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3YO Angry at mom

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  • 3YO Angry at mom

    Hi everyone! I am new to this forum. I have a 3yo daughter (will be 4 in March) and a 5month old boy. My little girl has always been spirited, strong willed, high energy. We are new to attachment parenting, after feeling like our current "methods" aren't working for our family. I have struggled between firm discipline (timeouts, no physical punishment ever though), and just kind of ignoring things out of pure exhaustion. I realize that this inconsistency plays a huge role in my daughters feelings and behaviours. I have noticed a wonderful change in her behaviour since taking a gentler approach, but I am still struggling with a few issues. A big issue for my daughter and I is that she can be very rude to me. I am a sensitive person so it really bothers me. She gives me "dirty looks" as we call them , and grunts/growls at me. She will often start this behaviour after being told "no" about something. She will growl at me and then when I try to speak to her she gives me "dirty looks" and continues to grunt. This will go on for the longest time. When she does this I usually say "I don't deserve that, when you are ready to be nice to mommy we can talk". I don't like doing that because I feel like I am turning my back on her but I am not sure what else to do. After reading through Judy Arnall's book "Discipline Without Distress", I have been working on looking for the need or feeling behind the behaviour (usually more attention) so I have tried ignoring it and saying something like "Hey lets go over here and play this fun game", but she still does the same behaviour and refuses to play. I am just not sure what to do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Hi! Welcome to the forum! I have been thinking over your question and have a couple of thoughts for you. First, congratulations to you and your partner on working to change the parenting methods that weren't working for you. It takes a lot to make changes and it is a learning process. Try to be gentle with yourself, your partner and your children as you learn and's ok to make mistakes and work to figure things out. You can always post or even read on this forum for support. You might also like going to a local API meeting if there is one in your area. With regard to your almost four year old, I wonder if she is just unconsciously testing to see if the changes you have made are going to stay. I think if you keep being gentle with her and keep your response consistent, though it will take time, you will she that her looks and grunting will change too. Looking for the need is a great technique and I am glad you have discovered that. Marshall Rosenberg's book, Non-violent communication, is also a great resource for learning to communicate based on understanding needs. Learn more here I know it can be hard not to take things personally, but I think when we keep in mind that most of the things are children do are not all about us, but about them and their experience, that can help. This is a challenge for me too. One thing I like to do, when I am feeling very emotional or perhaps starting to get angry is I simply state how I am feeling and then what I am going to do. So, I calmly say, "Mama is feeling angry right now. I am going to go outside and take some deep breaths." Then I do that. You could also stay where you are and take ten deep breaths or whatever works for you. Then I can usually come back to the situation and connect with my child. I also try to reframe how I see the behavior. Instead of rude, I might think, hmmm, my child is acting like she really needs a hug. In your case, I might try asking your daughter how she feels (she may not be able to verbalize it) and if she would like to sit in your lap and take some deep breaths. When your first instinct is to think she is being rude, try reframing that to "she is showing you how she feels" How can you connect with her during these situations? When you are calm, you've done your 10 breaths, you could say something like, "I hear a little pig/bear/dragon, I wonder if that little animal wants to snuggle on my lap?" If she will sit in your lap, you might keep up the game of the little animal sitting in your lap and ask it to help you find your daughter. Maybe start hunting around the house together. Hopefully there is some smiling and laughing going on. If you an turn this into play, you will be speaking her language and connecting with her. You might have to play this game a lot, but eventually she will find other games to play with you. You might also spend some time telling the animal how much you love and miss your daughter and how you hope she comes back soon because you really wanted to do XYZ with her or how you miss her wonderful songs. Thinking of giving her both physical and verbal hugs during this time. I usually find I can connect more easily with my children if 1) I am calm 2) get them to laugh and 3) we are able to get a physical connection. After the physical connection of sitting in my lap, I might try to get a peek in the eyes. If someone is not willing to look in your eyes, they are not feeling connected. When our children are not feeling connected to us, they can not behave as their best selves. They need us, as calm, consistent and loving parents to help them find their way back to their best self. I hope this helps and I would love to hear how things go. Warmly, Kathryn


    • #3
      Hi! Thank you so much for your reply. I have been working hard every day on being more gentle and understanding, and although I am far from perfect, I see great change. I have worked to fill each day with fun activities and games that revolve around her. I spend more time with her one on one (laundry and cleaning has been put on the back burner) and she has really flourished. The grunting and general grumpiness has greatly subsided. Generally when I am nursing the baby this behaviour will start again. I will say "Uh-oh it would seem Aubrey has been eaten by a grumpy bear", to which she generally giggles and snaps back quickly. Other times she will keep a grumpy face so I will pick her up and give her a hug. "Grumpy bears don't smile", I will say, "So whatever you do DON'T smile." She always finds this hilarious.

      Even friends and family have pointed out that they see change in her attitude.

      I really appreciate your support!

      Kind regards.



      • #4
        Oh, Krysta, I am so glad you wrote back to share how things are going! It sounds like you are feeling more positive about the situation which is huge. I am so happy for you. It sounds like you are making a great connection with your daughter with all you are doing.

        I know it is hard transitioning to two children too. The older one can really be feeling the loss of being the only child and having all the snuggles and attention to herself. (I am the oldest and I remember feeling that way!). It sounds like you are helping to meet her need for having some special attention during this transition time.

        Again, I am so happy you are seeing positive changes - big hugs to you!