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Caring for the High Maintenance Child
By Kate Andersen.

Improving Fit. April, 2018.
Dear Kate:
I have trouble explaining why I am so drained and stressed by our four-year old daughter.......
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 B-DI News
A Newsletter About Caring for the High Maintenance Child

by Kate Andersen, M.Ed.
Issue Theme: Improving Goodness of Fit
Volume 20, Issue 8, April, 2018.

Letter to Kate
by Kate Andersen, M.Ed.

Dear Kate,

I've read your newsletter and a couple of books about temperament in children. Still, I have trouble explaining to my in-laws why I am so drained and stressed by our four-year old daughter. They understand what I mean when I talk about temperament, I think. They just don't understand what can be so 'difficult' about our daughter's temperament. I have to admit that Melissa is not nearly as 'challenging' when she is visiting Grandma and Grandma. I think my in-laws think that I am picky or maybe even exaggerating.

Here's an example. At home Lissy makes a scene about practically everything, starting with getting dressed in the morning. She hates the feel of socks and runs around trying to avoid putting them on. Yes, I let her go sockless unless it's freezing outside. Then she gets upset if her older sister sits on 'her' chair at breakfast time or if the cereal box is on the 'wrong' side of the table. Following that, we often have a tantrum when it's time to stop playing and get in the car to go to day care. After day care, Lissy is often very tired and will have a tantrum at the slightest frustration. Some of this is 'overflow' from the stress of day care, where she doesn't have the greatest relationship with the teacher (and this is the opinion of her psychologist). I never take her to the store after day care. Instead, we go home and I make sure she has a snack that she likes right away. Even so, if her sister does anything at all that rubs her the wrong way, we get a meltdown. I do as much prevention as I can but some days I cannot manage Lissy as well as I would like to. I am very busy, with a full-time job, two children, and a big house to clean and yard to take care of.

Now, for her visits to the grandparents. First of all, I am not interested in dealing with a meltdown over there, so we time the visits carefully and even cancel if Lissy is having a bad day. Usually, we go around the middle of the afternoon on a Sunday when all the tensions of day care have disappeared. Lissy loves going because Grandma always has her favorite cookies waiting for her. Grandpa takes her on his knee and reads her a story. Lissy cooperates with him when he says it's time to go downstairs and play quietly with her sister. He used to take her for walks but stopped doing that when he learned about her issue with socks. I always leave promptly before things get out of hand. The reason I am so careful not to let Lissy lose it with her grandparents is that I have never forgotten the day my mother-in-law criticized my parenting when our oldest daughter, at age two, had a very typical tantrum. I feel that nothing I do is good enough for my in-laws--especially when it comes to parenting.

You see, even though I don't say much, my husband talks about me and the stress I am having with Lissy to his parents. They bring it up when we visit and say they don't see what the problem is. My husband never says anything about the struggles he has with Melissa and he has plenty.

What advice do you have for me? I am feeling very alone in this family with my own, non-judgmental parents living thousands of miles across the country.

By the way, a temperament assessment found Lissy to have a very low sensory threshold, to be low in adaptability, withdrawing, negative in mood and somewhat irregular in biological rhythms. She has a good attention span and no other temperament issues. She has a high I.Q. and is very healthy.


Feeling Judged and Blamed

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