This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Tonight I flipped out and now feel very guilty.... how can I rectify it? And prevent things escalating again?(10 Posts)
This is a “I lost my temper and now I feel guilty” thread.
Tonight was about the 3rd time in my parenting life I’ve become genuinely angry and shouted repeatedly and all 3 times were in the last few months.
My daughter (4) is very very strong willed. She is also bright and funny and full of boundless energy.
I think mischievous is the best way to describe her behaviour as she is not being maliciously naughty as such, she just wants to have fun, make people laugh and really enjoys winding people up. She reminds me almost exactly of my brothers who are both still like that now, bloody annoying wind up merchants but funny and loveable with it.
For the most part I am a calm, fun mummy but my patience for her cheeky behaviour is rapidly wearing thin. I’m pretty certain that most of the time she is refusing to do what she is told purely because she thinks it’s funny to see me get frustrated.
So today she has refused to eat anything of any substance all day and I was determined to get something decent inside her before bed, even if it was just one portion of fruit. She agreed (after much negotiation) to scrambled egg.
Great, eggs are protein, healthy fat, small manageable portion and easy to eat. Simple enough right?
The egg was refused after 1 mouthful. I became irritated by this because a) she agreed to the egg b) she had eaten virtually nothing all day c) she wanted chocolate instead d) she simply wasn’t doing what she was told...I.e. “just eat the egg”.
This happens a lot. She refuses one thing until we offer her something else, then she eats a tiny bit of that, then wants something else. Repeat this to the power of infinity. It’s something we decided we would crack down on in 2019.
Anyway, with this good intention in mind, I explained clearly why she needed to eat something healthy. Why it’s important to eat healthy food be able to run and jump and play, and be good at party games etc (you know, all the appropriate incentives). But no joy. So after what felt like 30 minutes of fruitless bargaining I decided to play hard ball and told her that we would not be leaving the table until the egg was eaten, no matter how long it took.
(This is a technique I’ve always vowed not to use in the past as I don’t want her developing an issue with food).
She dug her heels in. She is VERY good at sticking to her ground.
My temper grew and grew and I basically became furious and shouted at her until, finally, the egg was eaten. She was very upset and crying. It was horrible. We both calmed down. I apologised for getting so angry. I explained why I felt angry and how I wish she would just do what she was told. We had lots of cuddles and in the end she went to bed happy.
I now feel absolutely wracked with guilt. I think I scared her, and why? Over an egg. And because she wouldn’t do as she was told. What a stupid thing for me to lose the plot about, of all the bloody things.
I know I stepped over the line allowing my anger to take over but, genuinely, I don’t know how to tackle this kind of situation. She simply doesn’t listen to threats or care even when the consequences for her get quite bad.... one time we put ALL her toys in the shed and she had to earn them back one by one. He reaction to this was.... and I quite “I don’t care if I don’t have any toys, I don’t like them anyway, don’t forget to put my dolly in the shed too Mummy”.
She slowly earned her toys back over 6 months.
My mum would have just screamed at me and smacked me. I don’t ever smack but I feel I’m starting to revert to the only type of discipline I’ve experienced..... anger and shouting. It seems to be the only thing that hits home.
There must be a better way?? I can’t work out if I’m being overly strict and expecting too much, or far too soft and need to toughen up. Or perhaps simply too inconsistent?
How do you make a 4 year old do what she is told?
I have tried the naughty step.... she just gets up and walks off laughing “I can easily get off the step mummy”, so other than forcing her with my hands to sit on it, she doesn’t stay on it.
I was going through the exact same thing with my son. What I did was I would offer him two choices of breakfast in the morning, he chose which one he wanted. If he didn't eat. Which he did a few times and my blood boiled. He didn't get another choice. That's it, he didn't eat. In two hours I offered a snack or allowed him to choose a healthy snack. Has to be healthy. Then in another two hours lunch. This time I gave him his lunch. My choice. Again some days he said nope. So I said fine. You don't eat lunch. But now you don't get a snack in two hours. Finally dinner time comes in 4 hours. I offer dinner. Usually by then he eats whatever I give him cause he's hungry. He eventually began eating great again. I never forced him to eat anything nor bribed him. If he didn't want it I said "alright don't have it, but now you get no snacks because you need to have food first it very important for your health" it got so bad some days he had literally two bites of pasta all day!!! And inside I was so furious and frustrated wth him. Those days he went to bed with no snacks, no food! But this schedule really helped. Now that he's eating again, I'm a little more flexible but it's still breakfast,2 hrs, snack, 2hra lunch, 2hra, dinner. It helps a lot!!
