My 3 year old's behavior scares me - Mothering Forums
 
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#1 of 15 Old 02-05-2007, 01:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Right before she turned 2, the tantrums began.They weren't so bad then, because I could easily redirect her and they wouldn't last.

As time went on, redirection stopped working, so we did time outs where we sit with her and talk, and once we were done we would get up. That worked for awhile.

Since she got closer to 3 and turned 3, her behavior has become so out of control, I don't know what to do. It even causes dh and I to argue and fight because we are at our wits end.

We have not spanked her. I cry because I don't know my daughter anymore. I have no idea where this behavior comes from and it's hurting our family so much. :' (

She will:

*Kick
*scratch, claw (dh and I have wounds where she drew blood from it)
*Hit, slap, pinch
*scream (scream for what she wants to eat, scream for help, scream if she can't have her way, etc)
*throws toys
*refuses to pick up even when we help and sing a song together
*tries to break our things ie: jewelry of mine, dh's dvd or cds, vase, figurines
*refuses to walk along side of me or hold hands, bolts into parking lot
*refuses to go to time out without a big physical fight (kicking clawing scratching)
*refuses to even try going on the potty (will scream and say she wants her dipey on or yanks it off and throws a dirty dipe in the sink)
*EVERYTHING and I mean everything is a battle
*if she sees an opportunity to tear something up she will
*going to public places is a thing of the past, especially out to eat
**We have been kicked out of our apartment complex due to her screaming. We had neighbors petition against us. Now we must live with in laws until this is under control.
*she is jealous of dh and I and will not let us talk at all. If we try to hold a conversation she will get in the middle and yell, talk loudly, or scream. Sometimes physically getting right in between us pushing each other away.

I'm going to say that I'm afraid. I have zero money to hire a therapist. We had her evaluated and they said she had verbal skills of a 3 1/2 - 4 year old. That she was very receptive and intelligent.
The psychiatrist claims she has ODD, oppositional defiant disorder and want to put her on meds. I refuse the meds.

I'm always trying to do crafts with her - it seems to help sometimes
I never leave her alone in time out but I have to soon or I get clawed up
I let her jump, run, and do what she can to burn off energy
I try not to power struggle but she is a negotiator with screaming
We work on talking vs screaming
We have tried time outs but she kicks, screams, scratches, claws
Redirection does not work
Taking a toy or priviledge to watch a show does not work
We do not allow her any junk foods or dyes

I'm at the end of the rope and so is dh. We have been under so much stress from her behavior we have snapped at each other, and when we do our daughter laughs at it.
What has happened to my baby!!
Please tell me I'm not the only one in the world with these problems. I feel so alone.

Thank you & sorry this is so long-
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#2 of 15 Old 02-05-2007, 02:34 PM
 
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Everything is a battle only if you engage.

The best thing that worked for me - though not all the time - was to not engage.

Let her scream. If she also hits, bites, and tries to break things while she screams, you could childproof her room and put her there. I would not leave her alone - stay with her. If she tries to kick, bite, etc., defensive moves only (as in, move away, don't restrain).

Three is very difficult...they are trying to be big kids but in lots of ways they are still babies. Especially when they have vocabularies beyond their years.

She is still a baby, no matter how well developed her vocabulary is. I doubt very seriously she has ODD...honestly, she just sounds 3 to me!

You don't say what causes most of her screaming/tantrums. Is it any particular thing? Do you see a pattern?

With the cleaning up - just do it yourself, don't complain about it, don't force her to help. My DD went through this same thing. the more you force it, the less likely she will be to do it.

As for potty learning, just drop it. When she is ready, she'll try.

I hope some of that helped. You are SO not alone!


I would give up the time outs if at all possible.

A writer/runner/thinker/wife with two daughters (11/02 and 8/05), one dog, three cats, seven fish, and a partridge in a pear tree... in Vermont.
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#3 of 15 Old 02-05-2007, 03:00 PM
 
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I don't really have any REAL advice. But, I can see how this would scare you. I would be frightened too.

