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To be v worried that DD has been frightened about having baths since incident at her Dads a few months ago...

(57 Posts)
NancyPiecrust Tue 17-May-16 22:18:45

I was just putting DD (nearly 2 but very bright, incredible memory & language skills, very sensitive & intelligent little girl) to bed... she was asleep & then woke up after 5 mins crying.. I went in & said to her "everything's alright" (was thinking neighbours above her bedroom had startled her awake as they are quite stompy) & she was still screaming really loudly, I said to her "shh shh everything's fine ... What's wrong? Are you worried about anything?" (I was thinking neighbours noises scared her) and she said "yes" whilst whimpering, I asked her - "what is it? tell Mummy" & she said "Daddy whacked the boiler" .... hmm
This is an incident that must have happened months ago because her Dad (my ex) had his boiler replaced a while ago but for ages it had been playing up & all I have been told is (after she blurted it out a few weeks ago & I then put 2 and 2 together, knowing what her Dad's like with temper/handling stress...Then I asked him about it & he just told me that they were in the bathroom & she was screaming whilst tired and waiting for her bath...he was trying to run her a bath but the water wouldn't go hot and the boiler kept resetting...(this is frustrating I know I had to deal with it for months when I lived at his house) but he basically just lost it & punched the boiler or whacked it or whatever (it's in the bathroom next to the bath) & I am not sure what else he did like if he shouted at her but she saw this act of aggression, which would have made a very loud noise which she is extra sensitive to but any 2 year old would be frightened of this no? And to see her Dad suddenly switch like this. To me it seems really scary and inappropriate. I am only just piecing this all together in my head so could do with an outsider perspective.
The fact that she's still bringing it up and and still seems traumatised by it now is worrying me a lot, and also that she didn't mention it to me for months, maybe until she had the verbal ability to but instead she seemed to suddenly develop a fear of the bath out of nowhere & I could never work out what it was ! For weeks she would be in the bath & then would suddenly look over under my sink, stand up and scream out of nowhere & say "Out Out ! Out!" And be like shaking with fear and desperate to get out, as if she had just seen a shark swimming towards her or something ! I was baffled & asked her "What is making you scared darling? What is it? What are you looking at? (under the sink)" but she would just cry and cry and cling to me and not tell me anything. Her Dad also told me she has gone off baths & refused to have a bath at his house. Then the next time I was in the bath I saw that there are these exposed pipes under my sink...I realised that must be what she is looking at & thought maybe she thinks it's a snake or something ? So next time I saw her looking at the pipes and whimpering and getting uncomfortable and starting to say "Out ....Out.." I said "Are you looking the this darling?" And pointed at the pipes. She said "Yes I don't like them" and continued being scared. I took her out of the bath & I said "Maybe I will cover them up or get Daddy to cover them up if they are worrying you?" She said "yes cover them up" "Daddy will cover them up" . I then ended up just putting an Abney & Teal sticker over the pipe to make it look more friendly. She seemed happier with this. Anyway another time we were talking about the pipes again (she brings up upsetting stuff often eg. "I fell in the stingy nettles!" Or "Sid pushed me over!" and will say it over and over again to kind of process it I think.
Anyway so yes we were talking about the pipes again & I was saying how "yes we put the sticker there so they look nicer!" and she suddenly came out with "Daddy whacked the boiler". Immediately it all made sense...knowing my ex's temper & problem with his boiler & how he can't stand or handle her crying etc & the bath fear..the fear of the pipes (His boiler has exposed pipes that are next to the bath).....I asked him about it but he didn't explain much. Now I feel like I need him to explain more. She still now doesn't really like baths anymore & only is interested in having one it I go in there with her. Which is really sad because she used to love baths.
So anyway yes this evening going to bed she has now seemed to have another flashback of it & mentioned it again, months after it must have happened. And I suspect I only heard about it weeks or months after it actually happened. Quite worrying.
This evening I then had a long talk with her about it & I told her that grown ups make mistakes & do things that are wrong & that Daddy should never do something like that again & that I am sorry if she was frightened by it. She then said "Mummy wasn't there". I told her it was not her fault & that it was because Daddy was angry with the boiler, not with her.
I am devastated sad I just do not trust him and I am so upset that I was never told about this when it happened & she must have been so frightened. She seems truly traumatised ! What can I do/ What should I do?

