View Full Version : emotional three year old
09-08-2008, 12:53 AM
The last couple of weeks my three year old has been extremely emotional. It is to the point where it is starting to worry me. This might be a little long so bear with me. We have a 7 week old son. Everybody always told me to be careful because my three year old will probably be jealous. Well from the time he was born she never showed any signs of jealousy whatsoever. She loved to feed him and help change his diaper. Before he was born, we explained to her as best as we can that babies need lots of attention that it wasnt going to be all about her anymore. She seemed to understand as best as a three year old can. Now the last couple of weeks has been rough. I have never really been the discipline type, which I completly regret now. I hardly ever spanked her or sent her to her room or anything like that for the past three years to avoid "hurting her feelings". I was the one that apologized to her when I did spank her or send her to her room. In any case, she walks all over me. Well lately I got to thinking that if I dont discipline her and I dont discipline her brother when he gets older, I am going to have two kids who will walk all over me and I DONT want that. So lately I have really started disciplining her. Because I have let her get by with so much the last three years she will NOT listen to ANYTHING I say. The other night was a really bad night for me and her. She kept getting into stuff she knows she is not supposed to be in. I had been telling her all day to stay out of the bathroom cabinet. She kept on and on. I really lost my patience and got in her face and just screamed at her. That was the only thing I could do. Of course she started crying so I sent her to her room. Now I know I shouldnt have done that, but I lost it. Now for the emotional part. This may sound weird but this is what she has been doing for the last two weeks. She goes around to all of her toys and tells them she loves them and gives them hugs and kisses. She will even go up to the tv and the computer and tell them she loves them and gives them a hug and a kss. But while she is doing this, she really breaks down. I mean, if you were to walk into my house during all of this, you would think this kid has never been told I love you in her life. After all of the hugs and kisses, she will grab a pillow or a blanket and just go in her room and sit on her bed and just cry or go to a corner and just cry. She really breaks down. I tried to talk to her the other night about it and I asked her what was wrong and why she was doing this. She couldnt give me an answer. I finally got her to calm down so we could go to bed. I had her in my bed and her baby brother woke up. I started to feed him while we are all in bed and she wanted to cuddle. She was still a little emotional at this time but not as bad as earlier. I told her as soon as I got her brother fed and put to sleep I would cuddle with her. She broke down again. But this time she told me that she wanted me to take her baby brother back to the hospital because she didnt love him anymore. It shocked me and I sternly told her that was not nice and to never say that again, that she loved her brother. Then she told me she wanted me to go away because she didnt love me anymore. This got me upset and I started crying. I told her even if she didnt love me I still loved her. Then she said But I do love you mom. Now this to me sounds like a jealousy thing. But on the other hand,she also does it everytime I get on to her for something, like maybe she is trying to put me on a guilt trip. Is it an attention thing? Has anybody experienced anything like this before or similiar? I really need some advice on this. I am so worried about it I have thought about taking her to a doctor. Please help!!
09-08-2008, 11:31 AM
Im sorry that you are going thru this.
It sounds like someone is having a hard time with the new baby. The getting into stuff and being bad all amounts to getting negative attention. She knows that if she misbehaves that she will get a reaction. It is definately not the one she wants, but attention nonetheless. If you are able to, I would try spending some alone time with her. Maybe have your spouse put the baby down, give him his bath, or even a feeding. During that time, maybe you could sit down with her and play a game, or read a book. Dont allow the baby to interrupt that time. I think that once you make a habit of this, you will start to see improvement in her behavior. She is craving love and attention, give it to her. But, remember not to reward bad behavior either. If she starts having a tantrum, ask her if she needs a hug and go to her level to give her one. This has worked wonders with my (4) year old.
I know that this time can be difficult, your tired, frustrated, and have too much to do, and no time to get it done. Make sure you remember to count to 10 before reacting to her behavior. She still needs you, just keep that in mind.
09-08-2008, 03:30 PM
Well, keep in mind that she's going through TWO transitions right now. Discipline just started happening, and a baby brother showed up. She's big girl, but she's still a little person. Understanding and communicating her feelings isn't her area of expertise.
If you're interested in reading on discipline (in ALL YOUR SPARE TIME! ;) ), the books I love best so far are "How to Get the Best From Your Children" by Jo Frost, and "Don't Make Me Count to Three" by Ginger Plowman.
A professor of mine in college related the parent/child relationship to a marriage relationship. When you bring a new baby home, the sibling might feel like you're trying to replace her. What if your husband said, "Honey, I love you so much. You're such a great wife. I want another wife just like you. I'm going to bring another wife here to live with us. And you'll share me and my love." I thought she was completely bonkers, but it seems to make sense in your situation. I think she's having trouble adjusting to sharing. To her, maybe time equals love. The baby is taking time away from her which MUST mean that the baby is also taking your love from her (in her mind, not for real). Acting out could be one way to get some time/attention from you. OR it could be a reaction to the sudden introduction of discipline. She'll have to test the boundaries a bit to make sure they're really there. Definitely don't stop disciplining, but definitely make sure you're showering love on her at every opportunity. If you have to pull away to feed, don't focus on that reduced closeness. Offer to sing with her or read to her. Keep her close.
