Mothering Forum banner

Help me...Feeling Overwhelmed/Furious

879 Views 19 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  annarosa
Ok Mama's, Help me...
Lately ds (who will be 3 in a couple of weeks) and I have been butting heads.
Dd (who is 9 months) has been his little experiment for all of his hitting, kicking, pinching, pushing, etc. Since dd was born (and always when playing with other children), I explain to ds why we must be gentle and try to show him different ways to touch instead of hitting. He has always been pretty aggressive, even as a baby. I talk calmly to him, on his level, repeating the same thing over and over again, thinking that eventually he will just begin to understand. But, it seems as though he and I are both getting worse. Over the course of the past month or so, he has been out of control, often leaving scratches or bruises on dd. Now he's hitting and kicking me as well. I will take him in his room after I have ask him repeatedly to stop the behavior (or suggested a different activity for him to focus on) and explain to him that we don't ____ (fill in the blank with the abuse of your choice) and explain the reasons we shouldn't do it. I then ask him to sit in his room and think about what I've said and what we can do differently next time. Lately he just ignores me, or hits me again or shouts at me.

I've lost my temper a lot in the past couple of weeks. I've shouted at him, threatened him with taking away a toy or not doing an activity. Nothing is working and I am begining to really hate myself because of the way I'm behaving. What's worse, is I feel like if I don't redirect this behavior or stop it then dd is going to end up with some serious injury. I don't want Ds to fear me, or listen because he thinks I will take a toy away, but I do want him to understand that this hitting, kicking, etc. is not acceptable behaviour.

Ds is strong willed. He is assertive, he know what he wants (or doesn't want) he has a ton of energy right now. I just don't know the right approach to take with him. When dd is napping (they nap at different times) I spend one on one time with him, reading,coloring,walking outside or just cuddling. I don't know if it's attention he needs or if he is just feelig feisty. I don't leave the two children alone together, but even when I am folding laundry in the same room with them both, he will just walk by her and do something mean, then continue on with what he was doing. I am turning into the shouting, threatening parent that I swore I wouldn't be. I desperately want to stop and get on the right discipline track to build a happy, secure, and confident child, not a scared and frustrated child.

Yesterday I was furious! He scratched Dd face, then when I was talking to him about it, he kicked me. I just lost it. I have never felt that way before, and it scared me. I was so mad, I was shaking! I was just beside myself with anger, frustration, name it. I don't want to feel that way ever again. Is there something wrong with me, or do others every get this upset? I also don't want my children to learn from my actions to just loose it when they're overwhelmed.

I just need suggestions and support. I also want to know if any other mama's ever feel like I've felt lately and how they handle it. I am blessed to have two wonderful, healthy children. I just need to try to re-focus and stop myself before I get soooooo upset (but how?). I am going to get through this, I am going to get through this. Thanks in advance.
See less See more
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
It can be hard being a mom. What helps with my ds 4 is making sure he has plenty of time burning off energy. I have a 22 month old ds as well. I also make sure he gets to sleep early . We limit screen time and high sugar foods. I think that if you say that you will take away a toy then do it. I think it is important that they can trust you at your word. At the moment we are working at gentle touches with ds 2. Big brother is sick show your love by rubbing his back. He was smacking him.
Hope I was some help
Wow, I could have written that post! Nearly word for word. Which means of course I'm no help. But yes, it has definitely made keeping cool way, way, way, waaaayyyy harder than every before. It makes me very angry too- I think it touches on a lot: trying to protect the baby, anger with my son, guilt for feeling angry, worry at why he is doing it, frustration that it's not getting better, my own issues with not being listened to. It's hard! I thought it got better when we spent more one-on-one time, but it seems to be cropping up again in different ways. I guess it's just gonna be an ongoing issue for awhile, but it irritates me that, as a parent, when something is just!not!acceptable! I feel like I have no control. I'm not trying to control him all day long, but I feel like I should be able to teach him to stop this. I think also that, at three, it's just going to take a long time for them to learn to work out those feelings in a more healthy manner. I don't know.

Originally Posted by makbear
I've lost my temper a lot in the past couple of weeks. I've shouted at him, threatened him with taking away a toy or not doing an activity. .
NEVER threaten. Just take it. Put the toy (or whatever he loves) in "toy time out". Tell him he will get it back after one whole day of NOT using his hands for hitting.

Take his shoes away too. It hurts him to kick when he has no shoes. Do NOT let him have his shoes EVER unless you are going somewhere and he must wear them.

Start a marble jar for him. One jar FULL of marbles (or any small cool looking item) and one jar with his name on it. Every time you catch him being nice to his sister, he gets to put a marble in his jar. At first don't take marbles is too disheartening. (but you can do that later if you want)

Keep referring to his "Baby sister". Ask him to help her. "Please help your baby sister....she can't get that bib on". Hopefully he will start to feel protective of her instead of destructive.