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Thanks for replies. I feel I have completely lost perspective,
I must explain, however, the toys in the shed incident was because she was having a temper tantrum so bad that she was using her toys as weapons. Throwing them at us and down the stairs. Shredded up her books, pulling her posters off the walls, she was literally destroying her room.
That was nearly a year ago and it was done very calmly. And her rage-like tantrums are definitely behind us now. I think I wanted to tell you about it to show that I can really put my foot down if need be, if you think I need to be that strict again, but I didn’t like doing it, and I’m not convinced it worked. I think her temper tantrums simply stopped because she grew out of them. So I hear what you’re saying about me being over the top. I probably was at the time and it’s not something I’ll do again. (If nothing else, having all her toys in the shed was a right pita.)
I’m loving that advice about 2 hourly food intervals. Will try that today.
Is it worth trying to teach about food groups yet? There are charts where they can tick off when they have eaten a portion of something healthy. Or am I, once again, going over the top?
I have a very good parenting book I haven’t even looked at since she was 1 (only excuse being lack of time) but I shall dust it off today. I guess it felt a bit quicker to post here and see what the general consensus was.
She is currently singing in her bedroom. The sweetest thing I’ve ever heard. Can’t believe how angry she can make me feel when she is being naughty.... I’m not an angry person. Would never flip my lid in any other circumstance. But I’m starting to realise my shitty parenting is the problem and not her.
She can be a very bossy little madam. Demands things, stamps her feet if she doesn’t get them. Etc. Hope the book covers that.
Please don't beat yourself up about it. Unfortunately kids don't come with a manual and all are so very different!
I have have become very angry with my 4 year old daughter too, literally losing the plot. And then the guilt.
And when you look back what it was over its usually pretty trivial.
I have been attending 'The Incredible Years' course at her school which they run for free. I asked to attend, very helpful strategies, plans etc.
They also have a book which covers everything too. I found it on Amazon. Hope it helps
I’m sure I had that app when she was a baby! Will check out the book. Thank you x
Don’t enter into a battle of wills over food! Offer her one thing and if she eats it praise her if she doesn’t then she goes hungry but don’t offer her anything else. She likes to get a reaction and you are giving it to her! She will eat eventually. I keep refused food to heat up in the microwave later. I do offer a bowl of vegetables and some oat cakes before bed too.
To enforce time out with a similar child we were recommended (by a psychologist) to enforce time out with a smack on the bum, so if they get up warn them of the consequence and then follow through. I imagine that will be a pretty unpopular idea on this site though! I think dr sears recommended taking a toy away if they don’t comply with time out. Does she have a favourite toy or a love of screen time?
Smack in bum is very traumatic idk what psychologist recommended that. I studied child dev and we learnt any hurts the parent/child relationship alone causes anxiety. I'd steer clear from that. Honestly I think just respect your little one and talk to her like an adult more than anything.
I have similar experience OP. I would back off on the food thing... definitely don't go into looking at food groups etc (well you can from an educational point of view but not in terms of making her eat). She is enjoying the fuss, just leave her be... She may eat very little for a few days but she'll be ok. And she'll learn you won't hop about pandering to her changing her mind etc. She knows you will do everything and anything to get her to eat do she is testing how far she can push things and watching your reactions.
I think pick your battles and let things go a bit. She is feeding off your reactions... so don't react. Be a bit more indifferent, as hard as that is!
I second giving two choices.... it makes them feel in control. I found time out didnt work for us.. given particular personality traits. It's hard when they are bright and stubborn. You are a good mum and don't beat yourself up, you're being v harsh on yourself!
In that situation I would have just set a little timer and said “this is your dinner - it’s something you like. You have until the timer goes off, and then you can get down and whatever is left goes in the bin and we will go and do bath and bedtime”
If she goes to bed hungry one night, no biggy.
I also have a fiery temper and when I feel the red mist beginning to fall, I just have to take myself away and lock myself in the bathroom and take deep breaths and calm myself down as I’m shouty otherwise.
It does get easier as they get older - mine are now 6 and 8 and much more reasonable and I can’t remember the last time I properly lost my temper with them.