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Extended BF (DD nearly 4). HV/Doc saying this 'babying' is adversely affecting behaviour....not sure what to do for the best. Advice welcomed - NOT judging - thanks

(29 Posts)
EggsOvaryZee Fri 01-Feb-13 13:50:26

Have a very challenging DD. She would still come into bed in the AM for a bit of 'booby'. Occassionally she'd miss it (if I was laready int he shower since she'd slept in for example) but normally that was our time in the AM for a cuddle.
Now, her behaviour has always been difficult. She is very verbal, demanding etc...

Anyhow, speaking to my HV and doc (I'm about to embark on a Triple P course to see if I can get some ideas on how to cope with her - all our strategies aren't working) - they both seem to think that by me still 'allowing' this, I am sending her/giving her confused mixed messages about being both a baby and a big girl...

I agree it's not always convenient, when I'm trying to get showered etc...but also, I really know that she cherishes it as a 'special' time.

We have discussed before with me saying maybe when she's 4, she won't want it...but she doesn't seem keen to give up.

I actually want to do what's best for her - I guess I wouldn't mind stopping so we can get out earlier in the AM's but she's not really liking the idea that we could still have a 'cuddle' in the mornings in my bed and that it doesn't have to involve BF...even though she knows her older brother (5) doesn't have 'booby' - and stopped when he was 1..!

Yesterday, i tried to have a 'conversation' about it - big girl, doesn't need it, we can still have cuddles, mummy needs to get up and ready for work etc...and she was OK for 5 mins but then we had such a hoo-ha this AM over it...she hasn't had it for 2 days but I'm unsure now how to proceed.

Do I stick with it though it is clearly upsetting to her? Do I go back on what I've said - surely that won't be good?

Anyone been there/done that?!

50BalesOfHay Fri 01-Feb-13 15:35:12

Tbh, I think you've managed 2 days, and going back would be a mistake. I'd just say no if she asks for your breast and move on to something else You need to get across that you make the decisions (and that playing up doesn't alter that). Get firm, reclaim your authority, you'll enjoy her company more.

EauRouge Fri 01-Feb-13 15:43:13

Hello OP smile

You seem a bit confused by what you really want, not helped by the unhelpful advice from your GP and HV- it's clear from their message that you are 'babying' your DD that they think breastfeeding is only for babies; this is not true and you'd be surprised at the number of people that BF 4 yos.

What is this triple P course you are doing? And what do you mean by your DD's behaviour, what exactly is the problem? Is it directly, indirectly or not at all related to BF?

The fact that she doesn't want to wean yet is normal, it doesn't mean that something is 'wrong'. It's only a problem if you don't want to continue- which is also perfectly fine, but it needs to be your decision, based on facts, not on the uninformed but well-meaning opinions of your HV and GP.

If there is a local breastfeeding counsellor (LLL, NCT etc) nearby then they might be able to help with the BF side of things, and also help you to find information to take to your GP/HV about natural term BF. They can also help with weaning strategies.

There is a book called Breastfeeding Older Children that is very good, well worth a read if you can get a copy- if there's an LLL group near you then they'll probably have one you can borrow.

Some articles on Kathy Dettwyler's site might help too, have a look here.

Whatever you decide, it needs to be between you and your DD. It is not damaging her to BF her. Base your decision on facts and also your own emotions, make sure it's your decision and no one else's. HTH smile

SPBInDisguise Fri 01-Feb-13 15:46:26

It isn't babying her anymore than cuddling her is. You did that when she was a baby and you do it now.
However, would it make your life easier to try to move it to a bedtime feed only?

Bottleoffish Fri 01-Feb-13 15:47:11

EauRouge's advice is great.

I doubt stopping breastfeeding will alter your DD's behaviour and you should only stop if that's what you want to do.

colditz Fri 01-Feb-13 15:48:17

They are your breasts, you can stop when you want to. You need to remember this with both the health professionals, and your daughter.

