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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I shouldn't even say "better" - less hellish would be more appropriate. Ds and I had, by far, the absolute worst day in the almost three-year history of our mother-son relationship today. To set the scene: I started back to classes this week (big change for him - mom gone in the evenings again after a summer of being gone during the day instead). Yesterday was the first day. He missed his nap so I figured that when I got home (around 8:30 p.m.) he would be about ready to nurse and go to sleep for the night and I could get all of my 100 or so pages of reading for today's class done. Problem #1: Expectations unrealistic. He did go to sleep but woke up at 10 completely inconsolable (a nightmare, I think). He did not go back to sleep until almost 1 a.m. and only then on my chest on the couch - he refused to go back into the bedroom. His dad, of course, slept through all of this <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="rolleyes">: (the joys of co-parenting with a narcoleptic). Needless to say, I got no reading done and, thus, woke up completely stressed (which is Problem 2). Problem 3, of course, is that ds did not get a restful night's sleep - neither did I, for that matter.<br><br>
So, we have a dentist appointment at 11 a.m. that ds' dad had to cancel out of at the last minute because it was an inconvenient time for him (no matter that he's known about it for 3 months) - meaning that I was supposed to be able to get my teeth cleaned while entertaining ds in a less than child-friendly dentist's office. But we're not there yet. Let's talk about getting ready: in other words, breakfast, brushing teeth, getting dressed.<br><br>
Breakfast: I couldn't get an answer out of him as to what he wanted for breakfast, so I made two things he almost invariably will eat - oatmeal with honey, and fresh pineapple and strawberries. He eats two bites and says he wants eggs. That's fine with me (I love it when he actually wants something besides carbs), so we get them cooking together (he cracks the eggs). Halfway through the cooking, he says he doesn't want eggs, he wants a Clif bar. I pointed out to him that he had specifically asked for eggs and that now they were cooking and we couldn't waste them. This is a habit with him - he likes to change his mind about food and we waste more than I can bear as a result. So - HUGE fit about the Clif bar because I tell him that he can eat it for a snack when we're out, but not for breakfast as we're having eggs. He ends up not eating at all.<br><br>
Brushing teeth: We decide together what time we will brush his teeth (it's generally the only way he'll go along with the process). When the clock hand gets to the right number, I let him know it's time and he stalls.... and stalls.... and stalls some more. Now he's hungry. Now he needs to play with his cars. Now he needs some milk. Now he needs to nurse. It escalates into a full-scale battle (Definitely not what I wanted on the morning that we are going to the dentist. As it turns out, he won't let her near his mouth.). It culminates with me losing it (complete with hitting the wall - could I have been more of an @ss?), escorting him less than gently out of the bathroom and shutting the door on him, basically to save him from my wrath because I felt like I was losing it and might do something idiotic (besides the idiotic behavior I had already displayed, I mean). I compose myself and come out to a completely distraught little boy actually sitting in his dining chair with his hands folded in his lap, looking down at his hands and as dejected as any human being has ever looked. I felt like the biggest schmuck in the world. I apologized thoroughly for losing it and we hugged for a long time, but things were still very off. How could they not be?<br><br>
Getting dressed: By this time, it's 10 minutes past the time we needed to leave for the dentist. The brushing teeth (of course, we never did get them brushed) debacle took nearly 30 minutes. I'm completely stressed and needing to get his clothes on. He, of course, has another agenda despite our three or four discussions of what needs to happen and why at different points during the morning. So, I remind him again, approach him with his clothes and am met with screaming and flailing. Yes, I lose it again, stuff his clothes and shoes into a bag, put my shoes on, and tell him that we're leaving immediately and he can either go naked or with clothes on. Very mature, I know <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="rolleyes">:. He starts crying and says he wants his clothes on, so we get that done and take off.<br><br>
Dentist's office? Total nightmare. I'm trying to fill out paperwork and ds is trying to run out of the office. Not just the sitting room, mind you, but out onto the sidewalk outside. He's not interested in any of the available books or coloring instruments, just wants to go outside and listen to the music. We spent some time listening on the way in, and I let him know that we would come out again right after our appointments and listen some more - not good enough. Has to listen now. But we're already late for our appointments, and I'm trying to juggle paperwork and him (and cursing his dad's name the entire time). We alternate between my holding him (while he tears at the paper, grabs at the pen, and flails and kicks to get down) and my throwing down my paperwork and chasing him as he runs out of the door.<br><br>
So, that was our morning. By the grace of a kind physician's assistant who hung with ds, I did manage to get my teeth cleaned. And, after that, things were fine. He did actually eat while in the dentist's office, so I don't think the behavior was particularly hunger-related (he also ate a banana at some point before we left - which is more than he usually eats for breakfast). I think much of the problem was my expectations being set too high, perhaps, but also I just felt at a <b>total loss</b> regarding how to deal with his behavior. So, I resorted to coercive, manipulative, physically domineering means that left me feeling like a miserable failure of a parent and really injured ds' feelings.<br><br>
Now, I don't imagine that there are very many (if any) people left with me at this point, but if you did make it this far and care to dissect our frightful day and offer suggestions as to what could be done less wrong, I'm all eyes. And, if not, it just really helped to get it all out anyway...<br><br>
Thanks <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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I don't have one word of wisdom for you because you ds is one year older than mine so I can't impart any kind of "been there, done that" missive.<br><br>
I wish I could. But the only thought that I have and mind you this is just a small thought...but I think your ds is very sensitive to change. And I would say that your change going back to school was too much change for him and on some way he vented...via making his own changes... eggs, bar...clothes on, clothes off...<br><br><br>
I think when you have any kind of big changes you need to not pack anything extra in that week. the trip to the dentist was too much for his little system.<br><br>
And frankly, it was too much for you. how much simpler it would have been if you didn't have that appointment?<br><br>
don't beat yourself up. YOur son is growing and learning and he doesn't have the ability to say... "I hate change. I want you home when I expect you home." or similiar.<br><br>
Look ahead at your calendar..are there any big changes coming..don't plan anything else for those times.<br><br>
My friend has a similiar son and had similiar issues. She now has to talk and talk and talk about the upcoming changings and he throws less, how should we say it... fits.<br><br>
hugs. I"m with you. My ds went to pre-preschool this week and we've had to make some changes here to comfort him.
 

