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I'm going so wrong. Help.

(84 Posts)
Mondaybaby Sat 17-Aug-13 14:36:31

A bit of background: My dd is almost 3. I am a single mum. dd is donor conceived so no father on the scene. I work 4days a week. dd has always been bright and spirited and loving and very much loved. I'm finding her ever incresingly bad and impossible to predict tantrums really hard to deal with and could do with some advice. The latest one just now has made me feel like I don't have a clue how to be a good mother. We'd had a quiet morning at home and she knew we were going to a friends birthday party this afternoon. She was watching a film and I told her she couldn't watch it all as we had to get ready to go but we'd watch it later. So at the time when I had to turn the tv off I told her what I was doing and turned the tv off. She started to scream. I approaced her saying something like come on dd, I told you we have to go. She then started to kick me. she kicks and hits me a lot when having meltdowns and it breaks my heart as I have never shown her this kind of behaviour although I admit that when she is tantrumming and behaving like this I have to bite my lip to retain my self control. I can't believe the anger that descends on me when she is out of control and I feel almost out of control too. Anyway, I tried to make her sit on the naughty step which is something I told her about only yesterday. But she wriggled and screamed and kicked until I had to let her go. she ran into the front room and j sat in her room as I needed to calm down. she was hysterically crying. After 5 mins I went calmly into her and tried to calm her down. but it made her worse. She was sobbing. I eventually got her into her push chair and she wanted to sleep. She calmed down but went all withdrawn and looked shocked and exhausted. I feel ill with worry that I am fucking her up and that this is only going to get worse. Some days she is delightful and she is extremely well behaved at nursery. she saves this behaviour just for me. I never thought my child would be like this. I am exhausted and I love her so much. what do I do?

shiningcadence Sat 17-Aug-13 17:58:16

Hi, I'm no expert but I do have 3 dds age 3,7 and 10. I'd say it's a personality thing firstly, my eldest NEVER had tantrums, and now at 10 she is still very laid back and easygoing. DD2 had them lots, she is very fiery and strong willed. DD3 has them occasionally. I find that tantrums are worse when they're very tired. With my youngest 2 when they're very tired they just get so angry. I've found the best thing to do is to ignore them and then give them lots of cuddles when they've calmed down. Sometimes removing them from the scene works - taking them to a different room and distracting them with something. play it by ear. Just remember that she's very young and can't really control her emotions yet. I then try to get them to sleep as soon as possible and they wake up as different children!

The worst, ime, is when you're in public and they decide to have a meltdown. I usually find a change of scene and talking in a calm voice works - whatever you do, don't lose your rag! Although I'll admit at times I've been tempted to get down on the floor with whichever one is tantrumming and bawl my eyes out and bang my fists against the floor too! grin

Just breathe slowly, keep calm, be kind and soothing - then when she's in bed have a large bottle glass of wine!

Don't doubt yourself - have confidence in your parenting abilities. This isn't about you failing as a parent, she's a normal 3 year old smile

And just remember, she will grow out of it!

AndIFeedEmGunpowder Sat 17-Aug-13 17:58:18

Am nowhere even near an expert, but this just sounds like normal toddler behaviour to me! I think she is probably well behaved at nursery and has tantrums at home because she knows you love her and she can be ghastly with you if that makes sense? She trusts you will love her anyway.

You sound like an amazing mum and I don't think you have fucked her up at all.

AndIFeedEmGunpowder Sat 17-Aug-13 17:59:30

X-post and shining said it better smile

shiningcadence Sat 17-Aug-13 18:04:08

Also, and I stand to be corrected here, I really wouldn't try to use the naughty step when she's mid tantrum. I think when they're tantrumming they just completely lose all sense of reason and just need to calm down before you can communicate with them properly and make them understand how it's wrong to react the way they did.

