When your difficult child wears you out - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 06-11-2013, 07:07 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm not the mom i wanted to be. I hate parenting.

DS is 5.5. He is relentless in his requests: movies, activities, treats, play dates. He asks for something more all day. He will not entertain himself. He has a trapeze, a bike, an acre and a half at his disposal, a dog, mountains of books, an activity table in the living room with legos, kinnex, building blocks, figurines, a craft cupboard with everything from play doh to coloring books. All he wants to do is follow me around and ask for things, or ask me to do things for him.

What's worse, when i say no, or even when i say "how about you do x for y minutes and then you can/i will" he will whine and complain and even get all dramatic about hownI just won't do anything with/for him, or cry that he can't, or just some general frustrating nonsense.

He will not listen when i ask him to do something for me. Getting dressed takes him so long. Eating takes forever. Keeping his hands to himself (see other post about this issue) lasts 30 seconds. A little job request is met with so much whining and eye rolling and attitude that i give up.

But then when i get frustrated (which is pretty quickly these days) he's so sensitive to correction. he blows up, storms off, wails and cries when we lose patience or when a consequence happens. Makes super snotty, overly dramatic statements about how he'll have to run away, or how he never gets to do what he wants.

I'm at my wits end. I want to run away and hide from him. He seems so unhappy at his core that i want to give up. I try all day to be as engaged as i can while still giving attention to the other things that need it (ds2 is 5.5 months). I constantly redirect, point out interesting things, answer his questions, listen to his stories, explain what were doing and why, and even so he seems unsatisfied. And on top of all this, he won't follow the rules (no hitting, bedtime routine, etc).

I yell way more than i ever thought i would. Today both boys and i were in the bath (i didn't know what else to do that would entertain the fussy baby and the energetic 5yowhen i was so physically and mentally exhausted). Ds1 asked of he.could splash us, i say please no. A mine later he did. I remind him that i didn't want him to splash and asked him not to do it again. He did it again in a few minutes. Again, calm mama said please stop. A few minutes later he splashed again. Now I'm getting out of the tub yelling, begging to know why he won't just listen to me. He's crying because I'm yelling, the baby is crying, I'm shaking I'm so mad. I'm mad that he won't listen, I'm mad that i lost my temper over a little water, I'm mad that o just cannot seen to get the hang of this parenthood gig. And then we were all crying on the bathroom floor, naked, and I'm sure that he's now even more messed up than before.

This sucks!

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#2 of 17 Old 06-11-2013, 07:21 PM
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What can you do to get a break? A friend, a mdo program, preschool, summer camp, your partner who can take over for a few hours? I've been where you are and if I could go back I would have taken that time for myself much sooner.

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#3 of 17 Old 06-11-2013, 07:35 PM
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Oh goodness. I don't have any advice, I'm afraid, but I totally know that feeling. I hope you get some good tips here, and I'm sorry you're feeling this way. It does not make you a bad parent.
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#4 of 17 Old 06-11-2013, 07:38 PM
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I feel you, mama! I think he might be pretty mad about the new baby, and is showing you in all these ways how much he misses you. This was a real heartbreaker for me for a while after DD was born. As she is getting older( nearly 2), there is much more we can all do together so DS won't feel as disconnected. It sounds like you're doing so much to stay close and available, and it is just REALLY hard to make special time for for the older child, and that behavior can make it hard to WANT to. Hang in there and keep him close. This is all very new for you all, and these adjustments can take awhile to work out. Just remember that it's OK for him to feel how he does, and for you to feel as you do. Try to get some time alone, and see if any opportunities arise for you and DS to do a puzzle or draw pictures- quiet things that you could do while baby sleeps or nurses. Snuggle as much as you can stand ( I bet you're a bit touched out), and be as patient and understanding as you can. See if there's a time you can get DS to cry on your lap to let out some of that grief and jealousy he is likely feeling. You can even cry together and smile together remembering all those special years you had just the two of you, then talk about all the fun it will be as the baby gets bigger and more able to play with him. Our kids adore each other now, but it was a rocky road getting DS to accept his little sis in the beginning. It's absolutely impossible for him to really grasp the positive big picture, but talking about fun in the future, and how big he is to be able to help until then, will help him get into it more.

I am so sorry you are in this place mentally and emotionally. It is raw and full of grief and joy and so many things, but it will get better with each passing month. Hugs to you, mama!
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#5 of 17 Old 06-12-2013, 09:18 AM
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For the bathtub example: Once a child that age splashed me, I would have given the child the choice between continuing the bath alone or getting out of the bath. If the child could have resisted splashing initially, the child wouldn't have splashed you after you said, "No." It doesn't benefit the child to change the circumstances in which the child feels tempted to splash until after you've grown angry.

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#6 of 17 Old 06-12-2013, 10:30 AM
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I don't think it's necessarily awful that you yelled and cried at being frustrated. More than anything a child needs to know that their parents are human and not perfect. Everyone has a threshold and yours was reached. Forgive yourself. You are dealing with a very spirited child!

