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Feeling totally hopeless with DD (2.5) behaviour

(19 Posts)
bepi01 Tue 14-Jun-11 10:48:03

Does anyone have any advise or had the same experience?

My DD (2.5) has always been a bit spirited but over the last few weeks she has become a nightmare and both my DH and I are exhausted and don't know what do do next. Our usual daily experience is as follows:

- When DD comes back from Nursery she runs into the house and then straight onto the sofa where she starts 'crying' and being generally crabby. We spend the time before bed with her getting most of her toys out and then refusing to tidy up any of them before bed. I've tried the principle of 'one toy away before we get out another' and trying turn it into a game 'come on, lets see who can put the shapes/coins back in the box the quickest'. She says 'no' and runs off or 'smiles' at me with that ' I know you want me to do this but I'm not going to' look.

- When it's bed time she starts being crabby again and takes AGES to climb the stairs. We then try teeth brushing. It used to be ok as she has a choice of toothbrushes, can brush dolly's teeth and I let her rinse her toothbrush under the tap. Lately though I give her her toothbrush and she brushes the front teeth for 2 seconds then throw the toothbrush on the floor. I pick it up, rinse it and give it back to her and say ' you need to brush them a bit more, do you want Mummy to do it?', she says 'no', takes the brush and throws it on the floor again. I say 'I need you to brush your teeth or Mummy will have to do it'. One more throwing and then I take the brush, grab her cardi and do her teeth with her screaming. I feel really awful doing this. Maybe I should just say, ok and leave it but the dentist has said I need to ensure the sides of her teeth are done.

- Bed time used to be great but now she won't get dressed for bed, won't let me take her nappy off/put on nappy (even when she has chosen her favourite nappy picture). She won't get into her gro-bag. I read her a story in bed and she asks for another. I have given in a few times sad but lately I've said 'mummy has to go down stairs now'. We have a cuddle and I leave. she then starts up screaming and getting out of bed and standing by the stairgate across her bedroom door. I go up 10 mins later, lift her up and put her in the bed and leave, 10 mins later, same again.....still screaming, point of being sick....I go up and give her a cuddle, she immediately relaxes and I put her in her bed and she goes to sleep.

I'm taking all of this personally and feel I'm a rubbish Mum as I can't 'do it right'. My DH and I try to be consistent but isn't there a better way than saying 'no', withholding priveleges, and physical force? Surely I can't let the toothbrushing go unnoticed and surely I can't just let her make a mess without tidying up at least 1 thing?


Hullygully Tue 14-Jun-11 10:50:47

How long is she at nursery?

She sounds knackered. And very normal for that age. It passes, I wouldn't do punishments and withholdings and all that stuff, it won't get you anwhere, all it will do is stress you all out even more!

Lovemy2babies Tue 14-Jun-11 11:01:17

My dd used to be like this after preschool turned out hunger and tired

Can you give her a snack and drink in car when you pick her up or as soon as you get home?

This really helped us.

I also don't expect much from her of she's very tired, just put some cbeebie on and leave her to it


Hullygully Tue 14-Jun-11 11:04:43

With dd, we used to get home and then she would lie on the sofa with a snack and watch "Maisie's Colours" dvd (everyday for about a year!) It was her equivalent of the parental glass of wine.

amalur Tue 14-Jun-11 11:23:30

I have had similar with my DD (3 yo), she used to be awful but she is a bit better now. Tiredness and hunger are big triggers. I second snack in car and getting food down as soon as possible. Also focus on having nice time with her rather than getting to het up about doing the right thing. I am not saying to forget routines or let her do what she wants, just that when a toddler is tired and grabby nothing is going to solve that except a good sleep and it is not the right time to pick battles.

Brushing up teeth... I personally would ignore because sometimes they pick on these things because they know it matters. In my experience, the less pressure I put on something the more likely my dd will do it. So perhaps brush your teeth next to her and pretend you don't care whether she does.

