She's driving me to a breaking point!

Alicia - posted on 06/22/2010 ( 11 moms have responded )

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Please help, my 3.5 yo gifted daughter is SERIOUSLY driving me to the breaking point! She absolutely REFUSES to listen to anybody unless we yell, threaten or spank. I hate being the mother who realizes that she has the kid that needs a leash, needs a good spank, and needs to be yelled at and will hopefully be resilient enough to grow up right. There are just some days where I wish she wasn't born. It's a terrible thought I know, and I feel like a bad mom but things are difficult at my house. First off, I live with my parents because my husband and I have been financially struggling. Terrible, terrible idea! I could have the parenting thing down all day and as soon as my mother comes home my child becomes an EVIL BRAT! That's because anytime and EVERYTIME my daughter cries or whines even a little, Grandma gives in! Grandpa is okay he knows his place and doesn't cross the line (he just gets nervous when she's all over the place). My mother DELIBERATELY tries to get her to "like her better" because she gives in..IMMEDIATELY making ME the BAD GUY. Not to mention when my dd is well-deserving of a time out, my mother argues with me in front of her as to why she SHOULDN'T! How is my daughter going to listen to me and my hubby THE PARENTS if my mother sabotages my rights of raising her THE WAY I WANT?! I'm going insane: Talking doesn't work, yelling leads to more yelling, "meetings," my husband talking to my mother, etc. my mom is EVIL! I am at a loss now how to discipline my daughter because of her..I feel like I've lost my will to be a parent. Any tips on handling a handful of daily chaos would be helpful, and reduces stress b/c im her primary caregiver.

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Julie - posted on 06/24/2010

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It's fun isn't it? First, your daughter. If you are letting all of your frustrations get to the point where you are willing to take it all out on her you need the time out. She is 3.5 years old - she may be gifted in one or many areas but that does not mean she or any other gifted and talented child/adult in a situation is able to handle particular situations with mastery. You are already putting a lot of pressure on her to perform at 3.5 years old and it sounds like you think she's acting like this on purpose. I think you have realized that yelling, threatening, spanking, etc. does no good - your child will shut down and any parent that loses control does not teach their child how to handle stress, anger, frustration, or how to treat others with respect. How do you react when you get yelled at, threatened, or physically attacked? What you don't realize, and what no one in society has ever discussed are these are forms of verbal,emotional, and physical abuse used to control situations when people who feel powerless for some reason are trying to gain some control of their lives back - as well as ploys to "like me better". It's happened to all of us. So, you are the bad guy - I've been the bad guy for many years. I've set limits. That's part of being a parent. As far as your parents, I can almost guarentee most of us have been in similar situations - everytime we go back home for a visit or when parents come to visit them. It's a conflict of finding a balance between your parent's vision of you as their child still, even though you are an adult vs. your view of yourself as the parent and not a child. I would suggest to respectfully stand up to your parents as a team, but also tell them how much you appreciate them helping you, how you appreciated them in the past, what you have liked them doing in the present and if there is something different you want them to do instead offer the suggestion politely. For ex. I appreciate your advice Mom, but when you___________it makes me feel_______ and that etc. . Once you set limits for both your parents and your daughter things should be more manageable. Good luck and breathe - walk, take time for yourself. Enjoy your daughter. Take care.

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Candace - posted on 08/25/2010

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You couldnt be more right...living with parents when you have kids is NEVER a good idea because it becomes a power struggle everytime...! either get out of there...or do what I did with my Dad...in an abrupt, rude way reminded him of the fact that IAM THE ONE THAT GAVE BIRTH to them! eventually he got the hint and backd off (it was not easy for him, I could tell) but once he figured out it was ruining OUR relationship, he realised he had to smarten up. Good luck sweetie, I know this one is one of the hardest challenges we face. Your daughter may very well be acting the way she does cause theres too many cheifs and not enough indians! my daughter did! :)

Christa - posted on 08/21/2010

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I didn't read all the post's but For my 31/2 year old I found that the book "how to raise a spirited child" Totally helped me. Helped you see what they were going through there for you can stop some things before they happen or at least see them coming! Just a thought, I know it can be tough, good luck!

