you haven't witnessed it first hand, but I can tell you that we live a very predictable life and that my parenting is consistent about 90% of the time. This week is unique in that we just got back from vacation Sunday, my daughter's long term babysitter left two days ago, and I haven't been as patient as I usually am, but I feel like her behavior is really over the top, and I don't know how to handle it. I mean, how does one respond to, "Mommy, if you don't do X or Y, I'm going to hit you all day and night and I'm not going to do anything you want me to do!"?? I strongly believe that I cannot let really disrespectful words and behaviors stand, yet my only recourse (which doesn't seem to accomplish anything) is to give her a time out. I want to employ gentle discipline, but she is so strong willed and at times disrespectful that she may not have the personality for it. Yet, if anything, time outs seem to backfire. (she seems revenge driven, not just with time outs but with my telling her no about anything.)


Please advise if you can! Thank you for reading!!!

post #2 of 18

I'm so sorry you're going through this.  It sounds like she is a very spirited child in general, and that when things are in upheaval, that makes it even harder.  Have you read Raising your Spirited child?  It sounds like it might have some great insight into what you're going through.

post #3 of 18

The problem with threats/rewards/punishments (and I learned this earlier in my own parenting) is that you are modeling that kind of interaction to your child.  It is, then, no surprise that your child is threatening YOU with punishments.  To break the cycle, you will likely have to stop offering treats for not hitting, and threatening her with punishments in ANY way.  When she hits, you can pull her gently away from the situation and say, "I can't let you hit so-and-so.  Let's sit in here until we calm down," and then try again.  Parents usually resort to threats because we want QUICK solutions. 


Your post sounds very familiar.  I have a daughter (now 7) who has always had very high autonomy needs.  It took years for me to accept that she would not be like her older brother, who was always more compliant with my requests.


After two years of ditching all threats and punishments (and so-called "logcial consequences," and time-outs), I have a wonderful relationship with my daughter.  Kids with high autonomy needs often mellow out when they reach age 7 or 8 because it then becomes possible for them to do more of the things they want to do without assistance.


The way to encourage her to speak more respectfully to you is for you to speak more respectfully to her, not to punish her. 


Say yes whenever you can.  If you have to say no, make sure there is a really good reason for it, and explain it to her thoroughly.  If she hits, remove her from the situation gently and explain that you will make sure that everyone is safe in your house.  She may not hit.  But do no leave her alone or isolate her in a time-out.  See if there are some things you have been doing for her that she can do for herself; high-autonomy kids really need to feel competent.  Can you let her pour her own juice, even if she dribbles some on the table?  Choose her own clothes, even if they don't match? 


Try to see the world through her eyes:  to her, you have endless power, and she has very little.

post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the book recommendation, Queen, and for the sympathy!


Luckiestgirl, you make some really good points. My daughter is very smart, so she just ends up parroting the threats that I make to her. The problem is that I have tried what you have suggested and would say that the vast majority of time that is my m.o. I only end up making threats when the other approach doesn't seem to be getting me anywhere. YET when I do make the threats she seems to up the ante and I feel as if our relationship suffers 


The hitting is usually just aimed at me. Yesterday, I was taking a walk down the sidewalk with her and our dogs. She was mad because I had turned off the tv (she wanted to keep watching) and I had basically insisted that we walk the dogs. (they needed to go out) That's when things went sour. Whenever I press her to do something she doesn't want to do, she makes me pay for it. So as we were walking, she started moving closer to where the sidewalk and road meet (to provoke me) and when I called her away from the road, she ignored me. I yelled at her (I know - Bad move, but I have my limits) that she absolutely MUST listen to me when we are near a road. I took her by the hand and that's when she said, "if you don't let go of my hand, I'm going to hit you all day and all night." I was so mad and upset that I marched her into the house and gave her a time out. It was an ugly episode, frankly.


