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Please help me stop slapping my son

(11 Posts)
hysterimum Tue 04-Oct-11 19:53:02

He is nearly 4 and is driving me mad. i swore i would never slap my children but i do. it's the crying and screaming when he doesn't get what he wants and it is particularly bad around mealtimes. it makes me cross. dinner is a real flash point. he's tired. i'm tired (i have another little one who is nearly 2- but i have never slapped her) and he is a very bad eater. and then when i lose it, i slap him and i am really scared. please help. i didn't slap him until he was 2 and a half but now it is probably twice a month. i know it doesn't work but that doesn't stop the rage boiling up inside me. has anyone managed to control their anger? how? i have tried naughty steps, praise etc for HIS behaviour, but i think he may just be a normal if a bit difficult 4 year old. it is MY behaviour i am worried about. i have tried going away into another room when i feel the anger boiling over but then he tries to follow and screams hysterically if i shut him out. it makes me feel so bad about myself. please someone tell me that i am not on my own and what i can do about it.

ballstoit Tue 04-Oct-11 20:38:50

Okay, you know the slapping is not ideal, but you're also asking for help to stop, things can be improved with some planning ahead and general stress busting. All is not lost.

If you know that dinner time is a flashpoint, then try to come up with new ways to do things, so you're not getting so stressed. Talk me through your day a bit, if you will...are you a SAHM? is dinner the cooked meal of the day? do you have a DH/DP? Are they home for dinner? Or do you eat seperately? Other than mealtimes, how is his behaviour generally?

Sorry, to bombard you with questions, I don't want to jump in with criticism and irrelevant advice, when you're obviously finding things hard at the moment.

smartyparts Tue 04-Oct-11 20:52:01

I am sorry you're struggling, but please, please don't hit your son.

Try to see the signs of you losing it before it's too late & count to 10/deep breaths anything!

Make a promise to yourself that you're never going to do it again and tell your dh.

You know it doesn't work. You don't want him to be frightened of you which is what will happen.

Well done for acknowledging it btw, you can get over this.

JacksMum4 Tue 04-Oct-11 20:53:30

Hi there, you have my sympathy. I have a son of four and have had the same problem. I suggest a few things:

(1) I went to Surestart when he was two and a half and talked to the support worker there (about slapping Jack) and she was a great help. She gave me a video called '123 Magic' and when I watched it and used the approach, for the first time Jack actually obeyed me. My sisters were very impressed with his good behaviour as we got into being consistent with it. I really recommend getting '123 Magic!' Maybe google it or ebay if you can't find it any other way.

To briefly explain how I changed from your situation of feeling I had no alternative but smacking: I wasn't using the naughty step properly. After watching the video, I learnt to sit him on the stairs (I had to sit with him and hold him down with a hand across his knee) and didn't give him any eye contact for 2 mins - he hated it, and would do anything to avoid it. Then I just had to say '1...2...3.. time out' ((count slowly to 5 in your head between each one) - within a week he would co-operate when I got to 2. After this I stopped smacking him as I was back in control. We rarely had to resort to actually sitting on the stairs. I didn't smack him again for six months - the approach slides if you wobble and start talking and giving out instead of being quiet and firm. You shouldn't need to shout or get angry - if you do, just go back to the video and brush up, and strengthen your resolve!

Now he's older I tell him he gets no bedtime stories if I get to 3 (count slowly but be firm). You must follow through on the threat. This now works well too. I had found the naughty corner got difficult as he refused to co operate with it in the end so use something routine he really loves. It seems awful but it makes life a lot more peaceful and calm. I was able to stop shouting and smacking.

(2)Part of my problem was total geographical isolation as a parent from my family, I had no friends either and was very stressed as my husband was very ill in hospital for two years at the start. Do you have enough family and friends supporting you? I recommend developing a network of friends or asking family for regular support or get a baby sitter regularly. Sounds like you're stressed and exhausted. Look after your own needs as well as everyone else's. You're important too!

(3) On the food issue, Jack's always had a problem there too as I give him too much attention when he doesn't eat - he won't eat till he has got my attention by not eating. A child care worker recently told me to ignore him totally and within four days you'll see a change. (haven't been able to carry out in practise yet!) He just wants your attention, negative or otherwise. Try not to worry too much about him not eating - apparently you should look at his intake over a few days rather than over a day. If he's hungry, he'll eat.

(4)If he's wound up and screams when you leave the room, try a bit of nice calming television... then maybe some scribbling on an art pad together.

Having said all this, I do end up resorting to smacking occasionally (eg if he runs on the road) - I would say you're better never to be tempted to do it once as it makes it easier to do it again. I need a brush up on the video! There is also a second video on how to get them to do what you want...

Using praise lots and ignoring bad behaviour is really the best policy if you can manage it.

Best of luck!

