Help me help my UNHAPPY 3yo through this - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 11 Old 02-02-2011, 06:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We moved about 10 months ago- across the country into a house that ....well anyone seen "the money pit"?  I am a work at home, stay at home, always there, single, doing my best, momma.  My dd seems deeply unhappy- I thought is was a phase, or once things settled down she would perk up... I am not putting a time limit on transitions, but I am hoping for some advice to help us heal.  

 

Here is the situation, dd wakes up screaming.  EVERY time- even naps.  even if I am still in bed- but obviously more intensely if I am up and working.  I tell her before we go to sleep that I might need to do some work and always race to her as soon as she wakes.  

 

She hates it when I sing- or act happy (this has been going on for many months, I have entertained the notion of her being highly sensitive and bothered by noise)... I ask her how she expresses her happiness and she says she doesn't have any, she is just sad all the time.  YIKES.  kids are mercurial, but this is a theme.

 

often when we have our little talks before bed, she says" tomorrow is going to be a sad day"... and during the day she tells me many many times every day she is sad, sleepy- or "I need to go home" (even if we are home, which I point out).  

 

She doesn't engage in activities with other kids, we have tried classes, playdates etc- she just wants me to hold her all the time...which I do.  

 

She frequently feigns helplessness, I need to carry her everywhere, wipe her nose, change her socks spoon feed her etc, brush her teeth.  She will often stand in front of a door and scream for me to come and open it, even if it was just 3/4 closed- I took many of the doors off - because they would swing shut and I would be running all over the house opening them.

 

She was an EC grad around 2 yo (right before our move)  and now she has frequent accidents and pees the bed every night (which has been gradually gaining momentum since we got here) I expected some setbacks of course, but it seems to be getting worse and worse.

 

I feel like she has just shut down and tuned out.  

 

There have been a few moments when she lights up and engages in something and they are so wonderful! but bittersweet, I am so worried about her and I know she feels my tension and stress... she is never more than 6 inches away from me and I can't hide that part of my life. 

 

I do mostly ok with this until I see other 3yos running and jumping, playing, hand holding and engaging eachother.  I don't want my daughter to miss her happy carefree childhood.  

 

Advice?  good books? thanks :)

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#2 of 11 Old 02-02-2011, 06:33 AM
 
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How sad.  It sounds like she's having a really hard time with the move.  Does she miss some of the people you moved away from? Could you skype with them or call them regularly? 

 

I have a three year old and I try and work from home too.  My DD goes to preschool/daycare 3 days a week and it's been a really good thing for all of us.  She has lots of fun when she's there and I have time to get my work done and then be totally present when she's home.  Have you thought about enrolling her in preschool? It might be really helpful for you both. 

 

Another thought I had was whether she's having some health problems that are causing her discomfort.  My DD had recurrent ear infections last year and after trying everything (garlic oil, adjustments, homeopathy, elimination diet, antibiotics) we had tubes put in.  Her personality changed almost instantly because she wasn't in pain anymore.


Healthcare is a human right!
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#3 of 11 Old 02-02-2011, 06:42 AM
 
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I agree with the pp. Trying preschool might be a good thing to do. It would give her an opportunity to foster some relationships with people in the new area you're in, and, could possibly end up being something that adds some positivity and something to look forward to in her life. Both of my kids have loved preschool.

But, FWIW, my dd, at 3, often woke up disoriented and screaming, too. She didn't have the other issues you mention, but, often woke up crying. She eventually outgrew it - I never could figure out what caused it.

If it continues, I also wouldn't rule out seeking some professional help. Like the pp mentioned, it could be something physical, too.

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#4 of 11 Old 02-02-2011, 07:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, we have tried preschool...and on days when I can get her to stay- I think things are really good.  I am always more fun after a little break.  Our PS is only two mornings a week and many days I just can't get her to go.  She says she is sick so she has to stay home, or I will take her anyway and wind up staying the whole time holding her (it is the middle of the school year- none of the other kids have moms there and it is a bit disruptive).   The teacher says I should just drop her off and she will get used to it- I have done that only to find out that she cried and screamed for 3 hours with only smalls breaks of distraction.  In my mind that is not helpful.

