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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5820
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My just turned 3 year old grandchild has never been an easy

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My just turned 3 year old grandchild has never been an easy child to dress and undress, the undressing has been terrible lately but the last few weeks since her mum has had a misscarrage it has got so bad it is frightening to see how upset she gets herself in,backs into a corner and covers herself and crys hysterically until she loses her breath, freya has never ever been left with anyone but myself and my husband. To explain my daughter has had this fear that someone would abuse freya if she did not do her utmost to protect her as something happened to her when she was 9. She has had counciling for the past 2 years about trying to let freya go oput with other people besides us. She has managed to let her go to the playgroup 2 mornings a week, she started a few months back and loves it. Even though her mum struggles to let her go. We have checked out the playgroup which is right beside me in the village and everybody is very nice to her. If I were a stranger reading this my immediate thought is something has happened to freya to make her behave like this. She has never been left alone with any man and this includes my husband, as this is the condition that my daughter wants and needs to know that freya is safe. Which we do understand. My daughter is extremely worried at the temper tantrums she is having as well. Freya did not know her mummy was pregnant but saw both her parents crying, but as I said this was happening before gillian was pregnant. My daughter phoned the other night in total distress saying mum she won,t even let my undress her. We don,t know what to do about this or who to talk to. Many Thanks Lorraine.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like your granddaughter has somehow picked up your daughter's fear and distress and is reacting to it in her own way. Your daughter's fear is understandable with what she went through. And it is great she is getting counseling to help her. However, she most likely unintentionally transferred her fear to her daughter. Or your granddaughter has overheard your daughter talk about what happened to her and your granddaughter, being only 3 years old, would not know how to interpret what she heard only the feelings behind it. So she would interpret that she is not safe.

To address this, first have your daughter talk to her. Ask her what she is afraid of. See if she will tell her. Tell her to be gentle and get at her daughter's level when she does this. If she won't talk about it, that is ok. Let your daughter know to tell your grandchild that everything is ok. Explain that Mommy has had some things happen but everything is alright and she is getting help to deal with it. If she can, have your granddaughter's father there as well. It sounds like she is afraid of men so the more gentle reassurance she receives from both parents, the better.

Ask your daughter to consider having your granddaughter see a child therapist for an evaluation. Your granddaughter may be developing some fears and phobias and the sooner she can get help, the better. If her fears are left untreated she may have trouble as she grows.

You an also talk with her. Reassure her that all is well. Be honest and open with her, but also age appropriate. Tell her that she is taken care of and she has nothing to worry about because she has lots of caring adults in her life. If you do that enough times, she will begin to understand.

Let your granddaughter talk as much as she needs to. Once she feels more comfortable, she may be willing to let you know what is going on with her. If not, have her draw something about how she feels. Then go over the drawing with her, asking her what everything means. This may help her open up.

I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
The health visitor has been today and said her developement is more like a 4 year old rather than a 3 year old, and gets frustrated because she wants to do things herself. I know for a fact she does not know anything about what happened to her mum [ A man put his hand up her jumper when she was 9, don,t want to make light of it, but it could have been so much worse] As for fearing men, absolutely not, if anything she wants her grandad rather than me 9 times out of 10. She speaks to anyone man or women when she is out with me. Health visitor said she is a very sociable child, was hugging her when she left and if that had been a man health visitor she would have done the same. We ask her what is wrong freya as you suggested sitting with her on my lap, but she does,nt say anything. Yesterday she got a bit shampoo in her eye, she was out the bath and hysterical, the same if you try to get her to get undressed. If they are going out they have to start getting ready hours before just to give them time to persuade her to get dressed, not always upset. Health visitor says to try and do a rewards chart and ignore bad behaviour. I must admit we all bend over backwards for her. Just very frightening to see sometimes.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

I understand. Thank you for the additional information.

It sounds like this might be a developmental problem then. By that I mean she is easily frustrated because of her limits and takes it out in the form of being upset and refusing to get dressed. Sometimes, children will have a period in their development when their wants outreach their abilities and since they cannot express themselves as well as you and I can, they act out instead.

The health adviser has a good suggestion. I would try it and see how it works. Also, consider that she may be a gifted child. You may see signs of it already. Often, gifted children or highly intelligent kids will be easily frustrated by life's limitations.

Here are some resources that may help you and her parents find more answers:

Taming the Spirited Child: Strategies for Parenting Challenging Children Without Breaking Their Spirits by Michael Popkin

How to Calm a Challenging Child: foreword by Cassandra Jardine, The Daily Telegraph by Miriam Chachamu

Taming the Spirited Child: Strategies for Parenting Challenging Children Without Breaking Their Spirits by Michael Popkin

You can find these books on or your local library may have them available.


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