Behavior issues almost 4 year old girl - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 06-06-2013, 02:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am fairly sure my daughter is gifted although I have not had an IQ test done, but I've researched the topic extensively. She will be four in August and I've had several behavioral issues with her. She is highly manipulative and an extremely good negotiator, she is also highly critical of others and herself. At preschool she has already seemed to be having issues with other girls. This particular girl at school is maybe a year older than her does not like her, calls her a baby, etc. I feel like I'm talking to a much older girl, I remember having similar issues in 3rd or 4th grade and can not believe these types of issues have already begun with her not fitting in. It breaks my heart.

 

In addition she has already began to say hurtful things to me and my husband. Here is the emotionally manipulative part, I really feel as though she is trying to hurt our feelings - she says things like I hate you. Other times she can be very sweet and loving. At these times I feel like I am talking to a teenager and not an almost 4 year old. It is hard for me to recognize that although she is very smart, she is not as emotionally, socially mature. The asynchronous development is very difficult for me to remember. I want to treat her like a much older girl, but again she is not even 4 yet. Any helpful advice or suggestions? I'm considering a counselor for her, for us, but found it difficult to find someone who specializes in gifted children.  

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#2 of 12 Old 06-06-2013, 08:48 PM
 
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This particular girl at school is maybe a year older than her does not like her, calls her a baby, etc. I

 

Here is the emotionally manipulative part, I really feel as though she is trying to hurt our feelings - she says things like I hate you. 

 

Hmmm, it's hard to say about the gifted bit but the above stuff sounds totally normal. That's what preschoolers are like. It's not emotionally manipulative, it's just how young kids lash out when they're feeling frustrated or angry. Don't take it personally; don't read too much into it.

 

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#3 of 12 Old 06-07-2013, 09:41 PM
 
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That's what preschoolers are like. It's not emotionally manipulative, it's just how young kids lash out when they're feeling frustrated or angry. Don't take it personally; don't read too much into it.

 

miranda

 

I've recently put a limit on DD's nursing and she has been lashing out on me since then. Actually, lashing out is an understatement. She told me she wanted me to get hit by a car. Apparently, she is that angry.

 

I was ready to take her to a clinical child psychologist over this so I'm relieved to read that this is somewhat "normal" for a preschooler. She was such a reasonable and well-behaved two year old but it seems like we have a rough year or two ahead of us. 

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#4 of 12 Old 06-08-2013, 05:23 PM
 
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Kids figure out that their words have power to get a reaction from you and then they continue to use their new found power to get even stronger reactions. My suggestion is to watch how strongly you react to her hurtful words. Also, when she talks to you about her friends hurtful words you could ask her how that feels and remind her that her words can be hurtful too.
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#5 of 12 Old 06-11-2013, 07:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess I'm trying to find advice from those with emotionally intense children, as this is often associated with gifted children and is not normal kid behavior. Has anyone found someone with counseling expertise in this area?

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#6 of 12 Old 06-11-2013, 08:32 AM
 
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Well, I do think it is fairly normal behaviour, unless I'm really misreading what you're experiencing. It takes on a more articulate flavour in kids who are verbally precocious, but I think it's pretty normal. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a parent whose preschooler never dissolved into tantrums of hateful language and absolute unreasoning emotional distress. 

 

My most important piece of advice is not to take it personally, not to let her outbursts have power over you. Accept that she's just lashing out with rudimentary social skills and whatever preschooler power she can muster. It is much less likely to escalate if it doesn't hold power over you and doesn't cause a reaction in you. Remain serene and loving, letting it wash off you like water off a duck's back. Acknowledge her feelings ("You're very frustrated right now, I can hear that") and redirect her ("Let's go for a walk outside and see what's new in the garden: I find that often helps me if I'm frustrated") and accept that this too shall pass. When parents get drawn in, upset and stressed as a result of their child's outburst, that in itself can be very upsetting for the child. She sees her parents losing control over their emotions at a time when she needs them to be beacons of stability and calm to guide her back.

 

I live in a remote rural village of 600, so I wouldn't have had access to counselling in any event. Sorry I'm not much help if that's the route you want to go. "Raising Your Spirited Child" is an oft-recommended book that might prove helpful to you in the meantime.

 

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#7 of 12 Old 06-11-2013, 08:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Miranda for your reply. I guess for me it is the "verbally precocious" part of it because she is able to express a much more advanced perspective. I just feel like it's really demanding to interact with her, although ultimately I try to present a serene perspective and not provide an emotional response she can feed off, it's not always easy. I've even introduced some breathing exercises and little yoga to help her get better control over her emotions.

