My 2.75 yo seems so angry/moody lately - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 11 Old 12-12-2010, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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For the last several months, DS (turning 3 in a few months) has just seemed so angy/moody.  It's so easy to set him off and when something doesn't go his way, he starts screaming "GO AWAY!"  at us.  Or pointing his finger and shooting at us.  A few times he has even said, "you're dead." after shooting us.  Come to think of it, there have been a few times where, instead of throwing a tantrum, he has laid down on the floor in a pouty way and then when I try co comfort him, he says, "no, I'm dead."  I know he doesn't understand what this means, but it doesn't seem like a typical thing for a kid to do.

 

Anyway, he's getting to the point where he doesn't act angry only when he doesn't get his way.  He frequently will resort straight to yelling when asking for something... for example, if he wants a sandwich he'll start by yelling about it rather than asking... "I.  WANT.  A.  PEANUT.  BUTTER.  SANDWICH.  RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT.  NOW!!!!"  When he does this, we always make him rephrase in a polite way, which he does.  But I just don't understand why he's jumping straight to the angry demand.

 

This morning, the lady who runs the nursery at my church (DH and I go to different churches) approached me and said that the last several times that he's been in nursery at church, he's had difficulty interacting with the other kids--yelling, taking toys, even a few hitting incidents.  And he yells at the nursery workers to "GO AWAY!"  Now, you have to understand that the nursery at my church is AWESOME.  The lady who runs it also runs a preschool at the church... has 20 years experience with young children.  Is very good at using positive discipline and concrete praise.  Teaches parenting classes, etc.  She also thoroughly screens, trains, and supervises all nursery workers (who are paid).  So I'm not concerned that it has to do with inappropriate expectations, discipline approach, etc on the part of the caregivers at the nursery.  Plus, her report today reflects what I'm seeing at home.

 

I also need to add that we haven't gotten reports like this from his daycare.  So I don't know how to factor that in.

 

I will say that I think one contributing factor is movie time.  We have gotten in a bad habit of being lax about how much time is spent watching movies.  And we have probably let him see a few movies that are not really appropriate for DS's age group.  That is number 1 on my list of possible remedies.  The movie issue is tough.  Both DH and I work full time and are usually both completely exhausted (DH works construction, I teach kdg) by the time we get home.  So we have a tendency to just want to plop down and not really do anything.  Anyway, I realize this is an area that needs attention.

 

But aside from that, I would love to hear any other ideas about how to address what's going on with DS.


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#2 of 11 Old 12-13-2010, 03:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Doesn't anyone have an idea for me?

 

At the risk of sounding totally pathetic... it seems like every time I post a question on this forum, I don't get very many views or responses. 


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#3 of 11 Old 12-13-2010, 08:00 AM
 
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Have you and/or your DS's daycare worked on putting words to emotions?  My DS is very quick to react negatively and I am only recently realizing what is going on.  He gets upset about things that I have no idea upset him.  Getting him to be able to tell me he is angry/sad/excited etc. has helped me begin to get tantrums under control.  I know your situation isn't quite like that but if he can tell you (and his teachers) what he is feeling, maybe that would help? 

I would also agree about limiting the movies.  It is shocking how much violence and negativity is in the most unlikely of movies, isn't it!?  My DH and I also work full time out of the home so I totally understand what you mean about coming home and having nothing left.  It's tough.  We try to take turns doing house stuff (getting organized, cooking, etc) and playing with DS.  It's nice to know that I am responsible for one or the other on a given day....not both. 

 


 

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#4 of 11 Old 12-13-2010, 08:04 AM
 
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I will say that I think one contributing factor is movie time. 

 

I think you've already identified one major culprit.  We have seen huge negative changes in my DS1's behavior whenever we fail to properly limit his exposure to movies.  Several months ago he was sick for about a week and we let him watch a lot of cartoons including Shrek and Toy Story.  His behavior was terrible for weeks following that.  I had failed to realize that these types of movies were just not appropriate for his age. 


