I Feel Like A Bad Parent - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 2 Old 09-10-2008, 03:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Where do I start? My son just turned 4 last week. We also have a 5 mo old DD.
My son his very SPIRITED. For the last 6 months hes been having these tantrums where he cant calm himself down. They are usually triggered by his frustration: if hes playing and something he builds falls down he starts crying. We try to get him to calm down and try again and sometimes it works, but most of the time he just keeps crying..to the point we get so frustrated we have to take the item away, then that kicks it up a notch and he is screaming crying..He also does this weird thing when hes upset where he gets all stiff and he walks on the outside of his feet, to the point where his ankles are hurting after he calms down.

We have decided to have him evaluated just to see if we can help him regulate his emotions. When things are going his way hes an angel. Hes smart as a whip, hes sweet, loving, and never exhibits any violence towards us or his sister. He just cannot handle disappointment.

I feel like a bad parent because it happens so often that sometimes I am literally spent emotionally and I cant be objective. When I should be trying to calm him down, I just send him to his room or I end up yelling at him. He doesnt always listen to me and I am constantly repeating myself (dont do this, dont do that). So the entire day feels like one big upsetting mess most of the time. All the while trying to care for the baby! My husband goes to work at 1pm and then I am here by myself all day..

Amazingly the number of tantrums have been cut in half since he turned 4, but its still enough to drive me mad. Today I was just sitting on the couch feeling defeated and my son walked up and said MOMMY WHATS WRONG? I felt so bad, and sad. Because if he can see it then he must feel it. And maybe I am making him worse because of my attitude/sadness/frustration.

I feel horrible and like a failure. I love him to death and everyday I vow its going to be a good day--but then it goes down hill.. :-(

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#2 of 2 Old 09-10-2008, 10:12 AM
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I think you sound like a wonderful mother! I think you've recognized a very important thing, which is that he needs help learning to regulate his emotions better. You've decided to have him evaluated, which can be very helpful and is not an easy decision to make. He's doing the best he can, and so are you.

It's okay to be sad and frustrated. And yes, sometimes if they sense a lot of that it can make things worse. One thing that helped me was to set aside private time to be sad, to grieve (because this life has turned out to be so different from how I imagined parenting would be, and it's okay to grieve the loss of that dream/expectation), to be frustrated. It helps to talk with supportive listeners. It helps to make sure I get some time to myself, and take care of myself. Parenting a challenging child requires a lot of energy and endurance, and I have to take care of myself in order to be able to care for my child. I know that if I don't take care of myself, and I get to the point where I am just completely drained emotionally, I cannot parent my child the way she needs to be parented. I'm going to reach that point sometimes, because I'm human and because sometimes circumstances prevent me from recharging as much as I need, so I don't beat myself up about it but pick myself back up and go on doing the best I can.

While you are waiting for an evaluation, I recommend that you read The Explosive Child: A New Approach to Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross Greene (the newest edition, 2005 IIRC, is the best one to read). www.thinkkids.org

You aren't a failure. You are a loving, human mother doing the best she can under some difficult circumstances.
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