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Need advice on being a better mother.

30 replies

happydays · 02/03/2003 12:25

I have a wonderful ds aged 3, I have posted previously about shouting at him over the slightest thing and have created a bit of a monster at times.

Today I woke up and decided that I want to be a better mother and am not going to let my depression get me down, and take it out on my son.

The thing that gets to me the most is when I am getting him dressed, he makes silly loud noises and pulls my heair, pokes me in the eye, fingers up nose that sort of thing, and I shout to take it in, but he keeps on.

Today however I have not shouted and kept my voice calm and repeated what I said, sometimes 20 times, I have notices a slight improvement in him today, but I could feel my blood boiling up while doing it. Any tips on how to keep cool and/or get him to responde.

I know he is like that because of me and I can not expect him to change overnight. He is a lovely boy, so loving and caring at times and I know that I do not deserve him.

OP posts:

musica · 02/03/2003 13:07

Happydays, you do deserve him. You are obviously a loving mother, and who doesn't get exasperated and annoyed with their child. It sounds like today is going really well for you.

Have you tried 'time-out' - either for you or your ds. It sounds horribly american I know, but it works really well for us - if ds is getting too annoying, we give him a warning - say, if you do that again, then you're going in your cot - and then if he does whatever it is again, he goes in his cot for 5-10 minutes, which gives us a bit of space to calm down, have a drink of water, and just defuse the situation. Or you could try explaining to him why he should do what you've asked him - often if a kid can see a reason for something then they will do it.

The other thing we find works is giving responsibility - e.g. we're in a hurry today, so we need you to be extra helpful in getting ready, and ds seems to enjoy being 'responsible'.

Hope this helps, and that the day continues to go well.


giraffe · 02/03/2003 14:20

There is an article in the Observer today , it is about treating your children like you would in business i.e. smiling at the customer, also instead of battling to get them in the car ,you say do they want the front seat or the back- that won,t work if you have two kids!!, but I get the idea behind it.
I think alot of the battles are needless and I feel sometimes I should decide what is really important to take issue with and try and let the rest go over my head.
I hope you do have a good day Happydays, and keep your chin up, I think being a mum is the worlds worst job, worst pay, no holidays,etc But when I peep at my son when he is fast asleep I know I have a little angel.


happydays · 02/03/2003 14:56

Well Ds is still being ok, not too bad. I think I expect too much from him though. I like these itea's of time out and treating them like a business person. I am willing to try anything. I do find he is much better behaved when I am giving him 100% attention, which of course it not always possible.

OP posts:

jessi · 02/03/2003 17:14

Happydays, my ds (3.5)was a nightmare to get dressed until I had a brainwave and decided it was time he learnt to do it himself! He is really enjoying learning and can now do pants, trousers cardigans and shoes. This reduces my input to just socks and vest/top! Makes a huge difference and he now isn't protesting when I do my bits.
Good luck with it, it used to literally make my blood boil when he would play up. Another trick I heard is to dress them as soon as they wake up, when they are still drowsy. Apparantly they protest less! Or an old favourite of mine was stick the tv on for 5 mins...
Take care, Jessi


aloha · 02/03/2003 17:30

Happydays, I'm sorry you feel you don't deserve your son. I think that what you are doing - getting help with your depression etc and making positive decisions like this is wonderful and I'm sure it will improve things incredibly. It can't be fun for you either, constantly battling with a three year old. Re: the dressing, how about turning the noises, poking etc into a game? Ie yell back, think of increasingly stupid noises to make and see if he can think of a sillier one? If he pulls your hair, bellow at him like a giant 'What do you think you're doing! You monster!" but in fun not anger. I do that with my ds and he thinks it's hilarious. Or prod him in the tummy when putting on his t-shirt and tickle him etc etc so it becomes quite fun instead of a struggle. It helps a lot of you don't have to get anywhere by a certain time, obviously. I have to literally chase my son around the room to get him dressed! My other tip, is get help - do you have any family nearby. Just to get a break can make all the difference.


Marina · 02/03/2003 19:04

Happydays, like others here think you are on the right track with just repeating things calmly when he plays up. Our ds, also 3, can be a little horror on occasions, and it always seems to be when he knows we have to be somewhere at a specific time. I feel a bit of a wally sometimes intoning, please stop doing that, do this instead, but it does seem to work eventually. And Jessi's idea of seeing if your ds will dress himself at all is great.
Hope the day has gone well - it is so easy to expect too much of a three year old, isn't it. And it's mainly because we love them so much, and seem to have travelled such a long way from babyhood. Of course you deserve him!


anais · 02/03/2003 20:33

Agree with the suggestions here. It does get easier once they're dressing themselves, and getting dressed before breakfast is usually a good incentive for ds!

Also I have noticed that the calmer and more bored I appear to be with his behaviour the quicker he gets bored. He wants a reaction and if he's not getting it then it should stop.

