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Unconditional parenting advice to help my little boy please

(10 Posts)
roseability Wed 19-Aug-09 10:02:31

I have a DS aged three and a DD aged 9 weeks

Understandably my DS has struggled a bit with the new arrival. Although he is gorgeous and loving with his sister he has become moody and challenging with my DH and I. I have just read Unconditional Parenting and it makes so much sense to me. I have tried putting it into practice with some favourable results. Things were pretty awful sometimes with full blown tantrums and me losing it with him and shouting/being agressive. I was getting desperate as my DS is normally a happy, bright and fun little boy. I do not want to have constant battles with him.

My only problem is how to be this kind of parent in specific situations. I will list a few and maybe you can offer some ideas

He will not let me help brush his teeth

He refuses to get in the bath sometimes. I tried suggesting he didn't have to have a bath and then he got upset because he did want one but he still wouldn't let me take his clothes off without a battle!

He is not playing with his toys as well (something he used to really enjoy). He lies around looking sad sometimes and despite my best efforts to entertain him it can end up in tears. He asks for TV a lot more (I really don't like letting him watch too much). He is starting playgroup next week

I know I don't sound like a very conditional parent so please help!

roseability Wed 19-Aug-09 10:03:49

sorry I don't sound like a very 'unconditonal' parent

acebaby Wed 19-Aug-09 10:54:51

Congratulations on the arrival of DD! I have a similar age difference with mine, and I remember how difficult the first weeks with DS2 were so un-mumsnettish hugs (()). I also try the unconditional parenting thing, although I often slip up and am no expert.

1. Tooth brushing... I would say something along the lines of 'I care about you so much, and I'm really worried that if your teeth aren't properly clean they might get sore so will you let me finish them off?' If he says no, I would just ask him to think about it and then move on with the rest of bedtime. He will most likely let you start brushing them again in a day or two.

2. Bathtime... if he refuses to take his clothes off, but wants a bath, I would, in fact I did (!) offer a bath with clothes on. The result was that DS1 got very wet socks, we both had a good laugh, and he quickly decided that no clothes was a better idea. It looks absolutely ridiculous reading back. Maybe someone else has a better idea

3. Playing with toys... give yourself and him a break. Let him watch tv all day if he wants to, but keep on offering alternatives and when DD is napping go over and sit with him and give him a cuddle. this may be his way of coping with all the changes. He'll go back to his old self in time.

4. Don't be sorry. You sound like a lovely mum. For all my efforts at being an unconditional parent, when DS2 was about the same age as your DD, my mum had to take over after I rang her in hysterics, about to lock DS1 in a room because he was being so vile. The thing that saved me was a fantastic pre-school holiday scheme for DS1, that gave both of us a break.

Tortington Wed 19-Aug-09 10:59:37

toothbrushing - go shopping for one of those battery ones with a cartoon figure on.

i thnk he prolly misses his mummy

you need to set aside time specially for him if you can.

i used to have fri night with ds whilst the twins went to bed

and i'd make comments like " phew glad we can have some time without the babies aren't you?"

also ds was 3 at the time, and i got him to help
fetch anppies, wipes, cream- help with bathtime

and say things like " i don't think i could manage without you, whatever will i do when you go to nursery"

and he would give me a love and tell me it was ok


Tortington Wed 19-Aug-09 11:00:40

shopping for bathtime too

i tell you what in hawkins bazzar there is a boat that is powered by a balloon - i am sure its under a £1

Tortington Wed 19-Aug-09 11:02:10

i mean i let him stay up later on friday and we would order pizza and he could watch later telly

roseability Wed 19-Aug-09 11:07:11

Thanks! Yes we have had some bad days. In fact he stayed the night at his granny's house last night (he very much wanted to). He is very close to my MIL and I don't know what I would do without her. I am enjoying having 2 but it is tough at times. My DD is an easy baby and our main concerns have been with DS and the deterioration in his behaviour. I know I just have to stay patient and kind and he will come through it but sometimes out of sheer tiredness and frustration I snap and do something very unconditional! I always apologise though, if I feel I have been wrong.

The funny thing is the more you worry the less unconditional you become in a way. I suppose the trick is to be more laid back. So what if he brushes his own teeth for a few days? Or baths in his clothes? Or watches too much TV for a while?

roseability Wed 19-Aug-09 11:12:20

custardo - now my DD is sleeping in the evenings I think your idea is great! I will just let him stay up late one night and we can cuddle/read stories. It is all about understanding them, rather than rushing in and trying to control them. He is a loving and sensitive wee chap and it has hit him hard. Alfie Kohn is right though usually you can work through things with reason. My DS wanted to bash his car into my DD's head yesterday. So I asked him if he really wanted to do that when it would hurt her and make her upset. He said 'no mummy' and turned away. I am so proud of him and explained that it was okay and normal to feel angry at his sister but not to act on it.

Tortington Wed 19-Aug-09 11:14:23

"So what if he brushes his own teeth for a few days? Or baths in his clothes? Or watches too much TV for a while?"


wearymum200 Wed 19-Aug-09 21:29:47

We have similar age gap and DS, who is usually lovely, obviously did struggle a bit with addition of DD. She is now 8m and they adore each other, play together lots and the highlight of his day is making his sister laugh.
So, specific coping strategies
1) Make time for DS. We never altered bedtime, but baby naptime was/ is used for him to choose what he'd like to do with Mummy (bake/ stories/ board game/ build train track etc). Also give him some examples of why its great to be the older one (she was born at Xmas, so he helped make the Xmas cake/ wrap the presents etc)
2) Teeth/ bath/ getting dressed: try and make it funny. We used to pretend we could see the "nasty tooth germs" and pull faces at them, so he'd let us clean them off. hairwashing was the great battle for us, but eventually solved by having a pooh bear flannel to "help"
3) get DS involved: fetch nappy, talk to baby if you're out of the room, hand you the muslin to catch the next puke etc
4) Accept that you're all going to have bad days! My DS, obviously copying me, climbed into our bed one morning and sai "I love you Mummy, but I don't love your shouting." Oh dear.

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