what is normal?
Obviously what we consider “normal” behavior in young children encompasses a wide range of behaviors and personalities. I guess I’m struggling with how to know when to seek professional opinions regarding my daughter’s level of energy and defiance. She has very good days and moments, but not nearly as many as she has difficult ones. I have zero concern about her developmental milestones (she’s scoring near perfect on the Ages & Stages, even in communication where she was behind just slightly) and her intelligence. I’m more concerned with her level of aggression toward me and toward her peers and how it may affect her ability to interact safely and productively with classmates at school, and prevent her from forming age-appropriate friendships and a sense of belonging in her peer group. After that, I am a bit concerned with her struggle to stop moving at full speed. Impulsive, yes, but her energy level from wake up to sleep is off the charts. As she gets older, more and more people, including teachers and those who are around children her age in a professional setting every day, are commenting on the fact that she is super high energy, demanding, and strong-willed. To this end, she is testing the limits I set as she should be doing at this age, but she tests them, all of them, all the time. Sun up to sundown she is testing a limit or breaking a rule just to see how I’ll react.
I don’t work with young children, but from what I see socially it doesn’t seem like her age mates are acting like this to the degree that M is. Naturally, I worry that I am doing something totally wrong. Is there something I’m missing? Some strategy that would help calm the defiance down even a little?
I’m totally open to just about anything EXCEPT punishment/reward systems, or medications. I had a cousin with pretty severe ADHD who did require medications for a time (he’s the first doctor in our family now, very proud of him) but this doesn’t look like that to me. I’m also not willing to label her anything while she may just be a more intense version of a normal two-year-old, acting as a two-year-old should just with more persistence than the average kid. However, there has been a lot of research on alternatives to medication for ADHD and hyperactivity that could be helpful, like diet changes, essential oils, and so on. I’m interested in any of that!
All that being said, I’m going to make an appointment for her at our wonderful health system’s child-parent relation clinic for an evaluation. They are very progressive and can provide me with resources and support geared for parents of 1 to 6 year-olds. They work with foster/adopt children quite often, which could also be beneficial, as well as helping parents who are struggling. Maybe they will tell me she’s fine and I’m worrying too much (I hope they do, in fact) but my insurance would at least cover a conversation with them, and I could really, really use some feedback and support.