I don't want things to go this way!! And I agree with you about the autonomy stuff. But at the same time, doesn't common sense dictate that from time to time a child must comply and accomodate the needs of the family (in this case, the need for the dogs to be taken care of) as opposed to the other way around? This is where I get confused about the GD model.


On the other hand, what choice do I have? If things only turn ugly when I force my will on her, then I have to find a better way. The scene I described above is more extreme than usual. The problem is usually that I turn the tv off and she goes to hit me. Or I tell her she can't have something and she lashes out in some way. My usual response has been to say something like "I won't let you hit me" while restraining her. (She KNOWS the rule is not to hit so saying "We don't hit. Hitting hurts." is almost like "duh" at this point.) But this method hasn't gotten me anywhere. She has continued to hit whenever things don't go her way. thats when I started with the reward system. "if you don't hit all day you'll get a treat after dinner."


Anyway, if you have any other thoughts to share, I'd love to hear. I feel as though I'm missing something. 


Thanks so much for your input!!

post #5 of 18

I think for starters, you may need to adopt a new definition of "what's working."  I used to feel that if what I was doing was working, then nearly every interaction would be comfortable and enjoyable for me.  I felt really justified because I operated with my DD the same way as I had with her older brother, and it had worked with him.  So maybe you can start there: recognizing that the day may be a success even if you find yourselves in conflict with each other several times throughout the day.  Conflict doesn't have to be negative: it just means that you have a different agenda from your DD.


Honestly, I've evolved from a GD approach to a full-on consensual pareting/radical unschooling type approach.  I am now so happy I did, but I might never have ended up here if my DD hadn't had such high autonomy needs.  She is VERY sensitive to injustice and situations where her needs are not seen as valid as an adult's needs.


At that age, my daughter and I had lots of battles over clothes.  She wanted to wear the same outfits over and over, and I was frustrated because she had a drawer full of lovely, comfortable clothes, many of which she herself had selected for purchase, and yet she wanted me to wash the same outfits out every day or so.  This seemed unreasonable.  If I could do it over, I would simply have tossed her outfit in the quick cycle every night and not worried AT ALL that the neighbors would think I was dressing her every day in the same dirty clothes.


If you daughter is watching the TV, I'd try not to turn it off on her.  If the dogs need to go out, do you have a fenced yard they can go out in until your daughter is finished with her TV program?  Many times when my DD and I were in conflict, I couldn't see alternate solutions, largely because I felt I shouldn't have to.  Thus, I was valuing being in control more than having a peaceful household.  My guess is that if your daughter wasn't already angry about you shutting off the TV on her, she would have been less likely to act up on the walk with the dogs. 


If you can give some examples of what it is you're saying she can't have when she starts hitting you, maybe I can offer some ideas.


Working cooperatively with your child is not spoiling her, or failing to be her parent, or whatever.  It's modeling a loving relationship in which both her and your needs are taken seriously.  I now believe that the way children learn to accommodate family needs is by seeing their own needs thoughtfully accommodated. This happens gradually, though, over a period of years. 

post #6 of 18

My daughter is very intense and can be sporadically explosive, so I feel you.  Though I don't hang my hat on being consensual, I DO try to explain ahead of time as much as possible, find out what theyre doing/need/want, and give choices within a framework that should work for everyone.  I'll listen to an idea they have, and if it will work too, then we'll do that.  But if it's going to require a lot of machinations/extra effort/work, then we stick with the options I lay out for them. 


Since you know the dogs are going to need to go out, every day, probably around the same times, it might help to prep her if she's starting a new activity that will be interrupted by it and remind her that the dogs are going to need to go out, that she might be in the middle of something and is she sure she wants to start it, etc. - that she can come back to whatever it is, but that the dogs will need to go out so staying in isn't an option.


