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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everybody,

I am a single mom of two, one 3 yr old and a new baby (2 months). I used to think my first was easy to deal with, but since his brother arrived we are struggling all the time, and because I'm tired/stressed out I am not handling it well at all.

I know it's normal for him to be pushing the limits at this time, but I am losing it because of anxiety and stress. I get impatient and angry, and I end up overreacting and punishing him for things that aren't that serious. Also, what I do to punish him does not seem constructive. I don't spank him and never have (and never will) but there is a lot of yelling and angry timeouts going on. I can't stand it!

I know that part of the problem is anger at my ex and at myself that I am displacing on him, but I can't seem to stop it. I am trying to find a psychologist to work with me, but I haven't been able to find anyone I am comfortable with yet.

Tomorrow I am going to the bookstore, and I would like to buy (or order) a book on discipline. I need some recommendations on what the best book on toddler discipline would be. I feel like I have to do something very quickly before my relationship with my little boy is completely ruined.
 

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There is a sticky at the top of this forum with book recommendations. I haven't read any of them so I can't advise, but maybe a title will grab you if you have a look.

It sounds from your post like you are not really having as much trouble with ds as with your reactions to him and his behavior. It sounds like you are in a high stress situation. I'm guessing that you are not getting the rest that you need or time to yourself. Do you have any help?

Are there specific things you can post that your ds is doing?
 

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I think you are so wise to see that it is not what your ds is doing that is the problem. I clicked on your thread because at 3, I noticed that other parents' expectations of my dd1 skyrocketed. We got junk from strangers/"friends" about her hair, popsicle on her face, being barefoot.... Whereas at 2, it was all cute to them.

Dd1 is very sensitive and went from her very outgoing and friendly self to a sullen way of interacting with people. Suddenly her world was not very safe emotionally.

I responded by bugging her about her hair, the popsicle on her face.... to avoid these interactions. Bad move. It put me on the side of the stupid mean strangers/"friends".

We've mostly recovered from it, but it was bone-headed of me. And we are no longer friends with the "friends."

The best thing for us was for me to arrange myself as her ally in negociating her increasingly complex world. To explain interactions, to tell her what I knew of the upcoming social situations and to protect her from rampant adult rudeness.

When her sister was born, I realized that she needed my attention and her sister needed to be included. Still true of them today at 6 and 2. And they adore each other. dd1 loves attention, dd2 loves inclusion.

It seems like figuring out ds is not blame is your first step. Second step seems like treating yourself gently and figuring out what you need. Do you need physical help? A bit of a break? Someone to bring a meal/do the laundry? Sleep? Food? Your anger made fade a bit as you treat yourself to a bubble bath when/if they are both asleep at the same time.

The book that really help me change my paradigm was Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen. I know you'll get other great suggestions.

Those first 2 months with a new baby are such a fog. Here's hoping you can emerge from the fog with wonderful connections with both children forged.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks a lot for these thoughtful responses.

As mentioned, I definitely do realize that the problem is my reaction to what he is doing, and my own stress level. I hadn't thought about the fact that at 3 his world is becoming more complicated. That is certainly true, plus now he has a little brother which is a huge adjustment for both of us.

I will look up Playful Parenting right away. I did look at the sticky with the book list but right now so much information seems really overwhelming. That's why I was hoping to get some "one best book" recommendations so I could narrow it down to books that have really made an impact for people.

Any other discipline books that have been really important for people? Is there a book that is considered to be the "gentle discipline bible" or something like that?
 

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One thing I wanted to point out is HORMONES! OMG after my DS was born I was a maniac LOL My DD (3) and I also had a rough transition (when DS was about 1 week old I actually SPANKED DD! ARGH). It will gradually get better and you will find your equilibrium again.

I found that one thing the hormones really did to me was to make me oversensitive to dangers to the baby...when DD showed natural rough curiousity (poking eyes, trying to pick him up, etc) I had to really struggle to tame that inner mamma bear that was shouting "DANGER TO BABY!" and wanting to smack my DD away. It's so crazy - how could I have worshipped the ground my DD walked on only a month before and now see her as the enemy?! It's totally hormones!

Anyway, maybe it will help to realize that some of it is probably biologically programmed and if you can just weather the storm it will pass. It helped alot for me to try to focus on my relationship with my DD - we looked at her baby pictures together and I let her pretend to be a baby and I made sure to give her extra snuggles like I would a newborn. That seemed to help us both reconnect...

I loved Playful Parenting and used alot of the techniques about "playing out" her fears/anger/etc to help her transition...

good luck!
peace,
robyn
 

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Also, our 2 are 3 years apart, and this past year has been one of the hardest times of my life with regards to confronting my own anger and temper issues, because Emma was extremely challenging behavior wise. We've gotten through this time, Sara will be one in a month and a half and it is getting better, though there are still many challenging days. I think what you're going through is very common and very normal, even if there wasn't a new sibling in the picture many parents find year 3 to be rough, add a sibling and you have a frazzled mom and extra challenges with your kid. You guys will get through it, just keep committing to doing better, do your best to attribute the best intentions to you 3 yr olds intentions and be ind to yourself. I've spent hours kicking myself with regret over my treatment of Emma, but heaping on the guilt did nothing to stop my angry impulses, it just made everything worse. Also, I bought some motherwort tincture and blessed thistle tincture, both good for depression and stress in women and they've both helpd me immensely.
 
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