In the long run, your baby girl will grow up tough...and hopefully bite the living snot out of him one day, so you can have the satisfaction of saying "Well, she finally got you back for all the mean things you did to her"

Just remember never threaten. If you are giving him a warning.."You will lose your trains, if you hurt her again". Make absolutley sure he loses them instantly the next time. Threats and warnings are different.
See less See more
my ds 11 mos has bitten big sister 3 twice now hard, for taking a toy away from him. he watched her take the toy, deliberately leaned over and bit her once on the arm and once on the back. it left teeth marks and a slight bruise. i told him no biting, comforted her but also told her that she had to teach him to be nice, he was just a baby, he learned to be mean because she snatched toys from him, etc. i'm not sure if this is wise or not. today, he grabbed a marker from her and she bit him hard on the arm. she wouldn't even look at me, i scolded her and comforted him, and took away the marker. we were in the car. i usually don't seat them next to each other, but had a crowd so they could reach each other. won't do that again.

any ideas for helping her share, not take toys away, etc? also what do you do if younger one is mean back, bites, etc?

sorry this is no help to original thread starter, but it seems along the same lines.

also, i got really mad and spanked dd last night because she kicked her brother, he was nursing and she was having a tantrum and i don't think she meant to kick him but i just reacted and spanked her. i apologized and told her i got angry bc she hurt her brother but i don't think she understood. she just rubbed her leg/butt and said "make the hit go away" then she calmed down and fell asleep nursing. i didn't know if i should bring it up today so i didn't. i feel awful and do not want to be a spanker. what do you do when big sibling hurts little one?
See less See more
It's so hard to be the mama of two isn't it? If it's not the frustration of not having enough time to do everything, or the stress of "how do I share my full attention between two...", it's the conflict of protecting the aggresee from the agressor, when you dearly love them both.

A few things that have helped me...

I try to remember that ds is still a baby. He still has huge emotional needs that I can't always help him work through because I am sometimes needed by dd. I try to redirect aggression with empathy. "oh, I see you hit dd. How did you feel at playgroup when x hit you? You felt sad? Look at dd's face. She feels sad right now b/c you hit her. What can you do to help her feel better?" etc.

Also....from Unconditional Parenting..."assume your child's best intentions, given the facts." So, despite my intense reaction of rage when ds hit dd in the head with boots...was he trying to hurt her? Maybe. Or maybe he thought....she's just sitting there and she laughs when I act crazy. What will she do if..." I can usually tell now if ds has hurt her on purpose b/c he will run's hard not to react in anger, but at the same time, I try to remind myself that in his little head, he is still trying to figure out who the heck this little person who takes alot of mommy time is and wth she is doing here. I can only imagine how hurt I would feel if dh came home with a new partner, and told me I had to get used to her being around b/c she was just a part of the family now. AND I had to spend less time with his attention, b/c she was just new, and really needy. I would be hitting her in the head with boots too

I have also recently had a revelation about the half busy mommy syndrome, where the child is more needy/demanding/acting out, etc b/c it seems we are almost always distracted trying to get stuff done. So, if I am....on the phone, folding laundry, on the computer, nursing dd, cooking supper, etc...and he is hanging around, I find engaging him in the thing at hand usually helps somewhat to prevent mischief......who wouldn't do soemthing over and over again if it got them an immediate reaction (even if the reaction is bad) when they may otherwise be feeling invisible or just generally in the way. I often try to remind myself that the reaction I have can serve to reinforce the behaviour, or I can instead try to respond to the emotions that might be at the root of the action instead..."I see you hit dd. Are you frustrated right now b/c she took your toy? Are you missing having mommy and you time? etc..."

Sometimes I try to put dd on the floor when she is awake and spend one on one time with ds...showing he is as important as she...not only when she's sleeping.

Man, I have lots to say about this, because I've struggled with it so much. I just finally wanted to say that that imeediate feeling of a rush of anger is NORMAL and I know that EVERY mother I have talked to feels that way from time to time. What matters is how we as mamas deal with those feelings in a way that is healthy for ourselves and our children. It's so good to have a place like this to come and vent, and hear from other mamas who are struggling alongside us.

See less See more
My dd is close to the same age as your dc. We do not use punishment, rewards, or praise. I have found for almost every "discipline problem" including hitting and pushing that there is one single thing I can do that has the most impact. That is to talk to dd away from the heat of the moment. For instance, we had friends visiting with their small toddler and dd was hitting and pushing her around. So for the remainder of the visit, when we first got up in the morning we had a little chat. We talked about how hitting is not OK. That we do not hit people but we can hug people. We would keep the talk going for as long as dd was interested. We also acknowledged that it can be very frustrating to have to share toys, space, attention, etc..... Then we gave her other ways to handlet he frustartion. In this case we told her that she could yell "help" at any time and we would come right away to help them sort out whatever the problem is.

