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We just can't seem to be gentle.... - Page 2

post #21 of 33

I haven't read the replies, so forgive me if I'm repeating anything!

 

I noticed that your kids are three years apart, and your son is three. I'm not sure why everyone talks about the terrible twos, because I found three to be SUCH a difficult age: they are so emotionally needy and figuring so many things out, and trying on so many different personalities and testing their limits (which IME, includes seeing if you respond the same way every time). Adding a newish sibling to the mix can be tricky too. In retrospect, I can see there was a lot of jealousy with my DD...she'd had us to herself for three years, and now there was a baby needing (especially) me ALL THE TIME. And we had a lot going on, and not enough sleep...so I feel for you.

 

I can't address your health issues, but I think a lot of what you're describing sounds pretty age appropriate. I think regular, ample sleep (for everyone), regular meals/snacks, and predicatable routines (including logical, always followed through consequences) can make a world of difference. I know it's not a popular sentiment here on MDC, and I would love to be a mom that never yells, that is always happy, and has a kid who is predictably good all the time b/c I feed him/her perfect meals, don't let them watch tv, etc, but it is EXHAUSTING to try and live up to this ideal. We do the best we can, as much as we can. Kids don't always live according to theories, and I've found that the more I parent, the more I have to check myself. Labelling myself as GD, or AP can make me feel really boxed in and frustrated, because I compare myself to a book or an ideal. No one needs a mom that feels crappy about themselves.

 

Can you call in some help? Get some time for you? Even if it's just a bit of time to yourself once a week, it can make a big difference. You and DH need to sit down and make a game plan. We fell into the empty threats/bribes hole around that age too, and it only makes it worse in the long run. Come up with a list of natural consequences for actions, and talk it over with your son, and make sure you BOTH follow the same plan...consistency is key. Find some strategies for you and your DH to get more sleep (alternate sleep ins on the weekend, force yourself to go to bed early a couple of night a week, take turns attending to kids at night). You are totally in the trenches right now, in terms of meeting everyone's needs and it is so easy to put your own needs last...but you have to take care of yourself, or you get too tired to parent the way you want to parent. I totally relate to the feelings you're having.

 

IMO, kids thrive on rhythm and routine. This does not mean a set-in-stone, follow the clock schedule, but creating natural points on the day that are structured for loud, quiet, restful or playful activities. Right now is a natural time to build some routines that work for you and your family.

 

Good luck, and I hope you find a good starting point!

post #22 of 33

OP, my heart goes out to you.  

 

My first thought when I read your post was, "This family needs more sleep!"  ALL of you!  As others have pointed out, sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture, and for good reason!  When people are tired, parents or children, their behavior changes and their health deterioriates.

 

If I were you, rather than spending time and energy on reading dozens of parenting books or researching possible medical diagnoses, I would focus on findings ways to get everyone more sleep.  You can be the most educated, well-intentioned, prepared parent who's read all the "right" books, but if you're exhausted, you're going to have a much harder time reacting in the way you'd like.

 

 

post #23 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathrineg View Post

Have you tried simply letting him be upset and not trying to "fix" it? And do you allow yourself to be mildly annoyed with behavior like the ham thing? I'm not saying to ignore his needs, but it really is okay to ignore minor 3-year-old freakouts and say "well, that's how it is, here are your eggs". You don't need to validate his emotions every time.

 

I also suggest that you reflect on the fact that you are repeating the same pattern with your husband that your mother had with your father. He is your child's father, and you should not be putting yourself in the position of not "allowing" him to parent. If he feels like consequences such as time-outs or removing a toy are appropriate, I highly suggest that you do not interfere and, if necessary, talk to him about the situation later. Constantly undermining him will lead to increased frustration for him and serious mixed signals for your son.


didn't the OP say that her dh spanked the kid out of frustration?  i think frankly this is pretty bad advice.  she's gotten much better ideas from other posters.  though i do agree that both parents need to be on the same page or not disagree in front of the kid.

 

post #24 of 33

The reason you can't do "GD" is because you are both exhausted and frustrated with your DS, DD, and most importantly-each other.

 

The very first thing I would do in your shoes is work out a sleep and nap schedule and STICK TO IT. You will not solve any problems while the entire family is laboring under the heavy burden of sleep deprevation. Like others have mentioned it is torture to go without adequate sleep.

 

Once you get a sleep routine down then I would address discipline with your DH. It helps to meet people where they are to help them come to where you are. While spanking would be unacceptable in my house as well, I would allow DH to do timeouts to allow both parties to calm down. I would ALWAYS chose a timeout for my son over someone spanking him. Once you have more sleep and a better routine than you and DH can find time to discuss discipline and what you will do as certain situations come up-it is always better to be as proactive as possible. This helps avoid lashing out in anger.