 

 I know that childcare...more socialization is paramount, where we live is R-U-R-A-L and we don't have many opportunities.  We are still working on the preschool thing, I do think that has potential to help... I just feel if I could get her to engage and be successful at ANYTHING, she would start to blossom...and babystep toward independence.  

 

Thanks for your thoughts! 

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#5 of 11 Old 02-02-2011, 09:38 AM
 
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I couldn't read without posting a hug.  hug2.gif  Poor girl, and poor mama seeing her girl so sad.

 

Is there a young (pre-teen?) neighbour who would be interested in coming over to be a "mother's helper?"  Having someone else to bond with might help her adjust to living there (and from my experience a pre-teen who likes kids would be filled with lots of energy to play games, do crafts etc).

 

Have you tried lessons or playdates recently?  If you gave them a try half a year ago and it didn't work then it might be giving it another shot now.

 

Does she get Vit D supplements and fish oil supplements?  I tend to get depressed in the shorter days of winter and I find taking those supplements helps a fair bit.

 

Another thought - what about playing gentle music while she sleeps (naps).  Maybe waking to the same music would provide a gentler transition and she wouldn't get quite so upset?  (Though I did want to add that my dd, at that age - like a pp's - would always wake like that from naps.  And in fact I always wake from naps disoriented and out-of-sorts myself.  She might just "be like that").

 

Last thought - here it is the middle of a cold winter - not sure about where you live - but still it's probably well worth it to try to get regular outdoor fresh-air activity, or at least indoor exercise (swimming maybe?).  Regular exercise can go a long way to improving mood.  I'd say it's worth trying anyway.

 

Good luck mama!  Post with an update if you think about it.  I'll be thinking of you guys.


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#6 of 11 Old 02-02-2011, 09:55 AM
 
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I re-read your OP and wanted to ask another question.  You say "there are times when she lights up and engages in something".  Is there any pattern there?  Something she especially enjoys?  If there is can you bring more of *that* into her life?  (sorry... I know vague and I'm clutching at straws, but maybe could be helpful???).


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#7 of 11 Old 02-02-2011, 12:00 PM
 
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I'm going to start with a really basic question - how much sleep is she getting?

 

The reason I ask is, my older DS went through a phase like you described.  I realized that there was a correlation with him dropping his nap.  Once I got him to bed earlier, it was like a different, happier person entered his body.  Kids need a ton of sleep, and it can be a challenge to get them to bed early.  If your daughter's bedtime is later than 7:00 p.m., try moving it earlier and see if it has any effect on her mood. 

 

I'm sorry you are going through this.  It sounds rough for both of you.   

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#8 of 11 Old 02-02-2011, 03:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh thanks mommas!  About the sleep, she may not be getting enough, somedays she won't settle down to nap and other days she will sleep for two full hours in the afternoon.  I think she plays catch up occasionally.  We live in the UP of michigan, vit D supplements are crucial here- it is overcast and often bitter cold... That being said- I do try and get out/exercise each day...I know how I am with and without moving every day.  But that is such a good reminder and probably contributes to why I have seen more of a decline in her attitude in the last few months.  

 

The moments of engaging and when she tries and plays!  This is so frustrating because one week she loves going to the pool and two days later- won't leave the locker room.  Many things are like this and I haven't found a foolproof misery buster yet.  Well except for marathon puzzle building and other momcentric activities- which we DO do everyday...but can't sustain all day.

 

AND just today she put a moratorium on "noticing"  or anything about her.  When I said  "your feet were cold and you found your slippers"  she replied "those are yucky words mom don't say that!" I feel like she doesn't like it when I point out she IS capable, it undermines her projection of helplessness.  It is like she NEEDS to be helpless.....mmmmm?

 

Thanks again for the hugs and thoughts.