Humour is often a good mood-changer and if all else fails and I really can't get through to ds, putting him on his bed and leaving him until he calms down usually breaks the cycle sufficiently.

Take it easy on yourself. You're already the best mother your son can have and he obviously loves you dearly.

Best wishes.


anais · 02/03/2003 20:55

Don't know if this is any use at all but thought I'd post anyway

25 laws of parenting


happydays · 02/03/2003 21:22

Thank-you once again for your kind words and support, it makes all the difference to me.

I do really struggle sometimes being a mother, but am starting to realise that I am not all bad.

Today was a better day, I did shout really bad once, that was because I put him to bed and he NEVER gets up, but just sat down and started to eat my dinner and he decided to play-up. I know I shouldn't have lost it, but after he was back in bed, I was quite sad that I undid all my good work, then I realised there was several things that happened over the day (like when he pulled the washing line down with my whites on it), where I counted to 10 and reacted calmly, so decided to concentrate on the good things I did today. I spent a lot more time with DS doing pictures and puzzles etc. i have decided that for an hour after his lunch I will spend doing what he wants (within reason), instead of rushing around and doing other bits.

I know a calmer mummy = a calmer child, it is just breaking that cycle. I AM going to do it though.

OP posts:

musica · 02/03/2003 21:39

Happydays, I'm really glad you're pleased with today. Don't feel down about shouting at ds - it won't have undone your good work at all. I think mothers can get too worried about having to play with their child 100% of the time - you do need to have time for yourself too, and it is very good for a child to have a balance of parent-led stimulation, and providing their own. If you entertain them the whole time then they can be dependent on other people to provide stimulation. I also read that children and babies need 'boredom' time - time for them to assimilate what they've learnt, and use their imaginations. Obviously they shouldn't just be left in their cots for long periods of time, but perhaps some quiet time where they have books etc, but you can do something for yourself. Hope tomorrow goes well.


happydays · 03/03/2003 07:21

This morning I woke up very early as DH couldn't sleep either and went to work early. I couldn't get back to sleep so got up. This game me a hour before DS woke, this has made all the difference, by the time he woke up I was awake and alert and messing about with him. I think I have had more smiles from him today already then I normally do in a day. I normally go back to sleep for an hour only to be woken by DS jumping on me, this makes me wake up feeling dozey for quite a while, and usually I have put him in a mood and him me.

At least he will go back to play-school today, but I can't get this silly grin off my face, and feel as though today is going to be great.

Thanks again for all your kind words and support.
this is me all day today

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Ghosty · 03/03/2003 08:15

Hi happydays ... I am constantly questioning my ability as a mother and so I know where you are coming from.
I discovered a brilliant parenting book here in NZ called "Of course I love you, now go to your room" by a fantastic woman called Diane Levy. Since I read it I have become a much calmer mum ... I shout much less and I can't remember the last time I smacked DS.

Basically one of her bits of advice is "ASK, TELL then ACT". So first ASK your child to do something (lets say, get dressed), then TELL him to get dressed and then ACT. Basically, if he does not comply what I do is pick him up, walk him to his room and tell him that when he is ready to do what I asked him to do to come and find me. If he comes out of his room and is not ready to get dressed then he goes back until he is ready. IT WORKS! You have to give yourself time to do this sort of thing - basically at least half an hour before you need to leave the house but it ends up with a much less stressed mummy and fewer tantrums.

The same goes for unacceptable behaviour (for example hitting or throwing toys around the room). If he hits me in a temper I take him to his room and tell him that when he is ready NOT to hit me or throw his toys he can come out again. Often he is in his room for only about 30 seconds and comes out smiling saying sorry but at least the situation is diffused and I very rarely raise my voice or even get cross now. I am still working on DH to do the same as he does shout a bit but DS is basically working out that if he does something unacceptable he will be removed from the centre of attention.

The whole principle is that the child is after attention and when you react (beit positively or negatively) you are giving them attention. With unacceptable behaviour if you REMOVE your attention from the child (by putting them in another room or in 'time out' )they work out that they have not gained anything at all from the outburst ... only that they are excluded from your attention - and they don't like it.

I think you are doing really well ... I often go to bed at night at think that tomorrow I am going to be a better mother ... and I do have to do conscious things like you like giving an hour after lunch to just him and not other stuff. I think that all the advice you have had so far is great and just keep up the good work ... you ARE a good mum ... just believe in yourself!

Take care, Ghosty


happydays · 03/03/2003 08:26

excellant advice ghosty, I will give that a try today. I know it is not a one-day wonder and everything will be okay, but I am determined to do what ever possible to improve my ralationship with my son.

i am pleased with myself, 3 times he has asked me for something while I am posting, my usual response was, in a minute, then do it when he kept on. Now I have said nice and calmly, ok and done it for him.

