Okay, I give up. I need some major help with my 3 year old. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 39 Old 09-10-2013, 09:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I wrote in another thread recently that my 3.5 year old DD is "struggling with authority."  Now it seems like we are struggling with EVERYTHING, and I am completely overwhelmed.  I need help.  Big time.  I'll try to make a list of the many issues we're having and the ways I've tried dealing with them:

 

1. She's having gigantic meltdowns All. THE. TIME.  The second I say no to her about anything, even if I offer alternatives or choices, she starts crying and hyperventilating and flinging herself around - the works.  It lasts for a loooong time.  She'll spew out really dramatic statements, like "You CAN'T put away my clothes!!! If you put it away, I won't EVER be able to play anything every AGAIN!!!!  If I can't have cereal, I will climb up on the counter and get it for my SELF and then I'll have to run AWAY!!!!"  You get the picture.  I think she's probably spending, like, half of her waking ours freaking out about something.  I try to stay calm through it, but the noise of it just irks me and at some point in the day I end up getting angry.  I've tried telling her that she is welcome to freak out like that in the bedroom, but not in the rest of the house.  She just says, "NO!  I don't WANT to go in the bedroom!"  And then we tack on an extra argument about that. 

 

2. She doesn't want to do anything I ask her to do, no matter what.  And if I enforce it, she freaks out, as above.  I can generally get her to comply using the calm persistence method, but it takes a looooooong time, and more patience than I always have.  This is where the authority issue comes into play.  I'll say "It's tooth-brushing time."  And she'll say, "No, I say it's NOT tooth brushing time.  I say it's dance class time!!!"  Or I'll say "Okay, your show is over, it's time to turn of the TV, just like we agreed." And she'll say, "NO!   That's NOT ACCEPTABLE TO ME!!!!"  Or "No, that's NOT the rule in my house!!!!"  She's struggling against policies that we've had since her infancy, like no shoes on the bed, or washing hands after she eats.  I didn't even think of these things as rules until these struggles started.  Now they're cropping up all throughout our day. 

 

3. Constant negotiation.  If she's not fighting me, she's bartering or negotiating.  If I tell her it's time to get in the car, she might say okay, but then add a bunch of stuff she needs to do first, like "I need to bring my baby."  Here's your sneakers.  "I want my WATER shoes (has to take off socks)."  Then she has to buckle her babies into the car in a particular way, etc.  Everything takes forever, and, as a result, I feel like we NEVER get to do anything anymore.  It takes us from 7:30 a.m. until 10:30 to get ready to get out of the house (that includes a lot of my morning chores and whatnot).  By 10:30, it's almost time for us to have lunch, and we've missed all the preschool activities, and I'm so frazzled I just want to sit and bury my head. 

 

4.  I feel like I am lecturing all. day. long.  I guess because she pushes me for explanations.  And when she pushes, I give them to her, and they involve a lot of "People don't like it when you treat them like ______," "I can hear that you want to make some decisions for yourself, but I can't talk about things with you if you're going to freak out everytime things don't go your way."  Sometimes I can't stop myself.  She pushes, I keep talking.  Ugh.  I hate talking.  It's awful. 

 

5.  I feel like she's always doing something that I need to correct.  She always has her hair in her mouth, and I think it's disgusting.  I have some REAL ick issues with saliva that I don't think I can get over, and she's constantly licking her self, sucking her hair, sucking her fingers, etc. while expecting to be close to me.  It's gross.  Spreads germs, and just...yuck.  So, that's one big thing I'm always correcting.  She always forgets to keep her hands out of her crotch.  So that.  She's constantly tipping back her chair during meal.  And she has this habit of adding assumptions to anything I say, like "We're going to the store."  "We're going to the store to buy BREAD?"  "No."  No, no, no.  All day long. 

 

6.  I feel like she spends 80% of her time....compromised.  In this weird mood in which I can't seem to get through to her.  She elongates her words, talks funny, asks thoughtless questions, refuses to try anything, etc.  I don't know if this mood means she's tired, hungry, lonely, understimulated, overstimulated, or what.  All I know is that it happens a lot, and I just never feel like she's at her best.

 

7.  She is so NOT independent compared to her peers.  She would always rather not try.  She gives up on hard things almost instantly, and as a result, there are many skills her friends have that I feel like she will NEVER have. 

 

Okay, if you've made it through this whole saga, thank you.  I'm guessing none of this is atypical for a child her age, but it's really wearing me down.  I just feel confused, like even though my reactions are relatively consistent, they're not helping the problems to go away.  So then I feel like everything I'm doing is probably wrong.  Help, please!  It's a disaster over here.  And I have a cold :(

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#2 of 39 Old 09-10-2013, 09:30 AM
 
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Oh, mama, if anyone needs a hug, it's you.

 

Yes, so much of this is age-appropriate.  3 and 4yos are learning to be more independent, and they crave autonomy, but often that autonomy means doing without mommy and daddy, and they resist it at the same time they crave it.  It is perfectly normal for a 3yo to not be more independent in things like getting ready, etc.

 

But at the same time, this extreme end of things must be exhausting!  My usual advice is "give them as much autonomy as you can" for some kids doesn't really resolve the issue.  Some kids just operate in every way to maximize the amount of harping we do....just.....ARGH!

