Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Well Rope, it seems we've reached the end.

My daughter and I are at war. All out, nuclear missile, weapons of mass destruction, war. W-A-R, WAR. What is it good for? That's right, absolutely nuthin'.

My heart hurts, my head is pounding and my throat is sore from yelling. And I'm pretty sure my neighbors are wondering who that crazy bitch is who moved in last year, the one who screeches at her kid. I've reached the end of my rope on more than one occasion over the past year and nothing I do seems to make any bit of difference. Not that screaming helps. Nope. That's just to release the frustration so things don't actually get broken. It doesn't work either.

Maybe it's the age? Her personality? My personality? It doesn't start out bad - I'm positive. I'm zen-mother-goddess. I praise, I reward, I praise, I reward, it devolves, I warn, I punish, I punish, I punish, I lose control, I scream. I do everything the experts tell me to do until it becomes clear it's not working and then it turns into a horrible shouting match. Doors are slammed, things are thrown. Everything, and I do mean everything, is a fight.

Hey Chicky, it's daytime!

No! It's not and you can't tell me it is. Hmmph.

But, but, the sun is shining. It's day. Really! Look! It's daytime.

NO!!! *screaming, crying, tantrum, slamming door, The End*

She's four, for Christ's sake. What's going to happen to us in the coming years if we can't get this sorted out now?

We don't have good days and bad days anymore. We have a good ten or twenty minute span followed by a few hours of hell. Or maybe we go a whole hour or two without arguing and I get comfortable and cocky and then she sets me off with her repeated insolence and rude, defiant behavior.

I want to wrap this up nicely with a pretty pink bow but there is nothing pretty or nice about ending the day with the both of us in tears. There are no learning moments, no future seen in soft-focus, only pain and frustration and fear. I fear that I'm failing her and by virtue of that, her sister who witnesses it all. These are essential years and I can't seem to get it right. It doesn't really bode well for the rest of their childhoods, you know?

I'm so tired. I was hoping by writing this I'd get some of this pressure off my chest and I'd feel better. Turns out, no. There's a list of child development specialists on my fridge that I can call, that I should call, so why does it feel like admitting defeat? Like I can't properly parent my child.

I sound like a broken record at this point. Feel free to move on. No humor, no cute stories. Nothing to see here. Move along.

And please ignore the screaming.

56 comments:

karen.neeb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rosie said...

I'm really sorry to hear that. You have my sympathy and understanding.

Have you ever read Moxie at http://www.askmoxie.org/? I know in the past she has offered a class on yelling. I haven't taken it, but I've read her for years and trust her gentle, non-judgmental advice.

Grizzly Kitteh said...

I knew better, but for the first paragraph or two it sounded like you're dealing with a teenager. Here's to hoping it gets better before then.

Gigi said...

We've all been there and done that. I was so sure I'd totally screwed Man-Child up by the time he was five. Turns out I haven't - thank God! I just read this great book (too bad I didn't have it when he was small). It's called Have a New Kid By Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman. He gives real strategies and solutions. Might work for you.

SUEB0B said...

Sell her on eBay? Get her a job at the mill? Clicker training...

Yeah, there is a good reason I'm not a parent. Good luck.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Suebob - I've tried clicker training just without the actual clicker. I'm not kidding.

Carrie said...

oh I feel your pain! That is my and my 5 year old and it just isn't pretty. Like you I start out all nice and patient but once he starts back talking and generally being an a-hole I'm done. All of those great techniques you read about are forgotten and I want to strangle him.

What happened to trying to distract, make it a game, turn to humor?! bah those don't work when you're fuming and have smoke coming out of your ears. Plus I'm not in the right frame of mind to try anything remotely fun.

My 4 year old also suffers, as soon as hears his brother back talk he covers his ears. Sometimes he runs away to hide. It makes me so sad that he knows what's coming.

Oh wow, sorry this wasn't about me! lol But I totally know where you're coming from and commiserate with you. I wonder if there's a boot camp we can send them to for 6 weeks and they come back angels.

