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Please help me - I lost my temper with my son

(104 Posts)
Shouted Mon 01-Nov-10 22:44:45

He's just 5. He has a great life. We are a nice, middle class family. I try extremely hard to be a great mother and my children are generally very happy.

Today, I shouted - full volume - in his face, shook him and poked him in his solar plexus. I dragged him from one end of the house to the other. I lost my temper for about 5 minutes. Significant and prolonged provocation, but that's not the point. The point is what I did was awful and wrong.

I am so, so horrified, afraid and ashamed. I've told my husband some of it, but missed out the part about shaking the boy. I had forgotten it until now. Husband was mildly supportive, knowing how infuriating our son can be, but obviously concerned. Little has been said.

I feel like a fucking monster, I never want to do it again, but I don't know how to ask - or whom - for help.

So I came here.

Shouted Mon 01-Nov-10 22:48:14

He was horribly upset at the time and then seemed absolutely fine 10 minutes later. We talked about it , we cried., we said sorry and went to the park.

SparklyJules Mon 01-Nov-10 22:53:21

Been there, done that, worn the t-shirt.

Yep, temper can get the better of us and you feel crappy now. You can't change what happened but you'll think twice before doing it again and hopefully so will your ds. He pushed and you snapped, its life isn't it?

GettinGhoulish Mon 01-Nov-10 23:10:08

Shouted, we've all lost our temper, I have smacked both mine in anger sad. You've dealt with it well and most importantly said sorry, and this is a one off - your ds will see that you strongly feel that what you did was wrong.

If you ever feel that angry with him again - tell him you are shutting yourself away in your room, and if he bangs on the door, just put a chair in front of it. I did this once with dd when she was driving me to distraction and she got very upset at being ignored and calmed down after that.

Toffeefudgecake Mon 01-Nov-10 23:37:28

It's shaming when this happens, I know. It is like seeing a part of ourselves we don't want to see.

I agree with GettingGhoulish. I used to either send my son to his room when he was behaving appallingly or shut myself away from him until he had calmed down if he refused to go. I avoided any contact with him at these times because I discovered it made me so angry when he fought me that I was very tempted to use force.

Also, I read this.

Some children are more challenging than others (my second child doesn't behave like this - so far) and five is a tricky age. He will become easier to deal with as he gets older, I'm sure. My eldest used to have daily tantrums at one stage. Not anymore, thank goodness.

It's really lovely that the two of you said sorry to each other, then went to the park together. I'm sure your son will soon forget about it, don't worry.

Shouted Tue 02-Nov-10 10:20:19

Thanks for your supportive messages. I happened to overhear a couple of mums at the school gate, saying what a nightmare they'd had with their kids yesterday, so that also made me feel less of an aberration.

I still think what I did was a total aberration, though: whilst I really do appreciate the kindness in the above messages, I am also very much appreciating the advice that will help me to stop it happening again.

To be honest, it has happened (to a lesser degree) before and I think my biggest fear is that it was escalating and would result in me doing something truly awful and abusive to my boy. Because I DO, very occasionally, reach a point where I could hurt him. The horror and remorse only kicks in a couple of minutes later and I fear those moments in which I lose control and compassion.

I also fear that I'm 'hard wired' to be a shouty, violent mother ... like my own mother. She struggled like hell with my brother and I when we were children and she was pretty awful to us at times. My abiding memory of my childhood is of her being bad tempered, shouty, violent. I so very much don't want that for my own children.

So I will try to walk away next time and I will tell him why I am doing it.

Thanks again.

MaudOHara Tue 02-Nov-10 10:23:45

I can remember really loosing it with DS at this age a lot.

You apologised, you've recognised that it is wrong, next time walk away, calm down and then deal with it.

