I have obviously seen other people’s children misbehave, have tantrums, be so overwhelming bad that they have had to abandon trips out, play, etc but these also have the other side where the children do listen, do what their parents ask, at least some of the time, I have seen it.
Both of our children do not listen, this isn’t a passing phase, it has been all of Alice’s life and Saule is even worse, he will wait and then do the opposite, run away, laugh at us.
It got so bad yesterday I lost my voice through stress. Yes I shouted but not as much as normal, I just hadn’t got the will. I am so upset by this. The kids don’t care, they are used to it, Alice will stare at me if I am crying and then walk off, Saule doesn’t see it as anything out of the ordinary.
I don’t have time to sit down and read a book, I am losing the plot, going downhill again, I long for them to go to bed so I don’t have to battle. Luckily they sleep very early, sometimes as early as 6pm, and usually sleep through, they are both in the same room now. But they do wake around 5am.
Occasionally they go out with anuties/uncles and I am told they behave brilliantly, do everything they are asked, I have seen it for myself, I can spend all day trying to ask for something to be done and then people will visit and mention they should do it and they will. It hurts that if I am ill or if Colin is worse (he has MS and mobility problems) they behave even worse, often waiting till they are out of his reach or running off, etc.
I don’t know what to do.
This has happened with both children, progressively worsening, I am lost.
I can’t think of anything helpful to suggest (my brain needs breakfast before it can work!) but wanted to send you hugs and tell you I am thinking of you. I will pop back later if I have any inspiration. you have two lovely children who obviously adore you so try not to take it personally, although I know from personal experience it is hard not to.
I’m sorry that you’re having to deal with this, it must be making your situation so much harder. Take my advice (or don’t take it at all, lol!) like a pinch of salt, but the fact that they are behaving well with others means that they DO know what good behaviour is, but just don’t feel that they have to do it with you. In the last few years I had something similar, and I really upped the ante in terms of boundaries (which was initially against my parenting grain) but it has been a lifesaver! You shouldn’t have to lose your voice, but being consistent with things (OMG I know this is SO hard and don’t always do it myself) they should treat you with more respect. I don’t know what you’re comfortable with in terms of time outs, removing priviledges etc but it really seems for your sanity that you need to do something.
I’m actually watching a very close family member struggling with similar things, her dd is nearly 3 and treats her really badly. Everyone is watching in complete shock as she is trying to softly negotiate with her (“lets get our coats on” “NOOOOOOOO” then she starts screaming, pulling her mums hair, nipping her while her mum is gently trying to coax her to do things) my SIL is often in tears with her, the child has a very bad reputation (although in fairness she is really well behaved when alone with other family members)
Anyway hugs to you, hope you get the resolve you need soon xxx
I think Ummsalam is right, they obv know how to behave and can behave well if they do it for other people so you have taught them/helped them learn that and you should feel proud of yourself. My mum said my LOs behave worse with me because they know that we love them so don’t have to “try” so hard, a bit taking for granted in a way but in a good way that shows they love you-not helpful though when you need then to behave. My DS sounds very similar. I have started being a lot more “strict” for want of a better term. I started seeing children who “ran” their family (I don’t mean that is what is happening with you at all, just mentioning it as it helps explain why I changed a bit) and realised that it was wrong and that I needed more boundaries so that my LOs learnt mutual respect, eg I listen to them so they need to listen to me etc. I found that with a very AP view to bringing LOs up as babies I then carried it on to such an extent that I let them treat me badly and also treat other people badly. You want a baby to learn how important and loved they are but as they grow up they need to learn that everyone is important, not just them, and sometimes that means doing something they would rather not eg coming when you need them to not when they want to. I know you have had such a tough time and don’t know what to recommend really, can you rest and use tv/friends etc to give you sometime to build yourself back up, then sit down with your DH and later all together as a family and discuss some “houserules” and what will happen if they aren’t followed/what will happen if they do. It really went against my parenting idelas at first when I did this but I think it is needed here as otherwise DS, being very clever just focuses totally on what he wants and treats other people like they are his slaves. We do lots of time talking about things he has done wrong when they occur etc, I don’t just send him to a naughty step etc but he does know now that being intentionally rude will mean he loses out on possibility of getting a treat and running off/misbehaving when out in a way that is dangerous means we come straight home. DD who is 2 has the threat of reins if she tries to run off when out, again I don’t like them but with 2 children and roads etc it is the only way i can keep them both safe if she isn’ t doing what shes told
Unfortunately we already have tight boundaries, in terms of respect as well as behaviour, use reins permanently on ds (he will fight and hit and pull away from me until they slip or he can otherwise get away and then he runs up the street, into the road, wherever.
