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My toddler is breaking me!!

(17 Posts)
Clarabeau78 Sun 04-Nov-18 19:08:03

HI All
So I am 6 months into placement of my almost 3 year old boy. His background is not horrendous and the usual awful things you can read about adopted children. He was removed at 8 months and went into FC.
We started off extremely well but the last 8 weeks have been a nightmare!! He doesn't particularly eat well and for example last week out of 5 nights he only ate dinner once. He sleeps ok does wake up and come into our bed but when he does he is ready to go wants tv now regardless of it's 3 am or 7am and will non stop ask for it scream etc.
When he has his tantrums or in his case meltdown they don't last a few minutes they can go on for 2 3 hours in.that time he has kicked screamed cried hit with object at hand and just doesn't give in he can go and go and go 😟 .He has a massive addiction to Tv from FC house and that's our only bargaining tool currently! He won't let us watch it he doesn't understand that I don't control the programmes etc and just looses it. He is so strong willed and stubborn and he won't give up will definitely win the argument.
He is too helpful which we have tried to wean him off of but my hubby encourage it to my despair,! Which then makes my job much harder 😦.
So have I underestimate what he did witness etc at home ? Is he just being a toddler? Is there the various adopted issues I'm not seeing?
I literally am at the end of my tether I'm miserable as sin. I spend the day shouti g and in tears. I wanted to be a good mum one he deserves but I'm.not because I feel like I don't care anymore . Generally I don't retaliate argue etc but lately I am becoming angry and I don't like myself very much.😥.
Myself and my hubby have been on such a rollercoaster in the last 7 years and I'm totally honest I feel like I can't complain I can't be honest because I'm supposed to feel gratefull after all I have this child I have always wanted!
So what do I do? Go to Go? Have i got post adoption depression? I honestly just need some kind of help.
Thanks for reading

OP’s posts: |
topcat2014 Sun 04-Nov-18 19:22:16

I don't think it is depresssion, op, as that would be feeling awful without good cause.

You know what is making things rough here, iyswim.

When you say you don't control the programmes, there are alternatives (like freeview plus) where you can get iplayer etc over your internet - without needing sky etc. (I don't have sky).

I remember when our birth daughter was tiny (she is 11 now) trying to get a postman pat DVD to work at 3am as that was the only thing that would help - so don't worry, this issue is not exclusive to adoptive kids.

I feel for you, as we are hoping to be approved for a child of 3-5.

Don't be too harsh on yourself.

onemoremummy Sun 04-Nov-18 19:49:23

What I’m going to suggest may be a bit radical, but if TV is a problem, why don’t you get rid of it for a while? Or put it in a room he doesn’t have access to? Might be worth trying and giving it a few weeks to see if it helps.

The dinner part sounds exactly like both my birth children (I don’t have any adoptive children), I’d like to tell you it gets better but it doesn’t really 😩

ballsdeep Sun 04-Nov-18 19:51:25

Sounds like a normal toddler to me!

Ted27 Sun 04-Nov-18 19:59:02

I don't agree with that definition of depression, some of the feelings you describe could be signs of depression, so its a possibilty but you would need to speak to your GP I think.
One of the hardest things I've found about being an adoptive mum is figuring out just what is going on - is it an adoption thing, in our case is it an ASD thing, or is he just being 8 or 9 or now an average stroppy teenager.
6 months is still early days, and he is still such a baby, so firstly I would say think younger. Secondly, you need to be on the same page as your husband. Thirdly pick your battles - don't make an issue out of food, if he will only eat fishfingers or chicken nuggets, then give him that, you may probably find it boring, he might find a bit of security in it. There is plenty of time to introduce him to other food.
Try a visual timetable so he can see when he is allowed TV but also what he will be doing when its not on. It may be more TV time than you would like but this is a long haul. I wouldnt have gone for TV at 3 in the morning but I was up at 7 every morning for the first year - he would watch TV, I would lie on the sofa.
try and work out the triggers for the meltdowns/tantrums, far easier to avoid them starting, is there a pattern, time of day, could he be hungry, tired ?
I found the most helpful thing with mine was to just keep him active, we went swimming four times a week ( I hate swimming), out to the park, scooter, bike, feed the ducks, if he is out and active he is off the TV and you might feel it less of an issue when he is on the TV.
I'm not the mum I thought I would be, I shout too much, I get cross, we are human, don't beat yourself up about it. You are doing better than you think, I promise you.
Finally, self care. I assume you are on adoption leave and husbsnd is at work? Hand him over to dad for a few hours at the weekends, it will be good for them, you go for a coffee, read a magazine, get your hair done, go for a walk, - it will do you the world of good.

GiddyGardner Sun 04-Nov-18 20:20:06

Food is sometimes an issue for us (even though they will eat anything), we often get through mealtimes by 'feeding them' (we have a nearly 3 year old and a nearly 4 year old), it's bloody exhausting doing 'choo choo trains, or aeroplanes, but it works (and we are very early in placement, so really it's also a gift towards helping to bond).

