Q&A: High Needs Child

Mother & Daughter by Willowtree

We've been doing a Q&A for quite some time now on the peaceful parenting Facebook page. It is excellent because many others are able to chime in - with their experiences and suggestions that come from around the world (literally). Often times, there are ideas and sources of information that we were previously unaware of. It is good to see parents coming together to empower each other with baby/child-friendly methods and sources of assistance and ideas.

Occasionally, however, there are pressing questions that just cannot be contained into a 120 character count status inquiry. And often times, the same general questions are repeated again and again and again by various parents who come along seeking gentle parenting help. As such, we've decided to move some of the Q&A over to this site as well, so that we might be able to fully expand on parents' questions, and log answers in an off-FB format to easily direct others to who pose similar questions.

Questions sent to us will always be anonymous (unless the question asker wishes to use his/her name) and minor changes may be made to make the question more readable or take out identifying features to ensure privacy in posting.

Today's question comes from a mom in Peru who is struggling with her 'high needs' four year old. We invite you to chime in on the conversation here, as she will be reading comments that others leave. 

I feel at the end of my rope. My daughter is extremely difficult and challenging. She was a High Needs baby and now, just turning four, she is a High Needs child. I feel I have done all the things I was “supposed” to do. I am a loving mommy. I had a home birth, I cloth diaper, I breastfed until she was just over 2 years old, she sleeps in our bed after 4am, I wore her as a baby, I am consistent…and yet,
She does not listen. 

We have moments (few and far between) during the day where it is nice, but for the most part it is awful. I hate to say that but it is. I am at the point where I am really starting to not like her. It is hard to consistently be loving and fun when she is so hard. We do not have fun anymore because she barely listens to the basics of what I tell her to do (getting dressed, brushing teeth, putting on shoes) everything is a fight. I have increased her preschool hours because I have a really hard time dealing with her. I feel awful saying this. She is my daughter. I want to love her. I want to have fun with her. I have all these things I would love to do…and yet they don’t happen because before we get to them she is having a fit about something. 

Part of the problem is that she does not play by herself – for even 10 minutes. It drives me crazy. She constantly has to be with me and needs me to play, read, do everything with her. I am so far behind in my house, cooking, and everything because it is near impossible to do anything with her around. And that makes me resentful too. 

I do have another child - a 17 month old son who is the exact opposite of her. He is a delight, he plays by himself, he sleeps, he naps, he smiles. I feel bad because I feel I don’t give him the attention he deserves because I am always dealing with her. I also feel bad because I feel I am starting to favor him – which I know is an awful thing to do. 

Please, I am reaching out to other holistically minded moms for help. I am at the end of my rope with her and just don’t know what to do or where to go from here. 

Thank you!!


The book, Raising Your Spirited Child, may be of interest to parents facing similar situations. Other gentle discipline and parenting books can also be found here.



  1. I feel the same way. I have a 3yo and a 7mo and could have written your post! I find my 3yo is constantly bothering/beating up his baby brother if I am not doing something with him. I am constantly on edge and frustrated when he is home and not at preschool! Also, my 7mo doesn't nap regularly b/c I can't get 3yo to leave him alone long enough to nurse him to sleep unless hubby is home. Sorry to "hijack" your post and sorry I have no advice. I know how stressful it is!

  2. as a starting point, i would recommend " Raising your Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. This resource really helped me both understand and develop coping strategies for my high needs daughter. She is doing much much better now, and although we still have challenges, she is a delightful 7 year old now.

  3. The first thing I want to say is that you are a great mom, you did everything right in your mind to give your little girl a good start in life.
    Second, I think you should take her to see a psychiatrist or psychologist..I'm not saying that you did anything wrong. I'm not saying that you should medicate your daughter. What I am saying is that these people are trained in spotting things that I can't recognize in a letter. By having a diagnosis, you can determine the best pathway to make your and her life more peaceful.

