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My previously "perfect" daughter has turned horrible...HELP ME

(29 Posts)
lovemygirlme Fri 04-Sep-09 21:18:22

My 3 YR old daughter has been a perfect child until now, she was a perfect Gina Ford baby and has always been well behaved and polite, no terrible two's and while my friends children, bit, hit, wouldn't share, sleep,or eat my daughter was fine. Over the past few weeks she has become selfish, spoiled, and generally a bit evil and horrible.

I am a single mum so we have a really close relationship and we do an awful lot together, she is used to being away from me as my job means I have to leave her some times.

My child hood was pretty shit and I didn't have much so I am definately to blame for the spoiled bit, when we're out I let her have most things she wants, within reason, stickers, colourings, "treats". not expensive things. but now she demands treats everytime we go out, today she wanted a treat for eating a grape!!! and i think because it's just us i'm to balme for maybe treating her a bit too old- letting her stay up late in the holidays for maltesers and dvd nights (Ice Age) and i wonder if you think i've crossed the line between parent and friend? how do I know where to join the line? I love her so much and I want us to be best of friends ( as I never had that), I don't cling to her, we have a massive circle of friends and family, my sisters have girls similar age and we spend lot's of time together.

The thing that is really getting to me is that she has become really unresponsive to me pointing out that her behaviour, bossyness, rudeness and damn right horribleness is upsetting to me and others and that it effects others, usually she would really try or stop whatever she was doing. eg. if i told her that her behaviuor upset mummy she wouldn't do it any she says "so" or has today said she will swap me if i get upset because she wants to be naughty, today i also told her that her friends at play group wouldn't want to play with her if she carried on and she said "well i'll just play on my own then" this is something she would of never said before, she loves her friends. I am really down with it all, and I feel like i've lost my perfect girl and my friend and i'm starting to crack, today I told her I would take her to the naughty girls home! ( something I would never of said previously!!!)

sorry it's long and i don't know the lingo at all but this is my first entry!!! first of many I feel.


colditz Fri 04-Sep-09 21:20:34

YOu haven't lost a perfect girl and friend. She never was a perfect girl. She never was your friend.

She's a child, she's behaving like a child, let her behave like a child. You CLEARLY love her, she does love you, perhaps she needs firmer boundries? Three is a stroppy awkward age anyway. Let her be three. DOn't expect adult reactions from her, you won't get them.

lovemygirlme Fri 04-Sep-09 21:25:54

ahhh she is my friend!!! What firmer boundaries would you suggest? I don't think i'm a push over I was strict with her as a baby and she was in a strict routine from 6 weeks, i'm a big lover of Gina Ford as I believe that is why she's been so good until now....why do you think she had changed? do you have a similar ages child?

thedolly Fri 04-Sep-09 21:43:09

Is she out of nappies?

The reason I ask is that I have found that my DC became very independent in many ways once they had mastered the art of the using the toilet.

colditz Fri 04-Sep-09 21:48:31

I have a 6 year old, and a 3 year old.

3 year olds are vile. They are not at easily bribed as two year olds, and I'm afraid that is what you have been doing ... bribing her.

She has always pleased you, Her Mummy., the most important person in her life. She is probably now toying with the idea of what will happen if she DOESN'T please you.SO she is going hell bent to DISplease you, to see what will happen.

Let her have her wap attacks and paddy fits, if she doesn't push you and find your flash points now, she'll only do it when she is older. They do get more challenging and argumentative as they develop - she is just becoming her own independant person, and you are the only person she trusts to practise on.

I would clamp quite heavily on real naughtiness, but keep the language light, don't emotionally blackmail her by telling her she'll have no friends, or that you are unhappy, or that you;ll send her to the naughty girl's home. She may be eloquent and clever etc, but she's a very small child and all she will hear is "I don't love you". That's what I mean by "she's not your friend" - I mean she CAN'T be your friend, she needs you to be in charge.

If she's telling you horrible things about yourself, tell her to stop being horrible or go and be horrible to her teddies in her bedroom.

PS am not perfect, feel free to ignore my advice. My 3 year old boy simultaneously wanted to walk and go in his pushchair today. Any answerrs? grin

MrsGravy Fri 04-Sep-09 21:53:22

I fear Gina Ford has lulled you into a false sense of security. Children are much less pliable than babies in some ways. You can't control their behaviour through routine or feeding patterns!

It sounds to me like your daughter is growing up that's all. She's realising that she has her own will, she's discovering that's she's her own person, and she's trying to work out what the rules and boundaries are for her. She's also probably very interested in the way you respond to her - kids this age love pushing your buttons!

