AIBU to think 'if you don't like his temper tantrums, calm the fuck down yourself!'

(54 Posts)
TooGood2BeFalse Fri 15-Apr-16 11:05:04

Hi all, really at a loss as to how and help my family and would be really grateful for any advice or constructive criticism.

Our DS has just turned 4. He is a happy, healthy, gorgeous fellow but a complete Jekyll Hyde. He was a late talker, but has generally taken massive leaps in development since he turned 3 and is just streets ahead of where he was. He goes to nursery 4 days a week, and despite acknowledging that his understanding and social skills are a little delayed, he is very smart, calm, well-behaved and co-operative in class.

At home, he is either charming and great fun, or ridiculously stroppy, stubborn and will NOT do as he's told without screaming and occasionally hitting. He hates anybody else talking to me, so will start singing at the top of voice to drown out DH, which irritates DH immensely.

He has no impulse control, and will throw anything, break things etc then look at us for a reaction. He's not the most difficult child there ever was, but he can be hard work. No SN recognised as of yet.

My husband loves him to pieces, but has less patience for the constant drama and fights over the smallest things (e.g. sock on wrong foot) and does not enjoy family time. He tries to take DS out for 'daddy time', at least twice a week as he wants to bond with him, but it almost always ends in DS having a tantrum about leaving or not being allowed to do something, and they both come back upset.

My DH is quite similar in temperament - quick to fly off the handle, anxious, occasionally quite grumpy, likes his own way and has a history of disliking authority. He has previously taken anger management courses. We have never hit each other or smacked our son.

I feel some days like I am fighting to keep them both calm and happy and failing desperately, I dread weekends as if DS gets grumpy DH starts moaning - the pressure to keep things peaceful is immense. While on the one hand I do understand that DS can be so infuriating, I also think as a parent, DH needs to calm down and stop ranting as negativity is getting us nowhere.

So sorry for the huge essay, I am just gutted for them both as they went to the beach this morning as no nursery today. DS wanted to run into a restaurant all sandy and naked, DH said No..DS screamed and hit him in front of everyone. Two unhappy boys.

Does anyone have any advice? Feel like I am living with two teenagers. Am also nearly 27 weeks pregnant, so already tired and a bit fed up.

joopy79 Fri 15-Apr-16 11:11:46

No advice but I completely agree. I have a tantruming 2 year old, my husband reacts by shouting at him so I have 2 angry shouty people which I find hard work. I just cuddle the toddler and try to get away from my husband- not ideal really.

Multigraintoast Fri 15-Apr-16 11:13:20

No advice, sorry, but can relate as my DS1 is very similar! No diagnosed SN, and I don't think he has any, but a late talker and still a bit immature socially which, combined with a bad temper, leads to destructive and aggressive behaviour. It's really hard work and sometimes I get quite down about it. I have a non sleeping 1yo too so am also exhausted.

Well actually I have a tiny bit of advice, probably something you know already but I find his behaviour is worst when he's hungry or tired. Though it's near impossible to do much about the tiredness when he refuses to sleep more than 9 or 10 hours a night.

TooGood2BeFalse Fri 15-Apr-16 11:35:28

Hi thank you both for the replies!

joopy79 - that tends to be what I find myself doing, as well as rushing around to do everything for DS instead of accepting help from DH, just because I can't stand the thought of them kicking off.

multigrain - our sons do sound similar, immature is exactly the right word. I feel like he's just turned 3 rather than 4 on the bad days. He is quite a big eater and a big lad for his age, but I am wondering about the tiredness thing, as he is usually a good sleeper averaging 11 hours a night, but we've just moved and his nights are currently a bit disturbed.

EveryoneElsie Fri 15-Apr-16 11:41:06

Dont fall into the trap of placating them! Tell them they are both being unreasonable and walk out of the room/house and let them get on with it.
Show them both that they can have a strop in private and talk sense to your face. They can go upstairs and kick a pillow around if they need to.
I'd find that very wearing.

NotnowNigel Fri 15-Apr-16 11:53:08

You are putting yourself in a position where you are piggy in the middle - ie you are mediating their relationship constantly - and that would be exhausting for anyone.

Your DH needs to grow the fuck up. If he's constantly moaning about your ds then HE needs to sort it out. If he hasn't got the skills to do that, then HE needs to address that by reading parenting books or by going on a parenting class - there are loads of those.

