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Shouted at and punished my 3y/o and feel so guilty.

(153 Posts)
QueenAmongstMen Fri 20-Oct-17 23:09:55

I think I just need to get this off my chest and hopefully get support and reassurance off other parents who have experienced this guilt.

I have a 3.5 year old son who although had his challenging moments is in lots of other ways a fantastic child and I love him to pieces.

I also have a 9 week old baby and my 3y/o has had to come to terms with a lot of adjustments since the baby came along. Me and DH expected a deterioration in DS's behaviour and agreed that we'd pick our battles with him and perhaps be a bit more lenient with him to accommodate his reaction to the baby arriving. In general that's worked well, he gushes over the baby, shows no jealousy towards him at all but me and DH are having to deal with some difficult attention seeking behaviour.

Today our 3y/o has been pushing our buttons and deliberately and repeatedly doing things we've asked him not to over and over again. This includes things like jumping on the sofa, throwing the baby's playmat around, trying to climb into the baby's bouncy chair and many other behaviours. I hate the way he looks at us when he does these things because it's like he's goading us. I know it's all part of him wanting our attention since the baby arrives but it's just so hard to manage sometimes.

It all came to a head this evening when after all day of him misbehaving he screamed when his dinner was put in from of him, refused to eat it (he's had it plenty of times before), went hysterical, started shouting, kept getting up from the table and trying to run off and as a result of him persistently being silly he ultimately knocked his plate off the table which ended up face down on our new carpet. He stopped in his tracks then because he knew things had gone too far. My DH told him that he wasn't getting anything else to eat and sent him to his room to calm down.

I was then in the living room cleaning up DS's toys and the baby was on the play mat in the corner of the room. DS suddenly ran into the room like a little whirlwind and went over to the playmat and completely unexpectedly started hitting the baby on his stomach which then led to the baby crying. I couldn't believe what I was seeing as DS had never shown any worrying behaviours towards the baby and I just lost it.

I put DS on the naughty step and told him that he must never EVER hit his baby brother and that I was extremely angry at him. I used a tone of voice with him that I've never used before but after him being disobedient all day and then hitting the baby I just couldn't take anymore. He messed around on his naughty step, shouting out, blowing raspberries and just generally trying to get a reaction out of us.

By this point me and DH were drained and told him that he'd behaved so badly all day that he was going to bed early.

Prior to putting him into bed I told him again how disappointed I was that he'd hit his baby behaviour and even more upset because he hadn't apologised for it.

Tonight DS was put to bed by DH (I usually do it) without having had any tea and no bedtime stories and songs which is what I normally do with him.

There's no way I could have done our normal bedtime routine though because I couldn't have him thanking that his awful behaviour during the day was being excused or that him hitting the baby didn't have consequences. I felt angry towards him.

Anyhow, I've just gone into his room and thought how angelic he looks when he's asleep. I tucked him in and kissed his head and the guilt just started creeping up on me.

His behaviour has never been as bad as it was today, usually he has a few little moments during the day but is otherwise well behaved. Today he was just so deliberately naughty almost from the moment he woke up and me and DH hit the point of feeling like he should be punished. I really hate that word. sad

I'm sorry this post is so long, I just needed to get it off my chest. I have told DH that I feel guilty about how the day ended but he said I shouldn't as DS's behaviour had been awful all day and that hitting the baby just cannot be condoned.

Has anyone else had days and feelings like this?

Earlyriser84 Fri 20-Oct-17 23:22:32

Yes i have had a few days like this recently. I have an almost three year old who has behaved just like this plus hitting her younger brother. I have shouted and then felt really guilty.

It is so so frustrating when it feels like a battle all day. It is really very tiring.

Is it possible to get a good night's sleep if your OH can do the night feeds if possible? I find sleep deprivation makes my DC's behaviour harder to manage.

I don't have much in the way of advice. I have tried all manner of techniques including time-out, naughty step, no reaction etc.

I'm currently trialing holding hands and counting to ten together until said three year old calms down enough to talk calmly about the behaviour.

It still takes all my energy and resources to keep it together though confused

Don't beat yourself up though. Tomorrow is a new day !

Earlyriser84 Fri 20-Oct-17 23:24:14

Oh and then after they have calmed down and we have spoke about the behaviour...ten seconds later they are doing whatever it was again.

I despair. I feel your pain smile

TittyGolightly Fri 20-Oct-17 23:31:46


Basically the opposite of punishment, which just makes him feel even more out of control.

You've turned his world upside down and he's lashing out. You need to understand from his 3year old perspective rather than yours.

Apileofballyhoo Fri 20-Oct-17 23:45:55

There's a book I've heard is really good called 'how to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk'. Might be useful. Sounds like he was desperately seeking attention today! I'd have lost it too - in that regard, shit happens, you're a human being and it was a terrible day. I think he was trying to connect with you all day and just couldn't - he may have just been having an off-day and needed that much more than usual.