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I agree with not scheduling other stressful events during a time of change.<br>
Personally, I would never even attempt to bring a toddler with to the dentist. Never mind everything else, I would have just canceled the apt when my dh said he couldn't either come with or stay home with the baby.<br>
Of course things are not always that simple- if you're in a situation where you really have to get somewhere or do something that you know is going to be difficult, let everythign else go. He doesn't want to eat?- that's his choice. He doesn't want to get dressed? bring his clothes in the car, and he can put them on when you get there. Pack a bag of entertaining stuff to bring with when you have to go boring places (packed the night before), andf when you schedule apts ask that they mail you the paperwork so you can fill it out beforehand.
 

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boy, sounds like a rough morning. I think just try to forget about it and move on. The only thing I think I may have done differently is just cancel the appointment. I know it can take forever to get appts and sometimes you have to pay even if you don't show up, but after I had gotten mad enough to punch the wall I just would have called and cancelled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, everybody...<br><br>
trabot - you are entirely right about ds being very sensitive to change. He used to be very adaptable as a wee one (or maybe there just wasn't very much change to adapt to?) and I've gotten into the habit of seeing him as adaptable and not revisited it.<br><br>
And you were all so right about the dentist visit - poor planning, by all means! I think we'll relax for the next few weeks while we adjust... just hang, do fun stuff, follow his lead. It's a good lesson for next year when we lather, rinse, and repeat the process all over again.<br><br>
You all have been very helpful in sorting out my not so shining mama moment... many thanks <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">.
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/grouphug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="grouphug"><br><br>
I've read that it's good to give a child choices, but not to the point of wastefullness...such as "Do you want pineapple or oatmeal this morning?" no responce means no food right then. (What makes us so sure that our kids are hungry just because it's "breakfast time" anyway? - just a thought) <shrug><br><br>
I think there's only one thing I might have tried which you didn't mention. We have a backpack carrier...I don't remember if it's rated for 3 year olds, but when dd is really cranky or wants to "run out of the office" it's a life saver.<br><br>
Oh yeah, and don't forget to schedule some playtime between activities. (I always forget this one.)<br><br>
-Kirina
 

