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Please help me with my 3 yr old.

(27 Posts)
swift1 Fri 23-Feb-07 18:46:31

I have one dd who was 3 last week and am 22 weeks pg and I just feel like I cannot cope with her.
She is the most wonderful thing in my life, I adore her. But these last 10 days have been dreadful and I just dont know how I can cope with her anymore, I am at my wits end.

I work afternoons and take her with me, and we have had the week off this week. And every day we have had tantrums to the point where I am the one crying everyday. It all starts because she just point blank refuses to do something.

Now alot of things I will let go (like her wanting to wear shorts - shes inside the house so shes warm - its not the end of the world), but things like brushing your teeth have to be done, and I will not let her not have it done .I ask her a good few times nicely and she will still refuse so I have to hold her on my lap and do it while she is screaming. This then upsets me too and I cry also! THis doeasnt happen everyday.

Dh is staring to lose his patience with her. The other night she threw a cushion off the sofa and stamped all over it and refused to pick it up. He put her in the hall, but she wont stay in there, so he has to hold the handle. Then when her time's up and he tries to talk to her to bring her back in, she will go and sit in the corner of the hall and say 'Im not talking to you' She nows plays a game where she shuts all her toys out of her bedroom because theyve been naughty .

Tonight she had a tantrum getting in the car and whacked me in the face. Then she had a tantrum getting out of the car, and so I took her blankie away and told her she couldnt have it until she was good. THis reulted inher coming in and whacking dh. He then smacked her bum, which we never do. Its just all getting out of conrol.I dont feel like I can discipline her. I KNow she shouldnt hit, but when I put her in the hall or her room she just doesnt stay there.Its like its just a game to her.

PLease help me. Im sitting here in tears because I feel like my family is falling apart. What do I do????

doormat Fri 23-Feb-07 18:48:50

your dd is attention seeking
and will continue to do so as she is seeing your bump growing
so is in competion with the bump iykwim

hopefully after your bump is born
things will settle down
good luck

doormat Fri 23-Feb-07 18:49:30

ps just give her loads of reassurance

swift1 Fri 23-Feb-07 18:52:02

THanks doormat. I did think this, but she has me all to herself all day. I always make sure we do domething together, and then shes happy to play by herself for a while I do house work, amd then we do something again. This goes on all day. I tell her I love her all the time and am always kissign and cuddling her, to the point where ve even thought Ive overdone it in that area and shes always pushing nme off.

tissy Fri 23-Feb-07 18:55:16

Was the whack you got deliberate, or an accidental result of you being in the way of her tantrum, can you tell?

Not sure that taking her balnkie away was the best thing to do.... she is feeling insecure and that may be all she thinks she has.

Have you tried star charts for good behaviour/ lots of positive reinforcement?

At three she may be able to understand something along the lines of, " I love you very much, you will always be my first and my best baby, it makes Mummy very sad when you're you want Mummy to be sad? Well how about making a special try to be good? would you like to make Mummy very happy? Well, you will get a sticker every time you clean your teeth without screaming, and when you have 5 stickers you'll get....(insert coveted prize here).

Sparkletastic Fri 23-Feb-07 18:56:40

Hiya Swift1 - I have a 3 yr old DD and a 10 mth old DD. Had excatly the same whilst preggers (and a bit after the event but not as bad). We also ended up smacking DD1 a couple of times as we lost control - didn't help at all of course but didn't do any harm either. Sounds like your DD is deffo a control freak - I guess many are at 3 yrs. We did do one of the dreaded sticker charts for a while and that did help in some areas (bathtime behaviour, teeth-brushing etc). Your family is NOT falling apart, she's just testing you and however you respond she'll come good in the end. Are you doing much quality time stuff with her? This helped in our case. Also quiet cuddly reading sessions with lots of books about new babies and being a big sis... You are deffo doing the right thing by choosing your battles - some things aren't worth it as you need your sanity!! Things are pretty good with us now and DD! adores DD2 - you'll be fine. Sending you supportive thoughtwaves

swift1 Fri 23-Feb-07 18:56:50

Oh yes, Tissy the whack was deliberate. A star chart may help, but what do I do when she just doesnt want to copoerate.

swift1 Fri 23-Feb-07 18:58:38

Sparkle, yes we do things together everyday, painting.gluing playdough, park , always something. GLad to hear youre throught the worsy. THanks

Sparkletastic Fri 23-Feb-07 18:59:41

great / battle-weary minds think alike Tissy!! Swift1 - you are deffo putting in the quality time stuff then. Is your DH doing much with her? I got mine much more involved in the run-up to DD2 knowing he'd have to be there for DD1 much more with a new baby in the house. He really got into taking her swimming, to the cinema etc and they are really close now. Helped DD1 cope with sharing me I think.

