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Hello all you lovely and wise people, some advice is needed please!
Our dd1 (4) is really struggling. Been at home 14 weeks so honeymoon period is over and although she can be so kind and generous she also has some issues which we think we need help with.
1. Sharing, I know normal 4 yr olds don't like to share however she is a collector and will wrestle toys off other children, even when she wasn't playing with them, shouting MINE at the top of her voice and then if she succeeds will then go onto to have an almighty pile of toys which she proceeds to lie all over, arms outstretched to protect her stash. This has happened at our house, play dates houses and yesterday there was rubber ring incident at the water park, she wrestled it off a small child and pushed said small child down the slide. Small childs parents not impressed. DD1 had an almighty meltdown when she was removed from the situation. All we could do was sit with her giving her a cuddle whilst she was having this paddy.
2. Hyper vigilance, she cannot enjoy one activity. She is always looking to see what DD2 has or is doing and wants to have or do that. For example, Daddy says DD1 wanna come on the trampoline? She says no, he then says to DD2 wanna come on the trampoline? dD2 says yes, which sends DD1 into meltdown mode shouting me me and running to get on trampoline first. If Daddy says I asked you and you said no so going on with DD2, wait 5 mins then you can come on with me, a huge paddy erupts!
3. Not getting her own way on anything and everything results in paddy mode, hitting herself and loud angry screaming. We alternate between trying to hold her until she calms down and ignoring. Today I did the holding and it lasted nearly an hour of her fighting me, DH came in and said this isn't working, do you think you should change tact? Maybe I should have but I feel that giving in at this point would show her she can get her own way. Eventually she calmed and sobbed then just sat cuddling me. I said we can go downstairs now, she said no she just wanted to sit and cuddle.
Apologies for the super long post, please can I have some tips as we are getting things wrong.
One thing that strikes me is that perhaps she is over stimulated. Perhaps you could limit the amount of toys, postpone play dates, keep her at home with simple activities for another few months.
Just a thought.
Much much sympathy and empathy from me
Some separate but connected things, as you've described them:
1. Possessions/sharing - I'm wondering whether she knows how to play. Depending on early experience, it's quite possible she is starting at the very beginning of learning how to play, and so will be operating at a much younger level than her age. It might help to model/mirror in your play with her, for example setting out two identical things, one for you and one for her (i.e. a lump of play dough, a puzzle, a car) and quietly narrate how you play with it. You might be able to model sharing the toy between you and DH, if she'll tolerate that. We're making slow progress but it's taking a LOT of repetition.
2. Hyper-vigilance. Utterly exhausting for LO and for you. (Can you hear my pain?!) What works for us: tightly controlled environment i.e. not too many places, very predictable routine, lots of narrating and explaining. In the example you give, I wonder whether she is not able to handle having choices? Emotionally, she may be too young for that yet. My LO feels more secure when she knows what's happening, so if another child comes to play, I might say "Right my LO, your friend X is going to play with this toy for five minutes (using egg-timer) and then it will be your turn for five minutes. We can do Y together while we wait." We also use theraplay games to help LO gradually learn to accept my control, and feel safe with it.
we still had a whopping fifteen minute screaming fit during our last playdate
3. The screaming/hitting. I think it's very hard to do anything other than hold when there's a danger of them hurting themselves. When LO was smaller, I would hold, like you, for as long as it took. Now, I tend to sit LO on my lap facing me and let her scream it out. I gently hold her hands if she's hitting herself. I take the view that she is emotionally flooded and out of control at that point, so reasoning with her is pointless! But I still talk, as calmly as I can, trusting that my voice gets through in the end. I just talk rubbish until I sense her listening, and then I start talking about how LO might be feeling, because this is gradually giving her the words to express what's going on.
Sorry that was a long rambling answer but I hope something helps!