We do something similar before any situation in which I think we might run into a problem. Like if we are going to a busy store, rather than wait until she runs away to address the issue of crowds and getting lost, we discuss it in the car on the way. We discuss what the place is going to be like and what I need her to do in order for her to be safe.

This has been our sole "discipline tool" for the last 1.5 years and it has been amazingly effective. Everyone feels respected, dd has a chance to air her concerns or negotiate the rules before the problem occurs, and we avoid having to use discipline tools that we do not agree with such as punishment, and yelling.
See less See more
Wow, I don't have to write a new thread, since you said it all (very well, I might add!). I've been frustrated in ways I've never been lately. My twin boys are hitting 2 1/2 years and are complete handfuls! I've been working on no hitting, biting, kicking, tackling, throwing food, you name it. It's completely exhausting. I'm left with my head spinning most days. I feel anger that makes my ears burn!! Thanks for some good advice from other posters.
Mine is the other way around - dd is almost 3, and ds2 is almost 9 months. But, the situation is very similar. She's never kicked me, but she does occasionally hit me. I've been trying to get her to talk when she's frustrated, but she has trouble doing that. So, I've told her that if she really feels as though she needs to hit, she should hit a pillow or the couch, then we can talk. K

She seems to understand when I talk to her about ds2, but she's not interested in discussing it. She nods her head, says, "I won't hurt him, mommy", then proceeds to sit on him or twist his ear up around the top of his head. I really don't think she understands that she's hurting him...she just thinks it's funny to twist him around and try to ride him like a horse. We're working on it constantly.

She's very, very sweet with him at other times...brings him toys (when he's nursing *sigh*) and helps me at diaper time and kisses him goodnight and all that. She says, "I love you, Evan" just because she wants to. She gives him hugs. I try to focus on that.

I think the rush of anger is perfectly normal. It's mama bear. When someone hurts your baby, your first reaction is to defend! I find the most helpful thing for me is to make sure I remind myself immediately that dd is my baby, too. That way, mama bear isn't defending ds2 from dd...mama bear is defending both my babies. But, it's hard's so easy to see malicious intent in dd - and it just isn't there.
See less See more
Older children abusing younger sibs is a topic that is all too emotional for me. My two older brothers literally abused me both physically and emotionally throughout our lives. My mother was useless to do anything about it, and their behavior just escalated. My parents even got to the point where they would start blaming me for it, because in my frustration I would try to deal with it.

In my opinion, you must do whatever it takes to physically protect your younger child when the attacks happen-even if it means picking her up and taking her to another room. You must be strong with your other child, and let him know in no uncertain terms that you will not tolerate this behavior.

But you must also balance the equation, by having regular talks with your older child. He clearly has some anger and jealousy issues that need to be dealt with. Maybe he needs to discuss these feelings, and be told that it is very normal and okay to feel this way--but it is not okay to hurt other people in the family. He may also need some one on one time with each you and your dh. We make it a point to separate our children regularly, so they each get special time with us.

Our family is getting more peaceful as I have learned to talk these feelings out with my oldest dd. Sometimes I will approach it in a non-threatening way by telling her a "story". The names will be made up, but the story will be whatever is going on that day that needs discussing.
See less See more

Originally Posted by Suzetta
Older children abusing younger sibs is a topic that is all too emotional for me. My two older brothers literally abused me both physically and emotionally throughout our lives. My mother was useless to do anything about it, and their behavior just escalated. My parents even got to the point where they would start blaming me for it, because in my frustration I would try to deal with it.

This really resonated with me too. My much older sister used to use me as her verbal whipping post for years and years. My mom treated it like sibling bickering, even though my sister was 9 years older than me and calling me names and constantly put me down. I think it really screwed me up, honestly, and decimated my self-esteem and self worth. I believe that a lot of my anger on this topic (with my own ds hitting the baby) stems from my own anger at not being protected when I was younger. I believe frustration is normal, but I personally think that a lot of this explosive anger some of us feel towards our kids with situations like this comes from our own issues or childhoods. So I think it's worth examining.
See less See more
Well...I don't know how popular this idea will be here...but here goes anyway...I tell my older son we don't hit people but we have a kids punching bag that he can hit or know they used to be clowns when we were kids...his was some suprehero or bad guy or something (or rather, had, the dogs popped it but we'll probably get something similar again) . And I can't wait til he is five and we can do tae kwon do together.