Don't beat yourself up - you're only human, you're not supermum

Shouted Tue 02-Nov-10 10:24:41

By the way, my opening paragraph about how very nicey nicey middle class we all are was meant to be tongue in cheek; I was feeling like a total monster and felt, very keenly, how far I'd fallen from the family life I'd wanted to create. It sounded sardonic last night; this morning, it looks impossibly twatty.

Hassled Tue 02-Nov-10 10:25:09

The skill lies in recognising when you're getting to "seriously angry" levels - and two things help: a) the old "imagine there's a film crew in the room making a documentary" trick - you remember how you'll look to other people and step back, and b) leave the room. Just walk away, make a cup of tea, stand in the garden and count to twenty, whatever. It's just knowing when you need to do that that can be hard.

And I agree - 4 and 5 year old boys can be bloody hard work. I've been told that they get their first proper surge of testosterone at taht stage and that's why they're nightmares. All 3 of my DSs were hideous at that age - all nice now .

Shouted Tue 02-Nov-10 10:25:19


ginodacampoismydh Tue 02-Nov-10 10:27:45

i dont think you should been your self up over sometimes kids just know what buttons to press and let up untill they have successfully wound you up. You clearly know how to deal with your son under normal cirumstances but for some reason this went out the window, perfectly normal and you wont be the last perfectly good mum to do this. it is a one off and im sure lessons learnt all round including ds.

your Class has to do with this.however I fail to see what bieng a nice middle class family has to with it.

GoreRenewed Tue 02-Nov-10 10:28:29

Shutting yourself in your room is a good idea! I have got to that stage many many times and just walked away - he tends to follow hmm. Sending DS to his room never works as he just refuses to go and it results in him being foribly put there which defeats the object IMO. I will go and sit in my room - more decisive and sends a signal to DS that I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!.

Shouted Tue 02-Nov-10 10:31:13

Yeah, it IS hard to recognise it. It's like my entire morality / self awareness collapses, and all I can feel is how FUCKING FURIOUS I AM.

An issue I find is that he's not actually being unusually defiant ... he just ignores me. So increasing the volume, getting in his face and speaking unnaturally loudly and clearly is a requirement sometimes. When I'm trying to get him and his sister out of the house and he's still pissing around 15 minutes after I first asked him to put his shoes on ... well, that's when I run out of options. Ignoring wouldn't really work; he wouldn't notice until he wanted something.

From that ^ to bawling at him actually isn't so much of a big step.

Shouted Tue 02-Nov-10 10:33:08

Gin - I did address that in my 10.24 post. I was pretty upset last night and it was meant sarcastically i.e. 'we might look like a model family from a Persil ad, but actually I'm a fucking monster'.

When I re-read it this morning, it sounded all wrong.

Hassled Tue 02-Nov-10 10:35:30

At 5 he's old enough to have some idea of the value of having money to spend on stuff - something I did with my older DCs was that I gave them, say, 50p pocket money a week and then every time they pissed me off, or failed to do what they were asked, or pushed their luck, I'd deduct say 10p. They got what was left at the end of the week (as they got older I think it was £1 to start with). Some weeks they'd end up owing me money! But it was a good motivator - they never cared enough about stickers for a sticker chart thing to work.

Acanthus Tue 02-Nov-10 10:37:56

Shouted - think you need to try some new behaviour strategies to reduce the number of times you apprach the end of your tether. You say he's ignoring you - maybe try:

- letting him take the consequences eg out with no shoes on - put them on in the car maybe?

- counting down - get those shoes on before I count to 5

- racing him

- deciding what you will fight over and what you are prepared to let go/ ignore

Shouted Tue 02-Nov-10 10:39:02

Thanks for messages. Drinking it all in ...

arfasleep Tue 02-Nov-10 10:40:25

Lots of very good advice, I am going through same with my DS, it does worry me that he'll grow up to remember me as quite a 'shouty' mum, and, like you, I worry that I'm 'hard-wired' to be that way. My mum wasn't like that at all, but my dad def had problems controlling his temper. I also worry that my DS will grow up with the idea that he is 'annoying' because, tbh, I do find him annoying but I don't want that to be his main view of himself. I also think to myself sometimes 'thank goodness he's at school for most of the day and not with negative shouty mummy all day' sad

Shouted Tue 02-Nov-10 10:42:37

Acanthus; I think the time has come to go out of the house without shoes on. It is such a flash point in our house and the current outcomes are a) I do it for him b) it is a 10 minute process of me reminding him, cajoling, using cross voice, counting, threatening or c) what happened yesterday.