Ah I recognise lots of this behaviour! Our lo is also 4 and seems to have no as his initial response to anything so I recognise the trampoline scenario. Today he refused to say goodbye to my mum then cried when she went to leave so I held him up to kiss her and he kicked her. Then screamed and cried when she left without a kiss. I would have probably dealt with it like you. I sometimes wonder if it's about control but he needs to give the control over as he can't handle it. He also really struggles with sharing toys with children his age, though manages well with little kids. We have found a timer to be effective so it isn't sharing, it's turn taking. He also can't deal with choices - always ends up with many changed minds and usually a meltdown so we explain what will happen many times and he is calmer. Just beginning to give very small choices e.g. cake or biscuit? Even then he will change his mind half way through but is beginning to learn to trust himself to make a choice. We also have the meltdowns but not hitting self. I tend to put him somewhere quiet and ignore until he is calmer. Sometimes a complete change of scene e.g. go in bath or shower helps. Sometimes it feels like he just needs to scream some days and is happier and more relaxed afterwards when it is clear we are in control, not him. It can go on for ages but I think is a big release of frustration.
Not sure if any of this helps, and we are still feeling our way with our lo. I will say it is really early days for you and if I look back to our lo after 14 weeks he is so much happier and more stable now, so hang in there, keep consistent and it will improve! Good luck.
Gabsdot ... I agree with over stimulation, we try to limit what she has and we have maybe 1 play date a week., but maybe that's too much as we do notice that a few days at home with just me and DD2 means she is a completely different child, lovely and happy.
BadFairy... She doesn't know how to play, I have to set up a tea party for her and sister and model it, the same with playing shops and restaurants!!
I think you are right about choices as this also leads to meltdowns. I'm interested in theraplay, where have you got the games from please?
Thank you both for your comments xx
You don't need special stuff to do theraplay games (hooray! just things you'll have around like a blanket, a cotton wool ball, some hand lotion, etc.) We are learning ours as part of post-adoption support with a therapist, but I have also ordered a theraplay resource book from Adoption UK: www.adoptionuk.org/shop/pre-order-parenting-theraplay-way-214-engaging-fun-activities-create-joyful-connectedness
I have learned the hard way to assume nothing, so I model everything - using gentle hands with other people/animals, drawing a picture and wondering out loud about what colour to choose... Am genuinely worried I will start doing all this stuff in front of colleagues soon! My LO gets into a panic about choices (scared rigid of making the "wrong" choice) so I keep them very, very limited - like holding up two plates and getting her to choose which colour she wants her sandwich on.
We too keep our world very small, and when emotions are running high we stick to home just like you.
I'm currently reading Why Can't My Child Behave? which may have some really useful info for you about controlling behaviour and meltdowns. One thing in particular that might be of use in it is advice on rhythmic calming for older children (in the way you'd rock / bounce a crying baby), for example clapping, singing nursery rhymes, marching on the spot.
Gosh everyone thank you as it makes me feel like thank goodness it's not just our children. It's normal!
Yes at only 14 weeks with you she is still settling in and adjusting to her new life. I agree that she should mainly be with you and your immediate family, everything low key for now.
I would not do 'play dates' at all at this stage. Dont introduce her to many people. Take it really slowly and don't expect too much from her.
Daisiemoo sorry you are going through this. My adopted ds is 4 (came to us at 3), has been home a year and experiences some of what you are describing.
Please do try and access some post adoption support, if you can. I know it seems early but you may have to wait for the support and best to get your request in soon, it is not a sign of failure to ask for it.
You are just over three months in and that is quite early for play dates, not sure how long we waited, probably about three or four months too. So I am not saying it is wrong, but if it doesn't work out feel free to stop them for a bit, or go to neutral places with fixed 'facilities' like a park.
So agree with gabsdot45 try not to overstimulate, limit toys, I know it is hard, our house is like a bloody toy warehouse!
Agree with SponsoredByTheBadFai
Hypervigilance. Well not had exact experience of this but ds came with a word, the word was 'can't'! He could not do a lot of things and was clearly fearful of water, being cold, getting wet, hights (as in climbing equipment) etc. I devised a little song I could sing, "My name Dave, I am brave, sometimes I feel worried, and I won't be hurried!' Along those lines (his name is not Dave!). I would sing it softly to him when he got nervous and sometimes he would say 'sing the song!' I no longer need to sing it (thankfully) and he gets stuff done much more easily. He climbed on a walking 'don't touch the ground' trail today, I went mad with congratulations because he managed half of it and initially it looked too hard for him. But he did it 9or at least half of it!). So when she conquerors a fear, even a small one, lots of praise, but if she does not, no recriminations (I know you know!).
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