 

Finally, don't get so caught up in what works for others. No one discipline works for all families. Things change from day to day and even hour to hour. You need to be flexible.

 

And you need sleep.

post #25 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by hildare View Post




didn't the OP say that her dh spanked the kid out of frustration?  i think frankly this is pretty bad advice.  she's gotten much better ideas from other posters.  though i do agree that both parents need to be on the same page or not disagree in front of the kid.

 


 

I'm not talking about spanking, which he did once (which does not make him a bad person or an incapable parent.) I am talking about the overall pattern of not allowing him to set consequences and keeping him from following through on what he tells their son. 

 

If parents who did things out of frustration were barred from parenting their own children, then OP would be barred as well (as would everyone on this board.) Everyone loses their patience and messes up.

post #26 of 33
Thread Starter 

OP here. 

 

Haven't been around for a few days, since (as a few posters mentioned) I figured out that a lot of the problem was between my DH & I. I took the kids on a 2 day trip to visit our family so I could sleep (and DH could sleep and be without us). DH & I have had several heart-to-heart conversations about getting more sleep and lowering our expectations - of everybody and everything.

 

My DS was absolutely excellent on our trip, as I knew he would be. He really thrives in environments where he can move inside/outside (we live in a 3rd floor apt) and has some freedom. I'm pretty sure the only boundary I had to set for him while we were gone was no bikes in the street. He also plays so hard when we visit that he totally crashes at 7 and sleeps through the night. It was great.

 

Today was our first day everybody back home together and I think we're moving in the right direction. All the everybody's-about-to-snap tension is out of the air and DS seems like he can actually hear me now. 

 

Considering  a lot of the responses about eat and sleep routines which sound excellent.... will be setting up a loose structure for us. 

 

The fact that I call DS "sweetie" is my personality - that's also what I call my DH. And my sister. And  I call my mom "Mama" and I call my friends "darlin" - you get what I'm saying. I talk to my friends and family that way because I like them, not because my DS acts like a "sweetie" at every moment of every day. 

 

As for the threat-and-follow-through (I see there's some mixed response things  here) and bribery, my issue isn't with that it's not acceptable for my DH to do - just that it doesn't work. My DS is very verbal and manipulative. My DH acknowledged this in our talks and we've both agreed alone time to unwind is best for DS when he's really upset. He also likes explanation  (valid  reasons why things aren't okay) because of how verbal he is. Seems to have a greater effect.

 

Lots of thanks  for lots of great advice..... now I'm going to bed... winky.gif

post #27 of 33

From time to time, my dh has threatened my kids with consequences that I think are stupid.  For example, once he told our three-year-old that she wasn't allowed to leave the table until she ate three bites of dinner.  I would never say that, or try to make a child do that, but he did say it.  There was a pretty powerful natural consequence, though - he had to hang out with her in the kitchen and make her do it.  It was frustrating for both of them.  Eventually, they found a way out of the power struggle.  He told me later that he knew it was a stupid thing to say the second the words were out of his mouth, but by then it was too late.  And to be honest, while I wouldn't do that particular stupid thing, I've done other stupid things.  Once, I told my younger dd that she couldn't play outside or watch TV because she was acting too wild.  The second I said it I knew it was a mistake, but I said it and I had to sit inside with her and corral her wild crazy need-to-run-around-ness for a whole beautiful day that really could have gone much better (and then handle the consequent lousy bed-time with a kid who wasn't tired because she hadn't gotten any exercise).  

 

So what I'm getting at here is that I think, as parents, sometimes we try things that don't work, and that's OK.  My kids are fine - so confident and happy that they astound me on a daily basis.  I think that once you define the boundary that's really important for your family (like no spanking), you and your dh both have to feel your way to approaches that work for you.  It's OK for your dh to try some things that don't work, even if you know that there's no way that approach will work.  It might work better for him than it does for you.  If not, he'll try something else next time.   

 

I would add, however, that in my house the parent who imposes the consequence gets to enforce it.  I don't get to announce that the kids can't go outside and then make my dh handle the resulting chaos.  We're a team, so he will support me emotionally and logistically while I try to carry through on what I said, but if I hand the kids over to him, I'm giving up and he gets to choose the new approach.  

 

 

post #28 of 33

I strongly believe that children that are way out of line require immediate reaction that stops the out of control behavior (moving them to a boring place) and makes the child aware that you will not tollerate that behavior (no discussion of feelings or lectures with a 3 year old). It is wonderful to acknowledge feelings when the child expresses them in an acceptable way. If the child is upset about no ham but not out of control you can say, "you really with there was ham", "I wish I had a magic wand to make you ham", "I'm sorry there isn't ham but we will go to the store and you can have ham for afternoon snack", ect. As you have experienced trying to talk to an out of control child doesn't work. You will have plenty of times in the next 15 years to acknowledge feelings. If you stop the out of  the behavior by taking action just a few times in the child's life you will then have a well behaved child that you won't want to yell at or spank and you can take the child anywhere. This is an investment in the rest of their lives. You aren't doing anything bad to the child.  It is not out of line with gentle discipline.

