Please help - I can't forgive myself - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 32 Old 07-14-2010, 03:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm just trying to get through each day, one day at a time, but I can't stop beating myself up emotionally. I'm sorry to be so desperate and needy, but here goes...

DH and I have had a challenging time with 3 year old DS. He's kind of unique, in that he's really advanced cognitively (talks like a 5 year old) and he does not differentiate between negative and positive attention, and will therefore seek whatever's easiest to get (usually negative). He's also so intelligent that he manipulates adults. I know, this sounds like I'm misinterpreting him or projecting and that it can't be true but it is. He's just the most wonderful child, everyone who meets him loves him, but he's terribly willful and obstinate. I love him so much. The phrase "too smart for his own good" comes up a lot, even with people who don't know him that well.

So DH and I were both spanked and yelled at as children, and have found it to be totally dysfunctional in our raising of our son, but his behavior always drove us to it. I'm so ashamed right now. *Deep Breath* So Monday was his third birthday party. He knew it and behaved TERRIBLY all day. It's like he's sabotaging himself. DH and I think that it must be the 3yo independence-control thing, because he'd rather have control than the party or the fun. He'd rather know that he decided how the day went, because he does have the ability to change it. Other days (normal, non-birthday days) it wouldn't be that bad because he can't change it (unlike when people are invited, the cakes already made, etc.) PS this was not over-stimulation because all the behavior happened prior to the plans.

Anyway, DH became really angry and spanked him, and then we took away all his toys and books, and he can earn them back when he's "making good decisions" again. Then it was my turn to try to get him to cooperate before the party while DH calmed down and, eventually, called to cancel the party. DS laughed in my face, he had no empathy, did not care. Positive consequences, negative consequences, none of it phases him. I worried that he's going to grow up to be a sociopath. I got so frustrated and I lost it. I screamed in his face - terrible things about him not loving us. *Oh god* I grabbed him by his hands/wrists and tossed him into his bed (ostensibly for a time out). I threw his favorite cup in the garbage. I locked him in his room for a full minute. *Oh my god, I am the worst parent in the world.* I feel like I was abusive. Like I'm just as bad as the people whose kids the state takes away. I feel filthy, like garbage. I'm not worthy to be the parent of such an amazing child. I've probably psychologically damaged him. Oh, what if I really have?

Okay, well it's out there now. DH and I had a long talk and were crying (in 7 years of being together, this is the 3rd time I've seen him cry). We've made a commitment to non-violence, in our discipline but also in our lives. We are reading books (Dr. Sears Discipline Book is one) and read a lot of posts on the GD threads here. We kept DS home from school yesterday, to kind of be a family again. Just doing chores around the house - DS has a chance to be helpful and feel like part of a loving family, where people help each other. Naptime was really hard but I got through it calmly. He earned some toys and books back. It's like, we can't turn everything around, discipline-wise, on a dime, because that wouldn't be consistent and it would confuse him. But we won't be doing any more extremely punitive measures like that again.

So, part of this post is a confessional. I just feel like people need to know how bad I really was and have an opportunity to judge me as harshly as I've judged myself. I'm so ashamed. And this isn't the first time DH and I have gotten this way, but it's surely the last. Changes we have implemented are time outs - not so much for a punishment, but we agree that we need space to be angry at the event and not the child. Time out's for us, really. And I took the opportunity of thinning the toys and implementing a cubby hole system. I hope this helps with 1) battles over clean up time, because now it's easier for him to clean up all by himself and 2) he will value his items more - not that I plan on holding them over his head again, but it hurts that he doesn't care, and as we have seen, when we (DH and I) get hurt, we get angry.

The other part of this post is a cry for help. We have the philosophical basis of GD down, we've committed to the change. But parents, help us - we need concrete tools and verbiage to make this change. Like instantly. Not next week when I can finally make it to the bookstore and in a month when I finally get around to reading said book. And DH won't read a book unless he's coerced. So please, what things, other than time out, can we implement immediately? Like, today?

Thanks for the help. Sorry it's so long.

K: high school teacher and mama to DS1 (7/07), loss (10/10) and DS2 (7/12). Married to my best friend and soon to be elementary school teacher!
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#2 of 32 Old 07-14-2010, 04:40 PM
 
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This was us 3 weeks ago DS is so much like your DS that it was like I was reading my own plea for help.

Here is what we have been doing and it has been working
WE WALK... simple when ever he is doing something excessively wrong (hitting, punching, kicking, yelling, etc) We put his shoes on and walk. One day in the peak of our problems we walked 6 miles It worked for us because we would walk quickly (so he ran) and would not talk, so essentially it was a time out that was using energy. I would stop occasionally and talk to him and if he was ready to talk we would stop, but if he still wanted to act poorly we would continue to walk. No yelling, No battles, just walking... it got to a point that he finally figured it out (after walking for about 3 miles one night) and he doesn't want to return to the regular walking. We had to "walk" last night because he did not want to go to bed and it was a 1.5 mile walk but when we got home he quieted down and he went to sleep about 15 minutes after returning home, we had been battling for an hour before that (my fault, we should have gone earlier).

Please you are not a terrible person/parent . We struggled, we took posessions, discussed not taking trips, etc and even spanking(and I am so against that). This seems to work for us. Please PM me if you want to talk.

