A Three year old step daughter with a massive attitude

Hope - posted on 01/05/2010 ( 10 moms have responded )

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Hi
I have a step daughter that has just completely over drawn her lines. She is three years old and has been with her father and i for over a year now. Her mother keeps telling her that she is going to come get her but never ends up showing up. The issues we are having started gradually, and now they are totally out of control. It started at first with her not talking and refusing to learn. Now she won't eat, she wont sleep, she is hitting people calling everyone names, refuses to dress herself, wash herself, she now refuses to use the potty and she was completely potty trained. She has told everyone including her father that she hates him and she keeps saying that she wants to go back to her mother. The reason why we haven't given her back to her mother is because her mother has major issues and can't take care of a child. We have a baby on the way and are really concerned that she might try something to hurt the baby, cause we believe all this is jealousy and she feels as though she needs all the attention and forget everyone else. I have been doing daycare out of my home and she has thrown things at infants and hit infants, so i have had to put her in a room by herself multiple times cause of it and the liability. I stopped the daycare for her cause we thought that it may have been overwhelming but nothing changed it only got worse. We have taken her to therapists and councelors, so please don't tell me that is what we have to do. When she is out around other people that don't live within our home, she acts like she is a complete angel. It's like night and day. Please can someone give us some kind of suggestions as to what to try to do, cause we are at a loss. We have tried what seems like everything except beating her within an inch of her life and that is not on the agenda. Please if you have any thoughts or ideas please respond.

Thank You

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Brittany - posted on 01/21/2010

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Hi,
My step daughter(3) went threw the same fit even to the extent of making herself vomit when she did not agree with dinner:( since her father did not see her often he felt guilty when it came time to punish her. once he saw that she really needed it he stepped in and helped out now she is (4) & great perfect little angle she now knows her boundaries and what will happen if she crosses them. she use to say she hates me but now im the best according to her:) you just have to stand your ground and punish her according to her actions i now have Green Yellow and Red Cards for both of my step daughters on the green card i let them draw cookies and ice cream (things you get when you are good) the yellow card has a huge frown face on it ( the girls cried just having to draw the sad face) and red has a belt hand corner ( different types of punishments) i then explained to them that green cards at the end of the day get them treats and good things like etrxa movie time at night or letting them play a video game before bed. and that when they recieved a yellow card it ment that if they were good for a whole hour they could have the green card back and start over but if they were bad they went to red and got in trouble i have only been using this method for about a week but it seems to work. and it should them they get to earn something rather than just get it cause they want it and they get to physically see the changes in their actions. even in something as small as running in the house.

Lisa - posted on 01/12/2010

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SHE IS THREE... you cannot possibly expect her to act like an adult, or understand her behavior the way an adult might.

She is in terrible distress, and you using a phrase like "massive attitude" is very telling.Three-year-olds cannot "overdraw their lines" - that makes it sound as if you think she should be completely in control of her feelings. At THREE??

Rather than punishing her, please try healing her little heart. It's okay to be honest with her, gently, that her mommy loves her but can't take care of an awesome little girl like her right now so you will take very good care of her because you want her to be safe and okay. Then just love her and aim for putting her little heart back together.

That's the difference - this is not a kid who just decided to be a brat... she needs HELP. Aim for her healing and her mental well-being and the peace will follow. Trust me, I know this has got to be frustrating and disruptive but you've got to step outside the "correct her behavior" mindset and put this little girl back together. This is not a find-the-right-discipline situation, its trauma care.

And please remember that 3-year-olds are naturally rambunctious and push boundaries. That's their job, so don't aim for the demeanor of a 45-year-old adult.

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Vanessa - posted on 01/22/2010

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have you taken( her her dad her mom and you )everybody and sat in one room and explain the situation to her what and why the situation is the way it is.you as parents should never argue where she can see it as she is confused as it sounds.im no dr i had the same thing.i am married to a man that had a girl aswell and had a battle aswell.she was 5 and out of controll.you should start by letting her understand in her way whats going on and why she cant stay with her mom.take care and thinking of you

Diane - posted on 01/21/2010

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She more than likely feels your displeasure,but thinks it's just about her in general.She might think you don't love her.Does she hear you talking about her? Talking about her mom in a negative way? if so she will think it is all about her in a bad way.How can you think a 3 year old could act rational is beyond me.If you are expecting a perfect child when it comes to her or to the one you are about to have you are in for a shock.Haven't you ever lost your temper and been "out of control"? If this can happen to an adult why do you expect better from a child?DO NOT SPANK HER !! I have spanked my kids and they are ok BUT she has issues about her self worth and spanking would only make it worse.She will act out even more.Try spending MORE time having fun with her.Let her help you do things even if it takes you longer to get it done.Don't focus on what she does bad.Focus on the good.And don't say there is no good,you just aren't looking hard enough.Are you sure you aren't letting your own feelings about her mother cloud your judgement?Are you resentful of having to take care of her?She will feel it if you are.When you have the baby don't think you would be better off without the 3 year old.You are a parent now and you job is to be there for the kids ,not for them to make your life perfect.