Sparkletastic Fri 23-Feb-07 19:03:27

When DD1 didn't co-operate it was a big black cross on the sticker chart and only 1 book (usually 2) at bed-time. When she was tantrumming (sp?!) we shut her in her room and held the door for 3 minutes. If she didn't say sorry it was another 3 minutes etc etc. Supernanny approach I guess

tissy Fri 23-Feb-07 19:04:46

dd used to do the whole lying on the floor drumming her arms and leg thing. The most effective approach was to walk out of the room and remove the audience.

tissy Fri 23-Feb-07 19:05:34

we still have a "no screaming chart" and she's 5! 2 sad faces a week, and she doesn't get her comic

derlor Fri 23-Feb-07 19:07:11

Hi, my almost 3 yr old dd is currently going through a similar phase. i know they are all individuals but i find that walking away and completely ignoring her and the bad behaviour to be quite successful - children hate being ignored and almost everything they do is for attention ~(+ve or -ve) my dd soon snaps out of grumpy mood and comes back trying to sook in with me. then i talk camly to her and tell her how much she has upset mummy - 9/10 times we then can go happilly to carry out origional task. i know time is not always on your side when trying to do this and also it is VERY hard to not loose your patience but just walk away and count to 10 or 100 if necessary!! also have got my dh on board with this which is so important so no mixed messages are being given to her. rewards and star chart also useful as earlier suggested. good luck

funnypeculiar Fri 23-Feb-07 19:08:46

DS (now 3 ) went through a truely awful stage when I was about this pregnant. A lot of my mates have had similar nightmares with their first borns at the same satge of pg, across a range of first born's ages. I am convinced that they know 'something' is going on, can't really understand it, and feel insecure/panicy. All of us have found once the baby arrives, after the first few weeks, things settle down.
You sound like you're making some really sensible choices in choosing your battles. The only advice I would have is to try and find a way to 'detatch' so that you don't feel so emotionally invovled. For me, the only way to do this is to chant under my breath 'this is a phase, this is a phase'. If you do this whilst teeth-brushing etc, you may not find it so tough. And there's always a chance that your dd is getting the attention she wants from this misbehaviour (eg you crying is perhaps not a 'good' result for her, but it certainly must give her a sense of power...[sad})
I'd agree with earler post re lots of positive reinforcement EVERY time she does somthing good/makes you happy or proud - concentrating on that will make you feel better too...

Someone with some clever pasta jar type stuff will be along soon, no doubt . In the meantime, you are doing a great job, & it WILL get easier...

Kif Fri 23-Feb-07 19:11:03

Try to break the cycle - have a mentalhealth day. You both need time to cool off and think the situation through.

Aday out with another family member while you stay at home? Pyjama and pink milk day? Soft play? Something where you can avoid your normal flashpoints.

When you feel calmer and more rested, I think you (plus your dp) need to decide (looking ahead to new lo) what is negotiable and what is not. Suggest that given the stress of the lo you try to make it as easy a regime as possible - you'll have enough to do without being on her case all day long.

Remember 'carrot and stick'. Since my lo 3 months ago, me and Dd race to get dressed in the morning. Prize is mini bag magic stars. So the punishment for being a pain in the neck is not getting the expected reward - but if she's good then nice things happen. It has put us on a more constructive footing.

derlor Fri 23-Feb-07 19:11:57

oh yeah forgot to mention i am also currently pg (26 weeks) never thought of that being connected with her behaviour before

swift1 Fri 23-Feb-07 19:14:35

THAnks everyone, i do igonore her when she tantrums but she just follows me around and I liteerally cant get away from her. She will start hitting me if I dont respond to her, and so I stick her in the hall way and then as I said when its time for her to come out she wont, she turns away and say shes wont speak to me! the cheek of her.

