I keep losing my temper

(23 Posts)
southernfairy Mon 01-Oct-12 14:11:24

Wondering if anyone has some advice I could use; feeling pretty crappy just now.

Yesterday I lost my temper with my little girl. She's 4 and a half. It's rare for this to happen - on the whole I'd say I'm reasonably calm - but it seems to be getting more frequent lately, and yesterday was in a league of it's own. I'm so appalled by what I did that I just can't think about anything else or concentrate on my work.

It started with her screaming and shouting (she was tired), and then throwing all the toys and games that I'd just spent an entire day sorting out onto the floor. Within minutes, a lot of what I'd painstakingly tidied was all over the place. I could feel the anger rising and told myself to stay calm, but even though I warned her quietly a few times, eventually something just snapped. I dragged her kicking and screaming upstairs and put her in her room; I knew holding her arms was probably hurting her but I didn't care. She came back downstairs and carried on throwing things and I smacked her on the bottom - something I've never done before - and then just started to scream and yell at her. My voice sounded awful, like some kind of crazy shriek, but I couldn't stop. She was literally shaking with fear and I tried to drag her back upstairs. I was acting like an absolute lunatic.

When my husband came in he did his usual 'good cop' thing. To his credit, he didn't cuddle her/spoil her/criticise me infront of her as he has sometimes done, but he was so calm and reassuring that it just compounded my feeling that he's this lovely, chilled-out dad and I'm an evil, twisted bitch with no control over my behaviour. I'm absolutely terrified of my own anger and I can't bear the idea that this might happen again. I was in floods afterwards and all I could keep saying was 'I'm not normal, I'm not normal, something's wrong with me.' I feel like the worst mother in the world and can't shake the memory of actually wanting to hurt her. She's just the most gorgeous little girl and I adore her but in that moment I felt possessed and completely unable to cope.

Any advice would be massively appreciated - I half feel like walking into a police station and announcing that I am Fundamentally Wrong In The Head and should be put away.

QTPie Mon 01-Oct-12 14:34:38

You can never change what has happened, only learn from it and move on. You are human.: we all do things that we are less than proud of, no-one is a saint....

Are you generally tired? Stressed? Need a break? Think about what can physically be done to put you in a calmer place?

I am always much lower on patience during "that time of the month" - is it "that time of the month"? I find if I acknowledge it for the week before, then it doesn't "creep up on me" quite so badly... sad. I hate even mentioning PMS, but hormones have a huge effect on me and I can't be the only one..,

I honestly think that the best thing that you can do - if you feel it boiling up - is just make sure that DC is safe and walk away. Leave the room and stay away for 5/10 minutes. Don't let DD push your buttons and make a game of it... If you can't stop her making a mess, then ignore it: get DH to help you clear it up after she is in bed, but dole out some suitably nasty punishment when you have calmed down (whatever she would hate missing out on or whatever) and make it very clear why it has happened.

Take care

alienreflux Mon 01-Oct-12 14:40:39

honestly, we all feel like that sometimes, you didn't hurt her, you scared her, yes, but that's not the same. it's a really bloody challenging age! I always find, whatever your discipline technique (i do naughty chair, whatever anyone thinks!!) do that at the very start of the bad behaviour, i know you're prob thinking 'oh she's tired' so excuse it for a while, but if you don't let yourself get to boiling point before you do something, you are much less likely to snap. failing that, yes, walk into the garden and take 5, but don't beat yourself up about it, you feel awful about what you did, testament to being a lovely mum!!

GooseyLoosey Mon 01-Oct-12 14:45:07

I would agree that many people feel like that sometimes. It sounds to me like something is going on in your life - over tired/ stressed etc and you need to try and identify what it is.

Don't worry about your dd. She saw you behaving badly once, it won't scar her for life.

My mother used to say that she stressed every day about all the things she had done wrong and promise herself that she would do better. I only ever saw her as a fab mum.

southernfairy Mon 01-Oct-12 14:47:15

That's made me feel better already. Thank you.

It's not that time of the month (although I am doubly rancid when it is), but I AM tired. Both the kids are shocking sleepers (DS is 15 months and wakes up several times a night. DD woke me up 3 times night before last, once to ask what sandwiches she could have for lunch!). Part of the problem is that our house is a tiny Victorian cottage and massively un-child friendly. I'm stressed out of my tree trying to stop the baby hurting himself - he can get under the stair gate and knows how to wriggle out of his high chair harness and bash his head on the stone floor. Last month he nearly bit his tongue of when he fell off a table he'd climbed onto, and there's a sheer drop between the kitchen and the basement that he quite often toddles off. Nightmare...

