My 3 year old is pushing me to the edge, can't cope :((9 Posts)
Hi, I'm very upset and to my absolute wits end with my 3 and a half year old daughter. I love her to bits and when she's good she's the loveliest little girl in the world but when she's bad (which is most of the time ) it's unbearable. She's tells me she hates me and I don't know where she's picking such words up as I would never dream of using such harsh words around them, she's waking at ridiculous times in the morning and taking herself to the bathroom to pull toilet roll apart, wet it all in the sink then throw it around all over the place, she's rude to her 20 month old sister and pushes her around and refuses to share with her. Speaks to me like total dirt, I take my time and effort to make sure I cook good healthy meals for them every night and she just sits and refuses to eat it full stop I am then feeling guilty that she's going to bed hungry, when she goes to bed she's in and out doing anything other than sleeping, She seems to listen to dh and will do as he asks and when but he works very long hours so the majority of the time I am alone with my two daughters. She is quite often reducing me to tears and I just feel so alone in it. I try to get the kids out everyday and give them chance to burn off their energy and she attends nursery 3 hours a day 5 days a week so it's definitely not boredom, I've tried praising her more, using the naughty step, sending her to her room, reward charts but nothing seems to work. I'm currently 17 weeks pregnant with my son and am constantly panicking about how I'm going to cope with 3 with one of them acting out so badly and her younger sister copying everything she does. I feel like it's not fair that I do absolutely everything for her and get treated this way and my husband who gets to leave the house and the chaos for most of the day gets to walk through the door and have instant respect from her. I don't know what I'm doing wrong but something needs to change. Please help!
Sounds tough for you at the moment.
Is she behaving for your husband?
How does she behave at nursery?
If she behaves for others and its just you she's giving the run around then she's a smart one!
Have you got any support? It might take someone outside of your home to give you some perspective on what to do. If it's her playing up to you then perhaps look at if you are being consistent, firm (but fair) and ensuring consequences to unacceptable behaviour are do-able and kept to (e.g don't declare no fav TV programme for a week if it's the 1 thing keeping your own sanity of her watching it quietly for 15mins a day).
Have you a Sure Start (are they still called that?) ? They have people whom work with families to assist through the tough times.
Or what's your HV like? If they are decent be totally honest with them. They can help and support you.
She sounds like a 3 year old vying for attention. Don't take it personally. She doesn't hate you she is just using words.
I have a 3.5 year old and boy she has a temper. She also messes about in the toilet, wakes early and doesn't eat much good food.
However it is easier for me to deal with because I'm not pregnant and tired. Be firm with her when you need to and let things go sometimes.
We don't use naighty step or stickers or anything really. I find sometimes just listening to her a bit, giving her time actually results in better outcomes a lot of the time. Yes she sometimes has a massive tantrum but it is usually because she can't quite say what she means even though she is well spoken. There's a chance you're expecting far too much because she is your oldest. I did with my oldest but now I see my youngest and think actually it is still a young age.
Try spotting good behaviour, and praise it even if it's only very small things. Try to ignore bad behaviour as much as possible: so say "that was naughty" and then ignore as you clear up bathroom mess. Have you tried a wake up clock to let her know when she can leave her room? Have a treat prepared to reward her if she doesn't do the toilet roll thing; but don't offer it as a bribe, just reward her when she is good.
Try to carve out some 1:1 time with her. Give her a treat just for big girls.
Have some time for yourself. Buy in help, a cleaner babysitters if possible.
She is trying to get your attention, and at present being bad is the best way to do this. You need to change this.
But also make time and space for yourself. It is very hard having so many little ones, you do need help - so accept any you are offered.
My friend uses a timer to very great effect when it comes to sharing toys. One child gets it until the timer goes off then the other child gets it. It becomes less about the parent making a choice and the machine making the choice (if that makes sense).
She doesn't really hate you. Children say these things, they don't know what it means. I know it sounds hard but don't take it personally. I just say 'that's a shame because I love you' and leave it there. And don't be surprised that she's picking up words like 'hate'. They will hear it around them somewhere or other and try it out - subconsciously to see what effect it can have.
At the end of the day, though, you are her parent and you will have times when she doesn't like you very much because you are being firm and you aren't letting her have her own way. Parents have to accept that this is part of the deal (and of course the parent who is out of the house all day gets the favourable attention the second they get in - they haven't been there all dealing with the little upsets, etc, etc).
Try to make sure you make time to do activities with them that you can all enjoy. Get a pile of books and sit and read with them - they have to take it turns to choose the next book.
And let her have a simple choice - if she is good (and doesn't make a mess in the bathroom) she can choose what to have for lunch (between a couple of choices).
I had the same experience, and I found it very stressful and upsetting at the time. Dd1 was 3 dd2 was 1 and I was pg with dd3. I found it very isolating as no one I knew was dealing with such enormous meltdowns quite so often. But it did pass - ours now 6, 4 and 2.
Our approach was:
- recognise it is attention seeking, and dd1 feeling insecure - in our case because of competition from dd2, and also developmental - terrible 2s spilling into terrible 3s
- recognise they act up most with people they feel safest with - so it's a compliment (!)
- take steps to make dd1 feel more secure, especially by crafting one on one time which was specifically called "mummy and dd1 time" or "daddy and dd1time" to make her feel special. Cld be as simple as taking to park alone or for an ice cream.
- divide and rule at weekends while they're small so each parent takes a child to have special, named, 1 on 1 time
- get babysitting help lined up so still have 1 on 1 time during pg and after new arrival with dd1, and also with dd2.
- having stock phrases to deal with bad behaviour/boundary testing e.g. In response to 'I hate you' saying 'I always love you dd1, just the way you are' to make her feel more secure or for e.g. 'Please don't hit your sister, it's not ok to hit because it hurts' and then as soon as poss, but a decent interval after the event, making time for her 1 on 1. It was easier to stay calm with stock phrases, and the boundaries are very clearly stated (mostly).
- when she was old enough, try and explore how she feels and why she is feeling cross e.g 'you seem a bit cross with me, do you know why that is? Would you like more attention from me?"
- we also tried to do more positive discipline, because in our case the negative attention of telling off and naughty step just made dd1 misbehave more to get the attention, and also made her feel more insecure.
- with food I don't sweat it - I give them food. If they eat it, great, they eat it. If they don't they'll sure enough to be hungry enough for breakfast...
- recognise that this too will pass...
Hope some of these work for you. I also totally agree that easy to expect too much of oldest - I def did. Our little one (nearly 3) just blocked the sink by stuffing it with wet loo roll last week, and spent this morning drawing on the walls to get our attention, and I barely noticed.
And you are not alone!
IMO she is old enough to know its naughty so I'd do clear warning then consequence.
As far as sharing for such young children I'd have them take turns but not share. So if one child is playing with a toy they can keep it until they have finished. That way they don't feel worried that things will be taken away and relax. Usually meaning the are happier to hand it over.
Kids pick up on the 'energy' you project. Act like your completely in control and you mean everything you say (and do. No threats unless your going to do it). If you don't feel in control - fake it till you make it.
It sounds like your little girls is going to be extra work over the next few years but you'll be glad of that feistiness and character when she's older and has to deal with the bitchy girls at school or the douchebag boy who breaks her heart.
No advice but a hand hold, my DD is almost 3 and I've never known anything like it. She's currently kicking her bedroom door screaming she's not naughty and I'm almost crying on the sofa
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