I feel like a horrible mama - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 12-30-2011, 06:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So my 3 year old DD has been doing pretty well behavior wise for a while now, after a really rough period from about 2 1/2 to 3 (horrible tantrums, biting, hitting, etc.) The last 2 weeks have been really bad, though. Not sure what's going on.

I do not believe in spanking or yelling at kids, but I lost it tonight. I screamed, and I mean screamed at her. The whole day she's been whining and hitting and she wouldn't eat all day because she didn't like what we had. So come bathtime, she threw a fit and that's when I lost it. She was sobbing, shaking, and saying "mama, be quiet!" and I kept yelling at her. I then put her in her room so I could cool down but now I feel just awful. It's no excuse, but I am 38 weeks preg. with DD#2 and I am just exhausted and emotional already and this is so hard to deal with. I feel like a horrible person, and I wonder if I did some permanent damage to her. I so badly want to fix it. I apologized to her but I still feel like she's scared of me. Why, oh why couldn't I just have taken a breath and given myself a time-out? I guess I am just looking for suggestions, and ways to deal with this guilt that is eating me up. I understand if some of you say I am a bad mama. :(

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#2 of 21 Old 12-30-2011, 07:12 PM
 
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nak

 

You are NOT a bad mama. You are human, and you are doing a wonderful job. Also, you are teaching her how to adjust behavior and accept responsibility.

 

I teach the concept of Rupture and Repair to the parents I work with, here's a quick bit from an article that discusses it...

 

 

 

For us imperfect parents, there is good news, something that parenting and brain development expert Daniel Siegel, MD calls "rupture and repair." According to Siegel, ruptures are a break in the nurturing connection with a child and are inevitable. Some ruptures are more toxic than others (i.e. usually when a parent is in a state of emotional overreaction). If ruptures are not properly dealt with, this can lead to deepening problems in the parent-child relationship, and ultimately with the child’s developing sense of self. While its obviously best to try to minimize toxic ruptures, ruptures can be repaired, and not all is lost.

Repair, first and foremost, involves parental insight and awareness that then leads to a type of healing reconnection. For instance, for me it means noticing when I’m being emotionally reactive, stopping in my tracks and analyzing the situation.

Next, I tune in to the experiences and feelings of my daughter. From here it’s essential to find a way to communicate with the child so that he/she feels understood and regarded by you, the parent. This allows an opening for the noxious effects of the incident—shame, humiliation and any number of seething emotions—to dissipate.

We can’t go through life being perfect parents. But we owe it to our kids and ourselves to be aware of our imperfections, limitations, and the effect on our kids, even if it involves choking down more humble pie than you can ever imagine.

 

 

 

 

You are fabulous, keep up the good work!

 

And keep this post, I'm going to need to hear all of this myself in about 2 1/2 years...whistling.gif

 

 


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#3 of 21 Old 12-30-2011, 07:30 PM
 
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Well, I have a 3 yr old and a 3 month old, and let me say that I have had lots of opportunities to model good apologies to my older DC in the last few months.  You're not going to be at your best - accept that and start working on management techniques.  Somewhere I read to keep a list of 3 things to make you feel good/calm down in you pocket, with at least one being something you can do just in your head.  It does take a lot of work to manage the stresses of parenting a 3 yr old and a baby.  Also remember that you don't have to be a perfect parent, just be honest with your child about your mistakes and show them how to work on being a better person  :)

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#4 of 21 Old 12-30-2011, 08:16 PM
 
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Oh please! DO NOT beat yourself up. We've all been pushed to that limit by the time our kids hit 4 (atleast I'd hope lol). I promise you that from this experience, next time you will KNOW when it's time to step back and give yourself a moment. 