QTPie Mon 01-Oct-12 14:49:21

I think that is very true.... A mum who actively identifies and admits faults (to herself at the least) and looks for ways to improve is going to be a good mum.

(I use "naughty spot" too - it works for us with most things.... At least to stop bad behaviour, getting him to do things he doesn't want to do is a different matter... sad )

RosemarySalt Mon 01-Oct-12 14:54:06

I know exactly how you feel southernfairy I do the same with my 5 yr old DS. His behaviour often drives me nuts and I find myself losing my temper to the point of screaming like a banshee which makes him howl all the more, and leaves me feeling wretched. I wish I had some advice - sometimes it's easier to stay calm / walk away than others is about the best I can do. But just wanted to reassure you that you are not abnormal, quite the opposite! It is a challenging age, especially when you have a toddler too (again, I do too) and sometimes you lose it.

When I've had a real go at mine I always make sure I apologise to them (as I always tell them it's important to apologise when you know you've been naughty) and talk about ways to avoid that sort of thing happening in future.
It hasn't stopped me screaming at them but its getting less frequent.

QTPie Mon 01-Oct-12 14:57:10

15 months was, for us, a difficult age for sleep - teething caused general upset. I feel for you. We out a mattress, duvet and pillow on the floor next to DS's cot and took it in turns to camp out (he had a disturbed night more often than not): at least we were prepared and vaguely comfortable (even got some sleep).

Can you do some sort of "reward chart" with DD for sleeping: try to tackle her wakings (or at least "asking for mummy")?

Do you and DH share the night disturbances? Even if you get one or two hand reasonable nights sleep a week?

Always very complicated issue, but any chance of moving? We are currently looking to move because of issues with our garden (just not child friendly): not as bad as your problems, but it is causing problems...

southernfairy Mon 01-Oct-12 15:18:02

We wanted to move. We planned the move. We looked at schools and read OFSTED reports and found flats and promised each other that so-help-me-god, we'd be out of this one-horse town by September. And then we sat down one night and reminded ourselves that we are both self-employed (read: broke), have no job prospects down south, are overdrawn to the limit and half the time can't even get train fare together so I can get to work. So we're still here! House is a big source of stress, not least because the mister is a salvage dealer and so every available scrap of the very meagre space is filled with Victorian taxidermy, cast-iron station clocks and glass domes with weird skulls in them. It drives me NUTS. No garden either.
DH does share night-time duties. He's really good. We both feel hassled at times, I guess. Everyone else I know says things like 'Oh my mother has the kids every Tuesday and at the weekends', but my folks live abroad and his are so crippled by his mother's alcoholism that I'd rather end myself than leave the kids with them for a minute. Yikes.

QTPie Mon 01-Oct-12 15:31:02

Sending you a big Mumsnet hug - personally I think that you are doing a fabulous job holding it all together!

Do you own or are you in rented? If you are in rented, might be easier to move... Even if it is within the same one-horse town? If money is tight, any chance of a council house? I am not sure how easy they are to get (must vary from area to area).

Am glad that your DH is a good one - at least that is something very positive smile

My in-laws live abroad and my mum can't look after DS either, but I am very lucky that we can afford paid childcare for two mornings a week (otherwise I would go nuts.... so I feel for you).

I honestly think that you are doing exceedingly well under all of the circumstances. x

southernfairy Mon 01-Oct-12 15:38:34

Wells up again but in a good way... Thank you. I appreciate it! And there are LOTS of things about being here that are fab. I really am a happy person on the whole! x

LizLemon007 Mon 01-Oct-12 15:41:28

Is there a book about anger management for mothers? i knwo what i'm supposed to do and then my dd is so rude and cheeky that i end up pushing her outside the front door while I cool down. i push her out with too much gusto i know.

racingheart Mon 01-Oct-12 15:49:33

What you did shows the stress you're under right now. you had a meltdown. Most mums have at least one. It's not those that children remember, it's the usual day to day stuff.

Most important: you feel it was wrong. If you were abnormal or evil, you;'d think you were in the right, or had the rightm to behave that way.

Of course daddy is lovely and chilled and laid back. His stuffed foxes and bell jars don't scream and scream at him and hurl themselves around. Nothing is more challenge than children's tantrums when you're sleep deprived.

Don't be hard on yourself.

Viperidae Mon 01-Oct-12 15:55:30

Just wanted to say to all of you here, don't think you are alone in this, everybody feels like this sometimes and no parents are perfect (although some like to pretend they are!)

