From: cjra on
Last few months I came on here all I found was spam, but if there's
any one still out there, I'd love some advice! You all have been so
helpful in the past.

My 3.5 yr old is a "Spirited Child." Definitely. However, her
spiritedness has 99% of the time been of a happy sort. Her default
demeanor was positive, happy. She's just a little hurricane of
activity. She'd been far from perfect and had tested her limits often,
but nothing we couldn't handle with some effort and patience.

That all changed about a month ago. It was rather sudden one day which
makes me worried. It started off with weepiness. She wasn't throwing
tantrums, but just started to cry about everything - very much not
like her. In the past if she cried, it was because she was really
hurt. Then it progressed to major tantrums. We'd had tantrums in the
past, but nothing like this - very aggressive with me and DH, hitting,
pulling, kicking, screaming, totally in hysterics.

I'd lean towards it being a phase, it's just that it was rather
sudden. Her behaviour mirrors that of a friend's kid, whom she spends
a lot of time with. And at first I thought she was just imitating her,
but this has gone on too long for that, and she hasn't spent as much
time with her since this started.

Now, there IS a new baby in the house as of 2 weeks ago, but this
behaviour started a few weeks before that. She's otherwise thrilled
with her baby brother, loves him to pieces and always wants to be with
him. She's had another major change with her daycare closing - she
was at an in home daycare for the past 2.5 years and loved "Nana." As
of last week Nana retired....but then DD has talked for the past few
weeks about starting school, so hasn't seemed too disappointed about
not seeing Nana anymore. And again, this behaviour started weeks
before she even knew about Nana retiring. I do think Nana was a bit
stressed and scolded her a bit more in the final weeks (DD is still
having potty training issues, but was doing well). And DH has been
super stressed for the past month or two about work. And of course new
baby stress (baby is not gaining well and not latching so I'm nursing
every 2 hour for 30 minutes).

I'm trying to spend as much time with her as possible - fortunately
this baby sleeps (unlike her), so I spend all that time he's asleep
focusing on her. But this behaviour is just constant. No more my
laughing singing dancing child, in her place is a mean, unhappy,
aggressive, screaming child. I feel so bad *for* her as well as for
us, because this is so difficult.

I'm at a total loss about what to do.

Any suggestions?
From: Betsy on
cjra wrote:

> That all changed about a month ago. It was rather sudden one day which
> makes me worried. It started off with weepiness. She wasn't throwing
> tantrums, but just started to cry about everything - very much not
> like her. In the past if she cried, it was because she was really
> hurt. Then it progressed to major tantrums. We'd had tantrums in the
> past, but nothing like this - very aggressive with me and DH, hitting,
> pulling, kicking, screaming, totally in hysterics.
>
> I'd lean towards it being a phase, it's just that it was rather
> sudden. Her behaviour mirrors that of a friend's kid, whom she spends
> a lot of time with. And at first I thought she was just imitating her,
> but this has gone on too long for that, and she hasn't spent as much
> time with her since this started.
>

Even if the behavior started because she was imitating her friend, it
may have become a habit. She may no longer remember that there are
other ways she could be behaving. It might help to suggest other
actions she could take when confronted with an upsetting situation.

> Now, there IS a new baby in the house as of 2 weeks ago, but this
> behaviour started a few weeks before that.

The stress of knowing the baby would be coming soon could have resulted
in behavior changes.

> I'm trying to spend as much time with her as possible - fortunately
> this baby sleeps (unlike her), so I spend all that time he's asleep
> focusing on her. But this behaviour is just constant. No more my
> laughing singing dancing child, in her place is a mean, unhappy,
> aggressive, screaming child. I feel so bad *for* her as well as for
> us, because this is so difficult.
>

With my own spirited child, I have noticed that if I spend too much time
with her, just doing what she wants, it leads to terrible behavior.

Maybe she needs the security of having a more structured situation and
less choices.

Is she between daycares right now because you are home with the baby?
Especially with a new baby, her days may be much less structured than
she is used to.

> I'm at a total loss about what to do.
>

Adding a second child when your first is a spirited child can be very
challenging. Having our 3rd and 4th was much easier than having our second.