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#9 of 11 Old 02-05-2011, 04:25 PM
 
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I wonder if a preschool that runs every day, but 1/2 days might be helpful, although that may seem like a counter intuitive answer. Perhaps the continuity of that would help.  When you're looking at preschools, ask if they can provide a teacher to stay with her until she calms down. I imagine that it will take a couple of weeks, but this approach may very well work.

 

Good luck!

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#10 of 11 Old 02-05-2011, 08:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalie12 View Post

I wonder if a preschool that runs every day, but 1/2 days might be helpful, although that may seem like a counter intuitive answer. Perhaps the continuity of that would help.  When you're looking at preschools, ask if they can provide a teacher to stay with her until she calms down. I imagine that it will take a couple of weeks, but this approach may very well work.

 

Good luck!


I have 4 friends who have worked as early childhood educators and one who owns a Montessori preschool. They all say that anything less than 3 days a week can be tough for toddlers - it's just too infrequent to become part of their routine. My kids have both gone 5 days a week for mornings only and it has worked out wonderfully. Maybe increasing her days per week would help.

I also agree with the pp about the "mother's helper". I needed some help, due to medical issues, and had a friend's 12/13 yr. old daughter come over a few times a week. She would play with my kids, walk to the park with them, etc. and, although I was home, I got a break and some rest. It was a good arrangement for all parties involved.


 

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#11 of 11 Old 02-05-2011, 09:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mommatooth View Post

 

often when we have our little talks before bed, she says" tomorrow is going to be a sad day"... and during the day she tells me many many times every day she is sad, sleepy- or "I need to go home" (even if we are home, which I point out).  

 

She doesn't engage in activities with other kids, we have tried classes, playdates etc- she just wants me to hold her all the time...which I do.  

 

She frequently feigns helplessness, I need to carry her everywhere, wipe her nose, change her socks spoon feed her etc, brush her teeth.  She will often stand in front of a door and scream for me to come and open it, even if it was just 3/4 closed- I took many of the doors off - because they would swing shut and I would be running all over the house opening them.

 

 


Okay. I'm all for holding little ones when they need it or just because we want to, and I'm not a fan of preschools because of the forced separation for some kids that aren't ready. That being said, I think she is just seeking attention. What you wrote paints this picture of you running around responding to her every demand while wringing your hands wondering what on earth is causing her to be helpless and sad. Don't enable her behaviors. I mean that so nicely really. I hope it doesn't seem harsh because I don't mean for it to be. I hope I have painted the wrong picture in my head.

 

First, she can open the doors. Unless there is some physical reason that she cannot, the doors are now her responsibility. She can scream all she wants. Seriously. Responding to the screams (which are not sad screams, they are fit screams) is not doing her any favors and is just perpetuating her sense of helplessness.

 

Second, anything and everything that she is capable of doing, she needs to do. Praise her efforts greatly and let her know that you are confident enough in her that you believe she can do them. You believe in her. By doing them for her, you are kind of saying, "I know this is too hard for you. Let me do it." That can't be great for self-confidence and growing independence.

 

Come up with big girl things for her to do to help her feel proud of herself and proud of her accomplishments. Maybe big girls can make cookies or paint butterflies on their bedroom walls or get the mail out of the box or whatever. But they can only do it when they're big girls. Maybe you can begin a new project of making her new room special just for her, like with homemade pillows, etc. that you work on together.

 

Set aside time every day for books, talking, cuddling, whatever. She obviously craves that closeness and needs it. Make sure it's consistent, and she can count on it.

 

I would try not to talk so much about being sad and letting her see how it affects you to hear her say that. When she says, "I'm going to have a sad day tomorrow," say something like, "I'm sorry. I hope that we can have a good day. I want to paint a picture. What do you want to do tomorrow?" Acknowledge what she said but quickly change the subject and distract her with other ideas. It sounds like she's in a bit of a rut and likes the reaction.

 

Good luck. I hope she snaps out of it soon.

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