Constant Conflict with one child? - Mothering Forums
Parenting > Constant Conflict with one child?
Nansense's Avatar Nansense 01:42 PM 12-11-2009
I have 2 ds, 3 & 4yo, but I feel like I am in a constant state of struggle with the 4yo. I've never felt so much anger towards any person before - he brings it out in me I guess. He argues everything, says mean things and still hits & pushes, though at least that has subsided a bit. So from morning to night, I just don't want to talk to him because everything is an arguement or he says "no" to everything (so he lands in time out, but if I don't choose my battles, he'd be in a t.o. most of the day!) He wears me down to where I really don't enjoy his company and am living on pins & needles waiting for him to call me stupid or something else.

Any of you have one child that is a thorn in your side? And how have you handled it? Does your relationship get better? (for those into astrology, our signs are not compatable )

Alyantavid's Avatar Alyantavid 01:46 PM 12-11-2009
I don't have constant conflict, but I do clash with my 7 year old more than my 3 year old. I know it's because we're too much alike and we both like to argue. Alot.

I try to remember that and that I'm pushing his buttons as much as he's pushing mine and that I'm the adult. I know that probably doesn't help much with hitting and saying no to everything but really, I'd talk to him about how to treat people and how it makes them feel. I found 4 pretty hard with my oldest. It was like he'd discovered new ways of making me crazy and did them constantly. In his case, I think part of the appeal was my reaction.
Proudmomoftwinsplusone's Avatar Proudmomoftwinsplusone 03:58 PM 12-11-2009
I am in constant conflict with one of my three children. He exhausts me and makes the days long. Its getting better though. Hang in there and keep a sense of humor (I can say that becuase he's at school and it is nice a quiet here and he's not repeatedly burping and farting and laughing maniacally).
Drummer's Wife's Avatar Drummer's Wife 04:03 PM 12-11-2009
yeah, my 4 yo. I'm not sure if it's his personality or his age - or a combo - but I struggle with him every. single. day.

No advice, really, just wanted to say I know how you feel. I have three other children (ages 2, 6, & 8) and while they each drive me nutty in their own ways they are no where near as challenging as my 4 yo. And the older two weren't when they were his age, either. I have told DH before that if he was our first, and we hadn't had another by this point - we wouldn't have had any more! (That sounds mean, I know, but seriously, this child and I go rounds almost constantly.)
musikat's Avatar musikat 04:45 PM 12-11-2009
Yes! My oldest DS (almost 8). We have clashed almost from day one (I am not kidding. He had a traumatic birth, jaundice, feeding and sleeping difficulties and we got off to a rough start. ). I am beginning to realize one thing about him that may have contributed, particularly as he got older. In his case we think he has ADHD. He is just so difficult much of the time. I try to remember the sweetness that is also there and cherish the "calm" times with him. It's up and down, and I mostly get annoyed at feeling not "heard" by him and the picking on his middle brother constantly.

Not much advice, but I do sympathize.
Storm Bride's Avatar Storm Bride 04:48 PM 12-11-2009
Yeah - my 4 year old. In some ways, I'm closer to him than his older siblings. He's cuddly and sweet and likes physical closeness, while my 6.5 year old is more stand-offish by temperament. But, I feel as if I spend my entire day in a state of frustration sometimes. He pushes. He shoves. He hits. He kicks. He spits. He makes huge messes. He breaks things. I can't turn my back on him for 5 seconds.

I just keep reminding myself that things are getting better, even if it's an incredibly slow process. Honestly, in some ways, he seems more like about a 2.5 year old, developmentally...but he's so much bigger and...yeah.

I was a hag yesterday - seriously. They should have thrown me back. They told dh I was being a "bad mommy" today when he got home. He's at preschool right now, so I'm hoping I can keep my cool later...
bethanyclaire's Avatar bethanyclaire 05:02 PM 12-11-2009
Maybe it is a 4 yo thing. My 4 year old drives me batty on a regular basis. We are similar in some ways but different enough that we can really push each other's buttons. I adore her but sometimes she makes me want to rip all of my hair out! She is SO dramatic! Every single thing is the end of the world and she can blow the tiniest thing so out of proportion! It drives me nuts. Every time she doesn't get her own way you would think the world is actually coming to an end. For instance, when I told her she couldn't have any juice yesterday afternoon and offered her water instead she crossed her arms over he chest and said "Fine, I can't drink anything... you won't let me... I'll just go die." and stormed off to her room. I laugh about it now but in the moment it drives me nuts! These things happen on a daily basis. Once I've hit 6 or 8 straight hours of it I'm ready to crawl under a rock and come out in 18 years.

My 6 year old and I can spend hours and hours together without a single conflict. Sometimes I think I cloned myself when I had him... we communicate effortlessly and we always seem to totally understand each other. DD and I have to struggle for just basic communication sometimes.

I try to work at it because I want a good relationship with her, especially as she gets older. I have to try so hard. She started preschool in September and that has made a HUGE difference. She goes 3 days a week and I think it is just enough for me to keep my sanity and for her to keep hers. I make special time to sit down and play with her (even though I'm ALWAYS doing it and try to get insight into how she thinks and feels and why she reacts to things the way she does. Neither of us are wrong, we are just really different. I hope someday we can value that in each other. For now, we just take it one step at a time. I take deep breaths when she is pushing my buttons and I try to change the subject or find a compromise.

