aibu regarding my toddlers behaviour

(221 Posts)
mennie1980 Thu 31-Oct-13 14:04:33

Hi all. Long time lurker, first time poster.

This afternoon I was upstairs sorting Laundry and my 2.10 year old son starting throwing lots of toys over the stair gate onto the stairs.

I went down stairs and told him off and explained how dangerous is was and how mummy could trip and hurt herself.

He said I want you to fall down the stairs and break your leg. I told him this was a horrible thing to say and asked him to apologise. He refused. So I told him our planned activities this afternoon, making cakes and the park were cancelled and no toys or TV this afternoon just drawing. He screamed the place down and cried himself to sleep.

He is now sleeping peacefully and I am wondering if I have been unreasonable.

He is adopted and our first and only child and not been with us very long so this is all so new and scary and today has been a dreadful day.

mumaa Thu 31-Oct-13 14:07:01

I dont think that sounds unreasonable on your part at all. Speak to him again when he gets up and see what his response is. Sorry youre having such a cr@ppy day - little consolation but it happens to us all, big hugs!

BloodiedGhouloshes Thu 31-Oct-13 14:07:53

Right, I am hardly the world's greatest mother (had a total meltdown myself last night) but when he wakes up, I would explain why mummy was cross, and ask him to say sorry. If he does, then a kiss and cuddle and maybe 1 planned activity.

But there will be others out there who probably have better ideas. I don't feel all that qualified at giving advice!

phantomnamechanger Thu 31-Oct-13 14:08:01


that's not a nice thing to say and if he is old enough to say it he is old enough to take the punishment.
How else is he to learn what is and is not acceptable? Unreasonable would be you screaming at him for 10 minutes, telling him you did not love him, packing his bags etc etc

WorraLiberty Thu 31-Oct-13 14:08:19

As much as that was not a nice thing to say, he's not even 3yrs old and is getting used to a new family.

I think a massive amount of slack should have been cut here.

You've effectively given him 4 punishments to say no making cakes, going to the park, playing with toys or watching TV.

Far too harsh imo.

His language is very good. Which may mean that he was picking up a lot of stuff wherever he was before you. Was he a long time with a foster family or did he have a long time in his initial situation? Do you know if there was abuse (don't necessarily answer that, just think about it as a cause).

BloodiedGhouloshes Thu 31-Oct-13 14:09:32

Just as an aside though. don't make drawing a punishment, it might make him feel all structured activity like that is a punishment.... but I don't really know.

It is hard being a parent!

Congratulations on your little boy BTW. smile

mennie1980 Thu 31-Oct-13 14:09:40

Thanks. Am I being silly to take it to heart so much? Can he mean it?

xCupidStuntx Thu 31-Oct-13 14:11:25

Sorry your having a rubbish day, I know all about the terrible twos unfortunately! One thing I will say is, I think they're a little too young to comprehend why they can't do sometime hours later because of actions they've probably forgotten by now if you know what I mean?
Also, a run around a park is probably just what he needs. I'd be tempted to forget all about it when he wakes up and just enjoy the day together, then later on sit down with him and explain that it wasn't nice to throw the toys and say those things.

Good luck!

BloodiedGhouloshes Thu 31-Oct-13 14:12:10

No, he will not mean it!!!!! That is for sure. Children at that age say things all the time because they do not always understand WHAT it really means!

WorraLiberty Thu 31-Oct-13 14:12:38

He probably doesn't mean it but depending on his past and what's gone on there, he could be angry and just lashing out.

That's why I think you need to cut him some slack.

Has he had many carers in the past? Could he be missing his last one?

mennie1980 Thu 31-Oct-13 14:12:58

He is was in foster care since birth so no abuse etc.

If he had apologised straigt away I would have carried on as normal.

It is the refusal to apologise he is being punished for..

Unless you also take seriously my DD's wish to be a Superhero Puppy... They are just trying out language. Really, don't take it to heart.

Nannyme1 Thu 31-Oct-13 14:14:20

I think he is pushing you and seeing if you will still love him and what he can get away with.
If you get a sorry maybe he could do some helping to earn back an activity.

But at nearly three I ont think you should just not have a punishment cause they pick tat up fast.

mennie1980 Thu 31-Oct-13 14:15:07

He only had one foster carer.

I am so glad he fell asleep, I am finding this so tough.

123bucklemyshoe Thu 31-Oct-13 14:15:17

I doubt he really means it or understands the implications of what he has said. I should think he had heard it - we learn mostly by copying. He also may be testing to see if you will still love him & is testing boundaries & if you will abandon him. He may also unconsciously pushing you to do just that.....have a chat with him when he wakes up & tell him you still lovehim just ddidn't like what he said.
Do you have support?

BloodiedGhouloshes Thu 31-Oct-13 14:15:44

Or they say things to get a reaction. My DS currently enjoys saying that everyone's head smells like poo.

dyslexicdespot Thu 31-Oct-13 14:17:36

He is a toddler and he has already dealt with a huge amount of upheaval. I would try hard not to take his outburst personally. As MrsTerry pointed out, he could be repeating things he has heard before. If anything, you should feel relieved that he feels safe enough with you to express anger/frustration.

Why don't you have a look at, you will find loads of advice on how to raise children without resorting to punishment. Good luck.

thebody Thu 31-Oct-13 14:18:10

of course he doesn't mean it! you are his mum and he loves you as you love him.

it's tough with toddlers.

personally I totally agree with your treatment, he needs to know the boundaries and what's acceptable speech from day 1.. I had friends who let their children say they hated them!! no punishment and I thought that was vile.

when he wakes to have a big cuddle and a chat.

then depending in the weather go out for a good walk or cuddle up with a favourite DVD.

we are all groping in the dark as parents.

my 4 are age 13 to 24 and still manage to upend us on occasion.

Ruffcat Thu 31-Oct-13 14:18:22

Please don't take it to heart, ds who's 3 has said somethibg like that when he's there's been toys on the stairs. He doesn't mean it it's just testing boundaries. He gets a good telling off though.

TallGiraffe Thu 31-Oct-13 14:19:47

Being a parent is tough. Adopting a child brings extra challenges. He definitely didn't mean it, I would have a chat with him when he wakes up and then go to the park. You'll both feel better for some fresh air and leaf kicking!

Congratulations on your little boy.

mennie1980 Thu 31-Oct-13 14:23:36

Thanks everyone I am feeling like such a sh!tty mum at the moment.

I feel like this is all I wanted and now I have it I can't do it

BrandiBroke Thu 31-Oct-13 14:23:54

I think you're just making more work for yourself if you were going to limit him to just drawing for a few hours. Will he actually sit and do it or would he get bored and start trying to jump on the furniture etc? (As my nephew who's about the same age would)

If he is new to the family he is probably very insecure. So you going upstairs and leaving him alone probably worried him in a way he couldn't express. Same as when you explained you might have been hurt - he won't really want you to hurt yourself but will not be able to express how he really feels for you.

My mum was once helping on a trip at the nursery I worked at and a little girl was tugging on her arm. My mum said 'don't do that, it hurts and you don't want to hurt me do you?' The littke girl, who was lovely and also loved my mum helping on trips replied 'sometimes I do.' She didn't really mean it, just couldnt articulate how she really felt.

I think I would have just said 'I dont think you mean that, it's very unkind' and moved on. And I am a very, very strict disciplinarian with children!

BrandiBroke Thu 31-Oct-13 14:26:21

Aww don't beat yourself up. Everyone has good days and bad days.

PeppiNephrine Thu 31-Oct-13 14:27:09

I agree its much too harsh. Thats a lot of punishment for one comment.

mennie1980 Thu 31-Oct-13 14:32:10

He wasn't just being punished for the comment but the refusal to apologise

SomethingOnce Thu 31-Oct-13 14:32:49

Bless him, he was just doing some experimental Physics and said the first thing that popped into his head when he was thwarted smile

Whatever he meant, I'm sure it doesn't carry the meaning it would if a much older child said it.

Do you think he might've needed a nap anyway so his tantrum was tiredness-related?

For what it's worth, I'm not sure if an apology means that much from such a little one so I wouldn't be too worried that one wasn't forthcoming.

Congratulations from me too flowers

BlackDaisies Thu 31-Oct-13 14:34:51

Ah don't take his comments to heart. Not quite the same but my toddler was smacking me while we were out shopping this morning. Cue tutting and helpful shaking of heads from passers by. I was mortified. But it blew over. He said sorry and that he loved me of his own accord a bit later. One thing I've really learnt to do is "let go" once any sort of tantrum is over. My ds is growing out of them now. The only other advice I would have about consequences is keep them brief, eg to say sorry or a very short time out. Because stopping all your lovely activities will make the afternoon harder for YOU. Tantrums and shouting are normal for lots of toddlers, as is playing about with hurtful language. Please don't take it to heart. Just be consistent and reassure him that you love him, often.

thebody Thu 31-Oct-13 14:35:00

when he wakes up reset the dials. chat, cuddle and do am activity.

who the actual fuck is a perfect parent anyway?

if we met them we would hate them!! grin

OvaryAction Thu 31-Oct-13 14:36:22

He's too young to understand what that really means IMO.

I would try and focus on teaching empathy rather than worrying about punishing him for not being empathetic IYSIM? He'll probably have forgotten all about it by the time he wakes up, so I'd just do all the activities anyway, but maybe I'm just a softy.

Have you read lovebombing? You might find it useful.

mennie1980 Thu 31-Oct-13 14:38:12

Thanks to all those that have been reassuring and thanks to the others for making me feel like an even bigger failure than I did.

UriGHOULer Thu 31-Oct-13 14:38:13

So, lets go back to the beginning. why was he throwing things down the stairs?

Toddlers who are looking for some attention will often resort to getting it by 'negative' means.

Was he asking for you and you were busy? Toddlers don't grasp "Wait a minute".

You're not a shitty mum. You're trying to find your way. Both of you are.

dyslexicdespot Thu 31-Oct-13 14:38:28

Mennie- try not to beat yourself up. Parenting a toddler is hard work. I really recommend ahaparenting. There are some very insightful articles about toddlers and apologies.

Forcing a child to apologise might not be the best approach if your aim is to teach him not to say hurtful things. It's hard and a learning process for all of us!

UriGHOULer Thu 31-Oct-13 14:40:16

Also, requests that you break your leg, fall over into a swamp and get eaten by a bog monster, catch a cold and die etc are best to be brushed off without comment grin. He didn't mean it. He loves you.

ksrwr Thu 31-Oct-13 14:42:32

i have a dd a couple of months younger than your ds, and i dont think she could understand and mean saying something like that... give him the benefit of the doubt.
pick your battles. its worth persevering with discipline when he's done something like stuck his finger in a plug socket, or run into the road, or hit someone... but not this - in my opinion.

Bumpsadaisie Thu 31-Oct-13 14:42:33

I think its a bit harsh - they all say things like that. I would reserve your harshest punishments for really awful behaviour!

Don't beat yourself up. We all sometimes get it wrong and look back and think we were OTT. You can apologise if you like - very valuable lesson/model for a child.

My DD is four now and is a great apologiser. She learnt it from me as when she was 2.5 and her brother a baby I lost it so often I had to apologise to her all the time! grin

EauRouge Thu 31-Oct-13 14:42:41

Don't be so hard on yourself, we all have moments where we feel shit and that we can't cope. Everyone is just cocking making it up as they go along.

My DD2 is a similar age and if she'd done the same, my first reaction would have been to ignore and to remove the toys so she couldn't throw them any more. Distraction and prevention are my favourite approaches for toddlers. Forcing them to apologise is a waste of time, unless they do it off their own back then it's meaningless anyway.

If he fell asleep afterwards then he was probably being a bit of a bugger because he was tired. Tired and hungry toddlers can be a nightmare! Once he's been with you a bit longer, you'll be able to recognise the triggers for behaviour like this and pre-empt it a bit.

This is a really tough age and you never get a break so it does wear you down. Are there any groups you can go to locally to chat with other mums with children of the same age? This is a really, really good book about effective ways of communicating.

Have a cup of tea, let your DS do some drawing and then have a nice cuddle. You're not doing it wrong, don't worry smile

OvaryAction Thu 31-Oct-13 14:43:30

AIBU is probably not the best place to post if you are going to react stroppily to the slightest whiff of criticism.

Maybe try parenting or adoption?

At the end of the day, they were just words, and words he probably didn't even completely understand or mean (he might have seen it on TV sometime). It's not like he hit you or punched you or actually did violence. You do need to save big punishments for really bad offences, I think.

