Is this normal (or obsessive) behaviour for a 3 year old?

Discussion in 'Parents Forum' started by chippyteaforme, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. chippyteaforme

    chippyteaforme
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    Hey parents! (or uncles / aunties, since I'm an uncle and it's my niece I'm asking about)

    My niece is 3 years and 5 months old, and I absolutely adore her. She's had a very awkward upbringing, mainly due to her mother (my sister) constantly abandoning her, going AWOL. Anyway, tonight being a prime example, her mother has gone AWOL, and we are having my niece for the night because her father does a night shift.

    Residency arrangement is basically with her father (unless he's at work), nursery during the day where possible, the mother (when she can be arsed), and with my parents and I when all else fails, the mother isn't available (or vanishes for days).

    Well, that's that bit out the way - my niece has always seemed very intelligent. She definitely seems more advanced than other children her age. She's also very fussy about the position of things... and now she's also starting to get a bit... well... obsessive about patterns.

    Take this photo as a prime example - she did this on the floor a couple of nights ago when she was here. She 'has to' have things in the exact place where she feels they should be, or she actually gets quite angry / upset.

    I'm not a fan of labelling people, and she obviously has quite a strange time at the moment, going from house to house and not having much stability. Perhaps it's the lack of stability causing behaviour like this?

    Any suggestions?!
     

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  2. Rorifett

    Rorifett
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    With absolutely no knowledge or experience on the subject I would suggest she's maybe trying to hold on to something she can control and be in control of.

    Poor wee mite, hope there isn't any long lasting effects on her, she's lucky to have other family members like yourself chipping in to help, sorry things as they are.

    How does she get on with other children? Does she draw or listen to music? What hobbies does she have? Just wondering if there are other areas in her life she can have control moments (if this is what she craves) that would get away from 'obsessive' behaviours when on her own.

    Could well just be a phase too, my daughter is under 1 year but friend's kids have sometimes gone through the 'you're doing it all wrong' phase :)
     
  3. Rorifett

    Rorifett
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    Also, is it possible to set a routine more with your sister that might make coming to you or your mum the standard thing rather than a panic kind of thing? Appreciate it might not be possible with your sister disappearing at short notice but could help your niece know what's happening so she's more settled with the arrangement and it doesn't seem like a body blow when mum heads off on one.
     
  4. chippyteaforme

    chippyteaforme
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    She's here at the moment, such a sweet little thing. Apart from the odd behaviour like this she actually comes across (generally!) as a perfectly happy, normal 3 year old girl. It's just these few odd things creeping in which make me wonder.

    I believe she gets on OK with other children based on the feedback we get from nursery, apparently two days ago she led the other children into a game of hiding from an imaginary Gruffalo, which I can well believe as we do that here. Never a negative report about her behaviour, she's even getting the hang - just about - of sharing with others, which is useful :D

    Regarding music and things, she does like singing things that she might have picked up from nursery, including nursery rhymes (often with the odd missing word, but very good attempts!).

    Regarding routine with my sister... simply not possible. The father is fine - easy to get hold of, works full time, enjoys beers with the lads and football but only when there's appropriate cover arranged, or my sister looks after her. However, to put it simply, my sister is incredibly unreliable, dishonest, and vanishes for days at a time. Always has done, always will do.

    It simply isn't possible to try and arrange things with her, she will always miss the first attempt / appointment. We try to not involve panic in any way (there's never any panic our end, the parents are both retired and to be honest we enjoy having her over!), it's just not really stable for her. Even her dad won't panic, there's no point getting worked up because we are so used to my sister letting us / her down that it's no surprise, we are a convenient (and willing!) fall-back.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013
  5. Rorifett

    Rorifett
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    Is it possible to look at being the other guardians of her along with her dad and do visits with your sister until she gets things together.. although it doesn't sound like that might ever happen from what you're saying.

    Wish I had some proper advice mate, hopefully someone passes by here with a link to a good advice or something more than just thoughts
     
  6. chippyteaforme

    chippyteaforme
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    She accuses him of all sorts, but she's a nasty piece of work. She's accused us of all sorts in the past - had dad arrested for assaulting her, then dropped the charges at 5am when she 'sobered up'. She's done worse than that but I shouldn't really discuss it on an open forum, suffice to say I don't feel safe in her company most of the time.

    She was bragging about the fact that, 6 months after their quickie Vegas wedding, she could take his house e.t.c. and leave him homeless (note he has no parents, they both died young and while he's a lovely young man, I feel he's quite a vulnerable chap).

    Well, anyway, she let everyone down today (couldn't have the niece overnight as promised because of an 'emergency callout from a doctor' (*ahem* bulls**t), but luckily the father doesn't work tomorrow and actually seemed grateful for an extended period with his daughter, which is great!

    Don't get me wrong, we'd have gladly had her for the night, but she's honestly better with her dad, he seems absolutely awesome.

    The niece yesterday said that she didn't like staying around her mum's because 'she doesn't wake up until late and I have to be quiet and not put the TV on', or words to that effect even if not a direct quote. Basically her mum stays up 'til silly o'clock on Facebook drinking and doesn't get up 'til afternoon, whereas the niece normally gets up (when staying with us) at about 8am.

    Awkward - my sister clearly is making a right hash of this, but we've tried in the past to get her on the straight and narrow and after a day or two it's back to square one - disappearing, drug taking, e.t.c.

    She's my sister and I want her to get help and sort her life out, but ultimately she has to make that decision herself, she's 30 this year though :O
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  7. Rorifett

    Rorifett
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    What about child services so the dad is sole guardian? Is his name on the birth certificate? My sister works in an area with family issues, I'll speak to her and see what she's saying is the 'standard' up here for this kind of situation. Breaks my heart hearing this sort of thing, such a shame your niece is already being 'trained' to skirt around mum's issues. My sister has a major job interview on the 13th but I'll ask her about this afterwards and hopefully she has some good advice.

    What county do you stay in?
     
  8. chippyteaforme

    chippyteaforme
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    Thanks for your help! We are in Lincolnshire (Spalding, as indicated by my profile).
     
  9. BB3Lions

    BB3Lions
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    Poor girl, she needs stability/routine hence the structured laying out of her personal possessions.

    Her lifestyle is affecting her badly, time to get help from professionals, teachers etc, give her reassurance, cuddles, structure before its too late.

    Good luck, but act quickly.
     
  10. noiseboy72

    noiseboy72
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    Our youngest daughter sometimes exhibits OCD type behaviour and likes certain things to be "her" way. For instance, her light on her desk must not be obscured, so that she gets any shadows, and her blankets have to be in a precise order on her bed.

    As others have said, it's just a routine thing with her and otherwise, she is perfectly happy.

    Warning signs you need to look for include repetitive actions - turning a light on and off, compulsively washing hands over and over again, or only eating foods in a certain order, that sort of thing. Liking order and laying out toys in a certain pattern is nothing to worry about IMHO and is just giving her life some structure and a sense of ownership.
     
  11. Rob8980

    Rob8980
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    Our little girl is also 3.5 years old and shows similar traits such as lining up her teddy's and putting certain toys in certain places, she is perfectly happy and has 2 parents who live together who think the world of her. I think it is just something some children do and may not be related to the problems you are having with your sister. Not having her mum around as much as she would like though cant be helping matters.
     

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