    That being said I have a few comments..
    Why does she have to get dressed and put her shoes on? Sometimes in the path of peaceful parenting, we have to let go of thing that are important to us and thing about what is important to our child. Is it really important that she put her shoes on? I understand the need for her to wear her shoes to school and if you are out running errands, but in the house or yard? Why does she need to wear them? I hate shoes and I rarely wear them, I even run barefoot. Have you asked her why she doesn't want to wear her shoes? Are they to tight? Do they hurt her feet? Would she just do better in some slippers with a rubber sole? Again, are you pushing your child into something that she just knows isn't right for her?
    The one thing about not wearing shoes is its a good example of the law of natural consequences..when you are barefoot you can step on a rock and it hurts..if this or something happened that caused her pain, a blister, a stubbed toe, this is your chance to gently explain why wearing shoes might be a good thing to do.
    As for getting dressed I would just buy clothes that can be slept in or worn during the day..that way you can just take her to school and have less hassle. Once your DD gets older and is in school her idea of proper dress is going to change...
    My son, 16, HATED absolutely HATED showers or baths when he was 12. It was a fight to get him in the shower every night..so I decided to give up that fight..I made the rule of a shower once a week on Sunday before school started, other then that I didn't care..Again the law of natural consequences stepped in..some of his friends at school teased him about smelling..I would say within a month he started taking a shower every night..I never had to say another word. I'm not for kids being teased but sometimes peer pressure helps.
    Notice I haven't said anything about the toothbrushing and that's because out of the three things you complained about that is the one thing that is truly important..who cares if they don't get dressed, who cares if they don't wear shoes, but their teeth are important and need to be brushed. Maybe if you drop the other to not so important things teeth brushing will be easier.
    And finally, why can't she help you clean, cook and do everything? Obviously she has a drive to be near you and she isn't ready to step out on her own..so why can't she help? Make it a game and you might be able to get things done. Did you have to pay extra for preschool? Maybe instead of paying the preschool extra you could hire someone to come in once a week and do the big cleaning.
    You can get kids cook books to have her join in..If she can read try these My A to Z Recipe Box: An Alphabet of Recipes for Kids (Cards). Do you make out a menu every week? Maybe have her work out a lunch menu for her to help you make, she can do this while your cooking dinner.
    One final thing..is she to big to do a wrapped back carry in? Having her attached to you when you need to do work might help her feel more connected.
    These comments are a bit discombobulated but my LO just woke up so I have to attend to her..

  4. Stalking this post, because my son (3) is the same way. I'm interested to hear advice!

  5. First things first - trust your instincts here. You have noticed something is not "quite right", and it is important that you trust this, and not fall into the trap of blaming yourself (or your daughter) for doing/ not doing the "right" things.

    It is hard to say - but there are a few things I would suggest following up if you haven't already done these:

    (1) Have a look at food intolerance (google Sue Dengate at the Food Intolerance Network)
    (2) Also check for things like sensory senstivities - esp. touch and vestibular. There are great books on this for the sensory sensitive child and - one wonderful thing to use is massage, though it must always be done with her permission.

    Start with these and let us know how you go. Good luck and (although it sounds silly to say) see if you can find some time to do something to recharge your own batteries and look after yourself.

  6. I can certainly relate to your experience! I felt the exact same way about my son for years. He's about to turn 12 and I'm just now learning how to enjoy him.

    I think it couldn't hurt to seek an evaluation for your daughter. Based on your description, she sounds like she may have some sensory integration issues that could very well explain her aversion to wearing clothes/shoes, as well as her behavior. A good Occupational Therapist can get you started.

    In addition, I would echo the recommendation for a psychiatric evaluation. I know that sounds scary and ominous, but it wasn't until we received a meaningful diagnosis for my son that I was finally able to understand his aggression and come to terms with his unique needs. In his case, he was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. It was a frightening label to be sure, but I cannot emphasize enough how much our lives have improved since we were able to provide him with the appropriate treatment. Prior to that our lives were pure hell.

    I realize that this advice might be unpopular in these circles and that child psychiatric illnesses are controversial. But I would plead with parents not to rush to judgment. Some of us, like this mother, have made every effort to do everything "right" and despite our best efforts, our children are angry, miserable and sometimes downright violent. Living with a child with severe behavioral problems is incredibly stressful. You and your child need help, and there's nothing wrong with seeking professional treatment.

    Of course, finding the right doctor can be a nerve-wracking experience, but it is worth the effort!

    I wish you and your daughter all the best. Good luck to you and your family! You are not alone!

  7. I really feel your pain and I can relate. For what it's worth I don't think there's anything wrong with your child nor do I think you did anything wrong yourself. When I read your question I felt as though I was the one who wrote it. I have a 3.5 yo and a 10.5 month old. My 3.5 yo is exactly as you describe yours to be. I get absolutely NO free time at all, he even will not go to bed until much too late and nothing I do can change that (and by then I'm simply ready to collapse).

    I equate high needs with gifted/intelligent children. (May just be my way of coping)... but I know my child demands a lot of my energy because he feeds off of it... it's his way of learning and fuelling his brain, so to speak.

    You need to find a way to feed his energy while not over using yours. Harder said than done, I know.

