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REALLY struggling with nearly 4 year old daughter - battles

(5 Posts)
EggsOvaryZee Fri 04-Jan-13 13:03:01

Long - sorry. Having a nightmare with my DD. It's making me insecure, unsure and terribly sad. I fear we are extremely similar. Seems we're always battling. Her trying to assert herself, me not backing down...nothing seems to be working. Have posted before about her agressive tone - am aware she must get it from me probably because we're similar in personality - my son is the opposite. Also have very small age gap to contend with so not the easiest of times. No family nearby.

I feel myself pulling away from her. Am trying everything to improve my tone with her so she doesn't copy (she is strong willed, minded, verging on wilful). I am changing my days of work to be able to enjoy and give more time to her. Hoping this will help and we'll have fun and I can learn to 'enjoy' her again but am scared they'll be horrible. But of course, I'm the parent so am hoping that all she needs is more focused 1-2-1 attention where we're doing nice things mate thinks I'm expecting way too much.

I am terrible at faking it and am so sad that she may be picking up that I'm not 'liking' her or not enjoying our time or whatever...

BUT, this WWYD relates to this: this morning as I dropped her off at nursery, she put on her own slippers and I praised her. I will normally do this but today I did adopt a very Mary Poppins/nursery staff tone of voice - she turned to me and said: "Where's your real voice? That's not your real voice. Use your real voice or noone will know who you are".

OMG. I was so flummoxed that I didn't even attempt to say: "But mummy thinks maybe she would try and speak differently to you" or whatever, but instead came into work and cried.

Even as I write this, I'm aware of how it may sound, but please don't say this is pathetic. I fear I am losing it. I've posted this here because I like the strong repsonses WWYD gets.

My own childhood was fractured so I've no real role models for parenting. Of course, my other child is no dream but there's never any issues like this.

I cannot do anything right. Even trying a more 'nursery' sing-song tone (my normal voice is quite low and I've never indulged in a different voice for kids)....but now even she thinks I'm 'faking' it and is not convinced?!

Any words, would be so much appreicated.............

PoppyWearer Fri 04-Jan-13 13:06:37

4yo kids are hard. It will change again when she starts school. My 4yo DD is very like me and we clash All The Time. She is also very jealous of her younger brother.

As for the thing she said about your voice, I bet you she's parroting back something that someone, somewhere has said to her. Maybe she was using a silly voice at nursery and one of the carers said it to her? She just thought Mummy was using a silly voice, that's all. I wouldn't read too much into it.

sensesworkingovertime Wed 09-Jan-13 18:31:33

Eggs this sounds very similar to how my daughter used to be, oh the battles, I know just what you mean. It's exhausting and I'm sorry to hear how sad you are feeling.

You sound like you are trying to do all the right things by being mindful of giving her more quality time and speaking to her in a more pleasant way. You can only go in the right direction by doing this, however that doesn't mean the journey won't be difficult!

The example of the 'voice' thing, you could perhaps explain it by saying something like "well people use different voices/tones all the time, depending on how they are feeling and how other people are behaving eg happy, calm, shocked, angry - if you behave well then mummy sounds happier" I think she will eventually learn that she prefers your calmer happier voice.

You say she is very wilful (as is my DD) - she is trying to find her own feet and knows her own mind. This is hard as obviously you're the adult and know what's best (we assume!) and what needs to get done that day. This in mind, do you cut her some slack when at all possible or is it your way or no way? Whilst trying to steer our DCs in the right direction it is easy to become too controlling, I'm sure I have. Sometimes we need to take the foot of the gas and let things ride a bit, let them do things their way to some degree. Of course I am not saying give in to whatever she wants but if she thinks she is having some control she might not be so ready to battle and have a stand off with you.

As I said I had all this with my DD, who's now nearly 11, it will get easier!

MerryMarigold Wed 09-Jan-13 18:44:34

I can empathise with your situation regarding each of my children.

Is your dd the oldest? My eldest can be very difficult at times despite being a very sensitive, sweet soul. I am sure it is for attention, as I had twins when he was 3 (he is now 7). When we spend time alone he is a complete joy. Could this be the case with your dd? An attention thing? Maybe having the special times to enjoy her could work if you could have your other child taken care of by someone else for a while each week.

