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Is my DH too hard on our 2.5yo?

(22 Posts)
Dilligufdarling Tue 10-Feb-15 08:29:53

Please help me get a sense of perspective!
I'm work full time and my DH recently has returned (after a gap of 1yrish) to being a sahd. Our DS was in ft nursery for that year.
I know that I have a tendency to worry a lot (too much about DS). Am sure this is partially bound up in feeling guilty for not spending as much time with him as I'd like - evenings and weekends don't feel like enough.
DS is 2.5 and generally really lovely, but he does seem to have entered the boundary pushing stage over the last month.
We're pretty sure this has to do with him not being at nursery ft anymore.
So he's definitely more challenging than he was. I've seen that myself at weekends.
But, but but.
DH is so very very strict with him. He seems to think of him as being a mini adult who is being manipulative on purpose and they have constant battles, whereas I think DS is frustrated much of the time because he can't communicate exactly what he wants/ sometimes doesn't know what he wants.
When I talk to DH about it he thinks that I don't have the full picture because I'm not there all of the time.
Or (this morning) he takes it very personally and thought I was accusing him of abusing our son.
I appreciate that we're transitioning at the moment, but I don't want behavioural habits (from anyone!) to become fixed in a damaging pattern.
Maybe 2 and a bit year olds are that clever? Maybe I'm being naive.
Maybe DH and I just have different styles of parenting but he's the sahp so his way "wins"?

Changeitplease Tue 10-Feb-15 08:34:35

In my opinion and I have a similar aged child ... Even if there are behaviour issues or tantrums the child can be taught through a loving and kind manner more easily than by being harsh and rude. They are little creatures and need love and affection. I would not take it kindly if anyone tries to be rough with the child ... It's is just not the age. They aren't far from being babies smile

Brandysnapper Tue 10-Feb-15 08:36:20

I have a 2.5 year old. Your post isn't very specific - what is your dp doing that you think is ott?

Dilligufdarling Tue 10-Feb-15 08:39:22

Thanks changeit.
That's very close to my way of thinking, and I think generally that's how DH would like to be.
But when the tantrums/ food refusal (when you KNOW he's hungry) start then DH reacts more angrily than I would.
I must add that he would and has never ever been physical with DS. That's something we do totally agree on.

Dilligufdarling Tue 10-Feb-15 08:46:19

Brandy, I'm trying to think of specifics,
It's more of a general attitude really - he thinks of DS almost the way you'd treat a lazy/rude employee?
That's not the best analogy but it's like he feels DS needs to be constantly corrected.
Last night DS woke in the night - he has a cold ATM - I gave him some calpol and he resettled.
DH was quite cross and said (to me) this is total BS he doesn't need calpol it's a habit and DS just wants company and he pretends that he needs "medicine".
DS has been waking a lot recently - most nights - but he's not very well and I'd rather deal with the sleeping once he's better.
Sorry I'm probably not being very clear...

CultureSucksDownWords Tue 10-Feb-15 08:49:38

2.5 yr olds are not manipulative in the adult sense. They still don't really understand about other peoples feelings and they are only concerned with their own wants. That can make them seem like mini dictators. But that's entirely normal at this age, and the best way of dealing with it is to be calm and to be warm/loving to them even when enforcing boundaries. Praise as much positive behaviour as you can and consistently enforce your boundaries, redirecting and distracting before you get to a flash point if you can.

If your DH is the SAHP then he must learn to discuss parenting with you without being defensive about what he's doing. You are allowed to have an opinion on what he says as an equal parent.

Greenstone Tue 10-Feb-15 08:53:19

You're probably right that dh is entering into battle a bit much but on the other hand it's very hard being the sahp and having buttons constantly pushed and it's quite easy to see where battles go wrong when you're at a slight remove from that. I know you know this already smile but I would say it's worth being as sympathetic to your partner as you can be. If you find you have a much more effective way of dealing with ds then simply modelling that and getting the results will probably be the easiest way to convince your dh?
Tbh I learned a lot about patience and strategies etc from MN!

Brandysnapper Tue 10-Feb-15 08:54:55

Oh dear. So what if he just wants company? My dh is used to regularly being ousted from our bed so ds can have some middle-of-the-night cuddles with me. I think dh and I view ourselves as being slaves at the whim of our mini (and very funny) dictator, so we've probably gone too far in the other direction. But primarily all your interactions with your dcs need to be motivated by love.

