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I am a total GD failure

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
I am a high strung, control freak. A perfectionist. I have my issues. This I know. I struggle to better myself every day. Maybe kid stuff bothers me more than others. Maybe not, I just don't know.

My son is almost 4 and he is a special, special boy that really just impresses and amazes most people with his many wonderful qualities. I'm not blind to it. I love him dearly. I know how lucky we are to have a beautiful, healthy, bright little soul in our lives. But this whole year has been hell.

I'm tired and I don't have time to write much but I just feel like a total parenting failure. Every day I tell myself to parent with peace and love and patience but my son has a way of wearing that patience away sometimes within 30 seconds of his waking up. Like today, he began to cry and whine because I dared use the bathroom when he felt I shouldn't. This is crumple on the floor sobbing because mommy has to pee. Why?????? This leads to ignoring and procrastinating with getting dressed. Which today led to a flat out refusal, hands clamped over the mouth while kicking episode when it was time to brush teeth. After reasonable requests I lost it. So I screamed in his face. He finally opened his mouth so I could brush his teeth which he refuses to do on his own. Then mommy was the one crying. Cut to an hour later with another instance of him refusing to cooperate when I really really needed him to as I was ill in public while holding our baby girl and my having to physically wrestle with him to get him to do so. Cut to a battle with lunch...which is the same battle with every single meal.

I yell daily. I scream so loud sometimes my throat is sore. I hit pillows. I get so damn mad. Instead of spanking, i have put a hole in a wall. (this was after my son spit a mouthful of toothpaste foam in my face on purpose because he was mad about having to brush) And every night I pray to be better and every day I start my day promising to be better and then my son begins to challenge all day, every day and I fail. Every. Single. Day. I lose sleep worrying I'm creating this angry kid or doing damage or in general being a bad mom but I'm at a loss.

FYI he is an angel at school, an angel with relatives, an angel with our babysitter, and with my husband....me? I get hit, kicked, argued with, yelled at, etc etc. He is jeckyl and Hyde. Sweet, agreeable, and helpful and mature beyond his years and then it's like flipping a switch and acts like I've described. I go from feeling immense love and pride and affection to anger and loathing.

I'm posting this because today was a really bad day. One of the worst behavior days we've ever had. I'm frazzled. I'm emotionally spent. I love my little son so much. He can be nothing short of miraculous at times, but then there are the other times. I hate feeling angry with him. I feel sick inside for feeling as angry as I did today. I am hoping tomorrow is a better day.

I'm rambling.

I will face tomorrow and try yet again.
post #2 of 34

I hope tomorrow is a better day.


Would you like ideas? Or do you just want to vent so you can do better tomorrow?

post #3 of 34

I have gone through cycles too where everyday starts with a prayer that I will be the perfect GD parent for the day, and every day has ended with the realization that I failed yet again. Only superwoman could be GD every waking moment with the type of constantly challenging situations you describe! You are not a GD failure- you are only human. Also, you seem to be doing something right if your son acts so wonderfully with everyone else- he is obviously not being influenced by your frustration as much as you think he is. 


I just realized that my very sensitive 4 (almost 5) yr old need me to pick him up and cuddle, validate with words in the middle of his crazy, irrational temper tantrums. Just throwing that out there in case he lets you pick him up and do the same. It really calms me down to be able to help him calm down.


post #4 of 34
Thread Starter 
post #5 of 34
In our house, we're dealing with some PTSD which has my DH quicker to anger. One HUGE thing that has helped calm him down and get him to not be quite so frustrated (and less likely to yell) is working out. He does P90X, and it relieves so much of his stress that he's able to be more calm and have more patience when DS1 gets to him. I know there are gyms that you can join for $10 a month that also have sitting services - you could relieve the stress he's causing & get some you time. If financially, it's not doable, try starting a long walk, you can do together (& burn some of his energy too!).

Maybe if you can relax and dump some of your stress, it'll help your son's behavior from snowballing if he doesn't get a reaction from you. Just a thought.

It sounds like he's testing his limits with the one person he knows he can act that way around (my niece does the exact same with my sister & is an angel to everyone else, and we all believe it's because she knows she's safe with her mom - she'll always love her). I agree with dandelionkid, clearly you're doing something right if he knows how to behave with everyone else.
post #6 of 34

I have a 5yo who can destroy my determination to be calm and patient and loving within 2 seconds too.  I sympathise but i don't have many ideas since i'm obviously not doing it right anyway.


