3 Year Old - Raging/upset. How to help with emotional expression? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 57 Old 10-25-2013, 02:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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(I don't know if this is a discipline issue per se. Maybe it is as we have these issues around things we need to set limits on. Maybe I should have posted in childhood? Are 3+ year olds still toddlers even?)

 

 

Hi folks,

 

My daughter has just started raging. I don't know how else to describe it. Anything can set her off it seems. There are deeper things at work obviously - see below.

 

An example (that I just posted in another thread):

 

Quote:

Yesterday she sat on my knee for 45 minutes kicking, screaming...occasionally hitting and scratching me. All the while yelling at me to wipe her tears away...but as I tried, she screamed and screamed about how I was not doing it right - "Do it like THIS!!!! NOOOOT LIKE THAT!!! NOT LIKE THAT!!!! NOOOOOOO!" Even how I had my legs crossed, not crossed, positioned...sent her raging too.

The best I could do was sit there and wait whilst she raged and flailed. I cried too in the end, and she screamed at me for that too. "DON'T HAVE THAT FACE!!!!! DON'T!!! HAVE A HAPPY FACE!!!!!!"

Cause of tantrum/rage/unbelievably sad upset?

Dad ate a piece of her toast she wasn't eating. (Though, to be fair - that was just the trigger...she had, had a hard and very overstimulating day).

 

 

As a bit of background.

 

1. Our little girl is 3 years and two months old. She is incredibly bright, verbal, mentally busy (almost too much I think sometimes). She is ahead a little in this regard, and I struggle sometimes with keeping her from being bored (but that is another story). She seems to be entering a phase of wanting control over everything...which I understand is common, and part of their search for autonomy. She is feisty, and the word I throw around all the time is INTENSE. She is very, very INTENSE. Always has been. Even as a baby, she was very difficult to 'calm'. Nowadays cuddles are never enough, she usually chooses an external non-parental thing to make herself feel better (though these things are also sore points for us all unfortunately) - e.g. a bottle of milk, or a video.

 

2. Changes: Lots of things happening for her at the moment. We've just moved around the corner but into a brand new house. The house is bigger, better....more child friendly - spaces are nice and I think she loves being here. But it is a change.

We're also potty training, which she is doing okay at thus far.

We've ALSO gone to preschool 3 times, with me attending for 3 hours with her each time - and we had planned to do the big scary separation thing next week. However, the latest of her rages happened after preschool yesterday. Well, in the evening anyway. She had had a very full-on morning where there was lots of noise whilst the kids were doing a particular activity with a fitness/movement coach person...and I could tell at the time she was overwhelmed...so we didn't stay for the whole session. It made me pretty sad though as her previous two visits had been great...now of course I'm full of anxiety about next week (sigh).

Oh - and whilst I've been resisting and resisting - she is now finally done with naps...and we're having trouble deciding whether to try and enforce some kind of quiet time (we could 'enforce' it, as she is still in a cot that she doesn't escape from...but she just seems far too old for this now) - she won't sit down or chill out by herself ever it seems. Hmm.

 

Anyway.

 

I have no idea what to do about her behaviour.

The only thing that occurs to me is to help her express herself more. Perhaps not JUST verbally, in terms of a straight Q & A conversation about things (which she is generally very good at, if not already upset) - but through play of some kind maybe?

 

Although she is bright and verbal - and although I know she is still very little - I would like to help her get some of the 'stuff' out before she explodes like she has done a few times now. It is heartbreaking to see, and I'm not coping at all well with it...which in turn is not helping her at all.

 

I read a lot about tantrums and raging all over the place, and have committed to re-reading Raising the Highly Spirited Child...but am wondering if other's have any ideas for games, or expressive play, or anything at all that might help me to help her diffuse her frustration and anger or sadness before it becomes overwhelming.

 

I also realise that she has limited words for emotions. She knows angry, sad, frustrated (and excited, happy, bonkers <--- we use this one for crazy-happy-fun moods) - but maybe she needs more words...? A word for the volcanic/raging feeling...? A word for when she's beyond angry, or beyond just sad? I don't know.

Should I be trying to play-act with her toys, some of the new scenarios in her life? Preschool...? Or whatever? I just don't know where to start with that kind of thing.

 

Has anyone read Playful Parenting and put those ideas into practice? I'm not sure my LO would respond well to some of the physical stuff in that book...she is just not that physical or touchy-feely generally...but on the other hand, maybe healthy physical outlets combined with constructive talking is exactly what she needs?

 

To be clear, I can't and wouldn't want to stop all this behaviour entirely - she obviously needs to get it all out - I would just like to guide her more effectively, so it can be less traumatic and (violent?) and frightening for everyone.

 

It's a slightly different issue - but I also desperately need some ideas for how to set limits for her. We are at a loss here too. Fun/interactive ways would be the thing...does anyone know a good book, or blog or something?

 

Someone said in a thread that this is a common age for this. And in a thread I posted a while back someone tried to warn me of the 'three' thing. Gah.

I. Am. Not. Handling.

 

Or prepared.

 

I have my own problems (insomnia/bruxism and more) - and my energy is so low it is hard to even think, let alone act on things at the moment...hence posting.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Grover.

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#2 of 57 Old 10-25-2013, 08:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Gosh. I just wanted to update and note that today has been horrendous.

She has railed against everything and everyone all day long. We agreed (us parents) last night we would try and be very gentle with her today, show some extra love, do some more one-on-one playing....but something has her in a really horrible place at the moment. I wish I could figure it out. I would almost think she was ill, but she doesn't seem ill to me...no temperature or any symptoms of anything.

 

We've been yelled at all day, she has been crazily defiant and destructive...throwing everything etc, howling over broken bananas...the works, and by the end of the day my vow to try and be zen and calm and supportive has flown out the window already and we haven't even reached meal time, bath time and bed time yet.

 

Could it be all these recent changes? Could it even just be the preschool visits? 

I really did think 'we' were both ready for preschool...but will be having second thoughts if the two things seem to be connected.

 

She can't go on like this day after day....!?

 

So lost. So depressed at not knowing what to do.

 

G.

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#3 of 57 Old 10-26-2013, 12:35 AM
 
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I don't have much advice, because it's been a long time since I've had a three year old, but I wanted to offer support and commiseration. I'm going through a rough patch with my two year old right now, and we just had a very difficult bedtime... I couldn't read and not respond.

One thought: I wonder if you've tried separating her from the household during her tantrums? Like putting her in her own room? Not as punishment, but more as a natural consequence of being extremely disruptive. I tended to take that approach with my daughters when they were young- that as the parent, I was the one setting the agenda and they did not control how the family spent our day. That meant a child having an extended meltdown might need to go cool off on her own. Just wondering if that's something you've tried or considered.

Good luck, and (((hugs)))

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#4 of 57 Old 10-27-2013, 01:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for replying. It seems it is an impossible thing to ask advice on, by the looks of other threads. And every family and child is so different. But I was/am so desperate.

Appreciate your thoughts. 

I wouldn't be able to separate her I don't think. She clings and claws on etc. Also, there are only the three of us, so it's not like she is disrupting other children or folks...just her suffering parents.

 

I'm starting to change my question now to a simple: How on earth are we going to get through this alive??

 

We're on our third day of nearly day-long atrocious behaviour, which is spanning a spectrum - defiance, destruction, shouting, mega-tantrums...the whole gamut. We've had three nights now where she is just so over-wound, or something that she has not had a proper dinner or bath.

Yesterday she was ok in the morning, but the afternoon was horrendous...and by dinner time she was melting down like a nuclear plant.

 

This morning she called out to me upset at 5.30 am. She has been waking this early (asleep by 6.45, or 7pm usually) for a few weeks now, but usually plays happily for an hour until we get her up. I'm fearing what's coming next, since she hasn't had night time sleep trouble for a long time.

I have another thread about sleep needs - and I can't help feeling she is just EXHAUSTED at the moment. But she is still unable to have a nap it seems, and putting her to bed at 6.15pm has still resulted in early wakings.

 

We're at a complete loss.

Something is going on with her, but I'm so frustrated that I can't figure it out.