EastMidsMummy Tue 17-May-16 22:23:25


NancyPiecrust Tue 17-May-16 22:27:50

Sorry for long post just didn't want to drip feed or be unclear !

TheWindInThePillows Tue 17-May-16 22:31:32

I don't know what to make of this. On the one hand, it sounds like he just lost his temper and whacked it (or may even have bashed it to make it work) which may be frightening, but on the other hand, children of this age can also get fixated on really strange or not that scary stuff and turn it into a whole big nightmare scenario. In that instance, the worst thing you can do is confirm to her that it is scary and worrying and you are devastated/she is traumatized. One of mine saw a film which I showed them, it was a mistake on my part, and had nightmares and screaming for months and months afterwards.

So- I'm not quite sure where the extreme alarm is coming from, is it that you genuinely think her dad is aggressive/has a bad temper, which it sounds like you know from before, and what are your options anyway- presumably he has contact and that will continue even if he did once bash the pipes/boiler in a moment of frustration.

I just don't know if this reaction is about your other fears and worries about continuing contact too; this may be justified.

Mummyme1987 Tue 17-May-16 22:32:49

Kids at that age get frightened at nothing. One of mine hated a shadow, she screamed. Talked about it for ages. I tried not to feed her fear and she grew out of it.

Schmoozer Tue 17-May-16 22:33:11

Blimey, poor little girl. Sounds like it really scared her, does he get his aggressive behaviour has really freaked her out ??
If he doesn't get it, and he can't curb his temper, should she be going there ?????

Mummyme1987 Tue 17-May-16 22:34:34

Unless there is a reason you are worried apart from this about her dad, then I'm not sure why you are so worried?

Pettywoman Tue 17-May-16 22:35:42

Just keep reassuring her like you're doing and talk about it if she mentions it. In the mean time keep baths short, but tempt/ distract her with fun bath things. Bath crayons, new toys or sponges. If she's enjoying a bath let her splash about longer.

My eldest hated baths for about a year after going under in the paddling pool at the park. We had to use the shower attachment for a while.

How easy would it be to cover the pipes? Even with a towel or something.

AnotherEmma Tue 17-May-16 22:36:04

1. AIBU is not the place for this
2. Has he been physically violent towards people or objects in the past? Is he prone to outbursts of temper in front of DD?

Mummyme1987 Tue 17-May-16 22:36:54

I've been known to swear loudly and hit an old dishwasher to get it going, I'm sure we all have done things like that, is there more to this than that?

shinynewusername Tue 17-May-16 22:37:40

I tried not to feed her fear and she grew out of it

This. You and EH need to explain to her that Daddy was trying to get the boiler to work and he is sorry that he scared her, then move on. I'd probably try to make a game out of confronting the fear - as she gets in the bath, you both shout, "Silly boiler" or blow a raspberry.

CinderellaRockefeller Tue 17-May-16 22:37:51

Is there a whole backstory to this? Because you do sound a bit hysterical about a one off loss of temper. It's not good behaviour and if it was regular or part of a pattern it would be worrying but a one off loss of temper in a clearly stressful situation is not ideal but it is excusable.

Also there seem to be some big leaps that you have made, from exposed pipes to boilers to flashbacks and trauma - is she articulating all of this to you or are you accidentally leading her through your assumptions? How long ago was the boiler incident?

Mummyme1987 Tue 17-May-16 22:38:13

Fun toys in the bath, maybe even changing the colour of the bath might help.

AnotherEmma Tue 17-May-16 22:38:39

The two red flags that stand out to me are the level of your DD's fear (which is chilling to read) and this comment "knowing what her Dad's like with temper/handling stress"

But since this is AIBU you will get many more replies like the ones above, minimising the situation.

Get the thread moved to relationships and you might get some decent advice.

Pettywoman Tue 17-May-16 22:39:02

I agree about children having fixations and fears about any random thing. One of mine wouldn't poo on the toilet because of Auntie Mabel's episode on sewers on Come Outside. Potty training was a nightmare.