I also understand about not having money.

My first thought is, that when she is having a time out or tantrum, leave her alone. Stop sitting with her. SHe really may just need to be alone. Parents think they need to help their kids through this, when the child really just needs some time alone. Everybody needs privacy sometimes.

Stop with the power struggles. Sit down and think of what is non negotiable. Then that is just IT, she can scream, and you will be totally supportive of her feelings. But, she still wont get what she wants.

If it is not so important.... think about it first before saying no. Try not to say no as much as you can.

I really hope someone here has a magic trick for you. I hate to see families going through this. It is so very stressfull, and this is not what you were expecting when you imagined your little family.

Keep reading here as much as you can. You will learn new things that you hadn't thought of, even if they aren't in this thread. There is so much good advice.
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#4 of 15 Old 02-05-2007, 03:40 PM
 
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My suggestions are not about discipline, because it sounds like you are experiencing something beyond a discipline problem.

You could get her evaluated through your local public school. Early intervention services are required by law. If she does have a diagnosable emotional disturbance, she would be eligible for social services through the school for free. Even if she doesn't qualify, the special services team might know where to find less expensive therapists.

I see you are avoiding dyes, etc. But have you further expored the food connection? Allergies or sensitivities to chemicals in certain foods can cause behavior issues. My DS used to be oppositional and throw tantrums often. He now rarely acts this way, unless he's eaten something he's allergic to.

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#5 of 15 Old 02-05-2007, 04:21 PM
 
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Food issues is the first place I would start.

Grapes and dairy would make my kid act like that. Without those foods in his system? Night and DAY! Agreeable, reasonable, kind, considerate.

Check out Feingold diet and salicylates (I always spell that wrong). Pat talks about her kid and high fructose corn syrup, too. Try a food/behavior journal--where you keep track of what your child ate that day and any behavior trends.

Some books:

Is this Your Child? --Doris Rapp? is author

Raising your Spirited Child--Kurcinka is author

The Explosive Child--?? author

Good luck! Keep posting specifics for brainstorming if that feels helpful!
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#6 of 15 Old 02-05-2007, 04:21 PM
 
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Hi,

I don't think I have much advice on day to day stuff either. I second the call to Early Intervention. It's free and might be a real help.

Several books to look at (your library should have them or be able to get them for you):
Kids, Parents and Power Struggles by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka (she's got a lot of experience in this area!)

I'd also recommend: The Out of Sync Child -- sometimes these oppositional kinds of things result from sensory overload -- and a child with this needs different treatment. The screaming in particular is what makes me suspect this, though I could be way off.

Practically speaking I would:
1. Quit trying to potty train. Trust that she will not go to Kindergarten in diapers. My nephew (also a very strong willed child) REFUSED to potty train until he was about 4. Then, overnight, he decided not to wear diapers, andhe was trained. End of story. Right now, this is just one battle too many for you. Ditto for the picking up, ditto for going out to eat.

2. Stop time outs (they aren't working, they're just getting you hurt). Instead, work on finding a 'calming down'p spot. Don't try to enforce an amount of time. Talk to her about what helps her calm down, and maybe have her help set it up (at a time when she's not upset). Maybe a corner of her room with pillows and stuffed animals (soft things that she can't hurt you with if she throws them.) When she starts to hurt you, walk away. Tell her you'll be glad to cuddle, but you don't want to be hurt. It's a natural consequence of hurting someone that they don't want to be with you. I don't view this as love withdrawal, it's safety. You don't have to go far, just out of harms way.

3. When she has a tantrum, sit close by, but do not try to talk her out of it. Tell her you're there if she needs it, but don't try to hold her, talk to her, etc. Our ds, when he was like this, simply got worse when we tried to talk to him or touch him. (He's my child with sensory issues.) It was simply too much stimulation. AFTER he'd gotten a bit out of his system, then he was ready for a cuddle.

