I have been on a quest, to figure out how to help my three year old daughter manage life with fewer traumatic episodes and cosmic meltdowns. It started with speech therapy. Having successfully led six other children through the process of learning to speak, it became apparent that my youngest daughter was not speaking as she ought. Assuming her frequent episodes of crying were related to frustration over her inability to communicate well, it seemed logical that her struggles would improve in correlation with her communication skills. That did not prove to be the case.
So, at the recommendation of our speech therapist (or speech language pathologist - very wise and kind lady), our daughter was evaluated by an occupational therapist. The OT diagnosed sensory processing disorder and some mild developemental delays. So, in addition to the twice-weekly speech therapy appointments, we added occupational therapy to our daughter's schedule. Though she enoyed the time, some behavior issues became worse!
Concluding that some of the problem might be related to my parenting technique or style, I called Focus on the Family to ask for advice. The counselor I spoke to (for free!) encouraged me to seek additional evaluation for my daughter with a pyschologist, among other bits of very helpful insight (like having eight children was a "mental health diagnosis.").
The psychologist suspected a panic/anxiety disorder and recommended counseling, weekly. The counselor, the psychologist, and the speech therapist all recommend a government "developmental" preschool (several times a week), with more speech and occupational therapy, as well as "socialization." We also attended the parenting classes recommended by our OT. If you are interested in what we learned, search "Circle of Security" on Youtube.
Finally, I said, "ENOUGH!!" I don't think my daughter is going to be able to learn effectively until the other issues are sorted out, and I'm not going to have time to do any sorting if all I do is run her from appointment to appointment all week long.
So, we are going back to basics, focusing on simple structure and consistency at home, and making sure my sweet girl knows she is loved, no matter what. The tantrums continue (though holding her tight, in a bear hug, definitely helps), and she still doesn't know all her letters or numbers (colors are getting better), but those things can come with time. Besides, she is only three! Her life (and mine) will go on even if she isn't doesn't learn everything for a while.
If you have any thoughts or ideas, please let me know. As a pretty overwhelmed, over-extended mama of many, I can use all the help I can get