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Shouting, defying, horrible behaviour from a 3.5 years old. In desperate need of advice please. Sorry for a long post

(32 Posts)
hereagain99 Wed 20-Feb-13 13:53:43

DD is 3.5 years old. For the last 2 months her behaviour has gone worse by the day. For the last 3 weeks we are having screaming tantrums lasting between 45minutes to an hours an average of twice a day sometimes even three times. It can start from a simple request to go for a wee before going to sleep or by just getting NO as an answer for something that she has asked and it was not possible for her to have. We do pick our battles although at the moment everything seems to be a battle.

We have created a chart with the house rules which we have chosen together and she participated in decorating the chart. We hoped that maybe by seeing the house rule chart that she would follow them but it has not worked. We have been confiscating toys when being warned that her behaviour is not acceptable and she could only get them back when we have family meetings and if her behaviour has been good. We have explained her which behaviour is acceptable and which one isn't so she can understand what we are talking about. We have used putting her in her room and telling her that she can leave her room once she has calmed down but this hasn't worked. We have told her that we don't like the way she talks to us and that makes us feel sad and it hasn't worked either. We have created a feeling chart where she can tell us how she feels by sticking a emotion card inside a sun, this hasn't worked either. We have also given her warnings that if she didn't change her behaviour she wouldn't watch telly.

Her behaviour in pre-school is excellent, when she is in other people's care they always say that she behaves fantastically well so it seems that all this anger is in the house only and with us.

I am separated from her dad and we live with my DP. It also seems that her behaviour with her dad is excellent and never has any of these outbursts.

When we ask her why she is doing it she always shouts that she doesn't know which it would be expected because of her age. So now the question. Does any of you know how to deal with this please? We believe that we have tried averything we know and nothing has worked. At the moment she has been screaming, shouting and crying for the last 44 minutes. I have sat with her hugging her to see if she would calm down and she kept scratching me and pinching me but didn't try to get out. I was sitting on the floor and she was sitting on my lap and I was hugging her.

DP and I are desperate for new ideas of what to do with her. We are both very angry at the moment and we dob't feel like doing anything with her. Yesterday we went to an activity so we could spend some time together doing nice things and at the end we had to come back home because she started one of her outburts.

We are at the point of thinking that we may need professional help as we are completely unable to change the situation. Any ideas much welcome. Thanks

Emmie412 Fri 22-Feb-13 07:53:39

DD3 here appears to be past the worst meltdown times but I have noticed that quite often when she becomes difficult I have realised that her mood and resistance has got nothing to do with the actual thing being asked of her.

For example, the other day she got a post card from her granny who lives in another country. At bedtime she was refusing to get into bed and when I lifted her she started kicking etc. I then said 'DD is upset. DD is feeling angry' (i.e. naming the emotion), to this she nodded and when I asked her to tell me why she felt upset, she eventually expressed that she wanted her granny to be here. Rather than telling her that she would not see her granny, I just said that 'DD misses her and would like to spend more time with granny' and this seemed to be enough.

Same thing when DD gets stuck with saying the same thing over and over again, e.g. asking for a certain friend to come over and play when it is not going to happen. Rather than endlessly explaining no, it is not going to happen, it has been more successful to name the emotion i.e. 'DD is feeling lonely and wishes she had someone to play with, it has been a bit boring today being sick, hasn't it?'

It is not always possible to reason with a tantrumming child but my whole point here is that there may be something else that she is finding difficult to express and that then leads to difficult behaviour, that it almost feels like they are just trying to pick a fight out of everything.

