please tell me this is normal . . . (longish) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 08-17-2008, 12:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, I get that you guys probably can't tell me that my child does or does not have a problem but I am going i-n-s-a-n-e.
I have a 5yro and 19mo twins.
Before the twins were born my oldest dd was a sensitive kid. She needed a lot of attention, wasn't so good at handling sudden changes, would get very upset at the littlest cut, had sensory issues with clothing, very few foods she liked, had to be put to sleep with a hour to hour and a half long routine (and never left before she was asleep). BUT all in all, she was a happy, confident kid. She didn't whine. She was curious. She was reasonable. She loved school and was wonderful with other children and adults.
Well, the babies being born coincided with other turbulence in her life : mainly I had to go to another country to deliver them, my husband was away for us for a number of months, lost her babysitter of three years.

So ever since the babies were born she has had such a hard time. She was never hostile towards them but OH BOY. She has tantrums all the time. She can't tolerate the smallest frustration. She demands help with everything (using the toilet, washing her hands, getting dressed, eating, going to sleep, getting out the toys she wants, walking for more than two minutes -- demands to be carried, put in the stroller etc). She refuses to do anything for herself, even things she was routinely doing before.

She also won't play with the whole family. If we are all together and the little ones are awake she makes some sort of totally unprovoked scene, shouts "I'll never love you again" and storms into her room. If I try to go console her she will just say that she doesn't want to come play with us until the babies have their nap and she is just going to sit in her room and be sad unless daddy or I come and play with her alone.
She gets plenty of time with both of us alone and I just think this sucks. If we ever go anywhere together it is always she who will start crying because she can't have something, she tripped, she didn't get her way. And she is always the reason we have to go home.
It just makes me so sad. I try to talk to her about it but she isn't interested. I'm getting super frustrated and also a bit worried. I just don't know what to do. Please help.
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#2 of 12 Old 08-17-2008, 12:58 PM
 
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Before the twins were born my oldest dd was a sensitive kid. She needed a lot of attention, wasn't so good at handling sudden changes, would get very upset at the littlest cut, had sensory issues with clothing, very few foods she liked.
My DD acted like this, and it was discovered that she had food allergies and sensitivities. She would "act up" about 20min after eating.

As for your DD acting up after the babies being born, I think some of that is normal, but being compounded on top of whatever was going on before they arrived..

Watch her like a hawk after she eats, allergic reactions don't always present themselves as hives, runny, noses, and itchy eyes. My daughter would get whiney, hyper, mean(grumpy), Tear off a shirt she had been wearing all day, b/c the tag all of a sudden was so itchy she couldn't stand it. We did get her allergy tested, but not all of her allergies showed up in the test, it was very trial and error, but well worth the effort, we could go places and have a good time!!!!!

Good Luck!!!
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#3 of 12 Old 08-17-2008, 03:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, it is possible that she has other allergies. She is allergic to dairy and soy and we don't do those any more, but I suppose she may be allergic to something else as well.
I'll get her tested again.
Thanks for the idea.
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#4 of 12 Old 08-17-2008, 03:49 PM
 
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For the most part she sounds like a typical 5yo.

When she is demanding things(like help eating, getting dressed, getting toys, ect) do you guys do it? If so then I'd stop doing that. For things like her wanting help getting dressed, all my kids went through that. I would turn it around on them & start putting their pants on their heads, socks on arms, etc. They'd laugh & say that isn't how you do it so then I'd ask them how to do it becuase I forgot & they'd end up dressing themselves while they showed me how to do it right.

If my kids acted up in public I never left the place. If they threw a fit, then they threw a fit but I wasn't leaving until we were done. Before we left the house & again before we got out of the car they'd be told we are NOT getting you anything special today, if you ask you are not getting it, if you throw a temper tantrum you are not getting it.

When she says she'll never love you again, respond simply with something like "if that's how you're feeling right now that's okay, but I'll always love you".
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#5 of 12 Old 08-17-2008, 05:42 PM
 
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Well, which is it... Do you want me to tell you this is normal, or what I really think?

I don't think it sounds typical. I think by the age of 5, and with 19 month old twin boys in tow, you should not have to be leaving places and missing out on fun because the 5-year-old can't behave.

It does sound to me like she may have some more underlying food allergies/sensitivities. They can absolutely affect behavior. As you have already stated, she is sensitive and I would say more so than "normal".