shiningcadence Sat 17-Aug-13 18:06:50

AndIFeedEm I love how we both started by saying 'I'm no expert' grin

AndIFeedEmGunpowder Sat 17-Aug-13 18:09:55


shiningcadence Sat 17-Aug-13 18:13:15

Also I have vivid memories of tantrumming myself as a child blush. I can remember the overwhelming feeling of anger ad just not being able to calm myself down. The one I can remember the most - probably because it's so embarrassing - was when we'd gone out for food, I must've been about 4 and my grandma was trying to get me to eat something on my plate that I didn't want. I can remember feeling frightened that she was going to make me do something I didn't want to do, I was scared of getting into trouble - so I just went into a complete meltdown - sobbing and screaming on the floor in front of a restaurant full of people. By this point my poor grandma was trying to soothe me and tell me that I didn't have to eat it but I was past the point of being reasoned with and just kept sobbing on the floor. I am very very blush but at least it means I have empathy with my tantrumming dds grin

mummyorganic Sat 17-Aug-13 18:21:15

You are doing an amazing and valuable job bringing up a child and you must remember that. It is natural for you to feel angry at times when you feel irritated, ignored, tired or stressed. You clearly love your dd very much and are trying to deal with difficult situations as best you can. As a single mum, you are doing double the work and therefore have to deal with double the challenges. There are three things that stand out in what you wrote and they are all positive, the love you have for your dd, that you are a mum who wants to do the best for her child and that you are aware of your own feelings. As to what you do, what you are doing- making sure your dd feels loved and secure. Perhaps you could see if there is any support available to you through your local children's centre or local organisation.

Mondaybaby Sat 17-Aug-13 20:04:23

Shining, Gunpowder and Organic, thank you for your replies. Sometimes I feel like I have lost all perspective and it has really helped to read your replies. And it has brought a lump to my throat to read that you think I am a good mum because that is what I try very hard to be.
She fell asleep on the way to the party and did indeed wake up a different child. Calmer, sweet, funny and well mannered. Made me think that I imagined her total melt down of an hour before. When I am tired and I am always tired, I do doubt myself. I always think that it is my fault. When I am feeling more confident then I do deal with things better. I mostly feel like a mobile phone that has almost no battery left and I think this is affecting my parenting.
I am going to read your replies again and when I at work on Monday I will print them off and keep them to read again when I need to. Thank you again, I am very grateful for your support.

Mondaybaby Sat 17-Aug-13 20:11:23

ps - Shining, I agree with you about the naughty step mid tantrum. There is no way that was going to help. It inflamed the situation and I could see the fear on her face when I was trying to hold her there.

AndIFeedEmGunpowder Sat 17-Aug-13 21:00:26

Your DD sounds gorgeous. I think it's nice to have a bit of character. DSis who had the worse temper tantrums of all of us is now the most successful, I think because she has always been very determined. (She has grown out of her tantrums now btw grin )

Don't doubt yourself. I'm so sorry you are so exhausted but sounds like you are doing brilliantly.

I'm no expert either grin (DS is only 2.6 but very spirited and just coming into the aggressive stage) but I'm struggling to see where you think you're going it that you don't know what to do when your DD tantrums or becomes aggressive? that you think you shouldn't be getting angry? or that she's tantrumming in the first place? personally I think it's normal to feel anger, she's out of control and you can't help her, you feel useless and that makes you feel angry, I feel it too. I don't think the feeling is wrong but it's certainly not useful or helpful to our DC. I'm using meditation to find time for myself and to try and calm down. an app called 'headspace' - I'd really recommend it, just sitting for an allotted time each day is helping.

I personally don't think your DD needs punishment. she's showing a big feeling that she can't handle (disappointment/tiredness/overstimulation etc) - I think she needs you to help her find words for the feelings and to tell her it's ok to have them. this is what I'm doing with DS and I'm finding he seems to understand his emotions much better and often tells me he needs to rest or take some deep breaths! but of course it's not ok to hit or kick...could you turn her away from you and lightly hold her sort of in a cuddle? I do this sometimes while calmly saying 'it's ok, I'm not going to let you hurt me but I'm here until you can calm down' - as for the look she gave you afterwards...honestly I think it takes over them and scares them quite a bit the strength of their emotions, and I think it knocks the wind out of them sometimes's exhausting!

I've been having an outreach worker from the local children's centre visit me (is that something you have near you?) and she said the fact DS is as good as gold for everyone but myself and DH means that he trusts us so much that he can totally let himself go..imagine how much control your DD must be exercising at daycare to save it all for where she feels safe; with you. believe it or not it's quite a compliment! I think like the others that you're a brilliant Mum for caring so much and for questioning what you're doing whilst in the moment, a lot of parents just muddle on through without giving a second thought as to whether they could be doing it better. and I think it's amazing that you're doing it alone, she's a very lucky girl.