I understand you saying it's for not apologising, but if the initial act wasn't all that serious, I don't think you need to punish so much for not apologising.

No one is trying to make you feel worse. We've all been there. And it's not the end of the world, he will have forgotten about it by tomorrow probably.

Just give him a big cuddle when he wakes up and go do something fun.

SomethingOnce Thu 31-Oct-13 14:50:37

So, lets go back to the beginning. why was he throwing things down the stairs?

I wasn't joking when I suggested maybe he was just experimenting, seeing what gravity does etc. It's easy to view it as negative behaviour from an adult's perspective, but maybe he just wanted to see what happened - and when children find something interesting, they like to do it over and over. I am the same, tbh.

I'm not saying it definitely wasn't naughtiness, btw, just not necessarily wink

PeppiNephrine Thu 31-Oct-13 14:50:41

You aren't a failure. But its not helpful for everyone to just agree with you. He's not even three, I think you were unrealistic thinking that he should apologise, and you went overboard on the punishment.

You need to chill out a bit and be less hard on both him and yourself.

SomethingOnce Thu 31-Oct-13 14:54:24

Yes, it's AIBU, but I think it's clear OP's feeling a bit overwhelmed, so a bit of gentleness wouldn't go amiss.

bordellosboheme Thu 31-Oct-13 14:56:42

Ignore bad behaviour, praise good..... Ignore him throwing stuff downstairs and just say a low key 'oh no' and me on. If he does something good like 'help mummy clean up the toys' loads of positive fuss.... Apologies are meaningless in an under 3. Hope that helps xx

Poor little love! I shudder to think what has been said to him in his short life. Please don't punish him. Ignore what he said. He cannot possibly understand that and by now he will not know what he has done wrong. They're like goldfish at that age.

His language is very advanced. My child is exactly the same age and while I am sure she thinks very similar thoughts, she could not even begin to express them like that. He is obviously a very bright little boy.

Congratulations on your recent adoption flowers and have some cake. We all have shit days. Two is a really trying age in any child, and your poor little one probably doesn't know he's lucky enough to have got you for keeps yet. Please give him lots of extra reassuring cuddles; it'll do you both good.

thebody Thu 31-Oct-13 15:00:23

what you have described is all on a par with totally normal toddler and parent behaviour.

no one ever gets it right all the time. most sensible parents dought themselves most of the time.

stop beating yourself up, have a cuppa, have a cuddle when he wakes up, chat, do something fun, move on.

Lilacroses Thu 31-Oct-13 15:09:28

You are not a bad mum at all. We've all had times like that where we have had to be very firm (then felt as if we've been too firm) and it really does hurt you more than it hurts them! Toddlers are testing, my Dd is the most quiet, placid, even tempered child (nothing to do with me she just popped out like it!) but she had some shocking tantrums at around that age!

She also said some really strange things when she was that age like "if the cat keeps scratching me I'm going to chop her up into little pieces"!!!!! So yes, they do experiment with language and don't have any idea what they are actually saying....hope not anyway!

When he wakes up give him lots of hugs and do something nice. Fwiw I do think he needed some consequence to that behaviour but just not as severe.

Congratulations on the adoption. I have several friends who adopted little ones and they have all had their ups and downs but are doing really well now. Good luck to you and your family.

missfliss Thu 31-Oct-13 15:11:15

those toddler calm courses are supposed to be brilliant OP. I cant attend one so bought the book instead as im not always confident in how to teach my toddker - the toddler calm approach made me see that punishment not always the most effective teaching tool.
FWIW i havent adopted but feel the same...some days i think "shit, i havent got a clue what im doing here and im doing it all wrong" on other days i give myself a pat on the back and think im doing ok.
Yesterday i briefly shouted at him in pain to "just bloody get off my hair" because he was pulling my hair so hard (hanging his weight off it when i was trying to get him to happily come upstairs for a bath) . probably not my best moment, but as soon as he let go i gave him a cuddle and said sorry for shouting ....they arent really capable of proper empathy yet, so need to be gently shown that sometimes the things they say or do affect others.

MrsMook Thu 31-Oct-13 15:14:26

My DS is exactly the same age and not articulate enough to say something like that. His meaning can be confusing as he'll repeat all options. The world is a big and complicated place to that age group, and it's hard enough parenting a child you've known since birth, let alone adjusting to getting to know eachother at this stage.

Mine is learning about his actions being mean and kind as he adjusts to being a big brother. When he does things like sitting on baby, he's being playful not malicious, and he's told that it's mean, and it might hurt and that it would be sad if baby was hurt.

There's no set right or wrong consequence, but keeping it simple and immediate works best, so something like picking up some of the dropped items together. Sometimes you do have to leave it unresolved if they're clearly not in the mood to respond as it's not worth escalating to make your point, and it gets more remote from the original point. If you win enough battles, you'll stay on top in the long run.

I think all parents must have moments when they wonder what they wished upon themselves!

BABaracus Thu 31-Oct-13 15:14:38

I really wouldn't take what he has said to heart. When he wakes up, I would explain that you can't do x and y because of his behaviour earlier but you will do z. I would think the trip to the park would be the best one for him to run off some energy. And you're not alone in finding parenthood very tough!

whyno Thu 31-Oct-13 15:15:35

God don't take it to heart! Honestly it's very naughty but so normal, 3 is the worst age for saying stuff like that.

UriGHOULer Thu 31-Oct-13 15:20:16

Somethingonce, I completely agree and with my own kids (because i know what they're like) I would definitely put that sort of thing down to 'experimenting' grin if they were just doing it for nothing.

But the op did say she was sorting the laundry and perhaps the toddler had been trying to get mums attention.

PaperSeagull Thu 31-Oct-13 15:24:32

I think you overreacted. I'm certainly not trying to make you feel bad in any way, but your response seems disproportionate to the "crime." Cancelling a trip to the park and taking all his toys away? That is quite harsh for a little one.

The fact that your son was adopted and has not been with you for long is very relevant. How long has he been with you? How is the attachment process going so far?

A woman I admire greatly, who has adopted four girls, is one of my guides to raising children. She says many wise things, and one of the wisest is that focusing on your relationship with the child is the most important thing of all. When the relationship is strong and secure, everything else is much easier. She also says to keep short accounts. In other words, forgive your son for his thoughtless words and move on.

Congratulations on the adoption, BTW. smile

mennie1980 Thu 31-Oct-13 15:26:29

Thanks, I suppose I was just looking for gentle advice but a bit od hand holding to assure me I am not the shit mum I feel like.

Can I just express again, he has been in care since birth so not subjected to a violent past.

Glimmerberry Thu 31-Oct-13 15:31:16

They pick up all sorts (my 26 monther has a habit of saying, "Don't you dare!") and it's a bit alarming, especially when it hasn't come from you. But remember at this age they don't really fully understand the meaning behind what they are saying.

Try to make discipline more closely linked to what has happened e.g. He's thrown his toys, put the toys away.

MummytoMog Thu 31-Oct-13 15:31:34

My two year old and my four year old have taken to screaming 'GO TO WORK' at me when I do something they don't like. It's a bit upsetting, but I at least have the back story of their entire lives with me, and know they don't mean it. It must be incredibly tough to take on a toddler (and they are SO challenging at that age) without having had the learning curve up to that point. You might have been a bit harsh, but it's ok, just move on. He probably won't even remember once he wakes up. He sounds super articulate and bright, so maybe if you haven't read it, try 123 Magic, which I love. I don't use it slavishly, but it is SO helpful to me in understanding why my children push the boundaries. Good luck xx

PS nobody is perfect at parenting. When I am at home I consider it a good day if we only have one meltdown (mine or theirs) an hour.

Nanny0gg Thu 31-Oct-13 15:35:09

I really think that expecting an under-3 to apologise (he wouldn't necessarily understand what he was wishing on you) and have any real understanding of apologies is a bit unrealistic. Especially when you don't know how that sort of behaviour was handled in the past.

Certainly tell him to stop and take the toys away so he can't chuck them. And if he carries on misbehaving an immediate 'cause and effect' punishment would be better. Also, a sweeping ban on everything planned is too much. What have they got to lose with later bad behaviour? Nothing left to use as stick or carrot.

You're not a shit mum - if you were you would go ahead and not even think of asking for advice. There's lots of different boards on here where there'll be lots of support and advice for you.
It's obviously going to be quite a learning curve for you and I wish you and your new family lots of luck.

notanyanymore Thu 31-Oct-13 15:38:08

sounds like pretty normal toddler behviour (but then I do have a tantrumer!) he's only 2 i don't think they understand empathy at that age.

i think you should leave it now, he's a bit little to bring it up again when he wakes. give him a cuddle and have a nice afternoon, he's already had he's punishment hasn't he?

YouTheCat Thu 31-Oct-13 15:38:09

Mennie, don't sweat the small stuff or you'll spend half of your time telling him off. Toddlers are a totally different species - give yourself a chance to get used to each other.

TheFabulousIdiot Thu 31-Oct-13 15:39:37

I think you have been too harsh.

Have you seen the Behaviour or Parenting sections on here? Much more gentle places to get advice smile

I would second Paper's post about short accounts. We got the 1-2-3 Magic book when DS was going through some terrible toddler behaviour earlier this year (it's quite good btw) and it emphasises that any punishment is to be very short (3 minutes) and then you just move on.

What it would suggest in this case is -- the first time your DS throws toys on the stairs, you tell him calmly but firmly that he shouldn't do it. If he keeps doing it, you say 'One', if he continues then 'Two,' and then 'Three' if he still doesn't stop. At three you remove him from the scene and put him somewhere (a chair or a special spot) and he has to stay there for 3 minutes. You don't yell or go on about it, you just remove and put him there. Then afterward you go and let him up and move on. They don't push the apology but you can add that if it's important to you, I think.

I don't know how that sounds to you, but I can say it was incredibly effective for us. Very quickly we only ever had to say One and DS would stop what he was doing.

Oh and if it's something really bad, like hitting, you go straight to Three.

Basically it's just a simple way of communicating boundaries. And it takes some of the guesswork out of parenting because you have a go-to strategy. And if you do overreact, well, it's three minutes in a chair, you don't have to feel too guilty.

whois Thu 31-Oct-13 15:49:56

I think you were really harsh and had a massive reaction to him saying he wanted to hurt you. He was probably just testing boundaries or looking for a reaction, or reassurance that you do love him.

He's 2 and not yet really in control of his emotions (understatement). I think you should have brushed off the nasty comment amd said something like "oooh but if mummy broke her leg how would she be able to catch you for a hug" and given him a massive bear hug and kisses or tickets or something to diffuse the situation.

conkercon Thu 31-Oct-13 15:49:59

You are not a shit mum. You are trying to do your best. When my son was around the same age he wanted a sponge finger. But he would not say thank you so I would not give him the finger. That battle went on for hours. He cried, I dug my heels in. What a total plonker I was.

He is 17 now and still loves me I think so don't worry. When he wakes up put it behind you and start again.

PaperSeagull Thu 31-Oct-13 15:51:06

OP, have you read The Connected Child? It is all about adoptive families. There is also a book called The Weaver's Craft which is specifically about toddler adoption.

If your son spent 2+ years with a foster family, he is probably still experiencing grief and confusion about losing them and he can't possibly understand why it happened. He is just too young to be able to process this loss cognitively. On the one hand, it is wonderful that he had a loving foster family caring for him since birth and was able to form attachments to them. OTOH, this means that leaving them was probably quite traumatic for him.

Do you have a rocking chair? The woman I mentioned above absolutely swears by it as a way to foster closeness and attachment. Swimming together is also great for that.

Sparklyboots Thu 31-Oct-13 15:52:57

Mine is 2.10 too!

WRT throwing things down the stairs, offer an alternative with your explanation (that you may be hurt)? I would have offered waiting until I was out of the way, finding an alternative direction to throw stuff in, or finding something more appropriate to throw in this case. I think if you can find things to tell him TO do you get more cooperation than if you are telling him to NOT to do stuff.

WRT him saying he hoped you would get hurt, I wouldn't in any way take it personally. I meet stuff like this from mine by turning it into a joke or game (to make us both laugh and lighten the situation) - think of it as role play where you're teaching him how people respond but in a light emotional atmosphere. So in this case, mock serious, " You hope I will fall down the stairs?! AND break my leg?!! But that's OUTRAGEOUS!!! I would be so upset!!! AND we wouldn't be able to go to the park!!! Then we'd ALL be crying!" Cue melodramatic sobbing - all said and done in a way that he knows you're trying to make him laugh. He'd understand that he's not to say that to people but you wouldn't be at odds with him.