Candi - posted on 08/16/2010

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First, you are the boss, not your mom. Without being harsh or disrespectful, you should make that very clear to her. I have the same problem with my own mother and she tries to bully me into agreeing with her since she's the "older, wiser woman". Perhaps both of those ideas are true, but that doesn't give her the ultimate authority as parent. There are times you may want her advice and that is okay. But those are "advisory duties", not "parental duties".
Also, being in charge of your child does not necessarily mean yelling and spanking. You must first be in charge of yourself before you can be in charge of another person, your child. (We are all fallible, though. Don't be too hard on yourself when you slip up. Just apologize and move on.) Just remember, treat your child the way you would want to be treated when you make a mistake. We all make mistakes so it's not a matter of "if" you make a mistake but "when".
Next, set boundaries and guidelines that are reasonable for your child. She may be acting out because she can't handle her own behavior in the environment she's presented with. She may be tired. She may be confused, tired or hungry. She may even be overstimulated.
Your daughter needs a lot of nurturing and connection along with the guidelines and boundaries. Discipline is part punishment and part guidance. Think of your daughter being lost in the dark. Someone shouting directions to you would do less good than having someone take you by the hand and reassuring you as they lead you along the way you should go. Sometimes your daughter might be crying out for reassuring guidance. I don't say this because I think you don't give this to her. In fact, I don't even know. But I know that when I get to the point of frustration that I hear in your message,( and trust me, I often do!) I often forget to do the kind of parenting I described above. It's just too emotionally taxing for me. The amazing thing is, when I do spend some quiet time relating to my daughters, I find that the rules often become easier for them to follow. They understand. And then it feels like we are on the same side instead of fighting against each other. This doesn't always happen because they are children and mostly immature. But occasionally I see glimmers of hope that they are maturing. This does not mean you remove the boundaries. It just means that after the time out is finished, the tantrums have calmed down you spend some together time that is positive and encouraging, explaining the reasons behind the rules. Don't get me wrong, do not do this to CONVINCE THEM of the rules. This becomes a tactic that doesn't work and only leads to endless debates as the child gets better at articulating. Define the rule, describe the infraction and give the consequence. When that time is over, then do the connecting. Go for a walk, play a special game together, read her a favorite book. Remember, she paid her dues already by enduring the consequence. When that time is over don't draw out the negativity or she will become frustrated. Who wants to pay a parking or speeding ticket over and over again?!
Now, more about your mom. You have to be absolutely clear about your expectations and be willing to do something to limit her exposure to your daughter. You risk being the "bad guy" but sometimes a mother's job means being just that. I know that isn't reassuring news to hear. I've been in the same position you describe and it's very frustrating. You may even have to intervene directly if your mother has done something directly against your expressed desire. This means if you say "No, she can't go outside to play." and your mother lets her go outside to play, you march over and take your daughter by the hand and march her back inside again. If you've said, "No, she can't have dessert yet, she needs to finish her dinner" and your mom gives it to her anyways, you reach down and take it away. Your daughter will figure out soon enough who the boss is and she'll actually start looking to you for guidance. Remember, for the most part, if the guidelines are clear and enforced kids WANT TO PLEASE THEIR PARENTS. And if you give her the praise and affection she needs she'll be looking to you for that as well. Be liberal in your praise.
On a different note. It is in a grandparent's natural instinct to spoil the grand kids. This is something they take pleasure in. There is a very small chance, though from your message the likelihood is minute, that she means no disrespect, especially if your wishes have not been clearly expressed to her. In fact, if there is not a direct rule against something it may be confusing for her to even know what you want from her. You may have to help her understand, and explain to her respectfully, what your expectations are. Are there lots of gray areas that aren't spelled out? If your daughter is confused by the rules your mom might be, too. It might even help for you to tell your mother to say..."I'm fine, as long as it's okay with your mother. Let's go find out" Or even, "Your mom's the boss on that one, sweetheart".
You have every reason to feel frustrated. I would feel frustrated in the same circumstance. You need to have some authority and you're having a hard time getting the respect you need as a parent, from your daughter as well as your mother.
Hang in there. You have a very tough job. I've been there and I made it through. Be tough, be kind, be persistent. And most of all, love on that daughter. She's only small for a little while and she craves your attention like nothing else.