Maybe I should lock myself in a room until she stops.

mammabelleboo Fri 23-Feb-07 19:40:54

Hi Swift1
Jeez, being a mum is hard! Thanks for your kind words - hope things sort out with your DD too. Like doormat says, could be attention seeking related to your expected baby.
Really hope things settle down for you - I have bad days, but it must be pretty unbearable being pregnant. When I'm having hard times, I try to remember that on the whole, the good times do outweigh them and believe that it probably is only a phase that will pass - just a case of being patient, accepting it's the way it is at the moment and finding a way to best deal with the situation & above all, try not to get too upset..... But this all goes out the window on a really bad day (like today for me) because it all seems relentless, it's uncomfortable territory & it drags you down. i think just keeping positive helps loads, if you can. xx.

sunnysideup Fri 23-Feb-07 20:15:26

swift, I'm sure people are right and some of this is due to the unsettlement she may feel that something is going on, and she's not sure what!

As someone else said this is not forever and she will come good and be absolutely fine.

I am in complete agreement with 'kif' who said try and use races, and other ways of engaging her capacity for competitiveness and fun. A spirited girl like yours, who is 3 (in my opnion the MOST challenging age!!!) is going to look on being told (a few times) to do her teeth, as a great opportunity to flex her control muscles. Just don't even go there, don't give her the opportunity! Make things like teeth cleaning, clothes on, shoes on, part of imaginative games...her shorts can be shorts that only princesses are allowed to wear for instance....just try and look at things from a different point of view rather than being 'literal' - just asking, then repeating yourself....

I had great success with this sort of approach with my VERY opinionated boy when he was 3, and it doesn't go on forever. They don't fight like this about everyday stuff forever it is very definitely a phase. It seems to me that either you fight it all the way and have days and weeks like you've had lately, or you try and engage with all these things in a different way which takes completely away the power struggle aspect; it disables her ability to play control games if she is caught up in racing you to get dressed instead of having a battle about whether she will or won't!

Also, I think you're spot on to remove her from the room when she's being utterly impossible - so what if she won't talk when her few minutes is over and ignores you? just pen the door, tell her you are ready to play when she's ready and don't pay any more attention to it!

I think all this would go some way to making you feel a bit more in control, which stops some of the anger and feelings of powerlessness which lead to smacking as your dh did

FrannyandZooey Fri 23-Feb-07 20:34:30

Haven't read any posts except the OP as I want to give an unbiased opinion if you know what I mean

This all sounds extremely normal to me and we have days like that all the time. I don't think there's anything wrong with your dd. She sounds an average 3 year old flexing her muscles, being awkward for the sake of it and probably having the odd day where she is a bit tired and grumpy, as we all do.

The thing about the cushion - well I mean, so what? It would have annoyed me too, but it's not really a big deal to throw a cushion and stamp on it, is it? It's not as if she hurt anyone or broke anything. I think if you use tactics such as shutting in the hallway then you will get behaviour such as "I don't want to speak to you." It follows logically from what you have done to her. If someone does things you don't like, you shut them out and ignore them - this is what you are teaching her by these discipline methods.

The hitting is a way of showing frustration and rage at her impotence. 3 year olds have huge opinions on what they want to do and if they are thwarted they can feel enormous anger with us. It isn't acceptable to hit someone because you are angry with them, but little children are still learning that. At 3 they know it is wrong but haven't yet learnt to control themselves every time. It's nasty and upsetting, and it makes you feel like a cack parent when your child lashes out at you, but it doesn't mean that your child is evil or that you are making huge mistakes. It means you have a 3 year old and you made them do something they didn't want to do, at a time when they were not in a good mood - maybe you did it a bit harshly, or maybe they were just brewing for a tantrum anyway - it isn't the end of the world. Just try to keep calm and chalk it up to experience. If you lose control every time they get angry, then it becomes a huge issue. If you remain calm and say something like "I can see you are angry but I still need you to get into the car seat. We have to go to the shops and I need you to be safe in the car. Let's think about what we could buy for dinner" or whatever, all the time firmly continuing to strap her in.

It is easy for me to stand back and suggest better ways for you to deal with these situations, because I am not standing there in a red mist / with tears coming into my eyes because I am tired and pregnant and feeling like my dd is horrible. The best way to improve your daughter's behaviour is to build on your good relationship with her, model good behaviour rather than using punitive punishments (such as taking away comfort objects and isolating her), and most of all wait for her to mature and become more capable of behaving in a more socially acceptable way. I really think we expect a HUGE amount from little children these days, and feel failures if our children are not totally obedient all the time. It stinks. They are children. They are very young. They will learn. Meanwhile let's be kind to them and not fight with them all the time.

