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Bereaved toddler and tantrums

(15 Posts)
seesy Fri 26-Aug-11 10:55:56

Hi I'm new to mumsnet and would really like some advice from other mums please.
It's a tricky one! My sister had cancer and was in and out of hospital, she died 3 weeks ago and has a daughter aged 3. She has a loving family and daddy but she is having really bad screaming tantrums shouting and crying and laying on the floor getting so upset, there seems to be no calming her down. This isn't a new thing but it seems to be getting worse, her daddy finds it hard to say no to her and we just dont know the best way to deal with it!! I have two children but they didnt have many tantrums (well not bad ones anyway) so I dont really know what to say to him to help.
Hope some of you have a few ideas PLEASE!!!

rhetorician Fri 26-Aug-11 11:15:08

ok, I am no expert, but I think you need to think of her tantrums in a completely different way to those of a toddler in a settled situation. She has presumably been conscious of her mother's illness and absence, and now has to cope with her death, plus the upset of all of those around her (her dad, you). I am so so sorry for you, and for her. All she is doing is expressing her hurt and uncertainty and fear and rage in the only way she can: she also wants to be comforted and for the adults in her life to contain these terrible feelings for her. She is not, I repeat not just behaving badly. I would make sure she is safe while she tantrums, hold her if she will let you, say soothing things to her ('there, it's ok, I love you, you'll feel better soon') and when it is over gently encourage her to use words to talk about what she's feeling. On the other hand, more than anything she needs boundaries and rules, certainties in her life, so all of you - her dad and anyone else who takes care of her needs to have a consistent approach that you all follow

Try and help her to talk about her mother, but don't be surprised if she then wanders off and starts to play. This is normal.

Others will be able to help - perhaps ask for your post to be retitled 'bereaved child and tantrums'?

You should probably seek out support, Winston's Wish would be the key charity that I can think of, but others will have good suggestions too - this is the website

good luck

seesy Fri 26-Aug-11 11:38:45

Hi thank you, you are so right it's heartbreaking to see her like this, she doesn't really understand that her mummy has died yet, but she is aware that she isn't seeing her anymore. I have been in touch with Winstons Wish they were very helpful and using the information i recieved from them we are working on telling her.
It's very true what you said about talking to her gently after a tantrum about how she's feeling and I'll def pass this on to her dad. Your also right about rules and boundaries, I think thats were there could be a problem too as her dad is obviously a little bit protective of her and is afraid of upsetting her if he says something she doesn't like, but of course this has to done.
I'll certainly pass on your comments and we'll all continue to give her lots of love and support.
Thank you.

Chundle Fri 26-Aug-11 14:23:39

Poor little thing I'm so sorry sad would it help her to have a special mummy memory box with items of clothing and photos of her mum. That way she can sit and look through it when she feels upset. Sorry I have nonother advice but feel deeply sorry for her x

aliceliddell Fri 26-Aug-11 14:30:16

I just read this and I'm very nearly crying. If that's how I feel, no wonder your dn is unable to contain her emotions. Best wishes to all of you; this is a really tough situation.

kendalmintcake Fri 26-Aug-11 14:52:48

I have sent you a personal message. Hope you get it.

babylove80 Mon 05-Sep-11 00:01:08

There is a charity also called Grief Encounters that specialises in grief with children, maybe they could also offer u some advise. Very sorry to hear your story and I hope your niece is ok. I am sure she will be fine. Sometimes it may be hard to speak about your sister because of your own grief But just make sure she always knows about her wonderful mummy xxx

MamaChoo Mon 05-Sep-11 10:04:01

Not remotely on the same scale but my husband had to go away for three months when DD was similar age and she found it very stressful and confusing, cue appalling behaviour. She invented this little ritual we did in the mornings, where we got a picture of daddy out and then wore some of his clothes (draped jumpers around us) and talked about how we missed him and what he might think about some of the things we'd done or were going to do.

So so sorry about your sister. You are doing an amazing thing being able to put time and care into helping your neice at what must be such a tough time for you. X

seesy Tue 13-Sep-11 10:33:10

Thank you for the messages, it's lovely that you all took time to reply!

ConstantCraving Tue 13-Sep-11 20:33:00

Hi Seesy, so sorry to hear of your loss. You could try posting in bereavement too - lots of people who have experienced similar and who may be able to help. X

pamelat Tue 13-Sep-11 20:39:30

Oh I'm so so sorry for all of you.

Poor baby girl, I can't even begin to imagine how she feels. Your sister would be very proud of you for looking out for her.

I have a 3 year old and this has brought a tear to my eye. Mine has been a pain in the bum today and i now feel very silly for posting earlier about her behaviour, as your post puts the whole of life in perspective.

I think with everything she has and is going through, only those trained to deal with such enormous happenings to such a little soul, are qualified to help you.

Keep mummys memory alive sad smile

pranma Wed 14-Sep-11 18:44:32

Poor little girl must be so confused and sad-she doesnt understand why mummy isnt there or why daddy and the rest of the family are so unhappy.I think you are all being amazing and are right to keep her first in your hearts just now.Treat the tantrums with hugs,give her a spray of mummy's usual perfume in her room but most of all let her articulate her feelings as much as she is able.A good story book to read with her would be 'No Matter What' by Debbi Gliori there is also a lovely book about a badger whose death devastates his friends until they remember the lovely things he did with them[maybe someone else knows the title].Goodbye Mog is another suggestion-that's by Judith Kerr.
Good Luck and thoughts for all of you and an un mn cyber hug for a little girl from a pranma who is weeping as she types this.

IWillOnlyEatBeans Wed 14-Sep-11 18:51:07

Badger's Parting Gifts is the book pranma mentions I think.

No real advice but hope you all get through this incredibly tough time.

pranma Thu 15-Sep-11 22:16:08

yes thanks IWOEB that's the one

UrsulaWoleffay Thu 15-Sep-11 22:17:17

I'm sorry for your loss, that poor little girl.

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