S & Yrainbow1284.gif (Vermont Civil Union 7/8/03) DS1 Holdennovaxnocirc.gif (4/25/07) and two in heaven  angel.gif1/10 &  angel.gif5/10 our rainbow1284.gif is here  DS2 Keegan(5/23/11)homebirth.jpg
 
 
 
  

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#3 of 32 Old 07-14-2010, 04:45 PM
 
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My love to you... You are human and a person who meant well.
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#4 of 32 Old 07-14-2010, 04:48 PM
 
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You're not a monster. You're a woman who was pushed past her breaking point. Sometimes you need to "hit rock bottom" before you can really turn around and make positive changes.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18, and Jack, 12
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#5 of 32 Old 07-14-2010, 04:53 PM
 
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Have you ever read any of those books "Your 1 Year Old", "Your 2 Year Old", etc? Libraries typically have them. I think that your expectations are totally unrealistic for a kid that just turned 3. I think the best thing that you can do (coming from a similar background) is to find a good family therapist and some positive discipline classes in your area. Also, spend some time regularly with other kids your child's age, I'll bet that you will see that most of his behavior is typically challenging which may help you react less emotionally to it. My oldest was in a co-op preschool and I learned a lot from the other parents, the teachers, and just from watching the other kids. You and your DH seem to have a real need for control and to be punative, I mean you cancelled his party, took away all of his stuff and behaved in a very scary way to him. Where do you possibly go to escalate that if his behavior got worse? The only tools left are physical abuse and starving him, no? Sounds like you may have underreacted, underreacted, then gone nuclear.

I wondering if his behavior is triggering feelings in you both from your childhoods and you are reacting to those feelings rather than just his behavior. So you need to learn better ways of dealing with both. And he does sound extra challenging. I hate to tell you but 3 is even worse than 2 for challenging behaviors. Get yourselves some support and find an IRL supportive parenting community, you need hands on learning and support, with your backgrounds and reactivity I don't think that books alone will be enough.

Best wishes to you.
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#6 of 32 Old 07-14-2010, 05:01 PM
 
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I often worry I'm raising a sociopath. My child is also three. I'm sorry. She pushes and pushes. She asks me to argue with her. (I mean, who DOES that?!?) You are not a monster and you aren't alone.

We went on vacation, came back, DH had to leave for the field for a month and a half, and yesterday I had a kind of zen moment when I realized two things:

1. I'm turning into a crazy hippy like my mom and godmothers. God help me.
2. I can't change my child's behavior. I can only change my response to it.

The latter was my zen moment. I can't make her good. Some people are sociopaths (of course I hope she's not one, she's probably just three, LOL!) and some are schizophrenics and some have Asperger's and one was Mother Theresa. I can't change my child any more than I can change them. I can just model and love and be patient.

I struggle with this because there is a way I think she ought to behave. But in the end, I really can't make her do it. Some people think I can. If I punished. But I really can't, because my child does not respond to punishment at times (often, in fact). Or rewards. It's about the battle for her. She needs a battle and tag, I'm it! When I say "yes" sometimes she says, "No, say no!" Try to get out of THAT without a conflict!

Maybe taking some time out for yourself would help.

I'm sorry about the party. What a disappointment.

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#7 of 32 Old 07-14-2010, 05:13 PM
 
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I'm so sorry - but anyone with that remorse and committment to change is certainly no monster - none of us is perfect and children are amazingly resiliant-

You are blessed/cursed with an amazing but challenging child - I have a similar dd who is now 6.5, but even though "parent education" is my chosen profession 3.5 nearly did me in - I HAD to get her into a pre-school/day care situation for my own sanity (three days was perfect)
This break gives you the added patience it takes to deal with your ds

My dd is a bit of a control freak (like her dad, his mom, gg) and i find I need to give her as much control over things as possible -

the pp walking tip was great - do everything you can to WEAR HIM OUT

to combine both goals play games like wrestling and "can't get by me" (from playful parenting - a book you really MUST read ASAP - even just the first few chapters)

Try having a pretty structured day - you can still give him control and choices but make sure he knows what to expect and that your days have a predictable routine

Make sure your messages are consistent but that doesn't mean you need to "discipline" every instant of misbehavior - especially that negative attention seeking stuff - it really is best to ignore it if at all possible, I find parents often confuse this issue just because you ignore something doesn't mean you've changed your message that it's not okay

when he's pushing your buttons do your very best to not let him see that - stay calm and if needed give yourself a time out until you are ready to deal with him again

gotta go, but hth
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#8 of 32 Old 07-14-2010, 05:30 PM
 
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Oops, forgot a tip for today - if you start to feel like your buttons are being pushed by his behavior, unless it is a safety issue, walk away, seriously. If you are reacting emotionally from your primitive brain you cannot think rationally with your frontal lobes, take a time out yourself. Learn what YOUR triggers are - for both you and DH and what the physical signs are that your anger and frustration is building. De-escalate before you blow, walk away and calm down.
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#9 of 32 Old 07-14-2010, 05:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, everyone, for the supportive responses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by painefaria View Post
WE WALK... simple when ever he is doing something excessively wrong (hitting, punching, kicking, yelling, etc) We put his shoes on and walk. One day in the peak of our problems we walked 6 miles It worked for us because we would walk quickly (so he ran) and would not talk, so essentially it was a time out that was using energy.
painfaria: Thanks for this, this is a really good idea. It get's to the heart of things, yk? Like pent up frustration needs a good place to go. I'm ready to try it, but I wonder how it will work in December, when it's 20 below? I suppose he'll know the drill by then!

I see you live in Vermont, so you may have the same issue. One thing we do in the winter when it's to nasty to go out is have dance parties. Soma.fm streams some fairly clean dance-y music, if you find yourself using this idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
2. I can't change my child's behavior. I can only change my response to it.

The latter was my zen moment. I can't make her good. Some people are sociopaths (of course I hope she's not one, she's probably just three, LOL!) and some are schizophrenics and some have Asperger's and one was Mother Theresa. I can't change my child any more than I can change them. I can just model and love and be patient.
EdnaMarie, I'd like to take this as my personal motto. Just thinking about it helps me let go. Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kittysmama View Post
find a good family therapist and some positive discipline classes in your area.

You and your DH seem to have a real need for control and to be punative, I mean you cancelled his party, took away all of his stuff and behaved in a very scary way to him. Where do you possibly go to escalate that if his behavior got worse? The only tools left are physical abuse and starving him, no?

