I'm worried about my daughter's behavior - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 01-26-2006, 12:56 AM - Thread Starter
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I guess I just want to know what you think. I have so little experience with kids, and don't know if my 4-year-old daughter is acting normally. She's become very sensitive. Recently, she tried two new things: roller skating and bike riding. She had a lot of trouble with both (and she tends to need a lot of practice at motor skills-related things--she didn't crawl until 9 months, or walk until 15 months---she was born almost 3 months premature). Both times, I tried to encourage her and teach her what to do, but she just freaked out, screaming and crying, and bawling, "I CAN'T DO ANYTHING RIGHT!" Over and over. That made me cry so hard I had to turn from her for a minute so she wouldn't see and feel worse. Now she says she will never do those things again. She also has started running away to another part of the house or locking herself in her room after she's done something she thinks she will get in trouble for---always very minor things that she would never get in trouble for, like using too much soap or eating without washing her hands. My husband and I redirect, but that's it--we don't believe in time outs, raised voices, any violence at all. Just calm redirection.

I guess I did something wrong. As a person I am very Type A and bossy but I try to be gentle with her. I admit I get frustrated with her because she is soooooo timid of everythng, so shy, so behind her peers in so many things. I try not to express that but I am sure she senses it. I went a little crazy when she was potty-training and did yell at her a few times, and compare her to her friends (YES I KNOW THAT'S HORRIBLE---just want to be 100% honest) out of sheer frustration (we started trying when she turned 2.5 and it took her almost a year to get it, even with us doing everything the experts say to do, and she's still not night trained). But when I realized how angry I was getting, I apologized to her, made a huge effort to control my temper, and have not blown up at her since, for over a year now. On the flip side, I am constantly building her up, praising her, cheering her successes. We are very close---I am an AP mommy and we have a very tight bond. But I guess I'm just not good at this, which kills me because I've tried so hard to do everything right . I had such a horrible, bad mother . . . and now I feel like I am one, too. But I honestly don't know what I'm doing wrong. Except for the few times I yelled at her when she was training (maybe 3 or 4 times over a 1-week period), I've never even been harsh with her. Could all my years of consistent good loving parenting have been abolished by that? Or is this normal 4-year-old behavior?
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#2 of 5 Old 01-26-2006, 12:11 PM
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Well my son does not take criticism very well at all, both he and my daughter always think, we assume, its their fault. They always seem to be on defensive. My son hates being told how to do things. He wants to figure it out himself. And like your daughter, if he isnt good at it, he wont do it anymore. It's not anything you did. I think it's just part of their personality. All we can do is say "I understand you do not want to do this right now, and you do not have to, whenever you are ready to try again let me know, i would love to help" and leave it at that. You are not a horrible mommy. And also my son wasnt trained till 3.5 so that is normal as well
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#3 of 5 Old 01-26-2006, 12:14 PM
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First of all, NO, you are not a bad mommy! We all have parenting moments that we regret and IMO we are all a work in progress. Please don't keep beating yourself up for raising your voice to her over a year ago!

What it sounds like to me is that you have a normal child who is currently sensitive and easily frustrated. It may her age or just the way she is wired and either way, as her parent you can help her work through the frustration of challenges she will have as she grows. I would try to stay calm and model ways to discuss her feelings that don't catastrophize (sp?) every setback/challenge. Eg. "I see that you are upset that you used more soap than you think you needed. It's ok. I had to learn how hard to squeeze the pump too." Sometimes my kids are very hard on themselves for what I think are minor/negligible issues and if I stay calm and give a big hug, that often helps. Most of the time it is a result of them being overtired, hungry, stressed from something else in the day, etc.

I would use a similar approach about the bike riding/roller skating. I would acknowledge the frustration and just mention that we could try it again another time whenever she is ready. If she keeps crying "I'll never do it again!" I would just say it's ok and hug her.

The other thing I thought I would mention is that there is a large range of what is developmentally normal for all of these things including potty learning and big motor skills like learning to ride a bike. I have a dd who was in pullups at night until she was 6. I know other kids like this too. And my 5yr old dd is just now learning to roller skate (with a lot of me holding on) and has been slowly working on bike riding.

Every kid is different and it might be easier for you to help her calm down if you also know that it is ok and developmentally normal for these tasks to be really difficult for her. Maybe helping her find some activities that don't involve clear-cut success/failure could help boost her confidence. For example, maybe she would like to see how fast she can run and work on improving her time. Or work on holding a yoga pose from a kid's yoga video for as long as she can. Or practice learning a new song with you. (Sorry, these are not the best examples but you get the idea.)

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#4 of 5 Old 01-26-2006, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Stella_luna
Both times, I tried to encourage her and teach her what to do, but she just freaked out, screaming and crying, and bawling, "I CAN'T DO ANYTHING RIGHT!"

I guess I did something wrong....... But I guess I'm just not good at this, which kills me because I've tried so hard to do everything right .

I do think it is relatively normal for four year olds. The four year old girls I know can be a pretty emotional and irrational bunch, my dd included. However, do you see what your dd was saying in light of what you are now saying to us? Maybe she picks up on your insecurity or feeling of trying to do everything "right" and feels she has to be that way too? s mama. Nobody is perfect and we don't have to do everything right. We just keep trying and do the best we can. You're a loving mama and I'm sure your dd knows that. You can't beat yourself up for your mistakes, just realizing them shows that you are learning and trying to be the best mama you can.

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#5 of 5 Old 01-26-2006, 12:49 PM
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I think she sounds right on track for her age and dealing with frustrations. My dd is very easily frustrated and I was too as a child. What we did when she was frustrated was to talk about it, sometimes in the moment and sometimes later, about how it is hard to do some things and how it means that you have to keep trying and practising to learn something like that. For us, we also found that showing her things in day to day life that needed practice (like her Daddy playing the guitar, or mommy writing her letters, or her brother learning to put his shoes one) seemed to help. She was able, ultimately to internalize the idea of 'its ok, I'll just try again'. But, she is also very stubborn so that was a hard lesson to learn but it also played on a natural strength of 'I am GOING to do this' that is not there in all children.

I know several little girls who will flee in trouble, will hide under a table if they start crying so that no one sees them, or get really upset if chastized in front of their peers even at such a young age.

They are starting to understnad that they can put pressure on themselves about behaviours "oh, I can't forget this mommy, can you help me remember?" from one friend's daughter, or 'mommy i must do...... becuase I simply must' from another.

I don't think anything you did caused this behaviour. NOthing. She is a child who is starting to feel really big emotions about things. Help her to verbalize what she's feeling. Encourage her to recognize what she's feeling while she's struggling with something, especially motor related. work on skills that she already has....

roller skating is a hard one. do you have a chair she could hold onto while on her skates?I know folks do that with ice skating but there is more natural glide in that....

good luck. She sounds normal and so do you.
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