My daughter seems to have extreme emotions. Her feelings get hurt very easily and wants to please everyone. If someone cries she is there hugging them better. If someone pushes past her (usually older kids as she prefers to play with them at Playcentre) her bottom lip drops like she is trying to stop herself crying, and looks for an adult she trusts and just sobs into their shoulder.
If I tell her off (all I have to do is say that was naughty) unless it was hitting her brother (14 months older) she will look distraught.
Extreme empathy and reads body language and tones better than most adults. When she is happy she is happy. When someone is cross with her she will cry. Its not put on, I can tell if she is hurt physically or hurt feelings by the type of cry. If she has an accident (she can use the toilet but like today got distracted by snails which she sat and watched for over an hour, letting them crawl all over her) she will be disappointed in herself and cry.
Her talking is fine and its not crying due to not being able to talk and communicate
At Playcentre she will ask another child for a turn after they have finished (Me turn after you?) and they will say no I'm playing with it and then she will cry as she thinks that she will never get a turn and they are being mean. She isn't demanding a turn right away in her mind, they think she is I think.
I suppose my question is (sorry about the rambling just at a loss) how do I handle her extreme emotions? (either really happy or crying)
How do others handle it?
I don't have any really good practical advice really, other than to say that my daughter is also prone to extremes with her emotions and that she has "grown into them" to some extent as she has gotten older. She is 6.5 yrs.....which probably seems a long way away for you at this point.
In saying that the extremes are still there and it does still cause "issues" from time to time....High highs and low lows....just imagine that with some teenage hormones thrown into the mix...oh boy!
I was going to say that you could try to explain her feelings to her as they arise. Acknowledge them and empathise....but I'm not quite sure how well that will work at her age?
The other thing is to head the emotions off, so watch for signs that she might be getting uptight etc....and try to alter the course before the emotions become full blown?? Lastly this is part of who she is, so from my perspective it's important as a parent to accept this as part of her wonderful personality and not spend too much time telling her that her emotions/reactions aren't right (not suggesting you do this, but I did for a while until I got my head around that concept)....just ideas, I'm not sure what the answer is really!
Yes she is a little young and it happens without warning most of the time.
Helping build a volcano at Playcentre, her cooridanation is not that of someone slightly older, she was helping pat it with a spade, shaping it like the other kids but hit it a bit harder than what she should have and made the sides come down, a child snapped at her and then she ran off looking for me (I was inside helping clean up in there) and when she saw me she just let out this deep sob before making my top really wet with tears. They wouldn't snap at anyone else her age but they forget how old she really is due to how she talks with them. The children she was playing with were 3-4year olds who are on the whole tollerent of younger children.
It does seem that her control of emotions hasn't caught up with her development in other areas.
Her sense of justice is above most of the older children too, often trying to be the negotiator in the middle and telling the one in the wrong off. Hugging or kissing the one that is hurt. Naturally drawn to babies and looking after dolls or giving toys to babies. Seen a child take a toy off a non mobile baby (who had knocked it out of their reach) and she went and got it off the other child and gave it back to the baby.
Oh and the snails... Found them in her bed later on. Must have brought them in when I was cooking tea. She must have known that she would have to come in soon if I was cooking. Told her they will miss their Mum and Dad. She said that she Was their mum and Shhhh, they are sleeping shhhh (putting her finger up to her lips when saying shhhh)
Convinced her to put them back in the end. Saying that she might hurt them when she went to bed and squash them by mistake. That night I found more in my bed.
Does help to hear that she will grow into her emotions, that her level will eventually catch up somewhat. Thanks.
Think for the time being, I will just be the place for comfort and not judge. It is just her. I just hope her perfectism doesn't get too out of hand.
Our child most like this is ds 9. The way I see it is that he is able to directly 'know' what other people think and feel. However when little, like your daughter, the self awareness was huge, but since he was so so little, the perspective that comes with age and maturity was not. So very often he would be overwhelmed with the injustice of the world.
I guess my only advice to myself in hindsight was to...
1. Try to understand more how I'm like him too.
2. Look very wide for the beauty in the world. If I stop at just 'fitting in' with the usual way society does things, then it just doesn't fit for me or my child. If I broaden my perspective to looking deeply for the good in me and everything - ie: changing the 'rules' about how things should work from the typical society ones, to something much more beautiful, then I feel like I make more sense and my child makes more sense, instead of being out of step with everyone, then I have a theory where we're all in step, just at different places in it.