WRT refusal to apologise, I actually don't think you can force a genuine apology in any circumstance - I think it unlikely you want to teach him to make false ones. Apologies have to come from them. Mine IS a good apologised, but I've never forced him to make one. I've apologised to him lots and in social situations where he's hurt or upset another child I tell him why the upset and then turned to the other child and said, "Sorry x," sometimes with a brief explanation. He usually joins in the apology, and has sometimes initiated them. I have also.sometimes suggested WE go and make one when he has upset someone then buggered off, always with an explanation as to why they're upset. I can only remember him refusing once in this sort of set up and I went and apologised on my own. Even if I suspect he knows, or worse did it on purpose to upset the child, I talk and act as if he means well and has upset by accident because I want him to know that whatever he does I believe him to he good and lovable.

I come from a position that I should model rather than direct the behaviour I want from him.

wonderingsoul Thu 31-Oct-13 16:08:13

ybu hes 2, he wont understand the punishment , plus given hes still getting used to you i think you have been way over the top.

i would have just said thats not nice and got on with what ever you where doing.

saying that every one is allowed bad days and it doesnt mean you cant make amends. put it behind you have a cuddle and enjoy your day together.

intitgrand Thu 31-Oct-13 16:19:44

He's 2 he doesn't understand what a broken leg is!
why didn't you just say, if i break my leg it will be too poorly to take you to the park for a long long time.And then distract!.
1)You have just adopted this kid you need to be warm and loving and understanding not have him crying himself to sleep.
2)The main message here should have been the not throwing toys onto the stairs, and that has been lost in the crap that happened afterwards
3) There is only one way for a child to develop empathy and consideration for others and that is to experience it.They learn what they live!

HoleyGhost Thu 31-Oct-13 16:23:07

With little kids you always get second chances so quit beating yourself up

Though I do think you were harsh - you are expecting so much of him and yourself.

RedHelenB Thu 31-Oct-13 16:25:43

My nearly 7 year old might say something like that but I know he doesn't mean it & certainly wouldn't punish him for it. Re the toys, I think I would have said they are not to go on the stairs & removed them, Sounds like an experimental game tbh. I think when he wakes up he will have forgotten the suggested punishment 8& throwing things over the stairs so i'd start from scratch at that age. it is only really now that my boy understands cause & effect re punishments (dds seemed to grasp it a lot quicker!) Mischief & immediate gratification are often worth the punishment!

mennie1980 Thu 31-Oct-13 16:31:34

Intitigrand, oh to be the perfect parent without any insecurities.

I am warm and loving. I am well aware they learn what they live but he has also been severely lacking boundaries in his foster home and I will not be dictated to by a two year old so I am enforcing boundaries.

NoNoNoMYDoIt Thu 31-Oct-13 16:32:54

my 2.10yr old stood at the top of the stairs screaming "I hate you". and when I didn't respond, she shouted even louder. "I said - I hate you". I can't remember why she hated me at the time, but I doubt she really knew what it meant.

OP - sounds like you are feeling insecure, so is there anywhere you can turn for assistance? perhaps the adoption board could help you?

don't feel guilty - I have overreacted at times to things which have pushed my buttons. DS went through a phase of spitting in my face when I was trying to reprimand him - getting down on his level to talk to him with eye contact, super-nanny style. the first time he did it (he was 2 or 3), I totally flipped at him as I was so angry. however, I only did that the once. the next time he spat at me, I walked away and left him. my reaction and the surge of anger I felt towards him made me scared as I really felt that I could have lashed out at him there. so I decided to pick my battles - and spitting got ignored when it was directed at me. he only did it 2 or 3 times and then stopped, so that tactic obviously worked.

he probably did want your attention, or just wanted to experiment, or was tired (if he then cried himself to sleep).

be kind to yourself; pick your battles; don't expect perfection from yourself (or him) and don't take it personally.

neolara Thu 31-Oct-13 16:33:34

I'm afraid that I too think you over-reacted. At not quite three he is unlikely to have any concept whatsoever of what breaking a leg really means. Consequences also need to be immediate and if possible, linked to the "crime". The consequence you imposed effectively lasted all afternoon. If you ask him, I'm pretty sure he won't be able to tell you why the activities have been cancelled. I think 1-2-3 magic is a great book, but at not quite 3 I'm not sure he is ready for it yet. Toddler Taming is great for understanding the basics of bolshy toddler behaviour. It's also very good (the best book I've seen) for explaining what is reasonable to expect from kids at every age.

There is a lovely, lovely book called Playful Parenting that is definitely worth a look at. It's very kind on both kids and parents. The techniques are also very, very effective.

But don't be too hard on yourself. No parent gets it right all the time. You're presumably both learning about each other. I've had my 3 with me from birth and I frequently get it wrong. I just have to try and do it better next time.

NoNoNoMYDoIt Thu 31-Oct-13 16:35:03

cross-post. boundary enforcing is important, but you have to realise that it will take him time to adapt and he will push those boundaries...

make sure you give him LOADS of praise for anything which isn't negative. not just positive behaviours but the absence of negative (iyswim).

ignore those behaviours which aren't dangerous or serious, and focus on those behaviours which are undesirable.

don't tackle too many things at once. focus on sleeping / eating if those are important. also safety outside the home.

pick the other things off one at a time once he is safe and secure in his own environment.

good luck!

intitgrand Thu 31-Oct-13 16:36:05

at the moment he must be feeling confused,cheated, cross , frightened at being taken from the family he has been with since birth.These are too bigger feelings for him to be able to manage by himself.He is going to direct a lot of anger at you
Please don't get upset but it is normal and natural for him to sometimes direct these feelings at you.You just have to hang in there.Understand him and build up a relationship of trust.

intitgrand Thu 31-Oct-13 16:37:21

I don't mean to sound patronising it is a very hard road you are travelling, but because you clearly care so much you will get there in the end.

mennie1980 Thu 31-Oct-13 16:41:00

When he woke up we made cakes and now DH is home they have gone for a kick about to give me a bit of space. Cuppa and a cry

NoNoNoMYDoIt Thu 31-Oct-13 16:48:54

OP - sounds like you do need some support. Do you have any one you can talk to in RL?

UriGHOULer Thu 31-Oct-13 16:49:01

Ach, we've had a great day here, the toddler and the baby have been (imo) parented all correctly and i'll still sit down later on and have a cuppa and a cry!

Stock up on tissues, and go easy on yourself! You'll be fine grin

I think you will have a much easier time of it if you don't think of him trying to dictate to you. He's still so very young and is going through so much. He is testing boundaries and trying to understand how the world works, that's all.

Interpreting it as him trying to dictate or control you is putting you yourself at the centre of things, but it's not really about you.

You could also have a look at the Happiest Toddler on the Block, not all the techniques were useful but I thought it was good at describing what's going on in a toddler's brain, and why we shouldn't take behaviour too personally.

Piffyonarock Thu 31-Oct-13 17:07:40

Hi Mennie,

I've no advice but wanted to say that I understand your feeling of "I wanted this for so long and I can't do it" - my two were adopted and I have really struggled to feel up to the job. I've had counselling, done CBT and had medication for the anxiety I've felt over it, so don't beat yourself up! Mine are also very good at saying nasty things and it is hard to to take it personally or worry that it means more than perhaps it does. Congratulations on your little family!

Pop over to the Adoption board, there are some very wise parents on there too.

MyMotherHadMeTested Thu 31-Oct-13 17:12:25

Can you get any support from the post adoption team? I can't imagine what it would be like to suddenly have a toddler and be expected to just get on with it. Toddlers are hard, but usually you get a run-up at it, so can try to set boundaries in a gradual way.
That said, I'm not sure how easy it will be for your DS not to be the boss of you... he's come from a family he lived with all his life into your home, is not used to having these new rules, and is going to be feeling anxious and unsure of the boundaries. A bit of flexibility and a lot of positive attention now will make it easier for you to put the really important boundaries in place as he gets older.

oscarwilde Thu 31-Oct-13 17:16:04

You sound like my husband and I. He's in the middle of a book on Positive Parenting and highly recommends it and he's big on good behaviour. I'll get the name tonight and post it.

The slightly threatening language, my DD said things like this at exactly the same age. It was somewhat unnerving to be honest to be told that she wanted me to break my neck.... They really have no concept at that age though.

The big thing as far as I can work out is that punishments should be short and sweet and relevant to the deed. At 2-3, much like an animal kicked hours after soiling the floor they have no idea what they have done to deserve it.

Saying sorry is a good habit, but they will rarely mean it or understand it. They will start to understand that you are sad, and by pointing out what sad means when they are hurt or upset, you can start to teach them empathy.

ll31 Thu 31-Oct-13 17:19:43

Think you were over harsh tbh. Don't really get why you'd have stair gate closed during day, why would you not let him upstairs with you?

Tbh you had my sympathy till you're ' won't be dictated to by a two yr old' comment. I dont know what to make of that...

FrauMoose Thu 31-Oct-13 17:26:35

If I'd spent my earliest years with either one foster carer or a variety of foster carers and then got assigned to a new 'Mummy', I would be feeling pretty confused and trying to work out where I stood.

I would probably be need to find out where the boundaries were in a new home and to learn there would be consequences for transgressing the boundaries - but I think a series of long-drawn out punishments would confuse me, and not do anything for my sense of security.

FloozeyLoozey Thu 31-Oct-13 17:35:15

It was a bit much to cancel all the activities and also withdraw tv/toys. Kids talk all sorts of rubbish, especially little ones, they don't always understand the gravity of what they're saying. It'd've been more appropriate to cancel one activity OR take away toys OR withdraw tv. The "punishment" should fit the "crime", so the speak. Life will be difficult and stressful if you throw the full book at him for every little misdemeanour.

cory Thu 31-Oct-13 17:45:07

I had one of those preternaturally early talkers and the HV pointed out what I had already worked out for myself: that there is no way there cognitive and emotional development will be keeping pace with their verbal development: they may say things that sound terribly grown-up but you can't expect them to understand it emotionally any more than the child of the same age that says "silly mummy go way".

And fwiw the conversation that triggered this particular discussion with the HV ran like this:

2yo dd: I don't love you! I don't want you to for a mummy any more!

Me: Well, that doesn't matter because I love you and I will always love you.

DD: Not when I'm grown up!

Me: Yes, even when you're grown up. You may move away from me and live in your own grown-up house, but I will still be your mummy and I will always love you.

DD (with enormous relish): No, you'll be dead then.

She had no idea what my being dead would have meant to her emotionally, she was nowhere near the emotional maturity that would have let her imagine what it is like for someone when a family member dies. She had the words but not the experience behind them.

cory Thu 31-Oct-13 17:50:19

I also have a close relative who was adopted aged 2 after having spent his whole life in care and not (as far as we know) been exposed to any abuse or bad behaviour. He used to have the most violent tantrums and even long after he had grown out of them he had days when he would say totally unreasonable things, argue black was white, start arguments for the sake of it. I don't think it was a direct result of behaviour he had witnessed but more the underlying tensions caused by separation and attachment issues (having been moved from foster family to adoptive family at a sensitive age) that had to find an outlet. His family just learnt to work around him, to be firm with the general rules that were essential to the running of the household, but not to take his bad days personally. He has grown up into a truly lovely adult.

intitgrand Thu 31-Oct-13 18:02:38

'I had one of those preternaturally early talkers '

The OPs child is nearly 3 I don't see that his language skills are especially advanced? Where are you getting that from?

hackmum Thu 31-Oct-13 18:03:34

There have been lots of good comments on here.

First of all, don't think of yourself as a "bad" mum. It's not helpful. Everyone has moments in parenting where afterwards they realise they could have dealt with the situation better. This will continue until the day you die, probably. It doesn't magically stop when they get older.

Second, two year-olds' brains work very differently from adult brains. Throwing toys down the stairs isn't "naughty" to a two-year old, it's fun. Saying "I want you to break your leg" doesn't mean anything, because two-year olds don't even know what breaking a leg means. The trouble with then demanding an apology is that you've ended up in a confrontational situation that it's hard to get out of.

Third, four punishments in one is too much. You have to save the big punishments for really bad behaviour. One punishment would have been enough or probably more than enough.

Finally, as others have said, cut him some slack. OK, he hasn't been abused. But he's still left one family who looked after him for more than two years to a completely new family. That must be a traumatic and frightening experience. It would make any child feel insecure. You have to take that into account.

SomethingOnce Thu 31-Oct-13 18:19:47

OP, you sit down while I make you a brew and cut you a big slice of cake.