I just don't know if things have been too much for her (moving house, potty training) - or if she's just ridiculously tired - or if preschool has bothered her - or a COMBO of those things. Whatever the cause, she is not the same child she was two weeks ago...and I'm finding myself in tears twice a day (not in front of her) - because I'm finding it all just impossible to deal with.

 

Here endeth entry 3 of a Diary of a Desperate and Despairing Mama.

 

:-(

 

G

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#5 of 57 Old 10-27-2013, 02:54 PM
 
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Oh boy, can I relate. As I said in another post, we are in the exact same phase and it is so exhausting. It started about a month and a half ago, and this past week it's finally gotten a little better (but it still very much depends on the day). The defiance, the awful tantrums, everything...they just wear you out.

 

As far as separating...I can't separate my son either. He clings to my leg, and if I were to put him on the couch or in his room, he would be on me immediately before I could take 2 steps away. Multiple people have told me to try and separate, but he's strong and fast, and I just don't think it's possible for us right now. I'm trying to look at it like he has a very strong need to be near us when he's feeling this way, so I'll give him that (we don't have any other kids that I have to attend to).  But if he's kicking or hurting me, then I have to move away...he follows, of course, but I try to make it clear that if he's going to be near me he can't hurt. It's a tricky thing, and I'm not sure if I'm handling it the right way. I'll be watching this thread to see how other people feel about this issue.

 

As far as preschool...my son started preschool in September three days a week. He absolutely loves it! But I do wonder if that is part of what's causing the tantrums/defiance. Maybe the stimulation of being with all those kids, doing all the different activities? Maybe its being on his best behavior at school all morning and he needs to let loose? Maybe feeling like he is a "big boy" now and therefore should have just as much say/control at home as mom and dad? I really have no idea. It could just be a phase he would be in right now regardless of preschool. All that said, I am still happy with my decision to enroll him. It's a good time for him, and a good break for me to recoup and be more positive/refreshed when I pick him up. Plus, I can get some things done so that I'm more focused on him when he's home.

 

Anyway, just wanted to empathize with you. I know how hard it is!

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#6 of 57 Old 10-27-2013, 03:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by mommyhood View Post
 

Oh boy, can I relate. As I said in another post, we are in the exact same phase and it is so exhausting. It started about a month and a half ago, and this past week it's finally gotten a little better (but it still very much depends on the day). The defiance, the awful tantrums, everything...they just wear you out.

 

As far as separating...I can't separate my son either. He clings to my leg, and if I were to put him on the couch or in his room, he would be on me immediately before I could take 2 steps away. Multiple people have told me to try and separate, but he's strong and fast, and I just don't think it's possible for us right now. I'm trying to look at it like he has a very strong need to be near us when he's feeling this way, so I'll give him that (we don't have any other kids that I have to attend to).  But if he's kicking or hurting me, then I have to move away...he follows, of course, but I try to make it clear that if he's going to be near me he can't hurt. It's a tricky thing, and I'm not sure if I'm handling it the right way. I'll be watching this thread to see how other people feel about this issue.

 

As far as preschool...my son started preschool in September three days a week. He absolutely loves it! But I do wonder if that is part of what's causing the tantrums/defiance. Maybe the stimulation of being with all those kids, doing all the different activities? Maybe its being on his best behavior at school all morning and he needs to let loose? Maybe feeling like he is a "big boy" now and therefore should have just as much say/control at home as mom and dad? I really have no idea. It could just be a phase he would be in right now regardless of preschool. All that said, I am still happy with my decision to enroll him. It's a good time for him, and a good break for me to recoup and be more positive/refreshed when I pick him up. Plus, I can get some things done so that I'm more focused on him when he's home.

 

Anyway, just wanted to empathize with you. I know how hard it is!

 

I'm glad to hear something is a little better for you, even if just for a few days. I don't know how long we can hold out with our current situation. It's still very dire.

And also really glad to hear your opinion on the preschool thing. I did note that two of the bigger UBER-tantrums came after visits to the preschool. But there is a part of me that can't help thinking I should keep her at home until she stops being....err...so awful!?

But friends and family have advised me against that - say I could be waiting a while (noooooooooo! please, no!)

She seems keen to go, but we were meant to be doing our first proper drop-off on Wednesday....and I just don't know anymore.

 

I've almost run out of words for posts to describe it all. She's just gone completely LOCO. Just everything about her has changed (except being a smarty pants <--- which used to be charming and funny, but now is just used against us all day).

 

Her Dad and I came up with a gameplan the other day to a) try and give more cuddles and be more loving, and do more one-on-one playing with her and b) try to get her to have multiple down-times during the day. We have EPICALLY FAILED on both counts so far as:

a) She doesn't want a bar of cuddles, and will not sit still for them. Most of the days at the moment she is like a little overtired drunk person, stumbling around - whinging, crying, falling over stuff a lot. Trying to sit down and play with her is awful too, as she gets super-frustrated, yells that something (everything?) is wrong...and that's the end of that.

b) Down times? I offered nice quiet stories multiple times yesterday....and no, no, no. Which is weird, as she used to love stories and want to read thousands with me.

 

I almost wish she were ill. It would explain it all....and it would end.

But she is not ill.

 

 

 

Still clueless.

 

Best of luck with yours.

 

G

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#7 of 57 Old 10-28-2013, 11:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Diary of a desperate parent continues....

 

With all my typing, and the ongoing stress in our household (we had one good day yesterday, but today has been monstrous) - I remain at a complete loss. I'm overwhelmed by the seeming enormity of all the changes our daughter is going through....all the different 'bad' things that have just suddenly appeared.

 

I fear that she must be anxious or scared deep down - possibly about a bunch of the new things that have been happening.

 

As my partner and I have our 'emergency meetings' after she's asleep...I try and think through what we can do...but every day seems to bring new weirdnesses, and we're so busy trying not to sink, that nothing gets changed about our own behaviour.

 

My current question is this: (and I really would be very grateful for opinions).

 

----------------------

 

Lets assume that she's both gone crazy, is stressed (from recent changes, preschool visits etc) - but is ALSO doing typical 3-year-old boundary testing things.

Do we....

 

Pour on the love and attention, hoping to lead her gently out of the craziness - before working on the bad behaviours (seriously, she's just whinging and demanding from dawn 'till dusk at the moment, and we're doing a lousy job by mostly giving in out of desperation).

 

OR....

 

Pour on love and attention - AS WELL AS, trying to set up 'new' limits/rules for things. AS well as trying to 'ignore' (or whatever) the huge tantrums etc. I.e. work on some discipline at the moment (it just seems so impossible?)

 

OR....?

 

----------------------

 

Essentially, I can't help but think she is kind of emotionally 'ill' somehow. Wounded, sad, scared...and is acting out really badly.

But at the same time, we're letting her get away with murder...and are headed down a very slippery slope with many things that were, two weeks ago, humming along just fine. Even when she is vaguely 'happy', she is still pointing, shouting at us to do things, yelling no all the time...demanding food, nothing is working for her, or is good enough....etc...etc... etc. We've now had four nights in a row where she has refused dinner and a bath (most nights I've gotten her to eat, just very late....and we've had to have baths in the morning).

 

Help!

 

(Thanks for reading).

 

G

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#8 of 57 Old 10-29-2013, 01:12 PM
 
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Are you sure she's not physically ill?  With such a dramatic change in behavior I might check in with the ped.  That said, my DD had a 3-6 week period every summer when she was 2.5, 3.5. 4.5 and 5.5 where her behavior was markedly different.  More whining, more upset, nothing made her happy, etc.  Then she would suddenly snap out of it.  It didn't happen at 6.5.  Maybe it's a period of disequilibrium?


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#9 of 57 Old 10-29-2013, 03:14 PM
 
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I'm forever popping into these "rage" threads reminding folks that rage can be an allergy symptom and that allergies can start or worsen around this age, which makes it difficult to pick out because what you are describing, in a nutshell, is entirely age appropriate.

 

To be sure, it sounds like she is going through enough right now to set her off, especially at an age where they *almost* have the words and *almost* have the skills, but either not quite enough, or they completely lose them when they are angry (who doesn't?)  But if you are wondering if an illness might be connected to this (entirely plausible) this might be one possibility.