Get yourselves some support and find an IRL supportive parenting community, you need hands on learning and support, with your backgrounds and reactivity I don't think that books alone will be enough.
kittysmama, while your response is harsh, I probably deserve it. I asked for it anyway. But I'm not any closer to forgiveness of myself. Now I can't get the image of me starving my son out of my head.

One of the more difficult issues with your proposed solutions is that we live in white, conservative, semi-rural Alaska. Almost no parent here would bat an eye and the way I behaved. They'd say my response was reasonable for the way he was acting, when I know it was not. I'm not saying I can't find a supportive parenting community, but I am saying that I'm not in an urban or liberal environment conducive to locating like-minded people.

In fact, part of what's so hard for me is that I hate living here but I had to move for the job. I feel my family is an island surrounded by dysfunctional, spanking, yelling, feeding McDonald's and soda to your 18mo, drive your gas guzzling SUV 2 blocks to the store, keep 7 different guns in the house - not locked up, 175" plasma screen tv violence watching people.

I don't fit in and no matter who I ask, I'm doing it wrong. I guess tomorrow is another day.

K: high school teacher and mama to DS1 (7/07), loss (10/10) and DS2 (7/12). Married to my best friend and soon to be elementary school teacher!
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#10 of 32 Old 07-14-2010, 05:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry to add another post so quickly, but to ask a follow up question on a very good suggestion...

The ignoring/walk away to avoid feeding the negative attention-seeking. So we tried that. Multiple times. Here's how fully potty-self-sufficient for 9 months DS responded: he pooped his pants on purpose.

Yes, on purpose. For real - he admitted it, multiple times. Because we CAN'T ignore that. So he get's his attention. He's repeated this behavior several times.

My only response is to make sure his cup is full everyday, I guess. Any other suggestions would help.

K: high school teacher and mama to DS1 (7/07), loss (10/10) and DS2 (7/12). Married to my best friend and soon to be elementary school teacher!
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#11 of 32 Old 07-14-2010, 06:21 PM
 
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I think you need a more realistic idea of what a three year old is capable of, even one who speaks like a five year old.
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#12 of 32 Old 07-14-2010, 07:30 PM
 
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Not trying to suggest that you WOULD or should starve your kiddo (bed without supper anyone?)

Just because he sounds like a little adult doesn't mean he has judgment, impulse control, an understanding of cause and effect. Try this DVD, you can get it from a lot of libraries or from Netflix.
http://parentingresources.suite101co...ddler_tantrums

The Playful Parenting book a PP recommended is excellent. Some kids don't do well with time outs for them or for you, they need a lot of connection. One of mine was this way. When kiddo starts to get wound up/act out, take a time in, together, on the couch, in a beanbag, etc. Read a book, sing a song, whatever is soothing. Don't be so worried about "teaching" lessons, he is too little. Set up your home and routines so that he eats often and doesn't get overtired and so that you don't need to say "no" all that often. Distraction and re-direction are still huge tools at just barely 3.

Take breaks regularly, whether you hire a sitter or trade off with DH or whatever. Talk less and act more, so you aren't feeding the "too smart" gremlin. He shouldn't be cleaning up all on his own at his age, do it together, he is learning. Be silly and you will get a lot more cooperation, the Karp book and DVD explain this really well. He also describes the "soggy potato chip" rule, ie that ALL kids, not just yours would rather get negative attention than none. Make sure that you are spending at least 10 min at least twice per day just playing on the floor following his lead. Fill his cup with positive attention and ignore as much of the rest as you can, otherwise that dynamic of his provoking and your being super reactive is going to get hard to change, can tell you that one from experience. He was JUST two, a baby, so much of this is just development. I had a super verbal kid and I really think that you maybe are being swayed to expect too much of him for that reason, it's hard not too, mine was also really tall. But that age is still so little. Your expectations are appropriate for a school aged child not a toddler.

One thing that helped me was keeping a journal. It helped me id common bad situations so that we could try to change those and thus change all of our behavior. It also helped me figure out what old stuff was being brought up by DC who is soooooo much like me and sooooooo good at pushing my buttons.

I'm sorry that you are living in an area where you don't feel like you have support or good role models, that must be tough. Glad you have found some supportive folks online.

Namaste.
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#13 of 32 Old 07-14-2010, 07:58 PM
 
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First of all, BIG HUGS

Quote:
Originally Posted by MovnMama View Post
Sorry to add another post so quickly, but to ask a follow up question on a very good suggestion...

The ignoring/walk away to avoid feeding the negative attention-seeking. So we tried that. Multiple times. Here's how fully potty-self-sufficient for 9 months DS responded: he pooped his pants on purpose.

Yes, on purpose. For real - he admitted it, multiple times. Because we CAN'T ignore that. So he get's his attention. He's repeated this behavior several times.
But you CAN ignore that. He pooped his pants. He knows how to go in the potty. I'm sure he also knows how to throw his clothes in the laundry & wipe himself? I'm not saying let him sit there filthy, but I'm saying you don't need to do much in the way of attention for an accident (or... a "purpose" since he did it on purpose? ) I think it's way easier to react to the negative things because of course the bad things drive us crazy!! But if you can train yourself to stay cool & calm & react as little as possible, that could help. Also react a lot to anything positive he does -- if he is very attention-seeking, then give him lots of attention!! Lots of positive attention! Spend more one-on-one time with him, let him know you're proud of him, have a party this weekend with you, DH, & DS to celebrate him being an amazing little boy -- just because. Not because it's his birthday or a holiday, but because he's special.

I think too that it's easy to get ahead of yourself when you have a smart kid. We always hear the same thing with my DS, "He's too smart for his own good." The thing you have to remember is, sure his verbal language is that of a 5-year-old, but maybe his social/emotional development is more like a typical 2 or 3-year-old... Some kids are ahead in every aspect (physical/social/emotional/verbal/etc.) but more often they are ahead in just a few areas, & may be on target or even behind in other areas. You can't act like you have a 5yo, you have a 3yo, and though I haven't spent a ton of time around other 3yo's, it doesn't sound like his behavior is that out of the ordinary.