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#5 of 21 Old 12-30-2011, 09:41 PM
 
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Three-year-olds are the scourge of the Earth.  Love love love mine to bits, but holy Moses, can she drive me over the edge in seconds.  The fact that this is the first time ever that you have flipped out on your daughter amazes me.  It has taken every resource I possess to be able to figure out how to maintain my cool and disengage, and even then, I am still not as awesome as I aspire to be.  Many of my friends also have three-year-olds and all I can tell you is that three is a rough year.  It's not you, it's her, REALLY.  

 

You will get through this year.  It will get worse & you will get better.

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#6 of 21 Old 01-05-2012, 02:17 PM
 
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I feel like this so often. It is a daily battle for me to not lose my $&@)! I have an active 12 month boy and a 3.5 yr old boy. He goes through weekly cycles (3.5 yr old) ...some are so bad that I often feel like I am totally unfit for parenting. I try to remain emotionally detached in my reactions....sometimes it is so hard. If I do blow up, I go right back in and apologize and hold him. While I aim for remaining calm at all times, I can't seem to pull it off. I try not to beat myself up too much. I do think the 'repair' is important and see how it helps us both immediately. Hang in there! You sound like a wonderful mama!

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#7 of 21 Old 03-21-2013, 11:50 AM
 
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I can relate. Totally.

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#8 of 21 Old 03-22-2013, 11:12 AM
 
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I have screamed at my kids like this sometimes everyday.

I am not proud of it.

But I do have to ask for forgiveness.

I say " I am sorry i yelled at you like that, mommy gets very upset when _________________. But it not right for me to take out my 

anger on you. WIll you forgive me?"

Then i try to just get her and I to move on.

saying

" well we at a hard morning, but im glad that we can have a good afternoon , see? we can have some upsets in the day, but overall we had a really good day"

I dont want the upset to ruin her day.

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#9 of 21 Old 03-22-2013, 01:34 PM
 
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I wonder if it can be good for children to see that their parents have their limits, too? I wouldn't want to scare my child, but if she sees that Mom and Dad can get upset with certain behavior--not in an amusing way--then maybe she will understand the gravity of the situation? Just wondering out loud here. I don't think its ideal to loose your temper.

 

I did last week, and like you, I felt really, really terrible. I cried about it to my husband later at night when I was telling him about our day. He told me to just call him over the phone and scream at him if I ever felt like I needed to do that again. Which I hope I wouldn't. But afterwards, I felt soo much release. That same night, she couldn't sleep due to crazy congestion, and we took turns holding her upright all night. And the release I felt really let me do that job with something akin to joy and grace. Maybe it was an attempt at salvation, hoping I would be 'forgiven'. But whatever it was, it has helped me in the following days to keep my cool b/c I know what I am capable of, and I know how it feels to scream now, so I know it doesn't solve my problems.

 

BTW, she never indicated a grudge to me after that incident. I was really nervous that she would love me less or be afraid of me, but I think children forgive and forget easily. So make your intention clear in front of God/ the Universe/ your heart/ whatever you believe, and then go from there to send love and firm parenting for guidance to your child. Maybe your experience will empower you to speak very slowly, calmly, and patiently to her, telling her firmly what she may and may not do, what is good behavior and what is not. I am not at that stage yet, but I wish you the best!
 

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#10 of 21 Old 03-22-2013, 04:12 PM
 
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It's the age! The two and a half and three and a half are wretched little monster months. Three and four are delightful. It's normal for her to really try you. It's also not rare for a mommy to lose her cool when repeatedly confronted with that kind of behavior. She will get over it long before you do. I'm dealing with an almost-four right now, and I'm so ready to kiss three and a half goodbye! It's been tough. I've cried. He's cried. DH has been baffled, and been on the receiving end of a vicious toddler attack more than once. It gets REAL in here. I try to maintain a poker face and let it pass. I focus on keeping my eyebrows totally still, and think of how good it's going to be in a few months. If this phase doesn't make me start drinking, nothing will. 