If he starts moaning, ask him what he's going to do about it, or does he just intend to moan like a wet blanket?

And make sure you leave them to it. Next time it kicks off, just leave and go and have a coffee or something. Tell them both when you return that you left because being around two shouty people is horrible for you. And keep leaving (this is the time before your baby is born), until they get the message, but obviously the change should be led by your DH as the Parent.

Having said all that, it does sound like you too need to get some strategies for dealing with temper tantrums and bad behaviour.

NotnowNigel Fri 15-Apr-16 11:54:46

Having said all that, it does sound like you too need to get some strategies for dealing with temper tantrums and bad behaviour yourself

TooGood2BeFalse Fri 15-Apr-16 12:06:32

Hi Nigel

Thanks so much for your post. I think you are right, and I am probably making things worse by trying to placate them both instead of dealing with the actual problem.

I have tried time out but sporadically and most likely ineffectively. We have a list of 'mummy daddy and DS's' house rules on the fridge, e.g. no hitting, no shouting that we have told DS that we all have to follow, but there are no clear consequences for what happens if these are broken. So this definitely needs to be remedied and will think about this.

I also agree DH needs to grow up a bit, I have tried explaining I need a partner to parent 'with' - I sometimes feel like DH expects me to lead the way and create a perfect obedient kid who he can then enjoy.

I should also add that DS likes to spend a great deal of time with my MIL- who spoils him rotten and sees him as a 'baby' that should be allowed to be 'naughty'. this does drive me crazy, as I feel what's the point of trying to set up new routines and methods with him if no one else will bother keeping to them.

TooGood2BeFalse Fri 15-Apr-16 12:09:09

Oh and will try leaving for a coffee when they need to stop shouting. I think if I'm there they have more of an audience to 'perform'.

YoJesse Fri 15-Apr-16 12:10:56

Wow, lots of similarities with me. Ds3 is quick to fly off the handle about all the usual toddler stuff like socks, wanting to play at nighttime, eating etc. Dh is rubbish at dealing with this at night especially and will be shouty back and escalate the situation so then I'm left to separate them as ds understandably won't want to go to him after that. I still use distraction techniques to calm ds down. It's not right that you feel responsible for keeping them both calm but I totally understand as I do exactly the same thing. If dh is grumpy and tired I keep them apart from each other.

I'm watching this thread to get tips and sorry I can't offer advice. Ds is also a late talker. I think it really frustrates him.

lovelycuppateas Fri 15-Apr-16 12:19:50

In my experience (2 sons, exh with anger issues, new partner who is calm, lovely and a proper grown up), children mirror the behaviour they see. If your son is seeing his father reacting to life's frustrations by getting angry, that's what he'll do as well. How you ACT as a parent is so much more important than what you say. Your husband needs to think hard about his behaviour and how it is impacting on your son - or to echo Notnownigel to "grow the fuck up"!

HeadTilt Fri 15-Apr-16 12:22:03

Agree your DH needs to take things less personally I.e. Respond less angrily/emotionally.

I'd scrap stuff like house rules on the fridge. Far too abstract for a 4yo, particularly a slightly immature one. I find getting down on my DD's level (she's also four) and saying "we don't hit" or whatever in a firm voice works better. When she is being a bit whiny/tantrummy/rude something like "use a kind voice or I'm putting the lego away" works well as she gets an immediate consequence. The first few times are hard because you do get an escalation, but then they realise it doesn't work. You need to play the long game.

Keep in mind that wee ones do tantrum, cry, whine etc. I used to feel really emotional when my DD got upset about, for example, being told off. Then I realised she's just annoyed, not distraught! So it makes it easier for me to stay calm and not give in, try to fix things etc. it's not fair to kids to not give them clear boundaries and proportionate consequences as they don't learn how to behave without these.

Maybe your husband would take a parenting class - you could go together.

BiddyPop Fri 15-Apr-16 12:27:06

I have a 10yr old with ASD/ADHD and difficulty controlling herself when overwhelmed, and a DH who is massively overstressed and exhausted - combining to put me over the edge stuck between their hair trigger moments and winding each other up.

DD has now learned the art of sarcasm, DH can often see things resolving but have to add a sarcastic comment at the end as DD is walking of and suddenly they are both back in the middle of the row again.