In my house at least, prepping reduces the level of drama and conflict in our house considerably.  I ish I could remember to do it all the time. duck.gif


I also spend a fair amount of time talking with them about family harmony and running a house, and working together to do things even though sometimes you don't want to *right then*.  It's a work in progress.  My goal is not always that everyone is happy and gets what they want every time.  My goal is to have them learn that there's a give and take, and that sometimes they give, and sometimes they take.  Everyone winning is a great goal, and if it comes in a reasonable amount of time we do it, for sure.  But I don't have the emotional wherewithall to spend much time figuring out alternatives to situations that we've already discussed, are things that we regularly do, and have already taken peoples needs and wants into consideration. 


The other thing that helps, often, is just being "heard".  So even if I say no, I repeat back to her/him (son isn't as intense) that I really do understand what they're saying, that the answer is still no and why (briefly), and the limit is still there. 


I used to threaten, but don't much anymore.  Since I've started thinking about their point of view and tailoring the discussions to that to begin with, and laying out the options, there's not a lot of threats.  There are consequences sometimes, but they are brief and directly related to whatever it is, and not just "go sit over there for 5 minutes because you were bad" - we have left places, but it's not a threat - it's because someone is clearly not being able to handle being where they are.  I'm not shouting as much anymore.  And they're learning to not shout as much either.  I have open ended "cool offs" if people are out of control, but most of the time they are restricted from doing something it's because they made a pretty bad decision about it and are temporarily not allowed to do it to avoid the same injury/destruction.


In the end, it's still a "parent in charge" dynamic....but that's something I'm comfortable with.  I am the adult who is responsible for the running of this family unit, and sometimes I am able to forsee things they can't, and sometimes I just need things to happen solely for my own sanity. It's difficult for bright, strongwilled kids to accept that sometimes it's just not going to happen the way they want it to, but I think that is also a lesson that's OK.  Getting over minor disappointments is a valuable life skill, IMO.

post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for your input, ladies!! The planning ahead and the telling her what she can expect is a huge, important piece. You're right! I think the behavior issues this week were a result of my NOT doing some of that. Her behavior may also have been driven by my lack of patience, and my trying to force things upon her. That approach does not work. Yesterday, I regrouped, was much more calm, present and on my game, and things went much better. But I have to admit that I did feel a bit afraid of her, like I better watch my step and make all the right moves or else. That's a crappy feeling. I am, after all, the mother!!! I feel as if I need to cater to her and  make all the right moves on the chess board lately, and I resent that! It feels like she is running the show. 


I did say to her yesterday, "We are a part of a family. In a family we work together and help each other. That means that sometimes mommy does what you want to make you happy, and sometimes you do what i want to make me happy." She went along with what I needed to do after that because she knew that I would play with her and do what she wanted if she did. So i can't say that she had an emotional awakening about it (it was more self-serving, i think) but at least I was able to get her to work with me a little. (by the way, when i do want to make an important point about how things are going between us, it is sooo hard to get her to stop and listen to me, even if my approach is soft and sweet. She just doesn't want to hear it.)


I don't know how to go completely threat-free. For example, yesterday, to avoid a hitting incident when I turned off the tv (she usually tries to hit me even if her tv show has ended because she wants to continue watching tv) I told her something like, "you can watch Curious George and Clifford when we get home as long as you promise not to complain or get angry or hit when I tell you it's time to turn off the tv. If you hit me when I turn off the tv then you're not going to be able to watch tv anymore because I don't want to get hit." The prepping in general did help, though, because she didn't try to hit me.


Other things that may lead to hitting is if she is doing something she shouldn't (say, throwing a toy, or banging it on the wall) and I take the toy away, she will try to hit me. It's extremely frustrating! I don't know what I did to create a child who behaves this way! I don't think i come across as a push over or softie, yet she routinely crosses the line of good behavior, and she KNOWS she's doing it! I will frequently give her verbal reminders that she just ignores. I feel as if I must be doing something wrong, and it is tempting to take a harder line with her. My only hope is that the deliberately bad behavior is just a phase. Willful and stubborn, I can probably handle. Nasty, disrespectful and totally bratty I find very discouraging and disheartening. 