 

So I have no real advice for you.  If you have *any* nagging doubts that her behavior is entirely age appropriate, follow it up-- though I see no red flags, keep eyes out for possible allergies, any other trigger that could exacerbate this kind of behavior.  I followed my gut, and it turned out I was right!

 

ETA: If you could make a list or two, say, a schedule and a list of things that need done before getting out the house, one that you put together *with* her input, then perhaps you can refer to the list as the "authority" for those tasks.  Don't forget to put what you need to do on the list as well.  It might give her some small satisfaction to help you remember everything.  Put "teethbrushing time" on the schedule, and include a clock nearby so you can defer to that.  I know, this might work better in theory... it might work for a day.... but it might be worth a try.



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#3 of 39 Old 09-10-2013, 11:20 AM
 
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:Hug

 

I'm not saying this is awesome or anything, but whatever parenting I do in those situations is all about me not totally losing it.  So...

I'll run away!  ...Oh, no! I would miss you so much!

That's not the rule!... Yeah, I'm pretty sure it is.  It's written down in the rule book. tra-la-la.

We're going to buy BREAD?...  Um, nope/ Maybe!/ You think we should buy bread?

 

Sometimes you need a No, this is how it is and I will carry you over there if you can't do it yourself.. But a lot of the time I just think rolling with it is the thing to do.  I hear that 3 year olds evenutally get normal.  Can anyone back me up on this?  LOL.  Or if you think I'm advocating being wishy-washy and this is not helpful please share your opinion!! Because I am soliciting advice too.

 

OP, do you think your kid licks a lot because it drives you crazy and she wants to see your reaction?  I think the thing to do is to just say "I don't like that" or "Licking isn't polite"...really calmly. 

 

I seriously need to make a schedule for us too.

 

Oh, and I hear you on the mood thing.  Sometimes I just look at kid#1 and think, What are you tripping on?  Pretty sure she's tripping on being a kid. (...And possibly some need for attention/sibling jealousy.)

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#4 of 39 Old 09-10-2013, 02:53 PM
 
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It all sounds pretty normal, and annoying!  I have a couple thoughts that may or may not be helpful.

 

1.  This sounds like it's escalated recently. My DD is normally compliant, easygoing and delightful.  But she went through a period of about 3-6 weeks at exactly 2.5, 3.5, 4.5 and 5.5 when she was impossible.  Moody, argumentative, whiny, etc.   Every time she snapped out of it just as suddenly as it started.  It was uncanny.  This summer I was bracing myself for 6.5, but it was smooth sailing this year!  Maybe you're in a period of disequilibrium and it will resolve itself?  Or maybe she's getting your cold?

 

2.  Which brings me to my second idea.  It has helped me during difficult periods to see all of DD's drama as "noise."  I just need to let it wash over me and remain disengaged and it will eventually end.  You might just try not arguing with her for the entire day.  Don't nag her about putting her fingers in her mouth or getting in her crotch - she's not going to be doing any of these things in public in 5 more years or less so you really don't need to harp on it.  Don't feel like you need to explain the reasoning for everything to her - I think she probably knows what you would say anyway.  Just go about your business and get your things done.  Maybe this is what you mean by calm persistence.  But maybe the difference is that I wouldn't wait around forever for her to decide to comply (unless I am not in a hurry or I truly don't care).  I'm not going to argue about it or yell, but if we need to go somewhere or I want to go somewhere or you're being annoying and I just want to restrain you in your carseat while we drive to the drive-through Starbucks, I am going to make that happen.  I will (calmly, without yelling or harsh words and as gently as possible) wrangle you into your clothes, carry you to the car and strap you in your carseat.  If it's time for the tv to go off, you can whine about it all you want, but I'm going about my business.  Honestly, I think if you're consistent with enforcing but not arguing, you'll see the benefits of it in a couple of years (I know - it seems like a long time!).  At 6.5, I haven't seen a tantrum for at least a year and DD generally graciously accepts it (maybe with a small amount of grumbling) and moves on quickly when I turn the tv off or say it's time to leave.  I kind of think you have to prove to the kid during the 3-5 period that you're going to make certain things happen whether they like it or not.  And you can do it in a gentle manner and acknowledge their feelings about it, but it's still going to happen.

 

3.  I don't think I would put up with DD yelling at me or directly opposing me like you describe.  "That's not the rule in my house" would not fly with me.  Whenever she's gotten close to that kind of behavior, I've acted totally shocked that she would speak to me like that and stared her down for a second.  She apologizes immediately, but she's pretty sensitive to people being displeased with her.  I don't know if I have any good advice, but I don't think I would allow that to continue because it's perpetuating the cycle of argument and it must be wearing you down.

 

Sorry you're frustrated - I think it will get better.  And you're not feeling well so that makes everything worse.


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#5 of 39 Old 09-10-2013, 03:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by newmamalizzy View Post

 

5.  I feel like she's always doing something that I need to correct.  She always has her hair in her mouth, and I think it's disgusting.  I have some REAL ick issues with saliva that I don't think I can get over, and she's constantly licking her self, sucking her hair, sucking her fingers, etc. while expecting to be close to me.  It's gross.  Spreads germs, and just...yuck.  So, that's one big thing I'm always correcting.  She always forgets to keep her hands out of her crotch.  So that.  She's constantly tipping back her chair during meal.  And she has this habit of adding assumptions to anything I say, like "We're going to the store."  "We're going to the store to buy BREAD?"  "No."  No, no, no.  All day long.