 

So, I'm just reminding folks not to discount them-- to keep it in your head and keep an eye out for the physical symptoms that might be more subtle but obvious once you look.  I would highly recommend keeping a food diary, just in case, but not changing her diet in any way (heavens knows she doesn't need any more changes right now.)  But if something becomes *obvious* to you, then you can make those specific changes.

 

I also suggest, when she is in a calm cuddly mood, to ask her why she's been feeling so angry and frustrated these days.  If she's a verbal 3yo, she just might enlighten you.  I wouldn't comment on it, maybe share how you've been feeling tired these days too.

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#10 of 57 Old 10-29-2013, 03:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for those replies.

 

We have left her at preschool for the first time today (just for 4 hours - have checked in by phone - apparently she's okay) - so am nervously awaiting the pick up in an hour or so....and crossing fingers that we don't have horrendous meltdowns all afternoon.

 

I'm on constant watch for an illness to still appear - but none has. She is having a small dermatitis/eczema reaction on one foot and hand the last two weeks, but we suspect that she might have picked up a fungus in our new garden or something.

 

She is still getting minimal sleep (10.5 hours at night) - so over tiredness is still a major factor.

 

I will think about the food thing - you never know.

 

And I definitely try and talk to her when she's calm, and she says some interesting things sometimes....but nothing really obvious has come out yet. She seems aware of her rage and what it is: e.g. when I asked her about it specifically, she said she needed to "Get it out of my body," (the sad/angry). She is also having slight night anxiety along the same theme: "Monsters and spiders come out of my body...."

 

She is good at expressing herself when happy...the only trouble is, the last week or so, she's too busy shouting, demanding, crying and being miserable...that she hasn't BEEN happy. Most days now, nothing seems at all normal.

 

Am still stumped about the discipline thing and the limits. This phase has highlighted how very few rules we had in place....and it would seem she desperately needs them (for routine things, food, bath, how to talk nicely etc) - BUT...it's impossible to introduce any of that to her when she's being all yukky and shouty.

 

Rock and a hard place.

 

And still a mystery.

 

Thanks again.

 

 

E.T.A: Is it really unusual for this to be occurring? When should I start to get worried that there is something serious going on? She does still have 'normal' moments...but they are bookended by much of the yuk stuff it seems, and she's been this way for days.

It is like she wants to be happy and normal...but is just collapsing into the 'other' all the time. Hmm...sounds like extreme tiredness doesn't it?

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#11 of 57 Old 10-29-2013, 05:21 PM
 
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E.T.A: Is it really unusual for this to be occurring? When should I start to get worried that there is something serious going on? She does still have 'normal' moments...but they are bookended by much of the yuk stuff it seems, and she's been this way for days.

It is like she wants to be happy and normal...but is just collapsing into the 'other' all the time. Hmm...sounds like extreme tiredness doesn't it?

It is not unusual at all, though your daughter is experiencing an intensity that might be on the extreme side of things.  Even when there is no change in our lives, kids this age can suddenly have mood changes and difficulty containing emotions.  Feelings of lack of control, coupled with a new sense of the future, plus an explosion of imagination and possibilities, new, more complicated emotions.  Being three is a huge burden sometimes.

 

ETA: First, watchfulness can come before "worry".  When your gut tells you this is beyond what is age appropriate, then you don't want to dismiss it.  I would not go overboard with worst-case scenarios, but if this is uncharacteristic, sudden and extreme, you can bet I'm also going to be thinking outside of developmental difficulties.


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#12 of 57 Old 10-29-2013, 06:57 PM
 
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my son is exactly the same age and recently had two episodes of 'rage' - the likes of which i have never seen before.  After reading this thread  i am afraid this could be here to stay a while!  He has been in pre school all this year - 3 hours /day 2X week - and he is fairly bossy 'assertive' and demanding while there ....he often doesnt want to sit and participate in 'circle time' etc...etc... they have been very gentle with him - they dont force him to do things ...but just Monday i picked him up and the director told me she had him sit down away from the other kids - he was taking their toys, screaming 'no' , not letting the kids have toys ...so she told hijm when he calmed down to come and get her - and he cried for a while then got up and went over to her, apologized and was fine the rest of the day.....we came home - took a looong nap (we still nap about 3 x /week)  and he woke up in a fog - like he couldnt  fully wake up - and whined and cried about a 'bin' for 90 minutes - until i finally figured out he wanted the bin i had put away all his trains in....it was just 6 feet away on the table....

once he got it - he was an angel again.....

i really believe we should be shooting for 12 hours of sleep - my LO is an early AM waker too - days he doesnt have a nap - i put him down around 6 pm.....

i also think we need to let these little 'Tigers'  (Chinese astrology they are tigers - in American astrology my son is a Leo - seriously ?  a Liger?  what was i expecting???)  get as much physical exercise as possible - this one is hard for me ...we dont have a yard - i am not physical ....but i notice a far happier child when he has been able to run around like a crazy monster.....

and i think setting rules and expectations is perfectly reasonable - i would not hold a child who kicks or hits me  - whiny and fussy is one thing - but a real 'rage' thing i think needs to be handled differently.

Waiting and Watching.....


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#13 of 57 Old 10-31-2013, 03:03 PM
 
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So sorry you are both going through a rough time!  I can commiserate - DS will be 3 next month and we just moved from our house into my mother's house (temporarily, while we hunt for a new place).  He was fine for about a week, then it seemed to set in that this was more than just a visit, and we also made the mistake of taking him back to our empty house.  We've had a few days of some pretty epic meltdowns of the variety you mention - he chooses something to be upset about, something that would normally not be a big deal, and it is the most horrific tragedy one could possibly imagine.  I know that he's using it as an outlet to release feelings he can't otherwise identify, but it is hard nonetheless.

 

I think that, in the world of a 3 year old, any one of the things you mention (moving, potty training, starting preschool, and the lack of sleep, probably being caused by the anxiety surrounding the first three) would be a big enough change to really rock the foundations of the world as they know it and cause some major behavioral backlash.  All happening at once might be a perfect storm, and together enough to cause the extreme behavior you're describing.  DS is also very intense and spirited/high needs, always has been, so I can commiserate there as well.

 

What I would try to do, and what I'm doing for us to ease the transition of moving (which unfortunately we'll have to go through again in a few months when we find our new house), is to simplify his world as much as I can and maintain as many little rituals and routines as I can in order to preserve his sense of security.  He's been desperately clingy this past week, especially at night, and I'm welcoming that and giving him lots and lots of extra play time and attention, asking if he wants me to hold him when he didn't ask, that kind of thing.  When the rest of their world is being shaken, I think it's extra important for them to know that while other things change, the fact that you are there won't.  

 

Giving more opportunity for her to have control can be helpful, I think, as long you are giving her inconsequential choices...like which shirt to wear, which park to go to, etc.  Giving her control and empowerment shouldn't be confused with letting her do whatever she wants just so she stops having tantrums.  

 

Play therapy, like you mention, is a wonderful tool as well.  Just the act of playing together will be helpful, whether or not you're guiding the play to be therapeutic.  If you play with animals or dolls, you could role play a doll going through similar experiences, like moving or starting school.

 

As far as boundaries go - I very, VERY highly recommend you look into the book Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids by Laura Markham, and in the meantime reading through her website, www.ahaparenting.com.  She talks extensively about how to give empathetic limits in a gentle way, and how to coach them through their emotions, what language to use in order to be empathetic and let them feel understood and accepted.  Boundaries are necessary, and a lot of times even though it can send them into a rage, it ultimately makes them feel more secure because they know that you are steering the ship.  If they can sense that you don't have control of a situation, it can cause them to be anxious.  They need to know that you are lovingly in control, and that means saying no to cookies before dinner and then empathizing with them as they freak out about it.  

 

Anyhow - my vote is to play, play, play with her as much as possible and let her be the guide - let her boss you around, enthusiastically play whatever she wants to play, and just generally bond in whatever way she will allow.  Playful Parenting has lots and lots of ideas.  Playing/bonding will fill up her emotional cup and make the other stuff going on seem less overwhelming.  I would even start rooming-in with her at night for a while if you can - tell her you just can't stand to be away from her for one second, so you're going to sleep in her room (or her in yours, whatever).  

