I’ve had a week from hell.
It’s hard to admit it but I have honestly felt like I have struggled in my role as a parent after what has been a very trying, emotionally draining time.
Most parents at one point in their lives will get to the stage when they want to lock themselves (or their children) into a room and scream – very loudly. That was me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my children and I wouldn’t have them any other way. They have plenty of character and know their own minds. They can be hilarious but they can also be maddening. How can that be? They’re only three and a half and nearly two! But when they consistently throw tantrums, are rude and lash out it gets difficult to handle – as most parents know.
It was bath time and my eldest started to misbehave, as they do. Maybe she’s just tired, I think, trying to justify her behaviour. Children are just as entitled to scream and shout and get emotional when they are tired as adults are. Maybe she just needs a hug.
So I tried to be gentle and that didn’t work. She didn’t want to come out of the bath and decided to splash as much water out of the bath as she possibly could. It was late and I was also trying to bath a two year old at the same time so I wasn’t in a laughing mood. When she didn’t listen for a third and fourth time I tried to be firm and threatened no story and she freaked out. Not just crying, but screaming and shouting and throwing a proper wobbly.
It would have been funny if I wasn’t so tired.
The only thing I could do was to get her out of the bath and leave her to writhe on the floor while I sorted child number 2. But this made her worse. As did my decision to completely ignore her behaviour. I desperately wanted to give her a hug but didn’t want to back down. I was also juggling two children on my own.
I told her I wasn’t going to talk to her until she calmed down and talked properly and eventually she did. But it took at least half an hour. She was particularly distressed that I wouldn’t be her best friend!
Now, I don’t want my children to grow up being the bully, or the rude one who doesn’t respect people. I want just what all parents want – happy, polite children who are mostly well behaved and kind but may occasionally let that slip, just as we all do when we are cranky. Whatever the reason surely I have to draw the line somewhere and say enough is enough?
It finally worked. As I dressed my youngest for bed (who had also begun to cry) she slowly calmed down and I eventually managed to get them both to bed.
Talking to friends I have since realised that maybe I’m not such a bad parent and that many parents go through this stage with their children – especially when they are so close in age.
But it doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty. Are other people’s children ever this difficult? Is it because I’m not showing them enough love and attention? Maybe I’ve been overcompensating and going the other way because I have been feeling guilty for this reason and my cunning child has figured me out!
One thing this awful week has taught me is that my husband and I, who are pretty good at backing each other up, need a more defined plan in dealing with tantrums and stick to it. We have decided to try and be firm, use the naughty step after three warnings (thank you Supernanny!) and if that doesn’t work then remove treats and special toys. But more than anything, we have decided to start rewarding good behaviour, praising more and making her feel like she has achieved something when she has behaved well.
We have already put it into practice and it seems to be working – slowly. It has made me feel better, stronger. But I can’t wait to be past this phase!
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