[Fumbles for missing Kleenex emoticon]

Tomorrow's another day x

misspontypine Thu 31-Oct-13 18:28:14

Firstly you are a fantastic mum, baking and a trip to the park in the same day is a great set of activities slightly envious of your energy!

My thoughts are that he probably said what he said for a reason, rather than making him apologise for what he said it may have been better to try to understand why he said what he said.

Maybe he said he hoped you broke your leg because he felt lonely and wanted you to be close to him (even if it ment serious injury.) Maybe he said he wanted you to break your leg because he misses his foster carer and is showing this to you by saying negative things about you. Maybe he said he wanted you to break your leg because he likes the flashing lights of ambulences. He is so young, I think you need to try to encourage him to try to understand why he is feeling/saying things like that rather than asking him to apologise without aknowledging his motive for saying that hurtful thing.

I have a couple of examles of hurtful things children have said, my d-sis was 3, it was fathers day, she had made a card for her godfather who was her hero at the time (lots of fun days out and he was never the one to set boundries) I said to her "shal we make a card for daddy?" she said "nope, if daddy dies I get to live with godfather, when is daddy going to die so i can live with godfather?" Her logic was very focused on the fun times she had with her godfather and her desire to recreate those fun times all the time. If her dad had heared the comment I'm sure he would have been very hurt. She loves her father very much, it was a short phase and I am sure she didn't mean any harm.

The other example I have is a child I worked with, I gave him English lessons once a week. He was 4. He would run a jump on my knee and cuddle me at the start of every lesson, when my bump started to get big (around 20 weeks) I explained that i had a baby in my tummy to we should try to be gentle when we had our hugs because the baby might get hurt if we were too rough. The little boy said "I will not be gentle, I want to kick your tummy to kill the baby" I was really upset by this (but hopefully managed to hide it from him) I asked him why and he said that he didn't want me to stop being his teahcer and when I had my own baby I wouldn't see him anymore. I reasured him I would see him and me and the baby would come and visit him and the baby will be like him (bilingual) from that day he would come and give me a gentle cuddle and always wanted to "cuddle" my bump too.

Your ds doesn't mean to hurt you, it must be a wirlwind time for both of you.

Congratulation on the new adition to your family!

mennie1980 Thu 31-Oct-13 18:31:39

Thanks all for the advice. I am putting it down to a bad day, he had been a little toad all day and I over reacted. It is all forgotten now and extra cuddles have been given.

I don't need help or support in RL, well apart from the normal. I am just a brand new mum who had been presented with a tantruming toddler. I am exhausted. I feel much better after a little break.

Big girls pants on, tomorrow is another day x

misspontypine Thu 31-Oct-13 18:42:54

Enjoy tomorrow! If you can maybe take a day off from any house work and just do some fun things that you both enjoy so the preasure of ballancing house work/parenting is taken off yo.


cansu Thu 31-Oct-13 18:52:32

i think you need to maybe accept that children do say some stupid and unkind things. My dd who has asd sometimes pinches me if she can't have what she wants, I tell her that it is naughty and she has hurt mummy. If she continues I then put her on the naughty spot for a few minutes and then she says sorry and we have a cuddle. I wouldnt cancel a whole afternoons activities for one comment or tantrum or whatever. Now that he has been punished dont revisit it when he wakes up just move on. I can see how you feel you want to set boundaries and thats good, but maybe just consider making the point and moving on. Perhaps you could have said in a firm, supernanny style voice 'that is very unkind and I am sure you dont really want mummy to hurt herself' and then move on.

Jomato Thu 31-Oct-13 18:57:00

Adapting to being a new parent of a toddler is complex. Strategies for managing behaviour need to be adapted because your DS won't get have security in his relationship with you. You'd probably be better off posting on the adoption board next time as there is a lot of posters there who will have been through it and can give good advice. Make sure you are getting all the support you should be from your adoption worker and your DS's social worker. Try not to put yourself under so much pressure, none of us can be perfect parents all the time.

BoSho Thu 31-Oct-13 18:57:42

I think yabu, sorry, but I also agree that you shouldn't beat yourself up about it. He doesn't really know what he's saying, and of course he doesn't mean it. By escalating the whole issue and punishing him, he'll just be focussing on the punishment and directing his anger towards you rather than actually feeling sorry about what he did (which wasn't even that bad imo). Similarly, it's pointless making a child of this age apologize, it doesn't mean anything. It might have been more productive to explain how it upsets you to think he wants to hurt you, and why it isn't a good idea to throw toys, then to go and pick up the toys together. We're also struggling with a toddler, and Alfie Kohn's book 'Unconditional Parenting' has been a revelation. I've seen a big change in behavior, with no punishments whatsoever.

You haven't had very long to find out what works for you as a family in terms of consequences, so you will try things out and find some better than others. You probably haven't spent the past 3 years in contact with other parents of similar aged children at toddler groups etc either, so the natural sharing of ideas hasn't happened for you yet. Don't beat yourself up over it, but I agree that you went too far.

I have a just 3 yo and what works for us is counting to 3 and if she hasn't done what I asked by 3 then she gets 3 min on the naughty step or the naughty step until she is ready to apologise (depending on what the issue is).

My DD wouldn't have a concept of what a whole afternoon is as concepts of time aren't great at that age (to a certain extent the past is all yesterday and the future is all tomorrow).

Similarly she doesn't know what language is acceptable until she has tried it. She likes to play with ideas. In the past few weeks she has wished she was dead, that her (nursery) teachers were dead (said to me not them) and that she was in a car crash. She doesn't really understand what these things are and they are just useful prompts to explore these ideas in more depth. I wouldn't punish her for saying them or particularly expect an apology the first time she said them.

I wouldn't present drawing as a punishment - it's a useful activity for developing fine motor skills. In the same way as I had to explain to DH that I would prefer him not to say "If you don't do X then I won't put you to bed, Mummy will" as I am not a punishment!

We take a "pick your battles" approach with DD. We don't have many rules and DD very rarely gets a 3 min punishment - perhaps twice a week.

I wonder about your comment that the foster family lacked boundaries. I obviously don't know the circumstances, but foster carers often have a huge amount of experience, so I wouldn't dismiss their approach necessarily.

beecrazy Thu 31-Oct-13 19:03:04

I know how hard it must be for you. I have a grandson who at that age went through a phase of saying 'I hate you' or 'I don't like you' to me.

I found it really hard and to begin with we asked for him to apologise but then wondered what do we do if he refused.

In the end his parents and/or I responded with, oh dear, I love you and went on as though nothing had been said. It all blew over very quickly after that. I think they are often just trying out words and situations and waiting to see what reaction they get.

I found it easier when it was my own children not my grandchild and maybe an adopted child is similar in not having that birth tie.

Good luck

pigletmania Thu 31-Oct-13 19:04:04

No don't feel bad, he is pushing the boundaries like any other toddler, you are new to him as he is to you. I would tell him tat you live him very much, but that was not a nice thing to say, terefore no park or cake baking. Is teir a support group near you for other adopted parents. It's tough enough being a parent let alone being an adoptive parent to a toddler in the middle of the terrible twos

SunshineMMum Thu 31-Oct-13 19:04:08

YANBU it sounds like you are struggling. Our Ds has autism, at that age we used a reward and sanction system. Time out for bad behaviour (sometimes taking him back to the calm down space) and marbles in a jar for good behaviour which would add up to a reward at the end of the week. I also did a parenting course which was useful, because I learned a bit about triggers. If you have a children's centre they may be able to support you also.

Booboostoo Thu 31-Oct-13 19:12:35

Of course he didn't mean it he is just 2.10yo. I think the trick is to deal with the problematic behaviour there and then and not take what he says about it to heart as if he meant it. So if he is throwing toys give him a warning that if he keeps throwing toys you will take them away and then follow through. That is enough punishment for what he has done, which is to throw toys, forget about what he said, and it is immediate which is more likely to have an effect.

Sorry means nothing to a toddler. If he's not been with you long he definitely needs lots of love & understanding just now. Try reading what every parent needs to know, ToddlerCalm or unconditional parenting by Alfie Cohn

Sorry is just a learnt response for toddlers when we teach them to say sorry at that age they grow to presume it fixes everythingconfused

LocoParentis Thu 31-Oct-13 19:29:09

Hi mennie, for future reference do you know there is an adoption section on here?

They are all lovely and will understand the difficulties of the early months when you're trying to build attachment and not feel like a failure at the same time confused

nextphase Thu 31-Oct-13 19:30:57

I think how you started off - explaining why he shouldn't throw things onto the stairs was fab, and cancelling an awaited activity was an excellent plan. Cancelling more than that probably made life harder for you - as you have to do something with them at that age!
Just a thought - mine loved, from about 2yrs old, helping Mummy with jobs - so I'd pair all the boring black socks, and they would attempt to try and find a partner to the most distinctive sock I could find in a pile. Or I'd give them the peg bag, and ask to have pegs handed to me as I needed them.
It meant all the jobs took much longer than they would have taken by themselves, but also I was interacting with the boys at the same time.

One day, when a little friend came round, I had DS1 "cleaning" the inside of the windows, and his friend "cleaning" the outside. They thought it was hilarious - and I didn't even suggest it - DS1 asked to clean windows with friend, and they jumped at the chance - maybe approaching 4 at that point.

Is it worth involving him with general chores? Maybe he wanted to get upstairs to be with you?

Have a lovely day tomorrow - maybe you can both go out for cake? Sounds like you both need it.

cake and wine

TarkaTheOtter Thu 31-Oct-13 19:40:28

Mennie I cannot even begin to appreciate the learning curve you must be on adopting a toddler. Rather than failing you sound like you actually have it very together.

This thread has been really useful to me. My dd is a bit younger and I'm really pleased to be prewarned about this possible stage of behaviour. At the moment she is just very keen on playing me and dh off against each other by having a rotating favourite who is the only one allowed to have kisses/cuddles/read stories etc.

MamaBear17 Thu 31-Oct-13 20:53:56

Would it be okay if I recommended that you do some reading on Attachment Disorder? Children who have a difficult start in life or who have been neglected as infants can suffer from this. However, you can take steps to help your son to reset his emotional clock and learn to form trusting relationships, but you must seek help now, either from a professional, post adoptive services or from doing your own reading and research. Congratulations on your little boy and best wishes to all of you.

mumofweeboys Thu 31-Oct-13 20:55:28

Currently my 2.5 month old has taken to launching toys, kicking and hitting when he doesn't get his own way - charming to say the least. Vaguely remember ds1 doing the same. Currently if I don't get a sorry its onto a chair to have a think or in his bedroom where he can scream himself out until he has calmed down to say sorry.

Toddlers are tough little nuts, made to drive us crazy

celestialbows Thu 31-Oct-13 21:00:10

YANBU to punish the statement but next time pick one of the sanctions rather than the jewson lot! Discipline is bloody hard but if you withdraw every pleasure from the day you're left with no more bargaining tools if he misbehaves again.
I speak as a novice mind you, every day brings a fresh lesson

mennie1980 Thu 31-Oct-13 21:01:31

I have done lots of reading on attachment disorder

TeenAndTween Thu 31-Oct-13 21:06:34

Adopter here. It gets easier as time goes on but the first few months can be tough. Please go to the Adopters section here (under becoming a Parent) or to the new rubbish improved boards on Adoption UK.
Don't withdraw things that makes life harder for you! Take care.

junkfoodaddict Thu 31-Oct-13 21:07:31

mennie1980 - you are a fab mum from what I have read! I think it's easier as a parent when you are learning on the job from birth but to take in a child as your own half way through toddlerhood is a mammoth task for everyone concerned and knowing their triggers etc, can be incredibly difficult to predict and deal with!

Coldlightofday Thu 31-Oct-13 21:09:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

birdybear Thu 31-Oct-13 21:14:49

don't beat yourself up. i have a 2.5 ds and he is a very naughty boy at times, a lot of the time, actually! i have terrible days with him but you need to remember a lot of the time they don't know what is a little bit bad and what is really bad. i think your ds is too young to understand promising though. mine only just understands. i think!

remember too he has left the family he knew and that must be terribly upsetting and confusing for him. more than you almost ever understand i would think.

try to pick your battles and not be too confrontational. he cannot be good all the time, remember, a two year old just can't! i find it very hard to keep my temper sometimes. just breathe and

birdybear Thu 31-Oct-13 21:15:29

and walk away sometimes!