I am starting a parenting course with the children's centre soon, do you think there might be one near you? I'm not saying you need one but for me I just think having information is better than questioning myself and I'll just do anything to make sure my DC are as understood and happy as possible!

you're doing a fab job OP you don't need to worry about that!

Mondaybaby Sat 17-Aug-13 22:29:05

Nicecup - yes, all those reasons are why I feel I'm doing everything wrong. And I am scared she'll always behave like this and I'll end up with a 16 year old who I can't handle. But maybe that's my lack of perspective as I also feel like I'm the only one who this is happening to. I ask my friends if their kids have tantrums and nearly all of them say no or, she tried it once but I nipped it in the bud and she hasn't tried it again. So I feel inadequate. I haven't handled the tantrums well the last few days. I think it is good advice to do some sort of meditation to help stay calm. Thank you for your post. It's all good stuff that is giving me lots to think about and has helped me feel calmer and more reassured right now.

Mondaybaby Sat 17-Aug-13 22:33:40

oh, and I do go to a fab single mums support group but had to miss a few months due to my work commitments. It's not a parenting course but it was a place that I felt I could bring these issues up and got support so I will try to go back again in september when the dust settles at work.

cory Sat 17-Aug-13 22:35:01

I can't help noticing that you are using very emotional value laden language: you are finding your dd increasingly bad and you are afraid you are not a good mother.

I think it would help you if you could take a step back and tell yourself that it isn't about good or bad, your dd is just going through a phase: some children do have violent tantrums at the age of 2 and 3 and some don't, just like some become difficult teenagers and others don't. And being a little horror as a toddler is no prediction of what you will be like as a teen or an adult.

I think some children just find it very difficult to be at the in-between stages where they want to be independent but can't actually manage it. I was such a child: absolutely dreadful as a toddler but coped much better with the teen years because I could have more freedom to make my own decisions. It isn't something you do to them as a parent: it is about something they are, something inherently good (drive? energy? independence?) but that just doesn't fit the toddler stage.

pictish Sat 17-Aug-13 22:42:22

So am I the only one who thinks it is unacceptable to be hit and kicked by their child then? The rest of you all seem to think it's ok. confused

OP - tantrums are normal and part and parcel of having a toddler, but her violence towards you is only going to escalate the upset. You say she does it a lot, and in my honest opinion I think if that's the case, you have lost control.

ArgyMargy Sat 17-Aug-13 22:48:05

I agree with you pictish, and to suggest this is "a bit of character" is frankly ridiculous.

pictish Sat 17-Aug-13 22:48:58


Mondaybaby Sat 17-Aug-13 22:54:33

cory- bad tantrums. I know she isn't bad.

Mondaybaby Sat 17-Aug-13 23:00:17

sorry, posted to quickly. She isn't bad. she shows many loving and nurturing qualities. It's just during a meltdown that she mostly kicks and hits.

pictish Sat 17-Aug-13 23:03:04

She should not be hitting or kicking you at all. For any reason. This needs to stop straightaway.

It will not be doing her emotional security any good whatsoever to feel that she has free reign to attack her mother.

EMS23 Sat 17-Aug-13 23:10:12

My DD hits during tantrums. I understand your assertion that its wrong Pictish but some constructive advice on stopping it happening might help the OP a tad more than just telling her how terribly bad it is!

fififrog Sat 17-Aug-13 23:11:42

If all your friends say they have "nipped them in the bud" then they probably have very passive kids or are afraid that if their kids have tantrums they must be rubbish parents. My DD is 2.5 and most of my colleagues and friends with kids the same age have at least some problems.

The hitting thing, I think it might be a matter of reading too much into what was said. My DD is quite a thrasher when angry and we often get kicked or hit, but although I might say that she does those things it's not deliberate aggression. It's more like we're in the way of her mindless thrashing.

Mondaybaby Sat 17-Aug-13 23:11:45

I want her to stop. How do I get her to stop? When she is calm an receptive I tell her that it is wrong and unacceptable. I've told her it hurts me and makes me sad. She says she won't do it again. But in the heat of the next tantrum she usually does lash out. I don't know what else to try.

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