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Kicking Daddy

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  • Kicking Daddy

    We've had this problem on and off with my 3 year old daughter Rhianna for about the last month, maybe longer, time sort of disappears these days. It tends to be in the evening but not always, she'll be playing happily with my DH when she'll suddenly just loose it, start laughing a very false laugh and kick him. She's usually lying on the sofa or bed and she'll turn so her feet are at his end and she'll kick and kick and kick. Nothing we do will stop her, we ask nicely and quietly and explain its not nice, it hurts. We've tried taking her in another room and sitting quietly, or even taking her and leaving her there to calm down. I've tried distracting her with a book or a game, or even tv. DH has tried holding her tightly till she says she's calmed down, she calms down and acts sorry and says she wont do it again, but immediately does, again with this cackle going on. it usually ends with her crying and running to me for mummy milk.
    DH has never been that keen on my doing PD and now he's saying its all my fault we have such an unruly daughter who never does what she's told. I'll add that she is a very different little girl when she's with me, she's definately a free spirit and its true she doesn't do everything I ask the minute I ask her, but she generaly does eventually, she is only 3 after all. Our other daughter is 3 months and Rhianna loves her to bits, but she occasionally gets frustrated and hits out at Scarlett, although, (maybe its my wishful thinking) I'm sure its more that its aimed at DH or me if I've been distracted, its just Scarlett is smaller so an easier target. She also doesn't realise her strength, she hit Scarlett once, and only once, and really made her cry, but instantly she started crying herself, because she hadn't meant to hurt her.Thats how I see it anyway.
    She's stopped lashing out at Scarlett, she's realised its not Scarlett she's angry with, and if I can find a way to stop the kicking I'm hoping things will settle back down a bit more again. Its not that she's doing it for attention, she plays most evenings with DH really nicely, she just gets carried away and doesn't know how to stop. I just wish I could stop her myself.

  • #2
    When then kicking starts, the interaction is done. Your husband should get up and walk away, and if he wants to say somethng, it should be something simple like, "I will not let you hurt me." Explanations and reasoning won't do any good. What she is doing sounds like a tantrum...Her emotions are too overwhelming and she doesn't know how else to express herself other than physically. You don't have to abandon her completey, I would say shouldn't abandon her, but move to a different part of the room so that she knows you're there and you can see when her feelings have "run its course". You can periodically check in with her by saying, "Would you like a hug?", or "Would you like Mummy milk?", as that seemed to be her indicator that she had gotten her feelings out and is ready to start feeling better.

    Positive Discipline may seem discouraging at this age because kids' emotions are so volatile, their language skills aren't strong, and self control doesn't exist. But remember that PD is a long-term approach. We don't want our children to behave (read: obey) if it means stifling their valuable feelings or ignoring their needs. In the long-run, we want them to recognize these feelings and needs and be able to express them or respond to them appropriately. PD is not about raising obedient children, it's about raising children who can think for themselves, recognize feelings in themselves and others, and make appropriate decisions based on everyone's needs.

    The hard part is right now, when your child is 3! Showing them how to express & recgognize their feelings means we have to endure lots of tantrums and emotional/ physical outbursts. It's tough and very draining! API is a great resource for support during this trying time, so hang in there and seek lots of support when you need it!


    • #3
      The trouble is she just follows him and carries on or starts hitting him if she cant kick him. He's tried walking into another room and holding the door shut, which kind of works because she gets very upset at being locked out. He's tried holding her tightly so she cant move her arms and legs, which she takes as a game for a while, but then calms down, till he lets go and she does it again. Maybe its just one more stage we need to get through, I just hope it doesn't last too long.


      • #4
        Are you usually there, too? Can you help by distracting her from following him? My point was that there is nothing you can say to talk her out of her feelings, or to reason with her to get her to calm down. These kinds of situations call for a lot of doing on your part...preventing, distracting, redirecting. And yes, it is a phase!


        • #5
          I would suggest read playful parenting and see if your husband will read it to. She may be looking for a connection with your husband and has absolutely no clue how to get it. So she kicks, especially if he holds her until she pretends to calm down, and then does it again. Maybe your husband and her can start to have special one on one time when he gets home, where he announces this is just time for me and you and we can do whatever you want. The book recommends wrestling and gives good ideas on the rules so it is safe, but that might be a good way to work on that connection in a positive way, instead of focusing on the behavior, focus on the intent behind the behavior.


          • #6
            Kelly, gives some great advice. I wasn't raised in AP, but my wife was and after seeing her family and the success/openness it brought to them, I started slowly being convinced. Your husbands views sound similar to the ones that I fight having because of how I was raised.

            I personally feel that when my daughter does similar things (it does seem to happen more at night when she is more tired), it's an assertion of her independence. Sometimes I just feel that she wants to be in control. She wants to be the boss. She doesn't want daddy touching her or being in her space.

            If that's something that you think you and your husband feel is a possibility, then I personally think it's a great thing. She doesn't know how to deal with her feelings yet and is learning how to deal with them by the reactions of those around her. If it's reacted to like it's a big deal, then in her weakest moments she will use that to either a)"get to you" or b)get attention whether negative or positive.

            At first it was very hard for me to wrap my brain around. I know it's not that she's mad at me, doesn't love me, etc.... It's just that at that moment, it's best for me to quickly address it and give her her space. "OK. I'll go in the other room if you don't want me in here right now". That would be the end of me addressing it. She'll usually follow it up by coming in to where I'm at and doing something different. If not, as Kelly said I try distraction by doing something different or getting Mom's help in distracting. I feel addressing it/reasoning with her at this stage is one of the worst things I can do because she can't necessarily rationalize why she's doing it.

            Good luck and great site.