Andrea, I want to first say that you have not created a broken little girl, and I'm quite sure you're not a crappy mother. We mothers have a lot of influence over our kids, but we aren't the sole factor that determines who they are and what they do. I think your daughter's issues are probably more a matter of temperment (spelling?) than your parenting, or even possibly other more serious issues. I also can relate to your first post where you said you don't necessarily think your daughter needs fixing. I feel that way too, as if my daughter doesn't need fixing. What she needs is acceptance and support and she does need me to provide some help that will allow her to learn and grow. Mostly I need to learn to live more peacefully with her, and she will grow and mature and learn to handle life better as time goes on. Easier said than done. You're doing the best you can. With time, it's very likely she will begin to outgrow this.
I know you've read lots of books (I have too) but I'm going to recommend you read The Explosive Child
if you haven't already. Also, there's a great website with a lot of information about parenting explosive kids (and a great description of what traits the term 'explosive' includes according to the book-chronically inflexible, easily frustrated come to mind) at http://www.explosivekids.org/
. There's also a good description of the "pathways", which are the difficulties/deficits/reasons that result in a child being "explosive". And then there's the Collaborative Problem Solving method (also from the book) for parenting explosive children, which is something I am not super-skilled at but which is helping our family even though I'm muddling my way through it (sometimes pretty poorly). The CPS method focuses on finding doable, realistic, mutually satisfactory solutions to conflicts-which helps children learn to problem-solve and become more flexible over time. Basically the site provides a good synopsis of the book-on the home page there's a caregiver handout in PDF form that you can print out that's a great little summary of all this information. The Explosive Child is one of just 3 books that I keep going back to for help/reminders in parenting my child (the others are Nonviolent Communication and Connection Parenting).
It has helped me a lot to learn to focus less on what's wrong with my child and what I must be doing wrong, and to focus more on accepting that this is what is and on how I can live with what is more peacefully. That doesn't mean not working toward change, but in order to move toward change and to move toward helping my child I have to first accept her as she is and accept myself as I am and accept what is happening as it is. That acceptance is necessary in order to see clearly and to move toward an understanding that leads to insight that leads to knowing what it is I need to do to help my child learn and grow. I highly recommend the book Peace Is Every Step
just for helping you, yourself, find some peace. And finally, I think it's always a good idea to think about whether or not your family needs some outside help. We finally reached the point where we've begun that process, simply because it finally became to anxiety-producing for us and too hard on our family to keep going it alone. Will it help us? Don't know. But it was a comfort just to step onto that path.
One thing that comes to mind from your most recent post about blueberries is that perhaps it's possible that when your dh said "when you're done please pick them up" that what she heard was "pick them up" and thought he was telling her to pick them up now and be done playing. I don't know how old your daughter is (eta that now I see she's nearly 3), but this type of thing can still be a problem with my 6.5 year old. Often we have to start out immediately by saying things like "I'm not saying no" (part of what we've learned as part of the collaborative problem solving method) so she'll hear what we have to say, otherwise she is likely to hear only part of what we're saying and to think/assume we're telling her "no"-and then she'll start flipping out because she thinks we're saying no and when things don't go her way she just has very little ability to deal with it in an effective manner. (This can be a problem for my 2.5 year old too, though her behavior is not nearly as extreme. She'll hear only the "put it away" and not the "when you're done.") Does that make sense? There are so many skills one needs to have in order to deal with frustration or disappointment in more appropriate ways. You need to actually hear accurately what your parents have said, you need to be able to keep your emotions from overwhelming you (set them aside a bit in order to think), you need to be able to think flexibly enough to think of other solutions, to identify and articulate your feelings/the problem, etc. Lacking any of those skills can result in an inability to respond in any way other than tantruming. The other thing that comes to mind reading your last post is that my daughter also, not so much now but when she was younger, would not let us touch her or hug her or comfort her when she was having a tantrum/rage. I think it was too overwhelming, too much sensory input. She needed to work through it herself. She would let us comfort her later, but some kids don't go for that either. Is there any other way to comfort her, after she's done? My child would only go for my "drawing" letters on her back.
WRT things like the wrong banana or being the wrong way in bed or moving the phone, I can certainly think of times when my current 2.5 year old has flipped out over similar things. Sometimes my little one gets upset over things and I have no idea why those things are upsetting. I'm sure she has an idea but she can't articulate it. I think stuff like that is normal childhood stuff (mostly), but some kids react in more extreme ways than others. Probably especially those kids who are so sensitive to everything, including changes in their environment.
I will say that as difficult as it is, two things that are so very important to me and my child are 1) for me to find time and ways to connect with her and enjoy her company and 2) for me to take care of myself. Caring for oneself as a parent is so important, because if you're depleted you have less to give your child. If you don't have empathy for yourself, you can't give it to others. If you're tired or hungry or burnt-out, you have less energy to give to others. And finding some way to connect with your child not only helps her feel loved and encouraged and valued, it helps you too. I know that the more I am able to find ways of connecting with and enjoying my child, the easier the whole journey feels. It's always a struggle with my child (or so it seems, and life will always contain some struggle) but as Bearsmama once said, we can struggle for peace or we can struggle for misery. So knowing that inside the struggle is this kernel of happiness and beauty that is both my daughter and the good times waiting to be born, I can find the will and enough peace to muddle through and do the best I can to help the struggle pass and the good times be born and my daughter thrive. The uspide to living with a challenging child is the growth opportunity with which we are presented as parents. I am eternally grateful for that.
Time to run. Big
s, Andrea. Hang in there. And remember, you're only a human being like all the rest of us moms. You do the best you can and sometimes it's still hard (okay, let's not sugar-coat it: sometimes it still sucks). But this is not your fault.