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I genuinely don't know what to do about DD. Her behaviour is breaking my heart :(

(24 Posts)
DevonFolk Mon 14-Apr-14 17:50:55

She'll be four in a couple of weeks. In the past she's often found sharing toys/space difficult but recently it seems to be getting worse and worse. She makes this kind of growling noise and makes really angry faces at whatever child has dared to play with something she wanted or go on the playground toy she was on. It's generally aimed at her friends rather than strangers in the park.

Over the last week she's been particularly difficult. I've spent the weekend in tears and now today she's just rounded off a playdate with her closest friend by pinching her, having already got cross about friend using particular pens and a couple of other things. Apparently the pinch wasn't done in anger, but as part of a chasing game and DD had 'got' her friend. I asked her if she'd pinched anyone before and she said no. Then when I asked if anyone had pinched her before she named a boy at pre-school who's renowned for hurting others. I asked her if it had hurt when the boy had pinched her and she said yes. So she has pinched her friend knowing that it hurts sad

We talk about it, we read relevant stories about anger and friendship, we put away the most sacred of toys when people come to play. I'd say I'm a fairly middle of the road parent. I subscribe to certain elements of gentle parenting but I'm also quite strict in other areas.

I'm really struggling with her attitude. She just doesn't seem bothered about anything. She will quickly revert to happy following an incident and she just doesn't show remorse. I know she's only young, but the way she's going she'll have no friends left because no one will want to play with her. And frankly I don't blame them because I don't particularly want to play with her at the moment either sad

I've offered to have a friend's DD this week to give her some time, but based on the last two times we've seen them I really don't want to. DD was horrible to her DD on Saturday (although my friend was unbearably kind and understanding) and I can't bear the idea of DD making her friend so sad again.

It's breaking my heart to see her like this. It's the usual cliche; she's otherwise such a happy, bright, funny child. But she can't control her anger. And I don't know how to help her sad

DevonFolk Mon 14-Apr-14 17:51:24

Sorry, that was longer than intended.

ASmidgeofMidge Mon 14-Apr-14 18:08:00

When incidents occur during play dates, what about giving a warning and if behaviour persists, bringing play date to an end? It might also be easier for her to have contact with her friends outside of the home, if she's quite possessive over toys - and also easier for you to take her away if she doesn't behave.
She's shill young IMO - my dd (6) can be possessive over things still, and quite 'bossy' toward friends coming to play

ASmidgeofMidge Mon 14-Apr-14 18:08:10


DevonFolk Mon 14-Apr-14 18:12:35

I do warn her and the pinch was the end of the play date. I took the friend straight home and apologised to her mum. DD had been invited to another friend's house today but she didn't want to go. The friend who was here lives next door and they sort of take it in turns coming and going and it was definitely my turn to have the friend here.

I know what you mean about not having friends here though and I am looking for ways to avoid it. These things happen on neutral territory and other people's houses as well though if I'm there. As far as I know it hasn't been a big deal when I've not been around.

LIZS Mon 14-Apr-14 18:16:37

Are you sure you aren't expecting too much of her ? 2 playdates scheduled for one day sounds a lot. If you can limit the time to say an hour and then you can review when several have gone better. Have an activity you can supervise and they focus on for the most part, then some freeplay. It may simply be too exciting and stressful, making her anxious and tired.

DevonFolk Mon 14-Apr-14 18:21:04

I didn't have two planned for the same day. She didn't want to go on one so someone else came here instead.

It's difficult to explain. Even when it's a short time it happens. Even if I'm right there - we were all sitting at the table drawing together with the whole pen incident. I think she does get stressed, but it just doesn't take a lot to get to that stage.

mercibucket Mon 14-Apr-14 18:24:33

shes 3
dont expect remorse etc

maybe just no playdates til she is older?

is she ok at nursery?

mercibucket Mon 14-Apr-14 18:25:57

i wouldnt have your friends dd while you get so upset about your dds behaviour either.

LIZS Mon 14-Apr-14 18:39:29

If she didn't want to go on the original playdate maybe she was trying to tell you she didn't want company today. Does she entertain herself at home or do you usually play with her or have a friend round.

mercibucket Mon 14-Apr-14 18:41:56


this is quite a nice, short article about child development. maybe worth reading up more. at the moment your expectations sound high and like you blame your dd for her developmentally normal behaviour. of course, she has to learn and i am sure she will, but i am concerned you are expecting too much. they dont develop empathy or guilt (no sure that is great to guilt trip) til later

mercibucket Mon 14-Apr-14 18:42:52

another try at clicky link thing sad

DevonFolk Mon 14-Apr-14 18:43:27

LIZS it was the particular friend she didn't want to play with rather than not wanting company. She always wants to see the friend who came over.

She's not good at playing independently and is very demanding of me and my attention.

DevonFolk Mon 14-Apr-14 18:53:46

Thank you Merci. I might be expecting too much in the way of empathy but do you really think I'm expecting too much with regards to her behaviour?

LIZS Mon 14-Apr-14 19:05:23

How long does friend stay ? Good behaviour is difficult for a toddler to sustain and actually a very abstract concept. Maybe work on one aspect at a time ie . no hitting , sharing specific toys/taking turns, table manners

mercibucket Mon 14-Apr-14 19:14:32

its just things like 'closest friend' and 'remorse' 'breaking my heart' that make me think your expectations are too high. she wont have 'friends' as we do and certainly not 'closest' ones

bad behaviour needs to be stopped of course. pinching is not acceptable etc. but quick punishment of choice and move on.

avoidance is also useful eg no playdates for a couple of months if you think she is not developmentally ready. at her age she might want you all to herself. ditto toys.

why does it upset you so much? genuine q. did you have trouble making friends for example? just seems an issue you are very upset about

DevonFolk Mon 14-Apr-14 19:41:22

Ok, so my choice of words may not have been suitable. I actually have no idea why I said 'closest' friend. 'Favourite person' would be more apt. She won't stop going on about this friend. She wants to see her all the time.