SciFi Dad said...

Sometimes asking for help is more difficult (and says more about one's character) than staying the course alone. Is calling a specialist any different than reading a book or talking to the people inside your computer (oh hai... it's getting a little warm in here bee-tee-dub... I can haz better CPU cooling fan?)

Gray Matter said...

A bad parent is one who thinks they don't need help. Realizing that someone might be able to help you navigate this obviously horrific phase is the sign of a truly great mom.

Make the calls, and good luck. It will get better. Promise.

Cate said...

we have a lot of headbutting going on here. I don't know if it's the age or the time of year or what.

You should call one of the people on your list. Can't hurt, might help. Just do it. (And then you get to reward yourself!)

Fairly Odd Mother said...

4-5 is a TOUGH age with girls. Was just talking this over with a SAHD friend b/c his daughter is just coming out of it and my 6 yo was a BEAR at that age (did I ever tell you she can hit a pitch that should break glass, it really should).

We'll talk tomorrow.

lunzy said...

oh god, this brings back memories for me, but it was 3 y.o. for me. It sucked. I hated being a mom and then I hated myself for that. I had LOTS of mommy meltdowns.

Not sure if this is chicky or not (I just recently found your blog) but realized my kiddo was a "spirited child" and reading Raising your spirited child really, really helped me. I began to realize a lot of his personality traits would be great...as an adult.

Big hugs! This too shall pass... and wine helps.
~ Lisa

Katie said...

Oh, my heart breaks for you. I am going through a really tough patch with my 2 year old boy. But the book "Raising Your Spirited Child" is really helping me learn a lot about our temperaments and how to see some more positive qualities in him.

flutter said...

Oh, babe. Just come vacation with me until she is 20

Heather said...

It is hard to deal with, for sure. Four-year-olds are in that not-a-toddler yet not-a-school-ager total preschooler stage. I can't tell you how many nights I sat and cried because I lost it with one kid or the other and in the dark of night I remembered that she/he is just little still. My expectations were/are too high.

Many situations can be resolved with a good long hug, I've discovered. Even when they seem the least hugable. It diffuses the situation quickly.

And then with all that assvice, let me say you're doing the best you can and that's all anyone can expect. Parenting, for those who wish to parent well, is a difficult thing. If you weren't a fantastic mother, you wouldn't care.

Anonymous said...

My DD is only 2.5; I won't lie, if she's this bad now, I sorta kinda hate to see what the next couple of years will bring. I try to call her spirited, because people give you dirty looks when you say your kid is a brat (which she totally is, but whatever public eye). I feel all I get done is screaming, which she now does back at me. I have no advice, but want you to know there are LOTS of us out there who feel your pain. YOU are not failing her; failing her would be not acknowledging that your at the end of your rope. Calling in help is not failure either, it's a HUGE step to trying to be happier. Best of luck and thanks for the honesty, really, it can't always be funny & sunshine.

kgirl said...

No, no, I'm sure it's the age. At least, that's what I keep telling myself. There is a reason all of my more experienced mother friends call this the f*cking fours.

I'm fine with yelling, really I am. I do it all the time. I make sure there is no character assasination (obviously) and I'm pretty sure she is ignoring me anyway.

Lord help us all. You don't need sympathy, you need wine.

Avalon said...

Mrs C~~~~ No advice, just some support from my direction. I'm sure you will work it out, but while you're smack in the middle, it surely sucks.

GrandeMocha said...

I still have those days & my kid is 7. I put him in his room & tell him his safe there but don't come out.

SleepyMom said...

