On tantrums and tiredness: Mom Challenge Day 15

Day 15 of the Mom Challenge got me thinking about how much of my three year old son's bad behaviour actually stems from my own lack of sleep.

Day 15: Be firm when needed, but not harsh

I’m struggling with my son’s behaviour at the moment. He’s not terrible. He’s just three and a half, distracted by anything and everything, and learning to assert his independence. And I’m tired. And distracted by his (now crawling, but not into sleeping through) baby sister. The combination isn’t great…

I’m doing my best to be clear about our rules and maintain boundaries, but it seems that the old techniques aren’t working. I want to be respectful, and to stay calm and explain why he has to take some time out. But when I’m having to manhandle him back onto the ‘naughty step’, that perfect parent seems a long way away.

As I carry him over my shoulder, kicking and screaming back to the stairs, it feels like I’m heading towards the kind of physical punishment I really don’t believe in. I give up on yanking him out from under the kitchen table and create a ‘naughty under the table’. I don’t know what else to do without using force and becoming that parent I don’t want to be. But now I feel I’ve destroyed those carefully created rules, and taken us two steps back. Next time, will he think it's OK to sit under the table instead of on the step? I'm too tired to know any more.

This makes him sound like a little heller. He isn’t. He only seems to be challenging at the start and end of the day. In the middle, while we’re playing and chatting and having fun, especially when we’re out of the house, he’s mostly a delight. It’s surely no coincidence that these are also the times of the day when I’m most tired and unable to apply as much of my energy to getting my mothering right. Is he the one who's behaving badly? Or is it me who's failing to spot the early signs of meltdown and wobbling the world around him?

So, here’s yet another parenting area where I need to keep trying and loving and doing my best. And hoping that as I get more rest, I will become a better parent. In the meantime, any easy-to-learn tips on managing a frustrated boy much appreciated…


If you have overcome a challenge with your child, do share it with us at Memorable Moment of Mum.

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As well as being an exhausted but mostly happy mum, and one of the founders of Story of Mum, I write and work as a Script Consultant on feature films and co-run the Cross Channel Film Lab, helping writers and directors to tell their stories and reach an audience. I live with my surf-obsessed husband, hilarious son and daughter in a chaotic house in Cornwall, UK. Things that make me feel good: the sea, chocolate, zumba, yoga, puddle-jumping, and helping mums to celebrate how awesome and important they are, every day.


Thanks Naomi!

Naomi just shared an experience under Memorable Moment of Mum which answers my call for help, so I've pasted it below. I'll be trying it...!

Verbalising my understanding of his frustration.

During a late night reading endless tips online about how to deal with tantruming children, i found some simple advice, tried it the next day & was astonished at its magic. It worked, immediately. I just had to verbalise to my son how he was feeling, & tell him that i understood. I said to him through his tears and his yelling, "I know, i hear ya, you're feeling frustrated with mummy because you wanted to ... . I understand, it's frustating for you." He instantly became managable, ok still a bit teary but not...feral anymore! I guess we all just want to be understood! Even at the age of 2.

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