Being a mum is hard work at the best of times! Sometimes it is exceptional hard, and when you hit a phase (please let it be a phase!), of particularly difficult behaviour it feels like an uphill struggle. As mums we love unconditionally these little human beings we have created, but sometimes don’t they just test you to the limits!
Bad Behaviour? or Just being a Threenager!
Over the last few months we have had some behavioural issues with my youngest Oliver. He is 3 1/2. Before I start writing, I want to make it absolutely clear that I love him to the moon and back, completely unconditionally, and is this is by no means a post to moan about how hard I have it. I am very aware that others have it harder and that I am truly blessed by my children and would not have it any other way, despite what challenges are thrown at us!
Oliver has always been in my dad’s words a ‘spirited child’, full of character! That means he has always been very bold and had no fear. As soon as he could walk that was it, no more pram. Reigns or anything of the such like were a complete no no, and he was the child that would just run with no regard were mummy or daddy were. It became a problem taking him out unless it was somewhere that he could run free safely without being restrained.
Over 2 years later the same applies.
Everyone told me it’s ’cause he’s a boy’, ‘he’ll grow out of it’ , and yet the behaviour is getting worse. In particularly over the last few months since his big sister started school. They are really close, in age (only 15 months between them) and in their relationship, and her developing her own life and friends away from him has hit him hard. To try and compensate I have reduced my work hours significantly to try and spend more time with him one on one which we never really had when he was a baby.
But the battle continues. The inability to follow instructions, selective hearing, tantrums, unable to talk at a normal volume and insisting on shouting all the time (even fist thing in the morning) is getting worse. From my understanding this is probably normal behaviour at his age, but there is no let up. Recently there have been few good days.
He doesn’t understand the word no. (I appreciate this is not uncommon!) No!, means him replying no, no, no and continuing to do it anyway until I end up shouting or physically stopping him, which results in a meltdown. There is no reasoning with him, no understanding of consequence. Well either he doesn’t understand or he just doesn’t care!
Recently I took him to the shops, just for a short while as I needed to go. He insisted on keep running off despite promising a reward if he was good. I had to hold his hand to keep him safe and with me, to which I had him screaming ‘mummy let me go’ throughout trying to prise his hand from mine. After many tears (just his initially) and me talking sternly and firmly to him that he must stay with me (yes I got down to his level, and reminded him of the good boy reward if he managed it) he promised me he would be a good boy, to which I let go of his hand. Immediately he ran off, laughing as he went without so much as a look back to see if I was following. Shopping trip was abandoned.
That is just one of the most recent examples I can think of. Now I generally don’t go anywhere on my own with him unless he can run free and not be in danger. Even at home when I try and get him to engage in an activity, his attention span is so short. He will ask to play a game, I get it out, set it up and explain what to do. I know he is only young and doesn’t get ‘rules’ but I make up a simple way he can engage with it, but generally he wants to destroy things, rip or break and if I stop him it’s meltdown again.
He recently had an audiology appointment, which was fine, and then a speech therapy assessment. He has a good vocabulary but struggles with pronunciation sometimes, which he finds frustrating and can make him quite angry. The speech therapist was lovely, but had more concerns over his behaviour than his speech and she saw first hand the lack of attention, disregard for anything I said and the meltdowns. I’m ashamed to say but I broke down too. Whilst she said that she didn’t see anything that was concerning to her, she suggested I seek help from my health visitor and perhaps attend a parenting course.
I came out of that appointment with mixed feelings. Relieved that someone else recognised that his behaviour was challenging and exhausting at best, but also the thought that I needed help? Does this mean i’m failing miserably as a parent? Should I not be able to cope with this on my own? Do I really need to go on a course to tell me how to be a better parent?
I don’t know. I’ve been over it again and again and I’m still in mixed mind. I want to be the best mum I can be, and of course I want to do the best for my children, but the stubborn part of me thinks I can do this on my own. Or do I need help? I’m hoping this is just a ‘phase’ as a way of him dealing with the stress of his older sibling starting school, but is it? I really don’t know what to do for the best.
I’m hoping we will work through it. Is this normal behaviour for a 3 1/2 year old boy that misses his older sister? or more than that? I just want my happy little boy back where I don’t have to be shouty mummy all the time.
I’d love to know if you’ve had similar problems and how you have resolved them? Most of all I’d love to hear I’m not in this on my own on this steep learning curve they call parenthood!!