My DS is 9 now and it's hard to think back, but generally whenever I was busy with something was when he would make it impossible - when he had plenty of attention already he'd amuse himself better. It's still like that really. And he's an only so I don't have the experience of two. Plenty of experience of yelling and feeling guilty though, and in this case I don't know if any parent would have managed not to lose it! Put today behind you and do lots of cuddling tomorrow.

Apileofballyhoo Fri 20-Oct-17 23:49:15

*needed that connection

Not sure what the day was like for you apart from his behaviour, but if he's having a day like that again, drop everything else you can to give him attention and when your DH gets in, give your DS some one on one time.

sourpatchkid Fri 20-Oct-17 23:50:16

Honestly I think it sounds like you’re doing a brilliant job! flowers

Apileofballyhoo Fri 20-Oct-17 23:50:41

I love the holding hands and counting to 10 thing, Earlyriser.

JigglyTuff Fri 20-Oct-17 23:53:58

He's a baby and you sent him to bed hungry sad

mamarach26 Fri 20-Oct-17 23:56:29

I’m going through the same thing, watching with interest!

LovingLola Fri 20-Oct-17 23:57:36

When mine were small bedtime stories and cuddles were sacrosanct. Even when they were downright rotten during the day, bedtime never changed.
I would say he got himself into a total tangle and could not sort himself out. He is 3, not 13!

LovingLola Sat 21-Oct-17 00:00:16

Also my son was the same age when his sister arrived and yes, his behaviour was challenging. But throwing sofa cushions, playmats, trying to climb into her swing were not treated as bad behaviour. I let him at it and gradually he stopped. He bit her once and that was dealt with and he never did it again . He wanted to see if she would cry.

Snailo Sat 21-Oct-17 00:05:57

I agree with Titty 100%. 3yos don't goad or push buttons. They're 3. It's a hard time for you too but try and see it from his perspective. I always do stories and songs no matter what, because it's a nice time for both of us. I don't think a 3yo would equate that with "bad behaviour" being endorsed. It just shows you love him no matter what. Tomorrow is another day OP flowers

HashiAsLarry Sat 21-Oct-17 00:06:41

I never thought I'd use that voice with dc1, until they hurt dc2. That voice came out then I promise you. Now my dc are older it's also happened the other way too.

Bad days will happen. You seem to have handled if very well. That pang of guilt when you see their gorgeous sleeping faces in normal too.

HashiAsLarry Sat 21-Oct-17 00:10:05

Oh I missed the no tea thing. Do you mean they've skipped a meal?

Snailo Sat 21-Oct-17 00:11:23

Yeah it's easy enough to be distracted with one, never mind one plus a new baby. Don't be hard on yourself OP. I like the shower him with attention idea.

RosyPony Sat 21-Oct-17 00:12:27

DS has moments like this and DC2 isn’t even here yet. Yes sometimes I do get cross but usually the best course of action is to get him out of the house and running or biking round the garden to let off some energy.

Sometime you have to treat them like a puppy, if they’re being destructive they need more exercise!

pigeondujour Sat 21-Oct-17 00:16:01

He's missed one meal that it sounds like he'd gone well past the point of eating anyway. He's not going to starve. OP, you sound like great parents.

HashiAsLarry Sat 21-Oct-17 00:21:58

Didn't finish that last post properly, apologies for that.

If they've skipped a meal and still sleep as normal, they may have been tired as hell or possibly coming down with something. Keep an eye on them tomorrow just in case.
With my dc behaviour out of the norm and sleeping for extra time normally means a cold or some other illness.

QueenAmongstMen Sat 21-Oct-17 01:49:04

The strange thing is that when he's home with just me and the baby his behaviour is generally pretty good - it's very rare he misbehaves, but when his dad is around things seems to go very downhill.

DS absolutely knows between wrong and right and he knows when he's doing something that he shouldn't be. Behaviours that he' displayed today are ones that he's been told 100 times over not to do and he still does it again and again, usually whilst laughing and checking that we are watching. It isn't like he's done these things as a one off and we've over reacted, he'd been doing it continually throughout the day despite being told not to.

By the time the dinner incident occurred and then when he hit the baby we'd been dealing with almost 12 hours of him misbehaving, we weee just drained with dealing it. Our reactions weren't based on just a brief spell of naughtiness where he made a slight misdemeanour, it was based on a whole day of him being defiant and then physically hurting the baby.

Yes he did go to bed without a main meal. On previous occasions when he's not had his main meal we've given him some toast instead but he absolutely LOVES toast and would probably rather have that anyway so we felt like by giving him some it was giving him some kind of reward and it would only encourage him to refuse dinners if he knew he'd get toast as a result. If we'd offered an alternative to toast he wouldn't have eaten it anyway as like a previous poster had said, he'd gone past the stage of where he's sit down and eat.

About two hours prior to dinner he'd had some yoghurt, a banana and a cup of milk (his usual mid afternoon snack) and so I knew he'd at least had something. We obviously gave him a drink when he went to bed too. I'm not saying that sending him to bed without a main meal was the best parenting decision but in that moment of feeling utterly exasperated by his continued bad behaviour and the anger at him hitting his brother we just reacted in that way.

