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Old 07-31-2006, 10:29 AM   #1
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Unhappy What else am I supposed to do?

My dd1 has been tough from the get go. Always hard to please and extremely smart. She will be 4 in November. She can be so loving sometimes, but on most occasions, she just doesn't listen and can be so hard and frustrating. Dh and I would love to take her places, but we feel like we can't anymore. I can't even expect her to behave at the store. When the cart is too full, she has to walk with me and all hell breaks loose. She is running around, grabbing stuff, loud. Then, when I try to hold her hand, she makes her body go loose and falls down. Even when I don't hold her hand, she tries to find places to lay down on the floor . It angers me. She knows how to behave and I don't see any other 3/4 year olds acting like this-EVER!! My family tries to tell me to lay off of her and that she is just being a normal 3 year old, but that's not true. I never see kids misbehave the way she does at her age. I try to have her help me by asking her to grab the things I need off the shelf put them in the basket, but she is still all over the place. This is how it is everywhere!

Then she doesn't listen at home either. She never picks up her messes, doesn't listen to anything dh and I tell her. And we don't know how to get it through to her that she needs to obey.

We have read books (last one being The Strong Willed Child) but spanking doesn't help-it makes me feel awful and she doesn't even listen after that. We have tried Nanny Jo's techniques to the tee with timeouts and such, still no improvement in behavior. We try talking and reasoning because she does understand (she's been speaking since the age of 8 months) but she just plain doesn't care what I have to say. I am seriously getting depressed about this. It makes me cry to think that sometimes, I don't want to even be around her. PLease don't bash me for saying this. I am not giving up, but sometimes, I just feel so helpless. We could have so much fun together if she just know how to behave. She can't even stand still while I'm talking to her. SHe acts HORRIBLY when people come over to our house. I am at my wits end and need help. My dr. laughs it off and says there is nothing wrong with her too. I am so upset. Can someone please help us?

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Old 07-31-2006, 10:56 AM   #2
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Re: What else am I supposed to do?

I would take all her toys away (empty out her room). Explain to her that she can have her toys back one at a time for doing "good girl" things. Have her help you with a chore to at least get one back. Don't give it to her if she screams. Get on eye level and talk to her about what is acceptable and what isn't. If she is as smart as you say she is then she will catch on quick. If she puts on a tantrum show, put her in her room with NO toys or anything entertaining. Give her back one whenever she does good. Then take it away again if she starts mis behaving again. My mother did it to us as a child. We were good from then on out. That's just my HTH
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Old 07-31-2006, 11:26 AM   #3
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Re: What else am I supposed to do?

Sounds like my DD when she was three - she was SO difficult. She is better now, but were LOTS of days when I considered going back to work fulltime just so I wouldn't have to be around her all day. She did all of those things, ran around stores, fell down limp, yelled, refused to clean up (still does that one). acted bad when people came over, etc. One big question - does she act this way for everyone or just you and DH?? My DD was an angel for other people, but acted up for my and DH and my parents, who spend a lot of time with her. I learned quickly that her behaviour was situation specific. I wish I had a magic answer for you, but I don't. The only advice I have is to be consistent. It is SO hard for me to do - I have a temper and just want to yell, but that totally doesn't help. We made four numbers on small index cards and hung them on the wall (1-4)...everytime she got in trouble she lost a number. When all the numbers were gone, she had to go to her room until DH got home from work, then she got to eat dinner, take a bath, and go to bed. Honestly, isolation is the only thing that works for her. Now we make her stand or sit in a corner for time-out when she misbehaves. She hates missing out on anything. I have SOOOOOOOOOOO been there - DD STILL fights me on just about everything...but it gets better over time!
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Old 07-31-2006, 11:37 AM   #4
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Re: What else am I supposed to do?

Hi Teresa, I totally feel for you and your daughter. My ds2 is quite strong-willed, too, and can be very challenging. I've found a lot of really helpful advice on the No More Spanking Yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NoMoreSpanking/

I think if I tried to parent my ds in the typical control-focused behavior modification style of most parents, he and I would both be miserable. Instead, he is charming, helpful, and happy most of the time. I am not an advocate of any kind of behavior modification (punishment/reward systems). They may or may not work to change a child's outward behavior, depending on the child and the system chosen, but they do not change the child's heart. They do not help the child develop internal motivation to do what is right for right's sake, or to think of the effect of their action on others. Every action becomes motivated by the thought of "What's in it for me? Will I get in trouble? Or will I be rewarded?" Extensive research has been done to show this. I highly recommend Alfie Kohn's book "UNCONDITIONAL PARENTING: Moving from Rewards and Punishment to Love and Reason" for more about that.

That said, there is no easy alternative. Reconnecting with your daughter, meeting whatever needs she is trying to express to her with her behavior, regaining her respect and cooperation, are processes that will take time, energy and a lot of support. It's hard to find that support in the general culture. Most people think children just need "consequences." I have a 5yob and a 3.5 yob, both of whom have been parented without spanking, time-outs, or threats of "natural consequences" and they are joys to be around. They are also children, and sometimes are frustrating, rambunctious, and occasionally argue over who gets the computer. They are not perfect, but they are cooperative and cheerful as long as their needs are being met.

Check out that Yahoo group. There are lots of parents with your same issues on the list, and even more experienced ones with wonderful, specific advice.
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Old 07-31-2006, 11:47 AM   #5
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Re: What else am I supposed to do?

