Please help me understand my toddlers meltdown today. I feel like sobbing.(12 Posts)
We've recently moved home, about 8 weeks ago. It was very unexpected and everything had to be handled within a matter of five days. Our new home is lovely and my daughter has a lovely new room and the area is busier but much better with lots of things catering to her age group. But, it has been very hard on her. The quick move also meant moving away from my mum and sibling who used to live 15 mins min away and who we would see weekly, sometimes every other day. They are very close with my daughter. She has also started a new nursery and then had to change in the first week to another nursery because of things I didn't think were good about the first. She has been attending the second new nursery for two days. On Friday she told me that she wants to go home and I tried to explain that this is our new home, she didn't seem happy. Her entire routine has been turned upside down and she has been sleeping at random times and acting out a lot. I was hoping to start her off with full time hours at nursery from Monday because she is so frustrated when she is at home with me and I am having some health problems that means I cannot be as interactive as I would like with her. I was hoping it would help settle her into a new routine too and just generally make her feel happier about the move. She breastfed till she was two and a half and after nine months of being weaned off has been trying to breastfeed again and demanding it every day.
Today I picked her up and she was grumpy and tired anyway but she ended up having a half an hour meltdown in the middle of the street at a busy junction. She was throwing herself around so much in her pushchair that it became dangerous to keep on walking down the road. It was so bad that someone stopped to ask me if she was alright because they assumed she might be ill. I could not control the situation at all and it was very overwhelming. I have never seen anything like it in terms of tantrums and she has never had one like it before. She has been acting out so much over the last few weeks and can throw a hell of a tantrum but this was incredible even for her. At one point in the tantrum she pulled me by the hand towards a shop doorway that had a front area with a light above like an open porch. I let her guide me there because after half an hour of the tantrum she seemed to become fixated on going toward the shop and I was desperate to get her to calm down.
When we got there she just stood with me under the porch area and calmed down. After a couple of minutes she reached towards me for comfort so I knelt down and gave her a hug. She climbed on me in a fetal position as I was down on one knee and curved herself into me to sleep. We stayed like that for a couple of minutes before I stood up with her and told her to lean on my shoulder and she slept. As she was sleeping she started to act distressed in her sleep and I had to continue to comfort her for a bit longer. She has had bad dreams before but this was very different.
I have tried to be positive with her about the move as this is a good thing for us and I want her to be happy but now I'm at a loss as to handle this. I need advice on how to make her happier and not so stressed about moving home. She clearly needs more comfort and support but I'm not sure what else I can do at this point. I have set up her new room in a lovely way and take her for walks around the area. She gets a lot of love and attention so I'm wondering if there are other things I could do that I haven't done already.
SORRY! I should have said that this was a very long post. If you actually make it to the end then I thank you for taking the time to read it all.
She has had a lot of change over the last few weeks and it is totally natural that she will feel a bit wobbly about things. Every day it will get easier. Carry on comforting her when she is upset. It sounds like you did the best possible thing.
It can take a while to settle down to that much change as an adult who can decide it is happening. It can be far more unsettling and frustrating when you have no control. The tempertantrum was her way of expressing what she can't fully understand about how she feels about the situation never mind communicate.
Give her time, support, lots of hugs and try to squeeze in some fun things so that she can associate the house with fun. Control is difficult if she was older and you were planning on redecorating her room I would suggest old clothes and a paint brush and letting her help. Harder when she is so small
no one want paint on the carpets
Someone with more advice will be along I am sure.
Thank you both for the reassurance. It made me worry that I wasn't doing something I need to be doing.
Bitchy we did some painting yesterday and we now have some glorious craft paint stains on the new carpets. Some things are just unavoidable
I'm there with you on the feeling like sobbing part but don't beat yourself up about this. She will be fine. Lots of love and as much attention as you have time to give. Keep reassuring her. Make things sound positive. Try not to get angry about meltdowns. I know it's hard but recognise she has no control over this.
Sounds to me like you're doing a brilliant job. Keep going
Fwiw and you probably already know most of this but I think that she is very overwhelmed by the big change to her routine and surroundings. Her tantrums may be her way of trying to gain some control of the situation. Could you set up Skype/video chat or some home recorded video messages from your family to comfort her and keep contact with family. Make her room a special place for her (get her to select some old familiar toys/books/stuff from her old surroundings). Use her bedding from her old room until she settles in. I know you got new things but having some familiar things might help comfort her and settle her. Gradually start the new nursery rather than going full on from the beginning. It will get better, just tell yourself 'this is just a phase, it will pass' (I'm going through some similar unsettled stuff with our toddler at the moment, it does help).
I'd suggest you cut down the stimulation a bit, take everything more slowly. Simple meals. Try to stick to the routine. No new things for a bit. Do things that are calming for her.
Until she is more settled don't: take her to the soft play, enrol her in a great class, go to the zoo/fair/super dooper playground etc. Don't have play dates, or introduce her to lots of new people.
Try to reduce the stimulus - bright lights, noise, people.
Thanks all. She is awake now and seems to have settled. In fact she's been negotiating a deal with me over how many Lindt mini eggs she can have tonight and we've compromised on two.
Thanks Sparkly and I'll try not to beat myself up. Its because I know why she broke down like that that has made me feel so bad about it. If she was simply misbehaving or testing boundries I wouldn't feel bad. But knowing how stressed and frustrated she is feeling and not being able to do much about it has been getting to me.
I've decided on an action plan based on everyone's advice. I'm going to cut down on all activities outside of nursery until she has settled into a routine. I am going to decorate her room with her this weekend and the theme is going to be a pink princess castle room. She loves everything pink and girly so she will love it. Hopefully I can get her to feel more at home here and not so overwhelmed. We're going to spend a lot more time at home for the next few weeks until I think she's ready for venturing further afield.
Its silly mummytime but I didn't think how overstimulating all the new activities in the area must be because I was thinking they would make her feel happier about the move.
Good plan hope the decorating goes well!
I would not send her full-time to nursery unless you have to because you are working, if you are at home keep her with you.
Change can be really hard on toddlers.
We moved house a couple of weeks before Xmas and dd (2.5) displayed a lot of the same behaviour, waking up at night screaming 'Nononononono!', meltdowns in the morning and refusing to go to nursery (which she'd been happily attending for 18 mths), then meltdowns at home time crying to go back to the old house etc.
It will pass (the worst only lasted for a week or so). A few things we did:
- took turns to co-sleep for a few nights
- showing dd where all her toys, books, snacks etc were kept. Assuring her everything was still there, nothing was left behind.
- took her for a walk locally and showed her she was now nearer to the soft play and her friends houses and the toy shop etc
- after a few weeks invited her friends over so dd could 'show' them round. She seemed to like this a lot.
As others have said, keep things calm for a bit (though I find dd is better when distracted usually).
Hang in there, it will get better sooner than you know it.
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