In general I'm the least strict parent in that I'm quite calm with him if he does something naughty and talk it through with him etc whereas DH tends to come down on him much harder, so the fact that I really raised my voice at him and agreed with my DH to an early bedtime just shows how bad things had been.

I do feel guilty about how things ended because I always make a point of letting DS know he's loved but after he hit the baby I just couldn't act normally and have him think he could get away with doing that diet if thing. He has to know that hitting the baby isn't acceptable and that although we hadn't punished him for his bad behaviour in the day (apart from repeatedly telling him not to do things) we felt he had to know that there were consequences for hitting the baby. We have always bought him up not to hit, push, shove others etc which he's always adhered to because he knows it's not a nice thing to do and it's not nice to hurt people so he knew that not only was hitting the baby but also that if anything was going to provoke an extreme reaction, it would be that.

We generally try and ignore the bad behaviour and really praise the good behaviour but we felt that hitting the baby was not something we could just ignore or take a softly softly approach too, especially when he'd been misbehaving all day too.

I feel sad because he's so, so wonderful in lots of ways and today has been out of character for him but I can't take back anything DH and I did or said sad

As a previous poster said though, tomorrow is another day and I plan on beginning it with our kisses and cuddles as normal and us starting on a clean sheet.

None of us are perfect parents, I imagine we all make mistakes and do and say things we regret in the heat of the moment. In hindsight things may have been handled better but that notion only arises after you've had time to reflect on it.

Having children can be hard at times and it really is about muddling through and learning as you do.

I'm looking forward to seeing him in the morning and I just hope we can have a better day.

Linzilou1985 Sat 21-Oct-17 02:06:16

OP you sound like such a lovely mummy! Please don't feel guilty, you and your dh definitely l did the right thing.


claraschu Sat 21-Oct-17 02:33:23

You sound like you are doing a great job. Feeling guilty is part of the deal, unfortunately.

To me, the most difficult thing about being a parent was coping with my children's bad treatment of one another, so I sympathise.

Your son is only just beginning to realise what a big change has come into his life, so don't be surprised if this is just the beginning of some jealousy and anger. I think my kids were fine at first, and had problems when their siblings were a few months old.

I agree that the love bombing can work really well. I also think that interrupting and changing a pattern can work, so taking an overwrought 3 year old out of a situation rather than trying to change the situation. I guess perhaps something as simple as going outside, reading stories in another room, or having a bath together can sometimes work at this age.

You mention that your son behaves worse when your husband is around, so I would dump the baby with his dad and take the 3 year old out for a bit of 1 2 1 time, as often as possible. This can be something as small as going outside and reading a story in the car in the dark- for us something slightly unexpected worked well.

I think if he could, your son would say something along the lines of: "I feel jealous and upset that this baby I am supposed to be excited about is actually a boring, annoying, noisy lump, whom my parents are deluded enough to think is somehow precious and wonderful, even though he keeps me from doing what I like and from being the king of the universe." Your job is to try and translate your son's behaviour into words which make sense to you; this is a very hard job, and it doesn't necessarily get easier when they are teenagers either.

I think it's fine to scream at him if he hits his brother. You are right, that being a parent is often about muddling along- there isn't always a good way to deal with everything.

RosyPony Sat 21-Oct-17 03:09:00

Great post claraschu

QueenAmongstMen Sat 21-Oct-17 04:33:02

Prior to DS2 arriving me and DS1 were so close, we'd spend so much time together and play and have so much fun together and now that's tot changed. I really miss the relationship that DS1 and I had and I have been in tears over it many times. I hate the fact I don't get to do his bedtime every night, I hate the fact that sometimes I'm stuck upstairs for hours trying to settle the baby whilst DH and DS have fun downstairs. I just miss him. I'm breast feeding DS2 which obviously makes it difficult for me and DS1 to have long periods of one-to-one time though I do try where possible.

Prior to tonight (well, yesterday now) DS1 has always been so loving and affectionate towards the baby in lots of different ways which is why I was so shocked when he hit him.

When I talk to DH about how life has changed for us all, but especially for DS1, I have always said that although DS is displaying undesirable behaviour towards us I'm just grateful that any jealousy he has he doesn't direct to the baby. I've always loved seeing how DS1&2 are together, it makes me feel that the decision to have a second baby has benefitted us all we have given DS1 something very special so I don't know if I could bear it if DS1 now starts showing anger and dislike towards the baby.

The whole thing is quite upsetting really. I know this stage is relatively short and there will come a time when DS1 and I can start spending more time together and when DS1 will be able to have more interaction with DS2 and start to form a two way relationship but right now that time feels a million miles away sad

Shadow666 Sat 21-Oct-17 04:51:44

I think when a kid is behaving like that they are often bored. Why not send him and DH outside to the park or for a walk or to play football or something? Or you and your son go and DH watches the baby?

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