I threatened years ago that I'd move out when DD becomes a teenager - I am considering making good on that threat at the moment. (DFIL died late last year and I can understand DH's temper being less controlled than usual - but dear God I want to see some calm restored soon!!).

SeasonalVag Fri 15-Apr-16 12:34:08

Well my son is three, his behaviour is awful hes actually throttled me twice this week....I feel like I'm in DV situation. Trying to stay calm is v difficult if you're always being attacked.

LaContessaDiPlump Fri 15-Apr-16 12:34:48

Does your DH acknowledge that your DS's temper is just like his, op? I ask because I have an awful temper and it really pulls me up short when I see either of my DSs acting like me - I feel a mixture of embarrassment, anger and guilt all at once. It's made me realise how bad I must sound and I now make a special effort not to be such a douche. Not always successful but it's ongoing.

Your DH might be a step behind me and think it's not his own temper that's an issue, just your son's hmm this is unusual advice, but could your parents-in-law offer any help by reminding your DH that he too was like that?

SchnooSchnoo Fri 15-Apr-16 12:35:17

I totally get it op, I have a similar situation with dp and my dd, aged 7. He uses a sledge hammer to crack s nut approach to discipline, by coming down hard on fairly minor behaviour, when a gentle reminder would have done. The thing is, not only do i not agree with his approach, it absolutely does not work on my dd! She gets upset and then she will just start screaming every time he talks so she can't hear him. The more he ramps up the irritation, the worse her behaviour gets and the simplest thing, like getting pyjamas on or something, turns into world war 3.

I have told him time and again that his approach does not work, and that the onus is on him, not her, to change the dynamic. I think I'm slowly getting through to him, but it's very frustrating!

My dd was not s late talker and has no developmental delays. She just has a character that will not back down in the face of anger or shouting. She needs gentle persuasion and a bit of quid pro quo. That's just the way she is and no amount of authoritarianism is going to change her. No advice really. Just sympathy!

OneEpisode Fri 15-Apr-16 12:35:27

My son is autistic and in his case we are advised to try and communicate visually rather than verbally. Rules on fridge would work. Obvs pictures and images rather than writing for young ones...

VestalVirgin Fri 15-Apr-16 12:37:18

* "use a kind voice or I'm putting the lego away" *

Are you sure that policing the emotion in your child's voice is the right way? It works, no doubt, but it could lead to repressed emotions later on. When a child is grumpy, she's grumpy. Asking her to pretend not to be ... my mother did this to me a lot, and I find it very manipulative.
Asking to not use rude wording is okay, but "kind voice" looks to me like you demand that she not sound grumpy, even though she is.

@TooGood: Good luck trying out the recommendations in this thread - I agree with the one about parental behaviour being a model for children's behaviour.

Don't let your husband get away with lazy parenting and setting bad examples.

TooGood2BeFalse Fri 15-Apr-16 12:37:37

Thanks lovelycuppa I do agree with you here - you've actually hit the nail on the head with 'father's reacting to life's frustrations by getting angry'. Any advice on how to bring this up with me sounding like I'm saying 'IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!'?

Thanks also HeadTilt. Interesting thought about the rules on fridge being too abstract, I made a routine chart to help DS understand what days he was going to nursery as he was quite anxious each morning, asking 'where are we going today?' literally as soon as he opened his eyes in the morning. He loves it and enjoys telling us what he will be doing in the morning. The house rules, however, have been completely useless - he read them out loud once, and that was about it. That's also why I've never used a reward chart, I really don't think it will mean anything to him.

So it is still normal for 4 year olds to have some tantrums? I don't remember DS being angry much at 2, but perhaps he has saved it to surprise us with later :-D

RE: Parenting class - I would absolutely go to one! Bit tricky to find one in English as we live abroad and my grasp of the local language is dire, but I will do some more digging and then bring it up to DH. Or tell him to find one next time he's moaning :-D

HeadTilt Fri 15-Apr-16 12:42:59

A chart is a bit more interactive, it means something to him, so possibly why it works better than rules?

vestal sometimes it is appropriate to police how a child's voice sounds. Believe me, DD has plenty of opportunity to express emotion. Sometimes she'll cross her arms and say "I'm mad at you". Fine. But if she snarls "do it now" or "give me that" because she wants a biscuit or the Tv turned on I'm going to help her understand that she needs to consider how others feel when she speaks. It would be unfair on her to think she can go through life snarling and grabbing. That is not emotionally repressive.