I know it's super hard to feel like you're swimming in a sea of spanking, McDonald's-feeding, tv-obsessed families -- I feel like that too & I'm in New England! It's hard to swim against the tide & hard when you never feel like you're doing things right.

I guess all I can say is, focus on having fun. Alternate taking breaks with your DH -- maybe you each need more time away from DS to feel relaxed & equipped to deal with him. Raising a kid is hard, and you're doing your best. You're not a horrible person, not at all! Go start making plans for that party this weekend.

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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#14 of 32 Old 07-14-2010, 08:51 PM
 
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I have very similar child to yours at 5 and her is what I have learned:

1. As many pp said.. read as much as possible about adequate behaviors for the specific age so you will know more less what is normal and expected.

2. Don't be fooled by the world "normal" as children do develop differently.
I noticed that my rather amazingly smart child and super developed physically actually has some emotional delay and thereofore it took her lots of time to catch up where she should be emotionally comparing to her peers .. in other words at 3 she was as smart as your average 5 YO but
she would act and react emotionally as a baby.. and she had major
problem with compassion and other feelings.

It is very important that you know what your child is capable and not
emotionally as you might understand better and act accordingly.

My child at 3 would be fearles, trying and she would not understand concept of bed behavior and punishmnet untill some 5. It was just not clear to her.
She would think that if she did something wrong and now she are sorry then automatically all should be okay.. and yet.. she would really vegly be really sorry.

I was really relieved when I noticed that it is not like she is not having those buttons.. it was just that she was really developed in other areas and not in that area and she was catching really slowly in the emotional phase then I red somwhere that it does happen.

3. Pay attantion to how much attention you actually are giving to your child.
True of the matter is that if they act like they are craving for attantion bad or good then they may actually feel greater need for it then you are providing. At 3 they can do so much that one- especially with smart child
can get the illusion that they can do much more independent stuff then they actually are capable or want to.

If you have stay at home child then the child is naturally depraved of a peer company and so it is my duty to provide some companionship to a child
it does not have to be the same as when she was a baby but it can be in many forms.. teaching.. playing .. coplaying or just watching a chld to play at the FLOOR level next to a child who tends to play as in showing off..
and makig a show or just like to play next to someone... simple company goes a loooooong way, but not the "sitting on the sofa watching tv while child plays on the floor" type. there is a difference between undivided attantion and divided attantion and child needs some time of undivided attantion when he can act towards an adult in this time, converse, play together and have the whole person's attention.


3. Be proactive.. don't wait till your child will go bananas for your attention..
give your kindness and attention first and then negative behavior might not even show up

4. reevaluate resting, eating and sleeping time. check if he is not going too long streaches without food or rest.. the smart ones really avoid down time and delay food and then they go bananas.. sugar low syndromme.

5.ake time during the day to lie down in the dark room if not for nap then for a story time in dark light next to your child and keep him for half hour or so so he can relax, rest and recharge.. slow down.. darkness helps a lot.


6. when your child is running into trouble just go for tickles.. tickle tickle..
tickle and make fun.. they relally like it, they feel loved, cared for and
attention given. they are still just babies and so they got used to it and t hen it was gone.. especially when you are mad.. don't get mad.. tickle instead

7. turn some stressful situation into fun.. comment or pretend.. make faces..
voices..
when my kid is mischevious sometimes I sometimes say.. okay now you are me and I am you.. and you will tell me what is right or wrong here..
and I would jump on the soffa and say .. now I am going to do a flip here..
is it safe? and I pretend talking in her voice and laugh with her..
she pretends to be me and says.. oh no baby it is not safe
and I keep jumping and say why why why? I like it I like it!

role switching does miracles to their point of view... and put them in charge and give them perspective etc..

8. water. water play is so relaxing for them.. we keep oru old baby bathtub
and I pull it as a wild card into the dinningroom floor, fill with warm water
and let her put whatever she wants in it.. she will wash her dolls.. she will
put some small stones.. or some other toys.. or some spoons or whatever..
she is very imaginative.. they love water play. and bathtime sometimes is just not an option. and this is.

9. tickle on wake up.. that is wonderful start of the day, they immediately turn happy buttons and this carry for a looooooong time.. into the day.

10. book reading... when in doubt how to redirect.. ask which book you should read to him. usually work like a charm.



Try to ignore some behaviours, or you will turn into a stress ball.
It is like you don't see the mischief.. not all of it but some of it..
and then agian when you ask for something to stop or do something else
jsut say so and do yoru things without going balistic, somehow
with time it gets stronger then yelling.. learn the "look"
give the "mama's look" instead of yelling.. and turn your head no no...
or just the look is enoguh sometimes.

if they yell you don't or there will be all yelling. state your business
and change topic... very difficult at times but doable with learing.

remember and remind yourself that it is nothing personal they just
can't process and act different at this time and eventually they will..


repeat repeat and repeat and don't get uspet that you have to. it is normal.

imagine that this is not your child. imagine you can't touch him or hit him or
yell at him and you yet have to get somwhere with it.. imagine you are good nanny that just does not yell and yo will figure out what to do

imagine the child is actually mini you and it is you who is acting this way..
try to remember how it was and what did or not work for you..

I was also spanked and yelled at and bitten.. by mother and rather
gently directed by father. my mothers attitude always was raising in me
oposite and I always was ready to show her that I won't do it..
but I was sensitive to my fathers requests or gentle disciplining as
I did not want to dissapoint him as he would always say that
he count on me.. trust I will do this.. or he was dissapointed because..
It might not worked as I was little but then it surely did work.



As to birthday rush.. I agree with others.. cancelling was not a good move..
he really could help little..
even if you think it has nothing to do with birthday it does..
they get really over excited even before there is talk about plans and
party... they live it for months..

so you might have been busy and not noticed him acting out his frustration of having to wait so long and all.. or maybe you did not give him as much attention as he could use at this time..

but of course you know best.