 

You seem to be worried too much about psychological issues and making excuses for poor behavior. People have to behave well even if they don't feel well or if they don't get enough sleep. Some people never feel well and never get enough sleep. It's normal for families with a 3 year old and a baby to not get enough sleep. Scheduals don't work for all families.  

 

I became very ill while pregnant with my third son and my leg was paralyzed when he was born (I learned to walk in about a year). I was diagnosed with a rare genetic immune disorder that was adult onset for me and cancer. My 2 sons had unusual infections, asthma, skin problems, and other health issues and all 3 boys (my 8 year old, 5 year old, and the newborn) were tested for the genetic disorder. The all have it. When they were young we had to go to 3 different hospitals for treatment and many different doctors. I had home IV therapy with antibiotics and gamma globulin every 3 weeks and the kids were hospitalized several times and had to have IV therapy every 3 weeks as out-patients at the childrens hospital. They had to have their blood taken every week. The baby had to have IVs in his head. We all had arthritis and eczema. They had ear infections often and diarrhea all the time. The baby had FTT. My asthma was difficult to control and I was on high dose steroids and I became physically addicted. It took months to get off of them. No one slept through the night. Our priorities were making it to appointments, eating, everyone getting their meds, and getting enough laundry done so people had clothes to wear and there were sheets on the beds.  

 

Talk about STRESS. My husband left during one of my hospitalizations while I was pregnant. He filed for divorce the day after my son was born. I never saw him again except in divorce court. I could have made excuses for my children behaving badly. The first year when the baby was born and we were all sick was hell but my kids were well behaved and I was well behaved. There was no yelling, punishment or hitting. If you teach kids that they can't have out of control behavior when they are 2 and 3 it can last a lifetime.

post #29 of 33
Thread Starter 


It's clearly not nearly as important to me as it was to you that my child be a perfectly behaved 3 year old. And I don't think my having empathy (and sympathy, since I have the same problems) for my DS because he doesn't feel well is a problem. I'm all he has the vast majority of the time, and DH the rest. Someone has to care about the way he's feeling.

 

This all sounds very personal and you're obviously a wonderful success story for overcoming the obstacles laid in front of you over your life, I just don't think any of it applies to my family.

 

FWIW  - my son is RARELY out of control. We're talking about 30 second episodes a few times a day... There is rarely a time I can't talk him down with words alone. If I can't, he  is told to go somewhere to calm down and come back when he feels better. And he does. IMO, that's decent self control for a newly 3-year-old.

 

Mostly the problem is the way my DH and I tend to react - not the way my DS is a 3 year old.

Quote:

 

Originally Posted by foreverinbluejeans View Post

I strongly believe that children that are way out of line require immediate reaction that stops the out of control behavior (moving them to a boring place) and makes the child aware that you will not tollerate that behavior (no discussion of feelings or lectures with a 3 year old). It is wonderful to acknowledge feelings when the child expresses them in an acceptable way. If the child is upset about no ham but not out of control you can say, "you really with there was ham", "I wish I had a magic wand to make you ham", "I'm sorry there isn't ham but we will go to the store and you can have ham for afternoon snack", ect. As you have experienced trying to talk to an out of control child doesn't work. You will have plenty of times in the next 15 years to acknowledge feelings. If you stop the out of  the behavior by taking action just a few times in the child's life you will then have a well behaved child that you won't want to yell at or spank and you can take the child anywhere. This is an investment in the rest of their lives. You aren't doing anything bad to the child.  It is not out of line with gentle discipline.

 

You seem to be worried too much about psychological issues and making excuses for poor behavior. People have to behave well even if they don't feel well or if they don't get enough sleep. Some people never feel well and never get enough sleep. It's normal for families with a 3 year old and a baby to not get enough sleep. Scheduals don't work for all families.  

