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To talk to my friend about her toddler's behaviour?

(42 Posts)
Writerwannabe83 Thu 01-Sep-16 14:26:29

My title may initially warrant a MYOB but I'm so worried for my friend's children as a result of her youngest child's behaviour and I'm worried about how things may escalate.

She has a very, very quiet, perfectly behaved 6 year old daughter and a 3 year old son whose behaviour is very challenging.

I've always known he's been a bit of a live wire from a young age but a few months ago my friend broke down in tears and told me the true depth of the problem, how she struggles to cope, how he kicks, bites, smacks her and his sister, how nobody else in the family wants to spend time with him because of his violence and how she doesn't think she likes him although she does love him.

I was at her house a few days ago and he started punching his mom, screaming at her, slapping her, pinching the skin on her arms and she was nearly in tears with pain and embarrassment I think. At one point she smacked him back (across his forearm) and then she shut him out in the hallway where he started screaming hysterically and kicking the door.

This friend went to visit my sister the next day who told me that the 3 year old was being really naughty, jumping on the furniture, throwing toys around, not doing as he was told and also being violent again, in much the same way I described above, but towards his sister as well as his mom. My friend didn't stop her son hurting his sister who apparently was nearly in tears. My friend has said that she knows she should stop him being aggressive towards his sister but that telling her son off would just make things worse. Our friend was also on the brink of tears whilst all this was going on, she's just broken by it all.

He is perfectly well behaved for his childminder and when he goes to nursery.

She frequently has to walk away from him and lock herself in another room and put her hands over her ears just to get away from him (her words). I know in the past she has put him in a potentially dangerous situation because she just had to get away from him.

I feel like her family unit is going to implode, I can see that my friend is on the brink and that she can't cope. About a year ago she told me she had been planning on reaching out to her HV team for help but her husband had said no as he didn't want people thinking they were bad parents. FWIW she has no support from her husband as he's only at home on the weekend.

I know she needs help and I really do want to help her and make her see that things can't go on like this. What if she snaps and really hurts her son out of frustration? I'm worried about how all this will impact on the relationship between her and her daughter as from her daughters perspective I imagine she's wondering why her brother is allowed to hurt her and why her mom doesn't stop it.

It's all such a mess.

Turning a blind eye is not an option. We've been best friends for almost 20 years, we were bridesmaids at each other's wedding, we've been through so much together and I can't just leave her to face all this alone.

How do I help her with this?

Pettywoman Thu 01-Sep-16 14:32:41

She needs the help of the nursery/gp/health visitor to get professional advice. Poor woman, poor family.

HaveYouSeenMyHat Thu 01-Sep-16 14:37:33

Sounds like her DS needs a paediatrician's assessment. His mum can access this through her GP or HV. She needs to be seeking support from professionals.

jimbob1 Thu 01-Sep-16 14:40:11

Her husband has no right to refuse outside help if he isn't their to provide support. She needs to speak to her Hv. This should be the base of your discussion. Do not mention parenting, just "I can see how much the situation is getting to you and feel you may need help. How about speaking to HV and getting this sorted?"

GoldFishFingerz Thu 01-Sep-16 14:43:59

Is he very sensitive? Try the highly sensitive child book from Amazon


Bumpmadethemjump Thu 01-Sep-16 14:47:01

That's awful that she sat there and allowed her ds to hurt his sister like thatangry. Please say something to her and if it doesn't stop report to someone. Absolutely disgusting that the mother allows him to do that to her dd but soon tries to stop when he does it to her.

Writerwannabe83 Thu 01-Sep-16 14:47:34

Her husband is not generally likeable, none of her family order ends are keen on him but we all tolerate him for her sake. He seems to spend as much time away from home as possible, probably to try and escape from this situation sad

quicklydecides Thu 01-Sep-16 14:47:38

She needs parenting help.
If he behaves well when he's with others, then she needs help.
Start by seeing if she's open to doing things differently then look around for community parenting classes which BOTH parents should attend.

AnnaMarlowe Thu 01-Sep-16 14:51:15

She needs help.

Yes speak to her. Gently but firmly.

FlyingElbows Thu 01-Sep-16 14:59:09

Your poor friend sounds totally overwhelmed. It's her (them) that needs help not the child. Try and persuade her to phone the hv if she's any good or to consider going to her gp to discuss how she's feeling in herself. She sounds miserable and drowning without support. If she won't reach out for help then if you know who her hv is you could try phoning and seeing if they'd speak to you. Obviously they can't speak to you about your friend directly but they may be prepared to take a "heads up" and drop round. They can help her but not if they don't know she needs help.

captainproton Thu 01-Sep-16 15:05:43

Our local children's centre runs parenting courses. Why not suggest she books on to one. You can have an open and honest chat with her, but ultimately if she won't work on changing the dynamic of her family this is not going to improve.