 

When she tantrums, stay with her and empathize, vocalize the things that she can't yet - "Wow, you're so mad/sad about ______.  That is so upsetting."  It's important that they know you aren't put off by their emotions and that you'll stay connected with them and help them work through it.  

 

If you're totally overwhelmed yourself, then definitely of course look into professional help, maybe a good play therapist or something just to get you both over the hump.  




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#14 of 57 Old 11-01-2013, 02:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much for recent replies. I don't have time right now to reply individually as I'd like to - but I REALLY appreciate the time taken to respond to me. Will absorb everything.

 

This week has been a real rollercoaster. First day of preschool (5 hours, on her own) - went really well...almost too well. She really enjoyed it, separating didn't seem to be a problem. Teachers said she was great. She used the toilet etc etc. Even when we brought her home afterwards, she was spectacular the rest of the day...obedient, fun, creative...all good stuff.

The next day?

Well - the next day it went to custard in a big, big way. From dawn until dusk. (That was Thursday).

 

Yesterday was Friday, and her second preschool visit on her own.

I was told by the teachers and carers she had a brilliant day...participating in things I thought she wouldn't, and seemed really good (they do over-sell the positivity sometimes I think - and also they don't 'know' her very well yet...so wouldn't have a clue as to what she was really feeling). But, when we (both partner and I, since at the moment I don't drive) went to pick her up...things went to nuclear custard!

First she didn't want to leave, and wanted me to stay and play - which I did for 10 minutes. Then, at the car, she demanded a 100 different/impossible things and started having a huge tantrum. So we took her to the beach (right next to the carpark) and she ran around there for 20 minutes. Happy...but completely and utterly manic. Didn't want to leave the beach. Got back to the car and point-blank refused to get into her carseat, which has never happened before. Shouting, screaming, crying, flailing - it was a complete disaster.

 

Much to my horror, after half an hour of that...we 'gave in' and she sat on my knee in the back seat for the 20 minute ride home. Totally illegal of course, and I can't believe we did it. The worst of it was that she still flailed and screamed all the way home...I had to struggle with her to keep her from knocking her head against the window.

Actually, the worst was not over - the 'tantrum' (or emotional breakdown I think I'd prefer to call it) - continued at home...for about an hour. Mostly, she was screaming at me to pick her up, but when I did, she was screaming that she wasn't comfortable...then she wanted this, that... "I'm not comfortable! I'M NOT COMFORTABLE!!! HELP ME GET COMFORTABLE!!!!!"

She is so big, that I can't physically hold her endlessly like I used to. But she won't 'let' me sit down. I have a sore back sometimes and get sciatica, which has been caused by lifting and carrying her too much - but, well...that's another story.

 

In retrospect, it seems she was calling out for emotional help - but I just didn't know what to do at the time. I stayed near her...until she finally burnt herself out. Then eventually we got her to bed.

 

I should add that I tried over and over trying to verbalise for her: "You're very sad/angry," "You're having a bad day..." Whatever I could think of. The response during the meltdown was along the lines of:

"DON'T SAY THAT!!! DON'T SAY THAT!!!"

"STOP TALKING!!!"

"NOOOOO! I'M NOT ANGRY!!!! DON'T SAY THAT!!!"

"STOP TAAAALLLLKINGGGG!!!!!!!"

 

(Me stops talking).

 

"DON'T NOT TALK!!!" 

"TALK AGAIN!!!"

"START TALKING!!!"

"DON'T SAY THAT!!!!"

"DON'T PICK ME UP!!!"

"DON'T PUT ME DOWN!!"

 

Etc etc.

Impossible to do anything. And this is what I'm finding. What can I do, when nothing helps?????

 

I stayed up late re-reading sections of 'The Highly Spirited Child' on my ipad - and came to the conclusion that she is definitely one of these types. My other conclusion was that yesterdays crisis was related to be overstimulated, but then the CHANGE or transition required to go from preschool to being with us again and going home. She just couldn't handle it. Neither could we.

Reading the book - I'm still unsure....the best solutions for that particular situation I can think of is:

a) Warning her constantly before next Wednesdays preschool (I'm having second thoughts about even sending her...but I know she wants to go....so....?) about it ending, about what will happen when we pick her up....about how to transition, and say goodbye.

b) On that point - I'm going to ask the preschool teachers their thoughts on creating a goodbye ritual or something like that?? Does that sound like a good idea?

Would love any thoughts and opinions on the whole situation.

 

Overall - I think luckiest, you have nailed it:

 

Quote:
I think that, in the world of a 3 year old, any one of the things you mention (moving, potty training, starting preschool, and the lack of sleep, probably being caused by the anxiety surrounding the first three) would be a big enough change to really rock the foundations of the world as they know it and cause some major behavioral backlash.  All happening at once might be a perfect storm, and together enough to cause the extreme behavior you're describing.  DS is also very intense and spirited/high needs, always has been, so I can commiserate there as well.

 

I just wish I could figure out what to do to help her help herself. She gets so lost and hysterical, so quickly and so passionately...it throws everyone into a panic. As I read through the Spirited Child book...I like it all, and find things I can definitely relate to, but I'm having trouble (so tired and overwhelmed) processing the whole book and figuring out what to actually DO. Which bits to put into practice...and how. Gah.

 

The tiredness is still a major factor I think. Last week and the week before she was doing 10.5 hours a night. Very under-slept for her. This week we have managed to get 11 some nights, and 11.5 last night - but I think she is still shouldering a massive sleep debt. She won't nap anymore, and her behaviour is making it hard for me to do most of our routine earlier. We are already forgoing the usual bath time so I can get her to bed by 6.30...but dinner and pre-bed has turned into this new crazy struggle where she is running around being deliberately 'naughty' (or manic).

 

She's so bright, and so verbal...that I know part of the solution might lie in helping to express herself verbally - and I still haven't had a chance to read Playful Parenting again....

 

Aside from being overstimulated, overtired, and overwhelmed - some of it is still developmental I think. E.g. A month ago I had to limit the amount of sit-down stories we read together because she'd just sit with me all day if I gave her the choice. For the last two weeks I've been trying and trying to get her to 'chill' out with me for a story or five, offering multiple times a day - but she's not interested...she's too busy. She's not chilling AT ALL each day...and I can't seem to encourage her to. She's just manic, and busy - and when she's happy...this is all good, but when she's not - look out us. Disaster.

 

So....it continues on. 

Me still not being able to see the wood for the trees a little in terms of how to actually help her through it.

Me getting very distressed too - after she was in bed last night, I had my own huge meltdown, where the world ended, and I doubted everything I've ever done - but mostly preschool...and also a lack of setting limits, as, as well as everything else, she is flaunting any makeshift 'rules' and deliberately doing everything we ask her not too (unrolling toilet paper....throwing things....etc etc etc).

 

Sigh.

 

If it was just about me, all I would wish for is survival through it.

But it isn't just about me....and I want her to do more than survive too - I want her to come out the other side...better able to cope...and express.

 

How can I do it?

 

 

Thanks for reading.

And thanks for the support.

 

G

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#15 of 57 Old 11-01-2013, 03:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Also - the car seat thing. It would be the least of our problems if it wasn't a matter of life and death. Gah.

If I'd forced her into it...I would've BROKEN some part of her.

If she'd had her way - we would have sat outside the preschool until midnight.

 

:-(

 

G

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#16 of 57 Old 11-01-2013, 03:04 PM
 
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That is so hard. I'd again recommend Laura Markham's book, as it is full of really practical ideas on how to handle meltdowns, and how to coach them through their emotions. It isn't super dense either, so you could probably read it even with an exhausted brain.

Another thought occurred to me reading your last post, because it's true for DS - is she very extroverted, wanting lots of interaction with lots of people? I'm highly introverted and DS is highly extroverted, and it's hard for me to fill his social needs. He also does really, really well at MDO and never wants to leave.

The car seat thing is a regular occurrence for us because DS just never wants to go home, no matter what we're doing. I call it being held hostage, because he just refuses the car seat completely. My tactic is just to get out a book and wait him out; the more I ask him to get in the seat the longer it will take. If we're truly in a rush (like melting groceries in the car). If I convey annoyance or irritation at all, it only hurts my cause. But if I let mess around for 15-20, then ask SUPER enthusiastically, he usually abides.