I read the whole post but I don't have time to comment on everything. I just wanted to send some :Hug and to throw this out there as something to research - sensory diet  for oral sensory seeking behaviors in children.


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#6 of 39 Old 09-10-2013, 05:47 PM
 
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Oh, darling. It can be so hard at this age. I still feel a bit out of sorts from my son's ages of 3 and 4, and he's now 5.

First off, it all sounds like most kids I know of at that age. My son was just like that. Lots of nail iting, hair chewing, nose picking oral fixation stuff. It's mostly passed, though. All that tough talking and arguing and negotiating... Again, very normal. The hard part is that they don't quite get the nuance of respectfully disagreeing or respectfully asking for things. I think you're doing fine, and could probably stand a little extra mommy time for yourself if at all possible. Keep modeling respectful and nonviolent communication to the best of your ability.

I found that books and PBS shows can be helpful with the positive communication. And exploring play therapy techniques for sensory seeking couldn't hurt. If her hands and body are actively working, she might do less of the oral fixation stuff.

Big hugs to you. Try not to lecture too much, and remember this will eventually pass. I am re-reading How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Lidten So Kids Will Talk. I even read all the comic strip stuff with DS, and we talk about how much nicer the interactions are than others. You'll see what I mean if you check out the book. That idea was actually borrowed from an MDC thread. smile.gif. Good luck!
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#7 of 39 Old 09-10-2013, 06:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Trying to respond before the nyquil kicks in....

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Originally Posted by Mama Amie View Post

Oh, darling. It can be so hard at this age. I still feel a bit out of sorts from my son's ages of 3 and 4, and he's now 5.

First off, it all sounds like most kids I know of at that age. My son was just like that. Lots of nail iting, hair chewing, nose picking oral fixation stuff. It's mostly passed, though. All that tough talking and arguing and negotiating... Again, very normal. The hard part is that they don't quite get the nuance of respectfully disagreeing or respectfully asking for things. I think you're doing fine, and could probably stand a little extra mommy time for yourself if at all possible. Keep modeling respectful and nonviolent communication to the best of your ability.  Yes, I am trying to do that.  She'll say things like "You're making me cry!" and "The way you're talking to me is not nice!" whenever I tell her something she doesn't like.  I've tried to explain the difference between saying mean words to make someone cry and saying things that are hard, but true.  She definitely doesn't get the difference yet. And it creates another lecture...

I found that books and PBS shows can be helpful with the positive communication. And exploring play therapy techniques for sensory seeking couldn't hurt. If her hands and body are actively working, she might do less of the oral fixation stuff.  Yes, lately Daniel Tiger's "it's almost time to stop so choose one last thing to do" has been really  helpful with transitions.  I've gotten a few other good ones from that show, too. 

Big hugs to you. Try not to lecture too much, and remember this will eventually pass. I am re-reading How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Lidten So Kids Will Talk. I even read all the comic strip stuff with DS, and we talk about how much nicer the interactions are than others. You'll see what I mean if you check out the book. That idea was actually borrowed from an MDC thread. smile.gif. Good luck!  What a great idea!  I think my DD would love that.  She loved reading the little "stories" in The Out-of-Sync Child with me.  (Um, yes, this isn't the first time we've wondered if some sensory stuff might be helpful.)

 

 

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I read the whole post but I don't have time to comment on everything. I just wanted to send some :Hug and to throw this out there as something to research - sensory diet  for oral sensory seeking behaviors in childrenDone!  I will definitely try some of these.  I may get her a teething bling necklace, too.  Thank you for the suggestion.

 

 

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Originally Posted by mnj77 View Post
 

It all sounds pretty normal, and annoying!  I have a couple thoughts that may or may not be helpful.

 

1.  This sounds like it's escalated recently. My DD is normally compliant, easygoing and delightful.  But she went through a period of about 3-6 weeks at exactly 2.5, 3.5, 4.5 and 5.5 when she was impossible.  Moody, argumentative, whiny, etc.   Every time she snapped out of it just as suddenly as it started.  It was uncanny.  This summer I was bracing myself for 6.5, but it was smooth sailing this year!  Maybe you're in a period of disequilibrium and it will resolve itself?  Or maybe she's getting your cold?  Could be.  She did have a period like that at about 2 and 3 quarters.  Oddly enough, it started with a cold.  She had this cold first, just a day of the sniffles, but she may still be ailing in some way I can't see.  We also had a REALLY weird, tumultuous month involving multiple vacations, schedule disruptions, tow trucks, and my mother in the hospital.  She has a lot to process. 