JarethTheGoblinKing Tue 04-Oct-11 21:01:03

Ignore ALL crappy behaviour for at least a week. Just remove from the situation/remove toy etc. Obviously discipline for real misdemeanour's (hitting/biting/etc). It's bloody tiring screeching and shouting all the time. smile

After about a week start giving really positive reinforcement for good behaviour. Try to only come down hard when he does something totally unacceptable. It works, I promise smile

Last time I smacked DS was when he turned on the hob and put his hand on it (6mo ago?) I was right next to him so snatched his hand away, shouted at him and smacked his hand hard. I was calm, I wasn't angry but he needed to learn that he couldn't touch it. naughty step and taking toys away doesn't work in that situation IMO and he's not touched it since.

Harecare Tue 04-Oct-11 21:03:39

Jacksmum has sound advice. Has your son just started reception? My DD had a late tea today 6pm instead of 5pm, and boy was she tired. In the end she actually just gave up eating and asked to get ready for bed. She was whingey and annoying, but not being bad or naughty, just incredibly tired. Back to 5pm dinners, then straight up to bed. I reckon if she's asleep by 6:30 it would be a good thing.
I have posted because I know how you feel. I feel like a slap would shock her out of the whingyness, but I doubt it would actually work so I haven't resorted to it. It is so tempting, so you're not alone in feeling the need to slap. Like you said, it doesn't solve anything though so learn some new strategies. Sure start is a great starting point and nobody will think you're awful if you admit to slapping but want help to stop.

Tgger Tue 04-Oct-11 21:06:33

Boo! I would second the "get help" thing- really people are there to help you these days. Have you got a children's centre near you- they are always ready to listen and help if you have children under 5. Two children under 5 is tough, and well done for realising that it's you that has the problem.

You can change it, but I'm guessing you need support from a person rather than just a video or a book, or advice from mumsnetters- these behaviours with anger etc often come from our own childhoods and need a bit a of unpicking. Or if you don't want to get too heavily into your own "issues" then support in person from someone you can "report back to" is so vital.

My advice would be to either put your child or you in a separate room so that you and/or he can calm down. A child screaming/crying is making a lot of noise but is a much healthier thing than a child being slapped by an adult IMO.

Resolve not to fight about food- get some advice again about this issue, very common.

Good luck!!!!

Harecare Tue 04-Oct-11 21:16:04

What helps my anger, is to almost not hear the whinging. I let it ride over me as I talk in a super calm voice "my darling I know that you're tired, but you need to have just 3 forkfuls of dinner or you'll be hungry. I can help you if you need to. Once you've had a little dinner you can get ready for a lovely sleep and I'll read you a lovely story etc" The talking is in part to reassure DD1 that I am looking after her and know she is tired, but it is mainly for myself so I can block out the whinging and focus on what needs to be done. It also means that while in my head I might be about to blow a fuse, the calm voice masks it and eventually I believe myself to be calm as I sound it (I'm not really, I've just tricked myself if you see what I mean??"
Today when she got down from the table to go to bed after me feeding her 3 forkfuls of dinner like a baby she wouldn't go upstairs, but just sat in the hall crying that she was too tired to go upstairs. I refused to leave the table 'til me and DD2 had finished our tea. Luckily DP was there to take her upstairs, but he isn't usually so I'd have just left her to be tired and crying until DD2 had finished.

JarethTheGoblinKing Tue 04-Oct-11 21:21:09

Not enough sleep is so often the trigger. DS is always more irritating demanding when he is tired, and I'm more irritable less tolerant when I've had less sleep. Obviously the two things go together. Making sure both of us get enough sleep, that we both eat properly and that we both do nice things together goes a hell of a long way in avoiding that horrible moment IMO.

tryingtoleave Wed 05-Oct-11 04:41:27

I also use 123 magic. If I count to 3, ds has to go to his room. It works.

Dinner is also a flashpoint for us. Ds (5) is tired and hungry and can fall apart. First step is to try to avoid it. Moving dinner forward can help. If that's no possible, I've found that a small snack a little before dinner can help take the edge off. In fact, ds will eat more if he is not so over hungry that he loses it.

If he still does start fussing, I will ignore minor whinging but if it escalates I tell him he is tired and has to go lie down in bed until he calms down. He usually goes but if he refuses I will pick him up and carry him there. He usually does calm down, comes back and eats nicely. once or twice he has said that he is tired and wants to stay in bed, and that is an ok result too, IMO.

hysterimum Wed 05-Oct-11 20:34:20

thanks everyone. such great advice. i will look into 123. i am very short on support. i live abroad, i am a SAHM and we have no family within about 3,000 kms and few friends as yet. DH works hard, is rarely home before 8pm and travels alot aswell. yesterday for instance was midweek of one of my weeks alone so, as many of you pointed out, tiredness takes its toll. yes no doubt there are background issues for me. my parents had quite a violent relationship and although neither of them hit me or my brothers, i doubt it is a good basis for parenting, but considering it is difficult to get an hour to go the hairdresser, i doubt that i can manage regular counseling. there are lots of great ideas here though and i've ordered an anger management book too so i have things to get on with. i have also flagged yesterday up on my calendar in bright pen in the hope that the shame of looking at it will get through to me when i feel myself getting angry. i will try to let the eating thing slide for a while too. he has just started all day at nursery so is finding it exhausting and also misses my time i think. hopefully you won't be hearing from me again, except to say 'my name is hysterimum and i haven't hit my son for 6 months'. fingers crossed.

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