    Take it one moment at a time... make a list of activities he likes to do and jot them down. If making go to nursery fuels him, then good. It's not necessarily a bad thing as long as it's good for him AND you. Find other local resources (library, play centres, other moms?).

    Also, I found that audio book were a great thing for entertaining my son for a little bit without my being there... not long I know, but it's something.

    As for the chores, you may have to let go a little bit... or, incorporate him in as much as you can (which means, accepting that some of it may not be done 100% right - and that's ok too). My son 'helps' me vacuum, do laundry and cook... takes longer, I let him do some easier parts, but at least things eventually get done while I also 'entertain' him.

    {{{hugs to you}}}

    I wrote this fast while my toddler slept, sorry if it's a little jumpy...

  8. My oldest is the same, and I think a lot of our trouble was a power struggle or a battle of wills. I thought I knew the right way to do some things, and she thought she knew the right way to do things. And I eventually (like around age 6) started to gradually back off. I noticed that words of affirmation and praise meant a great deal to her, and if she even suspected I was upset or disapproving because of my facial expression it would put her on edge.
    Things I let her do - "clean" her space how she wanted. This meant allowing her to display everything she had along the border of her room instead of put away where I thought they belonged.
    Dress herself - she had no interest in the outfits I helped her pick. She wanted to wear what she wanted to wear, and that most of the time meant layers and layers of mismatched artistic dress (bag-lady-ish). Soon I found that she was asking me my opinion and why certain outfits were appropriate for certain occasions.
    Giving her autonomy over as much as I could eventually really paid off. She is now 9, and is dynamic, self-aware, responsible, and still her unique high-needs self. It just is displayed in an intense need to experience new, and beautiful things really often.

    One last thought - my daughter was never very physically affectionate, but sometimes when she was really worked up, and at that crisis point, I would mention that maybe a backscratch or a hug would help her feel better. She started to learn to ask me for comfort when she needed it, and now every once in a while lets me know she just needs a little cuddle time.

    Good luck! You're a good mom. You are doing your best and understand your limits, while trying to improve your wisdom and understanding. I think if you study this out and consider it you'll find the path for you and your daughter.

  9. I too could have written this post.. I have a 4 yr old who I love "But dont like" a 3 yr old who is the exact opposite... and now a 5 month old who my 4 year old cant seem to keep her "mean" hands off... I talked to her pediatrician about it and did not find answers... I got a "Well it's normal...But she needs to be by your side 24/7 because she has the potential to harm or Kill her siblings or other children" THAT is not Normal!! I have tried pretty much everything... time outs, trying to redirect.. getting her into counseling... I am sure my strict overbearing husband doesnt help.. I myself cant offer any help, because I to am trying to work thru with it.. I hope you find something that helps... I know it can be frustrating and upsetting, especailly when your feelings towards your child arent positive. It is hard for me to bond with my 4 yr old.. where as my 3yr old is a ray of sunshine. I sometimes have the feeling my oldest might "ruin" my 2 youngest with the way she acts. hang in there Mom... I think maybe we should have a FB page dedicated to moms of High maintenance children where we can share stories and advice!

  10. I almost feel I shouldn't post, b/c I think both my kids have laid back personalities. But I wanted to post to urge you to please, please look into food intolerances. Look closely! It's not that hard to eliminate some of the common triggers, and it's healthy for everyone anyways.

    My daughter is what people rudely call a "good toddler." But if she gets even a bite of things such as processed dairy, food coloring, various chemicals, sugars, or even just too much processed food in general, she turns into a monster right in front of your eyes. We rarely have those things, so it's a huge shock and very easy to spot when it happens.

    I would just try eliminating one thing at a time, 2 weeks per item and see if there's a change. Keep a food diary if it helps.

  11. I too have a high-needs child. My son is now four and I've certainly been in the mindset that you are in now. Constantly being challenged, defied, and screamed at can make even the most gentle mother lose her cool eventually.

    For our family, what changed everything was altering our diet. When we removed all processed sugars and food dyes, my son suddenly stopped his uncontrollable outbursts. He was finally able to verbalize when he was angry instead of melting down.

    When we also eliminated dairy, he began concentrating for longer periods of time. He would read a book by himself, play quietly in his room, sit and enjoy circle time at school.

    I know it won't help every child, but finding out which foods your daughter is not processing may solve a majority of your conflicts without expensive therapy or introducing medications. My son is still very sensitive, very active, and incredibly strong-willed, but we can now work as a team to help him be the best he can be.