Dilligufdarling Tue 10-Feb-15 08:57:01

Thanks culture.
I'm hoping that as DH/DS get used to the way things are now - it's only really been 4 weeks - that we'll all find a balance.
It's a learning process all round.
DH does take my questions/suggestions as a criticism a lot of the time. But then he's also pretty knackered (see sleeping issues above) which doesn't help.
It's good to know that 2.5yos can be like mini dictators though... That's exactly how DS is sometimes!
How do you enforce boundaries without being harsh though? Is it all about repeating yourself and staying calm?

Dilligufdarling Tue 10-Feb-15 08:58:47

Thanks all!
I've got to go to work now, but will be back later

jigglywiggly Tue 10-Feb-15 09:01:19

My Ds is 2.5 and has also entered this stage. I'm strict with him too but not physical at all. He like to push and hit at the moment so I take him away from his friends for 2 minutes and explain why I have done it, so effectively using time out. Not sure at all if this is the right method as I can tell him 'no hitting ' until I'm blue in the face, so I have to do something else. I can sympathise with your Dh, being with that behavior day in and out is exhausting. I'm 32 weeks pregnant too so that doesn't help matters! I think putting boundaries in place is a good thing, and as long as they are not physical I would be inclined to let your Dh parent his way. Hard though it is!

mummybare Tue 10-Feb-15 09:03:27

A book I'm reading at the moment that I'd really recommend is Calm Parents, Happy Kids by Dr Laura Markham. It's a great mix of science (behavioural studies and neuroscience) and practical advice and has worked wonders with DD, who is about the same age. It is basically about setting limits in a calm, empathic way. (Which can be a lot harder than it sounds. Believe me, I know!)

The author's blog is Aha Parenting if you want to get an idea of her approach.

dashoflime Tue 10-Feb-15 09:09:15

We have the same conflict in my house. My problem with DH is he will "correct" without explanation. So, if DS drops food on the floor, he will just shout "No!" whereas I will say something like "Dont drop it on the floor Ds- if youve finished, you sat "all done" and I will take it away for you"
If DS is just being willfull then the "No!" is fine but my critisism is that DH will jump to that conclusion without giving the benefit of the doubt first. The result is that situations escallate and also DS is learning how to wind DH up for a reaction- which he doesnt do with me!
Otoh- I sometimes think my expectations are a little low and I let too much go. For example- DS had a phase of going limp (imagine CND style passive resistance) rather than walking while out and about. He also used to grab at his own shit during nappy changes. DH has got him out of both habits by being a bit hars. I would probably have put up with it indefinately- but I must admit, its much nicer not to have that behaviour to deal with.
If you cant come to an agreement, could you try parenting classes together? You could be a bit underhand and pretend to want tips on "discipline" then steer him towards something like triple P, which is probably closer to your parenting philosophy than his! (actually- almost any mainstream parenting class will be closer to your philosophy thab his wink)

CultureSucksDownWords Tue 10-Feb-15 09:12:21

Yep, repeating yourself and being as calm as you can. Following through, kindly, with consequences, natural consequences where possible. So I might say "we don't throw" to my DS if he throws a toy, and remind him that if he wants to throw he can throw his soft ball. If he throws again, I take the toy away and say that he can't have that toy if he's going to throw it. This then gets repeated if necessary if he continues to throw other toys. If he's having a complete moment and isn't listening, I would remove him from the situation to somewhere more boring and wait with him until he's calmed down.

It's important to remember that they won't get everything right all the time, and that its a process. So it's not the end of the world if they have a bad week and their behaviour goes downhill. You just keep at it and they'll get there in the end :-)

Dulra Tue 10-Feb-15 09:14:36

It's a difficult one because on one hand you don't want to be criticising your husbands parenting skills (no one responds well to that!) but on the other hand you feel he is being a bit hard on your ds which I think he is. It might be useful that you both google 2.5 year old development and what is �normal� behaviour for that age it might show your dh that a lot of what your son is doing is important developmental behaviour for his age and yes it can be tough going and the constant battles relentless but it may help your dh if he understands the behaviour a bit better. The thing to remember about children particularly at this age is that they don�t set out to misbehave and he is certainly far too young to understand the intricacies of manipulation etc. Maybe look at the �misbehaviour� as simply because your son has not yet learnt how to behave well. It is our role as parents to teach children to behave well so when you look at a 2 year old grabbing a toy off another child he simply hasn�t learnt how to share yet and that is our job to teach them that but done in a positive encouraging way not a negative confrontational way. It is quite an adjustment for your husband to be home so much with a 2 year old anyone would find it hard but he has a choice here about how he wants that time to be and at the moment the constant battles with his son mustn�t be very pleasant and are very unnecessary so I hope he can find a better way of handling what is really very normal and necessary behaviour from your 2 year old