In any case where the child has somehow ended up "running the show", you really have to take a step back and look at why and how this behavior began, and what you can do to begin to regain control of your life. It sounds to me like she went through a difficult stage, where perhaps the ones in her life who love her so much may have overindulged because they felt guilty and/or sorry for her.

Well, at what point do you stop? I think that by the age of 5 it is not unreasonable to expect more of her than you are. I think that by the time mom is going i-n-s-a-n-e, it is a good time to start making some serious effort to change the situation.

She is being rewarded for this behavior, in some way, or she would not continue it. Whether it is getting her more one-on-one time with the parents, or she is getting to leave a store where she REALLY didn't want to be, or just plain getting her more attention... somewhere, there is a pay off.

I wish I had book recommendations, or some quick fix for you, but I don't... I just had to say that no, I don't think it is just "normal" and I don't think that by the age of 5, you should be having to deal with all of this. Good luck.
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#6 of 12 Old 08-17-2008, 05:52 PM
 
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Given the background you've given in your post. I do think it's normal. That's not to say however, that she shouldn't be worked with. I think that you do need to spend some time with her alone (both you and your husband), make sure that she understands that she's important and part of the family, and perhaps even start trying to get her to come into her role as the oldst (note how special it is that she's oldest), etc...

Good luck!
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#7 of 12 Old 08-17-2008, 06:36 PM
 
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My DD is younger than yours, but it sounds like they're going through the same thing. She has 18 month old twin siblings, and she endured long months of me being on bedrest with no help at home, before they were born, and being shuffled off to Grandma's house numerous times when DD2 was in NICU and through DS's early health troubles. Her experiences weren't as traumatic as your DD's but still the upheaval in her life is similar.

My DD is explosive. She's bossy and wants to be in absolute control all the time, and freaks out when she can't be. She wants help with the simplest things. A lot of the same issues. And DH and I swing back and forth between trying to "draw a line in the sand" and being maybe overly indulgent of her whims, and our inconsistency hasn't helped.

I dunno. For us it's a work in progress, but I wanted to let you know it's not just your DD. Having multiples born in a family is a huge upheaval, and having them grow into toddlers is really hard too, especially for a child who's sensitive to begin with. I like to think it'll all work itself out in time, if we stay close to her and work through it together.

Anyway. I wish I had some advice....

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#8 of 12 Old 08-18-2008, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Aww thanks, you guys!
It is so dang hard! I probably do overindulge her, but she is very smart and can argue her point so well that sometimes I just can't find the energy/time/hands to deal with her in the way I know I should.
It isn't an excuse, just an explanation.
I find it so impossible to deal with her with the little ones there. Like if I'm going to take them all out, and she won't get dressed, I feel like if I dress her I'm giving in to her and if I don't dress her the little ones and I are also deprived of an outing because she just will digg her heels in and say "I don't care if we go out" or something like that.

I do, I suppose feel sorry for her, because when I think back on that first year of the twins' life and think "if someone had subjected me to that without even asking me I think I would be very resentful and uncooperative". But maybe that is the wrong way to think.

I just wish I had more ideas about how to make her enjoy being part of a big(ish) family; to foster more family feeling?

It is always good to know there are others in the same crazy situation!

You guys always make me feel better when I hit that parenting wall and give me ideas on where to go.
Thanks!
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#9 of 12 Old 08-18-2008, 05:09 PM
 
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Does it work to give her tasks? Like say - tell her you are having a really hard time figuring something out and then asking her if she can figure out the problem...a puzzle, riddle, etc. Or asking her to help out more and more with the babies- showing her how to change the diapers, or seeing if she will play "pre-school" teacher with them.
I know it's not a quick fix, but it could help her take more of a "big girl" attitude.
I remember I had just turned 7 when my brother was born and I WAS JEALOUS. My world turned upside down and I distinctly remember creating situations where I needed the attention to take the attention away from my brother. It really really helped when my mom started giving me more grown up responsibilties- especially with my brother. I think it cut my bad behavior significantly. I felt more a part of the team instead of the pissed off kid competing for competition.