And maybe I don't mean remorse, but she just doesn't seem bothered that she's made someone cry.

It does break my heart. I've never known any of her friends behave like this and I know that if any of them did what she does on a regular basis we'd distance ourselves from them. I just don't want the same for her.

I don't know why it gets to me as much as it does. I'm very sensitive and struggle massively with self-esteem so I suppose I see it all as a reflection on me and my parenting. Right now I'm feeling like a complete failure sad

I've thought about the no play date thing before but then I worry that she'll never learn how to share in her own home (not that this is limited to home). She's totally different at pre-school and when I'm not around, and I daresay when she starts school in September she'll be absolutely fine.

I just can't deal with her anger sad

mercibucket Mon 14-Apr-14 20:23:30


i am sure your dd will be just fine.
she has no probs at nursery - great smile
maybe she just gets a bit tired? or sick of sharing? normal for her age. not a problem. she will learn from gentle correction, modelling good behaviour, and growing older

its really important she doesnt pick up on some of your feelings imo - it seems, over the internet, like a lot of anxiety from you, maybe as you say because we can feel 'judged'. just keep repeating to yourself, it is developmentally normal

you sound a very caring and empathetic person. i am sure you would gain a lot of insight into your daughter's actions from reading up a bit about child psychology. the library have good books for eg childcare workers

a 3 and 4 year olds mind is a strange place grin

btw i have seen a lot of kids that age and while they are not all like this, all the time, they are all like this some of the time!! calm and gentle correction plus avoidance where possible will see you through this stage

Viviennemary Mon 14-Apr-14 20:25:57

She is only three. But that's not to say that she can't be taught right from wrong. Please don't get upset about this as she is just a very small child. I agree with what others have said re limiting the length of the play times and so on.

mercibucket Mon 14-Apr-14 20:26:00

another thing, sorry, is the 'dealing with anger' thing
i am crap at this sad but apparently it is v important to acknowledge their emotion so they can learn to deal with it, not bottle it up or be scared of it
hopefully another poster can advise more on that

ComradePlexiglass Mon 14-Apr-14 20:53:12

I like mercibucket's posts. Very thoughtful.

She really does sound utterly and completely normal, devon. They are usually little egocentrists at this age and just in the very early stages of seeing other children as humans with feelings, ime. Pinching/hitting/shoving/wrestling in over-excitement during chasing games or playfighting is incredibly common. And sharing favoured toys (ie the toy that someone else is playing with) will be a minefield for some time to come! (I have some possessions I am v reluctant to share and I am 41- found myself bristling with possessiveness when my beloved teenage son wanted to borrow my almost equally-- beloved bike the other day!) My daughter and her 3/4 year old pals spend ages bickering about things and bossing each other about. Just the way of the young child, I think. I don't think you should let pinching pass, of course not, but it warrants a stern telling off/short timeout type of response and if repeated end of the playtime, rather than ongoing worry about empathy.

Purpleroxy Tue 15-Apr-14 16:03:51

I would stop all play dates for a few months. Ds behaved badly when I had a child and her mum round and also again with another child and mum. He was almost 4 at this point. I was very embarrassed, one of the mums never let her dd have anything to do with ds again. So I stopped for a whole year. Ds grew up a lot , all the problems vanished. That was 4 years ago and kids come to play now with no problems.

SugarPlumpFairy3 Wed 16-Apr-14 22:02:52

I honestly had to blink and look at your username to double check I'd not written the op!

My dd was a very difficult toddler and pre schooler. Her tantrums were epic and only really stopped when she was 5. She was not a sharer and we had many similar play dates as you describe. I remember that if we arrived at the park and had the equipment to ourselves, she'd not 'share' it if anyone else came to play, declaring it HER park shock! She also struggled with having her little friends over so we used to put away anything special and agree on what could be played with.

We had some really tough years with her. I'd frequently be in tears and I wondered where I was going wrong.

I'm happy to report that she's now a delightful 7 yo smile. She's still feisty, still doesn't share easily and still struggles to control her anger on occasions but on the whole she's great. She's hugely popular amongst her friends and is extremely sociable.

If you feel she can't cope with play dates yet, then leave it for a few months. Your dd will learn to share when she's emotionally ready. The fact that she's fine at pre school is a huge plus.

SauceForTheGander Fri 18-Apr-14 19:13:18

My DD (nearly 4) can spend the entire play date ignoring her friend and then bawl her eyes out when they have to leave. Then she can play well with someone and claim she doesn't like them next time round and refuse to play / share / speak! One friend left early as DD was so vile to her - we risked it again and they adored each other.

Please don't worry about your DD - I've had enough kids over to play now to be able to categorically say no one's DC is perfect. Everyone develops in their own way at their own speed and have differing strengths.

A really major part of learning how to get on in this world is making and breaking friends. I know we want our DCs to be the effortlessly popular ones as their lives seem easier - but they have to figure it out gradually.

This sounds really normal. We've got a huge crying issue at the moment - it's a tough age.

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