I dont' pull toys away.. It is very strong statement and frankly lots of work
and child needs toys. it is their tools of the trade. they learn from them.
so it is like taking a hammer from a carpenter for getting drunk and starting a prawl.. he eventually get sober and he eventually needs toys.

watch sugar content...
watch addtives content..
avoid things with color and avoid fast food.. they make kids go bananas..
they make my girl bananas in no time.. just let her eat and watch her go weird... five minutes later.

do not use any air refreshners at home ZERO ,t hey are like a nerve gas
for little kids and they cause many behavioral problems.

use all you can fragrance free.. dishwashing liquid or powder..
sish soap.. shampoos.. washing powder..

those things all get into your home air and into lungs and blood system
and rig havoc in little ones nervous system as they are actually irritants..
all smells that are chemical are really bad.

lots of play in the playgorund.. sand box in the backyard..
and lots of physical moving and running around..

smart kids spend way too much time learning things .. and their little body
is going bananas without excersise.

okay that is a wrap good luck and don't worry, just be patient, consistent
and the bouncing will stop.. life stops all of us..
just think of a chid like a little cat, dog, horse..

you know how difficult is to train them.. untill they are trainable..
utill then t hey will bite shoes, pee floors and chew socks.. no matter
how much you will spank..

so when you get upset and frustrated also think of your little one
as a little cute young puppy or horsie freely running care free
no matter how upset mom will be if he gets in trouble..
they just can't till they can.

hugs
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#15 of 32 Old 07-14-2010, 10:01 PM
 
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And the one thing that helps us (sorry, I didn't read through all the replies) is consistency. I try not to "punish" with things that I cannot follow through with.

And, you have nothing to be ashamed of. I know so many people who just lose it with kids. I think, though, that people are afraid to talk about this with others. So when it happens to us, we think that we're horrible, terrible monsters and how come this happens to us when everyone else has perfect kids??

My 3 year old is very similar. I like the idea of walking...but that would mean taking the other 2 (8 and 2) every time. I have noticed, however, that it helps when my husband and I schedule alone time with him. Once a week, we do something with just him. Sometimes when he's really out of control, I just scoop him into my arms and sit with him in the rocking chair...he can scream and tantrum the whole time, but I just hold him and rock him and kiss him and tell him I love him. I've noticed that his tantrums end sooner and then he's fine...talking and we can work out whatever started the tantrum. Sometimes the tantrums/misbehavior/etc. is because they feel that they are not being heard/listened to/paid enough attention to.

I'm not suggesting that you are ignoring your child...but sometimes...you know when people hear you but aren't really hearing what you are saying? I think kids feel that way, as well. And they express it with fits and tantrums.

I don't think you are a horrible person. I sometimes find myself in your shoes and I feel bad...but we are all human and none of us are perfect. The best thing that can happen is that you learn from this and do what you need to do to not repeat it. Which is what you are doing and that is very admirable.

I hope you find peace within yourself and find the tools to help you through this time.

And, yeah...leaving the room when you feel like you are going to explode...I'm totally in agreement with that. Sometimes I lock my bedroom door and then go sit in my closet to calm down (because they'll always come and bang on the door and scream). It really does help to remove yourself from the situation.

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#16 of 32 Old 07-14-2010, 10:16 PM
 
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You have had very good advice so far.

I just want to echo 2 things:

1). Please consider the significance of so many people seeing the same thing in your post--you have inflated your idea of what your child is capable of--I know you are thinking "But I know him best, these people have never met him" but you just have to trust me when I say that every parent who writes about their child here (myself included) thinks that thought when people disagree with them. And we are all telling you, that you need another way to 'see' your child's behavior. You are ascribing motives and feelings to him that are calculating to the point of being pathological, while..and I say this very gently...you are the one acting really out of control. And, none of the things you said your child actually *did* sound extreme to me. High needs, yes. But not abnormal. In fact, most of his behavior sounds like a very attached toddler who feels things intensely, just like the parents who are raising him.

2). Take the example of him pooping when you walked away. First of all, yes you could have ignored that, but that isn't my point. My point is that when my son was 3 if I had walked away from him and ignored him he became totally hysterical. He was very attached and the threat of me leaving him in any form elicited an all out attempt on his part to resist. This is normal. Normal, normal, normal. Your child pooping to make you notice him is not any bigger a deal than a child who hits, bites, or falls down screaming to get attention. Toddlers do stuff like this, some of them rarely, some of them quite often. I have known toddlers who, if ignored by their mother, run over and smack their baby brother on purpose, or try to flush mom's jewelry down the toilet, or make a run towards a busy street--toddlers go straight for the act that matches their strong feelings. They don't think, they do. The act matches the feeling. Your son is feeling big feelings--so he tries to match that with a big action. That is all he is doing. He isn't doing something weird or unusual. And frankly, he could do a lot worse than pooping his pants!

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#17 of 32 Old 07-15-2010, 01:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all the heartfelt responses. Sorry it took so long to respond, but I've been playing with DS as much as possible today. We opened some birthday presents after dinner and I'm dashing away soon to "play cars" on our rug.

Quote:
Originally Posted by heartmama View Post

Please consider the significance of so many people seeing the same thing in your post--you have inflated your idea of what your child is capable of--I know you are thinking "But I know him best, these people have never met him" but you just have to trust me when I say that every parent who writes about their child here (myself included) thinks that thought when people disagree with them. And we are all telling you, that you need another way to 'see' your child's behavior. You are ascribing motives and feelings to him that are calculating to the point of being pathological, while..and I say this very gently...you are the one acting really out of control.
DH and I discussed this too, so it's actually not something I'm averse to hearing... I totally agree. I think, for me, part of the difficulty is being an only child, and I never baby sat or anything, and so really, it is difficult for me to remember where he is at developmentally, esp. when he's advanced in one developmental area and not others. I was never really around kids his age (and this applies to whatever age he is -- all kids were always peers to me), so he's the first child I've ever really known.

