3 year old gentle parenting problems, help needed

Anne - posted on 03/08/2012 ( 5 moms have responded )

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Hi



I’m struggling to know what line to take with my just turned 3 year old. She’s always been precocious, high energy and high need. As a little baby she demanded my constant attention – and I mean constant. I could not put her down from my arms for even a few seconds. She was not content to be carried around where I wanted to go and would scream and point until I just ended up carrying her around on her instruction all day, unable to complete my daily tasks. She never cried, only screamed hysterically for 40 mins at a time, turning purple and nothing would calm her down, even after the colic months subsided the hysterical shrieking continued throughout the day. After reading Dr. Sears description of the high-need baby I realised that continuing with the AP was the way to go. We could not do tummy-time because she would instantly get frustrated and start screaming. In fact she seemed to be in a permanent state of frustration until she could walk and talk. At 7 months she started walking but with support. Then there was nothing else she would be satisfied with but to have me running along behind supporting her all day long. Any minor upset would be the end of the world to her and it has never been possible to console her. If she gets hurt she will not let me attend to it and keeps crying about it until no traces of a blemish remain. When I try to cuddle her I often get hit because she transfers her anger towards me. Things have not changed a great deal since she was a baby. She still wakes every 2 hours and needs me to help her get back to sleep. This alone exhausts me. She still demands my constant attention. She has never let me speak to other people. Even as a baby she would start crying if I turned my attention to anyone or anything else for a minute. These days I cannot utter more than 3 words to someone else before she starts shouting over me about a toy. If it is something really critical that I just have to tell someone I end up having to yell to be heard while she competes to drown me out. She admits it is to prevent me from speaking but nothing I say seems to get the message across that this is bad behaviour and she needs to let me speak. I’ve even tried carrying her out of the room and closing the door. I warn her beforehand that if she doesn’t allow me to speak that I will have to do this, then I explain again as I carry her out. But all this does it create a full-blown screaming tantrum, floods of tears, a battle to get back in the door and the behaviour immediately resumes once she is let back in. I still cannot go to the lavatory alone, she runs after me and bangs violently on the door. I wouldn’t lock the door in the first place but we have family staying and it is embarrassing to have the door flung wide while sitting on the you know what. She makes requests of me every few seconds all day long, ‘mummy can you fetch this’, ‘mummy can you draw this’, ‘mummy can you clean this up’, ‘mummy can you…’. When I tell her she will need to do it herself she argues and will never ever give in. I want to play with her and don’t want her to feel I’m pushing her away but I don’t get any time for myself. I feel like I need to be consistent and so I don’t know if I should be complying with requests sometimes and other times refusing. It just feels like a constant battle. So far my approach has been trying always to talk with her and explain things, remaining calm, sometimes letting natural consequences occur (like you broke something and now it can’t be played with anymore, or you delayed so much in getting ready for bed so we don’t have time for as many stories etc.), and if necessary remove either myself or her from the situation/room but she is so strong willed it seems nothing will work. She’s a little angel when we are out in public though and makes me proud every day with thoughtful clever things. I need some advice on how to handle the battle of wills though. I've never wanted it to be a battle. I don't want to impose my will on her but I don't think I should let her do that either. Help!

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Elizabeth - posted on 03/08/2012

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You know...I'm trying to think of a way to tell you that your child is a real pain in the ass nicely but there is no other way then to just say it. You NEED to nip this NOW otherwise you are going to have one heck of hard time during her teenage years.



You're not the parent..she is..she tells you what to do it seems.



Kids are SUPER super intelligent. They know what buttons to push they know how long and how far they have to push you before you crack. It sounds like she has worn you down so far that you have no energy to push back.



Do you have other children or plan to have others? Because if you do or want more children ...it isn't going to be easy with her behaving this way. It also isn't her fault that she is this way.



You have set a standard of acceptable behaviour for her..no matter how much you TELL her..she responds to the actions you are taking still. You can talk until you are blue in the face but when you take physical action to remove her from a situation immediately each and every time she does a bad behaviour CONSISTENTLY..then she will learn ..when I do this....this is what happens.





Sit down ..you and your husband...and decide what you will do when she ...



-screams

-whines

-has a tantrum

-disobeys



I cannot tell you what you have to do but I can certainly tell you what happens at my house with my 3 daughters for each instance.



-scream- go to your room until you can speak like a person..when you feel better ..you can join us again



-whines- " I'm sorry I cannot understand you when you speak that way" ..then if she isn't understanding..you say something JUST ONCE in a whine and say it again nicely so she sees the difference



Insist that you cannot understand when she whines then continue with whatever you were doing until she speaks properly



tantrum- walk right over her and keep on doing the task I was doing " When you are ready to speak properly and tell me what is wrong..we can talk"



Disobey - time out ..sometimes to room for a cooldown



I cannot stress how important it is that you remain consistent always. These behaviours will improve within a few days and progress will continue if you change your approach



good luck and i would love an update if you have time.

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Anne - posted on 04/08/2012

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No. My first post listed the problems, the second one listed the good points. I wasn't expecting a total condemnation which is why I had to redress the balance. It was very isolating having a high need baby. The babies of the other mums around me were just completely different so no-one had any understanding. The AP community is the only place I can come to for non-judgemental, balanced advice. Thanks for taking the time to respond. I'm signing off now for a while.

Elizabeth - posted on 04/07/2012

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Sounds like she's perfect from the second post. The first one painted a picture of a real terror. Glad you found some relief.

Anne - posted on 04/07/2012

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She's not a 'pain in the ass' Elizabeth. I guess long as my post was it only gave half the story. She's amazing really. She's never naughty when we are out. I've never had to deal with any behaviour issues/tantrums that other mums seem to have to in public. So many people come up to me and comment how sweet and well behaved she is. When she was 2 people were always mistaking her for a 4yr old mostly because of her maturity and the way she talked to people. She looked after my mum on a 8 hr train journey last week when my mum got travel sick. She's so thoughtful and intuitive, sensing people's moods, always making little presents, sharing her things with everyone. When she's good she's very very good and when she's bad... well I wouldn't even call these behaviours bad. It mostly genuine distress and she has always been high need. I don't know what we will do over the cuts and bumps phobia/hysteria. I have been consistent over the removal from the room for not letting me speak but in over 6 months of consistency it hasn't worked. Partly an iron will and partly I think the behaviour is being driven by our living situation. Family living there long term and a constant cocophony of voices seems to make her feel she needs to fight for my attention. I have discovered though that there are some physical factors contributing to the behaviour and how she can handle her emotions. Chocolate - very bad. Since stopping grandparental treats the upsets stopped. Also discovered there is a genetic medical condition behind some of it. I was just the same - did all the same things - drove my mum round the bend but as a teenager I was anxious, shy and respectful of others to the point of being walked over.

Elizabeth - posted on 03/08/2012

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i was going to reply ..but once I saw how long it was..i gave up ..too long at this early hour ..maybe later

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