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-   -   Almost 4yo had sudden behavior change overnight, been going on 2 or 3 weeks now. (https://www.mothering.com/forum/36-gentle-discipline/1339729-almost-4yo-had-sudden-behavior-change-overnight-been-going-2-3-weeks-now.html)

amberskyfire 12-21-2011 01:09 PM

Is it normal for a 3-4 yo to have a very sudden behavior change literally overnight? It's almost like DD hit puberty or something. She used to be an easy child, not contrary. If I asked her to do something, she was happy to do it or she just didn't mind. She was quiet and very happy. She liked to play and read and was so great with rules, even as a baby. If something was not allowed, she didn't do it.

 

In one night, her behavior changed. I thought she had somehow gotten some food dye or it was an allergy or she was sick, but no. She has not been vaccinated. She is not on the spectrum. Here are some things that she has suddenly started doing that she has never done before and I do mean it quite literally when I say that these things happen every second of the day. There are NO happy moments.

 

- CONSTANT arguing. Nothing is okay. Everything must be fought tooth and nail. Everything. "No" is her new favorite word. She's not even happy with her own decisions.

 

- Cries about everything. Even tiny things she used to ask for help with will just make her freak out. (She is gifted and normally very calm and verbal about all of her needs.)

 

- Acting crazy, stomping, squealing, screaming, shrieking for no reason at all, persistent irritating sounds, thrashing, becoming angry at nothing for seemingly no reason. We'll be perfectly fine and she will suddenly scream at the top of her lungs "Mommy, you're mean! I'm going away from you!" then will stomp to our room, slam the door and then lock me out.

 

- Logical consequences not working. "It's time to go, you have to put some shoes on." "NO. I DON'T WANT TO!" "If you don't put shoes on, we can't go." "NOOOO!!!" Then ten minutes later, she will go completely insane because we didn't go and she doesn't learn. She continues to repeat it again and again and again. There are no more logical consequences. There is only "Mommy is mean!"

 

- Time-outs are the worst thing ever. EVER. They make everything about a hundred times worse and putting her in a time out can take an entire day from sufferable to me being almost ready to drop her off at the nearest orphanage. (Okay, not really, but I think you get my point.) Time-out makes every situation worse.

 

- I'm normally against punishment of any kind, but have tried it the last few weeks with no success because I didn't know what else to do. Punishments are pretty much the same as the logical consequences and time-out. Same psychotic reaction from child, day ruined. This is every single day without fail. There are no good days, there are no breaks.

 

- Will not eat. She complains constantly about how hungry she is and eats maybe one string cheese stick's portion size of food a day. She will not eat what we are eating and she will not eat the things she asks for. I have made a rule that if she doesn't eat a meal she requests, she gets nothing else until she does, but the food will sit on the counter all day long, untouched and she will go to bed at night crying because she's so hungry and her tummy hurts, but won't eat the food. "I don't want it," is her new mantra. I really think hunger is affecting her behavior to a HUGE degree, but I can't force food down her throat. I've tried eliminating certain things like dairy and gluten, nothing in our diet has changed, nothing is artificial and she doesn't get sugar.

 

- No longer follows rules and will purposefully break rules and say things to test me. "Mommy, I'm going to go watch Dora. I know I'm not allowed to, but I'm going to do it anyway." "Mommy, I'm stomping on the kitty." "I'm going in Daddy's office. I know you said 'no,' but I want to." This is constant. All day.

 

- Acts as if constantly bored, even if I try to engage her. She walks in aimless circles around the house. She will sit and make annoying sounds specifically to bother others. She will kick things around on the floor for long periods of time instead of picking them up to play with them. She won't sit for a story or a game. If I try to get her to do something fun with me, she refuses. She can never find anything to do and getting her out of  the house isn't helping. The only things she is interested in doing are activities specifically designed and aimed toward getting into trouble and making others angry.

 

- Seems unable to hear others. If she's walking toward a busy street and I yell for her to stop, she doesn't hear me. I'll scream it several times and then grab her and she'll look at me totally surprised, completely unaware that I was trying to get through to her. I can ask her repeatedly to stop doing something, but it's as if she can't stop. "Please stop kicking the back of my seat, it hurts." And she will continue to kick for several minutes, despite my pleading with her. She becomes so focused in an activity, she sees and hears nothing else.