When my son was a baby I was told by an elderly relative that all children will, at some point, push their parents to the point where they could kill them. The thing that makes most of us normal is recognising that point and finding help.

My DCs are now in their 20s and I do wonder if it is harder for young mothers now as everything is so child-centred and there seems to be less discipline in life in general (our children were possibly disciplined more at playgroup, school, by older relatives, etc so maybe pushed the boundaries less)

The fact you have asked shows you are doing your best.

YouOldSlag Mon 01-Oct-12 16:03:14

I'd just like to add my voice. You are not alone. Dads often find it easier to be the calm one because if they work they have had about 8 or 10 child free hours five days a week. You have not.

Nobody tells you on the maternity ward that your children will sometimes be the most testing and stressful company you will ever experience.

I too have yelled at my kids in a way that makes me want to die of shame. I usually have a bedtime chat about it and we are close and they love me. They are not scared of me and I tell them I will try harder to improve my behaviour.

There are 168 hours in a week. That's a hell of a long time to be without a break. It would break even the toughest of nuts.

I am in a similar position with nobody I can leave them with (one is at school though). I feel really jealous of my friends with handy round-the-corner Mums.

southernfairy Mon 01-Oct-12 20:31:23

So much interesting stuff here. Viperidae, you have such a good point about things being more child-centred these days. I think about it a lot: Did my parents ever worry that I didn't have the right kind of toys at each developmental stage? Or wonder whether grapes have too much sugar in them to count as one of your five a day? Or lie awake at night worrying about one-to-one time? I don't think they did. When I talk to my mum about how she raised me, there seems to have been so much less guilt. She read Penelope Leech, and then just basically got on with it. She definitely didn't smack me an awful lot, but she didn't feel particularly terrible if she did. And she was a fantastic mum.

racingheart Mon 01-Oct-12 20:49:09

There you go Southernfairy. Bet you're a brilliant mum too. They didn't have to have us under their noses 24/7. They left us to snooze in our prams outside shops while they bought things at peace, instead of excuse-me-ing their way between narrow overstacked aisles with metallic music blaring into their brains. If we howled, they stuck the prams at the bottom of the garden, out of earshot so they could do the ironing in peace and no one called SS. Everyone did the same. We played out from 3pm to dusk and were only shouted in to tea. We walked ourselves to school from age 7.

They were allowed a break. We're not. We are supposed to be perfect 24/7, no leave ever. No wonder you screamed blue murder.

Also, controversial perhaps, but I think it does a child good to know they can reduce an adult to a fury. If we are automaton firm and calm all the time, they don't pick up on the fact that how they behave affects others. Not all the time, true, as they need to know we're in control. But sometimes, yes. They learn it hurts others when they go ape.

YouOldSlag Mon 01-Oct-12 20:57:05

True racing, it sometimes doesn't hurt them to know that you have a breaking point and that they have pushed you too far. They need to know behaviour has consequences and a red faced, tearful shouting mother can sometimes be that result.

southernfairy Mon 01-Oct-12 21:07:38

Thank you racingheart, that's really helpful and thoughtful. I have fleeting moments of thinking 'oh f*ck it, I'm going to be Seventies Mum and just leave them to it while I make myself a coffee', but my default position is to be a bit neurotic, especially since DD got bacterial meningitis when she was 2 and very nearly died. It has taken me nearly 3 years to allow myself to stop going upstairs every half an hour to check she's still breathing...

southernfairy Mon 01-Oct-12 21:10:11

I LOVE that I now get to say 'Thank you for that, you old slag.' Genius. I'm going to change my username to YouAncientEmbitteredSlapper.

Gooshka Mon 01-Oct-12 22:11:40

I've done exactly the same thing myself and then felt absolutely dreadful afterwards, like the worst mother in the world. I really feel for you. Do try not to be too hard on yourself - you've proved you are a good mum and that you care by reflecting on the incident and seeking help/support here. We always thinks that other mums do a much better job and never lose their mind/turn into a lunatic when tired/pushed to the limits but you'll probably find that it happens to most of us (it's just not an easy thing to be honest about so all credit to you for sharing it). It's a new day tomorrow so just get some rest and start again in the morning smile.

YouOldSlag Tue 02-Oct-12 11:54:14

Happy to help! smile

racingheart Thu 04-Oct-12 00:24:23

LOL youancientembitteredslapper

Interesting what you say about the meningitis and guilt. DS2 was dangerously ill for his first 2 years and I am was the most neurotic mother for years as a result.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

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

Register now