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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.

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?

dreamingbohemian Thu 31-Oct-13 14:49:17

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

themaltesefalcon Thu 31-Oct-13 14:57:47

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.

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