to think this is evidence that I'm officially a crap mother.

(46 Posts)
Debsndan Sat 06-Jul-13 13:24:40

DS is 4. He goes to playgroup one morning a week and does 5 afternoons at school nursery. They tell me he is happy, gentle, well behaved and a pleasure to be with. Both places have independently commented that his behaviour changes when I am there. "It's like flicking a switch" apparently. He plays me up and worse, goes out of his way to torment and hurt his younger siblings. I am so worried about it and I can't turn my back for a second without him doing something.
I spoke to his teacher, who suggested I see are there any parenting courses I could go on! blush sad I've read loads and try so hard with him, and he gets loads of one to one attention too, but I don't know what else to do and the comment from his teacher left me in tears!
I'm crap at this aren't I? sad

magimedi Sat 06-Jul-13 13:27:07

My DS is now 30+ so am not really in a place to comment.

But you are NOT CRAP - he obviously knows how to behave & he must have learnt that from you.

Am sure someone with a lot more experience will be along soon to give you some help.

VashtaNerada Sat 06-Jul-13 13:27:59

Sounds pretty standard to me! They always push their luck more with the people they're comfortable with. I wouldn't take the suggestion personally, s/he may have just been trying to think of something helpful to say. Don't rule it out though if they're available - I'd love to do classes!

McNewPants2013 Sat 06-Jul-13 13:28:00

Go on the parenting course, I did one because i couldn't cope with DS behaviour and i learnt so much and i am a better mum because of it. (I did it off my own back)

Tooearlyintheday Sat 06-Jul-13 13:30:04

You're not a crap mother, the very fact that your little boy knows how to behave in public/at nursery shows that he has been well raised. My DS was looked after by my DM while I was at work from the age of 9 months. Every day as soon as I got home he would start crying hysterically, really sobbing. My DM felt awful as he had been so happy all day but it was like as soon as he saw me all the emotion came pouring out. He's grew out of it by now, but we had a rough time with it!

Pancakeflipper Sat 06-Jul-13 13:30:37

No you are not crap. You just have a child who plays you.
They turn on the good behaviour for those they know who won't tolerate the nonsense he does at home.

Some of it will be a release after behaving well at playgroups/nursery etc. the other is because they are pushing to see what they can get away with.

There's lots of methods you can try. Ignoring/praising good behaviour/punishments like toy removal/reward charts with treats. It's trial and error.

It's not about you being crap, it's about dealing an individual child who is bright enough to know how to press your buttons and get away with it.

It's not you its him grin

I've got one of those too. Angel at school, devil at home. I'm just glad its this way round and not the other tbh. Just 1 out of 3 of my dc's is like this so I think a lot of it is down to the individual personality.

You are not crap.

TWinklyLittleStar Sat 06-Jul-13 13:31:41

1. Lots of children only play up for their parents.
2. If you had done a crap job this far he would be a little horror everywhere.
3. Everyone expects nursery workers etc to have lots of training just to look after children for maybe 20% of the week, yet think they somehow should be a perfect parent 100% of the time with no help/training. Why? Maybe a course could help your confidence.

Earthworms Sat 06-Jul-13 13:32:24

Yes, all that is telling you is

A) he knows how to behave properly - you taught him that

B) he feels so secure in your love that he has a safe space to explore boundaries and learn about socialisation.

Cherriesarelovely Sat 06-Jul-13 13:32:44

My friend who is a WONDERFUL mum has one Ds that behaves in a very similar way.....fine at school, incredibly challenging with her. She feels horrible about herself too especially because teachers at her son's school have made comments similar to the ones you describe. She parents her Dd in exactly the same way and yet her Dd is absolutely cool as a cucumber and very easy to be around! She is calm, firm, positive and has realistic expectations and yet her Ds is still VERY difficult. She has been having some family counselling (she and her DH go and their Ds also has sessions) and has found it quite helpful. So sorry you feel so low about this, I'm sure it's just a case of finding coping strategies which is very different to saying it's "your fault"!

WetGrass Sat 06-Jul-13 13:41:45


It says more about him finding nursery stressful, than about him 'playing' you.

I'd guess a lot of things will settle over summer hols - give him an easy, gentle time. (Maybe place sibs in childcare for a change).

If it persists - sugar helps. Give him a sweet drink or snack ASAP - and that helps to stabilise the 'Mum's back' emotional outpouring.