Tv is used alot, I don’t know what I would do with out it, we have always used a self regulation aspect to tv. I also restrict privileges, if we are due to go out somewhere good in their opinion I will not go if the behaviour is bad, also take away toys, it makes no difference, they just don’t seem to care. Once the privilege/toy has been taken away it is like it never existed and the behaviour remains. We have also tried the reward way round so good things happen if they are good, doesn’t work. ds doesn’t care, he’s almost 21 months, dd is almost 4.
For three weeks now I haven’t been able to go into the centre for dh’s treatment as ds is behaving so badly and I have driven round till he is asleep and when he wakes up feed him dinner, which he normally won’t eat but it distracts for a while as he walks around the car.
Sarah, I’m afraid i don’t have any advice but wanted to say I’m thinking of you. I’m happy to have them for the day sometime if you wanted to go and do something for yourself or whatever. Please use us if you need to!
I think the main thing is that it is ok for you to put boundaries etc in place if that is what you need.
I know this will seem controversial, but I don’t actually think that kids are that good at negotiating and understanding the consequences of their actions for other people, and so on at any age under about 7 or so. Not really. They just don’t really have a deep empathic understanding in place. I don’t think most kids have much of an understanding of people’s needs before something like age 5 or so, though some are better than others.
I think, tbh, -and this would be an interim measure, to break habits and get you back on an even keel-I’d just draw up a simple list of rules (“no running off. no shouting in people’s faces. Etc”). I’d actually do this on my own, and not even pretend that there was any consent to it. Then I’d go through the rules with them, attaching a clear consequence to breaking them. Then enforce them, without feeling guilty, just get on with it. The key for me would be to make it absolutely clear that I was in charge. Not them. No question about it. If your family is struggling right now, for reasons totally not your fault, IME, and I know this goes against probably everything in AP manuals but honestly, its based on experience, what your kids are probably craving is not to feel in control, not to feel that they can decide what the entire family does. I am totally pro discussion with kids, consentual space sharing, taking children seriously and all of that malarky, just not at age 3, simply because-having tried it, and haivng seen it- I feel that its too much for THEM.
Long term, I’d certainly work on family meetings and looking at some of the TCS techniques or non-violent communication or whatever but I think, right now, get yourself and your family back onto an even keel.
It is so hard being a parent! My son is 7 and at times he can be as challenging as when he was two.we completely banished tv for him a year ago and I must say he became so much easier. All three of them, age 10,7,2 are allowed one film a month now, that’s it. It was hard in the beginning as the eldest two had watched too much tv, they did get very bored and moan. Now they are doing much better in music lessons, they play better alone and are more content in doing nothing. The little one is so much more placid and easy, this could be her nature, but I think a quieter house without tv helps.
I’m also trying to have rhythm to every day, this is hard as we have always been quite chaotic, self employed, rush rush, meals out too much etc, but I know on days when the rhythm is right, meals planned, time outside etc things are better.
