Is anyone else's toddler/child ruining everything?

(40 Posts)
BethyBoop Sat 26-Jan-13 14:08:05

Is anyone else's toddler/child ruining everything?

Mine is.
I hope to God I'm not alone in this.

DS is nearly 3. He's selfish, destructive, possessive, mean, temperamental, spoilt, annoying...the list goes on.

The possessiveness is the worst. I can't have a conversation with another human being without him roaring with rage and will scream and thrash until I look back at him. Apparently, I'm his and his alone.

My food is no longer my own. My toothbrush, my bed, my jewellery - these are all DS's now.

He punched the dog in the face because she came to come and sit on my lap.

The final straw came this afternoon. As you know, being single parent is borderline life stopping, the kids are your life now and there's no-one else. No time for the gym anymore. So I bought some workout DVDs to do at home instead.

DS made me cry! As soon as I put one on, he screamed in anger, rushed over, threw himself at my feet and kicked, scratched, smacked and bit, screaming, until I stopped moving and looked at him. As if wiggling about in your living room isn't embarrassing enough, I felt totally bullied and smacked down, humiliated by my own 2 year old son.

Needless to say, I snapped, roared right back and chased him up the stairs to bed.

I no longer accept my friends placations of - "It's just a phase, it'll pass, it's because you're a single mum, all kids get like it from time to time." No. I don't accept this anymore. We go to plenty of playgroups, stay and plays and nurseries and no other child is like mine. Ever. I've never witnessed my son's behaviour come from another child.

His dad will only see him once a fortnight now, when he used to have him twice a week. My parents don't want to have him from time to time because of how he is. I don't miss DS when he's not around, I live for bedtime, I count down to it all day long. I got a rare weekend away last year on a hen weekend with friends, I was gone for 3 days. I didn't miss him. I cried when we had to come home.

I do love DS so very very much but I've officially snapped and feel like, not only is it that I CAN'T do it anymore, but I don't WANT to anymore either.

So I wonder, out of nothing other than curiosity, is anybody else's little delight ruining their lives? I'd hate to be the only one!

SamSmalaidh Sat 26-Jan-13 14:11:35

How do you handle is behaviour? Sounds like a parenting course might be helpful for you?

3littlefrogs Sat 26-Jan-13 14:15:25

This is so sad. Your poor little boy is desperate for your attention and your love. He is only 2.

Please get some help. Talk to your GP or Health Visitor, get some parenting classes, some support.

BethyBoop Sat 26-Jan-13 14:18:20

Took a parenting course called Incredible Years at a local SureStart centre. Thought it was brill.

I ignore trantums but it seems to spur him on more, his persistance is almost admirable. Punishments are normally exclusion for a few minutes as he's not bothered about anything else other than being involved. Other things too, like no pudding, going to bed.
Christmas was a tipping point, he really stepped it up a gear.

BethyBoop Sat 26-Jan-13 14:24:46

I know 3littlefrogs, I know it's because he wants me all the time and loves me.

But he has me every waking and sleeping second of the day, I have no life, he is it. I don't go out, I don't have anything for myself, no adult enjoyments, I haven't even watched a grown up television programme in weeks because unless it's permanently tuned in to disney junior, or switched off, he makes it a living hell. His dad won't have him anymore, my parents will but at a real push and lots of begging.

DS is my world but enough is enough.

FlorriesDragons Sat 26-Jan-13 14:35:02

Could you afford a nursery? Even for a day every week just to give you a little time to yourself (gym, rest, etc) and get him socialised and stimulated a little more with different people and surroundings. My son is also very wilful (bright and easily bored too) but will conform very well when he sees other children sitting nicely on the carpet having a story for example. Since he has been in school his behaviour at home has turned a corner too. Some of the tantrums are down to his age too and I hate to repeat the "it's a phase" mantra but its true. This won't last forever I promise! grin

Have you tried a sling? I know 3 is quite big but when my three year old is being destructively attention seeking (after any consequences and long enough that he doesn't see it as a reward) I have put him in a back sling and the fact he is very close to me and feels secure and safe and loved tends to stop the cycle. I couldn't do it all day but for a couple of hours it's fine.

Have you read how to talk to kids so they will listen and how to listen so they will talk? It's brilliant for helping you to resolve situations and get you both behaving differently. We had a massive reduction in tantrums when I started using it.

catladycourtney1 Sat 26-Jan-13 14:46:34

If you're with him all day, every day, and are unable to have a chat with a friend or take half an hour to exercise, then common sense says that more attention is clearly not the answer. However, have you considered the quality of the time you spend with him? Do you play/do activities/go on days out together, or are you often busy and he is understimulated? Obviously with you being a single parent and him being so young, it can be difficult to come up with things to do.