--Betsy
From: cjra on
On Dec 23, 10:23 pm, Betsy <be...(a)eskimo.com> wrote:

> Even if the behavior started because she was imitating her friend, it
> may have become a habit.  She may no longer remember that there are
> other ways she could be behaving.  It might help to suggest other
> actions she could take when confronted with an upsetting situation.

Ok, I need to think about what to suggest....I've talked to her about
the behaviour, but it's usually during it, which doesn't help.

She's also incredibly defiant now. If we say to not do something, she
does it 10x over....

>
> > Now, there IS a new baby in the house as of 2 weeks ago, but this
> > behaviour started a few weeks before that.
>
> The stress of knowing the baby would be coming soon could have resulted
> in behavior changes.
>

Probably. We talked a lot about it, and she was very excited, and
participated in my midwife appointments and she was there for the
birth and very into it all.

> > I'm trying to spend as much time with her as possible - fortunately
> > this baby sleeps (unlike her), so I spend all that time he's asleep
> > focusing on her. But this behaviour is just constant. No more my
> > laughing singing dancing child, in her place is a mean, unhappy,
> > aggressive, screaming child. I feel so bad *for* her as well as for
> > us, because this is so difficult.
>
> With my own spirited child, I have noticed that if I spend too much time
> with her, just doing what she wants, it leads to terrible behavior.
>
> Maybe she needs the security of having a more structured situation and
> less choices.
>
> Is she between daycares right now because you are home with the baby?
> Especially with a new baby, her days may be much less structured than
> she is used to.
>

She is between daycares. We're going to start her part time in the new
one after the new year.


> > I'm at a total loss about what to do.
>
> Adding a second child when your first is a spirited child can be very
> challenging.  Having our 3rd and 4th was much easier than having our second.
>
> --Betsy

Thanks for the input.
From: Betsy on
cjra wrote:
> On Dec 23, 10:23 pm, Betsy <be...(a)eskimo.com> wrote:
>
> She's also incredibly defiant now. If we say to not do something, she
> does it 10x over....
>

Handling a defiant older sibling can be extremely difficult when you
have a new baby. Often you are not in a position to do what you need to
do to provide structure and discipline for the older one.

If you are not in a position to be able to keep her from doing whatever
it is, it may be better to avoid telling her not to. If you tell her
not to do something and she gets away with it, it reinforces the defiance.

We have a rule at our house "don't suggest bad things" which means that
we avoid mentioning a bad thing we are worried a child will do. Instead
we try to use redirection and positive suggestions for good activities
before the bad thing has a chance to happen.

>>
>> Is she between daycares right now because you are home with the baby?
>> Especially with a new baby, her days may be much less structured than
>> she is used to.
>>
>
> She is between daycares. We're going to start her part time in the new
> one after the new year.
>

Given the upheaval in her life and probable lack of structure caused by
a new baby, her behavior doesn't seem surprising.

One thing that helped my oldest was to make her a calendar. It had 7
columns for the days of the week. I planned a schedule of daily
activities that repeated weakly and drew pictures for each activity. We
talked about the pictures and I made up or used songs to go with some of
them.

She loved to look at the calendar frequently and know what would be
coming up. It added much needed structure and predictability to her
life and I think it was a large factor in improving her behavior.

With any child, but especially with a spirited child, consistency is
extremely important. Never threaten a consequence that you aren't able
to enforce or won't go through with. It is very important for both
parents to be on the same page on this.

I hope the birth went well. I'm remembering your previous birth story,
though it doesn't seem that long ago.

--Betsy
From: Rosalie B. on
cjra <cjrohr31(a)hotmail.com> wrote:

>That all changed about a month ago. It was rather sudden one day which
>makes me worried. It started off with weepiness. She wasn't throwing
>tantrums, but just started to cry about everything - very much not
>like her. In the past if she cried, it was because she was really
>hurt. Then it progressed to major tantrums. We'd had tantrums in the
>past, but nothing like this - very aggressive with me and DH, hitting,
>pulling, kicking, screaming, totally in hysterics.

I had my own spirited child, but she was the second one, and the next
baby was 5 years younger. I do agree that you should pick your
battles, redirect and ignore the bad behavior. It may take some time
to get over this lump.

I'd only offer two pieces of advice. First make sure it isn't
something physical that is the cause.

Second, talk to her sometimes. Tell her the story of her birth. When
mine were pre-verbal but were upset I would tell them the story of
them. Doesn't have to be elaborate.