AIB an U-ly bad parent?(115 Posts)
How well behaved are 'normal' children? I just can't work out if my kids are normal for their age, or if their behaviour is unusually bad and I am a shockingly bad mother and it's really starting to get me down.
We have two boys, aged 5 and 2 (nearly 6 and 3) and our lives regularly dissolve into complete chaos. The two year old is a real handful, I think probably on the extreme end of normal. He runs away from us as fast as he can go- often towards danger- eg the road (finds it hysterical) with me sprinting to catch up. If I turn my back for a few seconds at home he is unrolling the loo roll/ spraying water everywhere/ taking all the books off the bookshelves/ destroying his older brother's beloved lego creation etc etc . He is usually sweet with other kids and can share nicely and take turns in the right mood but in the wrong mood will push and shove other kids or sometimes hit. He goes into this wild mood several times each day.
My five year old is not as physical and can be very sweet but he has HUGE tantrums about things pretty regularly- eg refuses to put his shoes on in the morning and has a massive angry tantrum, snarling at everyone etc/ usually two or three big strops every morning before school about something like getting dressed/ putting his breakfast stuff in the dishwasher etc. He will be so rude and tell us to 'go away' etc. It often happens when the little one starts running wild. Then he starts running wild too (egged on by his little brother) and they both start running around the house yelling madly and throwing cushions on the floor etc (not breaking anything major- just causing chaos.) Neither of them will calm down when I tell them to, or apparently listen to me at all and I feel as though I've totally lost control.
My mum obviously thinks that they are the worst behaved children ever. I am so embarrassed when she visits about their behaviour. I don't know what to do. I praise good behaviour/ set limits/ enforce consequences (usually time outs) / give them lots of attention/ limit treats/ sugar etc. They sleep and eat well get exercise and have a good routine. Is this normal kid behaviour or am I doing a terrible job? Please be kind- I really am trying my best and sometimes when I read things where people talk about 'terrible parents- should get their kids under control' etc etc, I just feel devastated and so ashamed and don't know what to do.
Any thoughts/ advice?
just to stress- they don't have any SN or anything like that.
Honestly? That does sound pretty bad. It sounds like it is a problem for you too which means that it would be in your best interests to put some effort into sorting it out. Small children are never perfect, but neither should you be held hostage to their behaviour. Time to take back control! It doesn't make you a bad person though, it's bloody hard work and easy to let it slip past you. But in my experience children respond pretty quickly to concerted efforts at improving discipline. Give it a go, but stick to it or you'll never get anywhere. Good luck!
It's really hard to make a sweeping generalisations based on what you have said because I have never met you. I'm sure you are a lovely mum and you shouldn't beat yourself up at all. A few tips from me would be: with your 2 year old, I'd have him on reins. I wouldn't risk him running. Or in a pushchair. With the destructive behaviour you need to be quick with removing him and giving the time out. You could try taking a toy. This always worked with my dd. Taking Monkey for half an hour and putting him on top of the fridge always meant that she knew 'I will take Monkey' was a real possibility when she started and it was a good deterrent. With your older one, walking away from the tantrum is key. You can do it gently. I always tell dd that I'm absolutely not going to talk to her whilst she is screaming so once she has calmed down to come and talk to me. Then I walk away. It gives her chance to decide what to do without having the parent stand over her and demand she does it. That, followed by praise when she comes over usually works. Try talking to him about how sad his tantrums make you and introduce a sticker or reward chart. Little rewards work best. No tantrums mean he gets to choose a sweetie from the treat box after school etc. Continually praise too. If he does one thing without a fuss then tell him how proud you are and that you knew he could do it. Have the sticker ready. If he doesn't, focus on him getting the next sticker for the next thing. Good luck. They don't come with a manual! I'm a teacher and have taken extensive behaviour management courses and even led a few. I still struggle at times.
YellowCrocus thanks for your honest reply. Any suggestions as to how i take back control though? I know that I need to, but seem to have tried all the obvious ways. Maybe I"m missing something. What would you suggest? (this isn't sarcastic btw- it's an honest question as at least in theory I feel as though I do allt he 'right' things..)
whatsername17 thanks so much for all this good advice. I do do time outs with both of them, but they don't seem to make a blind bit of difference. WE have done sticker charts etc in the past with mixed results- they tend to work for the first few days then he gets bored and says he's not bothered if he gets a sticker or not. The sweetie thing might work well (my DH came up with I thought a genius idea for one particular specific bad behaviour, which involved taking a sweetie out of the treat box for each infraction and that has worked well. Maybe we could extend it to all bad behaviour.) Thanks so much
Perhaps they could do with more exercise. Set up running races for them and skipping rope challenges.
Maybe although you are putting in place boundaries, you don't look very serious about it. Get a low tone and look cross. They don't (at the moment) seem to respect you. Get some rules in place and get tough. Have you watched supernanny
thanks- yes I have watched supernanny but not for ages (in fact I used to watch it before having kids and think "wow' how do those parents end up like that? Now I"m obvioulsy one of them.) I should definitely rewatch some of those old episodes.
You don't take the sweetie out for bad behaviour, you put one in for good (though I'd do marbles and earn a reward)
You push the positive as much as possible, and catch the 'good'. However, you can still punish if the behaviour is atrocious - time out to calm down somewhere.