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#11 of 21 Old 03-24-2013, 03:42 PM
 
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My children are 18 months apart and I remember how difficult it was in my last trimester with my DD.  I found great advice on handling my DD in the No Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.  She addresses how to handle anger and also how to work with your children to avoid tantrums, meltdowns, etc.  She has some really great techniques that I use all the time!  I still read that book from time to time as my children change and grow so that I can apply what will work with them now.  Also, Temperament Tools is a great book.  It helps you identify your child's temperament so you can work with their personality. 

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#12 of 21 Old 03-24-2013, 03:55 PM
 
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When my kids go through these hard, hard times (and, yes, I'm screamed, literally screamed, at my kids) I try to remember the equilibrium-disequilibrium cycle.  Children go through times of equilibrium, or being balanced, to disequilibrium, or being unbalanced.  It really helps me to understand that the horrible times don't last.  Disequilibrium happens most often during times of intense personal and physical growth.  It doesn't last forever, but it feels that way.


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#13 of 21 Old 03-24-2013, 03:59 PM
 
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Outside of your reaction--BTDT, unfortunately-- how do you feel about your daughter's behavior?  After hearing that, indeed, it is age appropriate, especially with an impending birth (they *know* something is going on, and it is stressful no matter how well you have explained it), do you agree?  

 

I ask because I went through a dramatic shift in temperament with my oldest when she was 3.5yo.  Everyone said it was age appropriate, and while I agreed in general, I kept feeling like it simply wasn't right.  Turns out she had developed a severe wheat allergy, and these towering rages were her most obvious symptom.

 

Now, I am not suggesting it as a probability, I just want to let you know that, while it is perfectly age appropriate for her to be acting out this way, your gut will let you know if you suspect something else is going on.  Listen to it, if it is nagging you.  I did, and I am thankful.


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#14 of 21 Old 03-25-2013, 11:52 AM
 
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oh, don't beat yourself up.  It's the little twits job to push you to the limits so she can find out where they are.  So now she knows.

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#15 of 21 Old 03-25-2013, 02:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogretro View Post

Three-year-olds are the scourge of the Earth.  

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I couldn't agree more!  

 

OP, I'm noticing a lot of posts from parents who are on edge...and I can't help but wonder if it's perhaps the end of winter - kids trapped inside, not a whole lot of sun and exercise. Layers of clothes each time we leave the house. Could that be part of it? 

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#16 of 21 Old 03-25-2013, 06:35 PM
 
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This happens to me too, and I usually feel
Awful too. Apologizing in the moment or trying to make it better then and there does not seem to help my three yr old son either. I usually (after calming down and taking an objective look at what happened- am I tired? Hungry? Sick? Am I being overly controlling/stubborn about something I don't need to be? Etc) - I take care of any unmet need I may have (grab an apple from the fridge, for example). I do what I can to support my son on his terms- if he needs to have an emotional reaction, I takes his cues and support him through that (which usually means me sitting quietly somewhere nearby - he often cries for me to go away or be quiet)-- or if he chooses to completely move away from the incident I follow his lead too- like he'll act all overly silly and playful and I go along. I know he is hiding from his hurt.

I remind myself I am human, I can get overwhelmed, and I can learn. I have spent a lot of time soul searching what triggers me to yell, and worked on different approaches to these situations (for us it's often a clash of priorities- I often have to reevaluate my priorities as I tend to get mindless about them). I still have bad days! (I've had a cold for the past week so I've been tired and drained and had more rough moments).