Blessed with two BEAUTIFUL little girls: Kylie (09/06) and Maggie (4/09) :
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#10 of 12 Old 08-18-2008, 05:58 PM
 
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Aww thanks, you guys!
It is so dang hard! I probably do overindulge her, but she is very smart and can argue her point so well that sometimes I just can't find the energy/time/hands to deal with her in the way I know I should.
It isn't an excuse, just an explanation.
I find it so impossible to deal with her with the little ones there. Like if I'm going to take them all out, and she won't get dressed, I feel like if I dress her I'm giving in to her and if I don't dress her the little ones and I are also deprived of an outing because she just will digg her heels in and say "I don't care if we go out" or something like that.

I do, I suppose feel sorry for her, because when I think back on that first year of the twins' life and think "if someone had subjected me to that without even asking me I think I would be very resentful and uncooperative". But maybe that is the wrong way to think.

I just wish I had more ideas about how to make her enjoy being part of a big(ish) family; to foster more family feeling?

It is always good to know there are others in the same crazy situation!

You guys always make me feel better when I hit that parenting wall and give me ideas on where to go.
Thanks!
I think you are answering yourself here with why she is acting that way, and understandbly so. Kids are exhausting. I think she is taking advantage of it in many way being that she is a smart child. She probably really enjoys the control, so you have to stop giving it to her.

If she won't get dressed to go out, take her in whatever she has on. Bring along her outfit that you would like her to wear and let her know that she can put it on whenever she is ready. If she doesn't ever want to put it on, no big deal. She can stay in what she has on. Don't make that a fight and a determinent into whether you get to go out and do what you want to do.

When you stop giving her all the control, I think you will find that she will be much more at peace with your family. That isn't saying you should be authoritarian with her, but you are definitely too permissive. You need to find a happy middle. Still pick your battles wisely.

That being said, I think you should also look into her allergies. It doesn't sound like this is ALL one thing or another. kwim Good luck.

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#11 of 12 Old 08-19-2008, 01:58 AM
 
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Have you had her blood tested for lead? 5 is a little old for it, but when dd's lead was high, it coincided with the most difficult time for her. There was also a new baby then. I kept wondering if there was some underlying issue, but everyone told me she was a normal 2 yo. She would have these daily meltdowns where she HAD to do things by herself, but couldn't, esp when tired. As her lead level fell, the behavior calmed down. There is no way to know to what extent the behavior and the lead were related, but there is clear evidence that lead can cause behavior problems.
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#12 of 12 Old 08-19-2008, 12:53 PM
 
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Like if I'm going to take them all out, and she won't get dressed, I feel like if I dress her I'm giving in to her and if I don't dress her the little ones and I are also deprived of an outing because she just will digg her heels in and say "I don't care if we go out" or something like that.
This kind of jumped out at me, because my younger DD (who is three) went through stuff like this, and my response was always to accept whatever refusal was thrown at me and go anyway. "Ok, you can't get dressed by yourself. That's ok. It's no big deal to go in your pajamas. The rest of us are ready, and we're tired of waiting for your clothes, so we'll go without them." Several times, we walked DD1 to school with DD2 in her pajamas in the stroller because she would not let me get her dressed (at the age this happened, DD2 actually couldn't do it herself).

We had the same struggles with DD1 and a winter coat, and we would just tell her we were bringing the coat. We'd go outside, she'd be freezing, and she'd immediately decide she COULD put her coat on after all.

In fact, as I read your other posts, I think natural consequences seem a good way to go with a lot of things. It's hard to do, but she is indeed five, and very capable of feeding herself and peeing by herself. I'd be willing to keep her company during these activities, but hands-on help would not be an option. If she refuses to eat without you feeding her, then she'll be hungry. If she refuses to pee without your help, she'll wet her pants. Then she can either sit in wet pants, or she can decide she remembers how to change her own clothes. It seems to me that she needs to regain some confidence in her own abilities, and know that she is a big girl who can take some control of her life now.

I don't mean that to sound harsh AT ALL -- I would do all these things with a kind voice and lots of sympathy. "I'm so glad you remembered how to put your pants on by yourself! Look how nice you look!" and "Did you gobble up all those peas with no help? Holy cow, that was great!" as well as "Sweetie, I know you want me to carry you, but I can't right now. That must be frustrating, but we are a team here and I need you to help me by walking into the store by yourself. Would you carry the grocery list for me? We need to find the bananas..."

I sympathize, mama. Good luck!
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