I would say that now he sees about 2 hours of more age appropriate cartoons (such as Bob the Builder, Backyardigans, etc.) per MONTH.  His behavior is not perfect, but it is much better.

 

 

 

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When he does this, we always make him rephrase in a polite way, which he does.  But I just don't understand why he's jumping straight to the angry demand.

 

I don't know, either.  I think that you're doing the right thing by asking him to rephrase.  Hopefully this will pass with time. 


Kelly, wife to my wonderful DH , and mom to DS1 born 1/20/2008 and DS2 born 7/14/2010 by VBAC.
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#5 of 11 Old 12-13-2010, 08:05 AM
 
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One other thing to try as an alternative to the movies - books with audio CDs.  DS1 looooves these, and our library has a ton.  He can entertain himself with these for big blocks of time, which would come in handy for those afternoons when you are tired.


Kelly, wife to my wonderful DH , and mom to DS1 born 1/20/2008 and DS2 born 7/14/2010 by VBAC.
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#6 of 11 Old 12-13-2010, 11:52 AM
 
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I don't have much to add, but I had to respond! I think I agree with Jennd102 about labeling and recognizing emotions. We've been working hard with DD (27 months) in the last few weeks to get her to think about how she talks to people. She has quite the imperious little voice and was definitely jumping to the "get me x right now" off the bat. We've been spending a lot of time identifying/labeling different emotions and the 'voices' that might go with them. We've talked about how there are angry voices and whiny voices and sweet voices and quiet voices and loud voices and what kind of voices DD likes to hear and what kind mama and daddy like to hear, etc. I have no intention of requiring "please" or "thank you," but I do want DD to be aware that people's responses vary when asked in different ways.

 

I try to give her ideas of things she could say in a given situation (e.g., "DD, when you want to play alone, you can say 'LittleBoy, I want to play by myself for awhile' instead of screaming 'Go away.'" And we do A LOT of modeling with toys talking to one another in various ways. It's kinda working. We're getting more voluntary pleases/thank yous, at least.

 

I do think DD has a tendency to go right to strong demands when she's generally not feeling "heard." I.e., this surfaces a lot when DH and I are talking or there are other people in the house or at daycare, when I assume she is in competition to be heard by the adults. So I've been working on establishing eye contact with DD when she makes a request, suggesting a more polite way that she could ask in the future, and then answering her. I get much better results this way.

 

I also try to think about how I ask DD for things. It must seem, to her, as if I do arbitrarily order her around somewhat. So I'm watching my phrasing and tone a lot these days!


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#7 of 11 Old 12-13-2010, 02:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by shanniesue2 View Post

 

Anyway, he's getting to the point where he doesn't act angry only when he doesn't get his way.  He frequently will resort straight to yelling when asking for something... for example, if he wants a sandwich he'll start by yelling about it rather than asking... "I.  WANT.  A.  PEANUT.  BUTTER.  SANDWICH.  RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT.  NOW!!!!"  When he does this, we always make him rephrase in a polite way, which he does.  But I just don't understand why he's jumping straight to the angry demand.

 

 I don't have anything to add, but am interested to read other's replies. DD is same age and acting similar to quoted description. Not the playing dead stuff, but the angry demands. Not every day, but more often lately as we approach 3!

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#8 of 11 Old 12-13-2010, 07:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We have tried labelling his feeling for him, like, "wow!  you're so frustrated that you feel like you need to scream!"  Usually this just seems to escalate him even more... b/c then he'll start repeatedly screaming "I'M NOT FRUSTRATED!"  So I've tried other ways of phrasing it, like "when you go like this (mirroring expression/behavior) I think that you must be angry (or whatever)"  same angrier response from him.  So I've tried to back off of this tactic a little.  Sometimes he's okay with this, but most of the time, it just seems to make things worse.