I also find my dd plays up before going to bed. She will press all the buttons till DH or me get very cross and take something away from her. Then she'll start crying and fall asleep. We feel awful about this but I think that she is so tired sometimes and so wired that she doesn't know how to wind down so she'll push the situation to the point where she'll cry and fall asleep. We do quiet time after bath and everything else, but still she'll have to push. I try to understand that she is not doing this to us, she is just overtired. I also thinks that we put a lot of pressure for them to fall asleep quickly because we want "our time" so we stress more than we should about it, iyswim.

Don't take anything personally, she is not doing it to you, she just doesn't have the maturity to deal with her own feelings.

bepi01 Tue 14-Jun-11 12:04:45

Thanks for your comments; I've felt the parent police are going to catch-me if I'm not following all the advise in books (crazy). She is at nursery for 4 full days a week at the moment but I'm fortunate that I will be able to reduce my hours soon so she will be in for 3 days a week instead. I like the idea of a snack in the car. I offer her one when we get home and milk but she always says no until it's nearly bed time and then she wants it (crafty).

I will definately try the teeth idea - if the dentist has a go then I'll deal with it.

Feeling better now! Thanks smile

swanker Tue 14-Jun-11 12:09:41

One thing that worked with the teeth (for 1 week!) was to let DD hold a mirror while I brushed them so she could see what I was doing.

I always say 'into sleeping bag before story' to mine... grin

MLWfirsttimemum Tue 14-Jun-11 12:16:30

Oh, I recognise this. I agree with other posters that much is to do with tiredness. Some of it is also to do with trying to do lots of stuff in a limited time. For us, it got a lot better when we got an au pair who picks up DD from nursery at 4 and spends a couple of hours with her making their way home, playing etc, - we very rarely have complete meltdown now. I know it is not a solution that everyone can implement but the principle is that she was just too tired when we picked her up after work at 5:30/6 o'clock and it was frankly hell for everyone concerned.

We also struggle with the toothbrushing. It seems to help if she is allowed to do it herself, she prefers if we are brushing our teeth at the same time and she is now getting quite competent at it. I still have to 'finish it' for her (cue much unhappiness) but at least the first part is happening willingly. I know of other parents who have successfully used stickers as bribes for having teeth brushed, but it didn't work for us, unfortunately.

We've actually had some success with doing time out on the bottom step of our stairs. We will either sit there with her, or she may sit there alone, depending on the situation/issue but it actually seems to calm her down completely, it is actually an emotional reboot for her. We ask her to tell us when she is ready to come back into the kitchen or whatever when she is ready to do what it is we've asked her to do and after a couple of minutes she will usually say/call out that she's ready.

Not sure if this is of help, but just know you are certainly not alone and I absolutely know how it makes you feel soooo inadequate as a mother!

bessie26 Tue 14-Jun-11 12:26:24

Agree with this others that it sounds like she's hungry/tired. DD1 (2.8) is always knackered after a day at nursery, we have snacks when she gets home & sometimes try to get her to bed half an hour earlier too.

We had toothbrushing trauma with DD1 a few months ago, it turned out that although we weren't allowed to brush her teeth, her teddy was... these days she brushes her teeth, then we just "finish them off"

witchwithallthetrimmings Tue 14-Jun-11 12:32:46

my dd (2.5) is going through the same. The whole bed time routine was so stressfull that I was shaking when i came downstairs. My diagnosis is that it is a mixture of tiredness and testing of boundaries (terrible twos). I have decided that we need to be consistent, (but pick our battles) establish firm rules but not expect super nanny type miracles. Just like colic/teething etc it will get better in a few months, we just have to grit our teeth.
and have lots of wine

bepi01 Tue 14-Jun-11 12:38:37

Thanks guys - making notes to discuss with DH tonight,. I think I will try to chill out on my work days and not expect much from DD on those nights. It's nice to know that I 'm not alone. smile

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Tue 14-Jun-11 12:44:52

Mine is 2.5 as well, and completely unscientifically, but backed up by anecdotes from a lot of others with a similarly aged child, it seems like the .5 year ages are harder than the whole year ages. 1 is great, 18 months is bad, 2 is great, etc.