I've so been where you are for the last year. I think it partly has to be girls at that age. My daughter and I did wonderfully for the first three years. I was practically smug about what a good parent I was - I mean she'd never even threw a single tantrum and she was about to turn 3. Then she did turn 3 and the next couple of months it was like a teenager had taken her place - constant backtalk and yelling and me losing my cool. We got through it but then it started back up even worse at 3yr8mos when her baby brother was born. I've spent the last year feeling like a failure thinknig I'd ruined her life and screaming way too much and letting her watch way too much tv just to keep the peace, but finally it is getting better. I'm better at handling my response to her because my baby turned a year old this week and is sleeping through the night and can entertain himself (even if it's by removing all those safety plug covers I installed). And she (at 4yr8mos old) has finally started to accept not being the center of the universe and is no longer spending the whole day arguing with me and telling me she's having a terrible day. She still has outbursts and back talking and arguing and whining but it's a few times a day instead of continual.
I think it will get better for you and your daughter. Hang in there. The best and worst thing about kids is they are always changing and nothing stays the same with them for too long.

steph2088 said...

so glad it's not just me. I have to shut the windows now so the neighbors don't hear me. I have a 7 year old who rules the world and a 4 year old who truly enjoys having tantrums...otherwise why would he continue to so EVERYDAY over things as stupid as not getting breakfast served before his brother!!!!!
I assumed it's me and wondered if I need to be medicated.
Good luck. I think we're all in it together.

Momish said...

I went through the same thing you are dealing with now. Tears, tears, tears from everyone constantly. I got help. It helped. A lot! That third eye is really a blessing when you let it in. The therapist saw things I never would have realized and once they were pointed out, everything fell into place. For us, it was "too many bosses" and my daughter was just trying to find her own voice and have some autonomy in a house full of bossy adults. A few less rules and few less rulers (older siblings) and my daughter is a joy to be around and we have fun, not tears. Four is a very touchy age with so many things going on, having an objective opinion is invaluable. Make the call. It takes a village to raise a child, you can't do it alone all the time. No one can. We tend to forget that in this age, but we shouldn't.

Mary G said...

You may be able to work through it yourself, but help would probably make it easier for both you and Miss Tantrum. Like your other commenters, I have been there with my girls and the granddaughter. It is not what motherhood is supposed to be about in all the stories; the one positive thing is that these strong willed little girls have the potential to grow up to be strong, successful women.
The tool I used was consistency. I set rules, penalties and never, never deviated (and kicked in a few doors in private).
Sending loads and loads of sympathy and a downright statement -- you are not, repeat NOT, a bad mother. Believe it.

Michele Horne said...

When my oldest daughter (now 9) was 4, I took her to a child psychologist- determined that there surely was something wrong with her... the tantrums, the yelling, the general pain-in-the-assness. After 4 visits, the lady told me she could not help me anymore. Why? I simply had an average 4 year old on my hands. Great, no magical cure for me! And now, I have a 1 and 3 year old to deal with as they go into that impossible stage! Good luck, it does get better.

Anonymous said...

If this doesn't get deleted by author...

My question is: Who is the parent! AND why are they allowing this abuse? Either set her in her bed and let her stay there until she becomes civil OR spank her and throw her ass in her room.

YOU don't deserve that type of treatment... you wouldn't allow it to happen to your mom OR husband... why do you allow it to happen to YOU????

I'd smack her across her mouth (you'd just need to do it once) and she'd understand that YOU are her mother and you don't speak to your mom like that ! (but that's just me).

Anonymous said...

From a different perspective ... my daughter was a handful at 4-5. It is a tough age. What the therapist told me was that she was the most determinated child she'd ever seen. That's a great personality trait if you can live through it. She's 20 now, was her HS valedictorian, and is a junior in college and a math major with a 3.9 GPA. The best part? We get along beautifully now. Hang in there!

Suburb Sierra said...

When you get the best answer - send it my way. I've seen cars slow down in front of our house when the windows are open and the screeching reaches new levels - I'm expecting a knock at the door any day now.

Oh, and my walking away proved to be *the* thing my daughter couldn't handle and it often ended it all. Of course, when I would do that my mouth would bleed from biting my tongue trying not to add that one-last-point...

Hang in there. You're doing great. You really are...I've seen pictures.

Mac and Cheese said...

I just went through every comment with a fine tooth comb to see if there was anything that I could use. My 4yo KILLS me sometimes. I'm just living on a prayer that kindergarden will make her more civil somehow. Stop laughing.

carrie said...