 

2.  Which brings me to my second idea.  It has helped me during difficult periods to see all of DD's drama as "noise."  I just need to let it wash over me and remain disengaged and it will eventually end.  This is something I'm getting better at and really need to keep in mind.  You might just try not arguing with her for the entire day.  Don't nag her about putting her fingers in her mouth or getting in her crotch - she's not going to be doing any of these things in public in 5 more years or less so you really don't need to harp on it.  Don't feel like you need to explain the reasoning for everything to her - I think she probably knows what you would say anyway.  Just go about your business and get your things done.  Maybe this is what you mean by calm persistence.  But maybe the difference is that I wouldn't wait around forever for her to decide to comply (unless I am not in a hurry or I truly don't care).  I'm not going to argue about it or yell, but if we need to go somewhere or I want to go somewhere or you're being annoying and I just want to restrain you in your carseat while we drive to the drive-through Starbucks, I am going to make that happen.  I will (calmly, without yelling or harsh words and as gently as possible) wrangle you into your clothes, carry you to the car and strap you in your carseat.  If it's time for the tv to go off, you can whine about it all you want, but I'm going about my business.  Honestly, I think if you're consistent with enforcing but not arguing, you'll see the benefits of it in a couple of years (I know - it seems like a long time!).  At 6.5, I haven't seen a tantrum for at least a year and DD generally graciously accepts it (maybe with a small amount of grumbling) and moves on quickly when I turn the tv off or say it's time to leave.  I kind of think you have to prove to the kid during the 3-5 period that you're going to make certain things happen whether they like it or not.  And you can do it in a gentle manner and acknowledge their feelings about it, but it's still going to happen.  This is where things get confusing for me.  Before this all escalated, I was really trying to reduce my physical wrangling, since I think she's getting to an age where it's not really appropriate any longer.  That's when I started simply repeating over and over what I needed her to do, regardless of what she said or did in response.  Eventually she would just walk over and do what I asked.  It was kind of all worth it for that moment.  But now, she's so sensitive about not being heard ("You're not listening to me!  Please listen!"), that it really rubs salt in the wound when I dismiss her comments and repeat the same things over and over.  Oh, what I wouldn't give to have the kid who stomps along next to me, grumbling angrily, but still coming along! 

 

3.  I don't think I would put up with DD yelling at me or directly opposing me like you describe.  "That's not the rule in my house" would not fly with me.  Whenever she's gotten close to that kind of behavior, I've acted totally shocked that she would speak to me like that and stared her down for a second.  She apologizes immediately, but she's pretty sensitive to people being displeased with her.  I don't know if I have any good advice, but I don't think I would allow that to continue because it's perpetuating the cycle of argument and it must be wearing you down.  I think we're not here yet.  I thought about this point a lot today, and I think she's just so unclear as to why she CAN'T make the rules in this house, that she wouldn't get it.  And it would just add one more battle in the mix of an already out-of-control situation.  Plus, I kind of appreciate hearing her parrot me like that.  It helps me think about what I should/should not be saying to her, and helps me understand what her underlying issues are.

 

Sorry you're frustrated - I think it will get better.  And you're not feeling well so that makes everything worse.

 

 

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Originally Posted by salr View Post
 

:Hug

 

I'm not saying this is awesome or anything, but whatever parenting I do in those situations is all about me not totally losing it.  So...

I'll run away!  ...Oh, no! I would miss you so much!

That's not the rule!... Yeah, I'm pretty sure it is.  It's written down in the rule book. tra-la-la.

We're going to buy BREAD?...  Um, nope/ Maybe!/ You think we should buy bread?

 

Sometimes you need a No, this is how it is and I will carry you over there if you can't do it yourself.. But a lot of the time I just think rolling with it is the thing to do.  I hear that 3 year olds evenutally get normal.  Can anyone back me up on this?  LOL.  Or if you think I'm advocating being wishy-washy and this is not helpful please share your opinion!! Because I am soliciting advice too.

 

OP, do you think your kid licks a lot because it drives you crazy and she wants to see your reaction?  I think the thing to do is to just say "I don't like that" or "Licking isn't polite"...really calmly. 

 

I seriously need to make a schedule for us too.

 

Oh, and I hear you on the mood thing.  Sometimes I just look at kid#1 and think, What are you tripping on?  Pretty sure she's tripping on being a kid. (...And possibly some need for attention/sibling jealousy.)  I'm glad to hear you say that.  I don't have a lot of kid experience, so her weird-o thing throws me for a loop.  I really do wonder when she will "get normal" :)

 

 

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Oh, mama, if anyone needs a hug, it's you.

 

Yes, so much of this is age-appropriate.  3 and 4yos are learning to be more independent, and they crave autonomy, but often that autonomy means doing without mommy and daddy, and they resist it at the same time they crave it. Yes, this is exactly what I was trying to get across to her this morning!   It is perfectly normal for a 3yo to not be more independent in things like getting ready, etc.

 

But at the same time, this extreme end of things must be exhausting!  My usual advice is "give them as much autonomy as you can" for some kids doesn't really resolve the issue.  Some kids just operate in every way to maximize the amount of harping we do....just.....ARGH!  It does seem like autonomy doesn't help with her.  I've tried offering her lots of big-girl activities lately to make her feel grown-up, but they don't really fly either.  She seems to just be in in-between land.  Her little friend next door is constantly saying things like "Can you help Bea up on the swing?  I can do it myself!" in this braggy way.  My DD totally doesn't get why she's so obsessed with doing things herself, and will generally respond something like "Good for you, Sadie.  Mommy, can you help me?"