I know it was probably jolting to hear her say she didn't love her brother anymore, but definitely don't stifle her sharing. Don't tell her what she's feeling is wrong. Listen and try to understand what's behind her words. She was opening up and giving you an opportunity to see what's behind all this crazy behavior. Tell her you're sad she feels that way and that you hope she'll decide to love him again. She seems to be going through a bit of a grieving process, too. She's suffering the loss of her uninterrupted time with you, her uncomplicated bond with you. She doesn't see how you all can love each other and still be as close as you were before. Remember the stage when you switched from having one very best friend to having a small group of friends? A group of 3 or 4 is MUCH more complicated. Allegiances and alliances and less closeness and less time can strip away all the feelings of security you had in that original one-on-one relationship.
Give her some time and lots of love. Take time to listen to her and reassure her. Ask her what she wants to do with you (and do it). Ask her what she wants to do with the baby (and help her do it). Bonding. Lots of bonding. And don't let yourself get too rattled. If you start getting really emotional about stuff, her world becomes even less secure.
09-11-2008, 12:14 PM
You wrote that you thought she might be crying so hard when you scold her to try to make you feel guilty. I'm not sure, but I think the concept of "trying to make someone feel guilty" might be out of reach for a 3 year old. Don't know, I'm just guessing. But I do know that some kids are VERY sensitve to being scolded. When I was little I was extremely sensitive and emotional, and my mother just telling me to stop doing something, even if her voice wasn't stern, would make me break down and I'd be afraid she didn't love me. Forget being actually snapped at, then I would cry for days. That's just how I was, and I was like that until I got out of high school. So my mom had to adjust how she reprimanded me. So maybe your daughter is something like this, and being very mild with her will help
09-11-2008, 06:11 PM
Yes, this is very very common. It is VERY normal for the older sibling, if still a toddler, to want the baby to go back. She still remembers life when it was just her who was getting the attention and when she was the baby, and so she is wishing it could all just go back to the way things used to be.
This is definitely a phase, but you have to make sure that you handle it well to ensure there aren't lasting behaviors from this.
Right now, I am caring for a 4 year old, 3 year old, and 3 month old and the 3 year old is having similar problems. She has been peeing and pooping everywhere in the house and begging to wear diapers to be a baby and begging for us to carry her and feed her and hold her like a baby....things like this.
She breaks down crying over nothing over and over and over.
It is definitely enough to wear anyone thin because you remember the child the way she was just a short time ago and you just want her to snap out of it, but if you get mad, she just sinks further in.
Right now, what we are trying to do is give her a lot of attention when we don't have to care for the baby. Because the baby takes long naps, those are the times when you make sure to engage the child.....try to make things almost seem like the baby never did come...in a way. When you have to take care of the baby later, she at least got to feel those feelings during the day that she is important and special and still mommy's baby too.
Also though, we are trying to give her big girl and big sister duties and letting her do fun things and making sure to tell her that the baby can't do those things, so she can kind of feel like being a big girl is something she really wants.
When it comes to kissing and loving her things....I wonder if that could be connecting to the objects that found permanence in her life before the baby, and loving and missing when it was just her and those things, with no baby.
I know that sometimes it must feel like you just want her to come back right now, but don't worry, she will. There will be a time in the not so distant future when she doesn't even really remember life before she had her brother, and once he can play with her, they will become each other's best friend and playmate.
Hang in there!
09-11-2008, 06:27 PM
I hear this is very common, but I cannot imagine what you have tolerated from this child in the past 3 years to make her think it is ok to act like that. Do you have any set rules at all? It sounds like you wanted to spoil your little girl and that's exactly what happened. (I'm honestly sorry that reads so harsh. I can't think of a way to soften it in writing.)The advice I give is this-#1 Never yell at your child. Tell her what she is doing wrong. Then tell her if she does not stop right now, _______ will happen. Time-out, spank, whatever your punishment of choice is. Then, administer the punishment. After the punishment has been administered, tell her you love her, but it is your job to teach her to act right, and you don't always like it either, but you have to do it. Then ask her why she got punished to make sure she understands. After that, I make my son apologize to whomever he has wronged, me, and Jesus. I hope that helps.
09-17-2008, 05:14 PM
My daughter did the same exact thing. We were driving by the hospital and she recognized it and said "Mama, can we bring Alex back? I don't like him anymore." She was 3 at the time, he was 6 months. They all go through this phase. Now they are 4 1/2 and 22 months and love each other to pieces. Now, as far as your daughter being upset and your emotional state, I would say you may want to talk to your own Dr. about the possibility of Postpartum Depression. You sound a little guilty and losing your temper is also a concern. You don't have to stay in bed for weeks to have Postpartum Depression. It can manifest itself in other ways. Also, call the pediatrician. If your daughter's behavior is alarming to you, then something is wrong-a mother always knows. And remember always be consistent with the discipline. When her little world goes topsy turvy because of a new sibling the key is to keep consistency and routines for her. Maybe have a friend or relative babysit the newborn and you and your daughter go out to the park along for an hour for some bonding. Just be patient, it will get better. Peace
Powered by vBulletin® Version 4.1.4 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.