 

She is not in any kind of caregiver situation and no, she is not being abused or molested by anyone. She's only with me all day or I take her to play with friends for playdates, beach and playground days. These are all things she did not do at all prior to a couple of weeks ago.


Learning_Mum 12-21-2011 03:19 PM

Welcome to the 4's. They suck.


amberskyfire 12-21-2011 04:30 PM

You actually made me laugh out loud. Thanks. :) I needed that.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Learning_Mum View Post

Welcome to the 4's. They suck.



 


elizaMM 12-21-2011 09:10 PM

These are ALL things that my son has done since he was about 12 months, but certainly not with that intensity, and now that he is almost four, things are getting a lot better. (And I'm hoping so much that they continue to get better or at least don't get worse.)

 

My first thought was that you're lucky you didn't have to deal with this sooner. And while learning_mum might be right, the consistent food rejection sets off a bit of an alarm. If you have let up on the "must eat what requested or nothing" rule and she still isn't interested in anything--for days at a time? That's pretty weird. Not healthy.

 

If you are not exaggerating, I would keep looking for an explanation. Depending on how much you like her doctor and how you feel about potentially being blown off, I might go in and discuss it.


amberskyfire 12-21-2011 10:09 PM

The behavior itself doesn't worry me so much as the suddenness and intensity of it. I've seen most kids behave this way at least from time to time and it seems normal to me, but for her, it's not normal and it was so sudden. I'll keep trying things. Today wasn't so bad, strangely. It was bad, but there has been no screaming, so slightly less awful than normal.

 

I really do love our pediatrician. He's amazing and has never blown me off. He actually believes in what the mom has to say. He told me "I always ask the mother. The mom knows what's wrong with her child better than any doctor." But in this case, I have no idea. I'll take her back for maybe some blood tests and perhaps we can do a full exam to test for allergies because allergies are all I can think of. Her half sister (husband's first daughter) has a gluten intolerance which gave her constant stomach aches as a child. I'm hoping it's not something like that.


~Boudicca~ 12-22-2011 10:28 AM


nod.gif When dd1 was 4, I would have sold her for a dollar.  Most difficult year of my parenting journey by far.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Learning_Mum View Post

Welcome to the 4's. They suck.



 


OkiMom 12-22-2011 11:07 PM

Oh lordy I was about to post this very thing! I was nodding my head throughout your whole post. My 4 (almost 5) year old has done a 180 over the last few weeks. I was crying earlier today because I don't know what to do with her. No matter what I do it makes it worse, she won't listen, won't do what shes suppose to be doing etc. Im totally burned out with it all. Doesn't help my husband isn't here right now so Im pulling double duty with no downtime..

 

The food issue I do a shelf of snacks they are allowed to have anytime. In the fridge we have fruit, cold cooked veggies (like brocolli and cauliflower, things my girls won't eat uncooked), cut up veggies (things like lettuce and cucumber that my girls will eat uncooked), string cheese and sometimes bits of meat.. In the pantry we have fruit snacks, crackers, granola bars, nuts, and sometimes cookies depending if I have made any recently. They can have any of it at any time without asking. I also have oranges and bananas on the counter. My children are big eaters though so even though they have food they can have I still hear about them being hungry ALL THE TIME. I can only provide the food, they have to eat it. If you are providing food and she won't eat I don't know what you can do about it. You can't force her to eat. When I was younger I remember my mother trying to force me (literally at times) and it made me even more determined not to eat. My Dad just left the food on the counter and went about his business and I would sneak in and eat when I wanted to.. I remember wanting to be able to have the control over when I ate, not being forced to eat because someone else said I was hungry.

 

As for everything else, I don't have any advice. I was coming here to look for some answers myself.


LynnS6 12-23-2011 12:23 AM

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas......

 

I don't know if you celebrate Christmas, but my sister used to absolutely dread the whole month of December because her kids got so wound up and unmanageable. They were normally relatively spirited, but December, with its increase in sugar, holiday events, the anticipation of presents, etc. etc. often drove all of them over the edge. Is your daughter pretty sensitive? I know that my sensitive kids have a harder time than average with things like textures and tastes of foods, and things that might not send other kids over the edge (like extra sugar and anticipation of Christmas) will send them over the edge.