So I think I need to cut all that crap out and let him feel the consequences. We have a very pebbly drive, so he will certainly feel a consequence underfoot. Plus it's getting cold and rainy now; that should focus his attention.

I fear public opinion, though! But sod it; I am losing my mind over a pair of size 11 shoes.

ginodacampoismydh Tue 02-Nov-10 10:43:02

ok i get that, are not a fucking monster youare a normal just had bloody enough this morning mother.

why dont you talk to ds about it and explain this behaviour makes you fell like this and at times you find it hard to know what to do next and if he makes an effort not to behave like this you will make an effort not to shout. this works with my dd and on the odd occassions i gently stand her up, ask she looks at me, hold her arms, not with any force maybe just rubbing them gently, but to keep her with me not wander whilst im giving her instructions. and remind her that she needs to make an effort to blah blah blah, this nips it in the bud before the shouty mum kicks in.

also you need to get rid of the distraction that is making him ignore you in my house is the T.V we have absolutly no tv in the morning and generaly all is calm. my dd is 4 and to ensure shoes coats etc get put on in time i do need send her to get shoes coat etc and sit in front of me to put them on.

Shouted Tue 02-Nov-10 10:44:21

arfasleep - I know exactly what you mean.

I wish I was better at this lark, because I actually don't enjoy my time with him very much at the moment. Unless he's asleep. Then he's great.

OrangeSpacedust Tue 02-Nov-10 10:44:47

Shouted, I sympathise totally – this has happened to me with DD of the same age - and I'm still not sure what to do about it. It hasn't happened for a while and I'm really hoping that we've both just grown up a bit (well, me particularly – it is in NO WAY her fault that I have blown up like this).

In the moment that the red mist descends, I want to hurt her and terrify her with my shouting, to "show her". It's bloody bloody awful. I've never hit or smacked, but I have handled her roughly, and of course the yelling two inches from her face that makes me ashamed to call myself a member of the human race. The last time it happened I went into a complete slump for a good day or two afterwards, I felt so ashamed and remorseful and had that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.

The next step is admitting it all to a doctor, I suppose, but I'm scared to do this and just hoping for the best. I am learning a lot about myself along the way.

I don't know about you, but the advice to "just walk away" or imagine there's a film crew in the room, simply doesn't work in the moment when you flip. I have tried, but am still looking for that magical solution.

campervanner Tue 02-Nov-10 10:44:57

the fact that you frightened yourself means you are in no way a "monster"... You may fear being out of control but I bet there is no way you would ever let it get further than this and really hurt him.

Shouted Tue 02-Nov-10 10:48:20

Gin: yes, it is the dreaded telly most of the time. Yesterday, it was a new toy.

I do revert to the telly, though, because it keeps him occupied whilst I scurry around (usually with his baby sister on my hip) and get everything ready.

Maybe I could get things ready the night before, eh?!

We got into the telly habit when I had the second baby and, tbh, have never really had the wherewithal to change back. That's pretty lame.

purepurple Tue 02-Nov-10 10:49:08

Sounds like you are going through a hard time. Parenting in not easy. But you don't have to be the perfect parent. Good-enough parenting is good enough
Like others have said, you need some new tactics. What works on younger children stops working as they get older. You say he doesn't listen, so you have to shout. As well as the strategies that others have suggested, have you tried whispering? It might just work.It might just shock him into listening. It's one of the many tactics that I use in my work with children.

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