Schmoozer Tue 17-May-16 22:41:09

I completely agree with anotheremma.

Mummyme1987 Tue 17-May-16 22:44:11

We used to get her to laugh at making the shadow disappear by using the torch which she loved. Saying silly shadow and laughing at it. this way I wasn't confirming her fear and I changed the subject quickly. She got over it. Cover the pipes and distract from subject.

CooCooCachoo Tue 17-May-16 22:44:26

My DS when 2 was frightened of our front door, wouldn't look at it and went as far to come out of the living room backwards to avoid looking at it. Had no idea what caused it but one day he was fine with it again.

Not caused by a traumatic event admittedly, but an unreasonable sort of fear that he grew out of after a few months.

CalleighDoodle Tue 17-May-16 22:46:13

I agree with reporting your thread and having it moved to relationships.

Has he been violent on the past? He lost it? Why did he lose it?

NancyPiecrust Tue 17-May-16 22:48:03

Yes I did initially try not to feed her fear of it when she did finally say "Daddy whacked the boiler" a few weeks ago...I was concerned but I pretended I wasn't to her..I just said "Oh dear was the boiler not working?" and she said "No..." I didn't talk to her about it properly , I just noted it in my mind & asked him about it. He was vague/seemed embarrassed or guilty about it. I didn't push it as I do know she is super sensitive and does repeat again and again about scary stuff. But knowing him...he is quite intimidating when he turns angry & I am just not sure what exactly he did so makes me nervous.
Now she is mentioning it again when she is trying to get to sleep and screaming and it's come up again when she's woken up from sleep etc it worries me because I just don't know exactly what happened as ex was vague about it.
Sorry yes when I said he has a temper I mean yes he has history of screaming at me/road users...our relationship ended when he was violent to me & he doesn't seem able to control his temper very well so I watched him very closely with supervised contact with her for months when we broke he been trying to prove he is more responsible & seeking help (not sure if that is true) but he seems much calmer & has made some good changes so now has her 1 night a week but I am still a bit on edge about whether I can trust him.
I def tried the "naughty Daddy...oh dear silly Daddy! What did he do that for!" silly kind of approach...but I also didn't want to diminish or brush off her understandable feelings about it which I can obviously see means she is frightened by the incident.
I need to talk to him about it but not sure how to approach it or how to get him to be honest with me. We are about to undergo mediation for contact because I am moving a bit further away from him soon. I wasn;t sure which thread to post on...

Mummyme1987 Tue 17-May-16 22:48:47

If you feel your ex has a bad temper maybe you should think about addressing this? Or was it just this time? More backstory needed. No child should be subject to tempers but even the pope might get a bit stressed at a broken boiler.

ProjectGainsborough Tue 17-May-16 22:49:07

I'm not sure it's minimising to ask if there's backstory. I've been known to whack things to get them going or get cross with stuff if it is not working.

Is there more to the story, OP? Do you feel like there's something else in his behaviour that worries you?

If not, can you talk to him about how freaked out DD was by the boiler whacking, so he doesn't do it again?

shinynewusername Tue 17-May-16 22:50:09

^ I mean yes he has history of screaming at me/road users...our relationship ended when he was violent to me & he doesn't seem able to control his temper very well so I watched him very closely with supervised contact with her for months when we broke up^

For someone who didn't want to drip feed.... wink

AnotherEmma Tue 17-May-16 22:50:32

"Sorry yes when I said he has a temper I mean yes he has history of screaming at me/road users...our relationship ended when he was violent to me & he doesn't seem able to control his temper very well so I watched him very closely with supervised contact with her for months when we broke he been trying to prove he is more responsible & seeking help (not sure if that is true) but he seems much calmer & has made some good changes so now has her 1 night a week but I am still a bit on edge about whether I can trust him."

For Christ's sake woman.
Did you ever talk to Women's Aid?
Did you ever report his violence to the police?
Did you get legal advice from a solicitor with experience in domestic abuse?

If not, do all of the above.


Mummyme1987 Tue 17-May-16 22:51:14

Maybe mediation is the place to talk about this and his behaviour. Previous dv and child contact is a tricky subject with strong opinions on all sides.

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