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Losing the plot with my 3 yo

(23 Posts)
manchestermummy Sat 06-Nov-10 11:04:34

She's 3.1. Most of the time she's lovely, very articulate - which helps - and is always good when we're out of the house.

At home, however, it's a different story - she's absolutely dreadful. And has lately developed a bit of a fear of going out, so much so it can take two hours to pursuaded her to get her shoes on. Doesn't matter what the proposed activity it, as soon as I say we're going out, it's meltdown city.

She has to go first on the toilet at home. If I try to go, there's a tantrum. I invite her to go, but then she won't. And then carries on tantrumming because she needs a wee! On the subject of toilets, she will not do a poo in anything other than a nappy (been dry during the day for months). I cannot even bribe her with chocolate. She will not let me clean her afterwards, so sometimes we have to write off a whole day and cancel plans because I can't clean her up.

She won't eat breakfast - no matter what I offer. She won't eat much lunch. Needless to say, by the afternoon she's ravenous and then the bad behaviour starts in earnest. But still she won't eat, unless it's raisins.

She won't let me brush her hair or brush it herself. No amount of detangling spray or hairbrushes that she has chosen helps. It's scraggly and over her eyes but she won't allow clips or bobbles. We get comments from everyone. Hair gets in her mouth, which leads to a tamtrum.

We get no help. My parents won't help; MIL 'helps' but really is just there to constantly undermine me (I'll say she can't have an ice cream having just eaten a huge piece of cake; MIL will give it anyway and say "I'll give it to you even though mummy says no"). DC2 is due in two days and the thought of a newborn and DD at the moment makes me shudder.


manchestermummy Sat 06-Nov-10 11:05:30

Should also say that she's at nursery 3 days a week where they rave about her good behaviour!

Mobly Sat 06-Nov-10 12:43:37

I sympathise Manchestermummy- your DD sounds like my DS in some ways.

I'm hoping it's just a phase. I have become quite tough with DS lately. The things you say like 'she won't let me' etc suggest that it is your DD and not you, that is in charge.

That's how I was feeling. Like I was allowing my life to be dictated by an almost 3yr old.

You make the rules and you follow them through.

You have to sort out undesireable behaviours in your head in advance and work out how you will deal with them. So working through the problems you have mentioned. Food issues- you can't force her to eat so I would ignore this to be honest and just offer healthy snacks between meals if she hasn't eaten much.

Re: hairbrushing- I would just do it anyway and ignore protestations if all the kinder methods fail.

Re: the toilet issue, if you need the toilet just go, if she wants to have a tantrum then let her and ignore. I know it's difficult to ignore but just try your best.

About the pooing in nappy that's a really common issue I've heard. I would probably let her have the nappy for poos- she will eventually grow out of it. I would perhaps try reward chart for poos in toilet but keep the pressure off her. When you say she won't let you clean her up- does that mean she has poo on her skin for a while? If so I would just clean her up and allow the tantrum to happen. Tell her that mummy has to clean her up else she will have poorly skin.

I don't know what to say about the fear of going out- it's not something I have experienced so I hope someone will come along with something useful to add about this.

thaliablogs Sat 06-Nov-10 19:48:26

I agree with the above post. One phrase that works with my dd (3y2m) is 'mummy's job is to keep you safe, and sometimes that means mummy has to do things you don't like."

Also, I know it's hard, but making stuff into a game works wonders for us. Won't put her shoes on? "let's have a race, I bet you can't put your shoes on before I put mine on!" Won't eat her carrots? "I can hear dd's tummy talking. Hang on a minute, what's it saying? Oh yes, it's saying [funny voice] 'oh dd, I really want a carrot, they look so yummy, carrot please dd!'" and then when she eats one "oh thank you dd that was yummy, can I have another one?"


And you MIL has to toe the line, that would drive me absolutely bananas. Simply say no, and ask her to leave if she doesn't comply.

This too shall pass.

zim Sat 06-Nov-10 20:14:04

oh you poor thing i really sympathise with you. some similarities with my ds who is 3.3. i probably shouldn't tell you this but things got worse when dd came along in may. nobody warned me how hard it would be/still is (but, obviously, as above i am totally confident that THIS TOO SHALL PASS
i'm a foundation stage teacher and have taught some really 'difficult' kids in a very challenging area. parents say such things as 'i don't know how you do this job'. before i had kids i used to think, it couldn't that hard with one but OH HOW WRONG I WAS!!!!!
its totally, totally normal though and a really good sign that she's good at nursery but 'lets rip' at home. i keep having to check that my ds is good at nursery/school coz i can't quite believe it when they say he is (his tantrums are horrendous, he went through that poo in nappy thing-it passed, power games etc etc). Anyway, ditto all the above advice but also, have you spoken to your health visitor? I did his 3 year developmental check and flagged up his behaviour.she phoned me up &from chatting on phone felt like i was 'coping/dealing' with his behaviour but i still accepted her offer of coming to the house for a chat. mostly it was reasurance that it was normal and that i was doing a lot of the stuff she advised but there were some things that she suggested that i hadn't thought of. i wont say things have improved dramatically but its how I FEEL about the situation that has helped.
good luck
ps-as for the mil-omg-couldnt be doing with that!! thank god i only see mine once in a blue moon (shock)

manchestermummy Sat 06-Nov-10 20:14:11

Thank you both. Being very nearly 40 weeks pg doesn't exactly help anything! Good tips there.