Fakebook Sat 06-Jul-13 13:42:59

My dd used to do this in nursery. Everyone said she does it to show off to me to show how secure and incharge she is of the place. Dd will still push her luck with me, and I can tell when she's showing off.

AnaisB Sat 06-Jul-13 13:54:27

Maybe he does if for attention (normal) and only does it for you because your attention is the MOST important. Your clearly not a bad mother if he's good.

Loopylala7 Sat 06-Jul-13 13:54:59

Nursery tells me my dd is an angel all day, then I pick her up and she throws a tantrum in front of all the staff. DM who had 3 children and a career with children says its because she's closest to me, so is cross at me for leaving her in Nursery. Doesn't make you feel great though, especially when Daddy comes through the door and she's beaming at him!

jamdonut Sat 06-Jul-13 13:58:34

I was going to say the same as most on here....He behaves well because that is what you have taught and expect from him. But it is not easy being good all day,and he is pleased,relieved and probably tired when he sees you, and you get all his feelings at once!!! My youngest son used to do this.He grew out of it. It is worrying at the time,though.

The hurting younger siblings thing could be his way of getting some control,but obviously needs to be addressed,though I don't have any answers other than making sure he knows the behaviour is not acceptable.

jamdonut Sat 06-Jul-13 14:00:35

Oh and definitely NOT a crap mother...YABU there.grin

lustybusty Sat 06-Jul-13 14:01:07

I read once (I think on here) that kids who are angels at school/nursery and then evil with a parent (usually mum) are like that because they are very secure in mums love. They know that mum will love them no matter what, so they save their anger/frustration/tantrums and push boundaries wrt "acceptable" behaviour when they feel most secure and most loved, ie with mum. Based on that, I'd say that makes you a chuffing good mum. grin

BookieMonster Sat 06-Jul-13 14:08:21

It is evidence that you are the person he can relax with. He tries and tries with everyone else and is then so tired he has a massive wobbly with you because it is safe. You're doing fine.

DameFanny Sat 06-Jul-13 14:10:21

What lusty said - it's really common.

Debsndan Sat 06-Jul-13 14:16:44

Oh God I'm properly sobbing now! Thank you SO much for all of your reassurance! He's been shocking this morning and I've had my mother over today pointing out where she thinks I'm going wrong too, which hasn't helped.
I'm going to have another think about reward type things and focus more on good stuff and on the advice and comments on this thread.
I had never thought of the accounts of his lovely behaviour at nursery as being down to me - I just thought they're doing a better job of things than I am!

Fakebook Sat 06-Jul-13 18:21:18

They shouldn't have told you like that to make you feel bad. Most proper childcare workers would know that this occurs a lot in children as you've probably gathered by the replies.

I asked myself when I went to pick dd up and she started misbehaving, and I was told very casually that she just shows off and most children do the same and that it's nothing to worry about.

cacamilis Sat 06-Jul-13 18:26:25

I used to do childminding and found many children to be like this, I think its just attention. My niece and nephew were the worst, they turned into demons the minute their mum walked in the door. When they got older and it was still going on and really getting out of hand, I told them not to do it anymore, and they literally stopped. I wish I could control my own as good. :-)

I can only echo what others are saying smile. For a start if you were such a crap mother you would not be upset over those. Unfortunately I don't live in the best of areas & have seen loads of crappy parenting over the years, some of the parents at nursery/ school are more feral than the kidsshock.

The fact that your DS knows how to behave shows you are bringing him up well & I do think most kids push their parents buttons at times. They don't feel as secure at school/nursery so less free to kick off.

My DM always said she could take us ( 4 DC) anywhere & we never let her down, home was a completely different story....
Years ago a friend of mine queried if her daughter had been given the wrong school report (aged 5) as she didn't recognise the angelic child described by the teacher!

Good luck

JamieandtheMagicTorch Sat 06-Jul-13 19:03:07

Don't rush to judge yourself!

Do you think you don't have control, or is it simply that they see you with him at the end of the day when he is tired, hungry and letting off steam? Loads of children do that and it is not down to crap parenting.

Small children who know how to behave still have to work at it. It takes physical and emotional energynto be good tye whole day, and sometimes at the end of the day the guard comes down.

Likewise, sibling rivalry is also really normal, and children can be perfectly lovely to childre other than their siblings, and he may lash out at them at the end of a long tiring day.