CoolCarrie Thu 01-Sep-16 15:12:30

You need to speak to her about HV, her dh opinion is not valid as he clearly isn't helping & buggering off, leaving her to deal with everything. Get her on her own, without any dc, face to face and let her talk.

Koan Thu 01-Sep-16 15:15:48

How long has she been with her husband? Is he abusing her? He certainly sounds controlling.

Writerwannabe83 Thu 01-Sep-16 15:16:32

For as many years as I can remember her husband has worked in jobs that have required lots of travelling, therefore not st home much, but a few months ago he got a job 10 minutes away from home and my friend was so happy. She said that there was no way he was ever leaving that job because it was so much better having him home every night but after 3 months he announced he's got a new job and it's almost a 2 hour drive away each way. As a result he stays local to work Monday-Thursday and then comes home late Friday night. She has told me many times that the children aren't really interested in their dad because he's never around and I think she hoped that would all change with the job that was so close to home. I only found out he's gotten another job via a friend of a friend as she probably couldn't face telling me.

It must be hard for her as she knows nobody particularly likes her DH (because of the way he treats her) so she must feel so isolated by it all sad

Writerwannabe83 Thu 01-Sep-16 15:18:25

koan - they've been together about ten years. He is quite controlling, he puts her down in front of other people all the time, put pressure on her sexually and gets them into lots of trouble with finances because of his flippant spending. He tells lies a lot too.

Koan Thu 01-Sep-16 15:20:07

Actually a 'very, very quiet, perfectly behaved' 6 year old is disturbing too. I'm wondering if both children have witnessed abuse.

Writerwannabe83 Thu 01-Sep-16 15:24:00

koan - I also think the perfectly well behaved daughter factor is odd. She's very pleasant and polite but there's no animation or character, I can't think of a time where I've ever really heard her laugh/giggle hysterically like young children are supposed to.

My friend has even said that sometimes she even resents her daughter because of how "perfect" she because that's why all the family want to spend time with her and not the son.

Buzzardbird Thu 01-Sep-16 15:28:17

Alarm bells are ringing for the home situation for me.

Koan Thu 01-Sep-16 15:29:50

Writer could you support her in contacting Women's Aid? Your last post suggests where a lot of her stress is really being caused. If she trusts you, you could be of great help here. Not to detract from the children's issues, but imo nothing much will help until she gets support for the abusive relationship.

NotMe321 Thu 01-Sep-16 15:33:39

Asking for help doesn't make anyone a bad parent - rather the contrary. I agree she really should ask for an urgent referral to the paediatrician. She could also consider asking for social services help as the situation is unsafe for your friend and both children.

It does sound as if her husband contributes virtually nothing to the family, and if he is really adamant about preventing her from getting help she is going to have to consider whether she really wants him around any more.

pocketsaviour Thu 01-Sep-16 15:34:49

Alarm bells are also ringing for me re possible domestic abuse and I think the children's behaviour is driven by that.

Does the DS's behaviour worsen immediately his dad goes back off to work?

Champagneformyrealfriends Thu 01-Sep-16 15:40:38

Your poor friend. Those poor children. I really hope you can convince her to get some help op-it does sound worrying to me re potential abuse too.

Koan Thu 01-Sep-16 15:41:21

Trauma can go either way - the acting out or the passive subdued child. That's what worries me about your friend's daughter, because it goes under the radar; 'no trouble' at school, never challenging anyone, but no animation either. So this seeming 'goodness', while convenient for her caretakers, might cover anxiety and hypervigilance and as you say, just not being able to be a child really.

harderandharder2breathe Thu 01-Sep-16 15:42:42

Can you go with her to parenting classes? Or offer to mind the children if she needs it to be able to attend?

Asking for help is not a sign of being a bad parent, a bad parent wouldn't care that anything was wrong and wouldn't seek help.

Her husband sounds controlling and possibly abusive, is she able to confide in you about this? If so, can you support her to go to women's aid?

You're not talking to her about her son's behaviour. You're talking to her about the horrible situation she's in and how to help her.

missbishi Thu 01-Sep-16 15:45:03

That poor little girl. All she appears to experience from the males in her life is unpleasantness. Maybe the mother needs to realise that her DD is going to grow up thinking this is acceptable and tolerate mistreatment from her future partner unless things change.

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