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Three year old ruling my house!

(22 Posts)
hellswelshy Sun 10-Jul-11 18:53:34

Hello, after a horrendous day i just needed to get somebody elses take on this! I have 3 and half year old twin girls, and whilst i know i have a busy time with them generally, lately one of my daughters is draining me. She has, in fairness, had a lot on recently what with holidays, illness, and starting nursery, but this week after a minor illness has behaved appallingly. Her tantrums start early in the morning - sometimes only half hour after we get up - and she is so stubborn over the most ridiculous things, like what she wears, (even what colour knickers she wears) to the point ive resorted to sending her to her room for quiet time. I didnt really want to start that, but she is so loud and disruptive, i find it difficult just to put her on the hallway mat as it affects my other daughter. She does respond well to that, and normally comes down after 10 mins feeling sorry and is better behaved...but usually we have around 4-5 incidents like this every day, and this has been like it for a few weeks now. My other daughter, her twin, is very well behaved and even though she has her moments, is nowhere near so cheeky or stubborn, and its so exhausting as i dont like myself when we have had a day like today.
Anybody else experiencing horrendous 3 year olds, or anyone who can give me some words of wisdom, i would love to hear from you! Thanks for listeningsmile

bean612 Sun 10-Jul-11 19:50:14

Oh, I can relate, and how! My DD is only 2.7 but at the moment she is driving me insane. EVERYTHING feels like a battle, she ignores me when I speak to her, when I ask her not to do something she carries right on (and on), and her tantrums are epic. She screams, hits, kicks, pulls my hair. Taking her to her room for "quiet" time is a joke - she just screams louder, and trashes the place. The thing is, much of the time she is utterly delightful - she's the living example of "When she was good, she was very very good, and when she was bad she was horrid". Honestly, it's like living with Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde. Sigh.

Sorry, just realised none of that is wise or helpful, just to say I feel your pain. (And like you, when we've had a "bad" day - as we have today - then I feel terrible...)

DeWe Sun 10-Jul-11 19:50:31

Main thing I'd say is pick your battles. It doesn't matter what colour pants grin and she's not going to grow up spoilt because you let her have her own way on that.
Give them (both) choices when you can. "Do you want to wear this or that?". I got quite inventive on making up choices that gave only the option I wanted with dd2. I would ask her if she wanted her coat on forwards or backwards. Couldn't believe the number of people that pointed out to me she'd got it on backwards... and done the buttons up behind her too!
And try and give them both individual attention, which I'm sure you do, but you could try putting it into the day as an "official time" when the other spends time resting/TV/stickers etc.

missusmrs Sun 10-Jul-11 20:07:17

Oh sounds like our house!! DS is 2.10 and same applies, again lots of new things to consider like a baby brother (4m) and changes to daycare etc but the days I have been reduced to tears are too numerous to remember. Timeout had been on the bottom stair step,he laughed at me when I put him in hallway. We had no consistent approach to disciplie and most days I found myself getting more and more wound up and slinging every threat possible at him- no wonder he laughed at me! SO last Thurs I came across an supernanny ep (used to love before I had dc and always said I will never let me kids be like that!). It inspired me.
During his nap I got a large cushion from attic and placed in a corner of open plan kitchen area, wrote a list of rules on coloured paper and cut them out and also drew a small pic to go with each rule and stuck them all on cupboard door where he can see. when he got up I talked him through rules and what time out was. First one came round v soon! I set my phone alarm when I put him on time out for 3 mins and it rings a loud alarm when finished, I have been letting it ring until we have followed all the steps - why did I out you here? say sorry, hug...ok all over.
It obv wont work for everyone but in 4 days we have seen a dramatic improvement in behaviour, the fact he is in the kicthen watching and can see us ignoring him has an effect, the fact he knows what will happen each and evry time he the past 2 days even the threat of a timeout has stopped bad behaviour....I'm afraid I'm speaking too soon here but I'm determined to keep this up and to be honest I feel so in control now I think he is picking up on it.....sorry long post but wanted to tell you all our details...maybe some of it could work for you....good luck.

skybluepearl Sun 10-Jul-11 21:53:06

can you make getting dressed more fun and silly?

twinmam Sun 10-Jul-11 22:13:49

3.5 year old twin girls here too and I could have written your post, OP! I have no words of wisdom I'm afraid, but I feel your pain.

We had a hideous day today too and I nearly lost it with DD2 when I caught her (in the middle of a 2 hour tantrum) hitting her twin sister.
I do find that ignoring the tantrums helps generally (obviously not when she's hurting her sister!) but of course that's not always possible. I also have no idea what to do re. tantrums in public. I also agree with the picking your battles thing.

I actually think 3 is the hardest age we've dealt with and having two 3 year-olds can be something of a nightmare!

Good luck...

GwendolineMaryLacey Sun 10-Jul-11 22:18:21

3.5yo singleton here and she sounds exactly like your two. Wakes up happy, then 10 minutes later screaming, kicking and hitting, not my best friend anymore speech etc. Then happy. Then half an hour later repeat. Ad nauseum. I try to pick battles and tantrums I can deal with. She'll generally come to me for a cuddle and a calm down. But when she starts the physical attacks it's like a red mist comes down on her.

