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-   -   3 year old having a tough time. (http://www.mothering.com/forum/36-gentle-discipline/1400702-3-year-old-having-tough-time.html)

RStelle 04-18-2014 07:22 PM

My daughter turned 3 a month ago, and when she did it was like she turned from a cute, easy going toddler to a crazy, hormonal teenager. She is clearly really having a hard time, and I want to help, but none of the things that used to work so well are working anymore. She had her first tantrum maybe a week after she turned 3, and since then she has been having almost  one everyday. Today she had one at lunch because she could not get enough pasta for her liking to fit on her fork. I calmly gave her some options, like "I can see you are really upset. Hmm, what can we do to make this better? What if you take a break from feeding yourself and I put the pasta on your fork for you? Or what if you just have more bites that are smaller?" and so on...no luck.

She has a baby brother on the way, I think that could be a big part of it. She has been spending more that 50% of her time pretending to be a baby, having me feed her, carry her, give her a bottle. I was happy to do this to help her deal with the baby on the way, but it has gotten totally out of control. Her meltdowns often start with her pretending to be a baby, when she is a baby she "can't talk", so she can't tell me what she wants, so she will start fake crying because her baby self wants a snack or whatever, but I don't know what she wants cuz she is just laying on the floor fake crying, then she starts real crying /tantruming because I didn't get her what she wants. I sometimes will try giving her all my attention, I have spent at least 5 hours cuddling her and rocking her, pretending that she is a little baby, and then I HAVE to put her down to take something out of the oven or whatever, and she is back to having a meltdown. Also...she needs to be carried everywhere, because "babies can't walk". If I put her down for even a second she will start crying and clinging to me. We have tried to talk about this with her a lot, but whenever I try to talk about anything that makes her uncomfortable, she can't talk cuz "babies can't talk".

I have been able to keep my cool with her for the most part, but am starting to feel like I'm at the end of my rope!

Advice? Thoughts? Ideas? Is this at all normal?


tracyamber 04-18-2014 09:53 PM

I'm sorry but when I read your post the first 5 sentences I just burst out in laughter in front of my in laws. I swear to you I have been dealing with the same sorts of behavior and I just told my husband yesterday that it was like I was hanging out with a off centered person all day. It is driving me crazy. My son turned 3 3, three weeks ago. I cut his pizza the wrong way the other day and it got thrown! His burrito fell open today and he was upset and said he did not want to eat and just cried and 5 minutes layer he was willing to try again. When he can't pull his shoes off he screams at them and when I offer help he get made at me and says" no" then 1 minute later does ask for help. He just has so many emotions going on and I do feel sorry for him and hope I am giving him the right tools and language to navigate. The hardest part for me is when I feel triggered. It is usually when I have to get something done like dinner and he insists that I pick him up and I get frazzled.
Just stopping by to offer you a hug( hug) and hope someone comes by with solid advice.
You are doing a great job mamma!

Tigerle 04-18-2014 10:56 PM

Btdt! Whe even went to see a psychiatrist because in our case ds1 develops all these autistic looking tendencies when he is under severe stress and he was all but diagnosed with ASD. Luckily they were professional enough to order a full eval and it turned out he was nowhere near. It ramped up when i was under stress myself, was at its worst around xmas when dd was around 4 months old and slowly got better afterwards. We did calming supplements (fish oil, magnesium, zinc) tried to keep stimulation down and spend as much time outside as ppossible. being three is tough, having pregnant mom is tough, having a baby arrive is tough. Two books that helped me deal with tantrums and meltdowns: greenes the explosive child and kazdins parenting the defiant child. Rather different in their approaches. Check out what resonates with you. And take care of yourself!

tracyamber 04-19-2014 10:34 PM

Just put those books on hold at the library.
How are you@RStelle ?

NiteNicole 04-24-2014 06:26 AM

When my daughter was that age and being INSANE (I wan it but I don't want it, my shoes are too loud, the sun is shining and I WANT IT TO BE DARK), the best thing for her was for everyone to back off.  She did NOT like being told what her feelings were and the harder my husband tried to placate her (because I just don't do all that.  If someone is being crazy, I assume it's because they need to be so go for it.  Let me know when you calm down, we'll talk), the more upset she would become.  I think for three year olds, the world is a big, exciting, stimulating, frustrating place and sometimes they just need to get the crazy out.  The food won't stay on the fork or the macaroni is too yellow or whatever.  No kicking or hitting, and sometimes you might need to go have your feelings in another room but if you need to be crazy, get it out of your system.  We found with my approach of just staying out of it v. his approach of trying to fix it - she got over it much faster.  His way just drew things out and made them both frustrated and miserable.


mmarkey19695 04-24-2014 07:09 AM

I'm assuming punishment of any form is not what is right for you and your DS so this is my advice to you. Sounds to me like she is having anxiety and emotional difficulty dealing and accepting there is a baby on the way and she will no longer be the baby and center of attention. I would hold off on any discussion with your spouse or anyone that pertain the baby or the changes that are going to happen when he or she arrives. I would instead make it a point to discuss with your spouse or other adults how much you are going to need her help with the baby because she is your special DS and no one can help you as much as she can. Start teaching her how you will care for the baby and how she can help you! Make her feel like her role in being the bigger sibling is very important because you can't do it without her. That should shift her wanting to be a baby attitude to my mommy and and baby B or S needs me. Good luck and God Bless.

tracyamber 04-24-2014 07:14 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post

When my daughter was that age and being INSANE (I wan it but I don't want it, my shoes are too loud, the sun is shining and I WANT IT TO BE DARK), the best thing for her was for everyone to back off.  She did NOT like being told what her feelings were and the harder my husband tried to placate her (because I just don't do all that.  If someone is being crazy, I assume it's because they need to be so go for it.  Let me know when you calm down, we'll talk), the more upset she would become.  I think for three year olds, the world is a big, exciting, stimulating, frustrating place and sometimes they just need to get the crazy out.  The food won't stay on the fork or the macaroni is too yellow or whatever.  No kicking or hitting, and sometimes you might need to go have your feelings in another room but if you need to be crazy, get it out of your system.  We found with my approach of just staying out of it v. his approach of trying to fix it - she got over it much faster.  His way just drew things out and made them both frustrated and miserable.
I have a similar approach too but I sometimes want to scream! It's like I'm with a crazy person all day..,,.
How are you@RStelle?

