I recently split up with my two girl's father. We have been apart for 3 months now. I knew that this separation would not be easy on either one of my girls (4 & 2) My four year old has always been a very strong willed child while my two year old is very easy going. I have given them both my full attention and tried to be as loving as possible during this hard time. Recently my four year old has started trying to control me. For example, she was sitting in my lap and got VERY upset because she did not like the way my legs were situated. A very small thing like that will set her off and she will throw a huge fit where she screams so loud her voice will be hoarse after. She screams and cries and it seems as if all of her comprehension goes out of the window. It reminds me of when she was an infant and could not tell me what she needed. This fits have become more frequent happening at least twice a day. She will wake up out of a deep sleep, for no reason, and start having a fit. It will take me an hour or more to calm her down. I have tried to discipline her and explain why she can't act that way, I have tried to redirect her attention and also have tried to talk to her about the way she feels. I don't feel she is old enough to understand her feelings. I know she has to have anger and sadness about the separation, but I don't know how to help her deal with it because she is so young. I know the fits are more than likely being caused by her internal feelings. I am seeking the help of a child psychologist as well but we don't go for our first appointment for another week. My ex and I are currently set up on a visitation cycle where I have them two weeks and he has them a week. We don't live in the same area so there is a bit of a travel. At first, my biggest concern was both of us being in their lives and still trying to co-parent. He is a good father, but can be unstable at times. He is very immature and I am afraid that sending her to him is causing more harm than good. He has severe anxiety disorder and suffers from panic attacks. She is very close with him and would prefer to be with him than me, but I think that is because I have to be the "bad" guy while he is fun. I am at a loss here and want to be the best mother possible. Any suggestions or tips would be appreciated. Also, my four year old is very sweet and has no behavioral problems when she is with her grandparents or aunts and uncles. She gets along well with other children and listens to her teacher. She is very protective of her sister and never tries to harm her or herself. It is only with me that she behaves this way. I do not want her to live with her father either. Thank you.
I'm not in, nor have I been, in your situation, but I did want to share something with you that I recently read. It was advice given by a child pyschologist with regards to custody involving children about the same age as yours. He said that it is not advisable to share physical custody. Not because one parent isn't good, but because it is very unsettling for children (in what is already a very unsettling and difficult time) to go back and forth like that. He suggested that children do better and have a more stable and secure environment if they live with one parent and regularly visit the other. But the back and forth makes them sort of feel that they have no real home. Anyway, I understand we all do what we have to, just that reading your post brought this article to mind. He also said to expect a lot of acting out during seperation/divorce. He said that the first few months it is not always as bad as children haven't yet grasped the permanence of it. As time goes on, and they do realize this is their life now, the acting out often begins.
I think you are wise to seek professional guidance. I do wish you and your kids the best of luck.
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