gatewalker Tue 10-Feb-15 09:37:45

The very fact that your DH takes your criticism personally is reflected in his behaviour towards your DS:

The word "persecutory" takes centre stage, both in how your DH feels about your observations to him, and then how he then acts that out as a parent. I would suggest he is acting out a part of his own childhood that he has internalised, and your son will be internalising that 'voice', only to act it out on himself and others when he is older.

This is how wounding is passed from one generation to another. And this is the time when your DH can put a stop to it - by dealing with himself and not his son.

Crazyqueenofthecatladies Tue 10-Feb-15 11:52:06

I've got to add that it's much easier to be a calm and rational parent when you do just do evenings and weekends. Be watchful of your dh but go easy on him these first few weeks. He is going through a hell of a learning curve as staying home with a toddler is a very different experience than sah with a baby. But if it isn't working then you'll know soon enough.

MrsCakesPrecognition Tue 10-Feb-15 12:04:24

Try reading Raising Happy Children. It is a fab book, small chunks, great ideas, very reassuring. You might even be able to persuade your DH to read it too.
I think it is out of print now - but you can get a second hand copy on Abebooks

Or try your local library.

LittleLionMansMummy Tue 10-Feb-15 12:13:42

I sympathise OP as one who has a very different approach to my own dh. To be fair to him though, he does listen to advice/ suggestions when they're put to him calmly and at the right time. The trick is also not to undermine him directly but explain later what my issue was with the way he dealt with something.

My approach varies between frustration "He's 4, you're 44 - you are the adult" (not the most effective approach) and pointing out when he's doing things well and ds is consequently responding well. So, I tend to say things like "did you notice how well ds responded to you when you did x, y or z? I've noticed he listens much better/ behaves better when you take that approach". Sounds a bit Jack and Jill in this context, but it does take the conflict and criticism out of a situation, while allowing you to get your point across.

It is a constant balancing act to back up dh to deal with bad behaviour (which is crucial) while at the same time suggesting more effective methods to deal with the behaviour. And who is to say which method is right? I think it's probably very normal, and healthy, for parents to have different approaches as long as there's compromise and the dc isn't allowed to exploit those differences.

LittleLionMansMummy Tue 10-Feb-15 12:19:25

Just to add, if ds is poorly it's more likely for dh to go soft and want him in bed with us than say he's pretending. That response does sound very harsh - particularly for a 2yo.

Dilligufdarling Tue 10-Feb-15 13:57:06

Thank you so much for your responses!
I've just had a quick look at that blog and it looks really helpful. Will have a chat with DH when all is calm and he should have a look.
I think the point about his own childhood and persecution is sadly valid as well. His family are a bit repressed to say the least and there were many many issues.
He's sort of learning to parent without a healthy model to follow so it's not surprising I guess.
Also take the point that I've (almost) got an outsider's view so it's easy for me to criticise.
Anyway. Thanks all, am feeling like I have a plan now! This morning I was all at sea!

TiedUpWithString Tue 10-Feb-15 15:09:18

My DH can be a bit like this with DD. He also can sound exactly like his step-father which I know he wouldn't like to hear. I turn things on their heads to explain stuff to him.

For example, when DD was younger (she's now 4) and would cry in the night, DH would often say leave her etc. So I said, imagine you were really upset and crying and you knew I was in another room and could hear you crying but was ignoring you in the hope you'd stop. How would you feel? He said- I'd think you were being really uncaring and nasty to ignore me when I clearly needed you. So I said- so how do you think DD feels if we ignore her crying in the night?

Another one is her crawling into our bed. DH gets frustrated by this (DD is terribly wriggly). I say- how do you think it feels to see 2 people able to cuddle up in bed together but rejecting you and making you sleep on your own?

We then tackled DD by reading her a lovely book called A Bed of Your Own to make her want to stay in bed.

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