In a minute I am taking him to the park, usually I would just stick a video on and go on computer.

OP posts:

Batters · 03/03/2003 12:26

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

happydays · 03/03/2003 15:08

To all those who have posted, the advice was excellant and worked well at home. However when we went out, he was a right pain and just laughed at me (i didn't lose my temper or smack). what is best in this situation. I do not have a buggy anymore.

OP posts:

jac34 · 03/03/2003 16:01

I have 2 DS's, 4yo, when we are out and they play up, I usually say in a calm voice " Alright, if you can't behave Mummy's going to take you straight back home". I then turn around and start retracing our steps. It usually only takes a few seconds before the cries of " We promise to be good boys".
It is often a battle though, at that age they will try to play up, it happens to everyone, it doesn't mean your doing anything wrong, just try to stay calm, and it's often the tone of your voice they take notice of not the volume.
As for the playing up while dressing, after I've asked about 4 or 5 times and they don't take any notice, I usually say (in the voice that means buissiness), "Now, A I've asked you 4 times to put your socks on, are you listening to Mummy".
Sometimes, they just don't seem to hear the constant nag, but if you change your tone it (sometimes) works.


GeorginaA · 03/03/2003 16:50

Thanks also to Ghosty, for the Ask, Tell then Act advice. I'd been doing something similar anyway (3 warnings then out) but I like the idea of a polite request first and then a warning etc. Worked once today already when ds started throwing toys around and he didn't tantrum when I took the toy away after first being asked then told. Yay

Of course, it'll now all go pear-shaped...


GeorginaA · 03/03/2003 16:56

Oooh ... forgot to mention. I find it really improves the atmosphere if I am attentive when ds behaves well, and remember to thank him for any acts of thoughtfulness and good behaviour. I find it really hard some times (it's so much easier sometimes to focus on their bad behaviour, isn't it?) but it's worth it in terms of improved behaviour plus a more positive outlook for myself in that I remember the good parts of the day too.

I also try and give alternatives for bad behaviour "no, don't draw on the table, here you can scribble on this piece of paper" rather than just saying "stop that" which I find sometimes heads off any bad feeling before it starts.


aloha · 03/03/2003 19:21

I have read advice on how to tell a child to do something, which is to be incredibly clear and pretty detailed. So don't say, "have you put your toys away?" which is a question which can confuse a toddler, and don't say, 'Shall we put the toys away' if you aren't going to help. Instead, say, "Please put your toys in the toy box now". It made sense to me. Also agree with praising any compliance. If you say, 'Please put that down' and they do, say thank you, good boy. I think it's more important to make it hard for children to do anything 'naughty' eg toddler proof the house and remove all breakables from reach etc.


Jimjams · 03/03/2003 22:49

I'm coming into this form a slightly different angle- but it occurred to me that it might be useful for other people. DS1 (3 and a half) can't talk and has very delayed language so we can't "reason" too much (at all)- but obviously he has to understand when he has done something wrong. What I find works really well is I have one punishment which means that he has gone too far and that is "to put him out of the room". Basically I remove him from the room and shut the door (for about three seconds). It's enough to make him realise that he has crossed a boundary- and it seems to work. I used it today becuase he had pushed the cat on purpose (I think this is a little testing phase- he did this when his baby brother was about 2 weeks old- each time I picked him up and put him outside the room and shut the door- the pushing lasted for about a day and a half). Obviouisly I only use this if he has done something that he really musn't but it does seem to work for him. Now if he is doing something he shouldn't I say 'Mummy will put you out of the room" and he usually stops. I guess it's a simpler version of time out (which he wouldn't understand).


Jimjams · 03/03/2003 22:53

Continuing on from aloha's advice - if your child is ignorng you it can really help to reduce your language. SO rather than saying "plese put on your socks now" say "socks". This is advice given to parents of language delayed children but I bet it wuld work really well with normally developing children as well (it's made a huge difference for us). For example at playgroup today ds1 was running around and we needed to go- I needed to put his shoes and socks on- as soon as I said "A sit on seat" he did.


GeorginaA · 03/03/2003 22:57

JimJams - that was recommended on a parenting course I did, so I think it is supposed to work with most children. My ds has great delight (at 22 months) in repeating back whatever word I've used. I find a cry of "arm" when he's distracted when I'm putting a dressing gown or coat on very effective


sobernow · 03/03/2003 23:05

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jimjams · 04/03/2003 08:19

georgina- interesting that that's advice on a parenting course as well. I do use it with ds2 (who -touch wood- isn't language delayed-) and it seems to work quite well with him as well.


GeorginaA · 04/03/2003 13:48

JimJams - also think it's mentioned in "How to Listen so Kids will Talk, and Talk so Kids will Listen" (then again I've got a veritable library of parenting books, I'm addicted to the wretched things, so I could have read it anywhere, lol!)

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