3. Do my best to provide positive experiences when so so little. This may well mean not doing some of the usual things parents do with their children in groups. But it would have protected him more. I think if he can get through those earliest years feeling like he 'fits' and the world feels good, then his sense of self will be stronger when the wind blows a different way. Like a seedling, if it's protected when young it grows strong. To much wind when young may not be good for it in the long run.
4. Have an idea of what I want for my child in the long run. ie: To feel strong and happy inside. To be able to deal with what ever life brings, by feeling strong inside, being able to be think positively and having strong positive values.
Ok, sounds like you have such a beautiful daughter.
All the best.
That is inspirational way of thinking about things.
I always try and see the good in things and others and try and focus on those and that is one of the most important things that I want to install in my children. I love this quality in her and its not really the crying that gets me, as I GET THAT, its how to help her emotionally and how to deal with life's disappointments.
I am very much like my daughter, always have been and felt like an outcast in even way back in Kindy. Ended up counting down the terms until I could leave school for good from the age of 8. I always tried to understand the other children but they never got me so I sat on the steps reading at lunch times until the teachers took my book away. I had huge amounts of empathy, didn't understand materialistic things and their pull, and am still a perfectionist. Never handed in any work when I completely tuned out of school around this time, unless it was something I got to choose to study myself. Now at Uni and am in my 30's as it took me this long to gain the courage to face the fear of failure, studying from home so I'm in control of how fast I want to progress and I'm really careful on who I choose as my friends. I sit back and watch how others act, their body language and how they talk, what they are saying about others and how they treat others before I will very slowly come out of my shell.
I think that is why when I look at her I worry, due to everything that I went through. It really does impact on you, in turn I worry about the same things happening to her.
What you said resinates in me and has given me some peace.
I am reassured that I am doing things right and will just have to keep the story of the seed in my mind as that is a beautiful way of looking at it.
Oh great that that was helpful.
I understand the perfectionism thing, and have recently realised partly what I was doing that was fueling it. I'm sure this is obvious to many, but it wasn't for me. I realised that my vision of what is possible, or even the edges of the possibility of something more was fairly clear, but I didn't have the skills to know how to get to that place. (Actually a bit like these beautiful children, knowing something but not the perspective to really understand.) School was easy, so I didn't learn how to flex my learning 'muscles' and I now realise that actually I do have to break things down into chunks and do them bit by bit. It's just that my chunks may at times be enormous compared with most people, and sometimes they're not. And the way that I learn may look very different to how many other people learn ie: soaking it in, but it's still bit by bit, setting goals, long term, medium term and short term and working towards them methodically. (again the methodical may not look methodical to others, but it is.) And the goal setting isn't heirarical (sp), but more like a set of differently sized hola hoops sitting inside each other in descending size, with the long term goal being the biggest hola hoop down to the short terms goals being the smallest.
So as I change my picture of how I do things, suddenly it all gets more managable and I don't get overwhelmed in frustration. I've found this revelationary in parenting too. Working out the goals for my children (long, medium, short) and working on them. And remembering above all else to be really kind and inspiring to myself, and try to use positive self talk, and trying to notice when it's negative and turning it around.
Anyway, you may do all that anyway, but just in case it's useful :)
Lots of good advice here - one thing that resonated was:
"It does seem that her control of emotions hasn't caught up with her development in other areas."
Reframe the issue as before "My daughter seems to have extreme emotions." Since her emotions are stronger, controlling them is a harder job than for many other children you are comparing her to. Sadly, in the world, not being able to control your emotions is considered immature.
It's not a lack of development. When you think deeply and imaginatively, and you empathise wholeheartedly, hard situations are magnified into varied catastrophes with lots of details to hang hooks on. As of course the good situations are magnified too.
My nearly 6 year old ran crying to me in the middle of gym class yesterday declaring he wasn't going back in and never wanted to go to gymnastics again - as far as I can tell, there was some implicit competition where he had first gotten some recognition and then the next round another child had "won". He just couldn't handle the letdown when he had expectations of himself. Logically, it did not matter yet it _felt_ like a major failure to him instead of his success followed by another child's success.