It is hard, mama! Hang in there!
Storm Bride's Avatar Storm Bride 05:07 PM 12-11-2009
Originally Posted by bethanyclaire View Post
Maybe it is a 4 yo thing.
It does seem to be. Honestly, before ds2, I'd have said that 3-4 was my favourite age of all. Not so much, anymore. I'm so looking forward to him outgrowing some of this!
Llyra's Avatar Llyra 05:10 PM 12-11-2009
That's me and DD1. We've been like that since she was a baby, really. I think that partially it's her naturally high-strung temperament. I think that the rest of it is that she and I are so similar in our personalities, even the negative parts. I'm very stubborn, and she is too. I tend to have mood swings, and so does she. I was not a cuddly child, and she is not either. I think she gets under my skin more, because she reminds me of the things I dislike in myself, and reminds me of my negative childhood memories.

I think a lot of it, too, is the non-cuddly aspect of her, and her independence. My other two, when something goes wrong, they come to me, and they want me to hold them and comfort them. That kind of approach only infuriates DD1. She wants to fix it herself, and if she can't, she goes to pieces, but she still doesn't want any help. So it's so hard for me to know how to relate to her.

And some of it goes back to the year the twins were born, and I was so, so sick for so long. She bore a lot of the brunt of the stress in the house that year, and I think it's had an effect on her level of trust in me.

I find that what I have to do is focus very strongly on the positives. I remind myself constantly, right in the moment when I'm getting annoyed, of the things I love about her. Sometimes I go in when she's sleeping and watch her sleep, to remind myself how much of a little child she still really is. That helps defuse my anger, when I start letting her get me too upset. Making time together to do the things I know we really do well together helps, too.
Nansense's Avatar Nansense 06:41 PM 12-11-2009
Thanks for all the replies! Glad to know I'm not alone.

I'm not sure if it's a 4yo thing or a first-born thing....but my 4yo was like this at 3 as well, and he drove me nuts at 2yo just in a different way. That's why I wonder, if no matter which stage he's at, we'll always be in conflict.

He does like to cuddle and when upset will come to me for comfort, but always argues which then escalates to me saying things I'd never say to an adult. I worry that I'm turning him into a psycho-path - will our arguements turn him into the next Jeffery Dahlmer??? I seriously can't keep my mouth shut when faced with his meanness - do I just keep putting him into time outs all day? What they don't tell you about mothering...being broken down by a toddler. If my husband said/did the same things, it would be abuse. But because he's a kid, I, the adult, have to suck it up AND be a good role model back to him. Some have constant conflict with their own mothers or brothers, but I've never been in such conflict day after day with anyone.

got rambling...sorry...
gypsymama2008's Avatar gypsymama2008 08:35 PM 12-11-2009
Your story totally reminds me of a parenting book I read that said something to the effect of "The children who push us, challenge us, make us question ourselves are especially precious because they are our teachers, they are the ones who help us grow" I always loved that perspective.

As for ideas for how to handle him, I guess Praise, praise, praise. Keep a constant eye out for anything he does right, anytime he is cooperative, helpful etc. Sometimes just focusing on good behavior instead of bad behavior can make a world of difference for both parent and child. Perhaps make sure he has enough exercise, some kids really just need to blow off steam. I guess most importantly keep in mind that just because he is difficult now doesn't mean he always will be. He will most likely grow into an adult who can express his anger and frustration in appropriate ways. For some it's just a longer, harder journey.
RunAround's Avatar RunAround 08:50 PM 12-11-2009
My oldest has been stirring the pot, so to speak, since birth. He really pushes my (and my husband's and his brother's) buttons and always has.

How do we handle it? Well, the check I write for preschool is about the most important line item in our budget. The next important line item in our budget is MY THERAPY! His personality is intense and persistent and he does need to be coached when his behavior is out of bounds, but I've personally found it beneficial for my parenting to learn why certain things cause me to emotionally go off the deep end. And, therapy is a safe place to talk about how much my kid drives me completely bonkers without judgment. (My therapist has 2 boys who are a few years older than mine, so she's receptive with recent experience.)

What else? Oh, I build in times of the day to really connect with my son. I try to spend some time each day doing things he values. This isn't puzzles or craft time, but usually some fiercely active pretend play. Or, we'll go outside to do competitive-style activities - race to the other end of the basketball court, kicking the ball as far as we can, that sort of thing. Also, I lie down with him as he falls asleep each night. For him, once the lights are down and the distractions removed, he can talk about more calmly about the day. Each day, I ask about his favorite parts and the things he found challenging. And, I briefly go over what he did during the day to help his family. When he's just fallen asleep and I see his beautiful angel face, recharging for the next day's work of global domination, I can remember how innocent he is. He is not my adversary - he's my baby.

And, here's my favorite: Sometimes I look at him and notice how small he is. And, I think about how tough it must be to be such a frustrated person with no control over his life.

Some days are okay and some are horrible. And, about once a month, we have a mostly good day. I really appreciate the good days.

ALL THAT SAID - if my son was being verbally or physically abusive, I would find ways to put an end to that. Respect is a two way street and calling mom "stupid" at 4 doesn't fly in my house. It sounds like it's time to revisit how you are responding to him and how you are possibly encouraging his behavior. Does he get your attention certain ways? Is he taking out his frustration about life on you or is everyone in his path of conflict? The book "Playful Parenting" provided me some good ideas for how to diffuse conflict, and it helped me learn how to anticipate it so I could redirect the energy. I also don't do reminders. It's put on your shoes when I ask or you go barefoot. He tested that one! Once! He knows I mean what I say when I say it and that helps keep the power struggles down. He still pushes, but I'm like a rock. He gets lots of opportunity to choose throughout the day and to exercise his growing skill set, so when I lay down the law, thassit!

Sorry to write a book. Now I know why I don't post much - everything I write is 20 pages long and I sound like an idiot!