Excessive Anger Outbursts
Hello. I completely lose control with my 2 year old daughter. Every day, I get stressed over mealtimes with her. I feel like she should eat some of what I offer her or try to feed her. She resists, and throws food around, and does not want to eat mostly. This almost every time pushes my buttons, and before I know it I am upset and cursing my daughter calling her bad names, and using expletives and verbally lashing out at her.
Sometimes, when she cries too much resisting bedtime, I again lose control, and when I get her off her crib, I end up cursing her and verbally lashing her again. Occasionally the anger is so bad (since I really wanted that time to myself after her bedtime) that I spank her a little on her thighs.
Today for example, at 9:30 pm she could not sleep and I tried letting her cry it out. It didn't work, so I got her downstairs and to play on her train table. I took her upstairs to her room, (10 pm) and put her down, but she screamed and cried as soon as I left. I lost control again, and for the 3rd or 4th time that same day, went into another verbal and angry outburst. I brought her downstairs and scolded her loudly a lot, and name-called her and teased her with sarcasm because at this point I was mad at her and wanted her to learn a lesson.
Then came the scary part - I tried to scare her by roaring like a lion with my mouth open real wide and she did get scared. That gave me a scare, and I stopped that, but I still wanted her to learn her lesson. I then turned off the lights in that room, and waited outside. She was clueless and did not cry now. I waited outside the room for a little bit. By now, my anger was a tad lower. I wanted to try taking her to her crib and seeing if she could sleep. This time I lay in a bed next to her to help calm her, because something was scaring her. My anger had subsided. She did try to sleep and was asleep in minutes. I came back downstairs to do things for myself. This was my time, and I always need it.
Since I get frustrated easily and can't handle the strife of feeding and putting a child to sleep, with the crying bouts, I either go into crying spells myself or severe anger outbursts which I see as a threat to my child.
What can I do?
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Thank you so much for reaching out for help. You are doing something good for yourself and your child here. I will give you some counseling here, and I will refer your story to others who will also be able to help you. It is very good that you are trying to get help, and it is very important for your child.
Here is what I recommend:
1) Take some time in the morning, or any time you can, and write about your own past experiences of pain and trauma. You have trauma in your own past, or you would not be acting this way with your child. Simply write in detail about the times in your own past when you were yelled at, called names or abused or neglected in any way. Keep writing in detail about these experiences on a daily basis, for at least 15 minutes at a time. This may help you to feel better, and perhaps not take your anger out on your child.
2) There is a very wise and good part of you, that wrote your story on this web site instead of just continuing to hurt your child. Think about that good person you are inside, and make a decision to be kind and gentle to your daughter. She is an innocent child, and she is very vulnerable and dependent on you. It is your job to provide her with a loving, safe home.
3) Tell yourself (because it is true), that your daughter cannot do anything wrong. She can never be "bad." She is a good, innocent child and everything she does and feels is natural and good, even if it is not what you want. Every time you think of her, picture her smiling and laughing, and remember how beautiful and precious she is. No problem is ever her fault. You are the responsible one.
4) Start writing in a journal every day. There are two kinds of journaling I want you to do: a.) Write from your anger and frustration, just to vent on the paper so that you don't vent on your daughter. Keep writing until you feel some kind of release or relief. b.) Then write all that you like and appreciate about yourself, your daughter, and the world around you. Do this journaling every day, and it will definitely help you.
5) If you are religious or spiritual at all, then pray for patience and kindness with your daughter. If you are a member of a church in which you feel safe and accepted, then go to that church and pray there. That can also help you a lot.
6) I will be sending the link to this page to some people who are very knowledgeable and skilled in this area, and hopefully they will offer help and support for you as well. Watch this page on this web site for comments, which is where others' help and support will come from.
7) I believe that you are a good person, and that is why you wrote your story on this site. You want to do the right thing, and you do not want to hurt your daughter, so you have reached out for help. Do not give up on yourself. Keep writing on this site, or continue to reach out for help in any direction that works for you. You can overcome this problem and be a good mother to your child.
8) Be relaxed about her eating. Offer her the food, and let her eat what she chooses. Research has shown that children will choose the best foods in the right amounts when they are given the choice in a safe environment. Trust her little mind and body to make the right choices for her.
9) Finally, you mention that you want your daughter to "learn a lesson." The only lesson she needs to learn is what you teach her by example. Follow the above recommendations so that you can bring her a loving, peaceful, kind mother.
10) Make some time to have fun and relax, for yourself. If possible, get some help with your child so that you can have a little more time to yourself. The better you feel personally, the better mother you will be.
I wish you all the best in your efforts to be the good mother you really are, and to create a safe, loving home for your daughter. I see you and your daughter well and happy.
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