KatAndKit Fri 01-Feb-13 15:48:28

If you want to give up breastfeeding then just carry on with refuse and distract - it might be upsetting for a short while but she will soon get used to not breastfeeding.

I don't really see how breastfeeding is the cause of behaviour problems. The global average age of weaning is 4, and anything between 2.5 and 7 years is considered the natural term of human breastfeeding. If you actually want to keep going then it isn't doing her any harm. Health professionals are no longer used to BF past the tiny baby stage.

But of course if you are ready to stop then you just have to stick with it for a while. Why not try getting up earlier for a short while so that you will be already up, showered and dressed by the time she wakes? Is daddy there to give her a cuddle in bed instead? Perhaps you could replace the morning BF with some other special activity that you know she will enjoy.

StuntNun Fri 01-Feb-13 15:49:42

I doubt the bfing has anything to do with her behaviour. The triple P course will help you manage her behaviour. I suggest you consider the bfing as a completely separate issue. If you want to stop just stop and break it to her gently in whatever light you think is best. Good luck with the course, they are a lifesaver.

tiktok Fri 01-Feb-13 15:54:03

Bf at 3 and 4 is not damaging - it's just culturally unusual.

What is more serious is you being unable/unwilling to make a parenting decision without being made to feel wobbly about it. 3 and 4 year olds should not have the power to set their own boundaries. You know your love for her is not dependent on breastfeeding - she is able to understand that, and that your physical closeness is not dependent on breastfeeding either.

It would be the same if the issue was bed time, or something to do with good manners, or anything where she might be upset (but not harmed) if she does not get her way.

Think about your feelings when you 'contradict' her? Scared? Guilt? Worried? If so, why? You have decided it is better to be up and about earlier in the mornings. Perfectly reasonable! You are right to be reasonable, and you are right to stick to boundaries smile

duchesse Fri 01-Feb-13 15:54:14

If you don't want to feed her any more then you are perfectly in your rights to bring the feeding to an end. Have you tried distracting her when she asks?

BTW all three year olds can be tricky. It's a low blow to tell you it's the breastfeeding when loads of children of that age have behaviour problems.

Having said that I have noticed with mine (breastfed 4 of them for lengths ranging from 14 m- 2.5 years) they have become much less anxious about my whereabouts and calmed down when we stopped feeding.

spots Fri 01-Feb-13 15:58:02

Scoff! to the idea that hv and doc both offer up, that you are giving her 'mixed messages about being both a baby and a big girl'... This is classic. Talk about projecting onto the child!! As if for one minute she has analysed why and in what spirit she is offered bf. To her it's just a special cuddle, end of. My dd is just the same and your ambivalence sounds a lot like mine. It's really just not a big deal until someone makes comments like this.

Indith Fri 01-Feb-13 16:03:51

3/4 year olds are flipping hard work! I doubt very much that bf her has anything to do with challenging behaviour. Goodness knows my 4 year old dd is driving me mad at the moment with her attitude and she is not bf!

She is at a point in her life where she is starting to grow up but that is pretty scary for a child and most of them last out in some way. What gets them through is having that rock at home that loves them unconditionally and can put their arms around them and make everything safe and OK. For your dd bf is a part of that so I wouldn't be rushing to take that away from her if she still wants it.

If you WANT to stop then that is fine, bf has to be right for both of you and there are plenty of people on here who can give advice on weaning an older child gently but if you don't want to then give her a cuddle tonight and let her know that you are sorry, mummy was just a bit tired and grumpy and that she can still have milk if she wants it.

Charleymouse Fri 01-Feb-13 16:03:57

EggsOvaryZee it sounds as though you are not sure about whether to stop. If you want to stop then stick with it and stop or if you do not want to stop carry on.

Your HV and GP seem to want you to stop but as mentioned previously this is IME usual from many health professionals who seem shocked if you BF past 6 months never mind getting to three years.