As an English teacher (high school level), my first instinct is always to go by the book. I actually have tons of books around that tell me "exactly" where he is developmentally, but not only are they frequently off (as in his language development...) and, to be honest, checking a book all the time would probably undermine my empowerment as a parent significantly. Not that I'm not already as low as I can go.

I have made some inroads with my son's school, trying to hang out there and see what the other kids are doing/capable of and the teacher/owner there has been really helpful. All the other parents in the area I see have discipline strategies much like the situation I enacted myself. So... not super helpful there.

I guess... this might sound contradictory to my OP, but, it was really, REALLY difficult to share what happened. I mean, if I didn't think I was "out of control" I wouldn't have asked for help. And, there are a lot of concrete suggestions in these posts that I will be discussing with DH and implementing: the walking, being more cognizant of his developmental level, filling his "attention" cup as much as possible (these are immediate changes that I have been doing all day). For all these solutions and more, I thank all the PP.

I guess through all this discussion I have also realized that the villain you see (even self-confessed and asking) is an easier target than the villain who does no confessing and makes no attempt at change.

And I am a villain. I don't know when I will stop seeing myself that way.

But my son still needs parents who love him, even if they love themselves a little less all the time. So I'm doing the best that I can. And yet... he will always deserve better.

K: high school teacher and mama to DS1 (7/07), loss (10/10) and DS2 (7/12). Married to my best friend and soon to be elementary school teacher!
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#18 of 32 Old 07-15-2010, 04:38 AM
 
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EdnaMarie, I'd like to take this as my personal motto. Just thinking about it helps me let go. Thank you.
I stole it from my mom, after 33 years of (apparently) thinking I could find a better, more proactive way. Take it and enjoy.

Quote:
I actually have tons of books around that tell me "exactly" where he is developmentally,
I have one book: Adventures in Gentle Discipline. I praise it again and again because unlike so many parenting books, it's NOT a self-help book. It does NOT follow the model: "You have a problem; if you do X you can solve that problem." In parenting books, that actually means "Your child is/has a problem; if you do X you can solve him/his problem."

I think that kind of thinking is dangerous, actually, and it's why I will never buy another parenting book.

(It took me three years to realize that Parenting is a sub-genre of Self-Help... I would never pick up a self-help book!)

AiGD focuses on what is possible. It's real. It's realistic. There are parents in it who have spanked, who get angry, who get frustrated, who are confused, who fall off and get back on the GD "wagon" so to speak. It's full of real messages, like those here, but zero snark (LOL!).

It basically focuses on how we're all going through this adventure of trying to be nice with these little people who sometimes are really hard to be nice to because they are just so immature and selfish.

I love it.

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#19 of 32 Old 07-15-2010, 09:12 AM
 
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Others have provided sound advice here.
Kudos to you for recognizing a problem and actively seeking a solution!!!

I just want to echo: it is not unusual to become overwhelmed. It happens to parents everywhere, every day.

I try to identify the things that trigger that feeling in me and recognize them in the moment, so that I can step back and take a deep breath and apply the skills I have learned. It usually works. Events can snowball out of control if we don't trip up the momentum.

My oldest dd was a very early and articulate speaker, smart, and tall for her age. It was difficult to keep in mind where she was developmentally at times. It absolutely helped to join a local play group so she could interact with her peers. Does your library have a weekly story hour? Making a plan like that, centered around your little one, might help to satisfy his attention needs... My toddlers LOVED library visits and choosing a book to bring home.

P.S. Reading your post has helped me sort out what might be going on with my 4yo dd's behavior...

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#20 of 32 Old 07-15-2010, 09:50 AM
 
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And I am a villain. I don't know when I will stop seeing myself that way.

But my son still needs parents who love him, even if they love themselves a little less all the time. So I'm doing the best that I can. And yet... he will always deserve better.
You are not a villain. Do you know how brave you are? Do you know how many moms react exactly as you did, & keep quiet about it? How many who are too embarrassed or too interested in 'keeping up appearances' to humble themselves enough to ask for help? How many of them will continue to spiral out of control?

You are asking for help. You are doing the best you can. It's not easy being a parent (and especially when there are other issues involved like high-needs & giftedness which sound like part of what's going on -- have you visited the gifted forum? Might help tune you in to some of the unique issues 'advanced' kids will face.) You are making changes -- right now -- and that is awesome.

I think there are 2 aspects of gentle discipline -- being gentle with your child & being gentle with yourself. You are human, you experience human emotions & reactions, we all do, and curbing those in is difficult! You need to be gentle with yourself just like you are trying to be with DS. It's a respect for ALL humanity, not just your child, but YOU too. Apologize to DS (sounds like you already have), and move on, give yourself a fresh start. Don't hold grudges against your DS or yourself. Live in the present, not the past.

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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#21 of 32 Old 07-15-2010, 12:06 PM
 
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And I am a villain. I don't know when I will stop seeing myself that way.

But my son still needs parents who love him, even if they love themselves a little less all the time. So I'm doing the best that I can. And yet... he will always deserve better.
I think it is important to remember that you just showed your son that you are human and you have your limits. The "perfect" parents are not the ones who never make any mistakes or never get mad at their children or lose their cool. The best parents are the ones who do all the above, but realize that they are needing to make a change and work to make that change. The realize when they are wrong and apologize for what they did wrong and work to make a different choice next time.

Being a loving parent means that you remind them that even when you are your most angry at something they chose to do, say, etc...you still love them and will always love them.

This situation is NOT going to be the defining moment in your son's life. How you chose to handle going forward will be.