4. Childproof to the maxmium. Again. And again. Prevention is really your best bet.

5. Take her OUTSIDE for AN HOUR or two EVERY MORNING. And every afternoon. Make sure she gets LOTS and LOTS of physical activity. Crafts are great, but they aren't physical enough for a lot of kids. Do crafts after you come in.

6. Whisper when she screams. She can't hear you if you whisper and she's screaming.

Good luck! It sounds like things are really tough and stressful for you right now, and dd is not making them any easier. You will get through this.

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#7 of 15 Old 02-05-2007, 04:22 PM
 
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Hugs to you. I know you'll find great advice on here (you've already gotten a few posts).

I don't have a lot of offer except to suggest go find a copy of Kids are Worth It. Read it as fast as you can.

I think it will help you deal with her tantrums and help you move away from time outs (obviously, that's not working). I also think it will help you and dh stay on the same page.

I've read it and dh is about to. It is helping us to replace the tools in our parenting toolbox that aren't working with ones that do. The biggest for us is replacing time outs -- we didn't use them a lot but when we did it didn't work that well. The book really helped me understand the difference between discipline and punishment. I don't like punishing - I want to discipline, and it's given me some great ways to guide my son so that he takes responsiblity for his own actions.

Best wishes and let us know how it's going.
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#8 of 15 Old 02-05-2007, 04:29 PM
 
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COuld she be tired? even a little bit?
My dd is 4 and can have the worst tantrums I have ever heard of. She is not violent like your dd, but can scream for hours.
I have realized over the months and years, that if she is tired, things are a lot worse. FOr years, she was not a good sleeper at all. But recently, if I put her to bed by 7, she sleeps much better and is much happier during the day.
Also, I would look into food sensitivities...it could really make your dd uncomfortable and lead to behavior problems.

I would skip the meds too-that seems a bit excessive right now..you need to find out why she is acting out so much. and then address it.
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#9 of 15 Old 02-05-2007, 04:32 PM
 
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mimim offered some great advice. the school system is a great place to start.

i would also highly recommend the book Talking So Your Kids Will Listen, and Listening So Your Kids Will Talk. when i remember to relate to DD from what i read in that book, it's amazing the result.

in a nutshell, the basic advice is to acknowledge her feelings - so, she throws a tantrum because she doesn't want to take a bath, for example. you say something like "i can see you're really upset about taking a bath." then pause and see if she responds. you'd be amazed at how often this stops a fit in its tracks, and she might just surprise you and start telling you why she's upset about it. but if she doesn't respond, help her find the words... "would you rather have a shower?" or "would you like to play for a few more minutes with your toys first?" or whatever you think might be the cause of her anger/anxiety - first acknowledge that the situation has upset her, then help her verbalize what she wants/needs.

another great tip was to hand them a piece of paper and a crayon after acknowledging she's upset, and ask her to "show you how upset she is" - as she scribbles, draws, encourage her to let her feelings out through her drawing. so rather than trying to redirect her to a new activity, try to give her a more healthy outlet for her anger than biting/scratching/hitting. let her know it's OK to be angry, and it's OK to let it out - in a constructive way.

i know for us sometimes transitions are triggers for tantrums. i always have to give DD fair warning that we are going to soon need to stop doing what we're doing and do something else. and multiple times prior to the change. this really helps her absorb that we're going to be doing something different, and helps her prepare herself for that. like "ok, in ten minutes we're going to need to put the toys away and sit down for lunch." a few minutes later... "ok, remember, in a few minutes it'll be time to stop playing and eat." a few minutes later "ok, we need to finish up "x" and come sit at the table." a minute later "alrighty, time to put your toy down and eat." if i spring it on her all at once, she can get really upset sometimes.
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#10 of 15 Old 02-05-2007, 04:40 PM
 
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Just wanted to add this website:
http://www.aacap.org/page.ww?section...fiant+Disorder

What I read there makes me think that the psychologist/psychiatrist you consulted isn't up on the most current treatments. This (published by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry - so they're no strangers to meds), claims that meds are a LAST RESORT, and only when in combination with OTHER DISORDERS.