We've got through rough patches before, and will again!

zim Sat 06-Nov-10 20:14:45


nemofish Sat 06-Nov-10 20:17:39

Sweetie you can't write off a whole day because you can't clean her up - you have to push it and be firmer. What would you have thought if your dd went to get her immunisations, and your dd said 'No!' and pulled her arm away, started to cry etc, and the doctor turned to you, shrugged and said 'can't do it, she won;t let me!'

You are giving her way to much power - her word, is law. Yes I want lunch no I don't want that no I want raisins mummy! And it sounds like you can't provide wach alternative fast enough in the hope of preventing meltdown. You won't be able to stop it, in fact you are gauranteeing future tantrums, which she will have as she has learnt that is what panics mummy and makes her give in. You have, I'm afraid, created a spoilt brat. Not to say that you dd isn't lovely and funny and sweet, but you have taught her, accidently, that she is the only person who can't, she gets what she wants when she wants it, and she can boss you around and have you dancing to her tune.

Jo Frost may get a lot of stick on here but she does show a lot of good parenting methods in her programme. She probably has loads of books out - maybe have a look at some?

I know you feel unsupported and undermined - but you are her mum, you clearly love your daughter very much and you are doing a great job. You have made the commonest parenting mistake ever, I bet - so what? We all make mistakes.

She will still love you loads if you put her breakfast out, shrug when she doesn't eat it, give her a sandwich for lunch and shrug again when she kicks off asks for raisins. Don't let the crying, whining or demanding worry you - the firmer your boundaries are, the more she will just decide for herself 'bugger this, I'm eating breakfast!' and she'll settle down. Half the bad behaviour will stop when you consistantly ignore it.

Sorry if I have rattled on but I stopped seeing a close friend as her dd was pretty awful and spoilt by the age of 5, and I've watched poor dsd be 'princessified' but luckily she isn't too bad now. As long as you make with the horses, iPhones and laptops. grin

nemofish Sat 06-Nov-10 20:18:27

I can spell honestly but I'm currnetly on medications cos I'm Special you see grin

mummycreepynora Sat 06-Nov-10 20:25:12

at a first guess some of this is about the fact she KNOWS her whole world is about to change - they sense it coming - so please don't panic that its all gone to shite!

first - she is all about the power at this age (I should know - dd 3.10 and new brother this year) so DON'T give it to her!!! Well - not for the wrong things anyway!

With the tantrums- completely ignore... if you need a wee you need a wee!
With the food - I would personally cut out all snacks (or 'safe' foods) just offer her meals, and if she doesn't eat it - sod her! No matter what you are thinking inside eat you little mare just shrug and say 'ok, well - there's nothing else' and smile sweetly... I give it 2 days max grin

With the hair and the loo stuff- just say tough! Little girls need to be clean and tidy and that means mummy has to do x/ y / z... ( oh and telly during hair time helps!)

with DD (who was similar with having hair up) I just told her if she was big enough to go to preschool she had to have her hair up or it would look all messy and not pretty, I know she likes to charge around so I played it that she could play how she wanted and still look pretty

good luck! Girls are devils with power games in my experience!

zim Sat 06-Nov-10 20:31:29

oh my boy could give any girl a run for her money in the power games olympics! wink but thats so true about the sensing thing when ur pregnant...
i love jo frost too!

mummycreepynora Sat 06-Nov-10 20:38:51

luckily for me, my boy is only 10m so got a little while before I find out wink

purplepidjin Sat 06-Nov-10 20:46:41

Good luck with the new baby

Maybe pick one thing at a time to deal with? Food might be the "easiest" place to start... [huh hum]

In the morning, put some toast on her plate at the table. Tell her it's there. Leave it there for 30 minutes. If she doesn't eat it, she doesn't eat it. Eat it yourself, or throw it in the bin.

She gets nothing till lunchtime. If she has a tantrum, pick her up, put her on her bed and leave the room.

Same routine at lunchtime.

Unfortunately, all hell will break loose for a few days. On the up side, she (and you) will learn that you are Mummy and you know best. Take my word for it, you do ;)

manchestermummy Sat 06-Nov-10 20:48:54

I think part of it is that she knows something's up - hopefully the reality of the new baby won't be as bad as the anticipation.

I've considered called the HV, might give it a shot.

