Q. I am concerned about the way my 3-year-old granddaughter acts toward her mother, especially when somebody else is present. When her mother enters the room she becomes disrespectful, and sometimes hits her. She’s had several different caretakers since she was an infant. I remember when she was an infant, she was fine with either one of us, but when we would go someplace in the car, or shopping, she would constantly get angry, usually at me, for talking or interacting while we were all together. Her mother, my daughter, sometimes loses control of her temper with Lauren. There is also a 16-month-old sister, and mom and dad are getting a divorce. Their father lives close by and takes care of them on his days off. When Lauren is reprimanded she cries and says she wants her daddy, which makes her mother even angrier. Is there something we can do to change things before they get worse?
A. Your daughter needs more emotional support to help her manage the challenges she faces. The new effort throughout the nation is to protect children by strengthening the support networks around the parents.
Contact the Department of Children and Family Services in your city. Find out what services are available for parents who are in danger of being overwhelmed by their burdens. Ask about counseling programs.
Call the Y.W.C.A., church organizations, and Parents Anonymous. Urge your daughter to enroll in a parent class, attend a church group for divorced parents, or a program for single parents.
Three-year-olds do not deserve to be hit, nor are they helped by a parent being verbally harsh or emotionally abusive. Hitting kids makes them more aggressive not less.
Dr. Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire found that kids who were spanked were more aggressive and anti-social than those who were disciplined in other ways.
Your granddaughter’s behavior is puzzling. Her attitude toward her mother and her anger at you on shopping trips is not typical 3-year-old behavior.
Urge your daughter to have her evaluated by a physician.
Your daughter should not allow Lauren to hit her. The message is, “No hitting. We don’t hurt others, no matter how angry we feel.” This rule applies to parents as well as kids.
Encourage the extended family to offer their help and support. Your daughter, like her daughter, needs love and the care of her family.
Q. Lately I have noticed our 9-year-old daughter opens doors with her sleeves pulled over her hands. She says there are a lot of germs on the door handles. When we go to the mall which she usually enjoys, she refuses to try on clothes, saying too many other people have tried them on. She says the school pool is “too germy.” She often asks the same questions again and again. “What time are we leaving?” or “Are my hands really clean?” She’ll ask these questions four or five times within the space of one hour. Should I answer her again and again? Do you think we have any cause for concern?
A. Anxieties about cleanliness and rituals to repeatedly check out uncertainties are two common symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
When these anxieties interfere with a person’s functioning they should be evaluated by a mental health professional. The good news is this is a treatable disorder, using medications and behavior therapy techniques.
When she repeats a question tell her, “Honey, I answered that already.” It may help to have her write down your answer, so she can refer to it if she gets anxious.
Those who suffer from OCD do not receive the brain signal that all is well.
It will help you to read “Getting Control” by Lee Baer, and “The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing” by Judith Rapoport. These are very informative for anyone who has a family member with this problem.
The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Cathleen Brown The Spokesman-Review
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