 

I became very ill while pregnant with my third son and my leg was paralyzed when he was born (I learned to walk in about a year). I was diagnosed with a rare genetic immune disorder that was adult onset for me and cancer. My 2 sons had unusual infections, asthma, skin problems, and other health issues and all 3 boys (my 8 year old, 5 year old, and the newborn) were tested for the genetic disorder. The all have it. When they were young we had to go to 3 different hospitals for treatment and many different doctors. I had home IV therapy with antibiotics and gamma globulin every 3 weeks and the kids were hospitalized several times and had to have IV therapy every 3 weeks as out-patients at the childrens hospital. They had to have their blood taken every week. The baby had to have IVs in his head. We all had arthritis and eczema. They had ear infections often and diarrhea all the time. The baby had FTT. My asthma was difficult to control and I was on high dose steroids and I became physically addicted. It took months to get off of them. No one slept through the night. Our priorities were making it to appointments, eating, everyone getting their meds, and getting enough laundry done so people had clothes to wear and there were sheets on the beds.  

 

Talk about STRESS. My husband left during one of my hospitalizations while I was pregnant. He filed for divorce the day after my son was born. I never saw him again except in divorce court. I could have made excuses for my children behaving badly. The first year when the baby was born and we were all sick was hell but my kids were well behaved and I was well behaved. There was no yelling, punishment or hitting. If you teach kids that they can't have out of control behavior when they are 2 and 3 it can last a lifetime.



 

post #30 of 33

Anjsmama, I agree with you.  Sometimes a kid throws a tantrum and it's just because they're a kid.  I don't think empathy for their issues is ever inappropriate.  My kids have really firm boundaries on their behavior, but none on their feelings.  And, as long as I can step around and do what I need to do, I don't think it's major misbehavior for a three-year-old to throw a fit on the kitchen floor.  I think it's evidence that the child hasn't yet learned that the appropriate venue for that fit is their private bedroom.  But, like an earlier poster, I don't think it's a punishment to be taken to a room that is decorated and furnished for your personal amusement and comfort.  When I take my kids to their room, it's because it's the correct place for their current activity, not because it's boring.  

 

I'm not sure why the ham has become such a contentious topic.  When my older dd was four, she had frequent meltdowns because, as she put it, "I just want what I want when I want it."  She's ten now, and she doesn't do that anymore.  I could attribute this change in behavior to my awe-inspiring parenting skills, but I'm 98% certain that she just outgrew it.  I imagine that my refusal/inability to bow to her whims helped, but mostly I just waited.

post #31 of 33

I finally remembered. 

 

Parenting with Love & Logic!! THIS book is great. I kept trying to remember the title to include it in my earlier post but couldn't.  Anyways it's a great book and some places (our church did) offer classes based on these books (so you can actually engage in conversation with other parents and get some feedback).

 

 

post #32 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by anjsmama View Post

HOW do we step back and take it easy? Every sound in this tiny apartment makes me want to lose it. I feel like we don't have the mental capacity to handle normal child behavior... clearly our problem, not his, but we just can't seem to deal? My DH is constantly using threats - do this or no (toys, dinner?, whatever) which of course I never allow him to follow through on anyway. He seems to be using arbitrary timeouts when I'm not around  - time out for yelling out of frustration? And I keep saying things like, "You know better than that" - but does he? And even if he does, can he really control it?

 


 

First, I'm sorry you're having a hard time with your DS. I really feel for all of you. Add sleep deprivation and a sometimes high-needs baby into the mix, and I know that it can be a real, real tough situation. My only suggestion at this point: to the bolded in your quote above, have you considered letting your husband follow through and impose the consequences that he thinks are appropriate? He's a parent, too...his ideas and instincts ought to be respected as well as yours are, right? Or have you considered taking this approach yourself? We're not talking about spanking here-- we're talking about consequences. You can look at what he's doing as "threatening" or you can look at it as an attempt to discipline, impose consequences and bring some order into what is clearly a chaotic situation.

 

There are debates about this all the time, but here's the truth: Gentle Discipline (as defined by mothering.com, which is hosting this discussion) does not preclude the use of rules and consequences. Some people think that it does or that it should....but that's not in the UA for this forum, and it's also not something that Dr. Sears (among others) has ever written. If I were you, I might try a gentle form of consistent and age-appropriate consequences for unacceptable behavior and see if, after a week or two, anything changes. As far as I can tell, you have nothing to lose by just giving it a try.

 

Good luck to you. :)

 

post #33 of 33

anjsmama, I don't like it when people respond to my posts with nothing to offer except "Me too!" but here I am going to do it anyway! I'm in almost exactly the same situation. DD is almost 3 (33 months). DS is 4 months, and like your DD, he's a super easy baby but goes from happy to ear-piercing screaming in a flash, and DH finds it maddening. We just moved, like you. DH and I want to use gentle discipline but get so frustrated with DD that we yell a lot more than we want to. We don't know what to do instead. My DH, who is the stay-at-home parent (I work full-time from home), is much worse than I am about losing his temper and less sold on the whole gentle discipline idea. I really don't know what to tell him to do instead!

 

So--nothing to offer except my sympathies, and my thanks to the other posters in this thread for their thoughts.

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