Otherwise, I would say could you afford to send him to a nursery or play group for a day a week or so? Just to get him used to other adults and children, and not having constant one-on-one attention. It will be hard for both of you at first but I'd bet he starts to enjoy it, and it gives you some free time too.

catladycourtney1 Sat 26-Jan-13 14:49:47

Also can I add that I think it's disgusting that his dad will only see him once a fortnite because of this! Yes it must be hard, as you know better than anyone, but he's his dad! He can't just say no because he doesn't like his behaviour, he has a responsibility to him just as much as you.

Bluelovesred Sat 26-Jan-13 14:53:00

I am not a lone parent but very nearly became one due to DS1's behaviour.

My DS was very much like yours, violent, stubborn, wilful and had the most extreme tantrums several times a day. In fact most don't believe me but he tantrummed from birth, I even got evicted from a children's shop once when he was 9 months old as they said he obviously needed a doctor - no it was one of his normal tantrums!

I couldn't go anywhere with him, nobody wanted to be my friend as my DS would make such a scene wherever he was, and I fell out with family as they told me when he was only one that he was headed for prison if we didn't get a grip on him.

My family life with my DH fell apart as we could not get any time together go anywhere in public and were desperately trying to find a way to control him or make him better.

We saw a paediatrician and worked with HV but nobody could suggest anything that showed any positive results at all. It almost made me laugh when the professionals would show us how to deal with him and he would not respond at all to their techniques, they all ended up perplexed.

This is the positive bit, he is now 3 and has really turned a corner, he is still a difficult character but wonderful with it and has become such a loving, clever and social little boy.

Everybody will judge you and tell you that you are doing things wrong but IME these people have never had such a child themselves and therefore have no clue. They will tell you that you need to give more/less attention, ensure there are consequences etc etc etc and if you are anything like me you will have tried these things a million times over to no avail. They will also tell you to just make them do something, without realising this is near impossible to do without getting injured or the house/car/shop smashed to pieces.

Anyway, point to the above is, he just settled down, I gave up using techniques or listening to anyone else and just waited it out, and it worked!

it's such a horrible position to be in and I wouldn't wish it on anybody (well maybe a few of the people who suggested parenting courses and were judgmental) but I think you will get through it, it's remarkable but as soon as you hit rock bottom I have found there is usually a big upturn in behaviour. Deep down I just think these children need to push it further in order for you to prove your love.

just one more point after this epic post, I now have another DS, who has been completely different from birth super chilled and smiley and happy, so when you feel it may be all down to you, take comfort in the fact that it won't be.

Piemother Sat 26-Jan-13 16:43:26

More detail please...are you a sahm? Are you in benefits? Sure start where I am will fund crèche sessions I think you can have 6 in crisis situations - sounds like you need them.

Can you explain the daily routine a but more? When are the most difficult times? What isn't stressful with ds?

minkembra Sat 26-Jan-13 16:58:20

I agree with the suggestion that time away at creche or nursery might help. bet it will be tough getting him there to start with but will pay off in the end.

also I know this sounds tough, but is there anyway you can stop him getting to you if you want to exercise? I'm not talking anything mental like hairy ropes under the stairs. maybe a playpen for you with him on the outside;-) or a stair gate over the door maybe so he can see you but not get in. give him attention before something new to do while you are busy. start with maybe 5 minutes of getting on with your exercise then extend it. so he gets the message that he cannot always get you immediately. lots of attention either side so he thinks it is a good thing.

I know some people might say this is unfair and you should do whatever makes you.kid happy but you could argue that letting kids away without boundaries is storing up problems fir their future which is even more unfair Imo. and you are not wrong you need a teeny bit of space or you'll be no good to him at all.

Good luck. hope he grows out of it soon.

EvenIfYouSeeAPoppy Sat 26-Jan-13 17:11:26

I think I'm with 3littlefrogs on this, tbh.

You do sound badly in need of a break. But really, I would never have had the idea of trying to do an exercise DVD with my toddler around - and still wouldn't now they are 5 and 7. I think he's ramping up the behaviour pracisely because you are quite clearly mentally 'elsewhere' and want him away from you. A vicious circle.

