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Dear daughter's amateur dramatics drive us dotty

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  • Dear daughter's amateur dramatics drive us dotty

    Our lovely 3.5 YO is, in addition to being brilliant and beautiful and smart and happy, something of a budding method actor. She especially loves the classic tragedies. Such famous works as "But I LIIIIIKE jumping off the couch" and "But ballerinas don't wear pants!"

    She's begun to take any frustration- say, we're unable to immediately drop everything and meet her demands- with enormous sobs and flailing upon the floor. It's all very stagy, and completely unlike her genuine tears. But she'll keep doing it for a hour.

    Combine this with actively resisting listening when we try and address her sobing theatrics with anything but concession (or when we're trying to get her to stop putting oatmeal on the dog). She'll ignore, and if you get right up in her face, make eye contact, hold her lovingly but firmly she'll cackle hysterically right in your face. It's as far from her real laughter as the crying is from her real crying. It's like a knife dragged along my spine, and then stuck into my patience and wiggled violently back and forth.

    We've tried waiting to let her tire herself out with the crazies, and that doesn't really work.

    We're fallen far from the true path with in our desperation to get her to listen when we need her to do something, and have regularly been coercing her by taking things she values away until she complies. This threat and action are the only thing that make her listen to us when she's feeling this way. I HATE doing this, but we're scratching bottom.

    Today she started the morning off at 5AM by howling demands for things, and refusing to go back to sleep (despite really needing it). We get three hours of total freakout. Huge theatrical tears, manic leaping around, very calculated defiance ("Don't jump off the sofa onto the dog, please" was met with that very action), weeping and dramatics when we saved the dog from being squished.

    It's like this perfect storm of her natural spiritedness (which, as much as it infuriates me, also makes me incredibly proud of her), complete lack of patience, need to challenge boundaries, and what seems like a calculated strategy to drive us absolutely mad with relentless aggressive whining.

    Its likely a stage- we've had rough patches before- but I've never been so close to spanking her as I was this morning. I was spanked pretty frequently, and caught myself in replay mode, and had to go lock myself in the bedroom away from her for awhile. Not a good feeling.

    How do we address this in an AP way?

    -B

  • #2
    hi bailywolf,
    this sounds tough and i can tell you're really frustrated! spirited children can, indeed, bring equal amounts of joy and tears into your life have you read "Raising Your Spirited Child" ?
    as w/all other areas of AP, the goal is to find the underlying need in the situation. can you try to disect the many layers here to find out what need your daughter is trying to meet? can you also understand yourself enough to discover why her needs are conflicting w/yours?
    practically, what does your day look like? is she getting enough exercise? eating properly? does she have enough outlets for her dramatic play? can you get her into creative play activities like ballet or music? if not, can you re-create these at home? do you think you guys are spending enough time connecting rather than at odds?
    good for you for recognizing the old tapes and stopping yourself at the point of frustration. i was raised similarly and have found myself at the same point many times. hang in there!

    Comment


    • #3
      Bailywolf that sounds exhausting! Hang in there!

      Has there been any difficult or big events in your lives lately?

      Do think she is feeling powerless in her life? (And thus trying to get some power "back" by disrupting your family life.) If this is the case and if she won't talk about it, will she play with the feeling? In our house we would play a silly game where she would get to boss my husband and I around. (And we would have overly dramatic reactions to all the "horrible" things she would make us do.) Often when our son plays this game with us he feels empowered and we get a little window into his psyche.

      Or on the other hand, do you think she is feeling like she has too much power? And it is discomforting for her? For instance, I think too much flexibility with rules can sometimes make kids feel like they should always be trying to negotiate for something better. I don't mean kids are manipulative, gahh so hard to explain these things online.

      I realize this all sounds like a big contradiction but I'm just trying to throw some ideas out there.
      Also, at this point with her. I would have as few restrictions on her as possible but with the restrictions/rules that are in-place I would try to make them as hard and stead fast as possible. For instance, it is not possible to make anyone go back to sleep so if she was not willing to go back to sleep I would immediately give up on trying to get her to. (Even though she soooo needs that sleep.)