  12. I would definitely recommend reading the book that was listed with your request - Raising Your Spirited Child. I have a high needs daughter as well and there have been many times when I've been certain she's going to be the death of me somehow and many other times when I've felt like one of us may need to move out because we can't possibly live in the same home together. At one point I found myself even resenting her for making my life so difficult, and favoring her brother because he's easy. Reading that book made me feel not as alone, made me realize I'm not crazy, and gave me a bunch of practical strategies to implement to help us move forward to a more positive place in our family dynamic. I've learned to re-frame my daughter's unique qualities into more positive-sounding attributes as well. I also look forward to the day when she's grown and all her quirky ways will make sense as she can put them to good use toward something productive. My daughter is still a challenge and I've finally come to terms with the fact that won't change, but I will say that overall she is easier now than she used to be. I think it's a bit of both of us learning how to cope with her needs as she matures.

  13. I have a high needs three and a half year old daughter and an easygoing 17 month old son. My daughter has become such a joy recently and I think it is due to figuring out her food sensitivities and giving her magnesium three times a day. Homeopathy has also worked wonders with her fears. Also, empathizing with her even when I can't fulfill her request really helps. Instead of trying to change her mind about anything I just empathize. I very rarely force her to do anything, but if it's really necessary, like putting her in a carseat when we are going to be late or anything dangerous, I let her know that if she won't get in or stop or whatever, that I am going to help her. If she protests, I just empathize. In addition, I use EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or Tapping on both my kids and I think it helps them calm down. It's especially good for them before bed.

  14. My first child, who's now 6 was like that. I felt frustrated and wondered what I had done wrong. It was even more frustrating when people started to question my ability to deal with her or assumed I created the problem. My mom even made the comment a few times about how it can be be hard to get her to listen/behave when she's so used to having everything her way. That made my blood boil, because it was far from the truth, and my mom wasn't around enough to know what she was talking about. When I commented to my SIL how much easier it was for her to get her toddler to do certain things, she hinted that you have to make them do such and such or "stand your ground".

    Comments like those made me feel so misunderstood. No one knew what I was going through. They acted like I just didn't want to parent my child.

    In the past year or so, she has changed drastically and is the complete opposite of what she was. She's actually better behaved than her peers. I though I'd share that to let others know that what they're dealing may not go on forever.

  15. Thank you so much for admitting that you sometimes don't like your child! Just this morning I was sitting here wondering how to ask a slightly different version of this same question regarding my two-year-old son, and I didn't do it because I didn't have the guts to admit that it is getting to the point where I sometimes don't want to be around him in print. He has always been high-needs, but adding another baby to the mix proved to be disastrous. My toddler is very aggressive, and every time he doesn't get his way he tries to attack the baby. He can't stand that I have to pay attention to another child now, and nearly every minute of every day has become a living hell. Pablo's rages are controlling everything in my home and my life. We can't even go for a walk because I can't control him, so we are basically prisoners of his moods. He purposely wakes the baby every time the baby falls asleep, so the baby is exhausted and won't ever stop shrieking. My older kids weren't like this, and I have no idea how to cope with it. It's unbelievably guilt-inducing. We have also done all of the "natural parenting" stuff, extended nursing and leaving him intact and all of the rest of it. I too am sorry for hijacking your post and for having no advice. You are definitely not alone.

  16. My son exactly!!! He is 4 and I keep waiting for him to "grow out of it" but it is only getting worse!! I asked his doctor why anyone would ever want more than one child and his doctor told me if every child acted like mine then no one would want more. I would like another child but what if it is like him or worse? Also, he tells me he hates babies and he tries to hit them all the time! I can almost guarantee he would kill or severly injure a small baby so I can NOT ever bring another child into our house. I am also at my wits end. I have had a nervous breakdown because of the way he treats me and how he acts. We are currently taking him to play therapy and she is going to help us diagnose him but he won't even play with her so I don't know how much help it will be but I am keeping a hopeful outlook. We just need to hang in there and hope the future brings better days!

  17. {{hugs}} few of us consider that attachment is a 2-way street and that it is hard for parents to connect with difficult kiddos!

    I can completely relate to your story as I've got a high-needs girl myself. She will be 8 soon and life is sooo much easier than it once was. Here are the best bits of advice I can think of:

    ~Change your expectations: We all want to <3 and enjoy or kids, but sometimes we can only hope to tolerate each other! Try to let go of how you wish things could be and focus on the positive things that you do have here and now.

