Thursday, May 17, 2007

At Wit's End, Ready to Break

My daughter has developed quite a problem with talking back. She will be 3 in August and I swear that she has the attitude of a 13 year old. Ask her nicely to do something - No. Tell her to do it - NO. Tell her to please do it or she will be in trouble - NONONONONONONONONONO. Ask her if she'd rather go in the corner - YES. So tell her to go to the corner - NONONONONONONONONONONONO. Make her go to the corner - she screams, yells, shouts, cries, hyperventilates, gags, etc. All she has to do is calm down and apologize, but she will not do it, she'd rather throw her temper tantrum. She denies doing wrong - when we tell her the reason she is in trouble is because she did such-and-such, she responds with "No I didn't." A 2 minute time out usually ends up taking 10 minutes or more for her (and me) to calm down.

This child has an answer for everything and she contradicts everything that is said to her. If you tell her to please stop climbing on you because it hurts, she says "No it doesn't hurt." And also doesn't stop climbing on you. And so begins the whole process again, ending in the corner. If we ask her to please stop jumping off the furniture because she could get hurt, she says "No. I'm not gonna get hurt." I swear, I have no idea what to do anymore. We've tried repeatedly telling her calmly not to do things - she doesn't stop no matter how many times she is told. We've tried timeouts where I hold her on my lap - now that I'm pregnant, I can't be doing that because she hurts me. We've tried ignoring it. We've tried explaining that it is wrong to talk back, and explaining what talking back is. Now we've moved on to the corner. And the times that she continues to talk back while she's in the corner, we take a toy away for a while. Yet her mouth just keeps getting worse. At times it takes every ounce of energy I have to keep from beating the crap out of her. She has gotten spanked on the butt a few times, but it seems to make no difference. Sometimes when I am at my wits end and she has pushed me too far, I snap a little. When I've absolutely had it and she is refusing to go to the corner continuously shouting no at me, I push her towards it.

I don't think I have the right temperament to deal with this stubborn of a child. She is the most obstinate toddler I have ever known. I have no patience. I'm afraid I'm doing her damage by yelling at her so much, and especially the pushing her towards the corner. I shouldn't push her, I know that, but I can't seem to help myself. Honestly, I think it has happened 3 times now. Today I think I had a witness to my breakdown, so I guess if CPS doesn't show up at my door tomorrow then maybe I'm not as bad as I think. Sometimes I think I'm an unfit mother because I can't control my temper. No, I don't beat my child, but sometimes I really feel like it. I can't seem to deal with her calmly. She pushes every button I have, over and over and over. I'm exhausted and I just can't take it anymore. To top it all off, the child never shuts up. Never. She talks nonstop. So when it's been a hard day and I'm tired and I just need some peace and quiet to calm down, I can't get it. I've tried locking myself in the bathroom - she bangs on the door and shouts to me. I go upstairs - she follows. I ask her to please just be quiet for 5 minutes - she seems to be incapable. Her normal voice sounds like shouting and it grates on my nerves by the end of the day sometimes.

She's incredibly smart (really, she is) and I wonder if that has something to do with it somehow. She talks as well as a 4 or 5 year old, knows her alphabet, colors, etc, can do some counting of objects, tells elaborate stories, sings a bunch of songs by heart, etc. Maybe she's not getting the intellectual stimulation she needs and it's causing her to act out? Maybe she's just not getting enough one-on-one attention - I have been super tired this pregnancy and don't have the energy to play with her as much? I thought I'd try teaching her some stuff, like which letters are which and some words, because I think she's ready and also because it's something we can do together while sitting nicely, but she doesn't seem to be able to sit still for it. I've always called her my ADD child but people tell me it's too soon for that. She really is the most active child I (and my Mom who has 7 grandchildren, my mother-in-law, and several of our friends) have ever seen - constantly on the move, never sitting still for more than a minute or two, when she does sit she squirms around all the time, she talks nonstop, and is just plain hyper all the time. Am I just looking for excuses or is this not normal?

Any advice? I can take some criticism, but please, if you're going to tell me I'm doing it all wrong and/or have a serious problem, please do it nicely. I feel bad enough!

P.S. I just wanted to add that this isn't how every day is. And it's not all we do, yell and fight. We spend a lot of time having fun and cuddling and stuff like that too. I love my daughter with all my heart, I just don't know how to discipline her properly.


Trying to convince my uterus to co-operate said...