TV is an issue too, eldest is obsessed, and to be fair, I use TV for my own ends (hangs head in shame), if I need a break, I tell them 'quiet time' and put TV on. So I can hardly complain when they demand it. So I have restricted it, and try to do a few activities at least before TV goes on (if we are in for the day). Most days we go out and about (because it saves my sanity, the dog gets a snooze and my wood floor breathes a sigh of relief!). So TV doesn't cross their mind, but I do often use it as a bribe too (hangs head in shame again).

I really try to be theraputic, and I think I manage it 80% of the time, but then I crack, and I might shout. I honestly think our eldest especially needs strict boundaries, and he does understand logical consequences. But I do sometimes fail to carry those consequences out, which does not help him.

Sometimes I am on form, and it works, sometimes I am rubbish and even my nearly 3 year old can spot my weaknesses. We are all learning, I guess it's about navigating the right route for you and figuring out what works to keep the peace and harmony.

BellaCat123 Sun 04-Nov-18 20:22:04

Foster carer here,

We have placed several ‘TV addicts’ in the past! As PP said what we found worked was going cold turkey and no TV for anyone (until they were in bed). There were times it was hard when we were tired and running on empty it was so tempting to use it for a little bit of head space but beyond the first few days all behaviours related to the TV stopped.

The sleep is a bit different for us as children are not allowed in our bedroom so we used a mixture of ‘bedtime’ techniques to stay in their rooms until a more sociable time (6am) with grow clocks for older children. One of ours just couldn’t sleep past 5am so used to have a box of special toys kept in our room that they knew we would come and give them to play with in their room in the morning.

Even if children haven’t had an abusive or violent history they have still lost multiple families and people before being adopted sadly. I think this all sounds like pretty typical toddler things but from experience children do not have to have experienced horrendous things to grieve, struggle with attachment etc.

Try and go easy on yourself too, you are doing fab!

flapjackfairy Sun 04-Nov-18 20:28:01

It sounds like there are a number of issues going on here. You have been handed a little stranger to parent and it is bound to be a rollercoaster ride made worse by the probable issues your son is dealing with as a result of his past . If I could offer one piece of advice it is this, do not let him win the argument by using tantrums and hitting etc. If he wins he will use that tactic every time he wants his own way and it will only escalate.
I know it is v hard when they are in meltdown but he is small enough to contain at the moment . Imagine him doing that as a teenager !
I firmly believe in therapeutic parenting but alongside firm boundaries. He needs to know you are in control and can keep him safe esp from himself. No doubt he is traumatised by his past the poor love and he is showing you that by his behaviours so he needs loads of love and empathy. You will be his safe place to begin to let it out and yes you might well have a rough ride. Basically the honeymoon is over !
Also I second taking time out for yourself and loads of physical exercise for your young man to wear him out. Don't worry about the food issue I would ignore that as it will pass . Have you applied for the adoption order yet ? If not could you ask for an assessment and get support put in place before you finalise the adoption. And are post adop support offering any help at all ?
It does sound really hard work so don't beat yourself up. You are doing the best you can so hang on to that and I hope things get better x

earlybyrd Sun 04-Nov-18 20:30:35

It's ok to feel secretly a bit pissed off you know...I gave birth and adopted children and they can drive you up the wall especially when they are having tantrums, you are doing fine, just keep
on keeping on and keep those boundaries firm, it will all pass, I promise

Clarabeau78 Mon 05-Nov-18 14:13:47

Hi ladies.
Thanks for all your tips advice and wise words! I am probably too harsh on myself as people do keep telling me this. We have tried all the tv advice to no avail but will plug on with it. I have health visitor Friday as she agrees eating is an issue as he is very small for his age hasn't put much weight on or grown really since September last year so hopefully she will help too.


OP’s posts: |
PicaK Mon 05-Nov-18 16:54:22

There is help out there - ring your post adoption team.
At the risk of giving you advice you know - are you wearing him out enough? Physical activity all morning and again in the afternoon. Playgroups, parks, swmming, walking etc etc. You need to be out of the house.
TV. So how much is too much? I'd be more tempted to relax on this. TV whilst in the house - lots of time out of the house. Does he need to learn to play? You might have to do that play in a non tv environment eg play group. Before he can start to play at home. He's been with you such a short time and you're removing a constant in his life.
Tantrums. Are you doing PACE? The looking for triggers etc is so easy to type but so long to put into practice but keep going. If he finds things hard eg shopping then don't do them.
3am wake ups - flowers. Mine wakes up every 2 hours or so - so we cosleep cos the faster i soothe her it stops her waking up properly. So we all sleep better.
Food. This can be a heartbreaker. Is he a grazer - need 5-6 smaller meals daily ratjer than big ones. I wouldn'tput too much hope in the advice of your social worker. I would start to think about what's being eaten in terms of carbs, dairy, protein, veg etc on a two week rolling basis. If he wants to eat pizza every day for 2 weeks go with it. You have time to sort out food issuesbut concentrate for now on attachment and helping him control and manage his emotions.
It is such hard work. Are you getting enough self care time. Are you getting as much as your dh. And are you getting time together?
But ask Post for help. I was just like you and they helped so much.