Thanks so much for reading and for sharing!

Edited by Katherine4 - 6/23/12 at 6:23am
post #8 of 18

It seems TV is a point of contention regularly?  Is it always just one show, or is it sometimes more than one?  She may be upset by inconsistency...maybe she'd do well with "tv tokens"?  That way she has more control over it - she gets X number of tokens a day, and once they're gone they're gone.  I'm not sure how much you let her watch in a day.  Re:  the threat about TV, I don't see saying, "If you hit me when I turn the TV off you won't be able to watch later, because I don't want to be hit again."  really as a threat, it's a consequence....I don't think it's asking too much to have a kid NOT hit you when the TV goes off.  Are you reminding her when it's turned on that it's just one show and that when it's over, it's turned off?  If you are, I'd stick a reminder in in the beginning as you turn it on...."it's OK to be upset the show is over and the TV is going off, but it's NOT OK to hit me when it's time to turn off."  Does she ever get a chance to turn it off herself, or is it always you? 


Whenever we had issues that repeated themselves like that when they were younger, I tried to figure out a little singsong we can all repeat together *before* whenever the problematic situation comes.  We've had ones like, "No shouting, no sulking, even if you lose, even if you get sent back (We played Candyland a lot)."  - We had to add, "No showboating if you win."  or, "When it's time to go, it's time to go.  Let's leave calmly so we can come back again soon."    Typing them out they seem kind of gross actually headscratch.gif, but in actual practice they were very lighthearted and really worked with my kids.  I obviously still talked about the background values and "do's" behind these issues, but just talking about the issues didn't work even when exploring the feelings/reasons, trying to enforce limits other ways didn't work, but these silly songs worked even though they were phrased in the negative and I usually like to keep things in the positive voice.  To this day if we're in the van and I'm giving a prep for what they can expect wherever we're going, and I say, "And when it's time to go...." they both chime in with the rest of it, unprompted. lol.  I think maybe I need to go back to that technique and figure out a song to make them sing when they're annoying each otherlol.gif


Just a thought to throw out there, and it could just be because of the nature of typing things and omissions for time/space, but....when things go badly, say she throws a toy, etc.  does it immediately go up, or does she get a chance to show you she can fix the problem?  "Do-overs" can also work wonders. 


And lastly, a lot of what you're describing is very normal for intense kids.....and some kids are just intense, it's how they're born.  My firstborn was easy peasy for a long, long time, and still is comparitively...but the second born, holy MAN did she throw me for a loop in a lot of ways.  When you have a kid like this, you have to be sure you're NOT taking all of it personally.  I know, easier said than done....including for myself.  Maybe instead of feeling like you're walking on eggshells, frame it as trying to make her successful and learning how to handle situations and GROW.  By setting her up to succeed by giving her info about situations, warnings, and choices within a framework you're not catering to her or letting her run the show, you're meeting her where she's at. 

post #9 of 18

Reading this very helpful thread more for my own benefit, but one thing did stick out at me:  It sounds like you're giving her a good strong reaction when she says things like "I'm going to hit you all day and all night."  You might want to try to think of a playful response that could work for this, "Like, oh yeah, I'm going to hug you all day and all night because I love you so much!"  Or just ignore it so she learns she can't control your emotions with that kind of talk. 

post #10 of 18

OP, just wanted to add that your last comments brought back some painful memories for me, from when my daughter was that age.  I found my daughter's behavior disheartening, too, because it made me feel like a failure.  I was, on some level, deeply afraid I was raising a kid who wasn't going to have empathy for other people.  I wanted her to do things for me because I did things for her.  It all seemed very personal, and scary . . .


Fast-forward to a time when our relationship is the best it has ever been, and my daughter has lots of empathy (especially for me) and is truly a delightful kid, and we regularly negotiate conflict.  I find that I am not nearly so driven by fear.  And this is good for my daughter.  I see that she couldn't possibly at 3 or 4 or 5  (or even now, completely) give me the same amount of understanding and compassion I give her, because developmentally she is not there yet.


