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Struggling with anger and many other things - want to be a better parent

(13 Posts)
gretagrape Wed 26-Feb-14 07:23:34

Hi. Hope this isn't too rambling but feeling totally crap and just need a bit of help/advice/honesty please:
Son is 11mo and I have struggled with PND, but the last couple of months things have been improving (I thought). There have been various issues along the way that have contributed to how I'm feeling - son had dairy allergy through my breast milk so the first 4 months or so were really horrible for all of us; he has various food allergies which has been hard to adjust to as I'm not a brilliant cook; and I have tendonitis in both wrists which makes it really hard to deal with him physically sometimes. I'm also going back to work next month (financial reasons only - I would stay at home if I could).
My problem is my temper. I have always had a tendency to fly off the handle then be fine a minute later, but I'm finding that I direct this to my son more and more often, usually during a nappy change when I have to try and stop him squirming away, putting his hand in poo, scratching his eczema, etc. I know WHY I'm doing it - because I'm angry and upset that I find it painful and often impossible to hold onto him as he's so strong already - but I just can't seem to stop doing it.
This morning has already been horrible - the first words my son heard from me were "NO" and "for Christ's sake" and various other negative things, so now I'm in tears. He is fine, happy as Larry crawling around and babbling to himself and looking at me and laughing every so often. How long for though? How long until he stops being a happy chappy and my erratic moods start to influence his personality? The most upsetting thing for me to consider would be that my son gets used to me being like this and ends up with the overriding impression that I'm not really someone he can turn to because he won't know how I am going to react. I just want to be a more rational, calm person who doesn't blow hot and cold all the time.
I'm having physio on my wrists, but even if they improve, I still have a personality that is prone to bouts of anger and 'shoutiness'. What can I do about this? Is it really possible for someone to change that negative part of their character in order to become a better parent?

QTPie Wed 26-Feb-14 08:49:25


You are very right to want to tackle this.

I am afraid, to be completely honest, the "anger inducing abilities" of a sub-year old baby are nothing compared to what is ahead. Toddlers suddenly get a lot more challenging when they are mobile and teething and - as their independence and speech increases, so does their ability to challenge.

As another poster on here pointed out to me on Monday, sometimes we expect our children to be "miniature adults" and they aren't... They need us to show the way, by good example, many many many times and with kindness and patience (easier said than done).

The thing to also remember is that your DC is an absolute sponge - he is picking up everything from you. Expect, when he gets old enough to express himself, him to start mirroring you. Probably as you are mirroring a parent? You can change this, but only by leading by example.

Shouting and loosing temper is generally not very constructive (especially if don't often). Your child will get immune to it and - when older - may even take joy in making you angry (ie a game); which will only feed your anger and not solve anything. You need to find more constructive ways to get your child to do what you want.

Suggest that you speak to your GP or look for other help (counseling). Are you seeing peaks in anger (to be honest, I have an awful lot less patience when I have PMT)?

Also look for "flash points" and avoid where possible. Have you tried things like toys during changing times (to keep hands busy)?

Changing nappies is a particularly difficult task - in that you cannot walk away and calm down: you have to persevere and finish the task. But try counting in your head or singing your favourite song in your head. Other times that you feel angry, make sure that your child is safe and just remove yourself from the situation for several minutes to calm down.

Finally and most importantly, I think that you need to "take responsibility for and control of your emotions and anger. Everybody has "reasons" why they might anger easily, but it is up to the individual how they react. Yes, our upbringing may make us "easy to anger", but at the end of the day you are in charge of you. Unfortubatwly you cannot change how your child acts (at least not immediately - obviously over time you can) - or anybody else for that matter - BUT you can change how you react to your child (anybody else or the world). Ultimately you have control. You have the control to curb your anger, to set an example of how to deal with "frustrations of life" and you control the relationship which you build with your child. It is both a massive responsibility and "empowering"

I have done a lot of thinking on this recently (having a challenging 4 year old who can be anger inducing...)

Good luck.

gretagrape Wed 26-Feb-14 09:33:47

QTPie - Thank you so much for your honesty. I know that this has to change because I do see that if it doesn't then I'm going to be less able to cope with all the challenges that are ahead.
My Dad is the same and although he was very loving, he was also quite scary (even now, I will avoid confrontation with him because he blows up so quickly) and if I had to describe him as a parent I would say "funny" and "angry" - not how I want to be described. I already see aspects of myself in my son - even at 11mo he can have spectacular meltdowns but then be happy and smiley less than a minute later, so I know that I have to make changes so that we can both learn to express ourselves in a more positive and constructive way.
I can't say there are specific peaks but it has definitely got worse as my wrists have become more painful and less able to keep hold of my son if he is having his nappy changed or having a bit of a strop. Even getting him in and out of the car/pram is a struggle so I think that depression/anger about this is contributing to how I am feeling every day.
I am on a parenting course at the moment which is talking a lot about empathising with your child in order to be able to react to them in an appropriate way - I thought I was making some progress, but then the last 2 days have felt like I've taken 6 steps back again. It's like I understand the theory and now, sitting here, I can tell myself how to avoid being angry, but then if I'm in the car later and someone annoys me I'll probably swear at them in a heartbeat without even thinking.
I have an outreach worker who referred me to the course, so I think I'll speak to her and see what she thinks - maybe some counselling specifically geared towards anger might be available as well.
Thank you again.