Ok. All joking aside, you described my son to a T. He is just as active, mouthy, could care less about being disciplined, and as much as I may hate to admit it walks all over me. It has been driving me nuts. I wish I had some advice to offer you, but I will say it makes me feel slightly better to know I am not the only one facing this (losing) battle. Today during storytime at Borders I actually had to give him a little whack on the butt. He was being so ugly to everyone. When it comes to taking toys away I get "Fine, just take it." When things get to the point that I tell him if he continues he will get spanked he rolls over and puts his butt up in the air waiting for it. The reality is it is just a warning. He has no concept of this, or maybe he does and he wants to see how far he can push me. When he acts like that I do go ahead and spank him - he laughs. Makes me feel like a great parent.

What to do? I guess we just forge forward, mantain any shred of our sanity that we can, and pray that this is a phase. I keep reminding myself of something I read in one of those parenting magazines. It said something to the effect of children will test the person they trust the most more than anyone else. I also remind myself, regularly and often that I AM THE ADULT. I AM THE ADULT. I AM THE ADULT.

I wish you luck and strength. If you ever need vent or talk to someone who might understamd please feel free to email me. vbombace at hotmail dot com. Good luck!!

Furrow said...

I'm glad you added the P.S. I was starting to worry about what I'd gotten myself into.

I'll have to remember that "I am the adult" mantra. Sometimes, with my dog and cat, I have to remind myself that "I AM THE HUMAN." As if that means anything.

I'm sorry that I don't have any advice. Maybe I'll come to you for some in 3 years or so.

MamaChristy said...

Am I your witness? I think so. She was being a beast, mouthy little thing and I really think you did the right thing. She wasn't listening and was being beasty and beligerant and you HAVE to let her know that that behavior is wrong. It may seem like shedoesn't listen and isn't learning, but I really think she is. Like "Trying to..." said, they push the buttons of the people they love adn trust the most. You have earned that trust and that you stop yourself when the urge strikes to hit her shows that you have the self-control you need.

I have seen you in action and I KNOW you are a good mother. This is a trying age even if your kid is a complete angel. Perhaps a mother's day out program one afternoon a week would be good for you both?

OHN said...

There were so many times that I thought I would lose my mind when the boys were little. For some reason age 2 1/2-4 was the worst time for them..testing me almost continuously throughout the day. Some days when they would go to bed I would be in tears because I felt so guilty for yelling and punishing all day. It wasn't the actual acts of doing bad things it was their attitudes and mouths. At this age they are soaking up things like sponges and I had to keep on my toes to try to find new things to interest them and keep their focus. One was easy..he loved to draw, build and create things. The next one couldn't sit his butt at the table long enough to eat a sandwich. He would be half sitting/standing, while bouncing on one leg. I would have sworn the would choke to death because he never sat still. Now that he is into organized sports all that energy gets put to a positive use. But to be truthful, he does need medication to focus in school. I know there is a big debate about medicating and not medicating but for us, it is the right thing. As son #1 was getting older he started to have some personality issues. He had always been loving, very very bright and an excellent student. Suddenly he became moody, angry, distant and I was scared to death. Long story short, he was FINALLY diagnosed with a slight form of Autism and we were shocked. I was very misinformed and thought that meant slow or antisocial to the 10th degree...I had no idea there were levels and how they were manifested. He too was put on a very low dose of medication and has blossomed back to the guy he was before. It sounds like I am drugging my children and I dont want it to sound that way. I agree it IS NOT right for EVERY family or EVERY situation but for us it worked. In looking back I wish I had sought answers earlier and not chalked it up to a passing phase. I truly think it would have saved all of us alot of heartache.

Roy said...

I know I'm late, and I probably won't be helpful at all, but my stepson was the cursing type. Not even 2 years old I told him to pick up his toys before bathtime. His response: "fuck you, bitch." Calm as could be, like he said it all the time. Mama Roy was livid. But, I tried to stay calm and employed my mom's favorite tactic- guilt. "If you can't speak nicely to me, you can't be around me. If you loved me you wouldn't say those mean things. You're not allowed to talk to me until you can be nice." He hasn't cursed at me since. Although, Little H is a sensitive kind of boy, can't handle somebody he loves being upset with him. Still worth a try.

p.s. This is Roy over at Toy Soldiers, I just can't sign into blogger on this darn computer, I'm lost as to why, it just won't let me.