So, I would DEFINITELY contact your local early intervention. In addition, a lot of schools offer parenting classes (free in our district) that might give you a group of people to talk to about issues wiht your daughter.

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#11 of 15 Old 02-05-2007, 09:12 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mimim View Post
My suggestions are not about discipline, because it sounds like you are experiencing something beyond a discipline problem.

You could get her evaluated through your local public school. Early intervention services are required by law. If she does have a diagnosable emotional disturbance, she would be eligible for social services through the school for free. Even if she doesn't qualify, the special services team might know where to find less expensive therapists.

I see you are avoiding dyes, etc. But have you further expored the food connection? Allergies or sensitivities to chemicals in certain foods can cause behavior issues. My DS used to be oppositional and throw tantrums often. He now rarely acts this way, unless he's eaten something he's allergic to.
You should definately speak to your local school district about ABA therapy. I wish I had more comforting words for you.....hangh in there!!
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#12 of 15 Old 02-05-2007, 09:39 PM
 
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Three year old are notoriously hard. I know mine was.

First, I agree with the food issues. I would do the elimination diet in Is This Your Child? Be prepared to eat a lot of chicken (or beans) and rice for a while, but if it gives you answers, it will be worth it. Dairy made my son a terrorist when he was that age. No dairy, and he is a different kid.

Second, I think that Sleepless in America and Raising Your Spirited Child (both by Kurchinka) are things to read while you are in the middle of the elimination diet. Start putting those actions into practice, regardless of food outcome. We recently did a phone consult with her that was really helpful as well (though a little pricey).

If after a month without any offending foods and the techniques from Raising Your Spirited Child are not panning out:

Third, find a new psychiatrist. ODD in a three year old? Maybe, but not likely.

Hard kids are so hard on a marriage. Everyone wants to fix the problem immediately and the constant parent-child battles make it hard to maintain an environment for romance.

I send you my best. I know how hard it is.
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#13 of 15 Old 02-05-2007, 09:59 PM
 
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Thirding the advice about sleep and food issues......my dd has a very dramatic behavior reaction to some foods/dyes. It is unreal. I don't think my husband believed it was that important, til she ate one of the offending items and for the next few hours she was out of control. He said it was like she couldn't even see him.
Also, it sounds to me like she is overtired. Get the Kurcinka book already mentioned "Sleepless in America."
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#14 of 15 Old 02-05-2007, 11:32 PM
 
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You are not alone! Three year old behavior can really be scary and overwhelming. My second dd used to scream so often and so loudly for so long that our neighbors stopped ttc because they didn't think they could handle parenting a child like her.

I see that you've gotten a lot of book recommendations, but for your fairly severe situation, I'd recommend: The Explosive Child--A new approach for understanding and parenting easily frustrated, chronically inflexible children by Ross W. Greene. It helped me like my child again, and prevented our battles.

s to you and your baby!
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#15 of 15 Old 02-06-2007, 12:17 AM
 
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I have been thinking about your post, and I want to make sure you understand that you are really not alone and these behaviors are not necessarily ODD. If you read the ODD link that PP gave, almost every three year old could be diagnosed at one time or another. I can't make it clear enough, three year olds are hard.

My three year old was all of these things, and it was a ton of work to get us back to good. Four has been better, though not a bed of roses. Lots and lots of work, but totally worth it.

I did notice that you mentioned that you had to move. If your DD in anyway felt that was her fault, that is a big burden for a little person to carry. Moving is hard enough at that age, and it could easily produce a lot a boundary testing behaviors to see what is really still the same. Living with grandparents who probably have different ideas about parenting could also make things harder on her. She has had a lot of upheaval, which could be the cause of the behavior.

Please be gentle with your DD and yourself. This is not easy for anyone. I just wanted to make sure you felt supported.
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