    ~Pick your battles: If getting dressed and brushing hair/etc. is stressful, consider whether or not its really essential? My daughter's hair gets brushed/washed about once a month. It's messy and sometimes embarrassing, but it's her body and I'm letting her make that call. It's not worth the battle. I love her no matter what her hair looks like and I will NOT let others opinions rule my life.

    ~Make sure to take care of yourself: We hear this all the time, and know how difficult it is, but when we do something to take care of ourselves it will help us be better parents. If having her at pre-K a couple of extra hours gives you the patience to deal with her the rest of the day, no need to feel guilty about it!

    ~Find support: The book that was mentioned is a good one and there are yahoo groups of parents who come together just to discuss these issues. It helps to have a ear from an experienced HN parent--they can really get where you're coming from. Of course, finding an IRL friend that can relate is even better ;)

    ~Look for underlying causes: this one took me 6 years to figure out. Our children's behavior is a type of communication--when they act up, they are often telling us that something is wrong. I talked to my ND and got a referral to see early childhood specialists. They recommended several types of therapy and they gave me official names to describe some of her issues (sensory processing disorder, ADD, etc.)

    Unfortunately I found that the therapy wasn't the best fit for us, but I tried some allergy testing and read up on special diets. We had to cut out a lot of our favorite foods and learn new ways of cooking, but going on a special diet has completely changed our lives. Within 2 weeks, my daughter had stopped her violent tantrums and become so much more even-tempered. It turns out that a lot of her high-needs behavior was a symptom of underlying physical causes. She's still more "difficult" than other kids her age, but not nearly as much as she used to be. We're enjoying each other and life in general so much more than we used to :)

    I hope that you have found some good advice here. Good luck!

  18. Wow, I totally feel where you are comming from. I am a mother of three. My oldest is 5 and she is high needs also, my other two are great. I have just seeked help through a therapist to try and make our family more happy. It has help a little eventhough it has only been about 2 months. I am going to try and read the book that was suggested. I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone and you are a great Mother for even reaching out for help. I hope that you can find some suggestions that will help you. And I want you to know by reaching out you have help my family as well. I will be reading your comments looking for an answer for myself as well. Love, Peace and take care :)

  19. All I can say is food, food, food! Look at what she is eating. I have no idea what your diet is like but she sounds like she is severely affected by sugar and may even be an addict. For some ppl, their brains react to sugar much like heroin, they get severely addicted and have withdrawal symptoms. Your description sounds like my son before we read the book Little Sugar Addicts. When we watch his food (no sugar, high protein) he is such a joy, but if we slack in the food department we had better hold onto our pants because it can be an interesting ride.

  20. I have a very clingy 5 year old daughter. Validating her feelings help me deal with it and give me some me time... She used to kick and scream and refuse to go to pre-school until I started telling her "Baby I miss you so much when you are at school. I wish I could stay with you in school or keep you at home with me all time but I cannot do that because...reason". It was like a switch turned off after that.. She would be sad to leave but she would give me a hug and go without screaming. I have since started using this technique all the time. After a long break from school I tell her how much I enjoyed having her at home and spending time with her and unlike many other children she goes without any fuss.

    When she wants to play with me and I have to cook/work etc I tell her "I so love playing with you baby but I have to finish up such and such a thing. Will be give me 1/2 hour to do it?" She doesn't really understand the concept of time and she says "I will give you ten minutes" and plays on her own for a while. If not I tell her " I will play with you until the big hand on the clock comes to 4 and then you have to let me finish my work"... It works like a charm... Also, when I am doing my work I sincerely tell her every five minutes or so "Oh.. I wish I could play with you and have fun" and then make a face and say "but look
    I have to get this done before I can do that!"

    I also pick my battles with her and let her do what she wants most of the time unless it is really important to me that she do it a different way. I also have a 6 month old and I tell my older daughter how the baby has to share me with her right since she was born and how lucky she is that she got alone time with me for 4 years and I go on to her how wonderful a baby she was... So, she tries to help out with the second one and tells me that the second baby is luckier because she has one extra person (her) to take care of her.... Hope this helps!

  21. I haven't got any advice at the moment, but feel the same! My nearly 4 year old son throws the biggest tantrum over small things like getting dressed, and is so stubborn. A true maverick! My 2 year old daughter is the opposite too, such a delight, cooperative, patient ... I made an appointment with the pediatrician for my son, and the Dr. wasn't able to make a first diagnosis in our 45 minutes appointment because my son wasn't participating fully so that we now made a second appointment. I'd like to know if my son has some sort of dysfunction so that at least I can adjust my parenting style to it.
    All the best.