Anytime ds1 hits, kicks, punches, scratches...he has to go sit down until he feels like he can play without hurting. We also spend a lot of time talking about how lucky he is to have a little brother, not all kids get a little brother and its his job to help mommy protect ds2 because he is bigger and knows stuff that little brother doesn't (thats why mommy has to sometimes spend more time helping little brother). We also talk about how mommy doesn't hit him so why would he hit little brother...thats not very nice. And he is starting to get it. He is kissing better now when he forgets and does hurt little brother.

A lot of the time I think the meaness is a test for me...he'll often say "you didn't see me" When I give him trouble for hurting little brother. Or its a response to not getting enough attention or its just a good way to shake things up when it gets a little boring.

And you a pp said it is hard to be a mama of two (or three or four or five...) but its really hard to be one of two siblings too. I try to remind myself of that when I feel that about to explode feeling inside.

See less See more
Thanks for all of the great suggestions, mama's! It's really comforting to know that other people have felt this way, and I'm not completely insaine! I will try using some of these great ideas, redirecting aggression with empathy and reminding myself that ds is still a baby too, and ofcourse we'll keep talking about things.
I have tried the hit/kick a pillow instead of baby sister idea, but that didn't really go over to well with ds. I think he likes the reaction he gets from baby sister after he's done something to her. Perhaps I can find something that would make a noise?
I'm also thinking of trying to enroll him in some sort of physical activity class that will help him burn off some of this energy in a more positive way. Maybe something like gymnastics... or if anyone else has any good suggestions for an almost 3 year old, I'd love to hear them.
Thanks again mama's, I love and appreciate all of the support and suggestions!
Yeah our punching bag said things like "oooff" "ohhh" and "gotcha" that might work. I asked my son what it was and he says Power Ranger. It was $8 at the Bargain Store I think. And I seem to remember seeing a much more expensive karate inspired punching bag in the Sears catalogue that made noises too.


Originally Posted by morning glory
Yeah our punching bag said things like "oooff" "ohhh" and "gotcha" that might work.
Sounds perfect! Thanks Mama!

Originally Posted by morning glory
We also spend a lot of time talking about how lucky he is to have a little brother, not all kids get a little brother and its his job to help mommy protect ds2 because he is bigger and knows stuff that little brother doesn't (thats why mommy has to sometimes spend more time helping little brother). We also talk about how mommy doesn't hit him so why would he hit little brother...thats not very nice.
Casey, I promise this isn't addressed specifically to you
but my concern with this approach to saying how lucky he is ito have a brother s doesn't address the very real emotions he's feeling. (Just like when people say to a mother who had a difficult time conceiving--but you're so lucky--some women aren't able to even have babies, but she's feeling overwhelmed) It doesn't address what he's feeling in the moment. Yes, he's lucky and fortunate to have a sibling, but, in reality, that sibling is really frustrating him
So, I try hard, though I'm certainly far from close to perfect, to empathize with the real emotions...even those that aren't "nice."

See less See more
I have a very physical 2.5 year old, who likes to hit/scratch/whatever. She has always been physical, and she's bold and confident. Good qualities when channeled well, but not so much when she's running amok.

I have found that for her, the battle over not doing something is a reward in itself. "Gentle hands" and so forth never made an impact on her. When she was 14 months old, I once made the mistake of sying "We don't hit mama, hitting hurts. You don't want to hurt mama do you?" She replied "Yes!" and started pinching me while saying "Ow ow ow."

Don't get me wrong - she isn't a sociopath. She's delightful and loving and frequently compassionate. She is multi-faceted.

I recently sought the help of a behaviorist, as MY temper was starting to get the better of me and I haven' been handling being hurt very well. The behaviorist, who I really liked, helped clarify a suspicion that I had, which is that the best way to deal with dd is to not react or acknowledge her hurting me. Remove her hands, or set her away, yes. But otherwise to not react. No faces, no "Gentle hands," not a word.

FTR, we talk about feelings, and the I always look to understand what is driving the behavior. That isn't enough with dd. She gets too much out of expressing her anger/frustration in physical ways.

I've only been doing this a week, and I've already seen a dramatic rise in my patience and improvement in her behavior. No, her behavior hasn't improved solely because of my patience. I had been patient in the past, and it hasn't had the results I'm seeing now.

I'm not generally a results-oriented parent, but sometimes a new approach is helpful.

I don't think this approach is right for all kids, but if your ds is one of those kids who enjoys the battle, it might work for him too.
See less See more
It sounds to me like you are doing a lot of the right things already
you are dealing with a difficult situation and seem to generally be handling it well
remember, there is nothing wrong with you feeling strong emotions - rage, pain, guilt - it is just what you do with those feelings, if anything, which can make the difference for your children
eg. you shaking with rage is fine - shaking a child in rage is not fine - there is a difference and it sounds like you are doing OK with the balance ...........
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.