3 yr old DD is really giving us a run for our money. Always a very easy going, very happy-go-lucky, super extravert kid pretty much turned into the opposite shortly after her third birthday. Essentially over the past 2-3 months we have watched her behavior go from bad, to worse, to impossible. What once started at home as the occasional refusal or testing of limits has now blossomed into almost 24/7 defiance and aggressive/inappropriate behavior. She goes to daycare three days a week (two of these days are with her 18 month old brother) and the third day is just for her. She has gone for almost two yrs now and has always loved it, but now even the daycare provider is struggling with her behavior.
This all started happening around the same time that she tried dropping her naps. She's always needed a lot of sleep (12-14 hrs each night) but it seems now like it's not so much a number of hrs issue, it's a matter of not being able to go long stretches without a break -but for whatever reason her body doesn't think she needs it anymore. We have nap time at the same time every day, routine hasn't changed, same with daycare. She might take a nap one day, and not take another for 10 days after that. When she's this overtired it results in her constant crying, meltdowns over EVERYTHING (she got the blue cup instead of the red one) unable to communicate (she will literally start baby talking and pointing as if she can't even really say words, although she has an accelerated vocab) she'll get violent with us parents and 18 month old DS (last night she got mad at me for pushing the laptop out of her reach as she was pounding on it, so she got off the chair, walked right up to DS, looked me in the eye, and smacked him in the face) she's got a real taste for potty talk now which I know is normal, but it's a domino effect and is completely used because she knows the adults don't approve.
I could go on and on, I'm just so confused at this point. Is this SIMPLY the transition from a napping kid to a non-napping one, and if so how long is this going to take? If she's so tired, why doesn't she pass out? Or is this more than that? I should mention I'm PG with number 3, is this acting out because she's scared of how things might change? Does she need more one on one with mom and dad? Is this possible ADHD/sensory stuff coming out? We have tried EVERYTHING to change this behavior. Aside from trying to help with the sleep issue, I've tried positive reinforcement, timeouts, ignoring, bribery, warnings, you name it. The thing is, when she's running up and down her room walls with a marker in her hand, or putting her baby brother in a head lock, or refusing to put on her boots and coat when mom is trying to leave the bank -I can't just ignore it! But the more I say, "no, don't do that, etc" the worse it gets.
So anyway, any thoughts from BTDT parents are most appreciated. I'm totally exasperated, not to mention I go to bed each night feeling guilty because I feel like all I do anymore is yell, lecture and man handle her. She was playing with her dolls tonight and she started yelling at them because they had torn apart a book (something she did two nights ago) and she was speaking to them the way that I had when it happened. It made me realize, we have a problem here -how did we get into this cycle? please help us get out...
It sounds like alot of things are at play
1) She is 3
2) a new baby is coming
3) change in sleep
4) normal developmental changes
Is she seeking negative attention or is negative attention the only kind she is getting? Look for chances to give her positive attention.
My suggestions would be - stick with a routine. Stop trying a bunch of different strategies and stick to one that you can live with. Safety rules are always enforced, otherwise a choice is given. If you write on the walls of your room when unsupervised with markers you no longer have free access to markers. If you put your brother in a headlock you will be removed from the situation and focus on brother (victim). Boots and coat, depends on if you have to go in but I would try to do those errands with out her. If its just a ride why make her wear them, she can bring them along. Stop saying 'no, don't' and start saying what she should do. Give her lots of power, she is ready for some responsibility. How can she be a helper? Washing windows, folding napkins and wash cloths, lining up the family shoes, etc. These things can empower her!
Three is hard. Really hard. My dd and I struggled so much, constantly. It was alot of mental and emotional work for me. You can do it!
Three is hell. It's the age. I can't rule out ADHD and so on, but I sure can't rule them in, because the overwhelming obvious thing about your child is that she's three.
There are some developmental reasons for three to be hell, and of course individual circumstances and personality also make a difference. Dropping the nap is a tough break, and if she's overtired, it has to be made up somehow - would an earlier bedtime work? I sometimes get some mileage out of one on one time with the difficult kid - it's not guaranteed, but it's worth trying.
