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How to tell if it's affecting our daughter

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dbellanon posted 6/27/2013 08:17 AM

My daughter is 3.5 years old. Lately she's been very defiant, throwing lots of tantrums and acting out.

I want to say that it's probably just the age. We managed to ride out the so-called "terrible twos" without too much terror, but 3 may be turning out to be different.

I feel though, like I have to be on guard in case there is something else going on. I worry that what is going on with my STBX and I is affecting her.

We haven't talked to her about the separation yet, and I think that we've managed to have life for her go on as normal for the time being. She doesn't spend time with the two of us together, but she still has her routine intact for the most part. We try not to fight in front of her (though we have had a couple of lapses in these regard, and I have no idea how much she might pick up through the walls at night). We have been more stressed, and I do worry sometimes that we are sometimes a bit too short with her...

All of this to say that I think that it's just a phase, but I don't want to make any assumptions. Are there any signs I should be looking out for, signs that could indicate that something deeper is going on related to the situation we're in?

SBB posted 6/27/2013 09:05 AM

I'd say its a little of both. My girls seem to have faster tempers these days. I'm doing 50/50 and I suspect they feel out a little separation anxiety.

Maintaining consistency and trying to keep a tab on my tension levels seems to have helped enormously.

They may not see you fight but they pick up on the tension - especially younger kids who use non-verbal cues a lot more than older kids.

Take good care of yourself. If you're OK then they'll be OK.

fallingquickly posted 6/27/2013 15:04 PM

FWIW, my son was ok through the "terrible twos" but was a terror when he was three.

Nature_Girl posted 6/27/2013 16:14 PM

All three of my kids were angels while they were two. And when they were three? They were all psychotic clowns and I fantasized about running away from home.

fallingquickly posted 6/27/2013 16:41 PM


They were all psychotic clowns and I fantasized about running away from home.

I especially loved how my son liked to scream in the supermarket as if he was being murdered. He liked how it echoed. Not so much fun for me. Patience is key.

Ashland13 posted 6/27/2013 18:46 PM

DD here is showing definite signs of being affected...even our 'Lil Elder Cat is with different (uggh) behavior.

There are so many different pieces of advice for that situation, DBell. "We" switched back and forth, trying to see what worked, but I never could stand ignoring it, like Happy Pants does. He and siblings were taught that emotion is bad and should be had by oneself...go in the other room when you are sad, glad, or bad.

I do not wish this for my children and I want them to feel safe when they have emotions, even like you describe with your daughter.

I'm sorry there's no real piece of proactive advice, rather a passive message, but I'm thinking.

I'm taking a psychology class right now and the newer trains of thought are NOT to ignore the feelings of any age child, but to assist them-somehow-in working through.

I have a cousin who, when his DD has that behavior, he wraps her in a bear hug and doesn't say much until she finishes. He said, it's no time to argue or try to use ration but he can't stand the agony that is so real on her face and wants to do something for her...but he won't give in, either. So in order to show her she is not alone and her feelings are in some way valid, he does that.

When she is calm, he tries again and finds a different way about the same topic or problem.

She does not necessarily get her way, unless it is what he needs or the situation at hand needs, but they also talk about it after it's all done.

In my class they call this "emotion coaching" and I really like the idea...I've done it with our daughter and Happy Pants (STBX) would get annoyed. Like I said, I want her to grow up unafraid of feelings. Otherwise, how do they learn that feelings also will go by?

Bravo for trying not to fight in front of your daughter, it is commendable but not always easy. We work at if we have to speak, too.

homewrecked2011 posted 6/27/2013 18:54 PM

Age 3 was tough, but ages 4 and 5 were my happiest ever. They are older, don't freak out as bad, still have an "awe" about them, could communicate, etc.

Here is what I did when they would have a meltdown. I'd stop everything and say,(laughingly),,, oh, yes, I know what you are wanting, you're telling me in your own words,, you want in Mama's hugging machine!!! Then I'd get on the floor and start hugging them, giving them sugars, and when they would try to get away, I'd say, oh no no no, you were asking for my hugging machine and your staying here! LOL and we would laugh and giggle and all that stuff...

homewrecked2011 posted 6/27/2013 18:58 PM

Also, after last week it is clear to me that I cannot share this parenting or my children's life with XWH. My son was in football, loved it, went to see Dad and quit football, he says he didn't really like it.

I asked Dad to take him to trumpet lesson while child is on his summer visitation, Dad said no, and told me son wants to quit band.

I asked Dad to take son to speech lessons and he hounded the speech therapist trying to get her to say son does not need speech.

Lesson learned. XWH is screwed up in the head, the best thing for my children is for us to leave him in the dust. He is not the same person I married. (Well maybe he was this way, but I didn't know it).

dbellanon posted 6/27/2013 19:20 PM

The "good" news is the my STBXW is aware of this problem too. She spent a day fighting our daughter's tantrums at the zoo and came home wondering what was going on, asking if I thought she was just 3, or if it was something else. So she was asking the same questions. I gave her some thoughts about how we might approach the matter, and she seemed to be mulling them over. So we are communicating about parenting, at least for now.

abigailadams posted 6/27/2013 21:24 PM

That is awesome if you can communicate about parenting.

My stbx said on Christmas which was three days after he moved out that DD was having a tantrum because I had let her sip some black tea. It was the caffeine.

So since his answer to every issue is that it is my fault, I have stopped even trying to communicate with him about anything except money and schedule.

Bluebird26 posted 6/28/2013 00:56 AM

All three of my kids were angels while they were two. And when they were three? They were all psychotic clowns and I fantasized about running away from home.

Exactly that


But she maybe suffering some anxiety as well. My youngest son suffers terribly with anxiety normally 3 days before the change over it starts and then 2-3 days afterwards it's frustrating, he doesn't cope well with change.

His therapist said exercise is the key to helping with the anxiety. Start small though as she is so young but maybe a trip to a park or running/hoping races something that distracts her and gets her heart rate up. Could be as simple as acting like a type of animal, turn it in to a game. You know run around like a monkey, until you change animal. It definitely helps, plus it can be good fun as well.

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