I was VERY proud because after a bit of a storm, the coach approached him and he did go back out and finish everything with the class. I just comforted him, assured him he'd done a great job (truth) and didn't try to convince him that he shouldn't be upset.
I have a 2yo daughter with exact same issues. Huge empathy, Virgo perfectionism, people pleaser. Apart from the perfectionism I was the same, overly sensitive too as a kid so I understand her.
There was a book that helped me understand her better called "Child Sense" about the Visual, Auditory, Tactile and Taste/Smell children. She is a Taste/Smell child, who is deeply emotional, compassionate has empathy and a need to make others as emotionally comfortable as possible. The Taste/Smell child will blend into a situation by mimicking another's disposition to make them feel comfortable and understood. She will pretend to be visual when with a visual child, auditory when with an auditory child and tactile when with a tactile child. The book said that Taste/Smell people get along with all other types and are generally well liked by everyone. The only problem can be that they get hurt very easily by nearly imperceptible nuances in tone or body language and they can lose who they are by trying to be what others need. It says that as a parent of a Taste/Smell child we need to teach them that they have a lot to offer the other types by being exactly who they are and we need to tell them who that is often, so they get a sense of self.
When she runs to you next time you can discuss the situation calmly laying it out for her to understand. "You asked the boy to have a turn after him and he said no. Maybe he doesn't know exactly when he will be finished with it. Maybe he hasn't learned to share yet. Do you think if we explain exactly what you meant that he would understand and let you know when he's finished. Then we can choose something else to play with while we wait." Make sure you explain to the boy to bring it to your daughter otherwise another child will take it first and the same issue will happen again. I often give words to my daughter's actions to pre-empt misunderstandings. She pats her brother's head while he's on the floor playing with cars, he looks up, annoyed. I say, "Oh, do you think he's a pussy cat and you're patting him gently to show him you love him." She says "Yeah." Then my son obliges with "Meow, meow" before playing cars again. Phew, upset avoided.
You have a very loving daughter. Get her into dance where she can express emotions through mime, perhaps drama class later. My daughter has just started ballet as I did for ten years too. The gentleness of ballet soothes the emotions and allows expression of emotions to rule the moment. I found it a great help and it gave me some stability in an otherwise emotionally overwhelming world.
My younger daughter is following my elder in her intense emotions. However little miss 4 has her emotions on supercharge! Today it was about a moth she had found alive in the house. I put it out the window where it flew off happily. Miss 4 was inconsolable. Utterly. I tried explaining that there was nothing for it to eat in the house, how it's moth friends were missing it, etc. Buckets of tears.
She too cannot stand loud noises. Not even the toilet flushing. We have to find quiet toilets without electric hand dryers.
Fortunately she tends towards intense happiness. She found preschool difficult and told me many things that she was unhappy about. These things profoundly affected her - from being called a 'rude' name, being told she wasn't allowed to play with some of the children when she asked, from them not introducing themselves. She grew to hate going. So we pulled her out. She is a far happier child now. We do wonder whether she will go back, as she learns to ignore hurtful comments, and realize that what she considered mean was actually unthinking.
She now does gymnastics with other under 5's. She went once at a kidsfest and adored it. She loves the teachers and the discipline. She loves that they line up and take it in turns. She adores having homework. She gets frustrated with the children who run around and won't do as they are told. It has happened where she is the only one listening to the teacher and the others who are the same age in the group are being rounded up by their parents. This confirms to me that she is better out of preschool at the moment.
Dee and Nikki
I have often thought about getting her into dancing. She is happiest when she is dancing around to music tell me she is 'a dancing girl' and loves dresses saying they are 'dancing dresses' Or gym is another good option.
I will look into the cost and how far away these places are as both of these things are an issue. I'm on my own with no car, but I will sort something out as I think she needs something.
Thanks for the practical suggestions and the books to read. I'll see if the Massey Uni has them in there library.
In regards to my children, I think that I may be a little to close to the situation to react properly which is why I felt I needed some grounding. I almost cry with her and feel her pain. Dee that sounds like myself and my daughter.
Jess I can see where you are coming from. Thanks for another view. I think I'm too close sometimes to the situation and coming on here helps me see it from a distance.