 

So I have no real advice for you.  If you have *any* nagging doubts that her behavior is entirely age appropriate, follow it up-- though I see no red flags, keep eyes out for possible allergies, any other trigger that could exacerbate this kind of behavior.  I followed my gut, and it turned out I was right!  This is something I've thought about with her for a long time.  If things don't improve soon, I will definitely look into it further.

 

ETA: If you could make a list or two, say, a schedule and a list of things that need done before getting out the house, one that you put together *with* her input, then perhaps you can refer to the list as the "authority" for those tasks.  Don't forget to put what you need to do on the list as well.  It might give her some small satisfaction to help you remember everything.  Put "teethbrushing time" on the schedule, and include a clock nearby so you can defer to that.  I know, this might work better in theory... it might work for a day.... but it might be worth a try.  We actually DID have a morning routine picture chart for a while.  I should update it and try again.  Thanks for the reminder.

 

Thanks for all the responses.  It was a very screamy evening, and reading what y'all have to say has made me feel much, much better.  I can't shake the feeling sometimes that she acts like she's grieving.  Sometimes she just seems so sad lately, I really feel like there's an issue under the tantrums. 

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#8 of 39 Old 09-10-2013, 06:43 PM
 
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In the same boat newmamalizzy. DS (3.5) has become king of the universe. He argues over just about everything- brushing teeth, getting dressed, leaving the house, leaving the park. If I ask what he'd like for breakfast, he'll say "cookies!" When I explain that we can't have cookies for breakfast, but we can have pancakes or eggs, he'll scream "I'm having cookies!" Which will then turn into a tantrum when I serve something other than cookies. He pushes and pushes until I have no choose but to follow through with consequences. For example, today DS was running a ridged music stick against the wall, leaving marks. I asked him to stop, explaining that it was damaging the wall and suggested he do it outside against a tree instead. He kept at it. I explained that I would have to take the stick away if he didn't stop. He kept it. So I took the stick and he immediately flew into hysterical tears and screaming at the top of his lungs. Gagh!

I'm not into authoratative parenting, but there are certain things I need DS to do- like put his clothes on and brush his teeth (both with my help, obviously.) And there are certain things I need him NOT to do. It's exhausting compromising and negotiating every single aspect of our day, and dealing with the fall out when things don't go according to DS's plan.

Sorry for unloading my own saga! No advice- just commiseration. But it sounds like some of the wise mamas who posted above have some good ideas. I just keep reminding myself that this is a phase ( although also a strong part if DS's personality...) and will pass with time. Hugs!

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#9 of 39 Old 09-10-2013, 07:36 PM
 
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This last post about not complying and then freaking out reminded me that sometimes it might just be that they're looking to pick a fight, so to speak, so that they can unload some big emotions. That theory helps me feel sympathy for them instead of just being annoyed or really getting caught up in a power struggle.
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#10 of 39 Old 09-10-2013, 07:43 PM
 
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My not quite 2yo is already heading down this path so I've been trying to nip it in the bud before she escalates (not that I want to imagine these tantrums escalating anymore!).  Just this morning, she wanted to get up (still in a crib) and when DH went to get her she flipped.  Bit him, broke skin, hyperventilating, the works, all because today she wanted me to get her up.  Tomorrow might be different.

 

I hear you on the wanting her to parrot so you can *hear yourself* - but sometimes less is more when it comes to talking.  I hear DD repeat me, tone of voice and all, and I think "god, do I really sound like that?".  I've found it best to be silent.  If I talk, it's super brief.  No long explanation, no conversation, just get down to her level "hey k, I'm going to fold diapers now, join me when you're done" and I walk away.  I have an amazing amount of patience as a dog trainer but for my own child, she pushes me.  The more I talk, the more she carries on.  If your LO is telling you that you aren't listening, she probably means it.  Less response will also encourage her to work through situations on her own, thus boosting confidence and allowing her to become more independent at a pace that's comfortable to her.

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#11 of 39 Old 09-11-2013, 06:10 AM
 
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newmamalizzy - Just wanted to sympathize.   I'm in the same boat with my 4.5 year old.  It does seem like the half year marks amp up the defiant behavior.  This opositional attitude has been going on with my DS since before 2.  Each situation ends faster if I stay calm, but Lord!  I cannot stay calm anymore!  He does have some sensory issues - both seeking and avoiding behaviors that make things worse.

 

We also have the independence issue, or lack of independence rather.  He wants things to go his way, but no way does he want to do things for himself.  He tells me that he doesn't want to grow up, that he wants to stay small.  He even refused to say he was 4 for 3 or so months after his 4th birthday.  "I'm still 3 1/2!!(crying)"  I can't make sense of this except that maybe growing up and more responsibility is too hard for him and he wants to make sure that I still do everything for him because that's how he knows I love him?  And I don't even have a younger child that he may be jealous of.  I don't know.

 

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#12 of 39 Old 09-11-2013, 07:11 AM
 
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3.5 is a really really hard age. They crave autonomy and create power struggles on purpose to get you and them fighting. It's their instinctive way of trying to separate from you a bit, but at the same time they are scared by the separation. I found this age to be really difficult.

I would do a few things:

1. Whichever PP said to increase sensory activities, etc., I completely agree with that. Look into sensory play and diet and oral sensory issues. It can make a huge difference for many kids of this age, and particularly yours who seems to be sensory seeking based on what you've written. Sensory play is sometimes messy and it sounds like maybe that will be difficult for you? Try to do what you can anyway because a sensory-seeking kid is going to have a hard time without doing some sensory stuff. If you google "sensory activities" you might find some options that aren't too messy.