My 14 yr old was very difficult at 3 I always believed in the terrible 3's not 2's. My advice is to leave her be when she is naughty she will follow you maybe crying but she will. I would walk off in the store and people would give me looks but soon he learned to keep up or he was alone and not happy. I think at 3 immediate consequences and rewards are necessary. If she is laying on the floor just ignore her She is doing this to get a reaction out of you. We also at meijer let him have ice cream when we were 3/4 of the way done if he was good, If not I would be sure to buy some for myself. It only took a couple of weeks and he learned if he wanted to have the good stuff he had to behave. Let her have the fit I know people will stare but better to see her have the fit at 3. Rather than at 8 .I saw an 8 year old sit down in walmart the other day and refuse to get up until her parents (yes mom and dad were both there) would agree to buy her a skirt. I was shocked when they agreed to get her one to get her moving through the store. I can't imagine this girl at 16. Just my opinion
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Old 08-01-2006, 09:38 AM   #6
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Re: What else am I supposed to do?

I tried the positive reinforcement/redirecting method since birth and until 2 years old. I think I made her the way she is sometimes because for too long, she had no consequences and didn't respect me. I'm afraid this reasoning is why so many kids are out of control these days-I'm talking teens on up.

I know I wasn't raised like that and I came out great. I was obedient and didn't dare do or say the things kids do now, not because I was afraid my mom was going to hurt me, but afraid of dissapointing her.

I will look into the yahoo group, maybe there was something that I missed the first time around, spanking, yelling, and time outs sure aren't working.

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One big question - does she act this way for everyone or just you and DH??
Pretty much just us. I can't wait for school to start next week. I know that she is an angel there.
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Old 08-03-2006, 12:13 AM   #7
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Re: What else am I supposed to do?

Hi Teresa, I reread your OP, and really wanted to reply again. My ds2 is the same age as your daughter. I've found that breaking the tension with humor (as hard as it can be to find sometimes!!) really helps with him. When he's acting out, it's almost always because I've been tense or grumpy or impatient (the grocery store seems to invite those feelings!), and he just needs some positive attention. I don't mean bribery or gold stars. But a playful tease that lets him know that I love him even when he's "misbehaving" can really change his attitude. And that leads to him caring more about what I want. My boys still get wild at the grocery store sometimes, especially if they're hungry or tired or I've been cranky with them. You may not see other kids acting that way, but usually it's because they've been threatened or bribed before they entered the store! LOL

Three really is a very emotional age. Our kids are changing so fast, and it's scary. They want the freedom to make their own choices, but also the security of knowing we'll still love them when they mess up. They are VERY sensitive to criticism because they're becoming more aware of how much they still have to learn. Acting "disrespectful" is one way of protecting themselves from that criticism. If she pretends she doesn't care what you think, then it won't hurt so much when you think badly of her. Does that make sense?

If she does fine in school, it sounds to me like she understands what's expected of her there. So she's probably capable of doing what's expected of her at home, too, as long as the expectations are reasonable and clear -- and as long as she's confident that you'll love her unconditionally. Giving that unconditional love is the hard part. But it's what will enable her to try to meet your expectations despite the risk of failure. She has more to lose at home than at school, because your opinion matters to her more than anyone else's -- even if she refuses to show it.

sorry for talking your eyes off. Just wanted to encourage you to hang there!
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Old 08-05-2006, 05:20 PM   #8
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Re: What else am I supposed to do?

My oldest Ds as that way at 3 also, he was worse at 4. I hated to wake up in the morning. I felt like a horrible mother, like I had done this too him.
He has some sensory issues that we really knew noting about or how to deal with (he's almost 18 now this was a long time ago) He is borderline ODD.
I had to get down on his level and be very clear about what I wanted, and what I expected with him. Going grocery shopping was torture for both of us, I would talk to him in the car before going in, then remind him again and again as we went around, his 'reward' was a ride on the little carosel outside when we were done. Usually he rode, some days he didn't.
It also helped him if I kept him talking while we went through the store, asking him to look out for things, finding what we needed.
It was a lot of hard work, but it was all worth it in the end. We didn't spank or anything like that, but did use rewards and time out. It went against how I wanted to parent to do these things but it worked for him.
He improved a lot when he started Kindergarten, and has been very succesful. He leaves for University this month.
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Old 08-05-2006, 06:19 PM   #9
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Re: What else am I supposed to do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchychristianmom
Hi Teresa, I reread your OP, and really wanted to reply again. My ds2 is the same age as your daughter. I've found that breaking the tension with humor (as hard as it can be to find sometimes!!) really helps with him. When he's acting out, it's almost always because I've been tense or grumpy or impatient (the grocery store seems to invite those feelings!), and he just needs some positive attention.
We do the same thing with Haiyn and it usually gets her mind off of whatever she thinks she'd mad about. Also, if she start acting out when you take her out of the basket, then don't. Sometimes picking your battles is the best solution. If you need more groceries, either fit them on top of the others or you'll just have to come back. With my 2.5 y/o, I tell her if she doesn't behave we're leaving. And then if she doesn, I drop whatever I'm doing and we leave. Sometimes we make it out to the car and she's telling me she wants to try again, so we do. She's only two so I tend to give her a second chance if she's convincing. At the grocery store, since it's so boring for her, we brings a toy, get a cookie, and I let her put things into the basket and then help me put the things on the belt. We also never get the basket that has the big car they ride in. She tends to open the doors and fall out!

As far as at home, I'm still figuring it out. One thing we're doing is giving her choices. I read that because they're trying so hard to be independent, giving them choices when you want them to do something, makes them feel like it was their idea or decision. Just make sure you like both choices. For instance, bed time is the hardest time for us, so I let Hailyn decide which of her blankets she wants and which "friends" (stuffed animlas) are going to sleep in bed with her. Bed time still sucks but that does help. I also let her do "big kid" things like serve her own food (with a little guidance), pick her own clothes (she gets to choose between a few I pick out), and other little things. I hope this helps!
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