I also think at this age you can't always expect an immediate response to your chosen method of discipline or chastisement. You need to respond in a firm and consistent manner for a number of weeks before your hard work pays off.

TBH, I'd stop the empty threats and introduce some actual consequences for any bad behaviour. Things like rudeness and stroppyness I tend to completely refuse to engage in i.e. she gets nothing if she asks for it rudely, I tell her to come back and talk to me in a nice voice if she's being stroppy. Or sometimes if she's cross I try and get her to talk about that and help her work out a better way to deal with feeling cross.

Honestly though, it sounds like you've been so lucky up til now, she was bound to act up at some point!

lovemygirlme Fri 04-Sep-09 21:58:32

Thank you, I hear myself saying these things to her and I cringe becuase thats what was said to me and I know i'll hear her say it to her dollys anyday soon!! she will also probally tell the Cafcas officer who is coming to see us soon (long story re mental father) that i'm sending her to the naughty girls home lol.... re the pushchair, I find this arkward too I tend to not take it anymore, or i ask her if she's tired before we set off and if she wants to walk if she say's no i tell her she's not getting out of the pram, and then don't let her out, only for a wee.

and yeah she's been out of nappys since 2,

Thank You

lovemygirlme Fri 04-Sep-09 22:04:02

Mrs Gravy, how do you suggest I stop the demands for treats when we are out as I feel though if i start to say no all the time i'm being a hypocrite as i've mostly always "treated" her. I also need a new name for treats as I don't want her to feel like she needs to be treated or that little things are treats. I've really made a rod for my own back!

piscesmoon Fri 04-Sep-09 22:24:59

You aren't her best friend-anyone can be that -you are her mother and special.I agree with others, she isn't being horrible she is just being a child. It is difficult to cut out the treats now you have started so I would suggest that you do a lot of 'window shopping'. I used to do it with my DS when I was a single mum and he was about 3yrs. We used to go and look around a toy shop or pet shop. We never bought anything so he didn't expect it. Try and cut out things that were said to you-on no account mention 'naughty girl's homes'. She needs to know that you love her unconditionally.

clemette Fri 04-Sep-09 22:37:04

I would recommend reading this

Reassuring that it is all entirely normal, and it will get better (until they are 4.5)

notimetoshop Fri 04-Sep-09 22:50:06

This will sound like it won't work, but it does for me. A treat can be a big hug, or a kiss. So if DD is kind she gets a special big hug. She's a bit young for pocket money, but not too young to have her 'own' money. You could try that too. So she has a purse which has her money in and then if she wants something extra she has to use that money.

Mine is the same, but older and thus more stroppy. I do find stroppiness is almost exactly correlated to hungriness.

mathanxiety Sat 05-Sep-09 04:01:32

You are looking for much more out of the relationship with your DD than you should be. You want a perfect little girl, a friend, lovely times together, and you have a real flesh and blood daughter on your hands instead.

I agree with Colditz's posts here: boundaries, on both sides. Your DD needs a mother, not someone who tries to shape her behaviour by telling her how badly you feel when she does x or y; she can't cope with your feelings and she is not yet old enough to reason with. What you are left with as an option is consistent, firm but cheerful discipline (time outs, no more automatic treats/toys, a certain amount of involvement in helping you, a lot of learning how to take care of herself, including less pushchair use). With the treats, tell her ahead of time that when you go out shopping you will not be buying any treats because they're not on your list -- don't wait until you're in the shop and she starts demanding one. You'll have to remind her a few times each trip that there will be no treat. You should also stop using threats of eternal desertion by her friends if she doesn't play nicely with them. Put her in time out for three minutes instead.

She has to know it is ok to separate from you emotionally, because she is a separate person and needs to feel that this is fine with you, so no more sharing your sadness with her; treat her like a child, because she has to test the limits of her behaviour and feel secure in your love at the same time.

Lavenderdrift Sat 05-Sep-09 05:39:27

Therein lies the challenge of parenting. Getting the balance right between firm and fair. You have definitely set yourself up for a fall by giving out treats willy nilly not just as a reward and by dishing out empty threats.

But all is not lost! She is still young and now you'll need to get her on your side by using different methods.