At least a dozen times a day I feel like getting in the car and driving as far away as possible.

twinmam Sun 10-Jul-11 22:41:40

Gwendolinemarylacey - that's exactly like our DD2. Red mist describes it very well. She seems to have so much rage.

How do you deal with the violence thing? I find that really hard. She nips, bites, kicks and hits when she's in the middle of a tantrum. I generally walk away from our DD2 when it's in the house, although she has been known to follow me and continue trying to attack me. Time out doesn't work. It seems to enrage her still further. I want to impress upon her that violence isn't acceptable and we've had plenty of conversations when she's calm in which she accepts that. In fact she can be an incredibly sweet and loving little girl but when she goes she goes. I worry about her hurting herself and I totally sympathise with the wanting to drive away....!

What to do?!!

bean612 Sun 10-Jul-11 22:59:01

twinmam - me too, me too. My DD can be so sweet and cuddly and affectionate, but when she's enraged it's honestly as though she's a different child. Some days I completely despair. I've been telling her for months now that we don't hit, we don't kick, it hurts, hair-pulling hurts, etc (and like any toddler she's had enough encounters with other toddlers hitting her or pulling her hair to get a toy, etc to have some notion - surely? - how it feels to be hit/kicked/have hair pulled). I've posted before about her tantrums and people have been helpful about that, but to be honest it's the violence I really worry about, and would dearly love to know what to do about it...

twinmam Sun 10-Jul-11 23:13:43

Bean612 - it's so good to know it's not just our DD who is like this (sorry!)

I had even been wondering if we needed to seek some kind of professional help (but where? And from whom?!) I SO hope she will grow out of it but I am getting increasingly anxious about it. Mind you, she has never had a tantrum at nursery which is interesting!

Things we have been trying are:

- picking our battles, as was mentioned above
- praise and rewards for good behaviour. This has seemed to help in encouraging her to be a bit less obstinate, e.g. Reward for doing something first time she is asked, putting her clothes on straight away, etc
- Pre-empting tantrums where possible. Recognising triggers such as hunger and tiredness, distraction techniques before she gets into a full on tantrum (once she's in one there's no going back unfortunately)!
- ignoring tantrums and moving away from her when she is violent.
- not giving in once she has had a tantrum
- talking to her about her feelings when she is calm and suggesting alternatives, e.g. When you feel angry you could go and sit away from everyone until you feel a bit calmer

I guess the general principle is lots of attention for the good stuff and none for the bad.

I'm hoping if I persevere with the above it will work eventually. I think when I do stick to all of it her behaviour is better but some situations really flummox me, especially when we're out. Poor DH had to carry her, kicking and screaming, about half a mile to the car today when she had major meltdown on a day out. He was covered in bruises from where she was biting and nipping him. We tried putting her down on the floor to calm down but there were loads of people around and she was thrashing about, really not safe to herself or others. Complete nightmare.

Of course, there were signs it was coming and she was very tired and has been quite seriously ill very recently. We should have taken her back to the car earlier I think. But DD1 was having a lovely time and I often feel that she loses out because of her twin's behaviour.

It's hard isn't it?!

hellswelshy Mon 11-Jul-11 09:12:14

Thanks everyone, and especially twinmam; lots of realistic and sensible advice. It really helps to hear someone elses take on it, and tactics used. This morning we have had one tantrum so far where I almost lost the plot ashamed and after placing her in her room, called her a bratblush - not to her, but to myself really. After an epic tantrum of very loud proportions (god knows what the neighbours think?), she then came back down and i explained why i had put her up there and how i expected her to behave. I also said i was going to make a chart with stars for good behaviour....bit of a spontaneous idea! Her eyes lit up, she does like to be rewarded, so i am going to give that a try. I feel like you twinmam, that my other daughter loses out, on attention, peace and quiet, etc...then feel guilty myself. I agree, battles need to be picked, and i do try to let them chose things as much as possible, but sometimes their requests are so ludicrous ('my fork doesnt match my dress') that i have to say no! I am hoping she returns to me in the form of her old character - loving, fun, and helpful - fingers crossed eh!!!

Ineedmetime Mon 11-Jul-11 11:44:50

Hi im a new mum on mums net.I have 2 year old dd and finding things a bit challenging at the mo. DD doing all the sorts of things two year olds get up to, tantrums, not eating the right foods at the right times of day, spitting drinks down front, not sleeping all night,(mum sleep deprived) also dh snores, Kitchen full of washing up, which i must do soon! hate housework!
Sorry if I sound like a moaner, just need someone to talk to whos in the same boat

Ineedmetime Mon 11-Jul-11 11:57:49

I might of posted this message in wrong place but im new so not sure how it all works yet, can anyone help? anyway I'll have to come back later as I must wash up, also toddler up to mischief again!

twinmam Mon 11-Jul-11 13:10:37

Hellswelshy - I feel your pain and your shame! I too called my DD a brat yesterday and also a horrible child (although that bit was out of her hearing, thankfully). It is so hard not to lose it. There are times I am tempted to hit her or nip her back, which just apalls me as I am totally against violence. Well done to you for not losing it completely and, to be fair, it sounds as if she was being a brat!