123bucklemyshoe Thu 31-Oct-13 21:16:45

Please don't beat yourself up. We all have bad days, both mums &dcs. I am a mum of 2 & thought I knew what I was doing when no 2 came along. He was a totally different kettle of fish as a toddler & a toad until I got the hang of how to parent him. We learn all the time. One thing I found was our own version of 1 2 3 magic helped us.

Hope the big girl pants help tomorrow. It's ok to have a bad day. We don't get it right all the time & sometimes I find myself apologizing to dc if when stressed I haven't behaved in a way that I've liked. It's ok to not get it righ all the time, if they know without ambiguity that you love them & it really sounds like you do.

FudgefaceMcZ Thu 31-Oct-13 21:17:52

YANBU to be upset, but having had two non-adopted and now apparently very good at school/nursery kids, I'd say that a lot of them can come out with pretty nasty sounding things unintentionally. Specifically if you phrase it in a way where they are given a choice of a bad thing happening to someone if they don't stop a behaviour- I've had the conversation "Please stop shoving your sister/pulling her hair, or she will be very upset and hurt" "I want her to be upset", etc. I suspect it's more of a language learning thing where they are showing the ability to extract the 'consequence' bit of the sentence rather than actually thinking about the content of what they're saying iyswim?

lottieandmia Thu 31-Oct-13 21:19:32

At this young age he wouldn't understand the consequences of what he was doing and would not really have wanted you to break your leg.

rumbleinthrjungle Thu 31-Oct-13 21:24:26

Parenting a toddler is hard enough. Adoptively parenting a toddler is really hard! You're going to be the front line target for the flack of all his confusion and anger, you're having to help him process those feelings and worst you're having to do it while you both are still getting to know each other.

He didn't mean it. Ignore the words and look at what the behaviour is communicating, he's acting out what he feels. It's likely to involve a lot of chaos, confusion and anger, and trying you out to see if mummy really is the safe person she looks like. Will she still love him if he's rude to her, horrible to her, throws his toys around. It takes a thick skin and it's not easy at all, I'm sorry it's been a hard day.

The Connected Child was recommended above on the thread and is a brilliant book. Anything by Dan Hughes is also good. Tomorrow is another day, iron up the big girl panties and write across the back 'I am a brilliant mum'. You and your son are both going to need time to figure this out together and no one gets it right first time.

changeforthebetter Thu 31-Oct-13 21:29:27

I think that he is adopts has a huge bearing on what he might say

changeforthebetter Thu 31-Oct-13 21:32:41

Sorry, posted too soon blush

I hope you are getting support. It seems that "lashing out" behaviour is quite normal for adoptees.

OP anyway, I raise a wine or brew as my bio-child frequently tells me she hates me or wishes I would go away (CAMHS involved etc) The nicest support I have had recently was from an adopting mum smile

yummumto3girls Thu 31-Oct-13 21:40:18

My close friend adopted 2 children, both of whom are difficult. The oldest is now 9 and she got him at 18 months. He has said things like this to her all her life and now at 9 when he says that he is going to kill her he genuinely frightens her! I don't mean to scaremonger you but I do think it is something to monitor and get some support on. When she first got him she was told to put him to bed and ignore him, he would soon settle! Now years later she realised that all he needed was to be held, that he sufferes attachment disorder and this needs a certain way of parenting. It could be normal toddler behaviour but I would be aware or read about attachment parenting as it may help. Hang in there it's one hell of a journey and make sure you get as much post adoption support as you can.

roadwalker Thu 31-Oct-13 21:43:21

Even with one FC from birth don't underestimate the impact of adoption on him
It is unlikely he was born from a healthy womb so that would impact on brain development, the move from BM is a massive trauma for a newborn, contact arrangements (if not well managed) are often damaging then the move from FC to yourselves
This is massive for a young child to cope with
I would try for gentle guidance with an emphasis on bonding
Often the things we lose over are our own triggers more than the childs behaviours
I lose the plot when my DD smirks and laughs when she has done something wrong. I have to really work to not show anger or frustration. If I do show anger or frustration her behaviour deteriorates (she is adopted)
Parenting an adopted child is so different from BC

ovenbun Fri 01-Nov-13 10:55:06

Have you read 'what every parent needs to know' it's amazing about the different types of tantrums, and has lots of practical advice on how to give reassurance and build secure bonds. I think the most important thing is he isn't a difficult child, he is a child in an extremely difficult situation, you love him dearly but having moved to you from the only home he ever knew must have been hugely frightening for him. I would help him label the feelings and wherever possible reinforce the positive 'you must be feeling very cross to say that, usually you are so kind to mummy'. Or ' oh but mummy would miss you so much if she was in hospital with a broken leg' or even dispelled it with humour ' but then mummy would have to hop everywhere' and hop around being silly. Might make you both giggle and take away the hurt in the situation. He is 2 he has absolutely no concept of what he is saying so I would try to brush it off rather than drawing attention to it through punishment at this stage. Then have a race of who can pick up the most toys, or if he can collect all the toys while you count to ten. With the initial throwing incident you could say something like 'oh goodness, the toys have learnt to jump over the gate...what are we going to do?' And make it fun for both of you. The twos are such tricky years, although boundaries are important you really have to pick your battles or life can just turn into one long one. If you must punish short term consequences like time out with a short egg timer would be more appropriate.
You sound like a very loving mummy, you are very lucky to have found each other, best wishes smile

HoleyGhost Fri 01-Nov-13 11:13:52

What Ovenbun said

Enjoy the toddler years!

FrenchJunebug Fri 01-Nov-13 11:40:33

you did very well and I would have done the same with my son. And I am sure he didn't mean his comments, just finding his feet regarding boundaries and fear of abandonment.

I am a mum to 5dc. They are all biologically mine and my DH's. We are happily married and I am a stay at home attatchment style parent, while he works full time. (This is just to set the scene and to explain that even 'picture perfect' families have the exact same problems. No offence/judgement meant to anyone!)

Some classic lines from my 3 yr old this year...

When angry or frustrated.

"I don't like you, I like Daddy. I wish you went to work."
"I'm going to beat you up and kill you dead."
"You're not my mum. You're not my family. I don't have ANY family!"
"I don't love you anymore."

After a big tantrum.

"Sometimes you don't love me mummy, do you?"
"Sometimes you are not a good mum. Good mums don't say no!"

And then he is just beautiful and says things like...

"I love your voice mummy."
"You are soooo warm and snuggly!"
"You make me laugh mummy, you are soooo silly!"
"I love you mummy. You're face is kind."

It all just sounds like a typical day to me.

I think you were maybe a bit harsh. He won't even remember what he said in an hour's time. I think punishment should be quite instant at that age, and then quickly move on.

FreudiansSlipper Fri 01-Nov-13 11:51:43

he has no real understanding of what he is saying they are just words

ok to show you are upset so he learns but i think you are being a little too harsh and trying to do the right thing

it is done now, tears and tantrums move on and enjoy the rest of the afternoon by punishing him later he will not connect it to what has happened earlier on in the say

ds (6) told me this morning he does not like me. i told him it is not a nice thing to say but makes no difference i like you and love you more than anything and he laughed do not take it to heart we were cuddling a minutes later (and i know he is upset because his dad was not around last night and other dads were)

rednellie Fri 01-Nov-13 12:02:13

mennie, I've always found this book really helpful when my DD has said/done something outrageous and/or I've over reacted. It means we get to read together which is a fantastic way to bond/chill out and it re-affirms that message that no matter what I will love her. Even when I go bonkers and shout at the kitchen cabinets. grin

Good luck, you'll do great.

SpockSmashesScissors Fri 01-Nov-13 14:23:37

Throwing toys over gate, a fun game for him or trying to get your attention. Next time get him to help you with jobs, they love helping at that age.

His comments, I would have said something like, 'well how would we go to the park then, that would be no good at all would it?' and moved swiftly on 'right, let's get these toys put away'. Holding out in a power game over 'sorry' with a toddler is completely pointless.

I do wonder with the comments about foster family boundaries and the 'little toad today' if you are being too hard both on him and yourself.

Sounds like it could just be standard active toddler behaviour with the added impact of adoption and fostering, and I mean that very kindly, I can imagine a toddler would be a shock.

hardboiledpossum Fri 01-Nov-13 15:06:04

I wouldn't use any punishments at this stage. I would ignore bad behaviour and praise good. he must be very confused. just concentrate on building up a strong relationship with lots of love and cuddles.

NumanoidNancy Fri 01-Nov-13 16:03:33

Hello, adoptive parent here too (though single). My daughter was in foster care from 24 hours old also, adopted at ten months old. No history of drug or alcohol abuse in the birth mother, about as 'easy' as adoption as there is. I'm sure you are doing fine really but I would echo what others have said about getting advice specifically from adoptive parents either here or on Adoption UK. Some people without adopted children find it hard to believe that if your child is in loving care from birth and came to you fairly young that they will have experienced no trauma from being adopted, this is absolutely not true. Of course partly it depends on your child's personality too but the taking away of a newborn from the birth mother is an extremely traumatic event, the sound of that woman's voice, the speed and rhythm of her heartbeat and half a dozen other things will have been all your child knew as his/her brain developed and learnt, the sudden disappearance of all of that is an extreme event in the baby's short life. This is only magnified by the second removal of everything they have known when they move from loving foster care to their new family. My daughter exhibited behaviours at the time of adoption that I didn't recognise as severe shock and grief at the time, because she was a total stranger to me, but only in retrospect as I grew to know her personality.
She had a number of pretty major behavioural problems at a young age (between 16 months and about 3 and a half), biting, extreme separation anxiety, night terrors etc and they were ALL related to the trauma of losing both her birth mum and then her foster mum, she was terrified of losing me too though you wouldn't know it from the treatment she gave out sometimes! This may just have been a bad day for both of you and all will be well, but if not I would honestly do as much reading and get as much expert advice (i.e from people who have actually been there/done that) as you can.

As an addendum, having had for many years a violent frightened child who I honestly thought would never be able to go to school, I now have an extremely empathic and hardy little school-a-holic! It took a lot of work and I made some mistakes along the way but I'm incredibly proud of how she is turning out and I am really grateful for the advice I got from adoption specialists and other adoptive parents. She needed treating differently from birth children and it was only once I realised that and analysed her behaviour accordingly that we started turning things around.

mennie1980 Fri 01-Nov-13 17:54:52

Thanks for the all the advice. Yesterday was just a really sh!tty day. Today was much much better.

I am not making assumptions about the fc, she admitted and we witnessed that she was far too lenient with him. He didn't have many boundaries and was allowed to do as he pleased.

I have read dan hughes and caroline archer. I have not gone into this unprepared, yesterday was just a pure b!tch of a day.

nextphase Fri 01-Nov-13 19:54:40

Glad today was much better. See, just a bad day, not a bad Mum.
Have a fab weekend.

HoleyGhost Fri 01-Nov-13 20:06:36

Glad today was better.

There will be worse days than yesterday. Don't take it personally when they happen.

LydiaLunches Fri 01-Nov-13 20:07:48

I heard an account of a psychological experiment on the radio once that has really helped me with my pre-schoolers. Basically, children saw a sweet go into one of 2 boxes and were told that they could have the sweet if they pointed at the 'wrong' box, apparently almost no 3 year olds could do it. I think of it when I have the urge to say 'no x until you calm down/ apologise/ insert difficult to achieve level of emotional control as relevant'. Please no-one tell me it isn't true - I still have an under 4!

NumanoidNancy Fri 01-Nov-13 21:21:58

Mennie can you explain what you mean by 'too lenient'? I am finding this emphasis on discipline a little worrying to be honest. Most discipline at his age should be purely related to him learning what might be dangerous for him or others, punishments, taking away of treats etc is not going to be understood at this age, he will find it simply baffling and think you are being mean, he won't be able to rationalise it in the way that you can!

I'm sorry but I am just getting a niggling feeling that whilst you have read the right books etc you still haven't really got that you need to make huge allowances for both age/maturity and adoption related issues. I apologise hugely if I am reading you wrong but I have seen what happens when adoptive parents go down the discipline route and it isn't good.

FrauMoose Fri 01-Nov-13 21:36:11

I can't help relating this to my earliest experiences of stepmothering. I'd been given to understand that my stepchildren's mother was chaotic, inconsistent and irrational.

I may have been inclined (arrogantly, secretly) to believe that if I had been in her shoes I'd have done everything rather better. If every my stepchildren were difficult or frustrating, I caught myself thinking how if I had had them from the start everything would have been a great deal easier. However my stepchildren were 5 and 6 when I first met them, so they could understand a bit more when it came to explanations of the changes in their lives. And they had the (relative) security of being based at their mother's house. So I think the transition of their parents' splitting up and my arrival was, though confusing for them, was relatively manageable

I simply cannot believe that a) removal from a birth mother, b) life with a foster mother who had a 'relaxed' parenting style and then c) being freed for adoption and coming into a family where there's a desire to impose much stronger boundaries, could be anything other than deeply confusing.