An illustration of the things i get:


Last month, payday, we went


Out to lunch


For ice cream

out to dinner

home for 1 hour playing one on one in the garden while the baby slept, then bath, teeth, stories, bed.


At bedtime i was told how unfair it is that no-one ever plays with DD or does anything with her and how she's bored and there's nothing to do in our family.  


Last night i asked her in a supermarket to please let go of the trolley.  She let go for 2 seconds then held on again.  I asked her to let go.  She let go and then got ahold and pulled the trolley to one side.  I asked her sternly to let go.  She let go then got another hold and dragged it into a display.  I growled at her to LET GO NOW and picked up the display.  She told me "you don't tell ME what to do" and walked backwards, while telling me off for telling her to be careful and watch where she was going over her cheek outburst, into a giant metal pillar and banged her head.  At which point she started wailing she'd broken her skull and when i knelt to hug her she headbutted me then told me *I* had made it worse.


It does NOT inspire greater efforts, because actually, i'm out of resources at this point.  Just clinging on and hoping at some point this will be a phase which passes.

post #7 of 34
Thread Starter 
So this morning I decided to let today be a new dawn of kind parenting. When DS woke up I cuddled him in bed and we had a talk about how both us behaved badly yesterday and today we would start anew. I said after breakfast we would make " be nice" flowers. Flowers with little reminders to talk nicely, no yelling, kind words, and good listening.

Breakfast went smoothly. Then it was time to get readye to go outside. DS only had a short sleeve shirt on and it was chilly still so I said please go put on your red fleece that is laid out for you on mommy's bed.


You may now go put on your fleece.

I'm not going outside.

We are going outside, you may put on your fleece now.


You may go put on your fleece now.


You may go put on your fleece now. This is my last warning.


You have a choice. Either go out on your fleece now or I wil come and move your body up the stairs and put it on for you. What is your choice?


I am now going to bring you upstairs.

So I went to pick up his hand to bring him upstairs and this of course became me dragging a kicking screaming flailing kid up the stairs, across the floor. I then said if he didt calm down and put on his fleece I would have to hold his body until he calmed down. More flailing and running and thrashing and so i kneeled down and held his arms to his side. He resisted so much that I swear he has bruises now. All the while I said I will let you go when you are calm. I did not yell. But it didn't feel good or productive either. When he calmed I attempted to puot his fleece over his head and he again began physically fighting me. So I held him again until he was calm. FYI this is a strong kid. It took effort. When his fleece was finally on he was crying I was confused and frustrated.

I didn't yell but is this progress? I feel just a as lousy for having to be so physically firm with him.

Oh and the the poster who mentioned exercise, I am very active. Walk, pilates, and I ride daily.
post #8 of 34

You are describing power struggles. Your son is telling you he feels like he does not have any power. First, think about how many directives you give him in a day -- you must put on your sweater, you must brush your teeth, etc. Yes, these are things that they must do, but you can impose natural or logical consequences. If he does not put on the sweater, he gets cold (you bring it with you), if he does not brush his teeth, he may not eat crackers or fruit. Try to be respectful and relay these consequences in advance (for logical consequences, like teeth example).


What has been helping us with our 3.5 year old a TON has been to re-examine the way we request things and spend a lot of time giving positive power. Instead of, "it's time to get dressed," ask, "would you like to wear your blue pants or brown pants?" "Would you like to brush your teeth now or after the story?" Now, I remember there was a time when the questions thing did not work, and the answer was always no or neither, but lately it has been working, and I think it's because of the positive power. Whenever I have to do anything, I am getting him involved, letting him do as much as possible. If we are planting seeds, we have him do as much as possible. We ask him to make scrambled eggs, let him put the toothpaste on and brush his own teeth as much as possible before the final parent sweep, have him feed the animals, etc. He feels empowered as he is able to complete tasks, and then gives us less power struggles with other issues as long as we are careful not to pose things in a way that he can say no to. Oh, and it's not a choice to say, you do it or I'll do it for you -- that just makes a power struggle.


