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Need a male perspective on evening meltdowns - please help!

(7 Posts)
headabovewater Thu 03-Sep-09 12:22:26

Was wondering whether any dads out there could help. DD (5) is basically very well behaved - incredibly so at school where the teachers seem to think she is a delight, and with me (does what she is told most of the time, is considerate and thoughtful, has the odd 5 year old moment..). She has just started her second year at school and is the youngest in the class. She finds it tiring plus has a bad cold. I am 36 weeks pregnant.

All I want in the evenings, particularly at the moment, is for dh to be patient and kind with her. To deal with her as if she is basically a good child who is fractious and tired and who may not be at her best. Unfortunately he is also tired after work and seems hell bent on proving that her behaviour is appalling. Unfortunately she isn't as well behaved with him generally (I think because he veers wildly from smotheringly indulgent to shouty and unpleasant; dh thinks because she picks up on the way I treat him, which I think is pretty fairly...).

Last night there was a dreadful scene at bath time. I was exhausted, and felt pretty rubbish, and had just sat down. DD started splashing dh as a joke, he got angry which I think made it more exciting and she would not stop. He sat exactly where he was, getting more and more wet which he said afterwards so that I would witness how disobedient she was; he then called me up from the beanbag (not very mobile at the moment!) shouting that I needed to see what she was like. Then it all went pearshaped - we screamed at each other, I started to feel worse and ended up crying. DD was mortified, crying that she was "so so sorry and she didn't want to hurt the baby." She woke in the night having had a nightmare involving the baby dying, so we are even more tired today and I feel guilty that I have involved her in essentially adult emotions.

I feel after all of this that dd is too little to feel that she is inherently incredibly disobedient just because she isn't perfect at bedtime. She had been naughty and isn't great with him but I resent the implication that "she needs more disclipline". From whom? She does what I ask her.

I feel I have to get involved because I am not 100% how things will end - he was smacked as a child and has lashed out at her in the past. He maintains endlessly that he was much better behaved at her age. (I'm not sure how he can be so convinced of this.)

Is it too much to ask that he could divert her attention, use distraction, change the way he deals with her behaviour - at least at bedtime at the moment whilst I need things to be less stressful.

Or have I missed something? Sorry this is so long!

MrsPurple Thu 03-Sep-09 21:20:17

Poor you, you must be shattered with being the referee. in my humble opinion, you should maybe understand that they are both wanting your attention.

Myself and Dh made a pact to support each other when we have to discipline our DD's, althought when they're out of ear shot we then discuss if we disagreed.

Your poor DH is also tired and probably feels he can't do anything right and that you and DD are ganging up on him (sorry if any men are reading but that's how my Dh used to feel).

I have been in similar situation, and me and DH nearly split up as he felt unsupported, not needed and that the DD's didn't really love him.

The last few hours before kids go to bed I think are the worse as they're tired but have just had that sugar burst before bed (the last bit of energy).

Good luck, it's not easy being in the middle, especially when your DD is ok for you, but maybe agree with him and get him to draft up a plan of action, which you can both agree with, so he feels he's being listened to, you feel reassured and also that the small time your DD is misbehaving is dealt with and also she understands that 'Daddy is in taking charge for that time period', children are very clever and if she's anything like my DD'd she'll pick up on the fact that you back her up.

ABetaDad Thu 03-Sep-09 21:30:56

headabovewater - how about setting a strict routine with strict time keeping in the evening that DH, you and DD stick to. By 'strict' I mean you always stick to it not 'strict' as in disciplinarian.

We found that it helped DSs wind down to bed if they knew exactly what was going to happen next. It also means we do not tread on each others toes and contradict each other in front of DSs as to what is happening next.

DD does not see Daddy much if he is at work so she is excited and if the schedule is also chaotic then she is really far too stimulated and uncertain and able to also play you off aganst each other. Kids like routine and knowing what's what when they are tired.

Fnally when DSs were very young and either of us felt we were about to boil over because they were winding us up - we had a kind of time out where we hadthe rightto call the other person for just 2 minutes to allow us to walk away and take a deep breath before comng back. Often just walking away calmed the DSs too because the new person walking in broke the cycle and restored order.

headabovewater Fri 04-Sep-09 10:12:28

Thank you both - good advice. I haven't been 100% behind dh because I just want him to 'sort' bedtimes without me and dd definitely senses that she can get us to argue. There was another meltdown last night and I think both of us realised that she is just unbelievably tired. We need to start the routine even earlier and be more consistent with timings.

We all went to bed in a friendlier fashion last night and slept better so I feel more postive.


MrsPurple Mon 07-Sep-09 19:01:08

Hi Head

I'm glad things have got a little better. small steps smile.

My dd1 also had a melt down tonight, because she was shattered. She went to bed at 6.30pm. I feel a little guilty but she'll benefit and hopefully wake up tomorrow in a better mood.

SilkySilky Sat 04-Dec-10 19:30:45

This is SO true:

"The last few hours before kids go to bed I think are the worse as they're tired but have just had that sugar burst before bed (the last bit of energy)."

BertieBotts Sat 04-Dec-10 19:55:42

(I am female BTW before I start!)

His behaviour sounds a bit strange to me confused these bits of your post specifically:

"he [DH] veers wildly from smotheringly indulgent to shouty and unpleasant"
- Is he always like this or just after work when he's tired? It seems strange that there would be no in between.

"dh thinks because she picks up on the way I treat him, which I think is pretty fairly..."
- Could you elaborate on this at all? How does he think you treat him?

"He sat exactly where he was, getting more and more wet which he said afterwards so that I would witness how disobedient she was"
- Why would he do this? It seems pointless! Surely if you spend all day with her you see how "disobedient" (or not) she is? Why sit there getting all annoyed just to make a point to you when he could have stepped out for 2 minutes to calm down.

And - you say he has lashed out at her in the past, which, okay, I'm sure a lot of people do when they are pushed to breaking point, but what was his reaction to it at the time, did he feel awful or maintain that she deserved it? Do you think this is the root of it, that he thinks that smacking is a good option and is trying to convince you of that?

I might be completely off the mark (am only saying what I can see from what sounds like an extreme example ) but I think these things are worth thinking/talking about. Glad to hear things have been going better though

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