It's obviously pretty difficult for the adoptive mother who chose to change her life in this way. What it's like for the child, I can hardly begin to imagine.

bababababoom Fri 01-Nov-13 22:09:21

We all lose it sometimes, but 3 years old and newly joined the family - he is probably testing you to see whether you still love and accept him if he's downright horrible! He's had several punishments - no TV, no toys, no activities...also, it's setting you both up for s miserable afternoon (no 3 year old will draw all afternoon, or concentrate on one activity for that long), ideally (not saying for a minute I'd get this right every time!) I'd tell him when he wakes up that you love him very much, and that you felt sad that he wanted to hurt you, but you will love him no matter what he does. I would get him to help pick up the toys he threw, then say "we won't be doing the activity we'd planned, but we can do X instead" time, maybe take away one toy or activity instead of the whole lot?

Coveredinweetabix Fri 01-Nov-13 22:25:28

Glad today was better. Going straight into the toddler phase cannot be easy.
My DD was a tantrum queen for 15mths or so and I quickly learned to not only pick my battles but pick my punishments. Not going to meet a friend, to soft play or something wasn't just a punishment for her but for me too as I the had a whole day to fill with no activities. Instead, I'd try to come up with a punishment that didn't really impact on me (or even helped me) like not being allowed to help load or unload the washing machine or not being allowed to go & jump in the puddle by our neighbour's drive when we got back.
Oh, and as they get older, the insults just get more varied. DD is now 4 and has spent the week telling me that her friend's mum is much nicer than I am! Or that I'm the bossiest silly poo ever.

AnyFuckerWillDo Fri 01-Nov-13 22:30:41

Awww poor mummy, disciplining is the hardest thing. (Not sure about the crying to sleep, did he not calm down at all?) I would of took the same action, wouldn't of stayed mad but certainly cancelled activities / food treats and explained why, unless he apologised .

ovenbun Fri 01-Nov-13 22:58:26

I'd tell him when he wakes up that you love him very much, and that you felt sad that he wanted to hurt you ' but bababoom I'm pretty sure he didnt want to hurt Mennie (i thought the rest of your post was really great it was just those few words that worried me) , if he is like most two year olds he wasn't acting with any kind of real rationale..I know it seems like a complete overaction to that choice of words but over time things like this can stick, you don't want to give the child an identity of 'I am the kind of person who wants to hurt people'...some of the most damaging relationships between parent and child are when the child is prescribed the identity of perpetrator or harm causer, and the parents take on a victim persona...this is a frightened 2 year old..he isn't capable of being deliberately hurtful.

NumanoidNancy Fri 01-Nov-13 23:46:30

What ovenbun said.

I don't personally think any child that age crying themselves to sleep is a great thing to be honest but for an adopted child in a fairly new family I find it really distressing. He will be feeling all sorts of sad emotions related to being 'abandoned' (by birth mum and foster mum) but without being able to articulate that or even identify it, to then use isolation as a punishment technique is pretty cruel when you reflect on that. I remember other parents telling me I should send my toddler out of the room on her own when she was naughty and realising what a massive gulf there was between a 'normal' kid and her - for my daughter that would have been akin to torture, a punishment way beyond the crime. If she was naughty I went out of the room with her and just held her - it meant she knew she was out of the fun space with the other kids but that I hadn't stopped loving her, I wasn't going to just get rid of her if she was bad etc.

neunundneunzigluftballons Sat 02-Nov-13 02:01:42

Right just to be absolutely clear getting a child as a toddler is a real challenge. Those of us who had the first couple of years to build up to toddlerhood have been emboldened with a certain resistance that comes from the lack of sleep up until then which puts us in a complete fog to get through. He is being a normal toddler trying to push boundaries and checking you still love him, you are being a wonderful Mum holding the party line so he understands that he cannot behave in an inappropriate manner. Personally I would gently re emphasise my position when he gets up and then do something lovely later on so that you and he get the joy of the mother son relationship to balance out the hard bits. Popcorn and a kids movie and cuddles. Remember it is as much for you as him.

mennie1980 Sat 02-Nov-13 07:16:09

Can't I just say I hadn't planned to remove all toys activited etc all afternoon, just until he said sorry.

Once he said sorry, everything would have been forgotten as it always is.

He didn't cry himself to sleep, he needed a nap after being up since 5am.

I am not a monster!! When he woke up of course I told him how much I loved him. Then we went on to make cakes.

You seem to have me down as a monster, I am just a brand new mum who was exhausted and got it wrong. Simple as, I am fully aware he is suffering loss and isn't able to articulate it yet. I am not completely dense.

Surely I am not the only mother who has been at the end of her tether due to severe sleep deprivation??

My social worker agrees we need give him boundaries and use rewards and remove priviledges when necessary.

I know my little boy.

HoleyGhost Sat 02-Nov-13 07:40:33

Nobody is calling you a monster, no parent gets things right all the time.

However your ds is only two and you seem very focused on boundaries and not letting him dictate to you. That is how my parents raised their children and it created an adversarial relationship. It meant that parenting was no fun for them.

Go easier on yourself, and on your ds. The book 'playful parenting' was reccomended upthread. The approaches in that book are unbelievably effective and they put the focus back on the child, rather than the adult enforcing the boundaries.

My own dc are remarkably well behaved and we have a happy family life partly due to books like that. If I had not read them I would have instinctively followed my parents' example. This would not have made me a monster but would have made for a less happy family in the long run.

DustBunnyFarmer Sat 02-Nov-13 07:45:55

I don't recall anyone arguing against setting boundaries - just that boundaries and sanctions need to be more age appropriate (geared towards the child's level of understanding/capacity for abstract reasoning) and, in your case, take account of your son's specific adoption-related sensitivities.

I have 2 boys and we are now - thankfully - out the other side of the tantrum phase (though my 5 yo still has his moments). The terrible twos are incredibly challenging and its a long haul, so it helps not to exacerbate any conflict unnecessarily - as others have said, learn to pick your battles.

mennie1980 Sat 02-Nov-13 08:05:09

What I meant by the fc being lenient is, he was allowed to run across roads himself, throw toys at the tele, throw toys at people, hit, kick, shout, throw food etc.

123bucklemyshoe Sat 02-Nov-13 08:28:37

Gosh v lenient! You will find your way together & it must be very hard to pick up from that.
I don't think that people have you down as a monster & there is a genuine desire to help. I work in a psychological field, so you would think I would know what I am doing & I don't always get it one does. And if they do they are either deluded or lying!
We all have different ways and you asked people if they thought if you were be unreasonable so they told you.

There were also in the posts lots of advice & opinion - you just need to find what works for you & your little boy in the long run. Imho the most important thing is that he feels loved & secure & the behaviour management (however you do it) come from there. And it is clear that you do love him ....I just find with children you can never show it too much

PansOnFire Sat 02-Nov-13 08:54:36

Definitely not the only mum to be sleep deprived and at the end of her tether, I too am there this morning. My LO is 11 months and has started throwing a strop every time I try to get him to do something different or anything that doesn't involve destroying everything on my fireplace. Some days you feel great, some days you feel like the worst mum in the world. You just have to chalk the bad days off and don't think about them again, I don't think you handled the situation badly at all. Your LO was safe and he went to sleep, you could have easily continued it by trying to reason with him which would have escalated things further. He then woke up and had a lovely afternoon. Keep going OP, the good days will start overtaking the bad days eventually as they do for all new mums.

ovenbun Sat 02-Nov-13 09:02:33

And of course those behaviours need to be addressed (as they do with most children at that age). I don't think you're a monster at all, and most people on here have given helpful advice that you can pick and choose from depending on what works for your son.
My final input is just a tip which may make things easier for you, I think most of the time you probably won't need to use any consequences, which he will have very little understanding of at 2. Saying no for example 'no we never run in the road' and then offering a distraction/removing him from the situation is probably going to be a lot less stressful for you both. For example ' can you see that cat, what noises do cats make?' And then later reinforcing the good 'you are doing such good walking! In our family we always walk on the pavement! Mummy is so happy with you!' It just saves getting drawn into more battles which are massively exhausting for you both. Of course like any technique it doesn't work all of the Time, but see what you think.
All the best with your little boy, I'm sure you have lots of fun adventures ahead watching him grow.

NumanoidNancy Sat 02-Nov-13 09:13:02

No one is saying you are a monster! You asked for everyone's opinions and people have given them, there is a common thread running through almost all the answers which I guess should tell you what the general consensus is, its up to you whether you reflect on that and rethink a few things...

roadwalker Sat 02-Nov-13 09:45:55

I wouldn't take SW opinion on parenting as necessarily the best
Some of them may have good advice but they are not usually adoptive parents
The rewards/sanction parenting style is not IMO the best for an adopted child. That doesn't have to mean lack of boundaries
I think they benefit from an attachment style parenting
I love the Alfie Kohn book - Unconditional Parenting. It makes so much sense
Congratulations on your placement, I totally understand how you feel sleep deprived, all my therapeutic skill go out of the window with lack of sleep

CecilyP Sat 02-Nov-13 10:00:31

Can't I just say I hadn't planned to remove all toys activited etc all afternoon, just until he said sorry.

This means that if he didn't say sorry, then you would have to go ahead with your plan. That is an awful lot of responsibility to put onto a 2 year-old. And still 4 punishments for the single offence of refusing to apologise - which, thankfully, weren't enforced at the end of the day - seems excessive.

Nobody thinks you are a monster, or even a bad mum, but while the FM sounds unbelievably slack in her parenting, I think you might be going a bit too far in the opposite direction in trying to enforce discipline. I wonder if, because your DS is so articulate, you have expectations of him that might be more appropriate for an older child.

I agree with others that a forced apology from a 2-year-old is pretty meaningless (I don't blame you, I blame that supernanny!) Also, children this age do say things they don't mean, or have no concept of the meaning of, and others have given far more extreme examples than what your DS said. So if it happens again, I wouldn't take it personally and would brush it off by saying something like that would be a shame as I wouldn't be able to take you to the park, then moving on.

FrauMoose Sat 02-Nov-13 11:12:19

There's some quite interesting stuff on the internet about the development of remorse in children. I found this link interesting.

SomethingOnce Sat 02-Nov-13 11:44:19

OP, there is a hint of defensiveness coming through in your posts.

While I think that, initially, some posters could have been a touch more sensitive with their replies, it's clear that everyone wishes you well and is trying to help.

I wonder if you're finding it hard to process the entirely normal uncertainty you're experiencing, and as a result you're reading more criticism into the replies than is warranted. It's harder to take advice on board if you feel you're being criticised.

Uncertainty is to be expected - parenting is always a work in progress.

I hope you read this as kindly as I mean it.

Branleuse Sat 02-Nov-13 12:03:02

He probably thinks if he gets rid of you, then he can go back to his foster mother since birth who he would consider to be his mother.
If he hasnt been with you long, then you are the imposter, and he will be struggling with attachment. This will take time, and the idea of being taken from his previous carer to go to you will not be as romantic a dream for him as it is for you

Caitlin17 Sat 02-Nov-13 12:15:05

Just a little point but did you refer to yourself in the 3rd person as " you might hurt mummy"

that usage is a personal irritation for me , it's twee and grating, and this little boy is still getting to know you. You might legally be his mummy but he had no say it may be better to let this come, eventually, naturally from him?

mennie1980 Sat 02-Nov-13 12:36:27

He has called me Mummy since before he moved in.

LovesBeingHereAgain Sat 02-Nov-13 13:00:57

Wow what a huge adjustment for you all. It must be very hard for him to get used to such different rules. He doesn't mean things like that he just mean he's mad cause your are trying to stop him doing something he enjoys.

Branleuse Sat 02-Nov-13 14:13:16

calling you mummy doesnt mean he isnt still in the middle of a huge transitional stage that will be massively difficult.

I feel for you, but this needs to be treated with reassurance, love, talking and understanding to what he is going through, and not discipline and removal of nice things.

mennie1980 Sat 02-Nov-13 14:24:36

I never said it didn't mean he wasn't in a stage of transition.

Another poster had suggested I was referring to myself as mummy before he was calling me mummy.