I just found the most wonderful blog that is helping me so much with my very demanding three year old. Maybe it can help you!

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#7 of 17 Old 06-12-2013, 11:24 AM
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I have found that during big life changes my DD does best with a clear routine, consistent expectations, and quick follow through on.top of one on one time doing what she wants to do. A big change brings so much uncertainty that she needs that comfort. I am usually tired at first and suck at follow through but when I remember what works and go back to it things get better quickly.
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#8 of 17 Old 06-13-2013, 12:13 AM
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In our family, we had a positive change when I gave myself permission NOT to play with the kids. Even now, I rarely play with my kids. I always talk with them, cook with them, read, eat, take them to the park, on bike rides or swimming, but I'm not their playmate. But I had to admit to myself that playing with my kids didn't come naturally; I mean, we are among the first generations who feel responsible for entertaining them. Our mothers' responsibility wasn't to keep us from being bored. Not to mention our grandmothers'. So why are we taking this upon us?


I think your ds needs less activities, not more. Except for playdates, I think that kids need each other's company. If you can find kids the same age on your street, so you don't have to drive for playdates, just talk to the parents and invite them over. I'm sure other parents are pretty much in the same situation as you, and this will create less work for you; in my experience, when we have other kids over, my kids are not interested in playing with me.




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#9 of 17 Old 06-13-2013, 04:42 AM
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I can totally relate. I have a challenging 5.5 yo DD and an 8 mo baby boy. The image of the three of you naked, crying on the bathroom floor had me close to tears myself. That could be me.
Our YMCA saves me. I don't know if that's an option for you, but ours has childcare for up to two hours at a time (not that DS would ever let me be away that long.) Sometimes I go just to take a long, hot shower by myself.
I had envisioned this year home with the baby and DD before she goes off to kindergarten very differently. Sometimes just getting everyone fed, dressed, and groomed (and my standards are definitely not high in this dept for any of us) feels like a Herculean task.
Getting out of the house works for us. If DD can play at the playground, go to the library, or even sometimes just play in the front yard, looking for flowers and watching ants work, while Baby and I play on a blanket, she seems much more satisfied than hanging around the house.
Hang in there. You're a good Mom and your little guys love you.
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#10 of 17 Old 06-13-2013, 06:12 AM
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the first thing that struck me when I read your post is that you need a break. it isn't - can you take a break. its you NEED a break.


you are parenting denying your own needs. it comes at a cost. not a good idea. my mom kept telling me to take care of myself and I would laugh at her. ignore her words. call her crazy. but then I got it.


so find space in your life to take care of your needs. even if that means a nice bath at midnight. or just sitting down for a few minutes to drink a cold glass of water.


if the weather is not too bad, yes be outside as much as possible. THAT is a distraction for you oldest. you know all you write about him? the whole gamut. very age appropriate. he is right on task and being just what a 5.5 year old boy should be. he is asserting himself.


does your OS get to run and play outside. he sounds like a high energy child and unfortunately with them if they don't get a place to release their energy - that is do some hard physical activity - it affects their behavior. so him splashing water sounds like he just needed to do something. even today at 10/11 a few kids in dd's class need to move around and be active than others. otherwise they shut down and cannot behave.

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#11 of 17 Old 06-17-2013, 09:12 AM
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Like another poster said, I bet some of the behavior is sibling jealousy. My older child gets the same way sometimes, and we can get into some very negative space with each other if I don't watch it. When my kiddo starts getting needy/clingy/whiny/bothersome and I feel like screaming at him, I either change the scenery, or if I can't, grab him up and squeeze/rough house with him (in other words a small dose of attention) which sometimes helps. I also sometimes do what I call Crazy Dance Party where I'll play music and we'll get really silly for 5 minutes...in other words, snap out of the funk.
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#12 of 17 Old 06-18-2013, 05:07 PM
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Argh. I feel you. I was just coming on to post AGAIN about DS (5.5) and demand to know exactly what is "normal" about this b/c our ped keeps saying he doesn't need an eval. And yet.... He just doesn't "get it."


Yes, get a break. As many as you can. But I'm warning you, if you're where I am, it may not work. This is where my frustration is coming from. I get a break EVERY DAY while he's at school. Granted, I don't get to sit and relax and read b/c I have DS2, but still, it's calmer, easier and a break from the chaos. But it doesn't help me. He has the stereotypical little boy energy and I am an introvert and I just can't handle it. We do the crazy dance parties to get our sillies out. It just makes them more hyper and me more tired. We have "quiet time" -- today's was cut short b/c instead of resting, he was playing with a framed poster that hung over his bed. Using his feet. So it fell on him.


They were being so loud just now that I asked them to play in the living room, saying I needed to cook dinner without all the noise around me. That lasted about 5 mintues before DS came in with a box on one foot and two legos he was smacking together and stood right next to me. I'm about to explode and I don't want to. I feel like such a monster for yelling at him so much. I need to get my emotions under control, but I have yet to figure out how to do that.