I hope things are better for you soon.
sarie I cross posted with you, sorry, I didn’t realise quite HOW young your kids were.
ok 21 month old boys can be PITAs and really unlike girls. They seem to have their limbs permanently switched to on. I remember when my second child, a girl, was about 18 months I was just amazed that if I put her down she would stay put, and if she did run it was somewhere sensible and predictable.
ok I think, tbh, with a 21 month old boy I wouldn’t really expect to be able to go into town and for him to behave. I am also remembering back to when I worked with families (benefits and housing advice), and I always kept a supply of bits and pieces to distract the little kids that came in with their parents-which worked really well, for little girls who liked scribbling or sticking stickers everywhere or whatever. For the little boys, the only thing that generally ever worked was to just say to the parents, “listen, its really ok for him to run round the office and jump off chairs and so on, I don’t mind if you don’t.“ (we NEEDED to get those interviews done and the interview rooms were pretty bare anyway). Aside from food in the pushchair, that was about all that ever worked, on average little boys, unless they were asleep.
What I’m trying to say is that this isn’t bad behaviour, its very very normal. It would probably be more worrying if he wasn’t like this. Your problem is that you have a situation that society isn’t set up to deal with.
Do you need to go into town with your partner for these visits? Can someone else go with him? Failing that, would you consider a childminder for your son for these visits?
The only thing that might work, in extremis, is to get some kind of handheld tv set/video set?
He really sounds like a very normal little boy. I think some of us, me included, are extremely good at noticing what our own kids do wrong and what others do right. He’s also, tbh, probably in situations that other kids do not have to deal with,eg NEEDING to be quiet and behave in town. When my kids were this age they were literally never in the situation you describe, most kids just aren’t. You have the situation you have, don’t beat yourself up about it, but also don’t compare your family to those, like mine, who have it incredibly easy in comparison.
Also i don’t think reins are a bad thing. i think a lot of parents who don’t use reins either put their kids in the car or in the pushchair all the time. Or even a sling, tbh. Reins are much better than any of those options for a 21 month old, its always better they get used to walking, IMO.
re the asking for things, two thing, first, IME kids generally but boys especially usually need very very clear instructions. Not “would you mind awfully fetching that thing darling” but “x. Please get the banana. Thank you”. I expect you know this but just to say. Clear loud voice too. Also, tbh at 21 months he might just not understand everything said to him. boys do develop language slower than girls. He could possibly seem to have better understanding that he does if he’s taking cues from his sister. Another possibility,long shot, but my oldest like a lot of boys gets clogged up ear things after a cold and then he actually doesn’t hear a lot of things. Of course it would not occur to him to tell us that he is having problems. His hearing is normally exceptionally acute (I know this because we have had it repeatedly tested, owing to above) Very very common esp in boys. Its winter and there are colds about-could that be a possibility?
Good advice already on boundaries, etc although it sounds like you have them in place already. Is there an element of Alice wanting to be in charge? (not sure about Saule though unless he’s copying older sibling?). Maybe with knowing that you have dh to care for and sometimes his needs are more than hers are something she can’t comprehend properly and she’s asserting her independence but without really knowing how to (just thinking out loud here , could be way off). My friends youngest (of 2) doesn’t listen and consequences, etc just go over her head - she really acts like she isn’t bothered and it’s hard to see, so must be so much harder to deal with it.
I’m sure you do already, but getting their eye contact when talking to them - short sentences/requests - get them to repeat it back to you to check they heard and understood, using their name to request something or a behaviour. I’ve always been a fan of giving choices but in this situation I would remove choices, show you are in charge - don’t know which you do anyway. Short term you need to take control and when they start responding then they can gain some choices back. They need to know you mean what you say, so be consistent and follow through with any consequences you are comfortable with using, it may not be your ideal but if it gets results now and things improve then things can change later.
I don’t know what you think about systems of rewarding good behaviour, or whether it would have any effect? Feel free to ignore if they’re not for you or wouldn’t work anyway.
I’m guessing you think it’s more to do with willful not listening but maybe get their ears checked out, is it glue ear that can affect youngsters and listening, so maybe worth checking out even just to eliminate it.
((hugs)), although it isn’t going to help practically.
Don’t feel bad about the yelling, it happens, we don’t mean it ... we can’t go back and change it though, just hope it’s not how we react next time, but it happens.