With toothbrushing, I suppose you've tried the old "I can see some cheese from dinner up there, and oh hang on, there's a grape sticking to that tooth, let me just brush that off, wow, did you have toast for breakfast, let me get that..." trick? Probably you're a bit beyond that, but it worked unbelievably well for us.

I do think tiredness is the thing. Getting out all of her toys sounds overwhelming; if you're uncomfortable with the DVD idea, stories on your lap would be my go-to. And YES to a snack in the car.

Otherwise, given that it's summer, have you tried a totally different approach and instead of going home, go to a park for a while, so she can clear her head of all the stimulation and socialising of nursery and just leg it around a bit?

shouldbeelswhere Tue 14-Jun-11 12:51:57

Would echo all of the above. I've found that giving my DD (same age) choice (this or that rather than loads of choices) over things that I don't care about at the times when I've got more time lessens these kind of battles. You're not a bad mum, don't beat yourself up - they can be such hard work at times can't they, bless them!

Re the teeth we seem to have this from time to time and I wonder if it's when the back teeth were coming through? Seems to pass and then become an issue again. The teddy idea worked for us some times except when gums were sore.

shouldbeelswhere Tue 14-Jun-11 12:54:19

Oh should have said too much choice when tired = bad idea IMO

cottonreels Tue 14-Jun-11 21:12:26

I only have a 20 month old, so might be talking out of my arse but heres my thoughts:
Yes, Im sure a snack at the end of nursery will serve as a pick me up until dinner time.
You've had successful routines for teeth brushing, dressing for bed, choosing nappy, but now theyre not working. So - maybe change the routines over a week or so. Sing and practise miming 'this is the way we brush our teeth'. Do getting PJs on half an hour before bed and not in her bedroom. DD to put some cream (E45)on her hands and rub it in while you focus on the nappy (distraction). I'm not saying they'll be instant hits and work forever, but its worth a try as at least it'll make you feel like you're tackling it (which you are obviously).

Jojay Tue 14-Jun-11 21:20:55

I agree with those who say keep it simple.

Don't get into 'discipline' or asking anything of her, ie tidying up.

Keep everything calm and quiet, TV or stories is best with snack.

Don't get into battles over teeth cleaning - a quick chew on the toothbrush will do, you cna always be more thorough in the morning.

Mine are 4 1/2 and 2 1/2 and are both a complete waste of space when tired. My only mission is to get them to bed as quickly as possible with as little fuss as possible.

It will pass as she gets older, but when she is tired after nursery, is not the time to put pressure on to 'behave.' Just do what you have to do to get through the evening calmly.

wompoopigeon Tue 14-Jun-11 21:22:41

If you could possibly pick her up from nursery 30 mins or an hour earlier I suspect you might see a dramatic improvement in her behaviour. She sounds totally knackered, and there's no point trying to 'discipline' a child who is unhinged with fatigue. Try to think of an occasion when you were totally shattered- jet lag or new baby- and then you have to do task after task after task to get to bed.

actiongirl1978 Tue 14-Jun-11 21:27:20

I completely sympathise and my DD was a nightmare at 2.5 (she is now 3.3). I have a 16month old DS and am anticipating it all again soon!

Have you thought about making her a 'big girl' and giving her a duvet instead of a grobag? My DD loved it when she was out of hers and shortly afterwards potty training followed (though I am not saying it should for you).

You could then make more of an exciting thing of bedtime. Quite often when you change one element of the routine, the other elements change sometimes for the better.

Otherwise grit your teeth!!! Please don't let it affect your relationship though. In retrospect I found it very hard to get back to how we were before the tantrums started. She is delightful now, but I miss the girl I had before the tantrums!!

bepi01 Fri 17-Jun-11 12:36:56

Thanks for all your comments - so many! I love the 'cheese in the teeth...let me get that' idea; I've not tried it so will so so tonight. Failing that I'll try the 'quick chew' idea.

Things have been a little bit better; we've tried giving her a bath every night and doing her teeth while she is distracted with the bubbles. Also putting her nappy on in the bathroom while she draws on the side of the bath with bath crayons is working at the moment.

She managed to rip her grow-bag off in a strop the other night so we are now in a quilt which she LOVES.

Phew......they keep you on your toes don't they?!


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