2. Try to save "no" for things that really really have to be no. The more autonomy you can give the - the more choices you can let them make for themselves - the less they try to make power struggles to get autonomy. If you can put their snack choices where they can reach them and get them together by themselves so they can choose what they have and when, that seemed to be a huge thing in my house at that age. And high sensory snacks for this kid - things that are crunchy, maybe berries with seeds if she likes that, etc. Less yogurt and more crunchy stuff. The oral sensory stuff is more about food options than play.

3. Be really consistent on those things you have to say "no" about.

4. I found it helped to give them little jobs to do at this age. It gives them a bit of a feeling of autonomy without the power struggles. Helping to sort laundry, helping to move silverware from the dishwasher to the silverware drawer - whatever comes up that sounds like something a 3-year-old might be able to do.

5. Remember that this is a temporary stage. smile.gif It'll be something new in 6 months. LOL
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#13 of 39 Old 09-11-2013, 08:27 AM
 
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2. Try to save "no" for things that really really have to be no. The more autonomy you can give the - the more choices you can let them make for themselves - the less they try to make power struggles to get autonomy. 

And if nothing else, it gives mama a break from all the conflicts, if you choose not to make one.  In some ways, "giving up" like in the title is the best way to see your way clearly.  Give up, start from scratch.  You will be more likely to examine your own habits critically.  Choose your battles very carefully.  It might be that she starts calming down with her newfound autonomy, but even if not, it means that you will not have to face down so many fights.  Safety.  Civility.  Let everything else go for now.  I like visualizing that I am sitting on a comfy rock in the center of a lively but gentle river, watching the river flow away downstream in front of me, listening to the babble of the water and the rustle of leaves along the banks.  Let your thoughts, stresses and cares flow downstream away from you.  And breathe.

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#14 of 39 Old 09-11-2013, 12:02 PM
 
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Oh man!!!!!
My son just turned 3 in August and we are having the same issues! I don't have any advice either, but wanted to chime in and say you are not alone.

I just posted on two other forums this morning about my boy refusing to get dressed before we go anywhere...I have forgone so many things recently due to his refusals and I HATE being stuck at home. HUGS
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#15 of 39 Old 09-11-2013, 05:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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In the same boat newmamalizzy. DS (3.5) has become king of the universe. He argues over just about everything- brushing teeth, getting dressed, leaving the house, leaving the park. If I ask what he'd like for breakfast, he'll say "cookies!" When I explain that we can't have cookies for breakfast, but we can have pancakes or eggs, he'll scream "I'm having cookies!" Which will then turn into a tantrum when I serve something other than cookies. He pushes and pushes until I have no choose but to follow through with consequences. For example, today DS was running a ridged music stick against the wall, leaving marks. I asked him to stop, explaining that it was damaging the wall and suggested he do it outside against a tree instead. He kept at it. I explained that I would have to take the stick away if he didn't stop. He kept it. So I took the stick and he immediately flew into hysterical tears and screaming at the top of his lungs. Gagh!

I'm not into authoratative parenting, but there are certain things I need DS to do- like put his clothes on and brush his teeth (both with my help, obviously.) And there are certain things I need him NOT to do. It's exhausting compromising and negotiating every single aspect of our day, and dealing with the fall out when things don't go according to DS's plan.

Sorry for unloading my own saga! No advice- just commiseration. But it sounds like some of the wise mamas who posted above have some good ideas. I just keep reminding myself that this is a phase ( although also a strong part if DS's personality...) and will pass with time. Hugs!

Ha - if you replace the cookies and pancakes with cream of wheat and kasha, that was EXACTLY how our morning started the day that I wrote this post!  Sorry that you're in this boat, too, though it's nice to know I'm not alone. 

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#16 of 39 Old 09-11-2013, 06:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My not quite 2yo is already heading down this path so I've been trying to nip it in the bud before she escalates (not that I want to imagine these tantrums escalating anymore!).  Just this morning, she wanted to get up (still in a crib) and when DH went to get her she flipped.  Bit him, broke skin, hyperventilating, the works, all because today she wanted me to get her up.  Tomorrow might be different.

 

I hear you on the wanting her to parrot so you can *hear yourself* - but sometimes less is more when it comes to talking.  I hear DD repeat me, tone of voice and all, and I think "god, do I really sound like that?".  I've found it best to be silent.  If I talk, it's super brief.  No long explanation, no conversation, just get down to her level "hey k, I'm going to fold diapers now, join me when you're done" and I walk away.  I have an amazing amount of patience as a dog trainer but for my own child, she pushes me.  The more I talk, the more she carries on.  If your LO is telling you that you aren't listening, she probably means it.  Less response will also encourage her to work through situations on her own, thus boosting confidence and allowing her to become more independent at a pace that's comfortable to her.

It's funny, until this recent phase hit, I thought we HAD nipped it in the bud!  But my whole toolkit from her toddler years, which involved lots of empathy and redirection, is completely obsolete now, unfortunately.  I TOTALLY agree that less is more with talking.  Totally.  But...oh, goodness, I can't even explain why it's so difficult right now.  If I address what she's saying, I end up talking way too much.   If I don't address what she's saying, she feels ignored.  Then I have to explain why I'm not addressing what she's saying.  So I end up talking too much.  Argh.