I so totally sympathise. When my children were that age they were really hard work. When they were 2 (ds) and 4 (dd) it was incredibly hard. DD had decided she knew everything and totally pushed the boundaries to the extent I started to wonder if she had behavioural issues. She would scream at me as if she was going through puberty and once she was in that frame of mind there was NO stopping her. She also didn’t appear to “get” other people’s feelings - especially mine. My son was also like your son - running around all over the place. I couldn’t let him go for a second as he would (and it did happen) be in the middle of the road. It’s a godsend that he is still with us the amount of near misses he had! It is totally exhausting.
I’m trying to think back to what I did - but I think as others have said I started to be harder than normal. I took things away. I think I actually used the “bottom step” of the stairs which is normally something I wouldn’t have done, for my son and my daughter had to be carried upstairs and put behind the stair gate in her room as she was MUCH too defiant to sit on the bottom step! It must have sounded awful to next door as she would scream her head off as I was carrying her upstairs screaming “no, don’t hurt me! Don’t hurt me!” when all I was doing was putting her in her room! Once she learnt how to open the stair gate it was MUCH harder and I would just have to try (although often fail) to be consitent and tell her she was staying up there for 5mins and every time she came down the 5 mins would start again. Once it got to the 5 minutes I’d go up and talk to her and give her a cuddle but told her if it started again once we were down stairs the whole thing would start over again (which it did on many occasions). I remember it felt like this was how they would be permanently but it really wasn’t. Once I managed to get through a few days of consistency she realised that it simply wasn’t worth it and we had less and less occurences of this behaviour.
She still does have a temper and even now at 9yrs old she can completely go off on one - and when she does - she’s in it for the long haul! There’s not short sharp outburst but a good couple of hours worth of tantrum…but it tends to be for reasons that I understand (even though I can’t stand it!). If she’s over tired. Or hungry. They are the main culprits for total anger on her part. Oh, and I had to really watch what she was eating. Too much sugar (in the form of home made cakes for eg) would send her over the edge and now things like too much screen time can do it too. We have quite a limit on screens in this house now as I feel a lot of their behaviour was due to sitting passively for too long. Neither really like tv now (apart from dancing on ice/sports/animal type programmes) but they do like the odd film or their games consoles. But we have a limit to 4 hours a week which is normally spread over 2 days. They do lose their screen time now if need be (ie very bad behaviour) but I have found that since they don’t have free access to screens they play SO much better and their behaviour is generally better too.
Gosh I have gone on a bit (as I do!) but just wanted you to know you’re not alone and it won’t last forever. They are at very tough ages. x x x
Hello my lovely, is it possible that you could simplify things for a while…i.e. not go out on trips, playdates etc. This is just an idea from my experience…when my depression was at its worst, I’d try and get out with DS, my own tolerances were low and *everything* turned into one big tantrum…from both of us. And so I accepted the fact that I just couldn’t do this at that time. So we started staying at home more. DS loved it, it eased pressure on us both as we could just relax and amble through the day, it let me begin to think about looking after myself better so I could cope with DS better. I’m not applying any of this to you, please don’t think I’m comparing us both, but, if it’s possible, just be at home with them for while, as much as possible. This will relieve the pressure a bit, allow you some rest and begin to think about what strategies would work for you…and then begin to address these with your little ones. I know you might need some fresh air, it depends on how well they get on with being in the house too - but I think you have a garden, from memory, so just let them out there. This all might take a bit or organising, and perhaps some time to adjust to, but if it works it’ll be worth it.
Please please pm me if you need to talk, whilst our situations are different in many ways, they are also quite similar in other ways.
I just wanted to sympathise and agree with a lot of the replies. I m really enjoying reading them because I am feeling less of a bad mother. My eldest (5) is very like your two. My youngest, another boy (2) is completely different.