Anyway, it just struck me that she might be similar and have high social needs.



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#17 of 57 Old 11-01-2013, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That is so hard. I'd again recommend Laura Markham's book, as it is full of really practical ideas on how to handle meltdowns, and how to coach them through their emotions. It isn't super dense either, so you could probably read it even with an exhausted brain.

Another thought occurred to me reading your last post, because it's true for DS - is she very extroverted, wanting lots of interaction with lots of people? I'm highly introverted and DS is highly extroverted, and it's hard for me to fill his social needs. He also does really, really well at MDO and never wants to leave.

The car seat thing is a regular occurrence for us because DS just never wants to go home, no matter what we're doing. I call it being held hostage, because he just refuses the car seat completely. My tactic is just to get out a book and wait him out; the more I ask him to get in the seat the longer it will take. If we're truly in a rush (like melting groceries in the car). If I convey annoyance or irritation at all, it only hurts my cause. But if I let mess around for 15-20, then ask SUPER enthusiastically, he usually abides.

Anyway, it just struck me that she might be similar and have high social needs.

 

What is MDO?

 

She is hard to call on the introvert/extrovert thing. She does seem to need/crave/want constant attention - 'look at me, look at me...look at what I'm doing' etc. (Actually, it's funny - she often quotes the Cat in the Hat, which makes her sound very snotty! "Look at me...look at me...look at me now!")

The preschool teachers have mentioned that she drags them all around everywhere to show them things. But I wonder if that is an insecurity thing, rather than being extroverted?

She has not had very much social interaction in her life so far - she has never really played with other children, and we don't have nearby friends or relatives with children...she sees mostly adults. However I work from home, and my partner is more or less a house-husband, so she has had our CONSTANT company since birth...maybe just transitioning from that is hard for her too. I don't know.

 

She used to withdraw quite badly if even rellies that she knows came around - but she talks to them now...and doesn't seem nearly so shy.

So - I'm not sure.

She might develop more into an extrovert - she's always talking and processing thoughts out loud and wanting an audience and wanting to interact.

On the other hand...she is very wary of groups of people...and I'm sure the preschool thing must be freaking her out, even though she is saying she's enjoying it. She has been gravitating towards the teachers...and not the other children. So far.

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That is so hard. I'd again recommend Laura Markham's book, as it is full of really practical ideas on how to handle meltdowns, and how to coach them through their emotions. It isn't super dense either, so you could probably read it even with an exhausted brain.

Another thought occurred to me reading your last post, because it's true for DS - is she very extroverted, wanting lots of interaction with lots of people? I'm highly introverted and DS is highly extroverted, and it's hard for me to fill his social needs. He also does really, really well at MDO and never wants to leave.

The car seat thing is a regular occurrence for us because DS just never wants to go home, no matter what we're doing. I call it being held hostage, because he just refuses the car seat completely. My tactic is just to get out a book and wait him out; the more I ask him to get in the seat the longer it will take. If we're truly in a rush (like melting groceries in the car). If I convey annoyance or irritation at all, it only hurts my cause. But if I let mess around for 15-20, then ask SUPER enthusiastically, he usually abides.

Anyway, it just struck me that she might be similar and have high social needs.

 

Before I buy that book - reading the reviews on Amazon, whilst mostly overwhelmingly positive - some negative one's say that the suggestions just didn't work for their super-strong-willed child.

 

Do you think there is enough in the book about spirited children to be useful?

 

Thanks so much.

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Grover, have you had her in for a quick ear check?  I know, I know, it's probably not that, but there was a time when my girl was nearly 2 that she was waking and having huge fits at night, asking for things that were impossible, didn't like the way I was patting her, etc. etc.  It just seemed like something felt wrong to her and she couldn't explain what it was and she couldn't make it right.  I finally took her to the doctor - ear infection.  Within 2 days she was back to normal.  It's just a thought. 

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Grover, have you had her in for a quick ear check?  I know, I know, it's probably not that, but there was a time when my girl was nearly 2 that she was waking and having huge fits at night, asking for things that were impossible, didn't like the way I was patting her, etc. etc.  It just seemed like something felt wrong to her and she couldn't explain what it was and she couldn't make it right.  I finally took her to the doctor - ear infection.  Within 2 days she was back to normal.  It's just a thought. 

 

Hi.

 

Unfortunately I don't think that's the case. She's very quick to complain about slight (imaginary or real) ailments...and hasn't exhibited any symptoms of that kind of thing at all.

 

We are still somewhat focused on three things at the moment:

 

1. Making sure she's getting as much sleep as possible. Earlier bedtime has meant we've gone from 10.5, to 11.5 hours in 24, though to be fair it doesn't seem to be improving anything thus far. :(

 

2. Trying to do something about the shouting/demanding/screaming - though, really...we are lost at sea on all this. Particularly because it is so hard to tell if she is genuinely upset (i.e. needing love) or if she's just up to no good (and needing discipline). She continues to be very 'naughty' and defiant. We've managed to curb the yelling a little bit...but partner and I are being very inconsistent about our approaches...both of us losing our cool at different things at different times of the day.

I'm talking and asking her questions as often as I can think of...to see how she's feeling at all times - but generally, we are just managing to tiptoe on the eggshells around her, and hope against hope that she's not going to melt down all day long.

It's all a bit tragic still...and not very 'in control' of us. We're just lost still, and feeling a bit hopeless and helpless.

Sigh.

 

3. I'm viewing her totally as a 'Spirited Child' now. Not only that, but one that is 'slow to change' (or whatever the type is)....so we're experimenting with giving her a ridiculous amount of advance warning of EVERYTHING that might be happening. I'm crossing my fingers that it will work for saying 'goodbye' to preschool tomorrow when it is time to pick her up. We went on a nice family outing yesterday to a huge park with a playground and lambs etc...and we practiced and rehearsed the notion of saying goodbye when it was time to go. She did okay. I've also had to mention that the preschool actually closes!! Because I think she thought the other kids were getting to stay forever...night time too.

 

But man. What a contrary, shouting, overly-dramatic, smarty-pants, obstructive and demanding child she still is currently. For at least half the day, every day (if not more on a bad day) - she is quite unloveable...though of course we still love her and try and express it.

 

Honestly - how do people survive this period???????????????

 

G

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On the other hand...she is very wary of groups of people...and I'm sure the preschool thing must be freaking her out, even though she is saying she's enjoying it. She has been gravitating towards the teachers...and not the other children. So far.

Is preschool optional for you?  I'm wondering if she is simply overwhelmed.  The number of people, so many kids, so many *activities*.  Beyond naps, how attuned is the staff to cycles of activity and calm, soothing time?  

 

I agree she sounds like a spirited child, and often these kids need far more calming "down" time than others, and are generally more sensitive to activity.  For these kids, it is not just about the amount of sleep.  If it is at all optional, I would consider either decreasing or, if possible, eliminating preschool for a while.  That wouldn't help with everything, but perhaps with the intensity?


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#22 of 57 Old 11-04-2013, 02:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Is preschool optional for you?  I'm wondering if she is simply overwhelmed.  The number of people, so many kids, so many *activities*.  Beyond naps, how attuned is the staff to cycles of activity and calm, soothing time?  

 

I agree she sounds like a spirited child, and often these kids need far more calming "down" time than others, and are generally more sensitive to activity.  For these kids, it is not just about the amount of sleep.  If it is at all optional, I would consider either decreasing or, if possible, eliminating preschool for a while.  That wouldn't help with everything, but perhaps with the intensity?

 

Hi. Thanks for taking the time.

 

Is preschool optional? Well....yes. However I really, really, really, really need the break. (I'm exhausted from an intense three years, and chronic insomnia which is ongoing).

So - that's obviously really selfish, BUT I wouldn't keep her there if I thought I was harming her in a real way.

 

Of course the same thing has been going through my mind since it became a new 'thing' a couple of weeks ago. We are still trialing it all.

 

There are lots of factors.