Erin - posted on 01/19/2010

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Children at this age do not know how to express their feelings into words so they express it physically which usually tends to be destructive. She is probably trying to deal with her frustration and sadness of not seeing her mom and doesn't know how to deal with it in a peaceful manner. My son gets frustrated too and he likes to draw sometimes to get his frustration out. Find out what she likes to do...draw, paint, sing..etc and start doing those activities with her. Sometimes kids need to know that they are important and loved and then they will open up to you. Good luck

GAYLE - posted on 01/19/2010

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I really feel for you as you must find there is no light at the end of the tunnel. This little girl is probably feeling as though she is going to be pushed out as she will feel that the baby will come first and this is her way of rebelling against all the things that have happened in her life. She has lost her real mummy and now the new mummy is having a baby what is going to happen to her. What this little lady needs is reassurance that you have not pushed her mummy away and that you love her like she is your own and that she will be able to help with your new baby and be a big sister and that she will have a responsibility to show her new little baby how to be a big girl. Ask dad if he thinks this will help and also buy her a life-like dolly so that she can be a mummy herself. Is the real mother about at all? If she keeps saying that she is going to come for the child and never turns up I would recommend that dad puts his foot down and goes to court to arrange contact on a regular basis or none at all. This little girl needs stability and you and your partner are doing everything you can but the mother is destroying everything you do by making false promises. Try to be patient with this little girl as she needs all the love and care she can get. She can't understand why she can't see her real mummy and only you can give the care, without shouting, as that don't work, that she needs. Try distract her from the worries she has and give her lots of hugs and kisses and ask dad to try the same and don't tell her if mother has promised to turn up until she gets there. Mother will have to wait for daughter. The only way this situation is going to improve is if dad stands up to mother and the little girl is shown love and also a bit of discipline but don't hit the child as this will only show her that violence is ok. It will take a bit of time but you will find the more love and reassurance she has the better the situation will get. Try to emphasise the fact that she will be the oldest and make her feel important. Hope this bit of advice will help you. Don't give up on the little lady please..You and dad are all she has.

Kendra - posted on 01/12/2010

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Your situation just breaks my heart. I can hear how stressed you are about all of this, and I'm sorry that you don't feel that counseling was helpful. I don't know all of the particulars of your situation, but I know that losing a mother at her age (even if it is in her best interest) is stressful, confusing, scary, hurtful...you name it. It sounds as if you feel that she is doing this "acting out" on purpose...and quite possibly she is...but probably not to hurt you. It's probably the only way she knows how to express her pain and anger at the situation (and to her, you and your husband probably seem to be the cause of her separation from her mother). If you can't find a professional that you feel confident in to help her, maybe you and your husband can find someone to help the both of you deal with the situation and give you guys support. If not a professional, look in your paper for support groups for parents, do research online, connect with other parents...support and outside influence is crucial in times of crisis. I know it's hard, and it hurts to feel rejected and controlled by a three year old, but with time, patience, and love...I think that all of you can overcome this and be the family you really want to be. All the best, and please let us know how things are going...you did the right thing by reaching out to us for support. :)

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why cant the mom take her?

try to look at it from baby's perspective: all the mom-figures in her life, have ben taken away; her real mom, daycare, etc... the only one thing that all babies want is a mother's love.

she wants her mom. or someone else who loves her and gives her the attention that is her birthright.
never put her in a room by herself. that only makes it worse. instead be with her, hug her and give / show you love her. works wonders with my girl.

never spank ; that destrys their self esteem.

and yes, i believe she may take it out on the new baby. it would have been better for you to wait with pregnancy until she was more ok with you and the situ.

for her sake, you need to do anything NOW to help her. dont wait til he is a troubled teeager on drugs stealing money from you.

Nichole - posted on 01/06/2010

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I have 4 children. The older 2, now 18 and 17, were raised the old fashion way with a spanking. I met my 2nd husband and he was not a fan of the spanking and my 3rd child, now 12 was never spanked and she is "little miss attitude". Well, little miss attitude, changed her attitude when I told my husband, enough was enough, took out the belt and spanked my, 10 year old at the time. I know it sounds like abuse, but it was not. She got 2 spankings and they did not leave a mark, although it did make her think about what she was doing. I have not had to spank her again. All it took was the one time. But when my children were smaller it took a couple of times. Have a designated belt, mine is a wide belt, because it does not hurt, it is loud. Big difference. Post it. All I had to do was threaten that I was going to use it and it changed them. You dont' have to hurt your kids to get their attention, but you do have to follow through with the punishment you threaten them with. So yelling at your child that you're going to kill them, does not work.

Nicole - posted on 01/06/2010

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My opinion would be that she is a very stressed little girl. I am having issues with my 6 year old acting out in some of the ways you describe here. She is currently seeing a counselor and we have implied a very structured home environment. Bottom line with my child was this.. she simply needed disipline and sometimes punishment. I'm not saying beat your child, but in my home, a simple good old fashioned spanking worked wonders. We are still a work in progress, but the stress in my home and for my children has been greatly reduced.

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