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helping 3.5 yr old deal with big changes in life

(9 Posts)
dreamsofsleep Thu 31-Jul-14 02:44:26

Hi All

In need of some advice please! So, my 3.5 yr old DD has always known her own mind and wanted her own way. Since she's been about 18 months she's had regular phases of being pretty difficult/rebellious etc. However currently her behaviour is scaling new heights of horror! Massive public tantrums. Hits and kicks me and her father. Massive bedtime struggles to the extent that we've had to put her back in a cot from a toddler bed.
Now, it is pretty clear to me why this is all happening. 1) she has a 5 month old brother. from when he was about 3 weeks til 3 months she was very jealous. then she really started to calm down and form a bond with him and it was lovely. Then a month later we moved from London to the United States and since then she has been really really difficult. The jealousy has resurfaced worse than ever and the behaviour in general is awful - though we do have patches of normality.
Has anyone experienced this sort of reaction to massive life changes? What can I do to help her? She is in nursery here which has also been tough but she is getting more and more settled there now.
Any good books to read? Siblings without rivalry? Raising your spirited child?
And what can I do to help myself? Don't mean to sound selfish but between her tantrums and her brother's broken sleep I really feel like I am going to crack up. How do you keep sane at times like this?!

Lally112 Thu 31-Jul-14 02:58:01

Does she help out with baby? I have 4 and DD1 who is second born was (and still is at 7) the worst, but I found getting her involved with bathing the baby, changing nappies, putting cream on, helping make food etc really really helped calm and focus her.

I'm not saying she went from complete dinosaur to sweet angel overnight but it gave us more moments of peace and could always sort of refocus her attention if she had something to do that somehow included her in the baby's schedule.

The other upside is now nearly four years on she is a dab hand at applying plasters, nappy rash cream, bottle feeding and sterilising and she sort of acts like a little second parent to her younger siblings when they need it. She will pick them up and comfort them if they fall over or help them get dressed etc but she still has her madam moments and that's a girl thing.

PositivityBee Thu 31-Jul-14 03:11:50

1) Ignore the baby as much as possible when she is around. The baby will not notice. All visitors told to make a fuss of her before even noticing baby. 2) a move is a major identity thing, even if same / similar language. Keep communication with her open. Maybe lessen the number of boundaries if you are being very strict about everything. Maybe give her options about what to wear, how to decorate her room etc (all options acceptable to you of course), so she feels she is a person who is heard and matters, even if everything around her has changed. As for you, have mummy time (sleep, baths, yoga, sudoko, hay day, whatever does it for you) when you have a chance. Or go back to work :-)

Shanster Thu 31-Jul-14 03:15:02

Hang in there! I have two spirited dcs and I feel your pain. The youngest is 3.5 and is also going through a ver difficult phase (including waking me up 5 times last night). The nursery should help (I can see mine is ready to go back after a summer at home); get into a routine and take no nonsense - be consistent and she'll eventually calm down. I'm in the US too by the way.

dreamsofsleep Thu 31-Jul-14 16:02:12

thanks everyone, really good ideas ...lally you are right, she does love helping and 'advising' on baby. positivity bee -i am not super strict and actualy think one of the problems is i need to be more consistent, but youre right, choices and options always a winner. shanster - sending you sympathy re your five wake ups ... where are you? i am in washington dc ...excuse brevity and typos, babe in arms here!

Sootgremlin Thu 31-Jul-14 20:28:57

If you possibly can, and I know it's difficult with a baby, make some real one on one time with her.

I had exactly the same situation as you, similar age gap and move, and the thing that really helped was giving my three year old some undivided attention, and letting him know that things could still be as they were before the baby and the move, even if only occasionally.

I took him to the cinema, but could be a quick trip to the playground, cafe for a treat, shop for a small toy etc, go round the block with her on her bike chatting. have fun with her and really listen to what she wants to do. On the floor, playing, undivided attention. Even just once a week made a huge difference.

I thought that it was enough to do this while the baby was asleep etc, but the key thing was us going out leaving the baby behind, and doing something just us, that seemed very important.

I breastfed so didn't have much time but managed to leave her with DH for the odd hour here and there, his behaviour improved so much once we did it, and now I just try and remember to top him up with some one on one time every so often.

The other thing is try not to give too much negative attention to the bad behaviour, just 'no please don't hit/tantrum' etc then turn away and be distracted by something else. Hth

dreamsofsleep Fri 01-Aug-14 01:15:47

oh am i glad to hear from you, sootgremlin! To hear from someone who has had exactly the same experience and come out the other end is just what I need. Funnily enough, just this evening I managed to read her bedtime stories and put her to bed (usually don't manage it as breastfeeding baby to sleep). She seemed so happy and I felt so sad for her because although she is being horrendous, absolutely everything in her little world has changed. I am really going to try your suggestion of one on one time, starting tomorrow.
Also you're so right re the negative attention - I try to remind myself to just ignore, ignore ignore when she is having a tantrum but sometimes my blood just boils.
Anyway, thanks again, will give it a go, I really think (hope!) you've hit the nail on the head.

StokeyEmma Sat 02-Aug-14 20:55:20

scotgremlin - really good advice. We're trying plenty of one on one time with our jealous 3 year old, and also making a massive deal of positive behaviour and less focus on the bad (though he needs to apologise etc if he does something wrong). It does seem to make a difference

samned Tue 05-Aug-14 18:24:04

After my daughters toilet training at 2 and a half we moved to a new place where she started going to nursery and her dad started to be interested in her at around 4 and a half when she was well out of her nappy and going to school. These were big changes going on in her little world it was exciting to be part of it with a lot going on in her life unfortunately her dad started being really too interested in her enough to go to other countries with her, this confused all of us and effected her communication with me to the extent that i had trouble relating how i was feeling. She was really interested in transformers, it took everything out of me to get her to do anything else except play with her transformers. I then started to be interested in playing with the transformers myself and talk to her this way she spoke a lot about the transformers so i encouraged her although she spoke without being able to express how she feels. I am also trying to find a way to encourage her to express how she feels through her transformers still trying to make headway.

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