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#17 of 39 Old 09-11-2013, 06:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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3.5 is a really really hard age. They crave autonomy and create power struggles on purpose to get you and them fighting. It's their instinctive way of trying to separate from you a bit, but at the same time they are scared by the separation. I found this age to be really difficult.

I would do a few things:

1. Whichever PP said to increase sensory activities, etc., I completely agree with that. Look into sensory play and diet and oral sensory issues. It can make a huge difference for many kids of this age, and particularly yours who seems to be sensory seeking based on what you've written. Sensory play is sometimes messy and it sounds like maybe that will be difficult for you? Try to do what you can anyway because a sensory-seeking kid is going to have a hard time without doing some sensory stuff. If you google "sensory activities" you might find some options that aren't too messy.  I really think this is going to be key.  When she gets really difficult, I tend to let these things slip because I feel like we're in crisis mode.  But this is a child who will spin in the tire swing for an hour if I'm willing to keep pushing, so I really think I need to start planning more sensor stuff into our day again.  It's actually one of the reasons I'm considering preschool - the crafts.  Oh, how I hate crafts.  But, oh, how they soothe this kid.

2. Try to save "no" for things that really really have to be no. The more autonomy you can give the - the more choices you can let them make for themselves - the less they try to make power struggles to get autonomy. If you can put their snack choices where they can reach them and get them together by themselves so they can choose what they have and when, that seemed to be a huge thing in my house at that age. And high sensory snacks for this kid - things that are crunchy, maybe berries with seeds if she likes that, etc. Less yogurt and more crunchy stuff. The oral sensory stuff is more about food options than play. 

3. Be really consistent on those things you have to say "no" about.

4. I found it helped to give them little jobs to do at this age. It gives them a bit of a feeling of autonomy without the power struggles. Helping to sort laundry, helping to move silverware from the dishwasher to the silverware drawer - whatever comes up that sounds like something a 3-year-old might be able to do.  I thought this would be helpful, too, but so far she isn't digging it too much.  She tends to give up within milliseconds.  Guess I haven't found the right job for her yet.

5. Remember that this is a temporary stage. smile.gif It'll be something new in 6 months. LOL  Thanks :)
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#18 of 39 Old 09-11-2013, 06:13 PM
 
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Oh my gosh what you describe is my daughter to a T. She's now 4, and has dialed down this behavior a lot but she was exactly like that at 3.5. I think it helps to remember that you can't really logic or reason with them. You can give reasons, but I find I have to simplify them a lot. Getting into the details just doesn't help. I also agree that picking your battles is super helpful, like everyone else has said. Also, try to ignore the outrageous behavior. I draw the line at screaming, but yelling, crying, tantruming I tolerate and ignore as much as I can. When she screams I send her (or take her) to her room. Generally thougg when she gets to that point she does need that time alone to wind down.

 

It does get better, at least it seems to be getting better here. She's learning to bargain, but in a positive way. After all this time and persistence and patience on my part she knows just pushing and pushing won't get her anywhere. She recently learned to ask "Mama can I go outside....if I PROMISE to stay on the porch?" as I won't generally let them outside without me. She predicted that I'd say no since I was doing dishes and I was so astonished by her well thought out approach I said yes. I do trust her to do what she says of course because she generally does. This is a behavior I want to encourage.

 

Also, the thing about needing to do "One more thing...two more things..." is a real big thing right now too. I tolerate it as much as I can, but once I have agreed to the one thing it doesn't go beyond that. One more thing means only one, and it's time to move on. I've tried to be a lot less impatient about getting places and how long it takes us to get out the door these days. I'm a stay at home Mom with generally no timeline, so even if I would have preferred to get out the door at 10, it saves my peace of mind to just go with the flow and not be impatient with them. Obviously this changes when appointments come into play.

 

I do not miss the days when we had to get out early in the morning to get to daycare. This was at the height of her 3.5 year misbehavior and we had SO many fights and issues together then. Everything was about defying what I wanted/needed her to do to get ready. Not fun.

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#19 of 39 Old 09-11-2013, 06:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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newmamalizzy - Just wanted to sympathize.   I'm in the same boat with my 4.5 year old.  It does seem like the half year marks amp up the defiant behavior.  This opositional attitude has been going on with my DS since before 2.  Each situation ends faster if I stay calm, but Lord!  I cannot stay calm anymore!  He does have some sensory issues - both seeking and avoiding behaviors that make things worse.

 

We also have the independence issue, or lack of independence rather.  He wants things to go his way, but no way does he want to do things for himself.  He tells me that he doesn't want to grow up, that he wants to stay small.  He even refused to say he was 4 for 3 or so months after his 4th birthday.  "I'm still 3 1/2!!(crying)"  I can't make sense of this except that maybe growing up and more responsibility is too hard for him and he wants to make sure that I still do everything for him because that's how he knows I love him?  And I don't even have a younger child that he may be jealous of.  I don't know.  Aw, poor little guy.  Mine tells me the opposite, that she hates being a kid, which makes me really sad. 

