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I am REALLy messing this up.

929 Views 11 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Dr.Worm
I just don't know where to start. I have NOT been doing a very good job of gently dealing wth much of anything concernng my 3 year old son. I am turning into a big,mean,yelling bitch. From the time he wakes up in the morning till he goes to one long constant power struggle over EVERY conceivable issue..changing his diaper,getting dressed,eating breakfast NOT SUCKING ON HIS SISTERS FACE, climbing all over me,getting into stuff he KNOWS he isn;t supposed to be into,playing in the dishwasher,unloading the fridge,telling me no, changing his diaper again telling him once again to STOP SUCKING ON HIS SISTERS FACE!!! I feel some days that I am going to throttle him if won't just QUIT IT!!!!

I don't know how in the hll we got here. All I know is that I am so darn tired of repeating myself.

I mean, here is an example:

Paul wakes up and comes downstairs. I am sitting on the ofa and say " Good morning Love bug!How are you feeling today?" He says "I wanna watch PBS kids" as he climbs on me and shoves one boney elbow into my boob.

I am watching a program on hgtv, so I say " You an watchg pbs kids as soon as Mommas show is over ok?"


So. I am now torn. Do I :

A. turn the darn tv off and try to cuddle him/help him wake up?

I tried this. He has a complete melt-down and then "acts out" for the rest of the morning. He doesn't want held or spoken to..he wants to watch pbs kids!

B. Not have the thing on in the 1st place( like usual) and be listening to music as I am washing dishes or reading or what have you?

I tried this as well..somedays He will accept my line of "Good morning...can I have a hug/how did you sleep..." etc. How ever, a good portion of the time I say" Well, maybe in a liitle bit you can watch pbs kids".....INSTANT crying on his part.

C. turn the channel to pbskids the moment I hear his feet on the steps and allow him to sit in front of the tv until he wakes up more and is in a more cheerful mood.

I have tried this too. I think this works the best but then I feel like a crappy mom because he is watching tv.

I mean..What am I supposed to do about sucking on the bbies face/pointing his chin into her head hard/squeezing her face/ etyc, He is HURTING her and I spend a good quantity of time chasing him away from her because of this. I let him hold her and touch..I hold him and talk to him about on and so forth..but he STILL!!!! TWO MONTHS AFTER !!! insists upon sticking his mouth over her nose and mouth and thereby closing off her airways and suckinng on her face!!!!

He will NOT stop this. He does it at LEAST two times a day. I am SICK of this type of crap!

I know he is not stupid. I know he is doing this on purpose and it is pissing me off to no end. Both dh and I have BOTH talked and exp[lained and said NO to this one.. but it continues till I am ready to just grab him and shake him and scream at him to just QUIT IT!!!!!!!!!

It hurts the baby. She cannot breathe when he does this. It isn't funny and it isn't acceptable in ANY way!!!! I have told him this REPEATEDLY but like I said, he still does it if he gets the chance.

He just turned 3 in september. I know some of this stuff is due to the age and some of it is due to the baby being here.

I am trying to be patient and reasonable but some moments are SO HARD!!

I want him to listen to me. I want him to quit hurting Emily. I want to NOT have to spend a good portion of my day shaking inside because he has pushed all my buttons and I feel ready to just SCREAM at him!!!

And it starts first thing every day.. the battles over every aspect of life are wearing me down. I try to let him have choices and it turns into a mess.

He is hungry and I say" Would you like some oatmeal or some cereal?" He says "I want a POPSICLE!" I then say " A popsicle is not for breakfast/not a may have either ceral or oatmeal for breakfast. you can have a popsicle later for a snack"

the result of this ?

A. a screaming 3 year old hanging off if the freezer door as I hold it shut.

B., a crying 3 year old laying on the kitchen floor.

C. an angry 3 year old telling me "I don't like oatmeal..i like POPSICLES!"

and one very confused Momma who is just stnding there in shok..trying tounderstand how things are already reaching this point just 30 minutes after she has gotten out of bed...and hoping the rest of the day is better but really doubting it.

What on Gods green Earth am I supposed to do ?

Oh, and don't get me started on bedtime bahavior OR the temper ttantrums in town......
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3 is a hard age. It really is! Its like they develop sudden PMS or something! Its not your fault. Go easy on yourself. Here are some ideas -- for whatever they are worth:

First of all -- its okay to let him tantrum. It really is. Its okay to calmly state your position on a matter and then hold firm on it. The world will not come to an end if he lays on the floor kicking and screaming for 20 minutes. You can empathize, you can try to hold him, you can even walk away and let him know that you are available if he needs you. But you don't have to prevent tantrums and you don't have to make them stop. You can take that pressure off yourself.