I hear ya.

Loud and clear - meaning I am totally and completely in the same boat.

Major Bedhead said...

I've been going thru this with Boo for well over a year now and my frustration level hit an all time high recently, so I called the pediatrician. I got a referral to a behavioral specialist and we're going that route. I can't take it any more. I need help. Help to not become the parent who slaps her kid across the mouth. I'm sick of the screaming, I'm sick of the tantrums.

Make the phone call. Ask for help. It's not weak or shameful. It's what you need to do, for both of you.

Hang in there. I know exactly how you're feeling and I know how much it sucks.

Julie @ The Mom Slant said...

I have no sage advice, but know that I'm nodding over here and listening any time you need it.

Anonymous said...

... a good slap never hurt anyone...

What would you do if someone treated your mom like that...

Just wag your finger and say no-no... doesn't work.. AND she has tried all the other suggestions...

Sometimes a narly kid just needs a swift kick in the ass! OR a slap on the mouth...

But maybe you like the abuse!

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Hey Anon (1 & 2, since I'm sure you're the same person) - Shouldn't you be in a jail in Georgia right now?

Brittany said...

I could have written this, only you scare me even more, as I am going through this with my 2 and 3 year old boys. EVERY DAY is a challenge. I sit here and realize there is not a single day where I don't end up screaming. That's bad, right? I mean, should I really be yelling and frustrated everyday!? That can't be good for them, or me. I have no idea where we are going...

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Yeah, I don't think it's a gender thing at all - I def think it's FOUR. In all its miserable glory.

Let's get Frick and Frack together again for a playdate - I now have Thursdays off!

shannon said...

wow.
i have so been there. my daughter was 6 - extremely strong-willed.
i read all the "spirited child" stuff.
i got professional help from my pediatrician. it TOTALLY worked. it was not easy and it took a little time but we are SO MUCH better.
no one is perfect Tania and no one is the perfect parent!
good luck!
xokath

Anonymous said...

I'm sure #1-#2 & #3 are not the same person - but I believe he is saying smack her across the mouth when she is abusive - NOT to BEAT her senselessly. Just a wack.

He is probably Italian.

Anonymous said...

I'm a different anonymous from all the others - I promise! (I just don't have a google/openID account.)

Anyway, I'm not a parent but it seems to me that asking for help is the best thing you can do. You want to be the best parent you can be, right? Hunting out a specialist is a smart move. Think of it as equivalent to a class or certification program - you're taking your parenting skills to the next level. :)

-Holly

Atlanta Mommy said...

I think our daughters are channeling each other. This is the age where defiance meets reason. To say it's hellish is an extreme understatement.

I have zero suggestions for you. I have zero ideas for myself. I've met other kids. I know I'm raising a good one. But lately she's testing and pushing every button have. Survival is on a day to day basis. Is this just preparation for those teenage years? Because that just makes me want to jump off a cliff. Kidding, really. Kind of.

Anonymous said...

I'm going through this with my 4 year old boy, too! It's a horrible feeling, isn't it? He fusses with me about everything. If I say it's black, he says it's white. And I'm a kindergarten teacher. I'm supposed to have this down! I really have to try not to take so much to heart. I think the reward chart I bought helps too if I can remember it! You are not alone, though!

Anonymous said...

Have you considered that some (if not most) of the behavioral issues could be caused by food intolerances? I've noticed it with my 6 y.o. boy and steer clear from processed/sugary foods. It totally eliminates the rotten behavior...it's like he's a different child!

Anonymous said...

This is a new anonymous. I do not believe in hitting but on more than one occasion I have wondered if it would help. But really, I think it would only make him whine more!