 

There are so many incredible positive aspects to her development, but many challenging ones also.  Just yesterday on the ride home she told me she hated Jesus and Jesus' father, but she liked Jesus' mother. It's comments like these that keep me on my toes, we are not even religious so I don't even know how to engage here. Thanks for the book recommendation I will take a look.

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#8 of 12 Old 06-11-2013, 12:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

Well, I do think it is fairly normal behaviour, unless I'm really misreading what you're experiencing. It takes on a more articulate flavour in kids who are verbally precocious, but I think it's pretty normal. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a parent whose preschooler never dissolved into tantrums of hateful language and absolute unreasoning emotional distress. 

 

My most important piece of advice is not to take it personally, not to let her outbursts have power over you. Accept that she's just lashing out with rudimentary social skills and whatever preschooler power she can muster. It is much less likely to escalate if it doesn't hold power over you and doesn't cause a reaction in you. Remain serene and loving, letting it wash off you like water off a duck's back. Acknowledge her feelings ("You're very frustrated right now, I can hear that") and redirect her ("Let's go for a walk outside and see what's new in the garden: I find that often helps me if I'm frustrated") and accept that this too shall pass. When parents get drawn in, upset and stressed as a result of their child's outburst, that in itself can be very upsetting for the child. She sees her parents losing control over their emotions at a time when she needs them to be beacons of stability and calm to guide her back.

 

I live in a remote rural village of 600, so I wouldn't have had access to counselling in any event. Sorry I'm not much help if that's the route you want to go. "Raising Your Spirited Child" is an oft-recommended book that might prove helpful to you in the meantime.

 

miranda

 

I really agree with this, and particularly the sentence bolded.  I am parenting two really intense, emotional kids and you need to find the leader in yourself to guide them.

 

hoagiesgifted.org should have a list of therapists by geography, and probably SENG too.  I would recommend that you and your DH see the therapist, to get a sense of developmental norms and parenting strategies.  DH and I did, and are very grateful that we're better parents to our kids than we were.  We were already great parents, we just needed specific strategies that worked with our kids, and to have faith that doing some things differently would pay off in the long run (and it did in the short run, too).

 

I will also echo others to not be fooled by verbal precocity - it doesn't consistently represent emotional or intellectual depth of understanding, particularly when emotions are heightened or they're trying to get something.  So, a calm kid can be very insightful, and an escalated kid can use big words but not really have a broader or deeper understanding of their position.


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#9 of 12 Old 06-12-2013, 07:02 AM
 
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I agree wholeheartedly with mooninmamma. My son is emotionally intense- as trite as it sounds, the best thing that you can do is remain calm. My experience with my son is that he senses my frustration and it further escalates the situation. When he was four I used to think it was a dearth of empathy- now I realize that it's an abundance of empathy. He would sense my feelings (even though I (mostly) express them adaptively) and it would cause him to feel and act more out of control.

 

I realized later that he has some anxiety (common with gifted children)- even minor expressions of adult frustration is very upsetting for him even though he has every reason to feel safe. 

 

I also agree with a previous poster that while your daughter may understand that what she is saying is hurtful, she wouldn't get the full implication. My son has said some rough things to me too but he does not have the emotional maturity or experience to appreciate the full impact of his words. For instance, he has told me that he "hates" me but doesn't really understand "hate" (thank goodness). 

 

If your daughter is trying to negotiate with you, I would caution you to bring it to an immediate halt. Once my son starts to negotiate, I let him know that he will completely lose the very privilege he is trying to improve upon (e.g. bumping up 1/2 hour of tv to an hour), if he continues. I have found that it compromises my authority- he begins to think that my rules are not rules, but the starting point for bargaining- and it leads to a host of other behaviors like whining and defiance and a lack of appreciation for what he has.

 

Manipulation- same thing. My son would cry, then when that didn't work, he would tantrum, then begin to do even more unadaptive things to get our attention and try to get us to give in. Basically, escalate, escalate, then escalate again. Once he realized that it doesn't work, will never work, he is beginning to confine his behavior to disappointment and crying. The key is (as best you can) to never give in to it. If there is any reinforcement for manipulation, it will continue and the tactics will get worse. 