Second -- I would keep the baby out of his reach at all times -- probably by slinging her. And I would make a rule that he may only touch her feet gently, and no other part of her -- unless he asks for grown-up help first. Not even nice touches. Its too hard for him to stay in control, so he needs a stricter boundry. It helps with this age to state it as a "rule." As in, "This is the rule..." Then when he disobeys, you can appeal the rule. "Did you forget the rule?"

Third -- try to stay calm. The more upset you get, the more unsure and insecure he will feel, and ultimately the more he loose control. I see this with both my kids -- the more I allow my own tension to rise, the more they stress out and the less control they can maintain. Pick up the baby and shut yourself in your room for 5 minutes if you have to, rather than freaking out.

Finally -- try to spend time alone with him. Take him out someplace at least once a week -- just the 2 of you. As much for your sake as for his. You will be able to focus on him and it will help you remember all the things you like about him. It sounds like you 2 both need to reconnect with each other. If possible, try to find 20 minutes each day to spend alone with him. Snuggling at bedtime, or reading him stories -- or something that is just about you and him.

Just my .02 cents, for whatever it is worth!
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I can totally and completely feel for you 100% we are going through similar issues at our house (execpt my ds head butts his sister all day long) UGH! I feel like I am on the verge of a breakdown ALL DAY LONG! And I have turned into a growling, yelling, out of control (no physical punishments) mom some days and it scares me and makes me so sad....

Looking forward to the responses, until then (((((((hugs)))))))
We have been facing many of the same issues, especially since ds2 was born (6 weeks ago). After many days like you described it became obvious that we had to do something to break out of the negative cycle we had gotten into. What has worked (at least most days) was to be MORE gentle and calm when he was spinning out of control (easier said than done when you have a shreiking, screaming, and violent child in arms). I also tried to add more silliness to our days, even just a little smile out of him helps. We also spend a lot of time doing crafts or reading or even watching tv, as long as my focus is just on him (I try to do these things while the baby is asleep, so even if he is on my lap my attention is still focused on my older ds). It also helps to sometimes attend to his needs first, even if ds2 really needs me. If I say "sorry baby, your big brother needs me so you will have to wait until I am finished" ds1 feels like his needs are important too. I have also talked at length with him about his feelings, his behaviour, etc. I try to tell him (when he has calmed down) that it is okay to feel angry, sad, frustrated, etc. but better give him suggestions on better ways to deal with these feelings. I have also told him that it is okay to not like his brother sometimes, and that I understand that it must be hard to have to share mama and daddy.

Things have been getting way, way better now, so it seems to be working. I don't know if these strategies will work for your family, but I hope it helps

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I'm there with you, sister. I am going to offer some quick fixes to you, that worked for me. And a suggestion for the: Kids, Parents and Power Struggles book. You are struggling all day long and its not mentally worth it for either of you, YK ?

For the popsicle thing - either take them out of the house all together, or substitute a healthier alternative, say frozen yogurt pops or something. Then let him have it. So what if he has it first thing in the am or in the middle of the day, I mean does it REALLY matter ? If he's gonna have 2 a day, or 1, who cares WHEN. Examine why this is an issue to YOU. I let my son have 2 frozen yogurts this am. I figure they are the equivalent of a real yogurt and it makes him happy. I can go on the "too much sugar", "not a healthy breakfast" blah blah blah. But the point is, they have xyz carbs, xyz protein, and are a "real food". Let it go.

We made rules for the house, together, on paper. Rule #1. No hitting and no pushing. Rule #2 No "booking" (coming up behind and pushing me in the butt while saying "boooook"). Etc. #3 No sucking on baby There are 7. We put them on the fridge, after having a talk "mommy doesn't hit or push, daddy doesnt hit or push, you don't hit or push. In this house, in this family, we don't do that". We had a talk about "if you hit somebody, mommy is going to bring you to the rules to remind you, and you will have to sit for a minute" (a quick time out). Then when he would transgress, he was taken to the fridge, shown the rules, reminded of the rules, sat down on the counter for a minute with me. He ripped the rules down. Now they are higher. We don't have to use them so much. He has brought his little friends into the house to show them the rules when things were getting out of control outside.

THe TV issue. Let him watch the TV. You are setting yourselves up for a bad morning. Why is it okay for YOU to watch the TV and not him ? Either keep it off and distract him, or let him watch it for one show. Talk about it at another time, that in the mornings you'd rather have some family time and that he can watch one show, and then the TV is off for family time. Maybe a compromise would be better.

I also agree with AkirasMOm about the more calm and gentle approach. I do alot of "you are angry blah blah blah" and it seems to work. But the Power Struggle book helped me alot. Hang in there. 3 is very hard.
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One of my kids was difficult at that age. I found that turning off the TV in a big way made her behavior much better overall.