I am going through the exact same with my 4yo son. I am glad I am not the only one. We NEVER yelled in my house growing up EVER. I don't even have fights with my husband. My son just does not listen or respond to anything but yelling. This has gone on for at least a year now and has just made me question my parenting abilities and all the same worries as you. I am also VERY concerned about what our behaviors and yelling are doing to my 14 mo. Is this negatively effecting him and his future behavior and relationship with me or his brother? I have tried to read different books too but never get through them all to make it work and my husband does not try to even read them or help me work through it. He supports me if I tell him what we need to do but I need more than that.
If I had a list I would definitely call for help. I believe it truly takes a village to raise our children. We can do it and we will. We need to take care of ourselves too.
You will make it through, it may be a long road but you will come out the other side with a great relationship with your daughter. I have no doubt. I just know it is not going to be easy and we have to be patient with this phase. Yes, it is a phase, not forever, not if we can help it and we can.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments that it likely is the age and gender and it will get better. I couldn't believe that my sweet 3 year old to whom I couldn't be closer and I had horrible interactions when she was 4. Eventually I got better at ignoring some of the stuff -- she couldn't instigate a fight all the time if I wouldn't fight back. She also became more like her old self again within a few months.

I do agree also that kids should not be allowed to abuse parents. When she said something completely out of line, she was told that it was unacceptable, that mommy has feelings too, that she could FEEL anyway she wanted or needed to but could not SAY hurtful things to me, and then she was sent to her room. I also thought about taking the door off the hinges if the slamming continued but she stopped before I had to act on it.

Good Luck, it will get better.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

This is why kids cant remember much before the age of five. All the fucked up things we do and say trying to get it right are lost in the shadows of toddlerhood. At least that's my viewpoint and lame attempt to assuage my guilt.

Heather said...

The chicken was/is fairly high spirited. She seemed to get a bit better when she got her glasses (not that I am suggesting that Chicky needs glasses) She has always been more demanding than her older sister, so I guess in some ways I wasn't expecting it even more since I had 'been there-done that' just 3 years earlier with her older sister. It does get better, learning how not to yell and being very consistent with discipline helped out.

(((hugs))) to you hon.
Sounds like you will totally be ready to hit the town in NYC next summer!

b*babbler said...

You have my sincerest sympathies. Generally things are okay around here, but we're just starting some of those periods as we head in to three, and they are KILLING me.

Audrey at Barking Mad! said...

I think it's the age.

I went through this when my twins were 4. Matt was never quite as bad as Meg was, but OMG I didn't think Meg and I were going to live through it. Somehow we did. I stood my ground and soon enough she realized I wasn't budging. And now, here she is at 19 and there are times when we have the same standoff...although it's more yelling and less tears. In the end though, she knows I'm standing my ground, and despite that, I love her more than anything.

It's not defeat, not in the slightest to call someone and go in and have them assess the situation. NOT IN THE LEAST. I wish more parents would reach out that way.

*hugs*

Anonymous said...

Whew. Heavy stuff.

Someone from my moms group posted this a couple years ago and loads of people mentioned what got them through was the book "1-2-3 Magic". I used it then for my then 19 month old cause he was "violently" hitting me and my hubbie (as violently as a 19 month old can), and it worked great and still works for the "I hate you" fours.

I find I keep forgetting the 'rules' and have to reread it to remind myself of the really hard parts like keeping quiet (not talking at all) as you count them (sooooo hard!) and not making them say "sorry" when they come out of timeout, you just act like nothing happened.

It takes a few days for it to click. One day it took him freaking 20 timeouts, but that's rare.

What's nice is that there's no yelling, so you save your vocal cords, and you feel like you're not the bad guy anymore, you're in control. It also makes your kid feel like they're in control cause they have the option to act like a brat and "take" their timeout, or smarten up and be good, all the while mommy is relatively sane.

I find my kids like to push the buttons to see how far I can wig out. They argue just to get a rise out of me and keep me talking. They're in control. Which makes me pissy. When I count them, it's a win-win. They can 'win' and 'push' me by not listening till 2 (or 3 and get a timeout), but all the while I win cause I don't lose my freaking mind ;).

Good luck :)

kittenpie said...