I am really glad you have come and started this thread and I hope talking about it can help you. Going to read the rest of the thread now.

FrannyandZooey Fri 23-Feb-07 20:43:19

Totally agree with suggestions to make imaginative games out of hated tasks. Tooth brushing one, we currently play that ds is a dog who has to go to the vet and have his doggy teeth checked

you will know what will interest your dd - pretend stories are a hit with this age group.

About all the pasta jar / sticker stuff - it's crap IMO. In a decent relationship one person is not always bribing the other to do things that they want them to do. We want our children growing up to behave well because they see the inherent value of doing so and believe it to be the right thing to do - not because they expect a pat on the back or a prize at the end. These methods backfire IMO. Just keep building on the good things in your relationship and show her how you want her to behave by treating her with respect and consideration - not making her into a performing seal who does tricks to get a treat.

sunnysideup Fri 23-Feb-07 20:49:43

I totally second what franny says about reward stuff. I really think they can make people (sometimes) a tad lazy, in that in their minds that becomes the one and only sanction/encouragement and they stop thinking a bit. It really has to be better for your relationship with your child and your and your child's quality of life in general, if you can 'play' together in a way that enables you to get the everyday stuff done without either facing up to each other in a power struggle every day, or as franny says making the child think that life is a series of rewards for certain actions.

It's really lovely and precious when I can hug ds and say "do you know what, I loved when you did (whatever good it was), I think you deserve a treat, lets get you a (whatever the treat is)" He is so thrilled when that happens.

Jimjams2 Fri 23-Feb-07 20:57:17

teeth/cushions etc turn into games "I bet I can clean my teeth faster than youuuuuuu". Sofa cushion throwing isn't worth doing battle with. Try a game and if you end up picking it up sometimes never mind, if its fun she'll do it other times.

DS3 (just 2) is being a nightmare at the moment getting into and out of cars (he wants to do the whole thing himself and sometimes its just dangerous). If its dangerous then I just pick him up and carry him and ignore the screaming, otherwise I let him do it.

I do use shutting briefly (10 seconds) out of the room with young children but only for very very serious misdemeanours like hitting another child- or in ds3's case headbutting another child! For hitting me or another adult I would just put the child down and turn them away from me for a few seconds and say calmly 'no hitting' (make the response they get for hitting very very dull and boring).

dingdongjustforyoufg Fri 23-Feb-07 21:14:23

my sympathies swift1, I have twin girls who were 3 in december I agree with what has been said so far, games work well, choosing which battle to fight and which to leave - like you, I'd rather have them dressed in something than have a fight over which outfit it will be, teeth are usually ok but when they don't play we pretend to be sharks/crocodiles. DT2 is very strong and lashes out when angry, won't let anyone near here so we leave her to calm down then talk about why she did it, what she shoudl have done etc...we have also given her a bit of a 'get out clause' - they have fairies on their bedroom wall and if she wakes up grumpy we blame the fairies for sprinkling grumpy dust on her in the night - not excusing her behaviour as we do then talk it through, but it gives her a way to calm down a bit. We do stickers occasionally but not regularly and the only reward is the sticker itself, spontaneous presents for ongoing loveliness seem to work better (and cost less )

kbaby Fri 23-Feb-07 21:53:22

Swift- I have a almost 3 yr old and a 6 month old baby and my DD sounded exactly like yours. When I was pregnant I also cried daily and left many a playgroup because I just couldn’t control her. She also does the ‘im staying on the naughty step’ thing and puts her toys on there for being naughty. I chose to view this as just a way to show that she still had some power by choosing not to come off and as with her toys its just imitation so don’t be too worried. It did get worse when the baby arrived as she took things out on him and was frequently scramming or hitting him. Each time she was put on the naughty step. It has now finally got better and our tantrums are just the normal ones ie wont brush teeth/get dressed etc. She has stopped hitting me and mostly likes playing with her brother, still have to watch her though as she snatches toys off him.
You will get through this tough time and even though you feel so bad about everything your little girl is just displaying her independence.

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