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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We were at the park with AP families today. DD (4.5) seemed content the whole time (we took turns playing with her). Right as we were leaving, she started yelling at a younger child (almost 3). The younger child had told my daughter that one of the bouncy things that one can sit on was hers and that DD could not use it (there were more bouncy things there).

DD immediately starting screaming at this little girl, telling her that she was bad and that she would never play with her again. DD went on this way as we dragged her (not physically) off.

When we got home, DD wrote a letter to this girl but won't show us what it says.

DD has been having more tantrums lately (more than she's ever had, I would guess). She got a lot of sleep last night, we offered her food/water throughout the picnic . . .

How would you have handled the situation? Since these outbursts have been happening, I get nervous taking her out. She USED to be fine to go out with . . .when issues came up before we could talk about them. Now it's just from 0 to 60 (no screaming to screaming) in an instant.

So, I am interested in what your thoughts are as to (1) what could be going on in general with her (what 4 y.o.s go through) and (2) in the moment, what would you have done? In other words, even though I may understand/try to prevent these moments, if it doesn't work . . .what do I do?????
 

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In the moment: connection with her (dd 4.5) emotional experience, validation of the ugly feelings, facilitation to observe the impact of her actions, seeking to understand the underlying need (HALT?). Concurrently, hoping that the mother of the other child is supporting her (the 3 y/o) and helping her to understand that dd 4.5 is probably tired, angry, hungry or overstimulated (not "mean"). Something along the lines of "Wow! DD you sound really angry about the bouncy thing. You want to be able to use it too?! You seem to be upset that the 3 y/o doesn't want you to use that bouncy thing?" And you probably will get a loud "YES! I want to use the bouncy thing!!"

I find that connecting with our son's experience allows him to move through the emotion rather than feeling that he must hold on to his anger and defend his position/"rights"/"fairness". (I am still working on remembering validation with dh. I just want to *explain* the other pov instead.
) We don't use the vocabulary of rights and fairness, but instead try to find what does each person need. So, I'd also be validating her 'You believe it is bad ("unfair, mean, hateful", whatever descriptive word SHE used) not to want you to use the bouncy thing?' I generally get something like 'well, I want to use it too. I don't want to wait. She can't use it all the time.' And again I try to support the strength of the emotion through *hearing* (not agreeing, but fully listening) to ds's perspective. Saying 'I understand, I see, Oh!, Hmmm, that must hurt, that sounds upseting, that sounds scary/sad/hard, do you feel angry/mad/tired/hungry?' etc., This can be done with or without an audience, but I find it is much harder when there are other parents watching though.


And THEN, after connecting, I'd describe the observations that you see in 3 y/o's actions: 'The 3 y/o sounds like she isn't ready to share the bouncy thing. She is holding tightly to the bouncy thing. Do you think that she looks ready to share? What can we do to work this out? Do you want to try another bouncy thing? Do you want to make sand castles with mama?, etc.' If there is an inability to see another's pov, I usually find that is when we have hit overload and ds's own needs are too strong to empathize with someone else's. So, trying to redirect toward meeting the underlying needs (again after connecting FIRST) is often the easiest next step. And then discuss the situation later when everyone is calmer. 'Wow! You sound so upset. Do you think that you might be getting tired? I know I have a tough time when I get tired. Do you want to come over and get a snack and sit with me?'

Anyway, this may be all the things that you tried. But, this is what I try to do.

HTH, Pat
 

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I noticed more volitile outbursts from my kids at this age too. It seems to be a hallmark of the stage. Part of it is an increased awareness of things in the world around them -- things like "unfairness" especially. They don't yet know how to internalize and cope with their new discoveries and realizations. Its very uncomfortable to be suddenly aware that life is not fair all the time, and not know how to process that. Her emotional maturity has yet to catch up to her new cognitive abilities. Does that make sense? I really believe that it will only be a matter of months until she is on more of even keel again.

I would empathize with the experience, as Pat suggested. And when she is past the moment of extreme frustration, take some time to talk about the effect her strong language may have on people. For instance, ask her if it might have scared the other child a little. Talk with her about words to use for next time that might be "work better for fixing the problem." If she can generate some words, or if she is receptive to suggestions, then I would have her role play the scenerio again and use different words. The process of role playing helps "fix" the words in her mind and they will be more readily available next time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Pat, I like what you said and the step-by-step manner in which you explained it. It makes sense to me.

MD, you mentioned before (when I said DD was having outbursts) that you noticed a link to these and cognitive leaps. So, this fits into what you said in terms of the "fairness" (or lack thereof).

To Pat and MD- When DD is "in the moment" she's loud, she's yelling, and she isn't listening. She doesn't want to have a conversation-- she wants to yell. What do I do? How do I connect? Even if "I" can take it, I don't want others (like the 3 yo) to have to. (The 3 yo's mom wasn't sure what to do-- I felt like we were all standing around looking helpless. I did apologize to the girl.)

MD, I have tried roleplaying but here's what happens. DD usually chooses to be the one NOT yelling. When I yell (acting like her) then she just gives in . . .in this case, she'd probably act out the part of the 3 yo letting me (her) have a turn. When she is herself, she usually has a hard time (****) acting out alternatives. But, I will try-- I did not this time!!!
 

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Well, usually I have them roll play the "new" way to speak/behave. Not reenact the same scene. You don't want her to practise a negative behavior. You want her to practise a new way of expressing herself so that it comes more easily the next time. Its as simple as saying a single sentence out loud.
 
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