Rachel - posted on 07/19/2010

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Oh my! My precious daughter can be a pill at times as well. She is extremely strong-willed. A book I amreading right now is "Parenting the Strong Willed Child" by Dr. Dobson. Also, he wrote a good book entitled "Dare to Discipline." As far as living with your family, that is tough. Have you confronted your mother about it? Make sure that if and when you do, you are calm and collected. She might use the argument that you are under her roof. You may have other options, though. I wish I had more info for you, but if I find some, I will let you know.

Alicia - posted on 07/18/2010

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Well, thank you all for your very honest opinions about my situation. Yes, I am grateful to them financially but it is a constant struggle to keep a balance in the midst of chaos. My husband and I found that she is MUCH better when we take her to our friends' house because they are very low-key people and know how to have fun. Our friends are like a second family to us and they are willing to accommodate all three of us in their small house. We have been staying there for two-3 days/nights at a time and come back home feeling like refreshed parents. She loves spending time with our friends and so do we. Also, she was recently accepted into daycare! I am a part time college student and it will be great that she'll be on the campus daycare with me! Also, she'll spend a great deal of time interacting with other kids her age for a couple hrs a day 4X a week, which means she'll spend less time at home with my folks. Also, she's good friends with the kids across the street from us and I take her there almost everyday. I think every so often we need to feel (as parents) that we're in charge of raising our beautiful and smart little girl. With the right kind of help, we're getting by with a little help from our friends. I also realized that I need to relax during the day-I give myself permission to sip a fruity lil drink or smoke a little joint (barely two hits) and it keeps me from stressing myself to the breaking point. And for those of you who are against it and think I don't take care of my child properly, you are absolutely wrong. It makes me relax and enjoy being a mother as opposed to fighting with her about the messy house. I am not someone who is plain STUPID when it comes to those things. And you ask "what happens when there is an emergency?" it won't happen because my husband and I are there to watch her carefully. I believe if all these pharm. companies can make billions selling Rx's with SERIOUS side-effects, then I can smoke a little and still feel better without the insurance companies eating through my money. I have also been on psych. medication for years and it SUCKED. I had serious complications due to antidepressants. I am not a bad mom, and I don't do it everyday so please don't judge me. I just think that it's better to be happy and calm and sing a little while sweeping, instead of yelling and spanking because of the toys, dust bunnies, and the running tornado that is my loveable daughter.

Becky - posted on 07/01/2010

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This sounds terrible, but I finally told my parents that I wouldn't complain about how they raised their children (me) if they wouldn't complain about how I raise mine. It got through to them.

You are not in a good situation. More than two adults in any house is a recipe for chaos and worse. Three generations?? Some cultures do it well, some families do it well. It's not working for you!!

As for the yelling, etc. Whisper! If she wants your attention, she will need to listen carefully. This doesn't sound so much like a problem due to giftedness, as it is to her age. She's still in the terrible two's. (Didn't anyone tell you they last 2 years?) And gifted kids sound a lot older than they are, thus the expectations are higher.

I'm also wondering if your mom isn't trying to rescue your dad's discomfort by trying to keep your daughter settled down, and the easiest way is to give in to her.

Does this fix the problem. Hardly, but it might help you to look at it from a different point of view.

You need a break. Can you find something to do and leave before your mom gets home? Library, park, picnics, play dates with friends, etc. Wear your daughter out (if possible) then go home when it's bedtime.

Would you be willing/able to get a job and put your child in daycare? Sometimes that is a good answer. Can you get on some sort of assistance temporarily and be able to move out?

I'm just offering some food for thought. Take care of yourself first. If you feel yourself about to lose it, give yourself a time-out. You sound like you are burned out and about to blow. Don't get down on yourself for your feelings, just don't act on them!!