It's soooo hard to be brushing her hair while she's screaming (in a terraced house) "You're hurting me mummy!" at the top of her voice... Ditto the poo cleaning-up thing: she runs around the house and screams that I'm going to hurt her. The food thing's tricky, but I don't actually give in to her and she only gets snacks outside meal times if she says she's hungry. She gets what she's given and if she actually is hungry, she has started to eat what's offered.

mummycreepynora Sat 06-Nov-10 20:56:16

(non judegmental tip - she will be hungry outside of meal time if she's not eating the meal - until she eats her meals properly stop the snacks!)

we get this with dd every now and again, so the snacks dissappear for a few days and once she is regularly eating well they come back again

nellieisstilltired Sat 06-Nov-10 20:57:06

Full sympathy with you being 40 weeks and a toddler to boot.

You wont like what I'm going to say but.. dont have help you need to set the boundaries. GP have a horrible habit of bribing the little horrors with sweets (then wondering why they bounce at their house). As others say no choice at meal time.

Or when she needs her nappy changed. If you have the energy to make it a game great. If not just do it. Although pooing in nappy only is dead normal at this age. one of mine did.

The other thing I found with ds was too examine what I was feeding him. He had a very small appetite and give him anythig high fibre and he wouldn't need to eat for a day. he was like a camel. Same with drinks. If he stocked up on them it saved him the hassle of eating. He's also very sensitive to the effects of sugar on his behaviour.

nemofish Sat 06-Nov-10 22:08:29

lol at 'he was like a camel,' nellie! I know what you mean, dd has gone thorugh phases of this, normally after a growing spurt has worn off. I think oh she will probably leave her meals today, she ate yesterday. I do still serve her food though, honest!

diorama Sun 07-Nov-10 06:15:28

Good advice on this thread.

I'm not sure you will like what's been said though. You sound lovely by the way. But it does seem like you have a problem being firm with your dd. She sounds a normal, spirited child and please please believe everyone who says she needs firm boundaries.

Do you feel guilty about being firm with her, particularly if she cries? If so, she will have figured that out a long time ago. One of my friends still talks about the time she put her tantrumming dd in her room and held the door to stop her running out, and how awful she feels about it. She felt so bad she never did it again, and her 5 year old dd has her dancing to her tune.

Your dd will actually be happier if you are firmer. I know that sounds upside down but it's so true. It's still hard to reason at this age, so give her a short explanation of why you must do something, then get on with cleaning her, brushing hair, whatever, and ignore the protests. When you need to go out, don't give her a choice about it, tell her what's happening, put the shoes on (maybe with some kind of distraction unrelated to what's happening!), and leave.

I know this might go against your instincts but if you don't show her who's in charge now you're going to have bigger problems later.

Having said all this, dodgy behaviour around the birth of a sibling is to be expected.

Georgimama Sun 07-Nov-10 07:01:32

My DS can be like this (he's 3.8) - everyone who meets him or cares for him tells me he is angel, but he can push my buttons like a pro. Food is the hardest for me because I am very big on good nutrition but he would eat utter crap all day given the chance. All of the advice on this thread is excellent and what I know to be necessary so I am going to pinch it all -- and I'm very glad we have a detached house!

diorama Sun 07-Nov-10 08:32:00

Oh and meant to say - it very common for children to behave differently around different people. The usually test the parents the most as they feel the most secure with them.

I have several friends whose dcs give them a really hard time but they seem to behave fine for me when their mum isn't there - however I'm the local wicked witch. wink

Bumperlicious Sun 07-Nov-10 09:00:27

No advice really just sympathy. I have a 6 week old & a 3.4 yo. The terrible twos were nothing compared to three! It's horrific being pg & dealing with a toddler. It's hard when the baby comes along too. Hope things improve with some of the advice on here.

lostinafrica Sun 07-Nov-10 09:18:20

I've always thought 3 was worse than 2, too! There's so much more will behind the bad behaviour; when they're 2 it just kind of happens.

I'm not sure I agree with stopping snacks - just make sure they're healthy. Sandwiches, fruit, little cubes of cheese, plain pasta, whatever. Ban raisins for two weeks, if not a month. My 3yo eats little and often. Big meals don't really work for him most of the time.

Having said that, I have set snack times - one halfway between breakfast and lunch and one halfway between lunch and tea. If he doesn't want to eat then, that's his choice. No alternatives.

Mobly Sun 07-Nov-10 16:16:34

I too sympathise with living in a terrace. The neighbours can hear everything can't they? It got to the point where DS at 2.5yrs was waking 3 times a night for milk, and rather than disturb the neighbours with tantrums I was giving in to him! I was exhausted, and had ds2 to look after too. I had really reached the end of my tether and had to get tougher and I honestly don't regret it.

I told DS1 about any changes I would be making in advance and the reasons why and then just stuck to it. With stopping the night milk it took 3 nights of tantrums before he accepted it.

With naughty behaviour- such as hitting- I put him on the naughty step.

I am being firm with him because I love him. A spoiled child is not easy to be around for anyone and I want him to be a happy boy who knows his boundaries.

A child in charge cannot be a happy child- I strongly believe that a child needs boundaries and fair discipline.

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