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#13 of 17 Old 06-18-2013, 05:29 PM
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#14 of 17 Old 06-18-2013, 07:20 PM
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I agree that some of this might be sibling jealousy. He wants your attention away from the baby.

I think you need to try to find ways to take care of yourself when you can. Do you have someone else who can watch kids while you take a nap or read a book or have some time to refresh yourself?

Also, you need to understand that you aren't perfect and that it's OK. In fact, the way you handle your imperfections can help your kids grow to learn how to handle their imperfections in a healthy way. When your imperfections are staring you in the face, don't beat yourself up about it. Just work through them in the way you hope your kids handle themselves someday, assuming of course that they also are not perfect. I mean, you'd forgive your kids getting frustrated and upset, but you'd hope they'd talk about what's bothering them and remove themselves from the situation or end the situation.

The bath example made me think of one other thing. Sometimes it's better to stop a problem before you are that upset. Like in the bath, if you know he's going to keep splashing and you know it'll upset you, just say, "It must be time for the bath to end" and just get out of the bath before you're in that place. It's taken me a while to allow myself to not always give my kids three and four chances to do the right thing if I know it's just going to end poorly. If I end it after the first or second time, it usually goes much more smoothly and people don't end up in tears. It's OK to say, "this isn't headed anywhere good" and immediately make a change without giving more chances if you need to for your sanity.
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#15 of 17 Old 07-05-2013, 10:20 AM
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I read through your post and have a couple of thoughts. I too have an older DD that was VERY difficult from 2-7, and not until this year at 8 that I've noticed some real advances in attitude (even though we still have plenty of issues).


1- I love what the another poster said - "It's not your responsibility to be a playmate." It's your responsibility to be a parent. Somehow, our generation really got this screwed up... maybe because we didn't like the way our parents parented, maybe we felt life was too harsh, I really don't know what it is. I'm a bit of an old timer when it comes to parenting, even though I'm only 27. The truth is, our generation is setting up kids who have no real perception of how the world works. No matter how many advances there are, we will all never "be equal" and not everyone get's a trophy. Only 1 person gets the promotion, few people have really awesome houses, the car, the clothes, etc.


2- What kind of consequences do you have in place for him? I found that the more consistent rewards/consequences I had in place the better for all of us. Like another poster said, when he splashed you the first time there should have been a choice for him to make - to stop or get out of the bath. It doesn't always have to mean time outs and spankings. But there should be clear boundaries in place for him to make decisions. Otherwise there's another life skill he's missing out on.


Maybe you just need to ask the hubby for a day to yourself to get refreshed... even if it's just for a long drive or to go watch a movie.


Anywho, looks like you got some great suggestions on here. I hope you find some peace soon!



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#16 of 17 Old 07-14-2013, 06:14 AM
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I have many days too where I feel like parenting is too hard, I yell a LOT, and feel defeated, like I am not cut out for parenting. ((hugs)) You are not alone.


Lots of good wisdom here in this thread (being able to take a break - any chance you can get a mother's helper for a few dollars an hour - a tween who lives nearby?). Hang in there Mama.

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#17 of 17 Old 07-14-2013, 08:51 AM
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I think it would help you a lot to have some good parenting techniques under your belt. I agree with the bathtub situation that the only problem is there were no consequences for him when he didn't listen to you. You want to be prepared for him to not listen to you. Decide in your head what is an appropriate consequence before you even tell him not to do something. Then calmly and clearly say "If X does not happen, then X will be the consequence." or in your own preferred words. It's also very important to follow through the instant that he doesn't listen (because he likely won't) not the second or third time he does it, the very first. Be prepared to follow through with every consequence every time (and don't dole out consequences you don't really want to do just because it sounds harsh enough). In time (and it may take a lot of time) he will learn that you mean it when you say it, and you won't necessarily have to voice the consequences every time. It's also important to do this when you're not angry, so if you need to step out and calm down that's totally reasonable if things are escalating.


You totally need a break!! Some time to unwind, think about things, work out the best path for your family, and just do something you want to do.


It's totally OK to tell your son that you are not going to play with him right that second. It's totally OK for him to whine and be upset about it. He will learn in time that you mean it, and will eventually (mostly) stop whining. At least that's what I tell myself with my 4 year old :) It's OK for him to be upset, and you don't have to rescue him every time. He needs to learn to work through the challenges of life, and one of those challenges is that adults aren't going to cater to your every whim. He will learn to find things to do and explore his world on his own. I know it's hard when your little ones cry you want to comfort them, but beyond a certain age if it's not pain/fear/danger induced it's not urgent. I'll give hugs and comfort when they're upset, but I continue to stand my ground about what they're upset.


When my youngest got old enough to play it was much easier with my very demanding older daughter. My oldest needed my constant attention and reinforcement of what she was doing, which can be draining! 


Good luck! With a little rest and time for yourself, and a plan for how to deal with the difficult aspects of parenting a 5 year old you can do it!

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