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I think I've lost the plot with my 'parenting'

(32 Posts)
handlemecarefully Thu 19-May-05 23:20:38

She is lovely my dd, she really is, but she is also a right royal pain in the arse and I am sure I must be culpable in some way.

She's 2.10.

This is commom to a lot of toddlers I know, but she is so bloody awkward. How strict should I be with the following examples:

Not sitting at the table - standing on her seat to reach over to the other side of the table and knocking something over in the process. - Should I require her to sit on her bottom throughout the meal and not be so informal at the table? I get embarrassed when we are eating in public as I am sure I get looks

Having dicky fits if I push the button to the lift rather than her, if I flush the loo rather than her, if I give her a yellow spoon rather than a red one, if I lift her baby brother into the bath before her.... - Should I be pandering to these whims (currently I do let her do all of this although it's not convenient sometimes, and makes things more cumbersome and complicated), or should I be ignoring her and doing what is practical and expedient for me

I wonder if I am creating a little fiend by being too conciliatory with her and not strict enough. But again...can you be too strict

(I know she doesn't sound too challenging from these examples but I probably haven't explained it very well - you try spending a day with her!)

This takes a lot to admit - so please don't be harsh or judgemental, but occasionally my anger and frustration with the 'abuse' she deals out to me (it feels like abuse, of course, I do realise she is too little to realise that she is distressing me and doesn't mean to cause upset) wells up and I smack her / push her (I so hate weakening and doing that), or I'm mentally quite spiteful to her...(i.e harsh in what I say to her or unsympathetic and cold)

handlemecarefully Thu 19-May-05 23:21:52

And I do feel really crap when that happens

Salmonick Thu 19-May-05 23:23:16

I have to confess when DS1 was that sort of age he also wanted to do EVERYTHING - and a lot of the time I 'did' let him. But i also made sure he couldn't do it 'every' time - I'd perhaps say "well not this time, but when I do x you can help me then"

At that age he used to complain bitterly - and we'd sometimes have some wonderful tantrums - but even now at 4.5yrs he still likes to help with lots of things, and I still have to compromise with him.

purpleturtle Thu 19-May-05 23:25:10

It helps me sometimes to remember that mine are children, and as such, little things like which spoon they use are important to them. So, I do give in for a quiet life on those. I think that taking a line of 'doing what is practical and expedient for me' might mean my children missing out on lots of fun.

It's easier to spot in other people. I'm sure I do this too... Dh gets quickly frustrated when dd is 'silly'. But she's 4, and IMO entitled to be silly. If dh relaxes a bit the silliness becomes fun for everyone, and we all get there in the end.

joash Thu 19-May-05 23:26:52

She sounds just like my GS. It is very stressful and bloody hard work when they're behaving like that and I can understand why you react the way you do. At least you are admitting it - I think theres more of a problem if you didn't tell anyone.

I have had a couple of days when I've been completely knackered and ave been tempted to smack (and I don't smack and don't beleive in it). Not sure what to suggest though, I found that what worked for me a tmeal times was just ignoring him at the table. It finally seems to be working, over the past few days he's sat and eaten him meal with the rest of us. As for other things, I've just started doing things the way I want to do them and he's settled back down.

Hope this helps a little.

jampots Thu 19-May-05 23:26:54

hmc - I think we've all done a bit of that so dont be too hard on yourself.

My dd was a real PITA after she'd eaten chocolate (not that she had a lot but you certainly knew when she had).

She also used to only want a particular plate/bowl for dinner/brekkie and she used to get quite upset if she didnt get them. These things I would just pander to or even ask her to set the table (sort of obviously at 2.10) but I would be strict about the table manners - always think if you were out how would you view someone else's child behaving like dd. Definitely expect her to sit in her seat and not reach over table etc.

However, she is still soo young so pick the rules you want to stick to carefully.

emkana Thu 19-May-05 23:27:15

I've been exactly the same with my dd and I still am .

Where things like sitting at the dinner table is concerned - I do enforce sitting down etc.

Where all the little "power struggles" you describe are concerned I mostly give in, depending on the situation and how important it seems at the time to "win". When dd2 was born I was much more inclined to enforce my will, but that just led to awful horrible scenes of me screaming and dd1 crying and... God, too awful to remember . And there were many of those.
As dd2 got older and things got easier I mellowed and discovered that it often doesn't really matter and that it makes for a far happier life to go along with it. And, as dd1 got older, she is far less obsessed with getting her own way, far more open to negotiation, dare I say it - reasoning even.
She will be four next week, and things definitely are far far easier now.

But you are definitely not alone!

purpleturtle Thu 19-May-05 23:27:21

Basically, I suppose what I'm trying to say is, choose the battles you really want to fight. Some really are worth it. Maybe table manners are one of those for you. But don't make everything a battle, because you all quickly lose patience with each other. And she'll start doing stuff just to wind you up.

goreousgirl Thu 19-May-05 23:28:06

HMC - mine's 5 and it's still going on. Sometimes I think that 'drip feed' mental torture is so relentless - if they were just actually NAUGHTY - you could discipline them, but when it's just constant 'off the track' stuff, it's hard to pull in line.