WE have those times, sometimes for a couple of months, before it relents for a little while again. It totally sucks. Pumpkinpie is a bit of a brat right now, as it happens, mostly about being insolent or speaking in a rude tone or trying to ignore us. It should come around again, right? 'for both of us?

(And I am now back at work and The Bun is in daycare, so hey! free hands once more! I am trying to catch up and get back in the swing of things. So hi, there. How ya been? Missed you.)

Manic Mommy said...

You are so not alone. I have yet to find that one thing that will work on my four year old boy. You're not a bad mother; she's not a bad girl. Some kids are just harder than others. I know; I've got one too.

sam {temptingmama} said...

Holy Assvice!!!

Dude. I am there in the trenches with you. I fuckin' hate four with a passion already and we're less than 30 days in.

We've resorted to idle threats and putting him in his room when he refuses to listen. Sometimes things just get so drawn out that I put Carter in his room for a bit before round two starts that way I can better plan for my defense.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Anonymous who said to just smack them and add some stern words.

As I read all the comments above I think what is wrong with those parents that let their children abuse them?

Maybe that's why the kids now a days are all screwed up - because no one cared enough to tell them NO and mean it. To hold them responsible for their actions - kids are killing each other because no one told them it wasn't OK to abuse each other.

Look around you and see what the teenagers are up to - because no one told them NO - with a little wack.

Lyndas Lines said...

Sorry to hear you're having a bad time and sorry to tell you I have no quick fixes for you. Of course neither did your Mom or mine and Dr. Spock certainly didn't know it all either. You're a Mom, and contrary to popular belief, that doesn't make you "Superwoman".

First I have to tell ya - your little girls are both completely gorgeous!
I even started following you on twitter cause your baby icon makes me smile everytime I see it (if my art could do that for people I'd be wealthy!) and you happen to be pretty damned entertaining in just 140 characters!

I do have a suggestion for you though. - the next time your little one acts out - remember it's not personal, it's business (yeah I'm Italian). She is learning what she can and cannot get away with so teach her the ropes. Choose your battles - decide what she can - and you can't - let her get away with. There might be time-outs and possibly some bum bops involved when needed and it could take a few days to a week of consistency (keep some aspirin nearby - for you). No matter how you handle it, it will work out fine and remember - you had to program the remote too! If however, none of that works, after the kids are in bed delete the advice anyone here felt the need to give - have stiff drink and sweet dreams - tomorrow's another day!
BTW also cute hubby (pretend) pic!
Thanx for the fun tweets - keep am coming.

Best Baby said...

I just found your blog, I went through the same thing with my eldest. It sounds to me like she is feeling jealous of her baby sister, Jealously often shows in different ways and it took me months to realise that his outbursts were a result of him feeling replaced.

In the end all it took was a huge amount of reassurance from me, that he was not being replaced and once I had explained to him that my feelings for him had not altered in any way, the tantrums and anger decreased significantly.

Hope it works out for you!

Victoria said...

Oh hello- yup this is my life too. Same age and same 'tude. The other day I told her she was lucky. We also baked a giant cookie and read stories. She yelled that she wasn't lucky and that her day was "boring, boring, so boring!"

You have gin, I have vodka.

Momma_Mary said...

I know this sounds terrible but you have no idea how relieved I am to find this blog. I wouldn't wish an out-of-control 4yr old on anyone but I was beginning to think I was the worst mom in the tri-state area...My son has a smart mouth, a penchant for defiant "NO!"s and a bad habit of complaining about everything...I mean everything. Like you my throat is hoarse and my neighbors won't even look me in the eye, what with all the yelling coming from within the walls of our tiny apartment (mine, my son's and now my 10 month old has joined in on the off-key screaming chorus). I am a single mother in school full-time and working and I feel like I don't even have time or energy to tackle the issues...and the worst I had them under control miraculously after my youngest was born and then my school work really started getting demanding the last couple of months and now all my efforts earlier this year have been totally undermined...ughh. I have no advice, pearls of wisdom, but I'm perusing the comments and wishing you the best with your daughter. I know that this age won't last forever but it sure would be nice if this stage passed more quickly.