 

OP, have you tried putting out a snack tray where your daughter can go graze whenever she likes? The only thing that's really concerning is that she refused to eat, even if it's things she's requested, and that she's going to bed hungry. Honestly, if this were my child, I'd offer regular meals and regular snacks. I would not make snacks contingent on eating the meal or the snack she's asked for. What I would do is say "I'm not making you anything else until the next meal/snack time". But next meal/snack time would be starting fresh. I know my children would absolutely refuse to eat on sheer principle. (Strong willed + hypersensitive isn't a great combination, let me tell you.)

 

If this pattern continues after the holidays, I'd suggest a check up with the doctor just to make sure there isn't a medical cause (the not eating is the only thing that would cause me to say "see your doctor"). Then I'd get a copy of "Kids, Parents & Power Struggles" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.

 

 


amberskyfire 12-23-2011 01:50 AM

No, she's not usually sensitive, BUT, maybe you're right. It could be the excitement of Christmas. Nothing has changed around here. We have no family, nothing really going on, but we did put up decorations in the house and she is anticipating presents, so maybe that's getting her riled up. I've been silently praying Christmas will hurry up and come because I think the new stuff will distract her for a few days and I can actually think a thought.

 

I do provide snacks in the fridge for her which she can get whenever she wants. She doesn't seem to want any of them. It's like she's purposefully being contrary, as if she wants something, but refuses to eat anything available. I was able to get some food into her today with the promise of a Christmas cookie. We baked and decorated cookies today and she's not normally allowed sweets. I HATE using food/treats as a bribe, but I'm just so worried about her. I actually feel good that it got her to eat a whole meal - and a banana! Don't know what to do about tomorrow, though. Just trying to get through one day at a time right now, I guess. She wolfed that dinner down like she hadn't eaten in a week (and I guess she kind of hasn't) so it's not like she's not hungry. She looked like she was starving, not just trying to get the cookie. So now I'm left wondering why it is she seems to refuse the food even though she really wants it. I went through a phase of deep depression in my teens and I remember how I just wanted to feel MORE depressed, not better. It was a weird cycle and now I'm worried she might have some kind of depression.

 

I know she's probably fine and it's probably normal, but if it continues for much longer, we'll have a more serious discussion with the doctor about it.

 

Thank you for the help!


LynnS6 12-23-2011 11:03 AM

If it were me, I'd bribe with the cookie for the next few days. You're trying to change a specific behavior and overcome a short-term pattern of not eating. There's also a natural end: Once the Christmas cookies are gone, they're gone.

 

I'm wondering if she has a bit of low blood sugar -- a friend's daughter has this and once she gets too hungry, she actually has a really hard time eating. She's pretty slender to begin with and so going through periods of not eating is hard. Mornings are particularly hard - they have to give her a little juice soon upon waking so she doesn't get stomach cramps.

 

Or, it could just be a 4 year old power struggle. 4s are big on that.


amberskyfire 12-23-2011 12:25 PM

Oh, maybe! I get low blood sugar as well and if I miss a meal, I stop being hungry and lose my appetite. Maybe it's a similar thing. Next meal she has with the bribe, I'll try to get her to snack sooner afterward and see if it helps.


CarenK 12-23-2011 09:03 PM

My DD has started the terrible 4's too but she actually just turned 5... ahhhh


amberskyfire 12-24-2011 12:29 AM

Okay, today was a little better. I was actually able to cope. I tried giving her some novelty (i.e.: total junk) foods to see if it would make her eat and it worked. I figured junk was better than nothing at all. She got a Lunchables for lunch and ate the whole thing. Must have been the colorful package. For dinner, I bought her chicken nuggets from McDonalds which she scarfed down and then asked for more food (YES!). It really did help her mood. I'm not doing the junk food thing again so soon, but it was something and something is better than nothing after so long.

 

After getting dressed today, she took off all of her clothes and wanted to put on footie pajamas (to go to town to do errands. In the RAIN.) which I forbade her to do. I told her to put her old clothes back on and was totally floored when she actually did it!

