Sunday, April 22, 2012

Limit Testing Behavior

I'm really struggling to understand my daughter and deal with her behavior.  She's an absolute delight in public, smiling at people and acting like a complete angel, but at home she really likes to test me (keyword, ME).  After the birth of her baby brother, it seems to have really escalated.  Now she's peeing in her pants, throwing fits over silly things, getting into things she knows not to get into, and just all around pushing my buttons and trying to upset me.  I am really trying to give her extra special attention, but it is not helping.

So, how would you deal with limit-testing behavior and tantrums?

Mother-Daughter Photo Fail

Here are a few examples, so you'll know what I'm talking about.

Example #1:

She says she needs to pee so I take her into the bathroom at Target.  I start to help her unbutton her pants, but she throws a fit and starts yelling.

E: "I do it by myself!"

Me:  "Okay. That's great. While you are getting your pants off, I'm going to go potty."  

I sit down to go to pee and she screams louder, and tries to pull me off of the toilet.  When I reach for the toilet paper she puts her hand in front of it so I can't get to it easily.  She starts yelling again (even louder).  

E: "No, me first!" 

Of course, by this time its too late and I'm finished.  So I stand up and ask her again if she needs any help with her pants.  This time she focuses her attention on her pants and tries, unsuccessfully, to unbutton her pants.

E: "Can't do it. Not working." 

So I reach over to help her and she screams again.

E: "No. I do it by myself!"  

I allow her to try to unbutton her pants for a full minute while she's screaming, but she's not making any progress.  In fact, she's not even really trying.  She's just hitting the button with her hand and wailing about it not working.  After too long, I get frustrated with her and just unbutton her pants for her and pull them down.  This makes her even more mad though.  I try to physically pick her up and put her on the potty, but she's arching her back, wiggling away, and screaming at the top of her lungs.

Me:  "If you don't get on the potty now and pee, I'm going to pull up your pants and we're leaving the bathroom.  This is your chance to make a good choice."

E: "No.  I need pee!  I need pee!"

She screams for another minute for all of Target to hear, but at the same time is refusing to sit on the potty or do anything.  So, I pull her pants up and away we go back into the store, as she continues to yell "I need pee."

At the next stop, Will takes her into the bathroom and she goes without a fuss at all for him.

Example #2:

I tell her that we are leaving to go pick up L from preschool in 10 minutes and she should start finding her shoes.  

She immediately throws herself in the floor and says, "I'm not going.  I don't like L!"

I ignore her fit while I finish getting myself and O ready.  I get her shoes out for her and sit them next to her.  "We have to go pick up L in 5 minutes.  Do you want me to help you put your shoes on?"

"No!  I don't like L.  I am going to stay home!" she screams and throws the shoes at me.

I leave her again for a few minutes while I buckle O into his car-seat.  Then return and tell her it's time to put her shoes on.  She won't put her shoes on, so I just pick her up and put her in the car.  I'm thinking at this point that it's not worth the fight and I'll just put the shoes on her when we get there.  I  start to buckle her into her car-seat when I realize that she's peed in her pants (on purpose).  Back in the house we go to change her pants.


I sit down to nurse her brother and she immediately finds trouble.  She deliberately finds things that she knows are off-limits and gets into them.

She found the craft box

Moon Dough, Playdough, Paint, Bubbles, and Markers

We've done a lot of special mama-daughter things together, but it does not seem to help very much.

At the Monkey's Treehouse

Drawing with Chalk at the Park

Swim Lessons!

Dress up, at home

Baking Cookies!

1 comment:

  1. aw man. I dunno Rebekah, I don't know what to say. I want to say it doesn't really have anything specific to do with you, she is just trying to figure out her new place in the family with a new baby? I think you are doing a great job with all your kids, just give her some time.
    ~Laura B