How new is the situation with separation from her dad and introducing a new partner into the family? How long has she been going to pre-school?

cloudhands Fri 22-Feb-13 10:44:12

I think you are totally right Emmie, tantrums often seem to be about small things, but actually in some way they often trigger much bigger feelings about something else in the child. It's great that you could listen to your daughter and figure out what was wrong.
It's our tendency to feel a bit irritated, that our children, have tantrums about tiny things, but I think these smaller things are triggers about much bigger emotional upsets. Tantrums should be seen as a positive thing! They help our children get rid of excess stress, and frustration so that they can be better behaved the rest of the time. If we can listen with love and unconditionally, and assume there is a big reason behind the upset. Children can't always verbally explain everything, and anyway tantrums serve a much bigger need than just communication, they are a way of getting rid of stress and frustration. if we can try to be calm, love and support our children as they cry, rather than simply ignoring them, then they can cry as much as they need and restore their bodies and minds to emotional equilibrium.
Ignoring a tantrum can help it stop more quickly, but that just means a child hasn't released all the stress and frustration, and will just carry the emotional baggage around to try and release later.

mariamenendez Thu 25-Apr-13 15:54:12

are you still having problems with your dd? Is it getting better?
I'm asking because my 3.8 dd's tantrums have escalated insanely. Anything can tip her over, mostly at the beginning and end of day. They do happen mostly when she's exhausted, but I don't know how to manage her. I've tried 'lovebombing' her (giving her love and cuddles to calm her down); sticker chart/reward schemes (but she never gets anywhere with them because she can't control herself when she's in a rage - she now gets a sticker if she manages not to smash her room up when she's in a rage!); walking away (but she runs after me and screams and holds on to my leg); and getting cross and putting her in her room. I have to hold the door shut, as she'll scream and try to pull the door off the hinges, then she strips herself, strips her bed, and smashes the room up, all the while screaming at me. I stay on the other side and tell her calmly to sit on the bed, then I'll come in, but it takes forever and I hate hearing her like this, it can't be good for her.
Conversely, I also can't give in to her rages and demands, her spitting at me in the face when I ask her to brush her teeth, or come upstairs, basic routine tasks etc.
She also wakes up at 5, and screams at us to get out of bed, nothing will calm her down.
When she smashes up her room I confiscate everything she has damaged or thrown on the floor, but it doesn't seem to bother her, she can play with an old bit of string for hours. When I confiscated her special teddy she did get extremely upset, but that just turned into a massive tantrum, although I did hold out and 'win' in the end.
It just feels like nothing I'm doing works, I feel so angry inside, and like I want to smack her, although so far I've managed to contain it.
any suggestions from your experience?

flossymuldoon Thu 25-Apr-13 16:35:18

My DS is 3.5. He is adopted and quite controlling so we constantly have to take control back which more often than not is what started the tantrum. What works for us is:

I stay calm and refuse to argue. So if he's tantrumming for something i say no. He shouts. I say no again and tell him that i'm not going to argue anymore.

I don't say anything then once his shouting starts to subside i tell him to come and sit on my knee. As long as i wait until the anger has subsided, he does and i just hug him until he's back to normal.

It is quite important to let them tantrum though as that is how they learn the regulate their emotions but i know it's bloody hard. The first major one that happened left us all completely drained!!!

I can also recommend Playful Parenting book

mariamenendez Thu 25-Apr-13 17:27:41

Thanks flossy. You are right it is about control.
What about when they are refusing to do something you need them to do, like brush teeth, or go to bed, etc? I give her the choice to do it herself, but if she refuses after several chances then I do it myself ( ie brush her teeth while she's resisting etc, which doesn't seem right, but I don't want to spend 2 hours waiting for her to be in the right mood). This always causes a rage, but again, I don't want to be a prisoner to her moods, and not let her get her own way.
I do try and stay calm when I do this though.

MaryRobinson Thu 25-Apr-13 19:18:28

Yes yes to Playful Parenting it is a fabulous book.

mariamenendez Thu 25-Apr-13 20:04:44

right I've ordered it.
I did flip her across the back of the head with a wet flannel the other day, half in jest, half annoyed, because she was being so lippy at dinner time, and she burst out laughing, so then I did, and we had a very funny wet flannel fight which completely diffused the situation, so maybe this book is the answer...
it's got to be better than the continual fighting at the moment

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