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Stressed with 3.5 year old

(20 Posts)
KJSa Fri 02-Jan-15 16:39:46

My Daughter is 3.8 years old and I also have a 6 month old daughter. I'm a stay at home mom. My first born from the start has been pretty lively. She has all those good qualities like persistence, a strong will, a 'completer' of tasks (can't be interrupted until finished) etc that are perfect for the adult world but bloody annoying in children as it means prolonged and sustained tantrums, almost daily, a refusal to do most things, walking anywhere is the most tiring of late- I mean to the corner shop, not far. It's been like living on a knife edge for the last three years, is today going to be a good day or will I have a massive meltdown on my hands?

She has had some big transitions of late, pre-school, a new sibling, so i get there is need for 'love bombing' but I'm probably at my lowest ebb and instead of digging deeper I'm behaving like a three year old. I'm shouting and raving, which obvs doesn't do any bloody good just provide a terrible model of behavior. I'm loosing My s**t. I can't stand being around her, I'm finding it hard to find my love for her which sounds awful and I end up feeling so guilty for behaving so badly towards her, I threw her on her bed last night and told her all her toys were going to the charity shops because she's farting about not getting out of the bath, not brushing teeth bla bla I haven't got the energy to keep making a game out of it all.

Also the new sister is pretty relaxed and smiley.(thank god) A real pleasure, a real contrast to her sister which makes her behavior seem even more unbearable. She also doesn't have a gentle bone in her body so is constantly launching herself on her sister making her wail, which makes me so angry. T

I dunno what to do. I'm getting pretty depressed. Just need to spout and hear some thoughts to stop those going round in my head...perspective please!

IfuckingHateIkea Fri 02-Jan-15 17:30:09

I'm sure someone else with better advice will come along in abit but before they do I thought I wouldn't leave your post unanswered. I'm really sorry that you are feeling like this. I totally feel for you, as I have a 3.5 year old DD who this evening has been driving me up the wall and have also shouted at her today as I got so overwhelmed by no time to myself etc. I can't even really imagine how I would cope if I had a baby on top of that.

It is difficult when they won't walk, brush teeth etc. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they play up. I suppose you try all the tricks like distraction etc. I just remind myself in times like that this is only a phase and it will pass. Don't beat yourself up too much about being too grouchy because it will just make you feel more shit and drain your energy even more. Do you have a supportive partner or friends who could help out? Do you have your toddler all the time or does she go to nursery? I would think you are understandably exhausted, do you get any opportunities for rest?

IfuckingHateIkea Fri 02-Jan-15 17:32:15

Sorry just noticed you did mention she has started pre-school

KJSa Fri 02-Jan-15 19:32:31

Yes, pre-school has been amazing and I do have some family support- Christmas holidays have just gone on too long! I'm more fearful of my negativity towards her which so easily emerges. I feel like my wall for things to bounce off has worn thin and I'm drawn too easily to snap out at her- for example, she'll wack me in the face or push into me from frustration at being told no usually These instances can send me into a spin, I feel so wronged by it before remembering her misplaced emotions... Even when I am calm enough to talk directly to her and tell her off, she closes her eyes or says I'm not listening and turns her head away. I don't think I have ever really made a dent when I tell her off. When she is being a big pain I actively want to be mean to her, I want her to feel upset..I'm pretty ashamed by my behavior. I feel like the three year old..


RugbyWidow7 Fri 02-Jan-15 20:15:09

I feel like I could have written your post kjsa, for my 3.4 yr old boy. I've had an hideous afternoon with him. He is all the things you've written above, thick skinned so it's hard to get through to him. I have to shout to be heard and he just tells me not to talk not him like that. Today he had a massive meltdown in public when told off by a friend and I had to carry him out kicking and screaming and slapping me in the face. I feel really humiliated and as though I'm failing. Deep down I know, like you, that these will be great be great qualities in an adult, but so challenging in a child. And he's so strong and heavy, I don't know how much longer I'll be able to go on like this. It boils down to tiredness with him - he's great otherwise - he has a ten month old brother, who disturbs his sleep and he's never been able to sleep in past 6am in the morning.