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Really just want to echo what's been said. I'd have cancelled the dentist apt. But only because I *have* tried going to the dentist with not just one child, but one child and an infant - and now that I have that wretched experience under my belt (and it was wretched), I know better about these things. So now, you know better too. Things like this happen, we learn, and we move on, ya know?<br><br>
With the breakfast ordeal... when my kids don't make a choice, I say, "When you are ready to eat, then please tell me what you want." Or if I have to, "I am available to fix you food now. If you can't choose yet, you might not be able to get exactly what you want later." Often, we end up leaving the house without a meal having been had -- I just carry snacks with me.<br><br>
As far as the tooth brushing -- I suspect that a dose of humor might have helped things along -- but I also know that sometimes when we are tired and stressed humor is quite impossible to conjur. But something like, "Whewee boy, if you don't brush those teeth, your bad breath is going to knock the dentist down!" I dunno. Or maybe the "you brush my teeth and I'll brush your teeth at the same time" trick.<br><br>
I had a smilarly hellish day out yesterday with both my kids (if it makes you feel any better) trying to get things mailed at the PO, and picking up tampons and cat litter (dire necessities at that point.) It was sheer torture and we were all in raging tears at one point. It sucked. I don't know what I could have done differently either -- except maybe keeping myself more together emotionally. But anyway, it happens to all of us. If that was your worst day in 3 years, I think that you must be doing a pretty darn good job!<br><br>
Have some chocolate, and look forward to better days.<br><br><br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up">
 