I remember thinking the exact same thing--I am the mother here!  But that wasn't coming from a peaceful place inside me.  It was an old script, based on the way I was raised.  I did not constantly challenge my mother like DD challenged me.  But that is because if I did I would be spanked and punished and, worst of all, shamed.  My experience is that kids who aren't raised in highly authoritarian homes WILL challenge their parents more.  But the control my parents had was largely an illusion.  I did not really respect them, or think they were doing everything because it was for my own good.  It was always pretty clear that they resented anything about me that made their life at all challenging. 


I think if you can give yourself permission to "cater" to your daughter just a little bit more--to anticipate what delights her, to show her that you've thought ahead about what she might want to do and planned for it--things will almost immediately improve.  If she likes the Curious George show, can you arrange to be available and sit down and watch it with her, cuddling or sharing a favorite snack?  If you have to drag her away from something she is engrossed in, can you sweeten the deal by offering her a special treat for the car ride, or by offering to stop by one of her favorite places (playground, fountain, whatever) after the errand is complete?


I think you are right on about the importance of planning ahead with a child like this.  Many of the scenes I had with my DD were related to her intolerance for feeling rushed and my failure to set up an environment in which she wouldn't feel this way. 


Please hang in there.  Spirited children are tougher to raise.  But they are also less likely to be swayed by the opinions of others, and tend to be very driven and resourceful.  These are all wonderful qualities.

post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 

Wow, you gals are the best! Thank you so much for your very helpful and thoughtful advice! 


The4ofus: I really like the idea of a catchy little song. It's a simple, way of reminding her of what I expect and find acceptable while at the same time being lighthearted and a little fun. Lightening the mood is definitely in order! And you are so right about my taking it all personally!!! I was just crying to my good friend on the phone this morning about the situation and saying, "I have put my guts into this child for the last 3.5 years, and she is totally ungrateful and selfish." I know that sounds like an absurd, immature thing for an adult to say about a little kid, but that's how I was (and am, to a degree) feeling.


Newmamalizzy: You're right about how I should react when she says some of those provocative things. When I flipped out on her a couple of days ago, it was at the end of a long day of conflict, so I wasn't in a good way. I think you're right that a comment like that should be either ignored, or commented on briefly and then brushed over. (or maybe even made light of, as you suggested)


Yes, Luckiestgirl! It seems scary! Hence the title of this thread. I've been scared of creating a psycho child, scared that I'm doing something terribly wrong in my parenting, scared that I don't know my own daughter, scared that this is the beginning of an alienation between us that I won't know how to repair, and scared of losing control of the situation. It really does help to hear that you went through this, too, and now feel very good about your relationship with your daughter.


This morning started out difficult (sometimes she's just in a mood) but most of the day went well and, again, I can see that it was because I was mindful of how I was doing things with her. I anticipated trouble spots and tried to plan and give reminders accordingly. If she didn't want to do what I wanted her to do, I just tried to relax, be flexible and wait until she was ready. It made me realize that, going forward, my philosophy needs to be: Don't tolerate or let slide her being rude or blatantly inconsiderate, but do adopt an attitude and practice of accommodating her needs/wants whenever possible. I feel as if this is my only option at this point. I do have a fear that somehow it will backfire, that by accommodating her so regularly that she will come to expect that from her family and from others, but for now I am hoping that this is just a difficult phase that I need to get through.


Thank you, again, so much for all of your help!!! It has helped me tremendously to sort through everything. I'm very grateful!!!! xx

post #12 of 18
Originally Posted by Katherine4 View Post


I do have a fear that somehow it will backfire, that by accommodating her so regularly that she will come to expect that from her family and from others, but for now I am hoping that this is just a difficult phase that I need to get through.