Ds1 is so loving, sweet and kind and desperate to help. He also seems to be quite clever but he just won’t listen and it is really exhausting. I resort to television but rarely will he watch it without having to do handstands at the same time. When he was much younger I didn’t know what to do with him and bought he soooo many toys, he didn’t want my attention and didn’t want the toys. I was desperate to communicate with him. As he has grown up, he has changed and I do think school has helped him, taught him to listen. He can still be wild but not all of the time like he was. He is now interested in things. Sticker charts, naughty steps, taking toys away etc never worked for him. I have developed a way of talking to him that he responds to but I can’t quite explain it and I will have to try and remember next time I use it to let you know what it is. Telling him straight never worked and doesn’t now but that probably wouldn’t work for Saul now just because he is so little. Dh doesn’t get it as he isn’t around much so will go straight in to resolve a situation or getting him to do something and it results in complete melt downs from both ds and dh. I am now shocked when I ask him to do something and he does it. I still tentatively open cereal bars to discover it has been broken in two and wait for the complete melt down that came with it. It just doesn’t happen any more and I am so so shocked.
The hardest thing is looking at the situation when you are tired. Impossible I know and have been there, but make sure you are looking after yourself to then in turn look after your little ones with a clear head.
You will all get there, but it is horrible and the guilt that comes along with it. I hate that.
Totally understand. Pip is the worst and she knows that Dave cannot chase after her and that it is a struggle for me too. When we are having a really bad day I long for bedtime to come around. The only way we’ve managed to stop the really crazy middle of the night wanting to get up is for Pip to co sleep with Dave in our bed and I sleep in hers! If you can get your sleep you can manage better for sure.
I do know that kids pick up on tension and sickness in the house and I know like us you cannot change your circumstances but just knowing this might help you understand why they are behaving the way they do and that it is not your fault.
Things do settle down, it is not much help right now but just wanted to offer that glimmer of hope.
There is some good advice here, we all find our way of doing things that work for us but it is such a fine balance between boundaries and freedom. I agree that young children do not always understand the consequences of their behaviour. Our parameters of boundaries and freedom in relation to our children’s behaviour is formed by many influences eg, how we were bought up, how we perceive that society expects children to behave, and what is perceived as naughty and willful. I don’t believe that very young children are often intentionally naughty, if they don’t understand the consequences of their behaviour how can they be. Most behaviour that we would perceive as naughty or willful is likely to be an unmet need manifesting itself through the way they are behaving as they are unable to express themselves in any other way. Taking time to work this out (the unmet need) is not always easy in a crisis but if you can it does make the situation much calmer. If we try to control our children’s behaviour to exactly how we want them the behave, in many situations, I don’t believe that our expectations will be met, we are all individuals.
I totally disagree with giving rewards for good behaviour as I feel that a child then only learns how to please you and behave how you want them, that your love is conditional on them behaving how you want them to. This doesn’t mean that I believe that I believe that children should do what ever they want.
Sarie you mentioned that your ds always wears reins when you are out and about, I personally have never used them (and no I don’t use a pram or car seat and stopped carrying everywhere around 2) you also mentioned that he always runs off if he doesn’t have these on. Is he always unsafe if he runs off? If he is running in to the road could you spend a short amount of time standing next to a busy road and talking to him about what would happen if he ran in to the road? I know that I have said that children do not always understand the consequences of their behaviour, but this did work for my eldest. If he is not always unsafe running off what is your reason for not allowing him to do this? Can you give him a boundary to run to and then run back to you? I have always allowed my children to run off, provided it is safe to do, they have good road sense (youngest not yet 3) and always wait at roads to cross over together. I have a friend with the same age children, they are kept on a tight leash and have no road sense at all, in a very quiet car park when were together recently they had to stand by the car whilst mine were running around (we had had a conversation about car parks before we got out the car) .
With regards to boys not appearing to listen has your ds had a growth spurt recently? When boys have growth spurts their ear canals can get stretched and they can get temporarily hard of hearing for a while!
Lastly I agree with looking after yourself first, I have not been well myself in the last few months and it has been really hard. If you don’t love, respect and look after yourself you will find it so hard to love, respect and care for others.
Sari, (((hugs))) I don’t gave time to write much, but just sending love and echoing all the wonderful advice. My DD appeared not ‘to care’ until she was about seven too, so it’s not unusual for you to be going though this. You have my number, please call me as there are a couple if things I’d like to suggest about ‘expectation’, boundaries and language patterns which might help you xx