You do the best that you can and realize that through it all...you did the best that you can. You always strive to be more...and as long as you keep striving and keep learning from your mistakes and watching for what you can improve...realize your strong points and work to make those strong points expand through more situations...that is what makes a great parent.
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#22 of 32 Old 07-15-2010, 12:17 PM
 
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MovnMama, I wanted to thank you for your original post...you are NOT a villian, you are a mama, and it's brave of you to reach out for help like this

many many mamas and dads lose it with their kids (myself included) -- I would call that normal behavior. Of course we don't want to, but goodness, we're all human! And these kids are magically adept at pushing our buttons (how do they get so smart??)

I am working through stuff like this also, and really appreciate the helpful advice that people have given...separating from the situation (without *me* throwing a fit) and taking a walk are two I will put into practice starting today!

take care of yourself, take care of your family...it will work out mama!!

--kristin
mom to Simon, age (almost) 4
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#23 of 32 Old 07-15-2010, 12:35 PM
 
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It is very easy, when a child is 'advanced' in some area, to expect that development to be across the board. However, asynchronous development is really the norm with kids who are cognitively/verbally ahead. My daughter, at age 3 was reading, speaking much like an adult, and *appeared* to be reasoning like a child much older than her years.

The reality is that, at 8 1/2, she has some emotional delay still and does not have the maturity/impulse control/ability to read people that most kids her age have. Yes, she is astonishingly bright, but she needs emotional support and guidance in a way a lot of kids her age have moved beyond. At three- she was still very much emergent in terms of emotional development, and she needed me to figure out how to parent her, not how to parent her age or cognitive level.

It's hard, and yep, you two TOTALLY blew it that day, but yo know that, and you wouldn't care if you weren't trying to change and be a stronger, more compassionate mama. We worry so much about the growth and development of our children, and we understand that they will make mistakes as they grow into the people they will be, but parents aren't born as parents- we grow and learn along with our children.

Next time you feel yourself losing it, pretend someone you respect is in the room with you watching how you parent- that may be enough to keep your reactions in check.

I hear you on living where you are not going to find support or like minded people- I am in rural Montana, and the environment is very much the same as you describe. That feeling on loneliness and isolation isn't good for anyone, and it isn't good for how you parent. It might be time to decide where you long to be, and where you can find support, and find a way to shift your lives somewhere else.

I grew up with a mother whose mantra was always, "Control is an illusion, you get control by giving it up." I thought she was nuts until I found myself turning into her as I moved into my 30s. I can't control anyone else, I can shape my responses, but I can't (and don't want to!) control another person's behaviors- not even my kids'.
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#24 of 32 Old 07-15-2010, 03:18 PM
 
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PLEASE do not underestimate the significance of you isolation as a contributing factor in your stress/ short fuse with ds - that and that he is three which is OH SO DIFFICULT - my dd too was advanced verbally and cognitively but NOT SOCIALLY - even with a back ground in parenting and child development it was extremely difficult - I moved from liberal Ann Arbor michigan to west virginia when she was 3.5 and it nearly did me in (not sure which was the bigger factor there)

You may not have anyone in person to relate and talk to but, as you probably have learned, there are many of us out here wanting to support you in anyway we can - and that should hopefully lessen somewhat your isolation -

seriously - isolation on the part of parents is considered a significant "risk factor" for child abuse - and you've seen how any one of us can be driven to the edge - I clearly think you have "seen the cliff but stepped far far away" - just being aware of that gives you the power to avoid it, so take heart - and lean on this community for as much support as you need
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#25 of 32 Old 07-15-2010, 03:44 PM
 
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I just wanted to suggest perhaps posting to the FYT section of the boards? see if there are other mommies who have similar views as you in the area. (And find out where they hang out!)

Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdadsuperhero.gif and mom to DS babyf.gif24 months, and DD boc.gif 8 months! .

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#26 of 32 Old 07-15-2010, 04:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, everyone, for the helpful responses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

You are asking for help. You are doing the best you can. It's not easy being a parent (and especially when there are other issues involved like high-needs & giftedness which sound like part of what's going on -- have you visited the gifted forum? Might help tune you in to some of the unique issues 'advanced' kids will face.) You are making changes -- right now -- and that is awesome.

I think there are 2 aspects of gentle discipline -- being gentle with your child & being gentle with yourself. You are human, you experience human emotions & reactions, we all do, and curbing those in is difficult! You need to be gentle with yourself just like you are trying to be with DS. It's a respect for ALL humanity, not just your child, but YOU too. Apologize to DS (sounds like you already have), and move on, give yourself a fresh start. Don't hold grudges against your DS or yourself. Live in the present, not the past.
Both of these are good advice. I try to steer clear of confirming my general sense of his "giftedness" because, in the high school years, I can see the effects of that tag, and I'm not sure I want to go there just yet. Maybe I can just lurk () in that forum and see what kind of advice there is.

On your second point, crunchy_mommy: this is really helpful. When I've had counseling in the past for panic/anxiety, this has always come up. I'm a very all-or-nothing person, and one bad act can ruin my opinion of myself (generally I'm easier on other people, but - this came out in counseling - not my mom, who was very strict but loves me, her only, fiercely.). I have real difficulty wrapping my mind around the idea that good people can do something bad and still be a good person. So there's a lot going on there too, and there's a lot I need to learn about being gentle with myself. Good advice, and thanks.

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Originally Posted by Angela512 View Post
This situation is NOT going to be the defining moment in your son's life. How you chose to handle going forward will be.
It just helps to hear somebody say this. Thank you. I, of course, have been in a panic that this will permanently scar him and he will be a dysfunctional person for the rest of his life and it will all by my fault. But I've been consciously trying to change my mind-frame. DS is a lot more fragile since the ... incident... he's had a couple accidents (not manipulative ones, but real ones when he's asleep) and has been waking in the night. I'm a little proud of myself because, rather than spiral downwards (as is my habit) into a tailspin of self-hate for causing it all, I'm trying to look at these moments like he's giving me chances to be a good mama again.