 

*sigh* One day at a time. One day at a time.


mamazee 12-24-2011 08:03 AM

There comes an age, often around 3.5, where kids decide they want autonomy, and they will fight tooth and nail, creating trillions of power struggles, in an attempt to get that autonomy. My advice is to give autonomy wherever possible, and save power struggles for those things that are really really important. If you've fought over what clothes to wear and which cup to drink out of and where to put her books and a dozen other things, when it comes to the car seat or something really big you'll be worn out from the little fights and that one will be more difficult. Let her wear what she wants, drink out of what she wants, and all that, so when the car seat comes up you have saved your strength and can handle it without hopefully getting too upset.

 

Sometimes the more autonomy they have, the less they have to fight for it, too. My older one liked being given bits of responsbility too, like little jobs to do that made her feel grown up.


amberskyfire 12-24-2011 01:04 PM

Yup, I've been raising her that way from the start, following Dr. Sears' advice. He says "let them win all the little battles and they'll let you win all the big ones." My family has been pretty shocked at my leniency, actually, and blame me for the current problems, saying I've always "spoiled" her. :( I guess you just can't win sometimes! Her problem right now isn't little issues. I don't care about those. It's big issues only - like stomping on the cat.


Anntrendy 02-05-2013 03:34 PM

I have the same experience with my 5 year old. About 4 weeks ago just after the New Year everything changed.  Her behaviour changed overnight after taking antibiotics to treat a tummy bug.  I have wondered if the change in behaviour was as a result of taking the antibiotics but it has been 5 weeks.  It's been 2 years or so since your experience, how are things? My daughter is exhibiting everything you mentioned in the post. Including laughing and smiling without reason. I actually laughed out loud whilst reading your posting because I could really visualize what you were writing.

 

She has seen a paediatrician and will be going again tomorrow.  The do not seem to know what is the matter. 

 

I am hoping everything is fine with you and your daughter now.  What did you do? 


Sabijo 02-06-2013 01:52 PM

I read an article in a Parents magazine about a similar situation--sudden and extreme changes in a child's behavior, overnight. It ended up being PANDAS--which was OCD behavior after being exposed to strep throat bacteria. Here is a link to the article. Good luck!

 

http://www.parents.com/kids/health/other-health-issues/pandas-syndrome/
 


bouncymummy 02-07-2013 06:32 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by OkiMom View Post

 

The food issue I do a shelf of snacks they are allowed to have anytime. In the fridge we have fruit, cold cooked veggies (like brocolli and cauliflower, things my girls won't eat uncooked), cut up veggies (things like lettuce and cucumber that my girls will eat uncooked), string cheese and sometimes bits of meat.. In the pantry we have fruit snacks, crackers, granola bars, nuts, and sometimes cookies depending if I have made any recently. They can have any of it at any time without asking. I also have oranges and bananas on the counter. My children are big eaters though so even though they have food they can have I still hear about them being hungry ALL THE TIME. I can only provide the food, they have to eat it. If you are providing food and she won't eat I don't know what you can do about it. You can't force her to eat. When I was younger I remember my mother trying to force me (literally at times) and it made me even more determined not to eat. My Dad just left the food on the counter and went about his business and I would sneak in and eat when I wanted to.. I remember wanting to be able to have the control over when I ate, not being forced to eat because someone else said I was hungry.

 

As for everything else, I don't have any advice. I was coming here to look for some answers myself.

 

 

My son is 4 next week and the last few weeks have been awful; very similar to what the original poster described.  I love this idea for food as we have also been struggling with his refusal to eat what he's asked for, and demanding soda crackers and milk as his only snacks. 

 

I am trying so hard to be patient and gentle, but oh lordy, I wasn't ready for teenage drama in the preschool years.


Dactyl 06-12-2013 09:27 PM

Wondering if this ever resolved? My daughter has PANDAS. If nothing resolved yet, I would definitely make sure infection is not the culprit. I realize this has been a year but curious about the outcome of your struggles!

amberskyfire 06-14-2013 01:41 AM

Aloha! Yes, it was resolved. I think I put more info about it in a previous post in this thread. She did not have an infection, but it's good to know that that's a possibility!



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