Younger one, eyes like a hawk to stop him destroying stuff. Keep it out of his reach. Play outside as much as possible and for the love of god, get him on reins!!
thanks nannyOgg I've never seen a child on reins where we live (we live abroad.) It sounds like a good idea although I know the reaction would be horrible. But I guess that doesn't matter. We tried the marble in the jar thing and it didn't really work, I guess because it took so long to fill the jar up with marbles he totally lost interest in the whole thing. He seems to need more instant gratification, which I guess is part of the problem. At the moment they only get sweets on the weekends after dinner, but maybe they could have a reward sweet every day if they've not had any tantrums/ bad behaviour?
Are they eating much processed food with additives or sugar? Maybe keep a diary and see if any foods, drinks or times of day are particularly bad?
It sounds exhausting. Are you and dh both on the same page with discipline? Your HV might be able to suggest more strategies or a parenting course. The trouble is that shouty, cross mum gets cross, wild DC and smiling, calm mum tends to get better behaved DC but achieving it isn't easy.
If you think reins could cause you some looks and make things harder why not try the back pack with the strap?
Have you looked at 123 magic? It's quite quick and immediate so may work well with energetic Young boys.
I'd also do things like remove cushions etc. Remove anything they can throw around. With shoes make it fun and turn it into a race. So "who can put their shoes on first"
Actually at 2 a whole day is too long to aim for. Can you split the days into more manageable chunks so playing nicely before tea gets a marble, getting ready for school without a fuss gets a reward?
That sounds hard, OP. It's hard to judge without seeing everything in action but sounds like you are setting limits. Are you consistent in doling out consequences? Are you giving both children one to one attention?
All children go through really difficult phases. DS1 was a terror for tantrums when he started school but has now grown out of it and is a delight (he's just finished Y1).
I think the most important thing is that you're open-minded and questioning about your parenting. The only time I've ever seen kids become absolute horrors were when the parents believe they're doing everything just right (for which read letting them get away with all kinds of shit but believing their kids are little darlings )
I don't know anything about 5 year old son but the 2 year old behavior sounds pretty standard for phases my 2 year old goes through. Just be consistent with discipline but discipline that he can understand.
Thanks- they have a pretty good diet (I think)- very little processed food, apart from a few sweets after dinner on the weekends. They eat well/ lots of veggies etc.
We have read 123 magic- it was actually really helpful thanks. We need to get back to doing it more consistently. It doesn't really work with the 2 year old though- I don't think he is old enough/ mature enough to understand the system/ principle. but good for the 5 year old. thanks for hte reminder of that.
Not to drip feed but I just told DH what I had written here and he thinks I have overstated it. He says that the 'wildness' isn't constant but more like once or twice a day, which is probably about right. A fair amount of the time they do play nicely/ behave well. And they are both lovely, thoughtful boys.
thanks to the two PPs who have suggested this is reasonably normal! I genuinely appreciate that!
I would try taking everything back to basics. Sit them down and agree some ground rules about to what is good behaviour and bad behaviour. Put it on a whiteboard and make it fun - allow silly things in the 'bad' box. Then get them to choose eg 3 things from the good box that they're going to do that morning and do a big yay / high five when they do it. And if both of them do their 3 behaviours, then you go for an ice cream/to the park or whatever.
Make it fun and get them involved in policing one another's behaviour to a degree - shared goal.
If they don't manage to do it, say that it's a shame and have a dull afternoon. Say you'll try again tomorrow.
Have you tried talking to the health visitor at your GP practice about your concerns?
IT probably feels worse cos the little biggers always pick their moments <like when you actually need to do something and need them to behave!>
Is one of the times by any chance between 5/6pm? You do know about the witching hour? That's why CBeebies bedtime hour was created
Well if they're playing together nicely a fair amount of the time that sounds normal to me - some good bits with some extremely challenging patches.
Sounds familiar to me as I have two boys with a similar age gap. We have the craziness and cushion throwing too. I try to ignore as much as possible as it eggs them on - obviously don't ignore anything potentially destructive - but insist they clear up after themselves. Also being outside/at the playground as much as humanly possible, plus a mini trampoline each.
They both sound like challenging children, but within the realms of normal iyswim? It must be hard having both of them going off at the same time.
I would read How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. It is the best book for immediate results imo.
My 2 year old dd is exactly the same as yours. I find reins help or when she just feels like having a lazy day i use a pushchair (people do give us funny looks because she's really tall) taking her for walks helps a lot aswell (sometimes 3times a day, burns all her energy, shes always tired at bedtime!)
Tbh, dc2 has sometimes being very 'tantrumy' (closer to meltdowns but probably similar ideas). Both have had daft ideas and have been very good at using 'bad' behaviour to get some attention.
I just have spent as much time as possible giving them positive attention. Remove anything that could be an issue from their reach (loo rolls stored on a high shelf, loo brush removed... You get the idea) and make the place where they were inherently 'safe' ie they can do more or less whatever they want to avoid too many 'don't do this, don't do that'
Plenty, plenty of exercise and running aorund has been essential. (You know the take them out at least twice a day just like dogs worked pretty well for us!).
Any tantrums, screaming, hitting was met with a 'you first need to calm down in your bedroom so that you are not at risk of hurting anyone. Come out when you are calm again'.
And for the rules I did set up, always, always stick to them.
Fwiw I have tried stickers chart and whatever rewards system, time out and so on, they have either had no effect whatsoever or have had a negative effect (time out).
Reins can be an idea too.
And a strong routine so they know what is going to happen when.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.