It sounds like the sticker thing really might

Ineedmetime - It is tough, isn't it. Especially on little sleep. I hate trying to get things done in the house when the girls are being difficult. I would say that that aspect has got easier now they are a bit older. They are better at playing on their own long enough for me to get the washing up done (usually!)

Repeat this: 'Its just a phase; it will get better!'

Ineedmetime Mon 11-Jul-11 19:05:24

twinmam - Thanks for the reply, still haven't got all the washing up done,
nevermind I'll try again when the kids are in bed.
You must have found things hard having twins.
I have a 7 yr old ds but my 2 yr old is the more challenging at the mo.
I will have to go as its getting near bedtime for dd, hoping to get more sleep tonight but is that just wishful thinking?

twinmam Mon 11-Jul-11 20:32:17

What's the issue with bedtimes, Ineedmetime? Is she not settling or is she waking in the night? Is this recent or has she always been a poor sleeper? I reckon if you get the sleep thing sorted you'll see a big improvement with the behaviour - easier said than done, I know!!

Ineedmetime Mon 11-Jul-11 21:02:01

she tends to fall asleep on my lap cause she plays with my hair (comfort thing) then I carry her up to bed,(7.30pm)then about 2 hours later she starts to cry, put dummy in, asleep again, last night she was crying, sleeping, crying, sleeping on and off till gone 12 then she must have settled, then i got up at around 6.30am cause dh home from night shift, woke me coming to bed, when he is home at night he snores so that keeps me from getting proper sleep, I did sleep on sofa some nights. sorry to moan just I feel so tired, I know some mums get less sleep

twinmam Mon 11-Jul-11 21:24:52

Tiredness makes everything extremely difficult to deal with, I find! It certainly sounds as if you aren't getting much sleep at all, you poor thing.
Have you thought about a bedtime routine that doesn't involve her falling asleep on you? I know it's a difficult habit to break but I think the issue is that she needs you in order to settle back to sleep: when she wakes up in the night, as is normal, and you're not there she needs you come in to settle her again and again which is no good for anyone!
Maybe you could introduce a new bedtime routine? In our house it's quiet wind down time in front of TV with milk, then bath, brush teeth, into bed for 3 stories. They have night lights too. DD1 had quite a lot of problems settling and I would explain to her that after the stories I would sit with her for 3 minutes and hold her hand. I'd then count down the minutes, kiss, cuddle and go. She seemed to find that gradual withdrawal much easier than me just going.
We now have high jinks at bedtime instead, throwing things around and bouncing on their beds so it's not like we've solved bedtimes by any means but the separation anxiety isn't so much of an issue any more at least and they do sleep through for which I am eternally grateful!
One word of warning with new routines though - it often gets worse before it gets better! It's worth reading anything by Tanya Byron I think as she speaks a lot of sense.

Hellswelshy - how is your demon child today? Ours has been a bit better than yesterday (not difficult) although she had a tantrum within about 5 minutes of waking up and several more wobbles today! There was a lot less violence today, thankfully!

Ineedmetime Mon 11-Jul-11 21:33:08

thanks twinmam, I might try to put her in bed tommorow night and see how it goes

Chucksmum Tue 12-Jul-11 15:54:43

Hello! First time on here so not sure what to do. My DS (3.5) was poorly with one thing after another in the winter. First flu, then chicken pox requiring antibiotics followed by teething and his behaviour became very difficult. I was concerned that this was how it was going to be from now on but within a few weeks things improved and he became much more like himself. Then however he developed a UTI and severe constipation followed by another round of antibiotics and after that his behaviour became WILD!! He became aggressive to other kids which he'd never done before and it bacame very embarassing picking him up from nursery finding out what he'd done. However, again it passed thankfully! I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think that illness and possibly even antibiotic use has a profound effect on kids behaviour but it passes! You mentioned your DD had been poorly so it may not be anything that you're doing or not doing and may just be a phase that will pass - I hope so :-)

hellswelshy Wed 13-Jul-11 08:50:10

Thank you all, and thanks to Chucksmum and twinmam, so helpful. I am happy to say yesterday and today have been much better days. Yesterday she only had a couple of mini tantrums and a few tears before nursery but generally better. We introduced the star sticker chart and its working really well. I award a star for each portion of the day - meal times mainly, and have told them if they reach a certain amount they will have a treat or pocket money to spend at carboot sale - a big treat for them!! I am really hoping we are back on track now, cant believe how worried and exhausted ive been. Also to Ineedmetime i agree with the introduction of a very rigid routine for bedtime, i have always needed that with twins, its helpful because they know whats coming next, wash, teeth brushed, story, cuddle, and then tucked in. Hope it workssmile

Ineedmetime Wed 13-Jul-11 12:34:06

Thanks hellswelshy, Last night I made sure she was well fed and at bed time I put her in her bed, she got back out a few times but eventually she fell asleep in bed( we had about 30 minutes of crying first) but that wasn't as bad as I was expecting. I got 7 hours of undisturbed sleep which is great!
Feeling more positive about everything today.

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