Not to say we don't have tantrums, we still have tons, but I think we are getting to the point where they are hunger or tired-related, rather than power related. We've only just started this approach, but it is helpful. Check out "Redirecting Children's Behavior" or "Positive Parenting". I feel blessed to have moved beyond the point of exasperation with my son -- I have felt the way you described in the past, and have had many of the same battles. I started with the 1-2-3 Magic approach, and this seemed to earn us some respect with our son, and let him know we meant business. It also meant no more losing control and having adult temper tantrums. Now I feel even better prepared with the positive parenting approach.

post #9 of 34

Choose your battles. If he gets cold he will eventually put his fleece on. Or maybe he doesn't feel as cold as you in the same weather. Next time just give him a choice- it's cool outside do you want your fleece? No - ok why don't you/I grab it in case you change your mind? 

Let go of the power struggles and try to give-in a bit more as long as it's not hurting anyone.

Oh- the toothbrush thing- someone here gave me great advice when kids don't want to brush- works every-time! Pretend there is something odd in their teeth, like a bug or elephant or whatever and act really overexcited "oh no i see a ____. We need to brush it out!! Then as you are brushing tell him that it came out and pick a new one. Playful parenting sometimes really does require less energy than the alternative. (Have you checked out that book yet?) And if my kids are in really really bad moods and refuse- what's one night without brushing? Try again in the morning.

post #10 of 34

My son is three next week and is deep in the "I do it myself" stage. I was getting so exasperated because everything was taking HOURS and involving anger and tears. Some things I have been doing lately that have helped a ton.


1. I allow him to choose what to wear within choices I set up before hand. One of our issues was that he has LOTS of different kinds of underwear and will get very upset because he can't seem to make that final decision on which pair to wear. So now every morning I set out three pairs for him to choose from.


2. I organized his clothing drawer into outfits rather then shorts/pants in one drawer and shirts and socks in the other. This way, he can choose exactly what he wants to wear. Everything is already together and he feels really empowered that he picked out his whole outfit.


3. I now put him in sweaters and coats that zip or button so he can do the up and over. This entails laying his coat or sweater on the ground in front of him upside down. He can lean over, put his arms into each sleeve, flip it over his head, and voila-he got his own coat on. It is seriously so awesome and has eliminated coat battles.


4. Every morning is the exact same routine. We get up, we cuddle, we use the potty, we get dressed, we brush our teeth, we go downstairs and he picks out his vitamin, I get my medicine, and we go out the door. Picking out his vitamin while I get my medicine is the high point of the morning and never ever happens until all the necessary things are done. I highly suggest making something he really likes to do be the end result of getting ready each morning.


5. Finally I decided I needed to pick my hill to die on battles and let the rest go. Wearing the red fleece? Not my hill to die on. I would have brought it with me in case he changed his mind. I would never leave the fleece behind to prove a point (one of my friends does this and I hate it). Getting cold was the consequence and luckily Mama brought the fleece in case you changed your mind. I try to turn the battles into instances where I can show him kindness and empathy even though internally I am gritting my teeth.


I also realize that even though we have a pretty good routine sometimes it isn't enough. I yell and I get mad. I am human. I always try to think about how I will handle that situation in the future-how can I do a better job the next day? And I apologize for yelling and we move on.


I realize this seems all about my son, but I found by giving him lots of choices within the safe framework I have set up has lessened all our battles tremendously. It has bled over into other areas of difficulty.



post #11 of 34

People talk about "the terrible twos", but I thought 2 was a breeze compared to 3!


It is definitely the age of independence. More and more he wants to do things for himself, but is still limited by his physical abilities and your schedule.


There are a couple of things we did that helped. First, lay out your expectations, and do your best to be consistent. For example, tell him in the morning that you have to be somewhere at 11:00 - it's your responsibility to be on time for the appointment, and it's his responsibility to be ready to go on time. Talk about what he'll wear, what toys he might bring with him - and as others suggested, give him choices whenever possible. Make it clear what is a choice for him and what is not.


Being consistent is the key - but it doesn't sound like you're one to give in. My twins threw tantrums at this age too, but eventually they learned that no amount of kicking and screaming was going to change my mind, and they stopped wasting the effort. I am completely open to negotiation if it happens before the tantrum.


You mentioned that he's terrific at school, and sometimes horrible at home. That is perfectly normal, and not at all uncommon. Look at it this way - if you worked at a job dealing with hostile customers all day, you might experience a lot of frustration during that time, but you'd put on a happy face and do what you needed to do. When you get home, you might dump on your DH, or snap at someone, or just say "I have had a rotten day - just leave me alone!" We feel comfortable letting loose on our loved ones, because they will still love us even when we're cranky. Kids often do this - the stress of dealing with kids and teachers and rules and sharing at school - even though they're having a lot of fun - can be too much, and they have an emotional outburst when they get home. Trust me, this is something that gets better!