I have a 3 year old and they have amazing imaginations so why not weave a few stories to help your cause? Mine cannot be reasoned with when angry so we have lots of 'little whispered chats' to pre empt situations which works well, eg you don't get sweets by asking for them. Or that is what a monster do, monsters don't get cuddles, they are too scary. Where has kind X gone? Is she here? I'm sad because I can't find her! etc

You can start a sticker chart for good behaviour too, or say you'll need 10 good girl points to watch tv (or any of the things she likes doing or having etc.) It's amazing how motivation for a challenge works.

It's not going to be easy but it will pay off in the end.

Longtalljosie Sat 05-Sep-09 06:07:24

I think she'll be picking up that she has all the power at the moment. And if it's there, she'd have to be a saint not to use it.

So, ultimately, you just have to toughen up. And if you say no, and she says something hurtful - that she doesn't like you, or she'll swap you for another mummy, or whatever, you just need to say, "righto", and leave it. Once she realises that isn't a lever any more she'll stop using it.

franklymydear Sat 05-Sep-09 06:25:26

Everybody talks about terrible twos and IME (with 4) that's just rubbish. It is at three that they turn from placid baby, cute toddler to independent little madam or boy equivalent.

If you play it right the phase, whilst seeming long as anything, can be relatively short.

And imo the way to play it right is to be firm and have exceptionally strong boundaries. Short sharp Nos and sending to a quiet space for inappropriate behaviour.

As for lots of treats - well what do you expect. If a child gets everything they ask for nothing has value.

You are slipping into emotional blackmail, she's too young and won't get the link that if I do this here - later that will happen.

Oh and if you change how you treat her you'll have a week / possibly 2 weeks of hell then she'll accept new routines and forget the old.

But good luck, you've made a bit of a rod for your own back but you can do it

CheerfulYank Sat 05-Sep-09 06:47:45

I totally agree, three year olds can be awful! I used to teach a preschool class that was 2.5 to 4 year olds and it was rough. If she backtalks you or is whiny tell her that you don't like that and you won't talk to her or pay her any attention until she can talk to you nicely. Then don't engage her at all, which is harder than it sounds! If she crosses a line into downright naughty behavior put her in time out. That's all I can suggest. Good luck!

Oh another thing that worked for a mom I know: when she went shopping with her DS & he asked for toys or treats, she would write whatever it was on a list and say, "Well, you've got a birthday/Christmas etc. coming up, so we'll put in on the list!" It worked really well for her because she was acknowledging that it was important to her DS but not giving in and buying it.

itsalwaysthequietones Sat 05-Sep-09 08:48:55

I do feel for you - child development really keeps you on your toes doesn't it, the moment you think you've got it licked everything changes. My DD is younger (20 months) so I can't say what will happen a year or so from now but I do think that everything people posted about boundaries makes really good sense.

It's really easy to get into the habit of regular 'treats' because culturally those sorts of things have become 'the norm'. But I think by giving in to that we actually take something away from our children because nothing is special any more. So, hard as it is to be a bit tough now, it'll pay off in the long run for both of you and the longer you put it off the more difficult it will become.

Saying all that, I can imagine how hard it is particularly when it's just you having to create all the boundaries so try not to let it get you down too much and bear in mind what others have said about this being a tricky age. One day at a time.

piscesmoon Sat 05-Sep-09 14:50:10

I would read some books like the one suggested by clemette. There is a danger, if you were badly parented yourself, to swing too far the other way.

busybutterfly Sat 05-Sep-09 23:07:07

Friend of mine said her DD missed out the Terrible Twos and went straight to the F-ing Fours...I think you're in the middle (maybe in the Traumatic Threes?!)smile

mathanxiety Sat 05-Sep-09 23:26:40

Franklymydear, so true. And great advice too. They really do push back with a lot of persistence and determination. At least at 2 they get tired and some even take a nap. I wonder what adjective goes with 13 grin.

lowrib Sat 05-Sep-09 23:31:27

Gina Ford is evil.

lowrib Sat 05-Sep-09 23:44:09

Sorry I couldn't help it grin Gina Ford is a bug bear of mine. I really don't think she has a scooby.

mathanxiety Sun 06-Sep-09 01:24:05

I too hate Gina Ford. Is there a club?

weegiemum Sun 06-Sep-09 01:33:18

I heard it was the "Thrawn Threes"

("Thrawn" being a good Scottish word for totally stubborn and inflexible with a bit of bad temper thrown in for good measure on pretty much every subject!)

weegiemum Sun 06-Sep-09 01:34:39

And probably best tone down personal comments about GF. SHe has some verrrrrry tenacious lawyers, as MN has found in the past (in case you are new and didn't realise).

I, however, "chose not to follow her routines" - oooh look at me, all diplomatic!

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