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Is it normal to dislike my 3-year old son?

(49 Posts)
smashers Tue 16-Nov-10 21:20:30

This might sound harsh but right now it's how I feel. I know I probably won't feel like this tomorrow or next week, and I didn't feel like it yesterday, but today I really didn't like my son. From the moment he got up to the moment he went to bed, he has bullied me, shouted at me, hit me, stabbed me with cutlery, sticks -anything he could lay his hands on, in fact. Upon reducing me to tears, he laughed at me. He's made me shout so hard, I'm hoarse. I can hardly move my head as I write this becuase of the tension in my neck. I feel ten years older. I feel like a terrible mother. I feel guilty for counting down the minutes until he goes to pre-school and for that sinking feeling when it's time to pick him up. I feel ashamed for sometimes not being able to be the bigger person and instead sinking to his level. I wish I could have a reasonable conversation with him, I wish I didn't have to repeat every request twenty times, I wish he didn't make me yell at him in public. I wish he would just stop for one second and LISTEN TO ME. I wish he could sometimes just show that he loves me and appreciates my existence. Is it too much to ask? Am I wrong to dislike my son? Does anybody else ever feel the same? Sorry - just a really bad day.

winnybella Tue 16-Nov-10 21:24:50

Normal. You love him- you're not oblige to like him every day, especially if he's behaving like that.

Of course he loves you.

Do try to get on top of the hitting and stabbing thing, though, he's a bit too old to be doing that.

winnybella Tue 16-Nov-10 21:26:39

Sorry, didn't mean it as a criticism of your parenting skills.

Do you punish him? Or just shout a lot? Better to set out the boundaris and sanctions for overstepping them iyswim. Easier on you and more effective.

ShanahansRevenge Tue 16-Nov-10 22:35:01

We all have off days...does he have enogh to keep him occupied? Some need very set out activities...and lots of help while others will just get on with things. My older DD is fine playing on her own but younger one needs me helping and taking part...all frigging day! I do find that if I am busy she is worse...tntrums etc.

nameymcnamechange Tue 16-Nov-10 22:41:27

I would say no.

I would say most parents dislike the behaviour of their young children and toddlers sometimes. And some days are worse than others.

But your post seems overwhelmingly negative. Toddlers are very very challenging you know. Don't expect a three year old to "appreciate" you, that's way beyond his capabilities. Don't shout so hard at him that you get hoarse. He doesn't make you yell at him in public. This all sounds far more serious than the average bad day with a young child.

You need to do something to improve your situation. Any thoughts on what that might be?

cory Wed 17-Nov-10 09:09:40

Age of 3 a very difficult one ime.

The only approach that I found helped was the brisk good humoured one:

removing any object used inappropriately at once

grabbing hands the moment they tried to hit

trying not to repeat a request but simply to move on and make things happen (even if that meant dressing them and leading them out of the house by hand)

repeating laughingly some pet mantra ("sorry love, but I am in charge of this show, you know")

but (insofar as possible) never descending from my godlike position to shout.

On the days I could manage this, I pretty well kept my head above water. The other days...well, those I would prefer to forget about. blush

smashers Wed 17-Nov-10 12:07:26

thank you for your comments. And I'm sorry about the negativity of my post - like I said, a very bad day with a very challenging three year old. ShanahansRevenge - your comment really struck a chord with me. I think I do need to be structuring his time and activities a lot more. there are a lot of other things going on at the moment which have distracted me. he is a demanding child and I just need to accept that and give him the attention that he needs - otherwise I will have more days like yesterday. Thanks.

LivinInThe80s Wed 17-Nov-10 12:14:20

Agree with Shanahan - my DS2 at that age needed lots of structure and supervision, if left to his own devices he would create mischief! I know it's really hard, and we all have days that are terrible, but I've found that it really helps to accentuate the positive rather than dwelling on the bad behaviour. So, instead of nagging him, try to congratulate him on something good that he's done, even a tiny thing like holding your hand while you cross the road, or being patient while you were at the shops. Giving him little positive responses will make him see that good behaviour = nice mummy rather than shouty mummy and hopefully he'll want to do more good things and get more praise smile Good luck!!

skiptatheloo Wed 17-Nov-10 14:43:11

yes, you're normal. or we're both abnormal together. my daughter is 2 and a half. i was wondering whether to up her hours at nursery school so i have to deal with her less - terrific parenting!

sailorsgal Wed 17-Nov-10 15:26:21

My son was like this at 3 and it was truly awful. I did have days that I didn't like him. I also felt I aged 10 years! He is 4 now and a totally different child and I really miss him now he is at school.