Eventually, your daughter will not be three. In the meantime, do what you can to make things easy. Figure out ways to run errands without her whenever possible. Pick some stuff to ignore - my votes would go with potty talk and drawing on her bedroom walls (but if you rent, that's a real problem). Pick some things that have the least consequence for the rest of the family and just let them go. Figure out some consequences for unacceptable behavior (like smacking her brother) and enforce them like your life depended on it. Whatever the consequences are, they have to be things you can handle without going to pieces or completely disrupting the household, because you can pretty much expect to do whatever it is about six times a day for starters. Talk to your daycare about consequences and behavior and try to make sure that you're being consistent in both environments. Lay down a daily routine as much as possible. Also, try to create some positive consequences, like a sticker chart that lays out the routine stuff. A sticker for getting dressed, a sticker for brushing her teeth, a sticker for eating breakfast. Don't associate stickers with things like keeping your shoes on at the bank, because that will go wrong fast.
Also, I know it's winter, but get her outside as much as possible. Outside seems to help my kids so much. They focus better. They're calmer. They run more and sleep better.
I promise they are not three forever. This is a tough age, but they get through it.
Three...is...hell. I don' know what people are talking about with he "terrible twos", being 3 seems to bring the worst out in my children. My DD2 sounds a lot like yours. Easy going and sweet and then once she turns 3 - wham! - defiance, tantrums, acting out, the works! I was also pregnant with #3 when her behavior shifted dramatically like hat. I now have a 4 month old and while she has settled down some, there are days when everything is a battle with her. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of advice. I am reading intently what the PPs said and am glad I am not alone.
We are going through this right now, and I definitely don't have it figured out, but here are a few things that have helped. Outdoor play or anything that gets a lot of physical energy out. Making sure she gets alone time during the day in her room even if she doesn't nap. Having strictly set rules on the things we think are most important to the family. And my favorite- giving advance warning of any change and then a choice. For example- our three year old will lose it if we interrupt play by requesting she go use the bathroom. Instead, if I tell her that she needs to go use the bathroom in two minutes, and then go get her to use the bathroom and she still refuses, I remind her that she can either go to the bathroom or go to her room (which is just what we do). It has been helpful in so many situations. If I want her to turn the TV off, I do the same thing.. we're going to turn the TV off after this show, when it's time to turn it off I say do you want to turn it off or do you want me to? If she doesn't want to turn it off she can go spend some time relaxing in her room instead. If we are out the consequence changes to something that I can follow through with in the situation we're in. Just some ideas.. looking forward to hearing more from others! I miss my two year old
I know! Two year-olds are so sweet and sunny! And little, which makes them a bit easier to manage.
Every now and then, someone publishes one of those bad-mommy confession articles where they admit that they have a favorite child. The non-favorite child is always three.
Ah, a new member of the 3-year-old club!! If you poke around, you'll find a bunch of recent desperate threads from mothers of 3 year olds - mine included. Somehow it is easier to know that it's normal. Feeling like a parental failure really just compounds the issue and makes you wishy washy.
Anyway, I don't have time to post more now, but you're not alone.
Here's my journey thus far, into the crazy of 'three'.
However, after weeks of turmoil we seem to be seeing some light at the end of the dark, dark tunnel.
Wow. . I feel for ya. But, as i look back ( my son is 8 now, with his own imperfections!) . . .I would say. . .try to stay calm.
If she is not able to deal with her own emotions or recognize that SHE is feeling and acting out, try to read books about emotions. I like one called "How are you Peeling?" Instead of Feeling, cause the photos of excellently carved veg and fruits shows how emotions look. ... It's fun to read with your kid, and it helps them to know that everyone has times when they feel sad or jealous, for ex. I also like 'Angry Arthur'.. older book with Japanese author, I think.
It is not easy. . .but, in the end, you need your baseline where you can know that it will all be all right, even with the fits.
I don't claim to know it all even after this many years, but i am always more proud of myself if i handle my son without yelling. It gives him a model of better behavior and he knows that his emotions do not rule the roost.
Does she respond to fine motor activities that take focus of thought? My son used to calm with the help of the stacking pin activity where shapes had holes, or playing at the sink. .. could she feel better with responsibility, like spraying windows with water and wiping them? sometimes feeling helpful and needed can go a long way!
Hang in there. We have all been there!