I have a just past 4yr old dd who throws massive strops. I can anticipate battles and only fight the really important ones because I can't face the 1hr tantrum. What seems to work for her is a smiley face at the end of each day that she doesn't tantrum. Could you give your dd a smiley face for each day she listens and does what you ask her to? (If this is the problem)

I have a just past 4 yr old ds who is very similar to me - and I do find it harder to love him at times. Not so much strong-willed, but extremely argumentative (and aggressive). He will contradict everything and try and push every boundary but he does respond well when the boundary is enforced (unlike tantrum dd), just that he's always doing it, a gazillion times a day so it's more of a drip drip of annoyance. I know what you mean about finding it harder to love someone who is so similar to you. I have learned a lot about myself and what it was like parenting me. It just is harder to love a more aggressive child. I do have to make a conscious effort to be just as loving towards him and am trying to be gentle with him as I am with the others. I know for me I was/ am really sensitive under the aggressive exterior and I always sensed my Mum found me hard work.

Keep up trying to be gentler and more positive! These things take a long time to change. You may feel you're banging your head against a brick wall, but you're really trying and it will make a difference in the end.

BertieBotts Wed 09-Jan-13 19:00:09

I would probably forget the voice thing TBH if it's putting her off. If the praise is genuine, then you don't need a "fake" voice IYSWIM? Or if you just mean consciously making sure your voice is calm, that's good.

DS is 4 too and I am struggling. He is so much a toddler still in certain ways (especially with his reactions to things!) but in others he is so grown up... his personality is coming out more and more and like others I am finding that the worst clashes we have are where he is very like me!! It took DP to point this out to me as I didn't realise it myself. DP lives abroad so I am alone with DS a lot of the time.

I don't think that you have to enjoy all of your time with her. I think it's enough for them if you make an effort sometimes. Set yourself a time limit so that you don't get frustrated/bored thinking "GOD how much longer do I have to play this game" but think "I can keep this up until tea time, it's only 20 more minutes." Keep her informed too so that it doesn't seem like you're suddenly getting up and leaving with no warning.

Also, if you're struggling with interactive activities (imaginative play is getting on my goat at the moment) try something where you can sit back and observe or just be with her, like watching a film or TV programme together - DS is just starting to get into educational stuff like sciencey programmes as long as they're sufficiently gory or silly, and I can watch those with him without constantly wanting to go off and do something else.

Things like painting or cutting and sticking etc, you can do the practical stuff like keeping the sponges washed and the water changed and occasionally make a comment like "I like that green part" or "I love this line here" - and again, she feels like you've spent some quality, involved time with her. You'll probably find also that you get into it if you fake it a little bit.

One thing I get really stressed with DS about is when I am trying to do something and he keeps coming and "messing it up" - we had this with laundry I was trying to sort and fold the other week. DP let him upstairs but told him to come down if Mummy said so. I was feeling irritable and he came in and rooted through the basket, messing all the piles up. I got really stressed and snapped at him, almost shouted for DP to come and take him away, and then I remembered that actually him wanting to be involved with the laundry isn't a bad thing, it might take longer and not get done exactly as I wanted, but all I was really doing was sorting which doesn't matter if it gets done in a neat pile or a messy one. So I focused on the long term goal(!) of him knowing how laundry is done and tried to use it as a learning experience, so I took a deep breath and then said "DS, do you want to help me?" in a calmer voice. He said he did, so I told him what I was doing and then got him to put different people's clothes in different piles and even put the socks into pairs etc. I did nearly have a moment when he insisted on folding my pants and socks hmm but then I was able to stop myself and think that it doesn't really matter if he folds socks and pants, it's not going to take that much longer, and I need to let him make some decisions and not override everything all the time.

I also find DS' behaviour is harder to change if I try to hit him head on with an argument etc, mornings we struggle with as he won't dress himself or sit still for me to dress him, however, I had a word with him last night about how we both get stressed out and end up late in the mornings and suddenly this morning he was all "I know! Let's have a race to get our shoes on! I bet I can beat you!" even though I've been suggesting the same thing for months and he whines and says no you do it for me confused We had no battles and got out of the door on time.

Sometimes a conflict is necessary, but if you have a child who thrives on the power struggle, then you probably won't "win" all that often using this strategy unless you're aiming to totally break them, which, I hope, you probably aren't! In these cases it's better if you can to try and address the problem in a different way by sidestepping the conflict area.

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