I don't think this is babying her anymore than cuddles are babying her, what tosh.

Maybe seek advice on here for the other issues - her challenging behaviour etc. My 3 year old is currently high maintenance challenging but bedtime and early mornings are when we touch base, have a cuddle and a feed and we regroup. She goes to bed happy I feel calmer and not so stressed with how she has behaved in the day and it is a win win situation for us. However you have to work out what is best for you as her mother and her as your daughter not what I do or the GP or HV do.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

EggsOvaryZee Fri 01-Feb-13 16:21:41

Oh! Fuckity-fuck. I don't think her being like she is has sweet FA to do with BF but...we're just having such problems/issues with her that you're all right - I'm totally 'wobbled' having a hard time at the mo TBH. I've no childhood role models to speak (spent a childhood in foster care and childrens homes). MY DH is great, but very passive/I make most of the decisions....although he has said he'll come on this Triple P course.
The books I've read are fascinating - Playful Parenting, Unconditional Parenting, Calmer, Easier, Happier parenting, How to Talk etc...and I read them and implement some stuff for a while and then life gets in the way and it all goes to pot.

DD's behaviour is: speaking quite 'agressively' (I've posted on here before re her) - us 'battling'....we're very similar so am sure she's mimicking having to role play for 3 hours at a time...not even tantrums...the only way I can describe it is to say she's very..angry. She normally wakes up crying....about something, or doesn't want to go to pre-school. I've just changed my days so I can have 2 whole days with her in the hopes it'll improve our relationship...Just this week has actually started to 'stamp' her foot too. Lot of issues about feeling we're not 'proud' of her or 'impressed' by her - I guess based on the fact her 5 yr old brother is just starting to read etc....

Tiktok When I contradict her - I don't get scared, the only thing I get scared about is that my 'default' setting seems to be 'anger'...there is alot of guilt in there. I fear she can 'sense' that i find her hard work and that I'd rather cook/clean that pretend to be another Wicked Stepmother for 3 hours in a row! (I did this last week, just the once to see how long she'd actually 'want' to play before she gave me a break...)

What do I want? I'm happy for it to continue. It's always been a very special time, it's quick and special and I feel my love for her so strongly, soemthing I can easily struggle with the rest of the day. She's not even 4 yet!
BUT, lately, I'm so insecure about our relationship - it seems I cannot be consistent, she pretty much rules the roost - even though I am no pushover! - and what the doc was saying just 'sounded' right.

As for 'practicaliites, I can't manage to move it to nighttime, I'm not there at bedtime 3 evenings a week...dads already up and showered...that's when we normally have our cuddle and BF. Older brother is downstairs watching TV, dads in shower or getting ready and we snuggle...don't really feel I could intorduce a new thing to 'replace' it, there's just no time...

Yargh! Well now - if I'm happy to continue - bolstered up by MN - it'd be damaging of me to 'go back'; wouldn't it?

What would I say to her - 'Mummies changed her mind...'?!

I love Colditz comment about them being my breasts - ha! I don't feel they've anything to do with me!

Indith Fri 01-Feb-13 16:42:31

Sounds like the course will be very useful for you.

FWIW I think we all read books, implement stuff and then slip! I know I do.

You say that you think she may be reacting badly to her brother learning stuff. Can you do things with her, especially now you have some full days with her? My dd can get soooo stroppy and then I feel really guilty because I've spent the day chasing the baby or something and not made time for one on one with her but when we do and we spend even 10 mins looking at letter sounds and mucking around with them she has great fun and always feels so proud of herself. It gives you a good focus for positive thinking and praise too. WE have some phonics cards and the game Pairs in Pears is great too for mucking around with sounds and also playing with older ones who are starting to read and write too.

tiktok Fri 01-Feb-13 16:44:13

You've got a lot of insight, Eggs - that's a great start smile

She sounds very bright and determined - a fantastic and lively kid! But exhausting for you to have that 'default' anger setting which you have to sit on...and which she is obviously aware of and is testing.