Someone else suggested that this is a power struggle - that's spot on. The older he gets and the more independent he becomes, the less you need to make decisions for him - for example, it won't kill a 3-yr-old to go out without a jacket, but you can bring it along if he gets cold. I'm not sure what kind of struggles you have at mealtime, but you might have to take a close look at what sets him off, and try to change that dynamic (I can't say much more without more details from you).


Sometimes you DO have to pick up a toddler and carry him off in public. I wouldn't spend a lot of time arguing with him about it - if you need to go right away and he won't cooperate, all you can do is pick him up. The trick is for you to remain calm, no matter how wild he might be. Tell him that you understand that he wants to stay where he is, but you really need to go now.


It sounds to me like you desparately need some alone time! Can your DH stay home with the kids occasionally so you can get out alone? Go to the library, coffee shop, take a long bubble bath - I think a little "me" time would help (it can't hurt!).


Hang in there - it does get easier!

post #12 of 34

Breakfast went smoothly. Then it was time to get readye to go outside. DS only had a short sleeve shirt on and it was chilly still so I said please go put on your red fleece that is laid out for you on mommy's bed.>>>>>


Unless it was freezing outside let him go.  If he gets cold he'll know where his fleece is, my kids are often warmer than me in cool weather.

post #13 of 34

Sometimes I say I am not going to fight today.  And I just give in, and take that day to just regroup and enjoy the peace.  So, with that in mind your day would have gone like this:



Then it was time to get readye to go outside. DS only had a short sleeve shirt on and it was chilly still so I said "please go put on your red fleece that is laid out for you on mommy's bed."


"Really, no jacket? Ok, let's go."


I'd probably grab a jacket or a sweater for him and after 5 minutes outside my DD would probably ask for it.  Or, she'd be running around so much that she'd be hot anyway.  Or we'd be really cold so we'd turn around and go back in.  But unless I had something specific that NEEDED to be done outside, I wouldn't be choosing a jacket as a power struggle to ruin my day.


Also, I am a broken record, but you might want to read The Explosive Child.  It's really good as far as teaching parents how to compromise without feeling like they're being walked over.  And it helped me understand that my DD is just not likely to wake up one day and be a biddable child who will do as I ask or come out of time out with a better attitude.  Even when she was only 4 and 5 she wanted to have a say in what was going, and frankly, our days did not get better til I started respecting her opinions more and worrying about my mythical authority less. winky.gif


Hope this helps and that things get better soon.  Summer is coming! Then we can forget about jackets and fight about sunscreen. 

post #14 of 34

I also think your DS is feeling powerless. With the jacket issue, I let my DD decide whether the wear one or not, unless there's lots of snow or it's under 20 degrees. Here's a good book, "Kids, Parents and Power Struggles: Winning For a Lifetime" by Mary Kurcinka. I found it at our library. Here's a link http://www.amazon.com/Kids-Parents-Power-Struggles-Lifetime/dp/0060930438#reader_0060930438 .


I find that with my 5 year old DD the more freedom she has the more co operative and ready to respond positively  requests she is. It sounds like your relationship has gotten very confrontational. You make demands and your DS refuses, then you force him to comply against his will. Try making requests and let your DS choose to not wear a jacket.  We have 2 family rules. One is be safe and the other is treat each other with respect.  Dragging a child up the stairs and forcing them to put on a jacket against their will is not respectful. When our DC are babies we make all the choices as the grow they are able to make more and more choices. The transition can be difficult for us, but we have to trust in our DC's ability to learn how to make good choices.  Unless it's a safety issue physically forcing someone to do something is controlling and will undermine trust and co operation. Suggesting, coaching, discussing why something is a good or bad choice is much better for a parent child relationship than demanding and making the child do things.

post #15 of 34

There's a lot of great advice in here!  We use a lot of choices too, and sometimes it's the phrasing that get things done.  "Are you going to brush your teeth before or after you use the potty?"  "Are you going to wear your jacket or carry your jacket?"  "Do you want to leave in 5 minutes or in 10 minutes?"  Regardless of his choices, they are all things that *I* want done.  I chose the choices, but he gets a sense of control by telling me how or when.