If you feel at a loss to know how to cope with certain things, then by all means get help, but i think that it is surprising that they find it surprising that children act differently with their parents.

catgirl1976 Sat 06-Jul-13 19:35:48

My DS is an angel for everyone bar me grin

Normal, normal, normal - don't be harsh on yourself

halcyondays Sat 06-Jul-13 22:03:11

Sounds totally normal, even my dd's old nursery teacher who we didn't get on very well said that it was normal to children to behave very well there, but be quite different at home.

Perfectly normal. Mine did it too.
I have decided it's nothing to do with parenting style, kids are on best behavior for others, and with you they know they are safe and can just relax and be the biggest whining, crying, ill tempered mess ever, because they know you love them enough to overlook that stuff.

Asheth Sat 06-Jul-13 22:53:42

All of my DC are like this! I never recognise the children the teachers talk to me about at parents evening! My DS's pre-school teacher told me it was normal.

formicadinosaur Sat 06-Jul-13 23:00:00

It's normal but there are quite a few strategies you can use. What about some kind of reward for good behaviour at pick up time.

formicadinosaur Sat 06-Jul-13 23:00:29

Parenting classes are helpful by the way.

defineme Sat 06-Jul-13 23:05:59

I received 3 outstanding school reports on Friday for my lot-really outstanding. On the way home they were absolutely appalling little buggers. Such is life...
My eldest has asd. He is the epitome of holding it all in-he has never ever been in trouble at school. As soon as he's in my or dh's presence he feels safe and lets it all out-tantrums about nothing/attacking his siblings/deliberate naughtiness. DD is quieter, but is the grumpiest child ever and generally takes pleasure in being mean to her twin brother. Ds2 is kind, well behaved and a sweetie 99% of the time. I treat them all the same, all the same boundaries/rules. Such is life...
If your ds is challenging for you then read, go on courses, whatever you like, but lots of kids are horrors at nursery and hopefully their parents aren't thinking it's all because they're crap.

McPie Sat 06-Jul-13 23:08:18

Not in any way shape or form are you a bad parent! All most all kids try this, they are angels in others care but little shits in your own at times.
Take the classes for tips but dont feel bad about having to do so as kids don't come with instructions and no two are the same, we all need help sometimes.

Embracethemuffintop Sat 06-Jul-13 23:16:18

I don't think that this means you are a crap mum - in fact I think it means the complete opposite. He feels safe to express how he is really feeling with you,but not with those at nursery. It is probably very stressful for him to follow their rules and expectations all day.

I really wouldn't go on a parenting course as they will just advise behaviour modification techniques, which are designed to change his behaviour rather than look behind it and find out what's really going on. I think he just needs more connection with you and maybe needs more choices and options (hence why exerting his power of his siblings perhaps). Does he have to go to nursery? Does he like it? Does he have lots of choice and options in his daily life? These are the types of questions I would be asking.

MrsMook Sat 06-Jul-13 23:35:23

Is he jealous that his siblings have been with you while he's been there? DS1 (2) had his nursery hours temporarily increased in the first few weeks after DS2 was born. He was happy there (it was done so that he had a more stimulating time) but kicked up a fuss about going, and us staying at home without him. It might also be a bit of power play to assert his place with his siblings.

It is normal, and it is a backward compliment of love and security.

piprabbit Sat 06-Jul-13 23:49:16

"I really wouldn't go on a parenting course as they will just advise behaviour modification techniques" - In my experience of parenting courses, this isn't true. Perhaps the OP could find out more about what is available in her area so that she can make an informed decision about local options.

DieDeutschLehrerin Sun 07-Jul-13 20:46:13

I just wanted to reiterate what others have said. From everything I've ever heard your son's behaviour sounds completely normal and not due to any inadequacy on your part. If you had it all wrong, he wouldn't behave at school.
I also wanted to say that the teacher probably wasn't judging your parenting when they suggested parenting classes. At our school it was one a fairly standard range of strategies suggested to parents finding their DCs' behaviour challenging to support them in dealing with it, rather than meaning to suggest that the parenting is causing the problem and needs fixing. There's no stigma attached to it in the teacher's eyes so they probably didn't realise, in the end of term haze, that it sounded so blunt or could be interpreted negatively. You sound like you are doing a great job and the teacher is probably wishing that there were more parents like you whose kids are a credit to them and who still care enough to want better for them in everything.