  22. I would HIGHLY recommend two things. First off, contact the local public health unit, or children's aid society/family & child services. They often have programs and support services available. You can get developmental screening, behavioural screening, etc, as well as parental support. The "Infant and Child Developmental Services" program through our CAS has been wonderful. They also do parenting classes at the local parenting center. Even when they don't have any 'advice', they are very acknowledging and are a great listening resource :)
    The next thing I recommend is "The Out of Sync Child". Many "high needs" kids have sensory issues which are shown to us as behaviour 'problems'.
    The third thing---choose your battles :) I don't pick my daughter's clothes, nor insist she gets dressed. If she wants to go to school in (clean) pajamas, that's fine. She rarely wears socks. Or underwear, LOL. I "suggest" rather than inform. For toothbrushing...that was a HUGE issue here with 2 out of 3 kids. Turns out there were a couple issues...the feeling of the toothpaste, the flavour of it, the tickling on the lips, and the two biggest...doing it too late in the pre-bed routine which meant she was too tired to co-operate/make good choices and it really signalled that bedtime was imminent. Once we figured things out, it's become a non-problem.
    I will admit that I did not like my oldest child much. High needs, sensory processing dysfunction, speech and language delays all lead to depression when he was only 3. But he's now 10, and almost totally different. My youngest has been very similar, but has a much happier temperment. I've seen great improvements in just the last couple months and she's about to turn 5 next week. Last year, for the first month of JK, she screamed all the way home every day. This year, she didn't scream at all :) It DOES get easier!!

  23. I just have to wonder how many high-needs children would do better on a different diet? Could the child be sugar- gluten- dairy- whatever-sensitive? Not saying it would be a magic cure, but perhaps it could help some of the children? My own little boy goes off the handle pretty easily if I don't feed him well rounded meals every few hours.

    I get the feeling these children don't like to be controlled, either. Haven't read Raising Your Spirited Child, but I found Playful Parenting and Loving Your Child Isn't Enough helpful for ideas on gaining cooperation in children--they aren't specifically for high-needs kids, but the basic ideas are great.

  24. I would recommend The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child: With No Pills, No Therapy, No Contest of Wills by Alan Kazdin.

    This program is great because it really starts with positive things like positively reinforcing the good behaviors your child is doing.

  25. I want to give you hope. I have 2 daughters much like yours - identical twins who were also fussy babies, and were 4 when we went through this same difficulty you are having and to make things more complicated we had another set of identical twin girls who were newborns at that time. Thank God, there were NOT high needs!

    Four was the hardest age for us. The lack of cooperation, the struggle to get on clothes and get to school or anywhere on time, the struggle to get to bed, the screaming tantrums over not getting exactly her way that ended only when she finally fell asleep from emotional exertion. Our oldest daughters are what Dr. Sears would call 'High needs' children.

    Don't feel bad. Your parenting did not make her this way. It is her nature. Having my second set twins who were 'normal' babies brought me to realize my oldest were different from most children and that I didn't do anything to make them that way!

    I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend the Dr. Sears Fussy Baby Book - she isn't a baby, but this book goes beyond babyhood and will help you understand her personality and development. I also recommend the Sears Discipline Book, which will help you understand how to gently guide her. I have the Kurcinka books but found them dry and wordy - really hard to get through when you are sleep deprived and pressed for time!

    At age 5, my high needs twins have turned the corner in many ways and they ARE fun now! There were many pieces to the puzzle for us.

    1. I focused only on getting them to do the important things they needed to do. Others have mentioned this in the comments. Wearing sandals in the snow? Your feet will get cold, but ok - learn it the hard way if you must! Warning that others will criticize you for this, but you must follow YOUR heart in helping her the way you think is best.

    2. I gave plenty of warning and time for transitions, and then patience with them.

    3. We began physical therapy for sensory perception disorder. You can read more of this in 'out of sync child' by Kranowitz as others mentioned. They graduated about 10 months later with much improvement in many areas.

    4.I learned their stressors. One of my girls got REALLY cranky and difficult when her blood sugar was low. I finally realized that every time she was hungry, she would FIND a reason to throw a fit over the silliest thing. I knew when she had a melt down that i just needed to get to to eat and she would then get better. Her sister was very sensitive to noise -so you can imagine what having a twin screaming at the top of her lungs and 2 crying babies did to her stress level. I got her an MP3 player with headphones. She is also claustrophobic, so being aware of that and sensative to taking the stairs over the elevator sometimes (with 2 babies!) helped.