Branleuse Sat 02-Nov-13 14:27:43

people are only trying to be helpful, including me

birdybear Sat 02-Nov-13 15:12:04

what would you have done if he had refused to say sorry?

quietlysuggests Sat 02-Nov-13 15:21:05

So you left him downstairs while you were upstairs.
In his eyes you disappeared for AGES doing some mysterious thing that didn't include him because you don't like him enough (he is 2, and adopted to boot)
So he tries to get your attention by throwing things to get you to come out and play/ notice him
So you come out and he cannot understand why but suddenly you are shouting angry and all red in the face
He is frightened and scared
You seem to want him to say sorry
He doesn't know what that even feels like - what does sorry mean to a 2 year old apart from something they learn to parrot in order to avoid trouble
Next thing mummy is really mad crying/ shouting - cancelling all nice things telling him he is naughty
He cries himself to sleep

Now what has he learned?
That mummy is mean sometimes.
I'm sorry but that is what a 2 year old will think. They do not have the capacity to self reflect - it is developmentally impossible
Many people "train" their children to avoid trouble by saying this magic word "sorry"
But the truly wise parent trains themselves to avoid situations like that that leave everyone exhausted and felling lost and lonely.
So next time take him with you to fold laundry. Let him be your helper, by your side, not locked downstairs away from you.

mennie1980 Sat 02-Nov-13 17:04:51

Wow, I wish I was the amazing parent some of you lot are!!! Thanks to those who have understood that it simply was an awful day.

ll31 Sat 02-Nov-13 17:05:08

I still don't really see why you'd left him downstairs and blocked him from coming up. Nothing to do with adoption,I just don't genuinely see why you'd do that. He clearly wanted you and was frustrated at not being able to get to you.

xCupidStuntx Sat 02-Nov-13 17:07:34

You are coming across as having a really bad attitude!! These people have given you invaluable support, understanding and information and you've just been really ungrateful and defensive.

FrauMoose Sat 02-Nov-13 17:17:55

If it was 'simply an awful day', one option is to wait till the day is over, have a glass of wine and talk to a partner or friend.

If you go on a forum in which parenting issues are discussed to say this is what you as the new adoptive parent of a toddler has done when the child has behaved in a way that you've found challenging, it's pretty inevitable that some experienced parents - including a few adoptive ones - will say, 'Think about the strategies you're using. They may not be the ones that will work best in the longer term.'

I think that is actually just as helpful as saying, 'Oh you're amazing.' Possibly more so.

mennie1980 Sat 02-Nov-13 17:30:34

I closed the stair gate because I was sorting putting some laundry away. If I leave the gate open he will play on the stairs and it is an accident waiting to happen.

I have admitted I over reacted. I have thanked those who gave me helpful advice. But people insinuating that I do not understand attachment or loss and saying he is trying to get rid of me to get back to his foster mother (the correct term in foster carer) is neither helpful or kind.

I was clearly at the end of my tether. It is my first post on this forum and my last

MrsBW Sat 02-Nov-13 17:47:49


AIBU tends to elicit a variety of responses.

Pop your OP on the adoption section


There are a number of adopters/prospective adopters on there who will be able to give you some reassurance/guidance.

roadwalker Sun 03-Nov-13 12:03:59

I would second MrsBW
avoid AIBU and head for the adoption board
Better still adoptionuk forum ( as somebody said upthread it is not what it was )
I will pm you another adoption forum if you are interested

ll31 Sun 03-Nov-13 12:08:16

Ah I get you, would have stair gate at top so... Just makes it easier, tho at his age in fact you hardly really need stairgate at all?
Best of luck anyway

gemmal88 Sun 03-Nov-13 12:42:34

I doubt that he means it, but there is no harm in a consequence for speaking to you like that and not apologising. I don't know if I would have concealed everything, maybe sent him to his room until he is ready to apologise (I do this with my daughter and she has a whine and a moan and then says sorry).

I'd just explain why you were upset, get him to apologise and then put it behind you both when he gets up.

temporarilyjerry Sun 03-Nov-13 12:50:14

thanks and cake and, for later, when he's in bed wine

RedHelenB Sun 03-Nov-13 12:52:46

gemma - this little boy is not yet 3, so sending him to his room seems a very harsh punishment.

gemmal88 Sun 03-Nov-13 13:12:30

Naughty step then, whatever.

I've always put my daughter in time out in her bedroom for things she's refusing to do. She doesn't look traumatised to me and usually does it when I go in and get her to say sorry.

SarahBumBarer Sun 03-Nov-13 13:21:47

Ds has been sent to his room when needed since he was 2. I don't really see it is a punishment more as a calming place for time outs. MN are funny about "punishments". DD is 16 months and quite capable of understanding a time out - certainly threatening her with one often gets her to cease and desist.

Mennie - I am sorry that I did not post yesterday to offer support. You had a really hard time here. AIBU is harsh anyway but non bio parents I do think get judged by a higher standard on MN unless in the relative safety of the adoption/step-parenting boards.

Your son's age is a challenging one and you are dealing with it without the benefits of the bonds forged in babyhood and having built up punishments gradually. Of course finding the right balance will be difficult.

He is scarily articulate though. I think DS's inability to string more than 3 words together until he turned 3 probably saved him a good number of punishments!

differentnameforthis Sun 03-Nov-13 13:33:59

It isn't nice for him to say that, but being that he is not even three, I doubt he understands, much less means what he said.

It sounds like he was bored & wanted some attention. Next time, take him up with you to help. It takes ages to sort laundry!

I think you over reacted. You removed 4 things from him, the park, making cakes, TV & toys. It's too much for a 2yr old to understand.

differentnameforthis Sun 03-Nov-13 13:36:03

I think you are unreasonable to expect a not even 2yr old to apologise (did you use the word apologise? because of so, I doubt he knows what it means)

Xmasbaby11 Sun 03-Nov-13 13:40:18

I think you overreacted. He has been through a lot and it is quite common to reject his new parents. It will probably happen again I'm afraid so be prepared to toughen up.

hopskipandthump Sun 03-Nov-13 13:41:00

My goodness, I wouldn't punish a 2.10 year old at all! I have 3 kids and my youngest is 2.6 At this age they get beyond themselves. If they do something silly/a bit naughty like this, I tell them off firmly (but not shouting or scary) and that's it. Not repercussions like cancelling outings. they're too young for that.

My eldest two, now 6 and 4, are praised everywhere we go for being very well behaved, so being relaxed at this age is not creating problems.

I think since your son is recently adopted he has a special need to feel loved and secure whatever he does, and you need to respond to that, not get overly authoritarian to prove a point.

ZombieMojaveWonderer Sun 03-Nov-13 13:44:38

Oh for goodness sake you have gone too far in my opinion. He's not yet 3 and you have punished him 4 times for something that was rude but not that bad (you wait until they tell you they hate you!)
Personally I would have told him that what he said was rude and had hurt your feelings and for that he can't go to the park this afternoon. There was no need to go over board.

KatAndKit Sun 03-Nov-13 13:45:21

My child isn't 2 yet so i don't claim to have any magic tips for dealing with his age group.

i can however highly recommend the book "what every parent needs to know". It talks about their brain development so you have realistic expectations of them for their age and explains why children sometimes just cant help some of their behaviour especially if very young, they haven't yet got the rational thinking. It has some strategies for enforcing boundaries that are appropriate while making sure your child feels emotionally secure.

i would prioritise forming a close loving bond over establishing rules. There is time enough for that later when he has more understanding. Praise him over and over when he is being good.

wishing you all the best. It must be a huge shock to the system to parent a two year old without having gone through the baby stage and the one year old stage to prepare you.

differentnameforthis Sun 03-Nov-13 13:48:01

I will not be dictated to by a two year old so I am enforcing boundaries

In the kindest possible way, op, I am asking you to learn this

1] he is NOT trying to dictate to you
2] he isn't behaving in this (or any other) way merely to piss you off
3] you enforce too much, he will push against it

firefly78 Sun 03-Nov-13 13:52:34

i have not read all this thread but please go over to the adoption boards. as im sure you know parenting an adopted child is very different.

moldingsunbeams Sun 03-Nov-13 13:58:21

He does not mean it at all, he is testing boundaries not only because he is a toddler but also because he is now in a situation where he feels safe and loved by you, he is potentially also testing to see how naughty he can be before you send him away (speaking from experience) obviously you won't but it will take him a while to really believe that.

We have all been absolutely sleep deprived and exhausted.

RedHelenB Sun 03-Nov-13 13:58:45

That is a worrying concept Firefly - parenting is parenting whether the child is adopted or not!

differentnameforthis Sun 03-Nov-13 14:00:10

Sending a child to their room as punishment isn't always the best way to deal with things.

1] that is where all their toys are - not a great punishment

2] child will start to associate bedroom with punishment, could affect sleep/create issues at bedtime

moldingsunbeams Sun 03-Nov-13 14:02:03

to make you feel better op my friends dd threw a strop the other day, stomped about banging doors, mum ignored so she text her how much she hate her.

FrauMoose Sun 03-Nov-13 14:16:38

I have really vivid memories of an enforced apology. I was quite a bit older around 8 or 9. I had a violin teacher, who came round to our house to teach me. Before the lesson started I had been reading a library book which I enjoyed. During an interval in the lesson, she took some time to mark my music theory homework, at which point I picked up my book to carry on reading. I think she must have said not to read my book during the lesson. I didn't really say why not, but was quite a docile sort of child so put it on one side

Anyway the teacher then told my mother that she had 'had to be cross.' Later on that evening my mother told my father. I got summoned from my room and made to sit at the table until I agreed to copy out a letter which said, 'Dear Mrs X, I am sorry that I was so naughty.'

I sat there for some time, but realised that I wasn't going to be allowed to bed without having copied out and signed this letter that had been written by other people.

The point I am making is that you can sometimes by virtue of your greater power force a child to behave in a particular way. I have no doubt my parents felt very pleased with themselves. What I learned is that I was powerless and also that adults could exert their power over me in matters that were really very trivial.

NumanoidNancy Sun 03-Nov-13 15:52:44

RedHelenB, sorry but parenting a child who has already, in his tiny life, experienced deeper and more traumatic loss than most adults have had just IS very different from parenting a biological child. Even at birth, being taken away from his birth mother and then later on removed from the foster mother who has replaced her, causes actual neurological changes in a baby's brain. You have to be constantly aware of the potential consequences of this and parent accordingly. Most adoptive parents mess up and fail with this a few times as I did but when you start seeing that parenting in some of the ways biological families do simply doesn't work for an adoptive child and in fact seems to be making things worse, most adoptive parents have a bit of a rethink. Most of us who have been through this are trying to tell Mennie this now to save her heartache later. It is understandable that she is feeling defensive right now but I guess I and others are hoping she comes round for her sons sake.

RedHelenB Sun 03-Nov-13 16:27:11

He is a tiny child who needs to feel loved & wanted just like any other is the point I was making. And adoptive or not, you are still parenting. All children say hurtful things but if you think of yourself as a parent rather than an adopter it must surely help to deal with this?

48th Sun 03-Nov-13 16:40:47

Absolutely numanoid.

Op children are dictators, ego centric but fragile. Your lo has more reasons than most to be fragile and sensitive to separation and punishment. Mine at that age come and do laundry with me, it doesn't always go well and then sod laundry and go to the park...

I really hope you heed the wise words that some posters have shared. The adoption board and adoption uk would be better places to post.

Did you over react yup but that is ok we all cock up and it's the ability to reflect and change that improves our parenting. Most poor behaviour is caused by lack of sleep, lack of food, emotional challenges, changes, lack of exercise...

It is hard to be in your situation, we all expect more of our first and find it easier to see the inner baby in our later babies. Children's needs do dictate to us, it's not a battle. You can honestly ignore and distract most of the bad stuff, redirect towards good behaviour, celebrate the good stuff and model kindness, cuddles and love.

Keep reflecting, join some adoption boards and don't feel bad. We don't have to get it right all the time ... Earlier today I had a four year old telling me off for shouting and scaring the baby! He was right there was no need... Maybe I will do better tomorrow....

PaperSeagull Sun 03-Nov-13 17:01:09

Nancy is 100% right. This child has experienced so much loss and trauma in his young life but he doesn't have the cognitive skills to understand it yet. He must be so confused and angry and hurt. I'm not for a moment suggesting that he won't form a secure attachment to his new family. On the contrary, I'm sure he will. But the life he had before his adoption cannot be erased. And that means his needs may well be very different from those of a 2-year-old raised in the same home since birth.

Many adoptive parents find that "time in" works much better than "time out." Any sort of punishment that involves separation or isolation can really backfire with an adopted child. It can trigger genuine fears of abandonment and rejection. A "time in" keeps the child with you and helps strengthen those bonds of attachment that you are building.