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It sounds like a dreadful day and you held it together. When you finish beating yourself up pat yourself on the back. You lost your temper but you protected him from it. You yelled near him but not at him. You hit walls, but not him. You had a sucky day and it did not cause you to comprimise your ideals and harm your child.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You ladies are wonderful... thanks so much for the support. Today was hot and cold, but all in all a good bit better than yesterday - and this evening after class was wonderful with lots of kisses and playing and snuggling <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">.<br><br>
Mamaduck, I'm sorry you had such a hellish day yesterday. You truly amaze me with your ability to parent <b>two</b> children so gently and understandingly. I think if even someone like you can have a very bad day now and then, then I won't feel so bad for having them myself on occasion. I do hope today was much better for you...<br><br>
And kama - thanks for putting such a positive spin on things. I hadn't considered things in that light, and it definitely makes the situation a little easier to work through. It's very difficult because I was spanked as a child and my impulse is to hit when I get overwhelmed by anger (though I've never actually hit anyone, I have occasionally had to grab them to keep from hitting). I have these terrible visions in the moment of smacking ds - I guess ushering him away from me is really a protective reflex then. I hope eventually to get to a point, though, where I don't lose it to the degree that I'll need to use that reflex anymore.....<br><br>
Off to get some sleep. Take care all <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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Wow, I know what you're talking about. Dd is an almost-three year old too, and it's tough.<br><br>
I hear what people say about only two choices, eg for breakfast. But with my dd I find that being more easygoing than that helps out and wards off the tantrums. Eg, if she'd then asked for egg, but changed her mind, my usual response would be an "OK, I"ll put them in the fridge for later." It drives me nuts, but if I then ask her (again) what she wants, she will usually come round and choose something else. One big thing for her is "Open the fridge and I"ll choose what I'd like" at mealtimes. I tend to be very easygoing about this, and let her make these choices. When she's tired or just cranky, it can lead to several choices and rejected offerings, but I try to just go with the flow and not get too wound up by it. If I get stressed, usually it makes her worse and she'll then be more contrary, just to wind me up. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="rolleyes">:<br><br>
Consequently, today she had pasta and cheese for breakfast, and french toast dipped in yoghurt for dinner. We often have coleslaw or tuna fish for breakfast, and the weirdest combinations of foods for other meals, and often have ten things out of the fridge before we decide. But I try to think that this is one of the few things that she can have power over, and I don't want food to be an issue, so I let her have that power. Someone else on the boards this week made a really wise comment about making an issue of foods being a step towards power struggles and food disorders, which really rang true to me, although I know I"m more relaxed about this than most parents, even here on mdc.<br><br>
Now, I too went to the dentist this morning. Dh had the girls. If he'd not been home, I'd have cancelled the appt. No way would I expect dd to come with me. Heck, I can't even go to the loo without all hell breaking loose, so teeth cleaning? Forget it!!<br><br>
Don't be too hard on yourself. Dd has gone out in her pjs before. I remember those days when I'd look at children with mucky clothes and faces and wonder how their parents could go out the door with their kids looking like that. Ha!! Dd is currently refusing to bath. I am insisting about one day in three or four. The rest of the time, she's a total grot-bag. Sometimes it's embarrassing. But then, I try to detach myself from it and not worry what others think. So, I think I'd have taken her to the dentist in her pjs, although having said that, I'd not have gone to the appt at all, so it wouldn't have been an issue!<br><br>
I do find that if dd hasn't eaten, she is a hundred times more challenging. If she is tired, or grumpy, sometimes she'll refuse to eat and then things get worse. I'll make an admission here. There are two types of snacks that she <b>never</b> refuses. They aren't horrible (not candy) but they're not particularly healthy either, but they are a real treat. If I get totally stuck, like, we need to get out the door and into the car, and she is about to tantrum, I say in a cheery voice, "Hey, I'd like a bag of Hula Hoops/Fruitios. Would you like some too?" The mood alters immediately, and I have a co-operative child for the next five minutes. I can get her dressed/into the car/shoes on, or whatever the challenge is, while she holds the bag of snacks. Once she's eaten them, she feels better and often will follow up with something healthier to eat. But in any case, it's helped us over that almost-tantrum moment. I try to do it before things degenerate, so it's not like giving into a tantrum, more like averting it.<br><br>
I don't know if any of this has been of any help, but don't be too hard on yourself, and next time, just stay home in your pjs! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">
 

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Just want to add something that nobody has mentioned yet: Find your triggers and write them down or remember them. In my opinion, your anger didn't have a whole lot to do with your ds; you were stressed about not having studied and resentful of your dh for having slept soundly and cancelled his appt. Probably, these triggers are going to recur frequently as long as you continue to go to school. So know them. Know when you haven't gotten to study that there could be repercussions on your parenting that day. Then perhaps you can adjust, starting in the morning, your expectations for that day. For example, you've had a bad night and haven't finished your homework, so for that day you ease up and let your ds make his choices while you sit back and watch, totally conscious of the fact that if you want to control that day it could turn ugly. Does that make sense?<br><br>
BTW - I know exactly how you feel! I have a very easygoing child but fatigue and illness have got me to the point you were at that day. Congratulations for protecting your child!
 

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Thanks Kama! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love"><br><br>
Two more tips: Make eye contact or clap your hands. We all do our ranting & raving while looking around at things at our eye level, right? Get down and look your child right in the eyes. You are not likely to continue to have violent urges toward your child. I don't know, it works for me. I do it even while playing now because Iris really shines when I do. Or, if you feel the urge to hit or push or whatever, start clapping your hands. Explain to your child what you're doing. I read this somewhere. I haven't tried it yet (not that I'm constantly having the urge to hit - I do get the urge to grab her arm or pull her down to get dressed, etc.), but it sounds good.
 