Ratbagcatbag Fri 15-Apr-16 12:43:32

Ok. I had this with dh and my dd who's just turned 3. In the end, I gave him an ultimatum six months ago, sort it or I'm leaving home with dd. I know it seems drastic but I had the constant feeling of walking on egg shells and anxious as I was constantly trying to diffuse situations. It was exhausting and upsetting. At the end of the day, dd is a young child, dh is the adult so he (however bloody difficult) he finds it has to grow up and deal with it. What isn't going to keep happening is me and eventually dd are going to walk on eggshells (I should add I grew up in an awful household and I still struggle with waiting to see what mood/reactions would occur). Dh stepped up, he's had some anger management, we've made some clear ground rules and actually he's really really good with her now. She still screeches at him on occasion, he just repeats calmly what he asked and walks off. She's caught on quite quickly that actually she's missing out on what's she wanted. We're consistent with naughty step and actually removing toys when she's been warned. We count to three and carry out what we said (now I've got dh to stop threatening to bin everything in sight)
Sending sympathy though as it's an awful situation and wears on you so much.
Be consistent, walk away when annoyed and let the small stuff go - easier said than done I know.

TooGood2BeFalse Fri 15-Apr-16 12:51:12

Sorry to hear that Seasonal Vag

LaContessa He does quite often admit that, but seems to forget it in the face of drama. My MIL has said it to him frequently, but they have a troubled relationship as she didn't bring him up and only reappeared when he was a teenager so anything she says is pretty much ignored. I have the exact opposite problem with her, where everything DS does is perfect and if we ever make a comment about DS having had a naughty day or being a bit spoilt, she bites our heads off and says we expect too much of a four year old (even when DS hits her, she laughs and then has a go at me when I tell him off)

Thanks Vestal Virgin - am definitely prepared to take any advice and will be trying it all!

SchnooSchnoo This is what I keep trying to say, that a four year old child can't be expected to fix things on their own! Sometimes it sinks in, other times it doesn't.

Interestingly, if I'm the one losing my patience, DH will often take over and make me a cup of tea and then talk to DS and calm him down. It's just all so inconsistent, as other days he will just sulk off the bedroom and say he's got a headache.

Now I'm thinking about it, DS must be very confused and probably has no idea what is and isn't ok. .

Notso Fri 15-Apr-16 12:53:42

We have this to a degree with five year old DS2, four year old DS3 and DH.
One big thing was DH cannot stand it when the kids don't do what he asks of them instantly,. DS2 in particular will just immediately cry or start shouting when asked to stop whatever he is enjoying doing. I can get him to calm down and he will say can I just finish this puzzle/picture/programme and the balance is restored. DH just flies off the handle and they both end up shouting for ages.
I asked DH why he felt he always had to 'win', why it bothered him so much if DS finished a picture then put his pyjamas on. He didn't know. I reminded him he virtually never does what someone asks him to do instantly and maybe he should model the behaviour he wants to see.
Something struck a chord finally and DH has been much calmer in his approach.

HeadTilt Fri 15-Apr-16 12:56:28

toogood I reckon it is normal for 4yos to still have tantrums - only from my own experience. Hunger and tiredness definitely contribute but I think sometimes they just get overwhelmed with their emotions. My friends with kids of similar ages report the same. My friend's 8yo had a mini meltdown the other day, and he usually a very calm, sweet boy. I do find as Dd gets older the frequency and intensity reduces (hope I'm not cursing self there!)

I'd also say there is no point trying to negotiate with a child in full on crying, thrashing tantrum mode. I think they get to a stage where they are so overwhelmed they just need calm and reduced stimulation, at that stage there is no point telling them off etc. the boundaries/consequences would be more for stroppy/rude behaviour IMO.

If there aren't any accessible parenting classes locally how about an Amazon search for books on calm parenting? Do you think your husband would go for that?

CrushedVelvet Fri 15-Apr-16 12:59:39

A good 'at-home' alternative to parenting classes might be "How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids'll Talk":

www.amazon.co.uk/Talk-Kids-Will-Listen/dp/1848123094/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1460721366&sr=8-1&keywords=how+to+talk

AND make your DH read it too.

We've found it a great help.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now