 

I've heard  Terrible Twos, Tyrannical Threes, F-ing Fours, and Fantastic Fives!   I'm hoping the Fantastic Fives is true :)

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#20 of 39 Old 09-12-2013, 08:37 PM
 
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Hey Mamma,

 

I have a 4 year old very strong willed little girl too.

 

When I read this it made me think of the Love and Logic theory.  Have you read the Love and Logic for young ones?  

 

A few things that have worked for me.   "Would you like to brush your teeth now or in 5 minutes?" if she doesn't choose you do and say next time you get to choose.  I used to play a game with my self and see how many times I could give a choice.  Do you want to wear your water shoes or these shoes?  It really seems to me that she feels powerless.  Also something that works for me with little conflict most of the time is I set the timer on the stove.  Here is an example.  I want my daughter to get out of the bath tub and I know that she will fight me.  I say "would you like to get out now or I can set the timer and you can get out in a few minutes."  I set the timer and when it goes off she will occasionally push for more time and I say "nope you said you would get out when the timer went off". She usually gets out without trouble.  I'm going to set the timer and when it goes off you are going to shut off the tv, I'm going to set the timer and we are going to get our shoes on to leave.

 

Just a few ideas. Much luck!

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#21 of 39 Old 09-12-2013, 08:59 PM
 
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My daughter is 4.5, and has been like this for a while. I totally choose my battles, but we are ALWAYS at odds about health-safety-civility.

I have no advice, because I am also at my wits end. Hoping to get some good ideas myself!

Hugs!

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#22 of 39 Old 09-14-2013, 06:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My daughter is 4.5, and has been like this for a while. I totally choose my battles, but we are ALWAYS at odds about health-safety-civility.

I have no advice, because I am also at my wits end. Hoping to get some good ideas myself!

Hugs!

 

That's exactly how I feel lately.  Like even if I just pare my battles down to health-safety-civility, we are still always having a battle about something.  Especially civility.  ("You screwed it all up!!!"  Her new favorite line.)

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#23 of 39 Old 09-14-2013, 07:44 PM
 
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My only thing to add with all the sound advice you've already gotten --  Preschool actually sounds like a great idea, if you can afford some.  I was a SAHM- so my two didn't HAVE to go to preschool. But I did find at 3yo they sometimes NEED more, different stuff, crafts, outside time, different structure. Even just a few mornings a week.

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#24 of 39 Old 09-15-2013, 06:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My only thing to add with all the sound advice you've already gotten --  Preschool actually sounds like a great idea, if you can afford some.  I was a SAHM- so my two didn't HAVE to go to preschool. But I did find at 3yo they sometimes NEED more, different stuff, crafts, outside time, different structure. Even just a few mornings a week.

 

I'm glad you brought that up.  Preschool or not is a decision I've been REALLY laboring over for other reasons. I really do think my DD would love it, and I think that the 2.5 hours of unfettered playtime would do her a lot of good right now.  She really wants to play with me a lot, and I've been busy, so I'm shutting her down a lot throughout the day.  I really think that's contributing to her frustration in a major way, and I bet it has a lot to do with her bahavior lately.   BUT - I also am not sure I can justify the expense of preschool while being a SAHM.  Still pondering that one.

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#25 of 39 Old 09-15-2013, 11:16 PM
 
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What about a preschool co-op of sorts? Can you network?
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#26 of 39 Old 09-16-2013, 06:11 AM
 
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I am a SAHM with a preschool kid in preschool. My older one was in preschool too. I feel like it was really good for them, and allows me to get stuff done around the house so I can more present for them when we're together. It's been really good here. I wouldn't feel guilty about it, though I know it is expensive. I agree with the co-op preschool idea -that can be less expensive.
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#27 of 39 Old 09-18-2013, 07:04 AM
 
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Oh, yes, my 3.75 year old is going through a challenging time too and oy do I hear you! Screaming, meltdowns or hitting herself when she doesn't get her way, she's tried hitting others too, but that got shut down quickly. I'm trying to think up alternative with her (using her words, hitting a pillow, etc.) that are acceptable ways of letting out her big feelings, I still need to get some kind of physical outlet for daycare as they don't have handy pillows sitting around like at home. Testing every single thing. It really gets so wearing! I try to keep the attitude that it is her job to test the rules, but geez does she really have to test each one 209834502348 times? Doesn't ever want to go to bed no matter how tired she is.

So not really any advice, but lots of commiseration! Some days she is great, some days she isn't and the worst days I am really tired and have no patience and yeah, then I start yelling greensad.gif and it makes everything worse.

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#28 of 39 Old 09-18-2013, 03:32 PM
 
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I read the whole post but I don't have time to comment on everything. I just wanted to send some :Hug and to throw this out there as something to research - sensory diet  for oral sensory seeking behaviors in children.

:yeah

 

Been there.....

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#29 of 39 Old 09-19-2013, 09:20 AM
 
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3 was so bad for us. Sometimes I had to decide if it was worth leaving the house with her. There are all kinds of tips, but really sometimes they just need to grow up, and nothing but time will help that.

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#30 of 39 Old 09-20-2013, 07:33 AM
 
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3 was so bad for us. Sometimes I had to decide if it was worth leaving the house with her.

OMG, so true! Like there needs to be a "housebound mothers of preschoolers" support group!
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