I know that 3 year olds are always confusing, but this one is baffling me!
Lots of background.
DD is 3 years and 10 months. I have found her behaviour very challenging for the last 2 years. Her behaviour has improved, but not to the extent that I would have anticipated for her age.
She was late to speak due to undiagnosed glue ear, but during that time that she wasn't speaking, also didn't have any compensating signs such as pointing, didn't have any sounds or gestures for milk or food. At 18 months pretty much all she would say was "bye bye" and "woof woof", though she had occasionally said other words, and I think at that age she would wave goodbye. We took her to a developmental paediatrician at that time, who told us we had unrealistic expectations, then rang a bell behind her head and she didn't notice. We pushed for a referral to an ENT specialist and testing showed she had mild to moderate hearing loss.
During this period, having been quite a mellow baby, she became quick to scream, hit, kick and bite. Everything was a battle. She would hit her older brother for no reason eg he could be sitting on the sofa, she would walk past and hit him. He never initiated it. This could happen 3 or 4 times every day. She would hit me repeatedly in the face - I posted about it at the time and got some tips.
Her speech picked up over the next couple of months and then took off after grommets, but still not as quickly as I would have expected. At 2 and a bit she couldn't get close to the sound of her own name (only two syllables, but admittedly tricky sounds) and had no verbs. We saw a speech therapist who again told us that our expectations were unrealistic.
I worked on her speech and she now speaks - a lot! - and has normal hearing. She can count to 29, recognises some letters, loves drawing and painting, enjoys her dance class, plays some simple card games with help, has some good friends (mostly a fair bit younger than she is, though).
I thought that the behaviour problems would improve once she could speak and wasn't in pain from ear infections, and it's fair to say that it has improved but not enough. She is still quick to scream about anything. She would rather hit her brother than do an activity with me. She does not like to be hugged or kissed. She does not like to cuddle up - even in her sleep she will push my arm away. If I ask her in the morning whether she slept well, the answer is always no. If I tell her how much I love her, she scowls. She is not interested in being reasoned with and often doesn't respond to bribes (I'm looking for the embarrassed emoticon ...) She doesn't talk much about what she is thinking. When I used to pick her up from daycare on foot, she would scream her way along every block of the way home. Now she just screams about getting into the car and often hits or kicks me when getting into her carseat.
Daycare thinks she is lovely, meeting age expectations, creative, very well behaved and good at following rules. When I asked whether she screamed or hit at daycare, they seemed to think I must be talking about the wrong kid. I'm happy with the quality of the daycare and DD enjoys going.
We are under a fair amount of stress at home at the moment but her behaviour doesn't seem to change for better or worse according to this. It also wasn't better when I reduced salicylates, which was a factor for her brother. Sibling rivalry certainly accounts for a lot of it but I consciously give her a lot of attention and a lot of one on one attention. I spoke to our GP briefly about it and once again was told her behaviour seemed very good.
Are my expectations unrealistic or should I try for an appointment with a different developmental paediatrician?
Sorry for the epic! It helps to type it out and think about the whole picture.
I would get a different doctor. When things are happening, and the doctor's are not listening and continue to state that things are fine (when they are not) and you are being unrealistic, it's time to write letters up the chain, and to get a new doc.
And I would get her into counseling. Some of what you describe is normal kid drama, but she's had a lot of issues in her short life, and a therapist might be able to help work through those with her and you. And she's feeling the stress from home, too. It might be helpful for you, as well, to get some different coping skills or some ideas on how to lessen the stress at home.
Homeschooling Ama to boys (ages 10 and 6) and my SoldierGirl who is serving in the US Army, StepMom to three crazy teens. I'm married to the love of my life.
Love is an action word.
Words have power...use them wisely.
Who you are is just enough.
You say she's fine at daycare but resistant to even be taken home. I know this is a terrible thing to suggest, but is there something at home that could be frightening her? Is there someone else who cares for her at home, like a grandparent or something, who maybe shouldn't be?
Just a thought worth checking out.
Many kids are better behaved at daycare and fight going home; I wouldn't worry about that at all. I was a daycare mom for three years and because we had a daily routine, other kids to play with and lots to do, it was normal for kids to behave for me and not want to leave.
Two books you might want to check out are Siblings Without Rivalry and Positive Discipline for Preschoolers. They can help you with the sibling issues and the three year old behavior.
Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
13yo ds 10yo dd 8yo ds and 6yo ds and 1yo ds