When I started doing this with my son (he turned 4 in March), it took a few times before he realized he was doing everything I wanted him to do.  At this point, he either expects options or just knows what to do without me asking. Of course, he'll try to slip in option #3 (I always only give 2 options), to which I respond (non-threateningly), "Oh, your options are wear your jacket or carry your jacket.  I'll decide for you in 10 seconds if you're not sure what you want to do."  If I decide for him, and he's not satisfied with my decision, I get down eye-to-eye and tell him, "That's a shame.  I wanted you to choose.  Next time you can choose quicker."  This can come off as sarcastic if not done properly, and I highly recommend not saying it at all if it can't be said with genuine empathy.


For me, this is based on some of what I got out of the Love & Logic series.  I haven't read the books; I've taken the class.  It's been wonderful, and I highly recommend it.  Something I recall from another parenting class I've attended (I'm kind of hooked on them Sheepish.gif), is that when we start changing our behavior toward our kids, it may get worse before it gets better.  Kids feel confident they know how to get certain responses from their parents.  When their parents don't react the way they expect, it can actually be unsettling for them.  This is a good thing though because it means we're getting through.  They will want to test new boundaries, but stay consistent and don't give up!  Good luck!

post #16 of 34
Originally Posted by BarnMomma View Post

You have a choice. Either go out on your fleece now or I wil come and move your body up the stairs and put it on for you. What is your choice?


They really can be frustrating. It sounds like he's fighting for power. He has little control except when he fights you then he sees his control over you by causing you to yell etc. Maybe try giving him choices like "which jacket do you want? if you don't pick one, mommy will pick one." I did this with my daughter and it helped her make the choice I wanted which was putting on appropriate clothes but she had control over which item of clothing.


Another thing I repeat daily in my head "you wanna die on this hill?" meaning pick your battles. Let them win sometimes.

post #17 of 34
Oh yeah, power struggles. That's the big thing for this age.

My advice is to avoid all power struggles that aren't really really important. That means let him have his way unless there is serious risk of injury or something otherwise. The jacket? Let him go without it and if he gets cold he'll either get it or remember next time. Or you could grab the jacket and bring it with you in case he gets cold. But it's not worth it to force him to wear a jacket. For two reasons - the more he has to fight for autonomy, the more important autonomy will become to himand the more he'll want to fight and the more things he'll fight over; and he likes power struggles more than you do so he's willing to put more into them. Just let stuff go that isn't super important. For the super important stuff, he might tantrum, but just go ahead and do it and explain that it's a safety issue and don't take the tantrum personally.
post #18 of 34

I agree with the others. Give him choices and let him realize what the consequences are. I also recommend Love and Logic or 1-2-3 Magiic. This is a tough age, go easy on yourself. You don't have to be perfect.

post #19 of 34

I totally understand where you're coming from.  The whole within 30 seconds of waking up thing especially -- my DS1 starts doing things to get on our nerves from the first moment he wakes up.  I also sympathize with yelling so loud your throat is sore -- I don't admit it to many people, but I do this at least once a week.  I have thrown things too.  I'm not proud of it but no one has pushed my buttons like this ever in my life.  I had no idea that I had such limited patience until my son turned 3, and since then, oh lord.  You are not alone!  You've gotten some good suggestions here but I know the fleece thing was just an example and some things are not negotiable (like tooth brushing).  Hang in there!

post #20 of 34

First, you are not a failure, you are a parent and loving mother who, like the rest of us, get mad at their children. It happens. I also thought that the 2's were a piece of cake and now that my daughter is almost 5 there have been a lot of new struggles. She too is very bright and, I think, sometimes a little too smart for her own good! Anyway, I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned this yet or not and before I state my idea I have to say that I agree with "oaktreemama" as far as giving choices and including them in the choices so they feel they have some control as well. I'll also say that I am a very big advocate of attachment/natural parenting (obviously we are on mothering;) and also studying to be a nutrition consultant.

Which brings me to my question... what is your child eating daily? I ask because you said the mornings go well but after he eats is when the fits start. I noticed this with my daughter along with other symptoms and it turns out she is allergic to wheat and possibly all gluten (we are still experimenting with this). I am wondering if he may have an allergy or sensitivity of some type.

I'm willing to help if you think this may be an issue, if you would like it. I am not going to write a lot more because you have already received some great advise, just let me know if I can help in that department.

Good Luck and remember that it will get better;)

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