I hope I haven't hijacked - I just empathise!

IfuckingHateIkea Fri 02-Jan-15 21:02:34

My 3 year old definitely has her moments. She's into spitting and hitting at the moment and when I tell her off she just seems to find it funny. I find that if I do shout at her it makes the whole situation worse, it escalates it rather than shuts her up. I find sometimes I can't help it though, I get quite overwhelmed by her. If she plays up and I am sleep deprived etc then I don't have the energy to deal with her effectively.

I think perhaps it is something that lots of mums have to go through. It doesn't make it any easier when your in the midst of it though.

Don't really have any advice OP other than like Rugby I empathise! You are definitely not on your own. Your daughter sounds abit like mine x

Cedar03 Fri 02-Jan-15 21:42:27

I suggest that you find somewhere to put her in time out and walk away when it's getting too much. Time out gives you the chance to calm down so you don't do or say things you regret.

with the transition from one activity to another try to give her plenty of warnings that things are going to change - it won't always work of course. Try using a timer so that she develops an understanding of future timings.

My friend's 3 year old daughter is stubborn and sometimes doesn't want to do the school run with her older siblings. But she has to, so she has been heard roaring her fury all the way there. Just try not to see the tantrums as a failure on your part - it's just one of those days and they will get over it.

DIYandEatCake Fri 02-Jan-15 22:26:44

I empathise too, I have a 3.9yo dd and a 12mo ds and am also at a low, exhausted ebb. I totally get what you say about not having the energy to make stuff fun. Dd is driving me bonkers too but in different ways - constant whining and complaining about everything, refusing to play by herself, refusing to do anything constructive actually confused

pjsgalore Fri 02-Jan-15 22:36:29

Aaaaargh, I'm part of this gang. I've got a 4yo DS who can turn the most mundane activity into a huge screaming drama - brushing teeth, getting dressed, putting shoes on, getting into the car. It's exhausting, particularly with an 18-month-old too. When I've had a good sleep I can laugh about it and be playful, but if not…I can be monstrous - so shouty. And tonight I squeezed his arm a little too hard when holding him and trying to make him brush his teeth while he was screaming and blowing raspberries and trying to run off…and I feel horrible about it. SIGH.

FinallyGotAnIPhone Fri 02-Jan-15 22:48:19

I can empathise. My DD is now 4.5 but I had this when she was 3.3. I remember it vividly. Remember ...this too shall pass....

For me, my DD2 was 5 months old, and this also coincided with me splitting up with my partner, us moving out of our family house into another house without daddy, her changing nursery etc... She was/ is usually such a good girl but she turned so naughty I was at my wits end didn't know how to deal with her at all and I kept throwing her toys in the bin, sending her to her room etc. in the end I asked the health visitor to come and speak to my ex partner and I to give us some tips (I remember searching the Internet to try and find parenting classes in my area but to no avail!!). I have to say she was very helpful. She gave us tips that we already knew but it was useful to have them reinforced- generally around rewarding good behaviour instewd of punishing bad. So instead of saying "if you don't brush your teeth you won't get a story" say "come on, brush your teeth and you can have a story". Quit simple really. More carrot less stick... Putting rules up and doing reward charts also helped us.

It was a phase though and it did pass. I still laugh at anyone who moans about the terrible twos... I think three is much much worse.

0ddsocks Sat 03-Jan-15 08:24:01

Thank you for this post! My dd just turned 3 and my DS is 11mo. She has always been high maintenance but is now pushing me to my limit. I find myself taking every opportunity to avoid her which I know will massively make things worse but when she's having a bad day she's unbearable.

BeeInYourBonnet Sat 03-Jan-15 08:36:38

Sorry you're having such a hard time OP.
I have older DCs but just wanted to post to say IME you are at the hardest it gets. I have never been so challenged as a parent as when I had a 3yo and a 6mo. Especially during holidays when there are no groups/pre school.

And it is totally normal to feel like you love the baby more. What's not to love about a happy cooing baby as opposed to a deranged toddler!!!