Agree with the need for more detail. Also agree with the suggestion of nursery, or maybe a CM - it sounds rather as if the stimulation and socialisation with other children would do him good. Do you take him out, to playgrounds, parks, swimming, for rides on a scooter or balance bike?

What's probably also not helping is that other people in his life are withdrawing from him sad FFS. I'm cross at your ex and your parents. If you love a child you don't bail out and distance yourself just because they are going through a difficult phase behaviourally. Can you tell them that parenting/grandparenting isn't just about the fun stuff, this is a tough phase and they need to put the work in if they want to reap the rewards? And I bet the rewards will come.

Can you find stimulating stuff you might both enjoy? Some CDs of really well-written children's books, enjoyable music to dance round the living room to, the programmes you watched as a child on DVD or YouTube, long walks in the woods?

I understand that you are the end of your tether, but you sound really aggrieved and tbh aggressive towards him, and that's not fair and not OK. You really need to do something about this, for his sake. Sorry for tough love.

lovelyladuree Sat 26-Jan-13 17:19:56

I am not a lone parent but my DD was very similar in behaviour to your DS, which was a massive shock after having my DS who was and is an absolute angel. The good news is, as soon as she started going to playgroup, then nursery, this behaviour evaporated. They need socialising and you need a break. And it also helps when they realise that other adults will not tolerate their tantrums. Good luck.

minkembra Sat 26-Jan-13 17:47:13

To those who wouldn't try an exercise DvD. It is not true that you cannot do exercise videos with kids around. mine do them with me quite happily.
or we all do boogie beebies.

Although i tend to do it after they go to bed just to get more space.

Re suggestion of separating him from you when you are exercising- i do mean not in a mean way. he has to feel like he is getting a good deal not just shut in the hall. my kids would amuse themselves if they had something they wanted to do and i think it is a good skill for them to learn. but even then not for long so would not reckon it would work for more than ten minutes. mostly i needed a bit of space to make tea without them getting injured in the kitchen!

However, this really does sound like it is on the extreme end of attention seeking so it is hard to imagine how it must be for you.

Do agree though the main suggestion would be time away/ with other kids.

3littlefrogs Sat 26-Jan-13 19:23:44

The way I always looked at things was this:

If I was paying a nanny to look after my child, what would I expect the nanny to do?

I would expect the nanny to play with my child, take him outside for fresh air and exercise, encourage a routine, interact with him and have age appropriate expectations of his understanding and behaviour.

I would not expect the nanny to be doing an exercise routine while ignoring my child. I would not be happy if the nanny expected my 2 year old to entertain himself while she had "me time".

When he is 3 he will be able to go to nursery.
When he is 4 he will be going to school.

It is really hard work bringing up children, but they are little for such a short time. It is just so sad that you seem to resent your little one so much.

minkembra Sat 26-Jan-13 20:28:42

3little frogs if your hypothetical nanny was preparing lunch for your child would you expect her to also being doing stimulating play with your child or not to make him lunch?

Would your nanny be allowed to wee?

It is not possible to spend every minute giving kids full on attention. The OP doesn't really sound like she needs to be told to try harder. She didn't say her only issue was no exercise dvd. would you hire a nanny who let your kid punch the dog or anyone and just took the attitude that oh well they will be at nursery in a year.

I would expect a nanny to work with the issue.

A 2 year old should be able to handle a _little bit_of having to wait while you have a conversation otherwise how will they learn to share or take turns. Plenty of kids who have siblings learn they cannot have their mum all to themselves.

They are little for a short time and part of what they are doing in that short time is learning some basic social skills and gradually gaining some independence so they can go to nursery etc.

Thankfully they do usually grow out of being excessively clingy. I'm sure the OP loves her ds and he is her world as she says but it is only normal to feel overwhelmed and what I get from her OP is that she feels bad for feeling like this but is at her wits end and just wants to know it will get better.

colditz Sat 26-Jan-13 20:39:09

No child should be beating his mother until she cries. My children learned very early on that they are not to hit me ever.

What if the op had another child? Would it be acceptable for the ds to hit and kick her because she was talking to the other child? Unacceptable behavior is unacceptable behavior, and I don't think saying "soon he can go to play school" is going to help the op now!

Personally, if my children hit me, I used to put them in their bedroom with the door shut and they stayed there until they stopped screaming.

Don't be afraid to stand up to him physically. Your toothbrush is NOT his. It's yours. Take it off him and put it where he can't get it. He does NOT get to dictate what goes on the tv, and furthermore, he goes to bed at 7pm or earlier.