One is she genuinely seems to enjoy it (I just think it is still overstimulating as yet...teachers tell me she'll settle into it over time). Her tantrum the other day was about not wanting to leave - and since then has asked every day if she can go back. If it wasn't for that...I might doubt it all completely, but she does genuinely seem interested. So, I guess where we're at is trying to help her process any strong feelings that result.

I've gotten the head teacher on board for tomorrow's potentially upsetting 'separation' and goodbye from preschool - and our kid is very smart...so I'm hoping that it won't continue to be a problem.

The other factor is she is being like this at home when there's been a break of five days minus preschool!

It seems to be the groove she is in right now, as much as I hate it.

 

Hmm. Yes. We are going to persevere with preschool for a couple more weeks at least (unless she refuses to go, then we'll stop) I think, as in many ways she seems ready....not the least of which is claiming that being at home is boring by comparison.

Nothing we do is pleasing her....and she is getting easily frustrated - but I've talked to the teacher about that too. I noticed the other day when I picked her up that she was staring sadly at the picture another girl had 'drawn' - then the next day she told me she was sad that she couldn't draw. Instead of trying things as she used to not that long ago...she tries for a millisecond, then screams that she can't do it. I'm hoping this is a phase too...as when she is confident about stuff (like talking, climbing...errr...doing naughty things) - she's unstoppable.

 

That girl that drew the picture is 4.5 years old (and it was just a scribble drawing) - but it highlighted for me that there must be a lot going on in her head during those preschool hours.

 

Hmmmmmmm.

 

We haven't discounted pulling her out if it all becomes to much. However, the way she is right now, I think we'd be dealing with a very heartbroken and angry wee girl who wouldn't understand WHY we'd made that decision.

 

She's such a tough customer.

 

G

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#23 of 57 Old 11-05-2013, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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An addendum.

 

Although we've had two 'averagely-okay' days, including a nice family outing day. And although she's been ranting about going to preschool....

 

...Today she has refused to go.

 

We've also had a whole morning of tantrums, and us being hopeless and giving in to every request, reasonable or unreasonable.

 

Still very confused about whether she needs:

 

Love only.

Love + discipline. (Very confused about whether she's feeling insecure and weird in a deep way, or whether she is just challenging us and being 'naughty' in a "I'm three now" kind of way.)

 

:-(

 

We've probably set up a whole new precedent of not going to preschool now.

 

:-(

 

I despair.

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Grover - I'm sorry to hear you are still in the midst of this!! I just wanted to offer some hope that it will end eventually. We had such a rough month and a half (it felt much longer than that), where the defiance, rages, not listening, nothing is right, etc. just did not end. We are now finally out of that phase (knocking on wood until my knuckles are raw!!). I will tell you some things we tried or thought about trying, but honestly I think for our son it was just a phase he was going to go through regardless. And I think that whatever developmental thing he was going through finally just worked itself out. He still has tantrums once in a while, but it is NOTHING like before. It's a night and day difference. And when he does have tantrums, they are much shorter and much less aggressive, and I am usually confident that they won't go on and on. And I can now take him out places without the anxiety that I had before.

 

Anyway, for what it's worth, here are some things we tried:

  • Giving tokens for screen time. He gets to choose when he wants to use them and for what. When they are used up, then that's all until the next day.
  • Making dinnertime and bedtime very consistent. We always had a routine, but we were flexible about bedtimes if we had something going on. And if we were driving in the afternoon he would fall asleep in the car, which would throw off bedtime by a couple of hours. So we skipped going out in the afternoon so that he wouldn't fall asleep and the bedtimes would be more consistent (and early!). That also gave my husband and I more time to recoup in the evenings.
  • I came up with a weekly plan of activities for each day that we could do at home. Things like glitter glue, play foam, using painters tape to make a road or hopscotch, etc. We didn't necessarily do all those things, but if I had stuff planned then sometimes the day would go more smoothly. Also, if I was frazzled from a recent tantrum, rather than having to use my brain to come up with an idea for what to do, I could just look at the list.
  • For the rude or defiant behavior, I used a version of 1-2-3 Magic (but with a logical consequence rather than time out). Sometimes it worked, and sometimes we got to "3" and there was a consequence that escalated the situation into a meltdown. But it did give him a chance to see that I would follow through on the consequence and meant what I said.
  • We continued to offer hugs and try to help him work through things, just like it sounds like you're doing. We also tried to praise him the few times when he didn't get upset over something that he potentially could have. (don't get me wrong, though, there were many many times when this phase drove us to yell, cry, and generally not handle things in the best way possible).

 

And here are some things we thought about trying but never got around to. We might still do them, but it doesn't feel as urgent somehow now that we're past this phase:

  • Creating a short list of family rules for everyone, including the parents (e.g., Be respectful, be kind and helpful, etc.) and posting it in our family room and talking about them as a family. The thought was that if he was being rude or screaming, we could point to the rules rather than it just coming from us.
  • Creating a list of situations and writing down exactly how we should handle them (what we would do/say, what the consequence would be if appropriate, etc.). This would just be for my husband and I, but might help us react more calmly and consistently when we're feeling flustered and upset and can't think straight in the moment.
  • Check out some children's books about anger from the library to read together and talk about.

 

The things I listed above I think are helpful and I'm glad we did them. But I don't necessarily feel that they had much affect on the phase starting or ending. I think they helped *me* because I felt like I was being proactive and doing something about the situation, so I felt a little more in control and not so helpless. And I think overall they are/were good for my son and the family. But I don't think they were the reason that the phase ended.

 

Also, for us, I don't feel like we started any bad behavior or habits just because of how we did or didn't handle the phase (even though I was worried about that at the time). During the phase I questioned whether we needed to be a lot stricter or start using other discipline methods more frequently, like forcing more time-outs even though they always escalated the situation and made it worse. But now that we're over the phase, our expectations and regular methods of discipline (which I like and feel right to me) are working just fine again. For example, during the phase, a simple request would turn into a huge ordeal. Now that the phase is over, a simple request is just a simple request and is almost always listened to (albeit with typical 3-year-old dawdling). So I don't think that becoming super strict during the phase would have been beneficial for us - I think it would have just caused more battles.  By no means do I mean give in just because a child is having a tantrum, but for us, adding in more discipline during that time would probably have just made things worse. Because now that the phase is over, the discipline style and tactics we used before are working again. Plus, I think that adding new rules or routines to the mix can be much easier when the phase is over because the child is more open to them and doesn't fight everything so much. Does that make sense? If not, just ignore this paragraph - lol! I'm having a really hard time explaining it. And I can really only say this stuff because our phase has passed and things are back to normal - when in the midst of it, I questioned everything and didn't have a clue what to do because nothing worked!

 

FYI, the way our phase ended was that our son would have a good day and then a bad day. Then a couple good days and a bad day. Then it just stretched out to where it's mostly good days now. I hope the same happens soon for you too!!!

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#25 of 57 Old 11-09-2013, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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mommyhood I can't tell you how much your long, well-thought-out reply means to me.

I don't know if you were searching for a post like that when you were going through your 'troubles'? - but everything you've written is exactly what I wanted to hear.

 

I hope you really are through it? Is all well now still?

 

What chimed most positively, was the part about it being a phase, and maybe there is nothing much we can do (within reason) to try and sort it all out, but instead we might have to ride it all out until the end. I have a strong feeling that this is the case here too. I'm hoping against hope that our 'phase' will be as shortlived as yours (though I don't know from your thread how long you'd been dealing with it before you posted?) Here we are about 3-4 weeks into the horrendousness.

'New' discipline ideas are just not working very well for us right now as she's almost never receptive to reason. So...aside from the bare basics (bed, food) - we are trying to hang back a bit from introducing a bunch of rules...though I'm keen to set some limits as soon as we can on some things though. Charts and things are such a helpful tool, it's just a matter of getting the time to make them. (Making things with her seems to turn to custard - she'll want to watch videos on the computer, or waste ink by printing google images out...then will throw a tantrum about something etc etc).

 

We do have better days sprinkled in with very bad. I think we're basically alternating days at this point. Maybe, maybe it is the beginning of the end?

 

Thanks so much for your list of ideas.

