Helping a struggling 3 year old get used to the new baby - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 08-21-2013, 07:52 AM - Thread Starter
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We have an almost 4 week old DS and a 3 1/2 year old DD. DD was SO excited to meet the baby and we involved her during the entire pregnancy. She picked out clothes, came to all my appointments, helped set things up, packed her own hospital bag and the baby's bag, etc. etc. Her favourite thing in the world to play is "babies."


She was fine the first week or so after DS arrive d but in the last 4 or 5 days she has completely freaked out. Her behaviour is completely different and I'm so worried because I don't even recognize her. I'm in tears by the time she goes to bed because I just don't know what to do to help her. I'm home alone with the kids now as my DP went back to work last week. I involve DD in  whatever she shows interest in when dealing with DS, I give her my undivided attention when DS is sleeping, she helps me make dinner every night (which she loves), we have a bath together and I lay down with her every night as she goes to sleep. I've read every article, thread, anecdote about what to do and in theory I'm doing everything "right." However, it is just out of control. It's not mild, it's scary out of control. She is hitting and throwing things, being so rude to me and everyone else, screaming and ordering me around ALL DAY LONG. It peaked 2 days ago when she was punching me and then tried to punch DS in the head. I put my arm up to block her and she fell backwards and hit her head on the bookshelf and cut her head open. Which resulted in a trip to the ER in the turned out if was only a very small cut, no stitches required but it was scary.


I feel like I've failed her and I just feel sick about it. Her and I are very close and I can see it all slipping away. I just don't know what to do and I feel like I need advice desperately. I'm going to cross post in childhood years...

Me joy.gif, DP treehugger.gif, S bikenew.gif and L babyboy.gif
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#2 of 6 Old 08-21-2013, 11:42 AM
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Big hugs mamma!! That sounds really rough! We ave an almost 3 year old and an 11 week old. DS was similar in that there was a nice honeymoon period where things were so nice....and then it was likeBAM reality set in that this really was the new normal. The only advice I can give is to keep helpng your DD work through her emotions b trying to narrate what you see and giving her words for her emotions and remind her that its normal and okay for her to feel negative feelings. My DS seemed very upset with himself when he had negative emotions about the baby and when I realized he felt guilty about it, I talked him through it, and it made a huge difference.
Are you able to get her out of the house so that she can be physical somewhere safe (like a playground) or even just having some playful rough housing? Also sleep is a huuuge factor, DS seems to need more of it in order to process things.
IME you are at the hardest part right now...we had a two a week honeymoon phase, a two week nightmare phase, and then we began to make our way to the new normal. Remember to make sure that you get a break sometimes too, because I think that the kids pick up on our stress and internilize it.
Hang in there mama!

     Mommy to DS born 11-10-10  wave.gifAnd DD born 6-3-13 baby.gif  

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#3 of 6 Old 08-23-2013, 01:18 PM
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It's just a small suggestion, but I know giving my struggling 3.5 DD (I have 4 month old twins) permission to hit a pillow when she gets frustrated has helped her a lot. i tell her its ok to be mad at Mommy or Daddy or the babies, but it is never ok to hit people, but she can hit a pillow. It gives her a safe way to get out her frustrations. She is still tantrumming and doing other attention seeking a lot more than she used to, we are trying to give her as much positive attention as we can and try not to get her too much negative attention. I also try to involve her as much as she wants with the babies, but not "making" her help. I will say now that the babies can smile she is liking them a lot more as she can see that they like her, so that's been helpful too. We also try and make sure at least one parent is available to her, but with twins it isn't always possible, that's usually when she really gets going on something when each of us is holding a baby, so we are actually trying to do it a little more often so she can get used to it. Honestly though, I think having to share Grandma with the twins has been some of the hardest for her smile.gif

Katie trekkie.gif - Married to Mike 06/02/01, Mom to Sydney Anne born 11/21/09 and Alice Maeryn & Oliver Thomas born 04/24/13  hug.gif 



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#4 of 6 Old 08-29-2013, 05:24 PM
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I think you're doing just fine with your approach, so I just wanted to offer my support. I think that giving her periods of your undivided attention are really important, as is allowing her the time and space to vent her own frustrations about the new baby in a safe and respectful manner. The pillow idea is a good one - it would give her a way to physically expend the anger without taking it out on another person. I think that for some kids it can be a difficult transition from being an only to suddenly being the big sister or brother.


When DS was born, we planned ahead and bought DD a "big sister" present of a waldorf doll, so she could have her "own" baby. For her, it was a good choice as she loves her baby dolls, and would spend hours dressing them and carrying them around in a sling. Did she still have explosive tantrums? YES! But part of that was more related to *her own* personality and growth spurts than it was to being upset at the attention the new little one brought.


I believe it is important to also try to step back and see if your DD is having her own mental/emotional/physical growth spurt right now, or is gearing up for one. They can also make our kids feel out of balance, and since they don't have the emotional resources to deal with them in a healthy manner all the time, they need our guidance and patience while they work it all out.


I hope that made sense! My preggo brain is easily distracted right now and I'm not always very clear in what I am trying to say. I guess basically, try to give her a place where it is safe to express her anger, keep giving her your undivided attention when you can, and also be patient and give yourself a break. Transitioning to a bigger family can be hard for everyone!


I know there were also some great books I got that we read together, that pointed out all the wonderful things a bigger sibling could do: "I'm a Big Sister", and I think one called "Brothers are For Making Mud Pies" were pretty popular.


Good Luck, and remember to breathe!

Just a modifiedartist.gif trying to find some peace and regain my balance.
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#5 of 6 Old 08-29-2013, 06:01 PM
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Big, Deep breath..... we were here (and still have days like this).... It sounds like you are doing such a great job.  It is really, really hard for some kids to have a new sibling.  DD1 really had such a hard time when DD2 was born.... DD2 seemed to have an easier time, until DS was about 3 months old and then it was really hard for her to express her feelings and was being very physical with her big sister and with DH and I..... she didn't try to hurt DS (until really recent, around when he turned 6 months and is starting to show interest in her toys and is mobile).  


Anyways, I just wanted to give you hugs, it is so so hard to see your baby struggle and not know what to do.  I think you are doing great and she is having a hard time, which is OK.  Protect the baby and yourself and her and just tell her how much you love her, all the time.  


With DS, I tried to wear him as much as possible to protect him, and give me my arms to be with the other kids.... I also read books almost all day long those first few months when DS was just nursing and sleeping.


Good luck mama.

SAHM to Chloe«- 6/2008 (10 lbs, 5 oz), Hannah- 9/2010 (9 lbs, 12 oz), Liam- 2/2013 (9 lbs, 6 oz)

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#6 of 6 Old 10-02-2013, 12:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, everyone. Things did indeed start to calm down a bit as we got into a routine, DD started preschool 3 afternoons a week and DS started smiling and becoming more responsive. However, we've had a set back the last few days and some of the out of control explosive behavior is back. This time though I see it is related to late nights and getting over stimulated. Hopefully things settle down and we all continue to grow together.

Thank you again for the support!

Me joy.gif, DP treehugger.gif, S bikenew.gif and L babyboy.gif
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