Could you try a star chart (is she too young)? If you get in the bath after baby - you'll get a star - would it work? Can you be bothered?

Also - remember, you're probably SO tired. If you had some time, a lot of it would probably wash over your head?

Big hugs and understanding try Bachs Rescue Remedy for those intolerable moments!

emkana Thu 19-May-05 23:29:21

I never smack, though.

Sorry, just had to add that.

handlemecarefully Thu 19-May-05 23:30:15

Thanks all - many voices of wisdom. Your right - give her some slack on the small stuff but have some firm rules on the important issues. Thanks for the reality check - it does help to touch base with how others handle these things.

Frizbe Thu 19-May-05 23:30:33

IMO, table manners are good things to have and thus, asking for somone to pass what you require is possibly the route to go down there?
But that been said I agree with purple turtle and salmonick say as regards the 'I wanna do' bit, as negotiation can be used here. Just remember children often feel safer with some rules, as that's what being a parent is about, your not their mate, your the boss! and then if you do a good job, they'll be your mate later,hopefully, am I making sense?

handlemecarefully Thu 19-May-05 23:31:31


I actually disagree with smacking - I really don't approve of it. Which makes it all the harder when I lapse and occasionally do it

goreousgirl Thu 19-May-05 23:33:00

Well done for being brave and admitting it HMC - clearly you've allowed a lot of us to get this stressful stuff off our chests!!

PS I'm 36 and I'm STILL crap at sitting still at the table - makes my bum hurt! I'm full of empathy for kids - believe me!

emkana Thu 19-May-05 23:33:37

hmc, I didn't mean to make you feel bad. Just had to say it, sorry. I do sometimes feel, though, that my occasional completely irrational out of control screaming fits are just as bad as a smack might be.

jampots Thu 19-May-05 23:35:39

ELC actually do an incentive chart for £5 which has magnetic "stickers" included - it looks lovely for little ones and you get to set the targets etc.

handlemecarefully Thu 19-May-05 23:36:34

emakana - don't worry you didn't make me feel bad, I make me feel bad!

it's not an excuse but I was a smacked child and it's difficult to unlearn. it was my father who did the smacking and was a completely repressive disciplinarian and I have a dreadful relationship with him even now.

So when I very occasionally smack dd I feel just awful

hatsoff Thu 19-May-05 23:36:36

they drive you nuts don;t they? DD2 is just three and very demanding about wanting to do things, have the yellow bowl etc etc. The best tactic (imho)is to pre-empt. I've got better at learning the triggers and usually remember to ask her if she wants to press the button at the zebra crossing etc. Have to say when she has a right old barney I generally don't give in. She has to calm down a bit and "ask nicely" (they should put that on my gravestone). I've also learnt not to say "no" to daft requests - for example this morning she wanted me to take a balloon to school - there would have been a time when I'd have said, don;t be daft. no etc and barney would have ensued. Nowadays I realise there is a choice: say no and cope with hissy fit or put a balloon in my bag. suddenly carrying a balloon in my handbag doesn't seem so unreasonable. (as long as she asks nicely)

Aero Thu 19-May-05 23:36:39

GOsh hmc - she really is testing her boundaries isn't she, but this is perfectly normal behaviour and the main thing is that she isn't doing it because she wants to be a pita - she is just exploring these boundaries and seeing how far she can go.
I would pander to a certain amount of whims, but not when it's inconvenient to me iyswim. ie, I'd let her do the little things that make her feel important and that she can do easily and quickly, like pushing lift button or asking her which spoon she wants, you know, the things that don't matter too much.
Then I'd feel I have more leeway to say you need to behave properly at the table and explaining that we can't eat if she can't behave etc.
Does that make sense - probably not - it's late and I'm rambling, but didn't want to ignore this one.
I do find that my dd can't sit properly for long at the table, so I let her get down when she is finished and don't make her wait for everyone to finish which can take ages, but as long as she sits properly and eats nicely, then she may leave when she's had enough. She is four though, but was like your dd at that age.
Don't beat yourself up about this, but try to find better strategies for dealing with her and getting her to behave in the way you want her to.
Btw - I'm saying this, but I should probably take my own advice too! We all get angry and frustrated and it is very easy to say things in the heat of the moment which we later regret. (Guilty as charged).

handlemecarefully Thu 19-May-05 23:37:04

crying a bit now - what a wuss!

purpleturtle Thu 19-May-05 23:38:42

You probably need some sleep, like me. To bed with you!

emkana Thu 19-May-05 23:38:54

One thing that is really helpful with both my dd's is to always offer a choice between two things that are acceptable to me, not to say "What do you want".

Sorry if you're already doing this.

emkana Thu 19-May-05 23:39:24


don't cry!

handlemecarefully Thu 19-May-05 23:39:48

Ok purple [weak smile emoticon]

Thanks everyone for taking the time to post and help me out

jampots Thu 19-May-05 23:40:14

hmc - dont cry about it. I dont agree with smacking my children willy nilly but sometimes they have just asked for it!! I will admit it's years since I have smacked them but they are 12 and 8 now!

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