 

We are doing a 'ticket' system for video's. She gets four tickets a day, and usually, unfortunately, chooses to spend them all just after breakfast on four epepisodes of Curious George. This has two negative consequences: 1: That we are late doing anything in the morning, and she is also very grumpy after them, and doesn't want to go anywhere (e.g. preschool). Partner and I discuss whether to make 'morning tickets' and 'afternoon tickets' - but I think it would be confusing, and unfair now that we have already put the control into her hands. Partner disagrees, and fair enough, as it IS a problem. 2: She will then ask for more tickets all day, and has minor meltdowns when told she's run out...but so far we've only given in on a couple of days....out of pure desperation. Most days we can resist and distract...and she does understand the finality of 'No tickets left'.

 

With the 1-2-3 Magic - what is the basic idea? I've spent far too much money on parenting books of late.... (not sure any of them have helped!) - so if you'd be willing to summarise for me...? I'd be very, very grateful.

 

I love your ideas about planned activities. She's very reluctant to 'get her hands dirty' for some reason (literally and figuratively) and sometimes I think this makes preschool less interesting for her because she's not used to being creative and getting messy. I will think of some things to buy...like your wee list.

 

We are pretty consistent with routine - or rather we used to be. Eating has become a new struggle of late, with her refusing to sit down in her chair for meals....this affects the timing of everything. Ditto the bath refusal some nights.

We have managed to bring her sleep from a dismal 10.5 hours a day (unheard of before this madness) to 11.5 hours...better...but not 12.

 

 

My current theory is that she is going through a period of worrying about me disappearing or something.

 

It's undeniable that she is very clingy to me right now. A lot of the shouting is directed at Daddy, or at me to do something instead of him. She seems to be needing me to be constantly present for the smallest of tasks (eating, going outside...whatever)....which is a bummer for our preschool concept of course. I think I mentioned how she even wants me to hold her hand whilst she's eating (!?) sometimes. I just don't know where that is all coming from really. Either preschool separations have scared her...OR this is part of the 'development' phase.

 

She also insists I pick up a toy (or whatever) that is right in front of her. When I refuse...it sets her off forever...so I've been reframing it a little in my mind - as if she's testing to see if I'm still going to be there to help her...all the time, with anything and everything....as part of her current insecurity problem.

 

Ditto, multiple times a day, she will ask me to carry her from one spot to another - often in the same room!! Mostly I try to say no and ask her to walk herself...and of course this sets off a howl-storm of epic proportions. Almost always I give in and carry her and the toy and do it anyway...

I'm including this in my new theory (my theory only applies when I'm feeling generous about all this though) - i.e. she's worried I don't love her or I want to get rid of her or something, so is testing, testing, testing that at all times.

 

(Edit to add: The carrying thing is a big problem actually. I put my back out in August, and have had lots of problems ever since, including daily pins and needles and sciatica. I shouldn't be carrying her at all!! - I think she now weighs about 14.5 kilos. BUT...I cannot bear not to - the rage and the upset just goes on and on and on and ON. Plus I can't help thinking she simply just NEEDS it. It is another one of the things I keep thinking we'll deal with AFTER she has gone through this crazy period. She used to let her father lift her in and out of her cot...but he's not allowed now...but that's nothing to how many times I pick her up and carry her around during the day at the moment. Sigh.)

 

OR - maybe she is deliberately just pushing boundaries, in a more classically 'naughty' way - it really is very hard to tell.

 

I've talked to her about how I'll always be waiting for her at home etc. She does get it, but obviously not on some fundamental level. It's hard though as she really doesn't give me even a minute to myself throughout the day, unless we can persuade her to go out with her Daddy for a while (which, 3-4 weeks ago...she did most happily...as he's the big adventurer and takes her to exciting places like the beach).

He also used to take her to 'town' a day a week, and had been doing that for a couple of months at least, where they did the grocery shopping and went to a playground or such - and the last two weeks she has point-blank refused. One day they just came home after getting halfway there...kid having an incredible meltdown. My heart was a bit broken as it was 5-6 hours of freedom and relaxation for me...and I have NEVER gotten that much of a break before this started happening. 3-4 hours max it's been before the 'town' trips. That's all I've had over three years...just 3-4 hour breaks here and there. And now town trips aren't happening. Not only that, but he used to take her away for 2-3 hours every morning for a walk or to the beach..and she's started to refuse that too. It's all getting very depressing.

 

Luckily I don't have any work on for the next two months!! (I work from home...and need that time to do work).

 

With preschool - they have offered us lots of options....

I can stay with her for mornings only (a full day for us would go from 9.30 to 2.30 and they are not really allowed to do half days) for a few weeks and try separation again next year. OR, I can withdraw her. OR we can try the dump and cry approach - me not at all keen on that. OR...they also have a 'playgroup' on Monday mornings only...where the teachers are not there, and parents must attend, but it is set in the preschool. We are trying this tomorrow, in the hope that she'll start to feel more comfortable there...but also get the concept that the other days are parent-free.

 

Phew.

 

Who knows.

 

Every day is still so unpredictable. I try not to let it all get me down...but I'm having a rough time trying to stay, or maintain any positivity. Partner is much better and keeps reminding me she won't be like this forever...but for me, another week would be forever, and too long - and then I fear that it will go on and on and on. I'm getting angrier more quickly than I was, because a lot of the time her behaviour is infuriating - she'll throw stuff...shout...cling...run around like a crazy person....etc.

 

But I should take heart from your post on that score...that it will pass.

It will pass.

It will pass.

It will pass.

 

Jolly well hope it does!!!

 

The only positive thought I try to cling on to, apart from the above, is that I read somewhere that when they go crazy (usually at their half birthdays), they are disassembling themselves (like a tower of blocks) - so they can add new skills (blocks) on. Instead of neatly adding them on top...they have to go through an entire personality destruction...before they can rebuild.

I'm just hoping that she starts rebuilding soon - before I lose the plot entirely. I am very close to it.

 

I also keep thinking I should just shower her with love, and love, and more and more love - but a) this is hard to do...she's not all that receptive, and b) I'm getting so wound up and cross that's it's doubly hard. I'm trying though....as per my theory. I want her to know that I love her, throughout all this...in spite of it all...whatever...whenever.

 

I have to go now as I can hear them coming back from their short walk.

 

There are many things I haven't gotten around to I think, and my post is a bit jumbled and rushed...but I've run out of time.

 

Thanks so much again for taking so much time!!

I really, really, appreciate it.

 

 

Grover

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#26 of 57 Old 11-10-2013, 04:00 AM
 
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I'm a bit behind, my DD1 is 2y 7m but boy, I feel you! I think what you're experiencing is definitely the half birthday crazies. I'm lucky, my girl is less intense but when you compare her to her baseline - wow! I'm reading a book about this stuff and it says that a lot of this - the demands, the bossiness, the clinginess, the acting out - is fear based. It helps in the moment to know that reading the same freakin' book for the eighth time is reassuring to her. I'm a lot more willing to indulge her if it helps her feel safe in some small way. I've let a lot of things slide with respect to screen time, nutrition, bath, etc. She's going through a potty regression too so take heart that at least you don't have to deal with that. She used to happily go with daddy or my mom for a couple/few hours and that's over. To be fair though, she's finally starting to let me pee by myself again so there's hope! Ever so slowly she's starting to improve and the middle of the night freak outs over the tiniest things she FORGOT TO GET MAD AT EARLIER are decreasing too. We have tantrums now, not nuclear meltdowns. I'm lucky in that she never hit hard or threw things destructively, just a couple of times lightly while giggling to see what would happen. Long story short, I think your DD is going through exactly this but the next cycle and more intense/longer lived than mine. Trust me mine doesn't seem mild though with a young infant to care for too, especially on days when were up for the day at 3 am. I understand your need for some time to yourself but I think your DD can't take it in the heat of this separation anxiety. I'd do the stay and play for a while and when you notice her pulling away with confidence again then rejoin the drop off program. Anyways, big hugs to you mama. I found better results with laying on the love and tolerance as much as possible, cutting some slack where possible and as she improves, I'm gently reconstituting previous expectations. God this is so disjointed but I hope you get the gist of it. Take it slow and soon (although it'll feel like an eternity) she will start to bounce back. Good luck hug.gif
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#27 of 57 Old 11-10-2013, 06:13 AM
 
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This may or may not resonate with you, but it sounds like a lot of the issues you're dealing with come down to control and her having too much of it.  It can be overwhelming for a child to feel she has control of everything from where and how you sit to how long you stay to your facial expressions.  I think it's time to take some of that off of her shoulders.  She will probably amp it up at first, but after that it will be a relief to her to only have to control herself. 