 

Anyway, I talked to daycare today... and his teacher told me that she doesn't have any behavior concerns from him.  That he only seems moody/angry right after drop off and when she's asking him to do something that he doesn't want to do.  She said that one time, he threw a fit b/c she was trying to get him to put his coat on and he didn't want to... and what she finally figured out was that he didn't want to go outside and so she found an indoor activity for him.  She also said that she has been encouraging him to stick up for himself (he is a 2 year old placed in the 3 yo classroom and she didn't want him getting picked on... more on that later) by teaching him to say "walk away!"  and that sort of thing if other children start to bother him.  Yes, it's better than hitting or some other physical alternative... but I think after talking to her thait this may be part of where he is getting the "GO AWAY!"  And from what I understand, he's really solid about using it to solve/prevent physical problems with other children his age.  So maybe, he's at a point of learning the difference between assertiveness and agressiveness... and when it's necessary to be assertive and when a more calm attitude is appropriate to use??  And how exactly how do I go about teaching that? 

 

As for teaching him to stick up for himself b/c he's the littlest one in the room (size and age wise... he's time even compared to kids younger than him)... I'm not sure how I feel about this.  I don't want there to be an underlying idea that he needs extra help in this area just because he's small.  I mean, I do want him to learn to be assertive, but I don't want it to be because he is little, ykim?  Like I don't want to encourage the so-called "little man syndrome" in him... you know where little guys are more agressive b/c they feel like they constantly have to act bigger than they are (not saying this is every short statured man, but there does tend to be a stereotype).  So I'm not sure what to think about that.

 

The other thing that occurred to me as I was talking to his teacher is that at daycare, he is with younger 3s and at church nursery, he is with 2s.  So maybe he's responding differently to the children in nursery b/c they are at a different developmental level from the kids he's with at daycare?  I don't want to blame on other kids in any way, but I wonder if it isn't a factor.  The only thing that makes me think that the age difference in the two groups isn't a factor is that we're seeing this behavior at home (he is an only child fwiw).  And we don't make it to playgroups often enough for me to really observe what's going on.  So I have to go on what his teachers report to me.


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#9 of 11 Old 12-14-2010, 11:35 AM
 
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Does he show any signs of pain or discomfort? Does his hearing and vision seem normal? Children can be moody at this age. On the other hand, kids this age are too young to tell us if they have a physical problem. So I would just make sure there are no other physical signs or symptoms, such as lethargy, or avoiding physical play--if you see this changing too, I would visit the doctor just to cover bases.


Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#10 of 11 Old 12-14-2010, 11:50 AM
 
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I think part of this behavior really does have to do with age. My son is around the same age as yours, and is the type of kiddo that others routinely describe as "sensitive" - and we see all these behaviors at home at times (with the exception of the "you're dead" thing - but I have read about that being completely normal). They usually happen surrounding tired times of the day or one of those lovely toddler moments of being hungry but refusing to eat anything except for dessert. I wonder if the problems you are hearing about from your church childcare as opposed to daycare have to do with time of day/routine/rhythm issues? I think these behaviors usually happen at home with the parents because kids feel safe and attached - so that is a good thing (though obviously completely frustrating at the end of a long day)!

 

I think your response will obviously depend very much on your child's developmental stage and temperament. I am not one to insist on please's and thank you's and sorry's from very small children, but just now at 3+ I am adding that to the menu of options for making amends. Only lately (at about 3.23) have I felt like my child is able to understand (or begin to understand) something like "No whining. Ask nicely." Empathy has a developmental factor, which helps me to remember when we get one of those "go away"s. My son is also very curious and focused on what he's doing, so a "go away" can be related to that. If at all possible, we wait till he is ready to switch activities - not always possible, of course.

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#11 of 11 Old 12-14-2010, 01:13 PM
 
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I think my dd is in the same phase. I hope that it's just that she started a bit earlier and that it's not going to continue for another 6 months!

 

It's definitely worse when she's tired, but part of it is a total inability to accept that she needs a nap and accept soothing to go down for a nap. (Ditto bedtime).

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