Tigerle 04-24-2014 01:17 PM

I distinctly remember ds1 screaming at me to un-flush his poop and attacking me because I told him I couldn't. It was hard to have faith in things getting better at these times.

Viola P 04-24-2014 02:17 PM

You're all scaring me because I have a two year old and was counting on him getting easier at 3!

No advice other than my friend who has a degree in early child development recommended the book Franklin gets a sister
(Or whatever) to help my ds adjust to being a new big bro. Not sure if it'll help yet as just got it yesterday but looks pretty good and I only paid $2 used

mmarkey19695 04-24-2014 03:16 PM

I have a Masters in Early Childhood Development. Two, Three, and Four are going to be a trying phase in your life, especially with a new baby In the way. I can give you a million suggestions to make it easier but the book your friend suggested is fantastic and I highly recommend it myself. I am more than willing to still give you helpful ideas and suggestions if you wish. God Bless

Viola P 04-24-2014 04:03 PM

@pp have you heard of the book th happiest toddler on the block and have any thoughts about it?

mmarkey19695 04-24-2014 05:49 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Viola P View Post

@pp have you heard of the book th happiest toddler on the block and have any thoughts about it?

I know the question wasn't directed towards me but it's a good book. Not one of my favorite and I don't typically recommend it to my patients guardians but it has some very helpful insights in my opinion

kanani 04-26-2014 06:15 PM

I have an almost three year old and a five month old. The transition to having a new baby in the family was difficult for dd1, and we had a lot of meltdowns like the ones described here. We also had a lot of pretending to be helpless. here is how we got through the "I'm a baby, I can't do anything" phase:

1) we looked dd1's baby pictures together (a lot!!). We would talk all about her "firsts", and how she used to be so little. She really got into this... It was just the kind of attention she wanted and she would want to do this 5-6 times a day.

2) We talked about how proud she felt when she figured out how to do new things. But we also talked about how sometimes a person can feel" big" and other times the same person can feel "littlel", and that both are OK. We wanted her to know that it was normal to feel conflicted about growing/changes.

3) we got a baby doll so she could switch up her role playing. At first she wasn't interested, but once her sister was born, she loved to nurse/diaper the doll while I nursed/diapered dd2.

4) we read a book called " on mother's lap " over and over again... By her request. The gist is that there's "always room on mother's lap."

Hope that helps.... Now that dd2 is 5 months, dd1 has really embraced her older sister role. But we still deal with the push/pull craziness that makes her age so difficult in general.

Skippy918 04-27-2014 07:54 PM

Dd turns 3 next week and omg the tantrums have intensified recently. Like what happened to my sweet baby girl. Now she throws fits and cries over every little thing.

Faither 04-28-2014 12:43 PM

Us too! Although DD is 4 and DS is 2 and new baby is arriving any day now. She was about 26 months when DS was born and was great with him. I might have blocked it all out but she didn't start the tantrums until about two weeks ago. (DS is still tantrum free although I expect that to change once baby arrives.) But she's doing exactly what you're describing and we're having a hard time of it. More hugs and time with just her seem to help a little but that only goes so far. And it's definetely something that needs to happen each day. Have you read Laura Markham's parenting book? She writes the Aha parenting website. Her emails are very helpful and I found her advice to at least get me to think more about what to do when DD refuses to get dressed (something she is more than capable of doing on her own). Good luck!


tadamsmar 04-29-2014 11:14 AM

It's a normal reaction to your behavior. You get more of what you pay attention to.  Look at this, it explains what is going on with her:

 

http://epicurusgarden.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-reinforcing-power-of-adult.html

 

Redirect your attention toward mature behavior and away from immature behavior.   Direct your attention toward her being kind and helpful with the new baby. You could start now by getting her a doll baby and playing pretend games where you give her positive attention for pretending to be a kind, gentle, and helpful big sister. And then start being disinterested in her pretending to be a baby.   Her behavior will change to whatever gets your attention, you just need to make good choices about where you direct your attention.

 

It's good that you are giving her lots of attention. You need to give attention in reaction to behaviors that you want, in particular the positive opposite of the behaviors that you don't want.

 

It takes a few days of doing this before things start turning around, but you will see a big change in a couple of weeks.


ChippyHippyMom 04-30-2014 06:11 PM

Explosive child is fantastic. 

Three was a trialling age for me as well. I found humor and deep breaths to work. :)

Sending hugs your way


sageowl 05-06-2014 07:25 AM

Three is one of "those" ages...it's like another poster said--they just get crazy for about a year. It makes 2 look like a breeze. What worked best for me was to ignore the regressive "babyish" behavior, and praise the heck out of any signs of independence, maturity, helpfulness. When DS was melting down, I'd say "I see you're having a tough time time--I'll be over here doing X." It really helped me to remove myself from the equation and disengage...staying involved only made the storm worse. Afterwards when he was calm, I'd talk to him, hug him, etc...

Hang in there, it's just a phase, albeit a long annoying phase. It DOES get better, I promise!


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