I hope that makes sense - I can never think of quite the right words!

mezza123 Sun 07-Jul-13 20:53:02

My DS is 2.7 so bit younger, but just the same. I am worried about his behaviour as its so stressful, so if anyone can recommend any parenting courses in London, I would love to hear as I really need to work out how to manage his behaviour. (Sorry for jumping in OP, you're not alone! Mine also hits his baby sister)

Tanith Sun 07-Jul-13 21:03:55

The crap parents are the ones that refuse to recognise there could be any way of improving their parenting and who take massive offence at the mere mention of parenting classes.

You can always learn more efficient ways of doing things. I'm a childminder who has looked after over 50 children and I don't claim to have got it right: I still go on courses.

He's well behaved when you're not there. You're obviously doing a lot right and, I don't know about you, but I'd far rather that than atrocious behaviour at nursery and subdued behaviour at home.

celestialbows Sun 07-Jul-13 21:35:51

A pre-school teacher has said similar to me, stating that 'dd only plays you up' when I bring her to preschool and 'is fine with her dad' which DH has denied and says she's exactly the same with him! It really upsets me when she makes these comments so I get where you're coming from! It's quite undermining .

bedhaven Sun 07-Jul-13 22:44:42

Totally normal! He wants your attention, doesn't care whether it is good or bad attention, being mean to siblings is the quickest way he's learnt to get your immediate focus on him.
My Dd does the same, trying to ignore(ish) and send the message that being unkind only gives the victim attention, not the perpetrator.
Good luck!

Debsndan Mon 08-Jul-13 07:21:40

I cannot describe how reassuring it is to read that perhaps I'm not as crap as I thought! It's given me a lot more confidence in how I handle his more tricky moments and see them as a normal thing, not as an indictment of my failings.

My ds3 (now 8) is like this. Incredibly quiet & well behave at school, can be a horror at home. In his case it is definite attention seeking (especially of my attention). He gets plenty tbh. I say to him 'oh we have home ds3, can we have school ds3 please'. He doesn't get attention for being naughty either & if he's really naughty (I am thinking of one specific incident in the last year) he gets told off as much as if he was just doing it for the sake of it. (So after that incident we came home, he was straight to his bedroom & stayed there for the rest of the day, only appearing for dinner & no computer for the rest of the week- but his behaviour really had been appalling).

WandaDoff Mon 08-Jul-13 07:30:58

Kids always play up worst for their parents, its just a fact of life.

I went on a parenting course, a triple p one & it wasn't what I expected at all. They aren't there to tell you that you're a bad parent, they are there to give you strategies to deal with difficult behaviour. I found it quite interesting.

Ask your HV if there is anything going on in your area.

sparklekitty Mon 08-Jul-13 08:27:23

My friend is a play therapist and she always tells parents this kind of behaviour is a sign of a well adjusted child. They know where/when they need to behave appropriately and they also know when they can let go and be a little terror, also knowing that you will still love them.

ShabbyButNotChic Mon 08-Jul-13 09:43:42

This is so normal, ive worked in childcare over 10 years and pretty much every child changes when their parents comes to collect. Its actually shocking how quick they can change their attitude! I agree with the others though that you have taught your child well if they behave for school/childminders etc. They know who they can push it with, hell i still catch myself doing it sometimes! When i go to my parents sometimes i say something/whine and then think 'oh god i just sounded about 12'. I think you have a much more open relationship with parents and therefore behave in ways you wouldnt with others. Cos you know they love you and you can get away with being a bit of a moody cow whingy

MiaowTheCat Mon 08-Jul-13 10:15:34

I'm an ex-teacher. The number of parents evenings I've done, where I've got to the most utterly delightful kids in the class (the ones that make you WANT to go to work in a morning) - beautifully mannered, impeccably behaved but with that real spark that I enjoy teaching in a child... and their parents have been bewailing how awful their behaviour is at home for them, and how they're nightmares on the sleeping front, won't do what's asked... is a large number.

DD1 is a little monkey for me at the moment testing things out - however she's an absolute angel to everyone else... it's the way of the world. He's secure with you, you're his mum - he knows whatever he does you'll love him, and he knows if he's feeling all emotionally scrunched up (like a screwed up paper ball) he can let rip, have a massive strop, scream and tantrum with you and it's all going to be ok... might make your own life awful at the time - but still!

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