Rangersandfairys Wed 26-Feb-14 10:40:54

gretagrape try not to be so hard on yourself.
No parent is perfect, we all struggle to keep calm, be happy all of the time, engaging, playful. Unfortunately we are human beings not Mary Poppins.

You are doing something about it. 1) The parenting course. 2) recognising it 3) Talking about it.

I know a few parents who are permanently angry and moody with their DC, in public and do/think nothing about it at all. I often thing, wow, if they are like that in public then what is it like at home where things can really be more intense and get on top of you more.
Clearly they think the child is to blame.

I found DC1 the hardest. It is more intense at home with one and the first one is a massive learning curve. You seem to expect more from them and yourself.
When I had DC2 I could kind of see that I had expected too much from my first. I could see just how young my DC2 was and expected alot less. Even from myself. I didn't feel I needed to be perfect.

I was brought up by a bad tempered dad and shouty mum too. Yes it did and occasionally still does come out in me in extremely stressful situations but im aware of it. I try very hard not to and Im getting better and better at being a mum smile
If i do loose it (I now have 3 DC's aged 6, 4 and 18 months), I apologise.

They know Im human too.

I tend not to loose it with the 18 month old at all. Things like nappy changes (they all do it, it is sooooo annoying) don't get to me like they did my first because you know it's just a short lived phase.

Be kinder to you too. It's important you don't let this eat you up. You are stressed enough with your wrists and beating yourself up is adding to that stress and is not helpful to anyone.

You are clearly a good mum who wants to learn from your parents mistakes and you will. I did.

ikeaismylocal Wed 26-Feb-14 12:49:38

I too have a tendency to snap easily, I try really hard notto snap at ds but sometimes I do ( usually in the middle of the night) I apologise to him even though he'stoo young to understand.

Can your ds stand with support? Ds is a wiggly baby so we stand him in the bath, he holds onto the edge so his hands can't touch the poo, we wipe his bum and then sometimes wash his bum with the shower head. It works well because if ds does manage to make a mess ( by sitting down) or if I drop the nappy the bath is an easy place to clean smile

MissBattleaxe Wed 26-Feb-14 12:55:47

Hi OP,

I admire your honesty and I really sympathise. Anger is also a sign of stress so make sure you get an hour here or there to just sit and do nothing or have a bath. I know that's harder than it looks.

I also find that going away from my children and coming back to them makes me much nicer, even if it's just for a few hours.

Don't hate yourself- at least you are trying to improve and you want things to get better.

BotBotticelli Wed 26-Feb-14 13:55:45

OP you have my sympathy: i have a very spirited little monkey of a DS1 too, and I am also a short tempered woman with tendencies to be shouty and sweary :-S

A couple of things in addition to what people have suggested above:

- things might suddenly seem a bit less full-on when you go back to work. DS is 14mo now and I went back to work 4 days per week when he was 12mo. He is in a lovely nursery 4 days per week and I think we are both much happier for mum said to me the other day, I think you BOTH needed to spend some time with people your own age!! I get plenty of 'adult' time during the week now, do a job which I enjoy, read my book on the train and drink multiple cups of tea whilst they're still hot etc etc. He gets LOADS of stimulation, singing classes, play in the garden, different toys and most of all, interaction with other toddlers. I swear to god he was almost instantly happier/lessgrumpy/less of a handful once he started nursery. It was like he needed that time away from our flat/his toys/the same old boring mummy (!) in order to enjoy the time when he is here more.

- Wrt to nappy changes, you have my utmost sympathy. DS is still going thorugh this awful total meltdown, kicking, snot streaming, screaming phase when we change his nappy. The only way I can do it now is: sit on the floor, lie him in front of you, sideways, with his head by your left knee, then stretch out your left leg and put it across his chest/torso. Basically, I use the weight of my left thigh to pin him to the floor and then this leaves my hands free to change him. he hates it, he still goes mental but he cant move. And I can get it done quickly. Also, I only change him a couple of times per day now, unless he poos of course. He is in v absorbent pampers, never has nappy rash and doesnt seem to mind being in a nappy so I just think fuck it ;)

ppeatfruit Wed 26-Feb-14 14:37:32

To look at this from a different angle: have you ever wondered why you lose your temper ? (looking at what you eat before you have a bad attack ) Dh has stopped losing his temper since we worked out that he is very intolerant to wheat (it could also contribute to your tendonitis)

Before you think wtf is she going on about? Google Wheat Belly by an American doctor William Davis who's done a lot of research into it. It's in so many bought foods but you CAN buy ryvita and whole rye bread unless you're coeliac (it might be worth having tests done to discover this).