 FWIW I think there's accommodating, and then there's *accommodating*.  lol.    If my kids ask me to wait to do something if they're doing a finite thing, like finishing something up, etc. and we've got no particular place to be and no real timeframe going on, I don't have a problem waiting at times like that.  But if there's a timeframe, or some other limit, it's more of an, "I'm willing to make this as pleasant as possible, but it still needs to be done." kind of vibe.  Which really, is how real life is in the grownup world.  Kids really are pretty savvy.  They can get that there's "pleasure" timeframe, and there's "business" timeframe.  Actually, come to think of it when we're really in a spot like that I might even mention to the kids that this is a time that's all business and no play, it needs to just get done and over....and I think because I do accommodate them when possible, they're more willing to work with me when it's not.  I think you just need to be sure it's accommodating with a clear set of boundaries (as in, finsih this, not adding 5 other things on), and still getting whatever it is done.


One other thing I thought of - when you were mentioning her working with you, for self-serving reasons, I think even that is totally OK - that's the give and take I'm talking about.  You cooperate with mom and get this done quickly without a fuss, and we'll have time to do something else you want to do.  That actually *IS* a win-win.  Expecting a 3.5-yo to have altruistic motives in cooperation may be a bit lofty, considering many adults don't attain that place their whole lifetimelol.gif


And re:  the crying and thinking your kids are ungrateful and selfish, BTDT.  Lots of moms have been there, especially moms of intense kids.   Take it easy on yourself, and her.  I've found a lot of the things I was SO WORRIED ABOUT in the thick of it kind of worked themselves out on their own time.  Not my timeframe, but nonetheless worked out.  When my daughter was 2-ish, if strangers tried to engage her in public, or compliment her, she would SCOWL at them and say LOUDLY, "STOP STARING AT ME!" or, "IT'S MY SHIRT, YOU CAN'T HAVE IT!" and I went for about a year being mortified nearly every time we went out in public.  I can look back on it and laugh now, but I was a wreck while it was happening.  Now?  She chats up ANYONE who will talk to her, about ANY topic they will talk about.   Crazy kids and their bizarre learning timetables.

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

ok, so let's say i need to take a stand with her because we have to be somewhere at a certain time so she has to stop what she's doing, or I tell her she can't watch tv because it's morning time (we almost always reserve her 1 hour of tv for the afternoon when she could use a little downtime anyway.) Maybe I've taken the appropriate precautions (giving reminders and warnings of what to expect, etc) and she still gets nasty. Can you give me some advice on what to do in these situations? Let's say she threatens to hit me if i don't do what she wants, or she does actually hit me. What should I do? I do not want her to get away with that behavior. I feel very strongly about that. 


Thanks so much!!

post #14 of 18
My older child was spirited like that. For those kinds of situations - transitions - I would focus on what comes next instead of what is ending. So instead of stopping watching the TV, get out something else, like playdough or whatever, and say "Let's play with some playdough for a while and save our TV time for the afternoon." Then the image she has in her head is of the playdough more than the TV being taken away, and her image of the TV is of having that time later rather than it being turned off. And, "Let's get our shoes on to go to the store" instead of "Let's stop doing X so we can go to the store." Also, you might have to walk her through the things she has to do to get out of the house rather than just telling her to do them if she's having a difficult day.

Good luck!
post #15 of 18

Well, came here to post basically the same thing...

3.5 year old dd, very spirited. We also have an 11 month old ds.

The only thing I might can have from our experience (hits or throws things when angry, doesn't do transitions well, spends more time than i would like in screaming meltdown mode)

Some days she can handle tv, some days she can't. It seems to suck her in too much, and it's really really hard for her to transition out of that "sucked in" state. I realized that many of our issues took place with the tv, so we've been trying to do without. I also try to remember how hard it is for her to disengage from it, and give a 5 minute, 3 minute, and 1 minute warning. Sometimes it helps her to hit the "off" on the remote. I know that this might or might not help with your issues, but it sounded like tv was an issue at your house, too. And, goodness, with a really spirited girl, sometimes I NEED the break to regain my sanity.

post #16 of 18
Originally Posted by Katherine4 View Post
 Let's say she threatens to hit me if i don't do what she wants, or she does actually hit me. What should I do? I do not want her to get away with that behavior. I feel very strongly about that. 