OP, nobody thinks you are a monster at all! And no one on this board is a perfect parent, because that animal doesn't exist. Have you explored the Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control (BCLC) philosophy? It is really amazing for all children, IMO.

Viviennemary Sun 03-Nov-13 17:10:56

You did absolutely nothing wrong. And I wouldn't give dwell too much on fact he wouldn't apologise. For some reason quite a few small children seem to find it difficult to say sorry. There doesn't seem to be any logic to it even ones that are quite reasonably well behaved. Of course he should be encouraged to apologise when he does something wrong but making a huge screaming match deal of it? Not sure if that's productive.

NumanoidNancy Sun 03-Nov-13 17:14:41

Ok fair enough RedHelenB, I guess I just think it is doubly important to look beyond the actual words used and look at why they have been said if you have an adopted child because there so many extra layers of hurt within in them. I suppose an example would be when they say (and they probably will) 'I hate you, I wish you weren't my mum, I wish I was with BirthMum instead' - in many cases this may be partly true and actually perfectly understandable and allowable even if their birth mother proved to be incapable of loving them or deliberately neglectful and abusive. As their parent you have to be big enough not to take this personally or react in the way you might automatically. You have to be able to hug them and say 'I know its hard, I wish for your sake that things had been different for you too but they aren't and I'm the mum you have instead, I love you whatever you feel' even when you actually want to yell back at them for being so mean etc..

DoubleLifeIsALifeOfSorts Sun 03-Nov-13 17:34:42

If you can, I'd reread this thread when you're feeling a bit more positive and secure, as there is alot of good ideas and advice on here. If what you actually wanted was no practical discussion at all, then this thread isn't going to help you!

As other people have pointed out AIBU is for straight talking debate, and boards like Adoption, Parenting etc are for a softer more emotional response.

Retroformica Sun 03-Nov-13 17:40:53

I would probably put him in timeout for 4 mins. Then briefly explain after that it wasn't a very kind thing to say. Move on and not make an issue of it. Tell him briefly he has a choice, he can either be nice and cook/park or be naughty and spend a lots of time on step/in bedroom.

I imagine it must be tricky initially with everyone getting used to each other and working out boundaries.

RedHelenB Sun 03-Nov-13 17:41:22

Mumanoid, what he said in that instance was exactly the same as a non adopted child. My ds asIhave said before aged nearly 7 might come out with it, not really meaning it just as a silly response And i fully expect my teenage children to come out with the whole you don't love me thing - it's what they do, even as biological children!

valiumredhead Sun 03-Nov-13 17:45:15

What worra said, this I'd not the time for punishments and you need to cut him some slack and show him massive amounts of love.

NumanoidNancy Sun 03-Nov-13 17:52:01

Sigh. Yes RedHelenB, I know. I don't think you are getting it, sorry. It is an entirely different thing for someone who has an absolute unshakeable belief that their mother will always be there for them and has always been, and is basically an unmovable focal point in that child's universe (as in a young birth child) to say 'I wish you weren't my mother' or ' I want to hurt you' than a child who has already lost two mother figures and has the opposite worldview - 'mothers are people that abandon you and never come back for you'. Completely and utterly different sorry.

RedHelenB Sun 03-Nov-13 17:52:24

Retro - 4 mins is an awfully long time for a 2 year old!

foreverondiet Sun 03-Nov-13 17:53:47

I think he might be a little small to understand concern apology and consequences. I probably would have said - that's not a nice thing to say and have left it at that. Might have pushed for apology but if not forthcoming probably say - oh well can apologise tomorrow.

So maybe a little unreasonable to cancel whole days activities for lack apology at that age. At 6+ then would have to apologise.

BerstieSpotts Sun 03-Nov-13 18:04:29

Golden rule with children of all ages - never take their words or deeds personally. When they lash out, it's either because they don't understand what they are saying, or because they know those words will get a reaction, or they are saying something to hurt you because they are hurting so badly themselves and they think that if they get it out then maybe you will understand. Either way, it's not about you.

I agree, it was a bad day. Put it behind you. If you're interested, I also have some advice/ideas about how to handle discipline with toddlers in general. If not then just skip the rest of my post. It's just that a lot of this helped me and I pass it on in the hope that it might help somebody else. It's really not intended as a criticism.

I think that perhaps your expectation for him to spontaneously apologise is a bit high. At his age (especially if his FCs were so lenient!) he won't understand what an apology is or why somebody might want one. If you really want the apology, then you have to tell him what to say and do (for example some people expect a hug). If you want him to learn why we apologise, then you have to explain it to him. At his age you will have to explain every time it happens because it takes a lot of repetition for something to sink in.

If you want the apology to come from him and be genuine, then (in my opinion) it's better not to force it. But you can still explain that it's nice to apologise to somebody when we've hurt or upset them, because it tells them that you didn't really mean it and that you're sad they are upset. And also that it can help make people feel better. With just an explanation it will probably take longer for him to actually come up with the "Sorry" but it can mean so much more, and you'll know it's real and he's not just saying the word because he's been told to. However, some people feel that it's better to teach them to say it first so that it comes easily/naturally even if they don't understand the meaning until they are older. Whichever way you go is up to you.

With boundaries, it's perfectly possible to enforce boundaries without relying on extrinsic rewards and punishments. This might be a good way to go with him at the moment. That doesn't mean that you avoid anything which looks like a punishment, just that the boundary enforcing is self-contained and doesn't infringe on other things. For example, when walking beside a road, always take a pushchair with you and/or a set of reins (whichever works for you - DS wouldn't walk if I put reins on him) You start off with a low-medium level of freedom like holding hands and/or having the reins on. If he's walking well, holding hands without pulling, not trying to run off, listening to instructions etc, then after a good while of this you can loosen the freedom a bit. However if he's resisting holding hands, running off, ignoring instructions, pulling etc then the freedom gets restricted a little bit. The reins go on, or he has to sit in the pushchair, or hold hands, or whatever. The tightest level of freedom has to be totally safe so that even if he is having a screaming tantrum you know there's no way he could get onto the road. Also, always take the freedom back a level where there's an extra danger, like crossing a road, walking on a very narrow pavement, perhaps being in a shop where there are things to touch/break, etc.

The most important thing with this kind of boundary enforcement is that you never threaten or impose a different punishment (e.g. If you don't hold my hand nicely then we won't get sweets at the shop) and you never threaten the loss of freedom for non-related things (e.g. stop making that noise or you can go in the pushchair). This keeps the consequence/reward directly linked to the particular behaviour. The road example is an easy one but if you think about it you can apply this kind of thing to almost any behaviour. The only one I have struggled with is cheekiness/rudeness in general which doesn't have an obvious one and is the thing I now use what I call a "generic", ie, not directly related punishment for. However, you don't have to worry about this yet! At his age it's enough just to tell him "we don't say things like that" and model kind ways of talking/being, which I am sure you do without thinking about it.

I hope that you decide not to leave the forum. It can take a bit of getting used to the tone at times but generally people mean well and are trying to help when they offer advice. (Plus, you did post in AIBU also known as the "Vipers' nest!" smile) I have certainly found a wealth of information and support here - it would be a shame to leave. For more balanced and perhaps constructive replies you could try posting in the "Parenting" or "Behaviour/Development" boards or there is actually a board for "Adoption" as well although of course you're welcome to post on any part of the forum that you like. But you may find replies are less hostile outside of AIBU.

HoleyGhost Sun 03-Nov-13 18:06:22

No matter what approach you take to enforcing boundaries, healthy children will test them. Lots!

Using punishment will mean a world of grief that is avoidable. You can instill boundaries in gentler ways that will help strengthen the bond you are building.

MrsBW Sun 03-Nov-13 18:12:45

What NumanoidNancy said.

Parenting an adoptive child, can - on occasions (more often than not) call for a very different style of parenting than when raising birth children.

Yes, the behaviours may appear similar (hence the ubiquitous comments 'all kids do that') - but the root causes for that behaviour are almost always very different and trigger entirely different emotional responses... even if that child was removed from their birth parent at birth. Setting boundaries still needs to be done... but generally in a different way.

Hence my suggestion to post on the adoption board.

mennie1980 - you're not a failure as a parent. Post again on adoption, or an adoption forum.

RedHelenB Sun 03-Nov-13 18:16:37

A two year old would not have the maturity to say I want you to get hurt & mean it! If they did mean it then they would have lashed out there & then! Honestly, that is such a normal situation that OP has described but unfortunately an OTT reaction (We all do react OTT at times, again it's a normal part of parenting!)

RedHelenB Sun 03-Nov-13 18:18:36

Plus, if they really did mean it it is even more necessary for OP to show unconditional love & say "well I would never ever want you to get hurt like that I love you so much OR well if i got hurt I wouldn't be able to bake the buns or take you to the park.

valiumredhead Sun 03-Nov-13 18:22:13

I agree red-also who knows what this child has heard where he was living beforehand. Honestly, in this house that would've been met with 'on that's not nice that makes me sad, let's go and pick toys up'

Any other nonsense would result in an early nap, sounds like he was tired anyway as you said he went to sleep.

He will push you to test your love for him, save punishments for later when he's older and settled and remember if you go in all guns blazing you have nowhere to go from there.

MrsBW Sun 03-Nov-13 18:24:54

I didn't say mennie1980's reaction was 'the correct' or 'incorrect' one. In fact, I didn't comment on mennie1980's reaction to the situation at all.

Retroformica Sun 03-Nov-13 18:30:15

He sounds like a normal toddler by the way - lively ine min and testing boundaries the next. Don't take his comments personally and don't overreact. You are doing so well and he has what every child needs, boundaries, love and stimulation.

Have a look on amazon for highly rated books about toddlers. I loved toddler taming and the secret to happy children books. Will help you work out a way forward.

Retroformica Sun 03-Nov-13 18:33:17

Brush over the comment, don't take it to heart, quick timeout, crack on with next nice activity after a quick chat.

valiumredhead Sun 03-Nov-13 18:33:48

Toddler taming is a great book and very realistic, he has obviously lots of child experience unlike some experts I could mentionhmm

HoleyGhost Sun 03-Nov-13 18:34:40

X post BerstieSpotts

I agree with what you have written and do not consider your approach to be a punishing one.

MrsBW Sun 03-Nov-13 18:34:45

quick timeout


FrightNightcirCurse Sun 03-Nov-13 19:03:01

My 3 year old was cross this week and said 'I'm going to burn you like a hedgehog on a bonfire'!!! He was just really cross and did not mean it at all.

Can't remember the incident but we would have dealt with that in the main, not a comment said in anger.

valiumredhead Sun 03-Nov-13 19:14:59

Arf @ hedge hoggrin

hopskipandthump Mon 04-Nov-13 13:11:03

2yo children are rubbish at apologising. They don't really get 'sorry'. It's like 'please' and 'thank you' at this age - they learn those just by hearing you say them and will then tack them on to sentences when they see you like it, but they don't really 'get it'. With 'sorry' they don't get the same opportunity to learn to say it, because it's not as regular a thing. So you are effectively just ordering them to say a random word, and with typical toddler refusenik mentality, they won't. It's a pointless standoff.

At the moment whenever my 2.4 yo gets cross (an hourly occurrence) she fixes me or DH with a steely glare and says 'I will Go Away and Never Come Back'. Then she stalks off to the next room. She does come back though, when she gets hungry or bored or just forgets. grin

The only 'punishments' I give her are when she's doing something dangerous - and then it's only removing her from the danger. She has an annoying tendency to stand on her chair at mealtimes and the floor is stone and very hard so it's not safe. I give her a warning, and if she doesn't sit down, I take her out to the hallway. She hates that, and she's beginning to be better at sitting down, though I think that's mostly just her getting a bit older, to be honest.

hopskipandthump Mon 04-Nov-13 13:13:37

And, by the way, OP. this thread might make you feel better! Toddlers are irrational little beasts! smile

LimitedEditionLady Tue 05-Nov-13 15:44:49

Ive not read on all if the post but id say cancelling everything is a bit too harsh although i cant fault you for making the step to create boundaries.Depending on how you discipline as in what style personally this wouldve achieved my son a time out and a talking to.I think sometimes taking away TOO much can just upset a child more and it no longer becomes about reacting to original incident to the child but reacting to the mass punishment.I dont think a child of his age can really understand the ins and outs of a broken leg,yes banging your leg but i dont think he can really mean it.

NewtRipley Tue 05-Nov-13 15:49:26

Excellent Post Bertsie

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