 

As far as issues with friends, I have seen preschool girls act more like middle schoolers- especially confident, verbally advanced girls, leading other girls to act a certain way (e.g. setting up the games and deciding who gets to play). 

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#10 of 12 Old 06-29-2013, 10:10 AM
 
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Your not alone! Without seeing your post I just posted the same topic. My daughter is newly four but very similar to your it sounds. I have no advice just empathy!
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#11 of 12 Old 06-29-2013, 01:24 PM
 
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I found that counseling for me to work on my issues surrounding my daughters behavior and strategies for dealing with her behavior was extremely helpful. While my therapist was very knowledgeable about difficult children and childhood issues I didn't feel it was necessary to find someone who worked with gifted children. Its TBD if my daughter is gifted. My son is...I think my daughter is also but we will see. I did request a veteran teacher as she is going into K and we absolutely need someone who is skilled in classroom management.
 

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#12 of 12 Old 06-30-2013, 10:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

Well, I do think it is fairly normal behaviour, unless I'm really misreading what you're experiencing. It takes on a more articulate flavour in kids who are verbally precocious, but I think it's pretty normal. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a parent whose preschooler never dissolved into tantrums of hateful language and absolute unreasoning emotional distress. 

 

We are here, even at two - but I don't think there is anything particularly deep, malevolent, or manipulative in it (I kind of wince every time a child is called "manipulative" but I digress...).  I think it's an honest expression of emotion, which in a small child may include things like "I hate you" or wishing harm, because that is how violently these storms are brewing inside them.  They need an outward expression that matches their inner turmoil, so they can feel heard and understood in their intensity.

 

I think there is plenty of time for a child to learn social graces and self control in the display of emotions.  I do understand how it can seem like a switch to feel like you are talking to a much older child, but emotionally, she expresses herself like a 4-year-old (albeit with an advanced vocabulary).

 

My most important piece of advice is not to take it personally, not to let her outbursts have power over you. Accept that she's just lashing out with rudimentary social skills and whatever preschooler power she can muster. It is much less likely to escalate if it doesn't hold power over you and doesn't cause a reaction in you. Remain serene and loving, letting it wash off you like water off a duck's back. Acknowledge her feelings ("You're very frustrated right now, I can hear that") and redirect her ("Let's go for a walk outside and see what's new in the garden: I find that often helps me if I'm frustrated") and accept that this too shall pass. When parents get drawn in, upset and stressed as a result of their child's outburst, that in itself can be very upsetting for the child. She sees her parents losing control over their emotions at a time when she needs them to be beacons of stability and calm to guide her back.

 

yeahthat.gif  This is what I try to do around here.  Acknowledge and help name my son's feelings without getting pulled into them emotionally. I just observe, note my observations (like watching clouds go by), and try to help collaborative problem solve or redirect.  I can still remember being an emotionally intense child, and I think having a safe harbor (a calm, patient, listening parent - who loves me no matter what ugly shape my expression of emotion takes) is the best gift in the world.

 

I live in a remote rural village of 600, so I wouldn't have had access to counselling in any event. Sorry I'm not much help if that's the route you want to go. "Raising Your Spirited Child" is an oft-recommended book that might prove helpful to you in the meantime.

 

I've found this book to be exceptionally helpful with all kinds of issues - but one it does discuss is helping your child name emotions, and talking about feeling like you have a million bees buzzing in your body, like a live wire - and how/what to do with that feeling, etc. (at least, I'm pretty sure it was in that book...redface.gif).

 

Quote:
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There are so many incredible positive aspects to her development, but many challenging ones also.  Just yesterday on the ride home she told me she hated Jesus and Jesus' father, but she liked Jesus' mother. It's comments like these that keep me on my toes, we are not even religious so I don't even know how to engage here. Thanks for the book recommendation I will take a look.

 

Just wanted to add, that my 2-year-old does this all.the.timesmile.gif  We talk about how that is a very strong word to use, and he is resolute that he hates...whatever or whomever!  Also, he has frequently said that he wants to hurt me, wants to cut me, etc.  Sometimes in frustration when he hits a limit, but also just out of the blue.  He grits his teeth alot lately, says he wants to hurt me, tries to kick and punch me - I think it can come from an overabundance of any emotion, not just anger.  Tiredness, energy - even (weirdly) affection.  Desire for attention.

 

I figure it's likely a phase that he's going through, and the best I can do is be there for him and try to connect/communicate in other ways, like Miranda mentioned. 


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