You could speak to your HV about a parenting course. I was sopposed to do one and never got around to it. She did give me the book that went with the course. It was the webster stratton programme. If you can't get hold of a copy you could borrow mine. grin

Rollmops Wed 17-Nov-10 20:52:20

No. Not normal. Do get help.

jesska Wed 17-Nov-10 21:01:03

I have had some version of your post several times in the last few months, so as mad as it sounds, I am glad to see someone else feeling the way I do (although I wouldn't actively wish it on anyone). It is uncanny really - my 3.5yo also stabbed me with cutlery recently. It is not something that every parent can relate to, I suppose.

The only thing I am clinging to when it gets bad is that the only thing, really, that I can control, is ME. So I don't yell like I used to, but I find his currency - he won't go to the naughty corner most times, so I just say OK, then X is going away for the day... and repeat this scenario as necessary. Or if I get really angry I have learned to just step back - take myself to the naughty corner, because clearly DS is not going to listen to me. So i take his younger brother (just 2yo) into another room and we carry on. All of this has helped but I need to be constantly vigilant; all the things cory listed are excellent tips - don't wait for him to listen to you, just get on with it and you and I can both hope that things will change as they get older.

hang in there!

Clare123 Wed 17-Nov-10 21:42:57

I hope it's normal because I feel dislike for my 3 yr old at times. I never have with my other child, but he pushes the boundaries all the time, it's exhausting and I spend a lot of time/energy/patience on trying to make him behave better. Some children are just harder work!

NumptyMum Wed 17-Nov-10 21:43:28

I felt like this just a month or two back with my DS, who I do love but who was driving me to distraction (long saga with ongoing biting problem). Things have improved LOADS again now, so you won't always feel this way. I've actually found that nursery and the health visitor have both been v helpful as nursery obviously wanted to help me improve his behaviour and suggested routine of stickers to reward the behaviour I wanted, plus time out on a rug to sanction the behaviour that we didn't want (we save it for major disruptive behaviour just now). That has worked, along with me paying attention to him as much as I can with a new baby in tow. The health visitor has been giving me 'Triple P' guidance, also helpful if slightly different structure to nursery. Basically you emphasise all the time the behaviour you expect, rather than what you don't want. eg 'Please can you use a nice voice to ask for that' rather than 'don't whine', as that way you don't draw their attention to what you DON'T like. There might be Triple P info online that could help. Re shouting, if you do find yourself having to shout he'll just wait for you to shout next time to take you seriously. Difficult I know, but it's better to be calm and have a sanction like Time Out to hand. We still have bad days (last Friday in particular) but I'm now aware that it could have been better if I'd had the energy to tackle it differently, so I don't feel quite so despondent about it going onwards.

Good luck!

lostinwales Wed 17-Nov-10 21:51:33

My mum once said to me 'I love you but I'm not sure I always like you'. Now we could get into the politics of actually saying that to your child (I would NEVER say that to one of mine), but over 11 years and 3 DS' I can say I have thought that about all of them at some stage and had a little internal smile.

It's tough, I'm there at 3.5 with my last ever youngest and it's hard as buggery some days, I let him have a day home so we could go swimming today and regretted it a few times. Hang in there, they get older and easier before you realise it.

My hardest 3 year old is now nearly 11 and the sweetest, most helpful child ever and fortunately bringing up DS3 for me as he has a lot more patience wink

whoknowswhatthefutureholds Wed 17-Nov-10 21:56:31

he is so after attention

Try the ignore the bad praise the good technique.

Workeed absolute wonders on my then very difficult 3 year old.

Don't shout at him, he's only little. I've done it and it's wrong.

MarniesMummy Wed 17-Nov-10 21:58:35

Try not too feel too bad hon!
I'm pretty certain you can count the people you've met who've never annoyed you on one hand (Mine is zero by the way).

It's hard when one of them is your child.
I have days like this where I feel bullied, shouted at and put down. I have no shame in saying to DP, here are your children who've been horrid to me all day, your turn. Whilst I go and have a bath, unwind a bit.

Sadly 3 is a hard age, boundaries are still being pushed to allow them to grow and learn how to live in the world.
Be firm, praise the good, ignore the bad, stop the dangerous (stabbing etc) immediately, physically remove implements.

Work out a disciplne system. I have found this book useful. Don't be alarmed by the green skin child on the cover!. It allows them to be themselves and learn without me tearing out my own hair with frustration.

Hang in there, tommorrow is another day.

MarniesMummy Wed 17-Nov-10 22:07:57

LostinWales said: My mum once said to me 'I love you but I'm not sure I always like you'. Now we could get into the politics of actually saying that to your child (I would NEVER say that to one of mine)

I thought "I've said this to mine" but actually I haven't, I said something slightly different which brings out a good point.