3 hrs in role play - too much sad

I know Triple P - it's an excellent course.

HoratiaWinwood Fri 01-Feb-13 16:48:44

You don't have to not snuggle. Is it possible she is getting the message "mummy doesn't want to cuddle me" rather than "mummy doesn't want to bf me" ?

There was a thing on TLB this week about someone's 4yo weaning and being taken for a celebration, doing girly things like "finally" having her ears pierced biscuit , choosing a new outfit, etc. Whilst that isn't necessarily a route you'd like to take, you could consider whether there's anything she might like to do that you could tie to weaning?

Charleymouse Fri 01-Feb-13 16:49:58

If you want to go back you dont have to tell her why, just do it tomorrow.
If you want to keep going try posting on other topics about the behaviour issues.

Mine has just started sitting down and stamping her feet as well. Her favourite wind up Mum tool seems to be what DH and I call a "temper wee", (she is toilet trained) if she does not get her own way she throws a strop and stamps her feet and then wees on the floor. Proper sort of if you do that I will do this sort of way.

We have just strated the time out step and the reward stickers, she loves the stickers and that seems to be a way forward, she also loves us drawing a smiley face on her hand in pen. (when she is good)

Indith Fri 01-Feb-13 16:55:20

Oh yes, foot stamping and using toileting as a weapon. We have all of that too! Great fun hmm.

Smalls girls are bloody hard work! I know all children are different and you get similar with boys but ds1's trouble could usually be solved by throwing him the the general direction of the park for an hour. Dd needs rather different handling.

Charleymouse Fri 01-Feb-13 17:27:18

Smashing isn't it Indith. Last night we reached a whole new level of a temper poo! [sigh]

EggsOvaryZee don't forget although you have read all the right books your DD hasn't. If you can try your best which you seem to be doing this is just a phase and it shall pass.

Startail Fri 01-Feb-13 17:30:51

Having a DD2 who breastfed way way past school age I doubt BFing is the cause of the problem.

DD2 is the least babyish and outwardly mature child you could possibly meet.

She is also deep down not very secure. BFing was her security blanket her safe place. Where she could drop being cleaver, sociable, the perfectly behaved pupil the world sees and be a little girl.

Even at 11 she falls asleep on the sofa cuddled up to DH or me.

Let her feed, let her have that special time. It's only since DDs given up I've realised it was far more important to her than I ever realised.

HP seem to think Mothers encourage DCs to carry on feeding, I don't think after 2 or 3 you can. I think DCs carry on because it's special to them.

Startail Fri 01-Feb-13 17:38:51

As for going back to BFing, you don't say anything you just snuggle and if she lifts your top you let her. The less you say the quicker she'll forget you ever said no.

moonstorm Fri 01-Feb-13 17:46:46

I think bf is a red herring... and it's up to you. Unless deep down YOU feel it could be a cause...

The age 3-4 was the hardest age I have ever encountered...

abbeynationall Fri 01-Feb-13 18:17:34

I have been guilty of secretly wanting bf to continue but actively trying to stop it--does that even make any sense--
You could try telling her that booby is asleep or something to the effect. One of the tricks I learnt from MN that worked like magic on my DC.

Overcooked Fri 01-Feb-13 19:14:14

My DD sounds exactly the same as yours but is only 3.3, plenty of attitude, massively stubborn and appears to enjoy the drama of 'kicking off' - she was BF for one month.

I have to say I wouldn't indulge her with role play of 3 hours, not even close. The tantrums, I ignore, I tell her I am going to ignore her if she is kicking off and I stick to it.

What I'm trying to say is, I very much doubt BF has anything to do with, as envy one else says BF if you want to, I doubt that is 'babying' her - she sounds quite the opposite.

Good luck.

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