Tantrums: Related to grandma's visit?

My three-year-old daughter has been having severe tantrums lately. She acts very aggressively -- throwing things and hitting us. I have been giving her time-outs for the hitting and I tell her to use her words instead. She is usually a very sweet, but intense, child. My mother started visiting three weeks ago and I wonder whether this is part of the reason for the outbursts.

Question:

I think you may have hit upon the answer to your question by yourself. It is very common for sensitive or intense children to react negatively to a major change in their environment.

Let's look at some possible clues. Has your mother taken your daughter's bedroom? Does she share the room? Is she staying in a room that was formerly used as a playroom by your daughter? Is your daughter seeing less of you or your partner now that your mother is here? Does your daughter like being with your mother? Have you been using your mother as a baby sitter and going out more frequently? Any one of these changes is enough to make a young child feel out of sorts.

She could easily feel that her special place in the family has changed. And that is a very difficult feeling, which may result in a lot of anger. It is similar to what a child feels when a new sibling arrives: "Who is this person taking all my parents' attention and why did she come here anyway?"

Talk to your daughter when the two of you are alone, and find out if she is feeling any of this resentment. More than likely, she won't say so unless you show her that it is all right for her to express her feelings. When you ask her if she minds that grandma is here, you can wait for her to answer. If she doesn't, you can say:" Well, if you did feel that way, I would understand. It's hard to have your life changed in such a big way, isn't it? I know it's hard for me." Then assure your daughter that your mother isn't staying forever, and things will get back to normal when she leaves.

Tell your daughter that she can love her grandma and STILL have these feelings! I believe that the more you can get your daughter to talk about what is bothering her, the better behaved she will be.

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