I have been known to say "I love you but right now I don't like your behaviour".

Always talk about the behaviour and not the child. Children need to know that their parents have unconditional love for them (and most of us do) but the way in which we choose to speak to them greatly affects what they think we feel towards them.

thesecondcoming Wed 17-Nov-10 22:13:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lostinwales Wed 17-Nov-10 22:15:01

MarniesMummy I hope you don't mind if I borrow that phrase, probably during the school run at some point tomorrow morning! It sums up the point perfectly without being about the child just it's behaviour. Now if only my mother had mn when I was little!

wideratthehips Wed 17-Nov-10 22:23:01

i have spent a lot of time in the last year really disliking the behaviour of my nearly 4yr old. we are now coming out the other side and i really enjoy his company now. i have always loved him and would do anything for him, but if day after day they dominate the whole family by their deliberately unkind behaviour towards others, if your unable to take them anywhere without their wild outragous behaviour ruining everything then i think its understandable to dislike the child.

the constant battles, the draining feeling,the desperate for them to be in bed so that your blood pressure comes down a little.....i really identify with that feeling.

go and have a look at him sleeping and give him a kiss, you do love him and hopefully things will be better in the future smile

LackingNicknameInspiration Wed 17-Nov-10 22:54:42

Hi Smashers

Have had a trying day with my 3 YO, so know EXACTLY where you're coming from - I'm with my 2 6 am - 8 pm (have 11-month-old DD2 who gets totally overlooked, poor soul) so rather feel such feelings are normal, regardless of what anyone else might say - only you know your situation.

I was passed on a US book called 'Your 3 year old' with the telling tagline, 'Friend or Enemy' (it comes up if you search 'your 3 year old on amazon) - found it really helpful, not so much for resolving behaviour, but more for reassuring me that it IS normal for 3 year olds to challenge you all over the place and to expect most of it to be directed at you as their mum. So I keep trying to remind myself of that. Also it amused me that their top tip was not to beat yourself up over handing your child over to other people/preschool to help out as they'll tend not to get the same behaviour. Dropped DD off at preschool this morning and they were eulogising about how lovely she is - she started kicking off in car on way home and it carried on all afternoon/evening....

Don't know if you have family locally? I don't, but love preschool! Take whatever help you can - I do feel a bit sad sometimes that we are at loggerheads so much but there are good times, and it's lovely when they happen.

I have lots of friends with similar aged children who don't have the same issues, so tend not to go to them for advice, on grounds that they don't know what it's like. Adults are different to one another, os are children. I think the main thing to remember is that it IS just a stage, it's nothing personal just that you are 'mummy' the entity (!) and that it will pass. One of the best tips I had is from a friend of mine who's a mum of 4, who pointed out that some of the qualities that we complain about most with children are those which we admire most in adults.

Good luck - and be kind to yourself. Oh, and if it helps, I too feel like a terrible mother several times a day - think you're besieged by guilt whatever you do.

ps - love wider's tip about giving sleeping child a kiss - that does make you realise it is all worth it and that they are lovely smile

MarniesMummy Wed 17-Nov-10 23:03:07

I really feel that I need to point out that the book I recommended is actually called The Incredible Years, A Trouble shooting guide for Parents of children aged 2 to 8.

The green skinned child on the front cover is just a bit weird and I figured forewarned is forearmed...

thesecondcoming Thu 18-Nov-10 00:00:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

geraldinetheluckygoat Thu 18-Nov-10 10:15:45

I would say that it IS very normal to feel like this at times. That's why people need to get away for a break sometimes. That's why you always see it recommended to struggling parents to get away and have some quality time away from their kids. They ARE bloody hard work sometimes. Not all kids are like this, but some are, and it is a struggle. My first was very very trying. My second has been utterly laid back and loving. I love them both feircely, but yes,there have been times when I haven't enjoyed their company very much and Ive been on countdown to bed time.

This will pass, and he will get easier. IN the mean time, look at ways you can manage your own shouting (I have tended to get shouty, and it just revs them up more, its not helpful). I found "Raising boys" really helpful, but I think Steve Biddulph is a matter of choice! At one point that book was in the bathroom and I would go and read a bit while having a wee lol! It just kept me sane. Also second getting out and doing more with him, this behavour never seems so bad when you are out in the park or where ever. I would avoid playgroups unless you know a very supportive one, as sometimes when your kids are going through stages like this, being at playgroups can bring a whole new level of stress to the situation! Try things like playdough and paint at home, if hes into prodding and hitting - keep his hands busy grin.

You ARE normal. Try not to worry, just get yopurself a plan of action and try it out, it will help you to feel more in control smile

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