Shamed by son's behaviour & feeling really low(12 Posts)
My little boy is 3 years old next month and I feel like I can't cope with his behaviour any more. Today I was shouted at by another mum at our local soft play place because he poked her little girl in the face twice, and I can completely understand why she was so angry but her hatred for us and assumption I'm a bad parent, that I have a 'vicious' son makes me feel devastated.
I watch him like a hawk when I'm there because he can switch from being fine to hitting so I saw something going on (he'd hit another little boy), I ran in to get him out, and when I got to where he was a group of much older children had got him in a corner and were shouting at him. I told my son off, told the older children off for being so aggressive with a 2 year old, and then mistakenly let him go back in and he did it again straight away. I was mortified, told him we were leaving because of his behaviour, took him downstairs and the girl's mum was waiting for me with her sobbing daughter to vent her anger and tell me that I had a vicious son. I apologised profusely, my son apologised to her daughter, I explained he's still only 2 (he's tall so looks much older) and then left straight away with my daughter while trying not to cry. I won't be taking him back to soft play again but I feel sorry for my daughter who misses out on things because of his behaviour. I've asked for a referral to Portage but have no idea how long this will take and am feeling desperate.
I completely understand the mum's behaviour as I used to feel the same when children acted that way towards my older daughter, but it doesn't change the fact that I feel like I want to shout at them that I'm not a bad person, I've tried every parenting strategy out there, and nothing has worked. I'm not a soft parent, I tell my son what he's done wrong, how he's hurt the other person, he shows genuine regret and remorse, but will often do it again. He's impulsive rather than aggressive and often other parents of boys will be very understanding.
I feel like I'll remember her anger and hatred, and my humiliation forever, and I honestly feel like I can't go on with things how they are.
Give yourself a break, he's a toddler, all children go through it, even the children of the "perfect parents"!
Adults are the worst for having such high expectations for children. If your son does something that makes you angry how do you deal with it?
Does he hang around with other children often where he has picked up hitting others when he gets frustrated?
Maybe something happened before he hurt the other children and he didn't know how to cope with his frustration.
Don't stop him from going to the soft play!
I've been there, in fact I am occasionally still there and ds1 is almost 5 it is impulsiveness, the only thing you can do is what you have been doing, keep enforcing the rules. I found having a quick chat in the car before going inside helped, out line the behavior you expect and to come to you if anyone does things to him. If he's naughty and you want your daughter to still stay in the punishment can be sittng with you and not playing. Ds2 isn't old enough for soft play yet so I don't know how that'll pan out for me but only way I could see to manage it without punishing your daughter too. for you, as I say ds1 is almost 5 and his behaviour got better then worsened after starting school. You think it's bad now wait till you have to stand next to a mother in the playground apologising that he punched their child. ..and then see them twice a day thereafter! Best of luck with it!
Thanks Ffion3107. I get two types of responses when my son acts like he did today - yours, where people understand because they've usually been through it themselves, and the complete opposite, where they are extremely angry and confrontational with me. I'm not a confrontational person and it takes me a long time to get over their anger with me and to forget that feeling of shame as I leave, with everyone looking and hating.
The thing I find difficult is there isn't a consistent cause for his behaviour - he doesn't spend time with other children who hit, he doesn't always seems frustrated before hitting out - he just walks past someone and hits them. It feels more like poor impulse control.
He has delayed speech, he runs around a lot, he falls over a lot. I'm worried about something like ADHD.
Sorry you're going through a hard time.
I find that places like soft play seem to bring out the worst in children! Maybe try to sticking to outdoor type places while he is going through this phase (because that's what it is!). Much easier to quickly grab your child in a park etc. rather than crawling into a ball pit!
I would also suggest looking for the signs that he's 'bubbling' and likely to hit out and try to distract him/ remove him from the situation.
I think you need a zero tolerance approach. So after the first physical incident you either leave or he has to sit out and stick to it. Talk to him about what behaviour you expect before you arrive and keep reminding him. If you see him playing nicely with another child praise him. "Remember when you were playing with that little boy in the park yesterday? I loved how you took it in turns to use the slide, you made Mummy so happy "
Sorry if you do all this already and I'm stating the obvious!
My DC4 was the toddler from hell - and I had been so bloody smug, having had three older DCs who were relatively fine. I had judged the parents of "that child" right up until it turned out I was now the parent of "that child". He drew blood from a girl's face in a ball-pit once - and I had to do the walk of shame from countless toddler groups where he'd been awful. My approach was zero tolerance - one step out of line and we were out of there. No second chances.
I don't know if it was the zero tolerance eventually working or whether he just matured a bit, but he grew out of it, and has actually been the most chilled and laid back of all the DCs. No major behaviour problems at all. Hang on in there
You don't need to feel ashamed at all. We've all been toddlers ourselves too, people seem to forget that. It is a horrible feeling when your toddler hurts someone else but the way you cope with it will make you and you child feel better. For example calling him naughty will only make him worse and you'll feel bad. But if you say firmly "that is not how we behave, it is not nice to hit, say sorry" they understand. As you say though, your son regrets it straight away so he does understand.
Try praising good behaviour lots, tell him every 15 minutes in the soft play that he is playing nicely, and if he doesn't take him out for 5 minutes, read a book/have a cuddle until he's ready to go back so this way your daughter doesn't miss out and your son is given the chance to think about his behaviour while calming down. DD turned 2 in march, I've seen her hurt her cousin twice and that's how I deal with it just because that's what I think is best after doing my degree in childhood studies.
However, they tell me often in nursery that she hurts other children which she is bound to as she sees all sorts there. When I ask how they deal with it they say they put her on a sad step for 5 minutes and tell her she's naughty (which angers me so much!)
Yoy say he has delayed speech, has he been assessed by a Speech Therapist? It's not unheard of for a child with speech delay to hit/poke other children as an attempt to play; so activities where you can help him join in a better way may help. Bog standard parks can be quite good for this.
I had a toddler like this too. My DS2 is now 6 and he's a gentle, well behaved boy. I honestly wouldn't have believed this if you'd told me a few years ago!
Hang in there OP, carry on as you're doing (ie dealing with the behaviour, leaving the soft play if necessary), remember he's only 2 and it's really common for 2 year olds to go through this stage. Follow up on the speech delay but don't worry, it's unlikely to be ADHD or similar from what you've said.
Forgot to say that I found soft play was particularly bad for this. I used to take DS2 to a music class and he was much less likely to hit anyone there.
He sounds overwhelmed. I would keep his social interactions very, very low key and well supervised until he can verbalise.
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