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two issues-- please help!

554 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  USAmma
Issue number 1: my 5yo is talking back a LOT and it's getting worse and worse. She yells at us, has called dh "stupid" and says she doesn't love him. With me she just says "no I'm not going to do it!" if I ask her gently to do anything at all. She's more in it for the fight than caring what the issue is. She yells all day long at me and dh. It's extremely disrespectful and we try to remain calm and tell her that hurts our feelings and she says she doesn't care.

Issue #2: my 2yo has special needs and she has always needed more attention and effort. It's just a fact of life in our house. I spend all of 2yo's nap time with dd1 to make her feel important and special. I treat 2yo like a normal 2yo and don't baby her or give her preferencial treatment except for her specific issues. I give them both a lot of affection. Today in the ped's office 2yo was getting a weigh in and 5yo was fighting with 2yo about some toys that 2yo brought with her. She grabbed it from 2yo's hand and I told her to give it back several times and she started mouthing off loudly to me. It was embarrassing to show how ill behaved she was in front of the other people, because she is usually very well behaved. Finally she shouted, "You love Nitara more than you love me!" It broke my heart. I took her into my lap and hugged her and talked to her, but now I wonder if this has been in the back of her head and she's mouthing off for that reason.

Any suggestions? I am reading Siblings W/out Rivalry right now but so far most of it is not really that useful to us. They are so young and my 2yo doesn't play an equal role to my 5yo. Things are not always fair, and my 2yo won't respond to most of the suggestions in the book even if 5yo does.
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First off, its a rule for me never to bring both my kids to a dr's apt. that is for just one of them. The other child *always* acts up and demands attention. EVERYTIME it has been a complete disaster. And I have mama-friends who have noticed the same thing. So I am SURE that your ped's office staff have seen this dynamic a million times, and if I were you I would not waste precious energy feeling embarassed by something *so typical.* And next time someone needs to go to the dr. -- I'd look for a sitter for the other one if you can.

Secondly, I'm getting a lot of mouthing off from my 5 yo. too so I'm wondering if its partly the age. I tend to get, "You are an awful mother!" And "Bad mommy!" And trust me, these are not phrases he hears from us in any way shape or form. It *is* very disturbing. I tend to work on helping him rephrase to be specific about his feelings. Rather than lashing out -- to tell me exactly what the problem is or what his feelings are, and I have to make a real effort to listen.

It sounds to me like you are really handling it well, and interacting in positive ways. I think some kids are just more work than others at particular ages.
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My 4.5 year old dd has been very defiant lately as well. I have really been struggling with it...lots of "No's" and refusals to do things. I have been reading, "Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline" by Becky Bailey and it is helping immensly. My particular issues were parenting too passively (I was "asking" my daughter to do things in a very unclear way, always ending in "Okay?", but really meaning that I wanted her to do it.) Since I have been communicating more assertively and clearly, she has been much more likely to do what I've asked the first time I ask it (!) That's just my issue and certainly may not be yours. Also, I've learned now to reframe my language with her to always assume a positive intent in her actions. This is really hard for me, but very effective. Things are getting much better around here.

I recommend this resource if you are a bookish sort and/or if you haven't already read it. I have also read "Siblings Without Rivarly" and I found it good, but not so applicable to our situation as well. Yet.
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I think you're right that DD 5 yo is responding to jealousy, or feeling left out, or feeling somehow inadequate, due to DD 2 yo. When she says she doesn't love DH, I wonder if she doesn't really mean, "YOU don't love ME" but that thought is just a little too scary to put to words. Maybe on some level she is feeling rejected? It doesn't always make sense, how they interpret these things, when it looks to us like they are getting equal attention, etc but somehow she might be zooming in on one particular way you interact with DD 2yo that you don't do with her, and somehow that means to her you don't love her as much. Sorry I'm unable to formulate this coherently. Need coffee.

I wonder if it would be possible to have some lengthy one-on-one time with DH a couple evenings a week, like DH and DD 5yo going out of the house to someplace special, walk in the park, or climb on McDonald's tubes or something. Or vice versa, maybe some one-on-one time with you as well outside of the house.

In working with troubled kids, I found that taking them out singly, and completely devoting my attention to them (not in an aggressive manner but in a passive manner, its hard to explain) would calm them within seconds. We would go outside, and I would follow, watching her actions, stating gently and lovingly what I saw her looking at, such as, "Oh, you see a kitty! Do you want to pet the kitty?" "You found a stick!" That is, just standing back and commenting, trying to be as accepting and non-judgemental as possible, not correcting inappropriate behavior, just ignoring it for the moment. Not forcing a hug but being open to giving her one if it looked like that was what she wanted. Not forcing interaction but watching carefully for signs of how she would like interaction, how I could be loving while completely respecting her conflicting boundaries which could change in a second and I needed to change with them. Letting her bang the stick on the trash can until she was done with it, or throw rocks at the birds (fortunately she never hit them).

COFFEE maybe later I can better describe what I am trying to say.
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I agree that Siblings without Rivalry is pretty useless when one child is pre-verbal and the ages are such that "working out a solution between them" is just not going to happen.

I don't respond to inappropriate tones of voice. For my 3 YO, I will say one time "I will talk/listen when you speak in a pleasant tone". For my 6 YO, I don't even do that. Then I completely ignore any request (well, short of "its bleeding" or "snake") until it is phrases appropriately. At the same time, I make it a point of ALWAYS responding to a properly spoken request, even when I'm in the middle of something. Though the response is sometimes "I'm in the bathroom and I'll be right there". I will also say "thank you for such a nice voice" or some such when appropriate.

The sibling issue I can't help with because mine are frequently at each other as well. You aren't alone in that!
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Thank you for your suggestions and input. I have made sure to respond to my 5yo and to take her aside several times today to talk to her or ask her questions about her feelings with things, be more playful with her. I hope to spend some one on one time with her this weekend doing big girl things. I painted her nails today. She did seem a little bit less angry today and more happy and cooperative, so maybe she just needs that extra attention here and there. I will go to the library this weekend and get that book Easy to Love . . . . I have checked out Kids are Worth It but have not started it yet. So many books, so little time.
Today has gone great so far! I spent part of the morning outside kicking balls around with the kids. I have tried to make comments on things I notice about 5yo or things she's doing. Like asking what the name of her stuffed animal is, or pointing out that the tree has new buds. Just little ways of giving my attention. She is so much better today. So much more helpful and calm and happy.
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