      HTH

      Comment


      • #4
        Hello! My eldest son has reacted to things in the same way. I think its important to remember that often the item or issue blamed for the tantrum is really just a prop and is not actually what the child needs to feel fulfilled. This is not intentional on the child's part but it happens when some feeling need to be worked through. I am reading Playful Parenting right now and am LOVING the play therapist viewpoint of it. That might be a good place to start.
        It's as far from her real laughter as the crying is from her real crying.
        I totally understand your frustration as my son does exactly the same things at time. I have to remind myself that he is little still and having trouble organizing and processing his emotions in a less dramatic way.
        This book- Kids, Parents and Power Struggles helped me immensely at this age and has given me the the mantra I tell myself at that situation to calm down--- "my child is not out to get me"

        Lastly, here is a good quick article.
        Cry for Connection: A Fresh Approach to Tantrums
        By Patty Wipfler

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by naomifrederickmd View Post
          Wow, this article was a gem! What a great, refreshing read.

          Thanks, Bailywolf, for your post. Looking at a situation like this from the outside helped me see what a gift children are, be they tantruming or not, in helping us grow as parents. Helping us see what hang-ups we still have and need to work through. I'm feeling really grateful to be the mother to a beautiful 2 year old who is wise enough to express herself through tantrums!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Bailywolf View Post
            Our lovely 3.5 YO is, in addition to being brilliant and beautiful and smart and happy, something of a budding method actor. She especially loves the classic tragedies. Such famous works as "But I LIIIIIKE jumping off the couch" and "But ballerinas don't wear pants!"

            She's begun to take any frustration- say, we're unable to immediately drop everything and meet her demands- with enormous sobs and flailing upon the floor. It's all very stagy, and completely unlike her genuine tears. But she'll keep doing it for a hour.

            Combine this with actively resisting listening when we try and address her sobing theatrics with anything but concession (or when we're trying to get her to stop putting oatmeal on the dog). She'll ignore, and if you get right up in her face, make eye contact, hold her lovingly but firmly she'll cackle hysterically right in your face. It's as far from her real laughter as the crying is from her real crying. It's like a knife dragged along my spine, and then stuck into my patience and wiggled violently back and forth.

            We've tried waiting to let her tire herself out with the crazies, and that doesn't really work.

            We're fallen far from the true path with in our desperation to get her to listen when we need her to do something, and have regularly been coercing her by taking things she values away until she complies. This threat and action are the only thing that make her listen to us when she's feeling this way. I HATE doing this, but we're scratching bottom.

            Today she started the morning off at 5AM by howling demands for things, and refusing to go back to sleep (despite really needing it). We get three hours of total freakout. Huge theatrical tears, manic leaping around, very calculated defiance ("Don't jump off the sofa onto the dog, please" was met with that very action), weeping and dramatics when we saved the dog from being squished.

            It's like this perfect storm of her natural spiritedness (which, as much as it infuriates me, also makes me incredibly proud of her), complete lack of patience, need to challenge boundaries, and what seems like a calculated strategy to drive us absolutely mad with relentless aggressive whining.

            Its likely a stage- we've had rough patches before- but I've never been so close to spanking her as I was this morning. I was spanked pretty frequently, and caught myself in replay mode, and had to go lock myself in the bedroom away from her for awhile. Not a good feeling.

            How do we address this in an AP way?

            -B
            WOW, I posted about my daughter but the more of the other posts I read the more I realise that all those things are pretty common, all I can say is my daughter is the same and I am reacting like you although tbh I am not one for taking stuff away but sometimes I too scrape the barrel at the bottom in terms of responses....does yours say "BUT I WANT to leap off the sofa" " BUT I want to have dirty teeth that fall out" 'I want to be a horrible girl"....I am sooo at a loss. too..please keep me posted too....I might learn something !!!!

            MissyLOO

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