Anna-Marie - posted on 06/30/2010

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Is there any way that you can be on your own? We live in a small house & our kids have to share a room but they are used to it now. We save money in other ways, such as we only have one car. My husband rides his bike to work every day and we live close to the school so my older son can walk. It sounds like it's becoming too difficult to stay with the parents. We found it much better as well, because my parents used to come over once a month, spoil the kids for a couple of hours & then after they left we had time to settle the kids back down again. I have also had a few confrontations with my mother and my husband talking to my mum instead of me didn't work either, because my mum didn't believe that it was me with a problem. So I think you need to get brave & sit down with your mum by yourself & tell her what's bugging you. Hope it goes well!

Maura - posted on 06/29/2010

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My life was the same way (minus the ever present parents) when my daughter was this age (ie. the terrible twos were even worse threes). It will get better. But how do you get through NOW?! Like me, you are obviously unhappy with the yelling and spanking. Do your best to STOP now. Count to three (or ten) to calm down and give yourself a time-out if you need it (not kidding, it even made my daughter calm down out of curiousity and because it meant she didn't get the attention). You need to feel good about your strategies so that you stop blaming your child (for how crappy it all feels).

As far as 3 1/2 yrs old goes...here are my suggestions... Start a reward chart. Put things on there you want her to do and put things she likes doing or does without a problem (so she'll always get some stickers). IE eats dinner, takes bath, brushes teeth, cleans toys, respects mom, follows the rules, enjoys playtime etc. We did two charts - one with "chores" and another with Free Time stuff like coloring, computer games, play dough, board games, etc. (w/ 30 minute blocks) It is amazing how interested they become and how the threat of getting no sticker can replace a time out.

I am concerned that you are possibly expecting too much of a 3 1/2 year old. Not that many children this young clean up yet. It is confusing for her to have a different set of "rules" (or non at all when grandma is home). You are putting her in the middle. Give up the power struggle with your mom. You are a guest in her home (even if you pay rent) and she is a grandmother and NOT a mother to this little girl. Why should she be a hard disciplinarian? It seems to me you either haven't described your daughter's behavior that well here or that you are expecting too much of her. You all live in a difficult situation - she acts up or plays you off each other (which sounds pretty normal to me) - and you do much of the flipping out. I'm not sure it is your RIGHT to tell your parents how to treat your child when you life in THEIR house? You need to be a team and that doesn't mean they have to get on board with YOUR rules. I think you resent your living situation and need to get a better grip on the humbling situation you are in. You need to let the little things go and be grateful to your parents. I know you probably didn't want to hear this. But your parents are GRANDPARENTS, not parents, and they have the right and luxury of spoiling their grandkids and the right not to have to be the bad guy.

Finally, create your own routines, using a chart, and possibly be out or doing something specific when you know grandma is coming home. Maybe spend more time in another space (ie don't take over their living room, play in yard or bedroom). And treat your daughter like the toddler that she is and spoil her a little yourself. Good luck!

Start a reward chart

Alicia - posted on 06/25/2010

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Thank you so much for your insightful advice. In a lot of ways you are absolutely right. It's a constant struggle for me and I DEFINITELY do not want her growing up resent me and being an angry person that I was (still am I guess). What do I do if it's something more serious like ADHD or something (my hubby refuses to believe that and her pediatrician just told me she's just verrry active). I honestly don't know how I can handle her if NOTHING is working. I don't want to be this kind of mom and she doesn't seem to be listening either way. Are there any methods that have worked with your kids that encorporate listen and understanding them while remaining firm and consistent as a parent? Time outs do NOT work and neither does yelling or spanking. What other options do I have when she just won't listen to ANYTHING and she does things behind my back when I've told her not to! I need to nip this issue in the bud before it gets worse. I want to find different ways of communicating with her: she destroys the entire house, refuses to clean up, runs away when she needs a time out, etc. I physically can't handle her because she is HALF my size so time outs when I'm the main enforcer are increasingly difficult. I know discipline means to TEACH, but if she just won't listen what am I supposed to do?

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