 

I think lots of kids around this age go through this to varying degrees.  It seems like a very 3.5 year old thing.

 

My brother went through this with his child in a BIG way and I with  mine in a much smaller way.  His three year old wanted to control everyone in the house - who sat where, what everyone wore, when they left and what they did.  They tried and tried to appease her (this?  this?  now?  here?) and the more they tried to adapt to her demands, the more unhappy and explosive she became.  Finally they saw a family psych who said it was too much pressure for a three year old to have all that responsibility.  As much as she was trying to control the situation, on some level even a three year old knows someone else should be handling all of that. 

 

They firmed up on things like we are leaving NOW, you will get in your carseat or we will put you in there, this is what you're wearing, this is what we're eating, you can't tell Mom what kind of face to have, you can't decide where every one sits - and they finally started to see her relax.

 

The harder they had tried to listen to her requests (why is she still raging?  I have offered every food in the house, everyone is sitting where she told us to, we waited ten more minutes...and ten more minutes...when will she ever be ready to leave???), the more frustrating it was for her and the more she raged.  Where everyone was sitting or how Mom had her legs crossed was never really the problem.  I'm not sure if I can phrase it correctly but she felt explosive and frustrated so she started trying to control things and those things weren't the REAL issue so the more she corrected and people gave in and she still FELT BAD, the more frustrated and angry she became because she was running out of ways to control the situation and nothing was helping.

 

(With my daughter, it was very Dad specific.  He couldn't understand why when he went out of his way to appease her every whim (giving way too many choices, for one thing), she seemed so miserable with him but I never had the same whining and demanding.  The harder he tried to make her happy, the more miserable she became.  I kept saying, you give too many choices and you let her control everything.  She's three.  Why are you asking her where you should sit?  You see this with kids and grandparents a lot - the kid realizes that the grandparents will do anything they direct, so the kid becomes an unhappy little dictator.)

 

I think it also helped for her to realize that some things were going to happen, even if she didn't particularly want them to, so she was relieved of the burden of fighting about the car seat, for example.  Her dad got very good at keeping a calm voice and just kind of sweeping her up in the activity of the family (I call it steam rolling), doing exactly what he had to do as if those things are inevitable, chattering about anything and everything while the buckled the carseat and started the car or packed up and leave the park, and doing what had to be done. 

 

To me, letting something like getting a kid in the carseat (I'm using this because it was a specific example you gave) become a huge thing that with discussions and talks and begging and negotiating - it just gives the impression that one. if she just keeps blowing up, she may get out of it (and she did) and two. that it's somehow optional. It's not.  She is not going to willingly get in the carseat.  Put her in and buckle it and drive home.  You are trying to get an irrational three year old (because they all are) to agree with you.  You are the parent and the grown up.  Take this responsibility off of her and YOU decide she's getting in, and that's that.

 

I guess I basically think it would be a good idea to engage all of this a lot less and stay firm a lot more.  I don't think there needs to be a punishment and rewards choice, just a change in how you view the raging.  It sounds like she's a frustrated little girl who is probably a bit tired and stretched thin from all these changes. 

 

Sorry this is so long. It's a conversation I had with my husband MANY times when my daughter was this young and he couldn't understand why his trying SO HARD to make her happy resulted in such an unhappy child.

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#28 of 57 Old 11-10-2013, 06:30 AM
 
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Yes, NiteNicole, great post!! I'm seeing this with my 2.5 year old too. I think you explained it very well. It's a fine line and I have to read the situation - ok you can have peas instead of the carrots but we are leaving now even if you're unhappy about it.
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#29 of 57 Old 11-10-2013, 09:48 AM
 
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It sounds like you have a long history of teaching her that if she throws a fit for long enough you will give in. It is an easy trap to fall into. What helped me get out of this was the book The Explosive Child, taking time to really decide what my non-negotiable limits would be, and being incredibly consistent about not giving in. It was hard and draining but I saw a big decrease in tantrums within a relatively short period of time when I stopped letting no mean yes if you scream long enough. I found the bathroom to be a great place to escape for a few minutes at that age too.

Counseling for you, her, or both of you may help too. I don't want to be harsh but you are going so far in giving in that her safety is being compromised and I think you should that seriously. If you had been pulled over while letting her ride without any sort of safety apparatus in the car you could have had her taken right then and there. When it gets to the point where you don't even feel you can parent in a way that keeps your child safe it is time to take a look at why you feel guilty about your setting limits at all.
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#30 of 57 Old 11-10-2013, 11:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Carseat update:

 

I was mortified by this myself, but perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned it. (Like it makes any difference, but we live in a very rural area with no fast traffic...still, that's no excuse).

 

Appreciate the advice of a PP who suggested taking a book and waiting it out. Excellent idea. 

 

We have basically told her we can't take her anywhere if she is not in the carseat, belted up properly - and thus far that has worked.

 

It was a one-off, and I intend to keep it that way.

 

(BTW, in my country, you'd get a ticket for an unrestrained child...you would not have anyone come to take them away (!?))

 

 

 

As usual, I don't have the time I want....but....

 

 

skycheattraffic

 

Thanks for that. :-)

I think as a partnership we definately err on the side of the love-plus approach - though we've been having obvious doubts about disciplining too, and are still confusing the two things somewhat. Much learning on the job going on...and a bit of spinning wheels too.

 

We are thinking through more reward-based ideas - charts and things - for encouraging good behaviour perhaps....but have a lot of thinking to do first.

And thanks for those thoughts on the preschool...it might certainly take longer than we'd hoped, but I can't do the dump and run thing, even if I knew for certain her days were filled with joy....there would still be repurcussions from her...and...well, it's just too hard to contemplate.

We are going to try a few things.

Today her and I went to the 'playgroup' - held in the same locale, but parents allowed. She seems to have really understood that it is a different thing, and it may help us for the preschool separations. Time will tell I guess. Next real preschool is Wednesday, then Friday. Am a bit nervous to say the least.

 

NiteNicole

 

Thanks for taking the time to jot down all those thoughts.

I totally see where you're coming from....and we have been having very similar thoughts...in terms of her losing control, and needing us to be more in control.

We are going to work on this.

Whilst she does the black, white, now, no, yes, there, no...there, noooo...over there! thing at other times, it is mostly when she is in the heat of a raging tantrum that it becomes really extreme. And at that point, there is no pleasing her, as you say. In other times, when she is less extreme...we can hopefully find a way forward.

Still thinking it all through.

Thank you.

 

 

One_Girl

 

Thanks for your thoughts.

I do want to defend us a little by saying I don't think we have a long history of anything in particular. I used to have problems with limits and boundaries at some point last year which I might have mentioned in a previous thread I started about sleep (or something) - but we sorted those out, and they weren't caused or exasperated by these current nuclear meltdowns.

WHICH...have only been happening for 3-4 weeks, and may (??) be starting to ease just a tiny bit now.

 

The thing is, that this behaviour has totally caught us by surprise. She has been (in a bad state) - like a completely different child.

And I don't think a month is a period of time that will destroy us all...unless it last for four months (??) or four years or something?

Before this recent period we did not have a lot of limits or rules in place - because she just didn't NEED them it seemed? She was a 'good' girl.. or relative to now anyway.

We were caught off guard.

 

We're just trying to figure out what's best - and appreciate all and any thoughts. It's all helpful to decide what we can and should do to help ourselves and help her.

 

See above for the carseat.

I would seek counselling if I thought we needed to, or I needed to - but we are not in that place, and I would hope to avoid it.

 

Thanks for the thoughts on the limits etc - this is definately the hardest bit for us at the moment...choosing what battles, and how, and when etc.

 

 

 

Am gunning for the theory that she is feeling insecure...about being 3, about preschool, about moving house etc etc...

And that she WILL pull through this, and hopefully we can help, rather than just be passive (and slightly scared) bystanders.

 

 

Thanks all.

 

G

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