PicaK Mon 05-Nov-18 16:57:05

Ooh typo - should say food advice and health visitors not so useful if your child isn't NT. Anything along the lines of "no child will starve itself" or "you can make the food into smiley faces" and i'd just smile politely and back away.

Jellycatspyjamas Mon 05-Nov-18 20:48:49

His background is not horrendous and the usual awful things you can read about adopted children. He was removed at 8 months and went into FC.

Part of your answer might be here - he’s approaching the 7-8 month mark which is when he was removed as a baby, he could be just waiting for another move in an internal time clock kind of way. I’d echo that the honeymoon is over, he’s testing you to see what it’ll take for you to move him on - not in a conscious, motive driven kind of way, he doesn’t have that cognitive ability, but sub consciously he’ll ve waiting...

I had a similar issue with screens with my two after placement and even now they are little tv addicts. I stopped all screen time for around 6 months, unless we watched something as a family. We now have a marble jar and timer to manage screen time but my two are a bit older. Do think about aging younger, so operate at an 18 month old level in terms of activities, screen time etc. Also really please check your battles, good wise I’d give him meals you know he’ll eat with a new something on the same plate - he doesn’t need to try it but it’s there if he wants. Keep regular routines around food, eg always at X time, at the table, no toys or screens and chat about everything except what he is/isn’t eating.

The early months are so bloody hard, you won’t be the mum you thought you’d be, because you didn’t know what it wouid be like then. It’s ok to struggle and to wonder what the hell you’ve invited into your life. It’s all part of the change process. Hang in there!

Mintylizzy9 Tue 06-Nov-18 06:42:02

Hi, we experienced a rise in behaviour around 6 months in. It marked the end of the honeymoon period! this book is great for giving an insight to why our kids do what they do and what we can do about it.

The national association of therapeutic parenting has saved me with all the advice and support it’s worth a look. They have a Facebook group open to non members (see picture).

Look after yourself this can be a tough ride but it does get easier x

Wheresthel1ght Tue 06-Nov-18 06:53:52

Firstly it does indeed sound like depression. Speak to you hb and ask for support!

Next... You speak a lot about how you feel but not about the little boys feelings. Try to remember he is also struggling and trying to adjust. You are all still strangers and it will take time!

The eating thing is normal. My birth child and step kids both did this when younger. Part is because it is pretty much the only thing they cam control in a world they have no say in and part is just typical kid behaviour of testing boundaries.

The meltdowns don't sound normal though. I would speak to the health visitor but I would also contact his social worker and query if he has ever shown signs of autism as they can be a sign.

Hang in there, it does get better!

offtotheshops Tue 06-Nov-18 09:11:15

Everything will be feeding into other each other here - if you hadn't had dinner for several days you would probably also be screaming and shouting at 3am too - so to try and break it down can we help with some ideas about eating firstly?

For example, when you say he doesn't eat, do you mean he would not eat anything at all? My dc lost weight very quickly when young and I found I had to be very inventive to get nutrition into them - for example one would only eat porridge, spaghetti bolognese and cake, so I would put egg and honey in the porridge (which actually tasted pretty good a bit like custard) to get some protein into them, I would put courgettes and carrots in the bolognese so it had more of the 5 a day, and I invented a cake which had eggs, honey instead of sugar, milk and ground almonds. It was trial and error, I remember doing about 5 dishes in one sitting once. I agree with pika here, the advice that they won't let themselves starve just does not work with some kids. A well fed child is going to be happier and have more energy and sleep better, and eating then gets easier as time goes on.

After getting some food into them, get out for some serious fresh air and walking. If it is hard to get them to walk, take their hand and point out birds, houses, etc so that they are distracted. A few rounds of the local play area to exhaust them and build up muscles. Do you have furry snowboots and very warm coats and hats for them? That will make them feel snuggly which helps.

Better food and more exercise will help with the mood and with the sleeping.

With the TV I would try to go cold turkey and do things he would accept as alternatives. For example at that age me playing with dc and entertaining dc, or reading to them, or doing painting or play dough or something with them would be acceptable alternatives. Would that work? It may take a bit of practice, but the more time you spend doing these sorts of things, the more they will want your company instead of TV.

Are you all clued up on what activities and toys are best to do with 3 year olds, the "right" stimulation for his age? I found getting it right was like a switch going on or off in terms of behaviour, a sudden "aha" moment. Does he have some stimulating toys and activities for at home? Thinking 6 months ahead is also good, in terms of activities, so you know where you are at.

It is really hard work, but it is worth it.

It does sound to me as though you are struggling and need some help in real life too, though, your HV is aware that there is a problem with eating which is good. These posts may all help though.

offtotheshops Tue 06-Nov-18 09:17:44

One last idea - is your routine good? It may help to write out a planned routine in terms of meal times and activities and bathtime etc and plan out the meals in advance, and try to stick to it like glue, as then even when things get off whack it is easier to get back to it.

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