Try singing songs with yr DS while changing him and or giving him something different to look at and hold (you could read him a cloth book that he can hold).

MissBattleaxe Wed 26-Feb-14 16:14:53

ppeatfruit has a point- there might a reason why you get angry. Personally, for me, it was coming off Cerazette that made me a much nicer person. Check your meds, diet and blood sugar.

Sometimes mothers spend so much time looking after their children that they forget to check themselves out. Are you eating and sleeping enough? Take care of your child's carer, or you'll be no good to anyone.

gretagrape Thu 27-Feb-14 07:07:20

Thank you all for your comments.

Rangers - you are right, it is about lowering my expectations. There was a really helpful part of the course that talks about aiming to get it right 1/3 of the time; putting it right 1/3 of the time; and putting the other 1/3 down to experience. I know that in reality I'm really proud of myself as a parent and how much I get right, I'm just aware that me shouting at my son for 10 seconds is going to leave more of an impression than playing happily with him for half an hour so that's why it needs to change.

ikea - I'm not sure I could physically manage to change him like this at the moment - he can stand but when he's upset his knees turn to jelly so this could end up even messier!

MissB and ppeat- I have half a day a week when he goes to my parents so I usually spend time in the garden, which is bliss. I think I am stressed a lot of the time, I noticed the other day when in town that I was weaving in and out of people at full speed with the pram while everyone else was ambling along enjoying the weather and I wondered why everything I do seems to have this edge of panic and rushing to it.

I have always noticed that eating healthily has a significant effect on my mood, I following an anti-PMS diet a few years ago which was brilliant, but my diet at the moment isn't as good as it could be - why am I making sure he has blueberries and peaches on his breakfast when I'm pouring a tablespoon of sugar on mine? I'm going to dig out the PMS book as I know that will help level out my mood to some extent and I'll look at the wheat issue as well.

Bot - I'm sure that the stimulation will do us both good as well. He is always so excited to see different environments and people, and even spending a few hours away from him makes me appreciate him more, so hopefully this will also have a positive affect on my general mood.

I tried your version of nappy changing this morning - no crying, no wriggling, no scratching. Bloody hell, it was such a relief! Let's hope it wasn't just the novelty of it and it carries on!

Thank you again - I feel really determined to actually do something to become a more positive role model instead of just accepting that I have a temper therefore my son will have a temper.

ppeatfruit Thu 27-Feb-14 10:29:13

Congratulations for being willing to change grin so many people are 'closed' to suggestions. Maybe try having just the fruit for breakfast!! I make a lovely smoothie that we all like! If you add ground almonds and or bananas it 's very filling too.

gretagrape Tue 11-Mar-14 19:51:43

I just wanted to report back to say thank you for making me believe I can make changes if they are really important to me and for not just thinking I have to accept this negative part of my behaviour as part of my personality.

I hit rock bottom last week, I think because I had the self-awareness but not the knowledge of how to make the changes, but the past week has been so much better. I think my problem before has been trying to prevent myself losing it in that split second, but this is too late, I'm already angry, so what I do is if I know I'm going into a tense situation (changing nappy, driving in heavy traffic etc) I just natter on to my son about anything and everything and I find that it means my brain doesn't get the chance to start down the route of getting tense, frustrated and then finally snapping.

It's early days, but I feel so positive, as though I really have the tools to start being a calmer person - I haven't shouted (at my son, or myself) for 4 days now, not a lot I know but before I was basically a ball of anger shouting or swearing all day, and he hasn't been 100% for the last 2 days so it's been really testing. Plus the diet has become healthier especially cutting sugar almost completely, which I'm sure must also be making a difference - at the least, it means I'm valuing myself and my health more which makes me happier.

So thank you again.

TheGreatHunt Tue 11-Mar-14 19:56:03

Sounds like a good change OP. I would also look at ways of giving yourself a break as well - do you get time to yourself? And look for ways of coping. Eg during nappy changes I would give mine something like keys to play with (Something they rarely see so they're interested for long enough). Don't be afraid to take shortcuts for both of your sakes. You cannot be perfect all the time. I struggle with anger and it will be worse when I'm trying to follow the perfect model and cannot handle frustration.

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