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Is my 3.25 year old okay (long)

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  • Is my 3.25 year old okay (long)

    DD is having multiple meltdowns per day, over things that seem kind of insignificant. For example, I moved some boards outside around so they would dry better, and she became hysterical. If I rearrange any furniture inside, she's likely to become very upset. She's become very picky about food, and doesn't want anything that she doesn't like the look of even on her plate. I gave her 3 chicken nuggets the other day and she became upset because two of them were browner than the other one, and would not have them on her plate.

    Right now she is upset, screaming that she wants to go to the store and get some candy.

    She doesn't stay upset for long, but she doesn't stay calm for long, either.

    She also has been complaining of leg pain at night sometimes, and when she does, she can't stop moving her legs (I gave her Epsom salt bath and some iron-rich foods and she hasn't complained lately).

    She sometimes is awake for hours in the middle of the night. Last night she couldn't sleep from 2am until 6am.

    She says she's having bad dreams, but its hard to tell if that's true or not, since she always says, "yes" when I asked her if she had a dream, and sometimes she says the same thing she said last night and the night before. She doesn't wake up crying; she just tosses and turns and finally says, "I can't sleep." We cosleep and I sleep very lightly and I know she's not crying out. She is saying today that she had a bad dream about a dragon, and for the past few nights she says she dreamed about "bobos" (monkeys) going down the drain in the sink.

    My sense is that anything unusual during the day really disrupts her sleep. Yesterday we had a friend over in the late afternoon (usually our playdates are in the morning) and I think that is why she had a rough night. But I don't really know for sure. She doesn't seem upset by changes in routine during the day, and seems to enjoy new things. But then she doesn't sleep well at night.

    She is very imaginative and creative. She also doesn't like to watch a movie a second time or read a book a second time or do the same puzzle twice. She likes things new and interesting and after that they are boring. She doesn't like repetition.

    We don't watch much TV (we don't actually have any reception or cable) but we sometimes watch Netflix dvds like Little Bear or Teletubbies etc.

    She doesn't like playing with other kids. I think the concepts of taking turns and personal space are too much for her right now - or at least, all the rules of social engagement are too troublesome to be worth the slight fun of playing with others. She plays with me all the time, though. She doesn't play independently at all, really. We spend all day and night together and she doesn't go to daycare or preschool.

    She's very active and doesn't like to sit still for things like storytime at the library. She will sometimes let me read a book to her but usually only if she is doing something else at the same time, like taking a bath or nursing.

    We don't use any punishments and I try to be empathic when she's upset about things. I also try to engage her in problem-solving but often she is too upset to communicate with me. She doesn't like to be comforted when she is upset unless she got physically hurt; she is sensitive to my feelings and will ask me if I'm happy; she's pretty affectionate when she's feeling well.

    We spend most of our day playing pretend games (e.g. "mama be the horse and I be the baby cow. Help! The baby cow has fallen in the hole and can't get out! Mama put on your rescue cape!")

    Her diet is okay. We usually eat organic with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Sometimes her papa brings home terrible things like Oreo cookies about once a week, and sometimes we go out for ice cream, but overall, its pretty healthy.

    I did try various elimination diets about a year ago to try to help with sleep issues, and we recently night-weaned, but it seems since she's turned three our sleep has gotten worse.

    That's all I can think of. I know much of this is typical for 3 year olds but sometimes I wonder if she's a little more extreme. Anyone have any ideas or advice?

  • #2
    well, your question is "is my daughter okay?" and although you did give us several snapshots, the only way to answer "yes" or "no" would be to have a comprehensive look at her. you're right, all of what you describe does seem age-appropriate, but if you're having to ask the question, then i would say that something is bothering you and best to get it checked out by a trusted pediatrician. never underestimate your maternal instinct.

    as far as advice, have you read about Playful Parenting? since she seems so into her play, perhaps a way to help her deal w/peers is when you're playing w/her, act like a peer would and help her deal w/the outcomes. for instance, don't let her grab toys from your hands, act out sharing, turn-taking, etc.

    the other things may be part of her personality, some people have a stronger need for order than others do. some have more intense emotions than others. some need time to vent before talking about their feelings. i think the most important thing is to respect the individual and do what you've been doing, offering yourself as a supporter and listener.

    i don't know if i've helped you at all, please write more if you need more clarification....
    Last edited by PaxMamma; 05-04-2008, 02:21 PM.

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    • #3
      Have you read Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka? That was the first book I read when I was asking the same question of my oldest boy 4 years ago. It helped me understand some kids (like adults) experience things much deeper and more intensly, while others can go through life easy about everything.

      I would also say the tantrums and fears are very normal of a 3 year old, but much like PaxMama said, if you feel concerned about the behavior it cannot hurt to contact your care provider.

      One other thing I was thinking of, and now I cannot find the resource, I read that if your child is having meltdowns, or you feel like you are in a power struggle, create situations where they can take ther power back. I don't mean, let them torch the house on fire, but try and come up with some scenarios where she can make all the choices. Like is it a deal-breaker if she doesn't want to wear clothes, let her go naked at home, etc. Often times children while react when they are feeling powerless, and simply giving some back helps bring a bit more balance.

      Just some ideas! Best of luck!

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      • #4
        She sounds a lot like my oldest ds. I wanted to set up a video camera so others could see what I meant because I did not feel like I could ever possibly explain just how intense he was.

        They are going through so, so much at that age that is, often times, overwhelming. When she screams about the chicken nuggets....its usually not about the chicken nuggets at all. Just like as adults we get upset at something and usually what is really upsetting us is much deeper.

        Just try to be in the moment and not get too caught up in the whole, is this normal, does so and so do this, and just know that she is dealing with a lot right now. Just like adults, some handle overwhelming things (stress) better than others. My oldest just handled his stress much more openly than my middle child.


        She may be having some growing pains at night. I like to rub on the bumps and bruises ointment on their shins and ankles at night and they say that helps.

        I would also recommend reading Raising Your Spirited Child.

        Hang in there!

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        • #5
          I have an only child, Chuck who is 4. When he was 2 to 3 he was easygoing, happy, and was only upset when he needed something simple (food, sleep, hugs etc...) I wondered what the heck was so terrible about that age. When 3 came, he did start to be much more willful. It was at this age he started realizing that he had an impact.

          He also did not care for change (I think that is very normal) I found that prior to changing anything (like rearranging) I would talk to him about it first, and I quelled my urges to re-arrange on a whim. that worked pretty well. He even let me put his bed up on its frame when we put our house on the market!
          Between 3 and 4 his anger on things really got much greater - and he is just starting in the past few months to get a real handle on dealing with it, not all the way yet, sometimes he still whacks me, but it is so rare now. I do let him be angry, and I do the repeating of what I believe is angering him - and acknowledging it. I also found stopping. stooping, and making eye contact for a few seconds (with a hard to describe serious, i love you, smiling look) before speaking really really helps ALOT. getting that connection first before trying to calm or instruct is really helpful.

          good luck, this is an important time, learning to deal with emotional upheaval is a very important life lesson, and it will take a long long time, but it lasts a long long time too. doreen

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