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I don't think you did all that badly, actually. Sounds like quite a few mornings that we've had around here. While I would of course prefer to able to handle all frustrations in a calm, rational manner that models perfect behavior, I think it's okay for our kids to see that some of the things they do (refusing to get dressed, asking for eggs and then refusing to eat them) have the natural consequence of mommy getting upset.<br><br>
I'm not trying to say that I think these are manipulative behaviors on their part at all - rather they are totally normal, age appropriate ways of expressing frustration, exterting control, etc. But there are natural consequences to our behavior. You (and all of us) have learned what the natural consequences are if we do certain things with our children: if we try to rush them out the door without allowing enough time for them to try to tie their own shoes and put on their own shirt, we might be faced with a meltdown; if we cut the peach in half instead of giving it to him whole, we might be faced with a meltdown. I just think this goes both ways. It's okay for them to know that you are not superwoman, that you are a human being with your own emotions and frustrations.<br><br>
I hope I'm making sense. I'm not trying to say that we should just yell and scream all the time to show our kids what will happen if they don't do what we want. I'm trying to say that I think that an otherwise gentle, respectful, sensitive mom who loses her cool now and then and hits the wall (I've done this myself) is actually teaching an important lesson about human nature.
 

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Dragonfly,<br>
I just want to thank you for posting this. I had a similar day with my DS yesterday, and I was thinking that I must be a monster of a mother and was coming here for recommendations on what to do with myself. I am just glad to hear that other mama's I really respect in this community are having the same struggles. Your post reminds me that we are often being pushed beyond what we thought our limits were, days like those force us to dig a little deeper into our souls to find the control we need, and next time we'll know better.<br>
Such a great idea about writing down what your triggers are, I would add to that writing down what your child's triggers are too. It seems like sometimes the way I behave when I'm stressed is exactly the thing that triggers DS to act out against me in some way.<br>
Thank you thank you for making me feel like not-such-a-bad mama!<br>
Steph
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
ParisMaman - such great ideas! Thank you! I'm going to start that list of triggers - maybe in a journal, even. It would help to write everything out, I'm sure. And the ideas of clapping hands and reminder of kneeling down to be at eye level with ds are greatly appreciated, too. I have never spanked ds, but I have been rougher than I have liked (not jerking him around, but definitely grabbing him more roughly than I think is respectful). As you said, though, I have found that when I'm eye-to-eye with him, it's much harder to feel so removed from his humanity that I can treat him that way. And I find that when I am most irritable at brusque are the times when I am not remembering to approach him from his physical level and, instead, am hovering over him too much.<br><br>
Oceanbaby - I think you are absolutely right about the benefit to our children of seeing that their parents are also humans with strong feelings and can lose it at times. This is something my mother said, as well, when I was venting about my lack of composure to her and it really rang true.<br><br>
And Steph - I'm glad that you can benefit from my pain! :LOL (That's not sarcasm, by the way - I truly <b>am</b> glad!). This is why I love mothering.com.... I'm glad that we can all share and work through this stuff together. You ladies are wonderful <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">.<br><br>
With all that said, ds and I have had three <b>marvelous</b> days. I've been working harder on recognizing when I'm beginning to feel that heavy feeling in my chest (the predecessor to the blow-up) and taking a few moments to compose myself. And I've also been relaxing more about our days - not scheduling so many things in, letting go of the agenda and just enjoying being with him. I've been able to see him for the ultra-precious human being that he is and he's been rewarding me with spontaneous kisses and "I love you"s (not to mention splendid bouts of bursting into song at the top of his lungs). I'm such a lucky mama <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">.
 
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