    5. Give her all the positive interaction you can. My kids love art projects, so any time the babies were napping, I would keep them busy with every kind of fun glittery, gluey, messy thing I could find. We read stories and planted a garden. My house was a terrible mess, and it drove me crazy, but my kids didn't care about the house - time with them was more important.

    6.Make sure her school/daycare situation is helping, not hurting. My girls' pre-school teacher was NOT understanding to their personality and was giving them timeouts for silly things like tracing the letters on the rug instead of paying attention at story time. This ruined their self esteem and made home life worse. We switched to a Montessori school where the teachers were much more patient and caring.

    I did this all while exclusively breastfeeding 2 infants, who despite it all are very healthy and happy 22 month-olds now. It was a very difficult time for our family, but all of the effort we put into it has paid off and we feel very grateful and blessed. I pray the same blessings come to you on your journey!!!

  26. Almost forgot...
    We also read the Sears NDD book and made changes to my kids diet. We were already half way there, but took out even more of the artificial ingredients in their food and got more strict on their diets when they were with grandma. Now we notice the difference in their behavior when they've had a pajama party at Grandma's house!

  27. I too urge FOOD
    my son was hard hard hard work until I realised he was milk intolerant
    these days YES he's spirited but I can talk to him
    he plays he loves he's a great kid but I did go through a phase of disliking being a mum to him.

    these days we are low wheat no dairy low soy no coconut and no apples

    all set him off to be manic and so clingy beyond what I'd expect too many people urged me it was normal but my mum heart said it wasn't right

    maybe setting her a timer to play by herself before you go in
    so like ok you play for 6 minutes when the beeper goes off I'll come play and set the timer again for as long as you can spare
    being AP is NOT about letting your child run rings round you demanding you have to lay down boundaries that respect you and your needs sure she'll cry yes that's horrible but you have to work her through life's sad bits or she'll be in for a shock later.
    AP is about listening and respecting - on BOTH counts she has to see respect in action too

  28. This could be my 3 1/2 year old daughter. I am the mother of 4 children, and she is the 3rd. She was a miserable fussy baby. I bf, used chemical free cleaners and laundry soap. I run a daycare from home and have a 10 year old son with sever food sentivites, so we eat great food 99% of the time. We're very active, spend tons of one on one time with the kids and we are consistant with rules and punishment if needed. But she is horrible. She fights everything. We've have had her tested for everyhing under the sun, she sees a dietition once a month, and keep her active with friends and family...but there are times when the other kids want nothing to do with her because she can be mean. We have a 7 month old little girl, that could not be sweeter, and when I bf her I still try to include my 3 year old....snuggles while I feed, reading books, singing songs, watching a show together...whatever I can do. But she is still mean to the baby. I hate to say it but sometimes I think it's just their personality. I have never had these problems with my older two kids. I count the days until she starts school, just so I can get a real break. I can't even go to the washroom without putting her into a high chair (which truth be told she is getting too big for) because all hell breaks lose....and there's no bring her with me because I end up getting up off of the pot a dozen times to chase her down! My mother in law says that my sister in law was like this too, and that the only thing to do is keep plowing through one day at a time, because one day is will start to get better. I really hope so! Don't feel bad about your feeling s towards her, so long as you aren't thinking about DOING something horrible to her! And never hesistate to ask someone to help...even if it's so you can slip out to the store for a quick sanity break. You are only human. We love all of our kids, but sometimes it's hard to love each one in the same way. I have many of those moments too....and every once in a while I get a sweet hug, and an 'I love you' that renews my hope that one day things will get better and I won't spend 80% of my time resenting my 3 year old and her behaviour!! Good luck to everyone with their difficult kids!!!

  29. i am reading 'raising your spirited child' at the moment and learning a lot. sounds like your child may also have some 'spirit'. it would help every parent but especially those with challenging temperamental children. second, find a GOOD naturopath who works frequently with children, fast. they will help with food sensitivities, which is often the cure for everything, as well has some natural remedies to help chill her out while you adjust some things to help the day go smoother. good luck!

  30. I can't really offer advice but just moral support. I have a high needs two year old and am expecting #2 in September- which is scary when you already have a High Needs child. I'm hoping #2 is like yours and the "good" baby! lol

    It's very difficult but we have to be patient and persevere. My son is exactly as you describe, and he has to be with me or daddy 24/7. I feel I can't cook or clean because now that I'm pregnant I have no energy to hold a toddler and do both (not that I always got it done before when I DID have more energy). I'm scared for the days ahead with a newborn. Whats even more frustrating is that my husbands family doesn't under high needs children and think they are just spoiled. My husband had a lot of patience when my son was a baby, but now that he is a toddler I'm getting to be the one with more patience.