I'm not sure what you consider "getting away with it", but personally for me and my kids:


- If she said it to me like a threat, I'd say something like, "I get you're mad, but that's totally not OK.  You can X instead."  or if I was feeling particularly irritated, something like, "Not OK, NOT gonna happen."  -   then LATER on, have a talk about while it's OK to have those feelings, that saying that is really not OK.  Have alternatives available that are OK to you (only you can decide those...I was giving mine other things to say/do like "I'M SO MAD!" or stomping, or tearing some paper, but have been reading lately that learning to calm the feelings is better than physically blowing off steam, so I've been focusing more on breathing deep, closing eyes, etc.).  The one study I was reading had 2 groups, both insulted and made to be mad, then either offered something to hit, or an empty room with magazines....the hitting group was still enraged after 10 minutes, the magazine group had calmed down considerably.  


- When she tried (tries?  I can't remember the last time she tried to go directly after me - she'll be 6 this week...she was more of a biter when she was 2-3) to hit me, I'd intercept as much as possible before she'd make contact, keep a gentle hold of her arm, look her in the eye and say in a serious, low tone, "NO WAY.  Not OK to hit me.  You can be mad, but you aren't allowed to hit me."  and if she kept at it flailing, etc. I'd either just remove myself from her general area, or if that wasn't possible I'd hug her (that was an absolute last resort in small spaces, because she HATES that and it makes her more flail-y).  


My exclamations were/are usually loud, almost sitcom-like, but generic like, "WOAH, NO WAY."  or "WHAT, REALLY?" as if I can't even believe they're saying or doing what they're doing. 


 Loud disbelief/bewilderment in an "are you serious?" kind of way usually stops mine in their tracks.  lol.gif


I rarely added on any kind of punishment on top of it; sometimes just a brief "WOAH, sit down right where you are" when they were/are fighting with each other and it comes to blows.  I make it clear to her that these were not options she should exercise.  "Getting away with it" to me means doing whatever it is with no correction whatsoever. Verbal correction is just as valid as a punishment, IMO, when it's firm and clear (not "oh honey, please don't" - any physical follow through I do is to directly stop the action and nothing more), and consistent.  I'm sending a clear message that what they're doing, or thinking of doing is not OK, along with alternatives....and when they really are mature enough to understand it, it clicks.  She really is still so young.  I think it's another case of the bigger you react, the  more she's going to do it when she feels out of control, because it makes her feel like if she isn't in control over herself, there's one thing she can control by doing these things you don't like....she controls you reacting big.  You know?


Believe me, I struggle with this with my daughter's acid tongue when she's mad and feeling like she's 'getting away with' just saying whatever she's feeling without thinking about other people's feelings.  It's been a real exercise in discipline for me to not launch into a diatribe and battle with her over her choice of words when she's so angry. It has taken a huge leap of faith for me to stop engaging her as much and let her calm down, *then* talk to her....but it really is working and she's erupting less frequently, for shorter timespans.  I still am setting limits of OK and not OK, I'm just not arguing with her about why she shouldn't do it in the heat of the moment ( so it's "Until you can speak more calmly, you shouldn't speak at all, those are very hurtful words." instead of me laying into her for saying nasty things).  Those discussions come later.  And that's difficult for me!  But it's working.

post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 

I'm going to print this thread! So helpful. Thank you so much!!! 


I'm really going to try to implement some of your techniques for heat of the moment stuff, the4ofus. 


Thank you all so much!

post #18 of 18

Wow wonderful thread, very important insights shared.

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