It's hard because she would sit and be quiet for PBS kids and I felt like I got 10 relatively peaceful minutes to do the dishes or put on some laundry. But there is a more lasting effect on her behavior after watching TV, and it's not good. If the tv has been off while she's awake for a few days, she would be orders of magnitude better overall.
I think it might help to figure out in your mind what areas you're willing to flex on right now, and which areas you're willing to take a hard line about, and which you're just going to let go for the moment. You've figured out that your son is a slow, cranky waker-upper, and IME, the waking-up time often sets the tone for the whole day. So, if this were my child, I'd decide the PBS kids in the morning was something I wasn't going to make an issue out of right then, and I'd turn it on for him when he wakes. It may feel like giving him the control, but if you look at it, you're the adult, you do have the power, and you are deciding this. Popsicles might fall into this category as well - I always made homemade ones out of yoghurt or OJ, if that helps. Or maybe you'd try to encourage other foods - humor sometimes helps (say in a silly voice: "I'm a gooshy bowl of oatmeal, and I knooow no one will ever, ever eat me, hahahaha.... no! No! Get those teeth away from me arggggh!"), or making food fun (a ketchup bottle with some jam to squit onto the oatmeal in fun pattersn, and the raisins to make a face), or cooking something special that you know her likes. It sounds like he's having a hard time, and I've found that when kids are acting difficult they tend to need more special care from us, not less.

I think being gentle with the baby is a non-negotiable. I wouldn't leave them alone together at all right now, or even have her within his reach except under very close supervision. I know it seems like it would be a good thing to let him hold her and bond with her, but if he isn't safe with her, it's not time yet She's still awfully young, and he's still adjusting to having her around. I imagine that in a few months things will be easier...

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If the tv has been off while she's awake for a few days, she would be orders of magnitude better overall.
Mine too. Mine was getting aggressive and cranky after TV.

I agree with Dar, too!
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I have not esponded to this for osme time because I have not been spending as much time nline. i think that was creating an issue as well.

I guess I could just let him have a popsicle and wath pbs kids or noggin in the am....I just felt like: he should eat healthy food and not watch tv...because others think tv is the worst thing possible for kids and popsicles are not the best ..although the ones I buy are frozen fruit ones so they are better for him than the frozen corn syrup one...

gotta go baby crying..more later..i hope!
Avonlea - I understand how you are feeling. I advocate the "big switch-off" but I don't judge anyone for allowing her/his kid to watch TV. I don't feel comfortable with telling my dd she can't watch TV, so I had to take the TV down and put it on the floor. Mostly she doesn't ask for it, but when she does we put it back up and watch for a while. I don't want to create any frustration.
Another idea I'd like to add is a routine. Do you have an established routine, or rhythm, to your day? My children know pretty much what to expect of the day:

AM: clean up in our bedroom and go downstairs; breakfast; go out (playdate, playground, errands, appts, etc); come home for lunch

PM: little one's nap; older one plays, bakes with me, and then we step out to get mail and walk dogs (right outside our front door);
little one wakes up and we go to playground (down the street); Little Bear; dinner

I think this really empowers them and helps them to feel secure. Not that we don't have our troubles during the day, believe me!!
: But, they are certainly lessened by having a rhythm to our day.

Also, try telling your son what he "may" do: "You may _____." Instead of "Don't______." Sounds silly but it does make a difference. Don't get me wrong though, I think children do need to know when they've made you angry. Just try to reserve that expression of anger for when it's really needed. It's probably frustrating him to hear your angry voice ALL day, instead of occassionally. He probably feels like he can't please you.

It's hard to calm down, though, I know. It takes effort on your part. Just try it slowly, you can't change in one day.

I wrote a three-is-hard type of thread about a year ago, myself!! It is a PMS age, for some reason. Four has been better!

Best wishes for better days!

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Well..I have a three-year-old too so I can relate. I don't have any other kids, though, so I can't help with the baby stuff.

I agree about not trying to stop the tantrums. Rarely I can talk soothingly to Julia and she will calm a bit but usually all that happens when I keep telling her to calm down is she gets louder and so do I.
: I think it is best to either put him in his room or for you to leave til he calms. Maybe if he keeps calling you just answer that you're nearby and when he's ready to talk calmly you will come see him.

Something I tend to do is give too many choices. Don't get me wrong..I think it's good to do a little like you such asking which food to eat. I just go overboard..I also say are you ready for lunch? ready for nap? My mom told me I should just make a schedule and stick to it. It really does help. Julia can choose not to eat or to fuss about sleeping but at least there is a routine.

Take care and remember that "This too shall pass"!
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