While online forums and social media can be breeding grounds for mum shaming and nasty pile-ons, they can also be brilliant support systems for exhausted parents, as this “f*cking fed up” mum found out …
He seems angry
The overwhelmed Mumsnet user was clearly at her wits’ end, taking to the popular parenting forum to share a frustration-filled story about her toddler son’s challenging behaviour.
“My toddler has just tried to head butt my partner,” she began. “He seems angry a lot of time. Will hit for no reason, scream if he doesn’t get his own way.”
“Can be walking down the street and if you don’t take his hand he will just stop and start screaming like a banshee. Then he will run at you, hurting himself more. If you don’t acknowledge him he will scratch or bite you. I’m so f*cking fed up of being in tears at this behaviour. Is it normal? What can I do please?”
It’s a rare mum who hasn’t been pushed to the brink by her small child at one time or another, and this mum’s obviously feeling incredibly demoralised and depressed. While so often we talk about inspirational stories, it’s important to discuss the less sparkly side of parenting too.
Focus on the positive
So back to this tired and fed-up mum. While some respondents were unforgiving and critical of her parenting approach, lots of mums were quick to chime in offering sympathy and advice to a fellow parent in need. Many who were deep in the trenches of parenting children of a similar age, were familiar with the feelings of anger, frustration and hopelessness that this poor mum was experiencing.
“Maybe he feels like he gets more attention when he’s naughty,” one mum suggested. “I know it’s really hard but try to ignore little behaviours or distract him, and heap on loads and loads of praise when he does anything good eg eating his cereal nicely, nice cuddle etc. Maybe crayons, puzzles etc? We have a behaviour chart too.”
Read more about toddler behaviour:
- 7 things that might be behind your child’s bad behaviour
- Mum breaks down after toddler’s epic tantrum – then a gang of mums save the day
- 8 ways to yell less and still retain your parenting power
Another mum provided reassuring advice, taking things back to basics with some positive reinforcement.
“Don’t despair, you CAN change this around and have a happy toddler (most of the time) … Try and get him busy with Duplo, Playdoh, anything constructive and imaginative. Look at what he is building or doing and praise him. No matter how small. “Good work with the rolling pin” or “That’s a great tower” and then build on it “what else can you build?” Keep him interested and wanting to try out new ideas.”
Anxiety turns to anger
Another parent identified with the frustration this mum was experiencing, saying she’d been through the same thing and had found resources and support that helped.
“It sounds like his behaviour is making you really angry which is sabotaging your connection with him. So he tries to get a reaction which makes you more angry. I have been really angry as a parent but there are ways to address this,” a kind and non-judgemental mum advised.
The anger this mum is experiencing is relatable to many, and perhaps the only way this mum is able to express her anxiety about the pattern she and her son find themselves trapped in. It’s also a sign that she needs some extra support.
One parent urged the exhausted mama to take her little boy outside, if she could find the energy: “He sounds frustrated or bored, I would suggest more outings in the park, boys have soooo much energy and when they aren’t burning it off they tend to be destructive. I live in an apartment with mine and can usually see the stress levels going up and make a quick dash for the outdoors, climbing, football, collecting insects and rocks are all favourites.”
This spiral of conflict and difficult behaviour can seem impossible to get out of if it’s happening within your family on a regular basis, but parents who are going through this with their kids should know they are not alone.
Reach out sooner, rather than later
Reaching out for help is really vital. While we wouldn’t readily recommend braving the wilds of parenting forums when you are in crisis, speaking to a GP or maternal child health nurse is an excellent place to start.
We hope this poor mama continues to reach out for help – and connects with a medical professional who can help her feel more supported.
We also hope that anyone contributing to parenting forums like this provides compassionate, non-judgemental advice to parents in need. This gives parents a much clearer path to support services, rather than shaming them or isolating them (and their children).
Support for frustrated parents
If you or someone you know is finding parenting incredibly stressful or upsetting, please reach out for help sooner rather than later. Some great places to start include: