So recently I took to Instagram to post this…heartbreaking to have to do this because I can’t stand the look on his face BUT I wanted to let others know that they’re not alone.
I’ve had some messages about this Instagram post, from other mums telling me that they are going through exactly the same thing with their little ones and they don’t know how to control it or even deal with it. So, here it is, I thought I’d share my experience, because ultimately we are all mums and have our own tricks and traits and they are there to be shared…..#mumpower
When he started to hit me it was actually before he turned two, so terrible two’s started early….whoever came up with that phrase should have changed it straight away to terrible children because as you can see at 3 and a half he still does it and I have read stories about older children being like it. HOWEVER he’s not as bad as what he used to be, when he first started doing it he would hit with intent to upset me and it was always over trivial things. Nowadays he does it less often and when he does, I give him a look which he then responds with an apology and cuddle (MOST) of the time.
This particular day when the photo was taken he was trying to climb over the sofa at my parents house, but when I grabbed him and asked him not to he swung his leg round and kicked me in the face. I don’t think he had intended to kick me particularly in the face or not but it was a follow up of occurrences that had happened because ultimately he wasn’t getting the full attention from me and my parents. I tried to tell him off but he was ignoring me, so I got out my phone and said “I’m going to film you so you can see what you’re like when you’re having a tantrum.” That was the moment the picture was taken, and as I said I would; I showed him the picture and he slapped my phone out of my hand (which is why I have a good phone case!)
It happens. It might happen more for one mum than another, but I’ve been lucky enough to have the best teacher on parenting, my mum. She is my rock and support, she managed to practically bring up me and my two elder brothers my herself (because my dad was always working long hours to pay the mortgage and bills), albeit a few grey hairs!
She has shown me how to react better in a situation he gives me, ie. not to react with a threat that cannot be carried out. I used to say to him “right if you do that again, we’re not going to see your friend tomorrow”, she told me that if I said that to him I should carry it through and not have the play date the next day. She was right because he had started to work out that my threats didn’t mean much at all, I actually had to text a friend once and say “I’m so sorry we can’t see you tomorrow as William has been naughty, so can we re-schedule.” It’s ok because she has a little boy the same age, so completely understands!
Fridays were always our day to do something together before he started pre-school and I always used to say “We won’t have our mummy William day this week if you carry on.” This worked because I knew how much he loved getting my full attention for practically a whole day which is what our Fridays were all about, whether we went out (a trip to the park or soft play) or stayed in (cooking, playing games or painting), we would do something together. And as Friday was the end of the week for us, it was always a great threat to give him if he was naughty and I used it a handful of times.
When he started to hit me, it was the most emotionally draining time for me. (apart from the witching hour, but that’s another story!). This little boy, who I’d carried for 6 months (oh yes, he arrived at 28 weeks!) and then made a promise to protect him from anything or anyone would just slap me across the face or hit me when he couldn’t get his own way. I started to panic and worry that he had a bad temper, but then when seeing other children like it I realised he wasn’t the only one and ok I felt slightly better but it was still heartbreaking to have my little boy do this to me. I cried a couple of times in front of him and he responded with “mummy’s crying” and would laugh, I realised then that I needed to control my feelings in front of him and saved the tears for when he went to bed.
I had told my mum this was happening, but she couldn’t comment or say anything because she’d not seen it for herself and part of her hoped that happening I guess? Then it happened, the day he slapped me in front of her for the first time and I’ve never seen her move so quick, she took his hand and pulled him away to a quiet corner. That’s when I heard her say to him, “now why would you want to hurt mummy?” Apparently he said he didn’t know why but my mum continued with a long chat with him explaining how much I do for him and that he should appreciate and love me, because of how much I love him.
I think seeing my mum upset made him first realise how bad it was, he idolises his grandparents and most of the time does what they tell him. In fact he does things for everyone else apart from me and my husband!
From that moment on, if he hit me, I would carry through my threats. I would pick the things he loved, his toys are the most common one at the moment. He loves his cars and everytime he would hit me, throw a toy or misbehave I would take a car away (preferably the one that was flavour of the week at that particular time). He would scream the house down and I would tell him that I would give it to a better behaved boy unless he behaved himself and I actually had made names up of these boys that I knew and he didn’t. We tried to say we’ll give the toys to his little baby cousin Ruby but that didn’t work because he would respond with “Ruby is a baby and doesn’t like cars.” Hmmmm he’s a little too clever for his own good sometimes. I would take the cars away and hide them, most of the time if he was a good boy he would get them back after a few days but I currently have about half a dozen cars in a bag in the boot of my car!
My mum once said to me, “you go on at him so much it probably sounds like white noise to him” and she was right. It took me a while to understand what she mean, my first reaction was to get defensive thinking she was making a complaint about the way I was dealing with him. Apparently when I was younger what worked for me was ignoring me, she had told me, I had started talking at an early age (no surprises there!) and I would follow my mum around the house after being naughty saying “mummy don’t ignore me.” Well it had worked because when she did this she was actually putting me off doing it again because like William I CRAVED attention (not much has changed I hear you say?). So now, when he does something naughty unless it’s dangerous I don’t react. So when he empties out his toys in front of me and the lounge is a complete mess, the old me would’ve moaned at him and said “That was naughty, now tidy it up.” Now? I leave it and let him carry on, if it gets in my way I push it to the side and tidy it when he’s gone to bed. Although more recently he’s beginning to tidy them up himself!
If anyone asks me advice about their children hitting is don’t wait for it to stop, don’t wonder if it could be a phase. NIP IT IN THE BUD NOW! Make sure that your child knows who’s boss, use things around you. Make a piece of chocolate a treat, so when he’s good, he gets some, but when he’s naughty it gets taken away (ie. eat it all when he goes to bed!). Have somewhere you can hide toys that they don’t know about, I use my car because he can’t reach the boot to get anything out. His treat when he’s a good boy is normally a chosen car from a charity shop, you can actually pick up some good toys for pence! (See another tip too!)
I also recommend using your close friends around you, not necessarily other mums with children the same age, but anyone who will listen and people you admire. My two closest friends have been a great support to me, they both have older children and things haven’t changed that much over the years and what they learnt can be passed on to help.
Happy mumming and if you struggle, keep calm smile in front of them and cry when they can’t see you and get in contact with your support network because most people have been there we just don’t talk about it enough!
PS. if you don’t have a support network feel free to message me xx