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How to make a fresh start with a young child?

(10 Posts)
Earlybird Tue 02-Aug-05 13:18:27

DD and I seem to have "fallen out of love" with each other. Of course, I adore her, but at the moment she is very hard work. I actually arranged a babysitter for yesterday because I couldn't face another day on my own with her. She feels it too, as she actually said "I don't want just you every day mummy, you're boring". She's only 4, and perhaps is testing/saying things for a reaction...but, I also know that a child can be brutally honest too.

For the last week or so, she has been belligerent, unbearably bossy, obstinate, demanding, and defiant. This behaviour is unlike her, but we seem to be in a downward spiral. I am increasingly impatient with her behaviour/attitude, and my tolerance is decreasing by the hour. I have completely lost my sense of humour, and my ability to keep things in perspective. I even put her to bed 30 minutes early last night because I couldn't face the possibility of another scene . TBH, we're due to go on holiday next week, and rather than looking forward to it, I'm dreading 10 days alone with her. I've never felt this way before, and it's deeply upsetting and makes me feel a terrible mum.

Has this happened to anyone else? How can I reverse the trend? This seems to have acquired a momentum of it's own, and I don't like it at all.

fqueenzebra Tue 02-Aug-05 13:22:30

4 is a really hard age (ime). Do you find yourself getting into ruts, where she says something automatic and you say a standard reply back to her? Could you slow down, think about what's happening, and try saying/doing something "different"?

Isn't she "boring", too, sometimes? Aren't we all? I can think of far worse things she could have said....

bundle Tue 02-Aug-05 13:24:32

4 is v difficult age esp for girls (I only have girls, so I would say that). do you do "unpredictable" things sometimes? I find a bit of spontaneous face painting/biscuit cutting or just "let's just go & buy red things" in the supermarket can take a bit of the tension out of loooonnnnng days. do you have access to any drop-in groups? xxxx

bundle Tue 02-Aug-05 13:25:51

(also meant to say: this kind of spiral feeds on itself, bad behaviour makes you cross, you end up saying NO lots, etc etc. try (and it will be trying!) to give excessively positive feedback on good behaviour, however small..i find it does help)

jibberjabber Tue 02-Aug-05 13:28:41

Oh Earlybird - you poor thing. You sound really frazzled. Could you be depressed? Perhaps this would be having an effect on your DD. This happened to me a while back and I found it really difficult to cope but did the same as you and got some childcare which made the world of difference.

Could you plan some trips? They don't have to be extravagant, a fun picnic, trip to the beach, a farm? Something to keep DD occupied and attentive, also something to look forward to.

What do you like to do? Are you creative? Sporty?

Rest assured you aren't a terrible mum, you certainly wouldn't be feeling the way you do now if you were.

TwinSetAndPearls Tue 02-Aug-05 13:28:52

I have days like this with dd and sometimes it makes it even harder when I have been trying all day with no success to be a "good mum" to her and then dp walks in and it as if I never existed.

I have been doing similar as bundle's advice so yesterday I painted her face and we went hunting for things on the beach just to break the tension.

TwinSetAndPearls Tue 02-Aug-05 13:34:00

Bundle's advice is great you just need to break the sprial. I have had a period of feeling low for the past month or so, I know it isn't depression as I have had this in the past. Sometimes I think it can be easy to say "Oh it must be depression" and then not deal with the problem or try and medicate it away. I think we all have ups and downs in life and we have to acknowledge them and deal with them the best we can.

Dp said to me I just need to break the cyle and I can remember thinking he didn't understand but he was right. So when i find dd driving me mad rather than shout or get stressed I do a quick activity. Even if it is just to dump her in the garden with paint and a roll of lining paper. I am also trying to make an effort to be consciously more positive and loving with her and I have found it has made a difference.

i hope you don't think I am being harsh, I really do understand. I am just trying to be practical.

Earlybird Tue 02-Aug-05 17:01:45

Thanks for all your replies. There are many reasons why this could be happening. I wondering if perhaps the issue is that there is not much routine during the summer holidays. The lack of "programmed activities" may make it difficult for both of us - it gives her something to do, and gives me time to myself to get things done/relax a bit. Term time also takes the pressure off me to keep her occupied, or be her source of entertainment.

I also wonder if part of the problem is that in the past perhaps she has had too much attention. I work from home, so have had a nanny look after her a few afternoons a week. Clearly, the nanny's job is to keep dd occupied. When I am done with work/chores, I then turn my attention to her for play/activities, etc. So, between me and the nanny, dd is accustomed to having a lot of attention devoted to her. Perhaps the lesson ahead for her is how to accomodate someone else once in a while, and how to cope/entertain herself when she's not the centre of attention. Also, I don't want to turn on the telly as a way of entertaining her, so sometimes she will need to use her imagination.

bundle - I don't often do unpredictable things with her, and perhaps I should. Your suggestions sound like fun for both of us. I think for the most part I am focused on being productive (as a single working mum), so there is often not silly time. Maybe I need to wean myself away from always needing to get things done.

jibberjabber - thanks for your encouraging and sympathetic words. I definitely feel under pressure, but can't say that I feel depressed. I think perhaps I want so much to be a good mum, that I feel down when bad days happen between us. And, I think I feel particularly anxious now because we have had a series of bad days - and as bundle said, we've spiralled into negativity.

We definitely do special things together - for instance, we went swimming twice last week, to two birthday parties, and spent all day Friday doing things for dd (entertainer's show at the library, lunch out, soft play centre). So, she definitely gets one on one attention, and "treats".

And then there's the possibility that she's simply testing my limits. This morning she started to whine over something completely insignificant. I could see she was working herself up to a big, long, loud cry. I looked right at her and said loudly "stop it. That's enough, and if you carry on, you'll go to your room". She stopped in her tracks, and was completely fine. To be honest, sometimes I wonder if I've spoiled her and she becomes obnoxious when she can't get her way, and has to simply fit in with others.

I have lots of theories on what the problem could be, but what to put into practice to make things better? This mum business is bl**dy hard sometimes! Anyone still awake after my essay?

bundle Tue 02-Aug-05 17:08:51

earlybird, don't give yourself a hard time

and you can get (some) things done - dd1 helps me to load the dishwasher, sort the washing into colours etc...

I also explain to her when she's playing up that I don't want to be with her when she's like that, that I'd love to spend time with her but the behaviour is getting in the way.

and don't feel you have to fit loads of "quality time" stuff in - sometimes the simplest things can be memorable and enjoyable for both of you, xxx (just printed out some barbie images for dd1 as we dont' have a computer at home and she'll no doubt glitter them when we get home..)

Tinker Tue 02-Aug-05 17:33:48

Will be watching this with interest Earlybird. Often wish I could start again with my eldest (now 8, first 5 years were just me and her). Experiencing really rude unpleasant behaviour atm, really struggling to not wish she was still at school.

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