After a bad moment like that, I focus on my love for my child- not my guilt. Guilt helps me acknowledge that I've done something I wish I hadn't. But after that it's a waste of time and injurious to me. I take extra steps to show my love-- make that extra time to sit and play, fix a favorite snack and share it, cuddle, be together, carry him when he wants. I guess it's like the repair thing someone mentioned before. I know I can't change what I did, or erase the hurt, but I can pile on the love. After sufficient time has past (usually 30 ish mins for my 3 yr old) and we're in a calm, happy place, when he's receptive to some cuddling and hugs, i cuddle him close and say to him, "I'm sorry I yelled at you. I love you and I don't want to yell at people I love." and I leave it at that unless he initiates further talk on the matter. Occasionally he will say something like, you yelled at me mommy. And I'll repeat that I'm sorry and I don't want to yell at him. Mostly he doesn't respond directly, his conversational skills and emotional language are still pretty limited, but I always want to acknowledge when I've behaved unacceptably.
That has proven to be the most serene effective way for dealing with it in my family. It's not always how I do it- occasionally I get caught up in my own guilt and tryig to apologize right away and that tends to make things worse.
Forgive yourself, acknowledge your unacceptable behavior toward your daughter, and move on. Always shower the love at every opportunity--so there's a nice buffer zone between the moments where we lose it. They're only ours for such a short time!
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#17 of 21 Old 03-25-2013, 07:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lisaj1008 View Post

After a bad moment like that, I focus on my love for my child- not my guilt. Guilt helps me acknowledge that I've done something I wish I hadn't. But after that it's a waste of time and injurious to me. 

I love this!


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#18 of 21 Old 04-01-2013, 08:56 PM
 
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Moody Cow Meditates by Kerry Lee MacLean is a great book to help our kids and ourselves understand better ways to deal with anger. I'm NO perfect parent and lose it and yell sometimes too. and I'm not proud of those moments....... and feel even worse when I see DS following in my footsteps. (Throwing things because he's seen me do it when I'm losing it). 

 

hugs to you mama!  Thanks for your courage and bravery in speaking up about this!!!


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#19 of 21 Old 04-02-2013, 12:11 AM
 
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It happens and it happens pretty much to everyone.  Kids will get over it and you will too. Yes, ideally we will all be in perfect behavior at all times but that is not a reasonable expectation.  Do you expect perfection from others?  I bet you don't.  Don't expect it from yourself.  Parenting is hard.

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#20 of 21 Old 04-02-2013, 11:30 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabijo View Post

I wonder if it can be good for children to see that their parents have their limits, too? I wouldn't want to scare my child, but if she sees that Mom and Dad can get upset with certain behavior--not in an amusing way--then maybe she will understand the gravity of the situation? Just wondering out loud here. I don't think its ideal to loose your temper.

 

 

i think that the occasional freak out is totally normal.  I can't be superhuman and stifle my emotions all the time.  Sometimes my kids just flat out piss me off and I lose it. It's not ideal, but there comes a point in life where not everyone is going to be kind when people are out of line.  It's ok for kids to learn that.  It's also pretty damn effective.  I don't want to scare my kids, but I have and felt bad about it.  I apologize, they apologize and we all move on..

 

Especially my 7 year old.  We spend a lot of time apologizing to each other.  Parenting her does not come naturally to me like it does for my ds :(.

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#21 of 21 Old 04-09-2013, 10:02 AM
 
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I don't have a 3yo yet, but I've seen it, and yeah, I think it's good to listen to everyone who says it's ok to have your limits and show them, and let your child know when you are angry - not necessarily with yelling, but tell them how you feel. This applies to almost any age (after say 18m), right? Today my 18mo hit me with a toy and I say firmly that hurts. Still not smiling, I don't like that, it hurt me. Unhappy face and I see she understands. There is a whole chapter on expressing anger in Liberated Parents, Liberated Children, and I've come to agree that there is nothing wrong with letting them know you are losing your patience, of course along with taking a break before it gets really bad or you reach your real limit. It's true we always try to keep our cool and sure that's best if you're feeling in control in a positive way, but sometimes holding it in just lets it build up until it's really bad when it can't be suppressed anymore. I tink a 3 yo is mature enough to start understanding other people's feelings and how interactions and other people's behavoir affect feelings. Anyway, just yeah, everyone is right on here, if you're feeling like this, hang in there and give yourself a break -I see the OP's kids are not in this phase now that I look at the dates though...

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