    I honestly feel God gave me this HN child to teach ME. Its absolutely demanding- nearly all of my energy some days go to my child and there's nothing left to give to myself or my husband (fortunately he feels children come before cleaning and cooking!!) That said it's still not easy. I've heard the older they get, eventually they WILL be VERY independent if their needs are met now, so that's what I'm banking on.

    Try to do activities with your older one that you can still hold the baby or have the baby play too so you don't feel like you're neglecting #2. Try and see if #1 wants to help with the baby while you're cooking or cleaning, etc. Other than that, just shift your expectations. Come the realize you can either a) sacrifice your child's needs (which are real) or b) ignore them and focus your energy on other things. Now does A or B sound more important? To me, A. So don't hold yourself accountable if you can't be super mom and do it all. I guarantee you, one day you will reap your rewards, but just be patient!

  31. I had similar issues myself. I am practicing compassionate communication by Marshall Rosenberg and reading Patty Wipfler's site and materials. Naomi Aldort has also been a remarkable resource. Best wishes and I hope that you find some relief and a way to connect with your child!

  32. I hope it is not a bad thing that I am comforted that others struggle with the same problems. While my daughter is not QUITE as bad, there are MANY similarities! She is about to turn 5 and it seems to have gotten ever so slightly better because of how I deal with her. She definitely responds better the more calm I am (which is NOT easy) and if I give her a choice between two things (one clearly not meant to be chosen) but when I tell her it is up to her which she chooses, she really likes (the appearance) of that control. I'll be praying for all the Mommies out there! It is a tough job!

  33. My daughter is 4 and she was a baby that needed to be held all the time. Thank you for baby slings. Now, she will demand 100% of attention from her parents and others. She wants me to bring her a drink when she can get it herself. Just the small stuff. She is constantly talking and is singing. It can be very overhwhelming because there is so much happening. She wants me to constantly be serving her. I just want to check into a hotel room and be gone from her. She is so smart and is wonderful but I feel like she is sucking me dry of all energy. I am drained. I need to read this book. I love it (sarcasm) when people say she is spoiled or she needs more discipline. No, you dummys. She gets worst with all the time no's and punishment. There is nothing wrong with her brain either. She is highly intelligent but is highly demanding. How do you do deal with high energy when you are wiped out?

  34. I have a high needs 3 yo. Most forms of redirection lead to fights but we do a behavior chart with prizes to correct whatever the bad behavior is. A day with all smiley face stickers equals a dollar type prize (say 5 the first week then add more). If she goes one week she gets a big toy like a Barbie doll. I tape the chart to the big prize. If I need to I add a frownie for bad behavior. We are working on being nice now so if she stops herself from pulling hair it's a smiley, if she runs away in the store it's a frownie and no prize and we have to start over the 7 day rolling chart.

    Worked for potty training. 5 times on the potty was a prize, next week added 5 and a poop.

    Tracking behavior in a non emotional way helps take you out of it. Gives them control, they want the prize. Doesn't mean it works perfect and I revert to a yelling nutter sometimes but then we talk and agree tomorrow is a new day and we'll both try again tomorrow.

  35. One of the mamas posted that she feels high needs children are gifted/highly intelligent and I completely agree! The minds of these children work differently than others..and so they possibly feel misunderstood. My son is 3.5 yrs and my daughter 15m. My son is high needs and frustrates me to my core. I keep this to myself because most ppl just don't understand or simply say it's normal. I cannot leave the kids alone in a room together because my son will hurt the baby..so the house doesn't get as clean as it used to. The changes we have made are: going to pre k..having other authority figures helps and it allows me alone time with my sweet, demure lil daughter who is a delight. We have gone gluten free, sugar free and have a vegan diet. But, he still flies off the handle at the slightest thing. He wont nap but does typically sleep 12 hrs at night. I guess I need to work on letting some things go. My only me time is going to reiki every 2 wks..my son has started going to my reiki instructor as well for gentle therapy through music, dance and art.. it has helped somewhat to discover the root issues. I'm definitely going to purchase the book mentioned. It just never seems enough..the love and affection my husband and I give is just never enough..he wants more. He demands the workers that come through our house to give him attention as well! It's comforting to know I am not alone in this. I suppose we have to just continue to search for the root cause of the behavior..in my case it is not food as I have eliminated so much already. We will be trying martial arts next wk..I have high hopes it will help turn excess energy into positivity!



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