My advice to you would be not to take your 3yos behaviour personally. She is not trying to destroy your life - she is just being 3!! I used to take everything personally with my DD - used to worry about my crap parenting, worry if it was all a sign of future bad behaviour, worry about why I got so worked up. By the time my DS was 3yo, I realised its just what they do!

You need an armoury of coping strategies, plenty of opportunity for some time on your own to get perspective, lower your expectations on behaviour and pick your battles. And don't take it personally - your DDs behaviour is not a reflection on you - she is just being 3!!

BeeInYourBonnet Sat 03-Jan-15 08:37:37

Sorry, meant preschooler not toddler.

BeeInYourBonnet Sat 03-Jan-15 08:39:34

And yy to Finallygotaniphone - 3 is MUCH worse than 2yo.

Lloydcolestilldoesitforme Sat 03-Jan-15 09:04:50

I understand your pain entirely. My eldest daughter (now 9) was exactly the same and yet her younger sister (18 months apart) was a dream. She pushed me to the limits of my patience daily. Everything a drama, attention span of a gnat, always had to be in the thick of whatever was going on, domineering at home, escapologist, you name it. We called her a threen-ager. none of the usual reward/time out strategies worked and I tried, oh did I try. The problem was she wAs not physically attached to anything, not even tv watching, so incentives and sanctions were hard. Time out was just a battle of wills and she pinged off the step so many times it became a pointless exercise . The moral of the story I guess is that if you saw my daughter now, you would never guess. Around 4 she just started to grow out of it. I realised she is a child who thrives on routine and if there was a change to the routine, it would have a ripple effect for a while. My only advice is this. Pick your battles otherwise you will feel like you are in constant headlock and don't beat yourself up too much. We all have our limits and living with a toddler day in and day out can push the best of us beyond them. Whilst my daughter is changed beyond recognition, she still knows how to push my buttons in a way that her sister never does. I don't know why this is but Its helpful to have an awareness . Good luck!

KJSa Sun 04-Jan-15 10:59:28

Thanks for responses. Good to hear people who have been through it or are going through similar stuff. To know your not alone is helpful. I wish health visitors didn't focus so much on post partum depression and revisit those mothers when their little ones hit three! That's when some support would be good...

The little bugger was up at 2 am this morning and not slept until her dad took her for a walk in the buggy at 9, she just has this bonkers energy, frantic. I do worry for her and what is running through her brain...

Any good suggestions for getting little butters back to bed??

AdamantEve Sun 04-Jan-15 11:12:12

Don't have any advice sorry OP but just wanted to say I could have written your post almost word for word. Thank you for sharing as everyone else's 3 year olds seem to be impeccably behaved, I thought it was just mine and I was going wrong somewhere. Misery loves company! grin Going to read all the responses now and hope there's light at the end of the tunnel!

TwiggyHeart Sun 04-Jan-15 11:27:53

You are not alone! I have a 3 year old and a 4 month old. The 3 year old is incredibly bright, polite and outgoing she is also probably the most irrational and difficult person I have had to deal with. I can't really offer and practical advice apart from 'getting through' for a while just focus on getting through the days with the minimum of confrontation and upset and keep in mind that this us just a very, very tough phase. Good luck OP your not alone!

Youcanneverhavetoomanybooks Wed 07-Jan-15 20:41:43

Yup, me too! Dd1 just turned 4 and dd2 is 10.5 months. 4yo wants everything her own way, screams 'Listen to me!!!' when I have just repeated what she said 3 times back to her to show I was listening, and can be totally obnoxious - or wonderful, funny, loving and interesting. A friend told me once that everything is a phase. I hope so...

Cedar03 Thu 08-Jan-15 11:03:53

No-one's child is well behaved all the time. You just don't see it all the time!

Don't be afraid to say 'enough' to a three or four year old. If a child insists you are not listening and you've repeated it back it is OK to tell them that the discussion is at an end.

It is the battle between their desire to be 3 and do their own thing and your desire to do things like get them dressed and out the door.

Just try and think about where the confrontations come from. Remember good old distraction - even some thing like 'look at that cat'. (Even if there isn't one there) can just stop things escalating. Also things like a good old tickle can help you both feel better.

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