If he starts screaming and thrashing, turn your back on him. Tell him you won't look at someone who is screaming at you, so he has to be GOOD to get your attention.

Make sure you are playing with him, and be realistic about how long it is reasonable to expect him to amuse himself. At nearly three, its not long at all.

3littlefrogs Sat 26-Jan-13 20:47:25

To go back to my first response to the OP:

This situation has taken time to develop. I think you need professional help and support to turn things around OP. Otherwise you feel more miserable, your ds gets more desperate, his behaviour gets worse and you try harder to detach.

As the adult in the situation, you need to ask for help, in order to help yourself and your ds.

Of course it is reasonable to expect to be able to prepare a meal, have a wee, but things have gone way beyond reasonable.

It is really sad for both of you.

soimpressed Sat 26-Jan-13 21:04:43

Just offering sympathy OP because I've had a shitty evening so I can't offer advice.

My DS is very attention seeking and it can be so draining. For example tonight we were invited out for dinner and when DS found he wasn't the centre of attention he started to be silly and misbehave. When that didn't have the desired effect he started shouting and lay on the floor crying. At one point he came up and put his hands around my neck. He ruined everyone's evening - no one could talk over his noise and I was getting more and more embarrassed by his behaviour. In the end I had to take him home. He's 8.

Having said that I don't feel this way very often and I really miss him when he's not with me. It sounds as though things might be getting on top of you especially if you don't have much support. Maybe talk things through with your GP?

SavoyCabbage Sat 26-Jan-13 21:07:01

Yes, can you talk to your HV and get some help? It sounds like you are trying so hard and that you just can't do it any more. It must be hard for your ds that the other two people in his life are withdrawing so its easy to see why he is now feeling insecure and clinging to you, but that's no help to you!

Can you talk to your ex about it? I don't think he's doing the right thing in any way, shape or form, but it might be hard for him if he is taking ds for the day and ds is screaming for you. He (ex) might think 'well what's the point of this' rather than just being a lazy bastard he might think he's doing the right thing.

When my dd was 18 months we went on holiday and my dd took against me. For three weeks she would only let her dad feed her, change her nappy, put her to bed, dress her and even touch the handles of her buggy. It was hard for me and for him. He had to do everything as she was going mad and I felt rejected.

It was caused by dh's dad picking us up at the airport (she had never seen him) and she thought my dh was driving the car and it was her grandad (dh was in another car) and she got a fright when she realised it wasn't him. They look very alike. After that she wouldn't let him out of her sight.

There is a photo of us on the holiday where I am standing behind the buggy and she is just starting to turn her head, having just clocked my dh with the camera. Seconds later she was going crazy.

I think you should be able to talk to a friend at playgroup or do some exercise. I definitely did exercise DVDs when my youngest was a toddler. And wii fit. She just pottered about. Sometimes she tried to join in a bit using a plastic box lid for her wii fit. He should feel 'safe' enough in his own home to play without your attention being utterly focused on him.

Go and see your HV. You need some help. You Re not doing anything wrong.

catladycourtney1 Sat 26-Jan-13 21:13:14

3littlefrogs the difference is, a nanny is paid to look after the child/children - nothing else. They get to to go home and sort out their own lives, see their friends, and relax. A parent, on the other hand, has a house to run, bills to pay, a social life and family to keep up with, and her own health and wellbeing to take care of - all while looking after the children. If a parent focused on her child at the expense of all of those things, and let the house go to pot, the rent go unpaid, family and friends drift away and her health to suffer, how would that ultimately benefit the child?

Piemother Sat 26-Jan-13 23:59:29

i just typed out loads of advice then re read the op. if you have never seen this from another child you need a CAMHS referral. your gp can do it or you can self refer. you need an SEN assessment. i know thats drastic but him attacking you really bothers me. he will get bigger and stronger and this will get worse :-(

3littlefrogs Sun 27-Jan-13 09:42:48

I hear what you are saying catlady, but my point is that the OP needs professional help, and urgently. The situation has got completely out of control now, she can't solve it on her own.

Branleuse Sun 27-Jan-13 09:55:08

I think you need to speak to your health visitor because this doesnt sound normal behaviour. Phone up your GP and ask for a call back and tell them you want to know if there is a specialist health visitor as you are completely at breaking point and you need to know IF it is something you are doing, or If its because there is something within him as you suspect this is not normal behaviour.
I would think it could be some form or SEN

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