For example, last night he woke up wanting a drink, which DH ran right away to grab it and we cuddled while he had some milk. Then, a few hours later, he woke up wanting a kiss, of which he got many! Another hour later, woke up again, wanting a hug. We decided (DS and I) that we should just sleep together holding hands - his suggestion - in mom and dad's bed, so he could cuddle with both of us. So instead of thinking that I've messed him up and he's never going to be able to sleep on his own, I've decided that this is our chance to make it up to him. Does this sound like a healthier response? I hope so, because I'm working really consciously on it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coop_mom View Post
many many mamas and dads lose it with their kids (myself included) -- I would call that normal behavior. Of course we don't want to, but goodness, we're all human! And these kids are magically adept at pushing our buttons (how do they get so smart??)

I am working through stuff like this also, and really appreciate the helpful advice that people have given...
coop_mama, thank you. Part of me is just glad to hear that other people go through the same stuff and I'm not alone. I was really afraid, coming onto MDC, that there were a lot of "perfect parents" and, not being one, that I would show myself to be a bad egg. It's nice to know there are parents out there that feel the way I do sometimes.

So, I think it's getting better. The other development that may explain my recent emotional extremes would be that... today I am officially late. We are in the "no stressing/no obsessing" camp, and so ... I guess I may be pregnant with number 2? It's kind of unexpected, and I won't test until next week to be sure, and I don't know how I feel about that (as in, I was just recently a terrible parent and how can I possibly consider bringing another innocent child into the world with such a shameful mother...) but I'm trying, really hard, to stop that kind of negative thinking. Especially for my child ... or ... children?

Thanks for all the helpful and supportive responses.

K: high school teacher and mama to DS1 (7/07), loss (10/10) and DS2 (7/12). Married to my best friend and soon to be elementary school teacher!
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#27 of 32 Old 07-15-2010, 05:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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PLEASE do not underestimate the significance of you isolation as a contributing factor in your stress/ short fuse with ds - that and that he is three which is OH SO DIFFICULT - my dd too was advanced verbally and cognitively but NOT SOCIALLY - even with a back ground in parenting and child development it was extremely difficult - I moved from liberal Ann Arbor michigan to west virginia when she was 3.5 and it nearly did me in (not sure which was the bigger factor there)

You may not have anyone in person to relate and talk to but, as you probably have learned, there are many of us out here wanting to support you in anyway we can - and that should hopefully lessen somewhat your isolation -

seriously - isolation on the part of parents is considered a significant "risk factor" for child abuse - and you've seen how any one of us can be driven to the edge - I clearly think you have "seen the cliff but stepped far far away" - just being aware of that gives you the power to avoid it, so take heart - and lean on this community for as much support as you need
You are so right... and to the other PP, yes, we plan to move next summer, to a location more sympatico for us... So the other development is that I did (with a lot of embarrassment) share my story with my son's preschool teacher. She owns the school and it turned out that she and I are pretty aligned on the parenting spectrum. We've had friendly chats but now she's invited me to hang out today, and the kids can spend some time together too (she has three). The lucky part to is that her youngest in 3.5 (and a "firecracker" as she states!) so DS has had a playmate his age. So I feel kind of lucky that happened as well.

K: high school teacher and mama to DS1 (7/07), loss (10/10) and DS2 (7/12). Married to my best friend and soon to be elementary school teacher!
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#28 of 32 Old 07-15-2010, 05:03 PM
 
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Wow mama, it sounds like you have a lot of good things going on. I'm glad you have insight into your thinking, it does seem kind of black and white. Some of your word choices like "villian" and "sociopath" and "lacking empathy", kwim? A toddler, which is what a 2/3 yr old still is, has the job of exploring the world and exploring his body. He needs HIS emotional needs met, her really isn't capable of being responsible for making his parents feel "not loved". I do think that finding some social support and perhaps going back to counselling (if it is someone familiar with young children) might be helpful. Your experience may be different but we have found 3, and as someone said, 3.5, to be SUCH a tough age. You sound so down on yourself, is it possible that you could be depressed? Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) can be so helpful for changing that kind of thinking. Do you have things in your life besides work and DS that give you a sense of control and a feeling of happiness?
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#29 of 32 Old 07-15-2010, 05:07 PM
 
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delted double post
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#30 of 32 Old 07-15-2010, 05:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by kittysmama View Post
Wow mama, it sounds like you have a lot of good things going on. I'm glad you have insight into your thinking, it does seem kind of black and white. Some of your word choices like "villian" and "sociopath" and "lacking empathy", kwim? A toddler, which is what a 2/3 yr old still is, has the job of exploring the world and exploring his body. He needs HIS emotional needs met, her really isn't capable of being responsible for making his parents feel "not loved". I do think that finding some social support and perhaps going back to counselling (if it is someone familiar with young children) might be helpful. Your experience may be different but we have found 3, and as someone said, 3.5, to be SUCH a tough age. You sound so down on yourself, is it possible that you could be depressed? Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) can be so helpful for changing that kind of thinking. Do you have things in your life besides work and DS that give you a sense of control and a feeling of happiness?
Yes, I'm aware that I had unreasonable expectations for my son and that he "really isn't capable of being responsible for making his parents feel 'not loved'." I feel like I described pretty specifically in the OP that I was saying horrible, inappropriate things and having difficultly forgiving myself or moving forward to become a better parent. I feel like I've been pretty specific about how I did NOT do a good job of meeting my son's emotional needs that day.

However, I think in my last posts I shared a great deal of how I AM trying to meet his needs on his terms more. I think I also shared how I'm experiencing success, however fleeting, in my endeavors to do this. I also feel like, in my last posts, I examined the different factors that could contribute to my extreme emotionality recently.

I think I periodically sound down on myself because, regardless of how much progress I make and/or share here, the next thing I read reminds me very specifically about everything I did wrong without mentioning any of my minor victories.

K: high school teacher and mama to DS1 (7/07), loss (10/10) and DS2 (7/12). Married to my best friend and soon to be elementary school teacher!
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