is it me?

Recently I have been thinking (or over thinking and worrying) about this age old problem of Theo's sometimes out of control behaviour. When I wrote the post about giving up on playgroups I wrote it because I was paranoid of what people thought of the way Theo behaved, and if they thought badly of him, but now I'm starting to wonder is it me that they are actually thinking badly of? Like I don't know how to parent my child and I'm raising an out of control son?

Since writing that post we haven't been back to any of the playgroups that we used to go to, but we still take him to his swimming lesson and Rob takes him to football class on a Saturday. In the last couple of weeks Theos realisation of his independence has just reached new heights and he wants to do EVERYTHING himself. He doesn't want to be told to do something when he should, or told to sit still and do what everyone else is doing, he just wants to do his own thing. For example at football when all the other children are sitting in a circle he just wants to run around the circle. At swimming he is really confident in the water, can do all the techniques and the moves, but never wants to do them when everyone else is doing them. When they are supposed to be floating on their backs being still he wants to lie on his back and kick his legs and swim backwards (which he can do really well!) when they are supposed to be kicking their legs he wants to turn around and around in a circle (which again he does well) and when they are singing songs he wants to float on his back! They only thing he is good at doing at the right time is jumping in, but then all he wants to do is jump in. It's frustrating because he's really good at swimming, but he just doesn't want to be told when and what to do. It's all on his terms.

So I'm starting to think whether I need to try and put a little more effort into controlling him, or am I better off letting him do what he wants? I mean perhaps it's not fair on the other children or parents that I just let him do the things he wants whilst they are doing what the teacher asks? If I try and make him do the songs or swim in the direction he doesn't want to go in, he wriggles and screams and tries to get away so I don't really know what's more disruptive?

Before we get in the pool we have a little 'pep' talk if you will, where I explain that he needs to listen to what Jo (the teacher) is asking him to do, and to try and do some of the activities then he can do lots of jumping in. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. He loves being in the water so perhaps he just gets a little too overexcited? Or maybe it's just me not trying to control him a little better?

Is that what children need, do they need to learn rules and boundaries or do they need to be let to explore and discover for themselves? I would think it's a mix of both personally, and I really don't like being the type of parent to be constantly hovering over his shoulder saying "oh no be careful, don't do that, don't do this" I want to let him be free to learn things for himself, with some guidance and input from me. But perhaps I'm too relaxed with this, and perhaps it appears as though I just don't have control over him and I'm just letting him run wild. I don't want to constantly give into Theo and just take the easier option of letting him do what he wants out of fear he'll have a tantrum, or whether I'm making a rod for my own back and making it harder in the long run? I feel that perhaps I don't go through with my actions enough, for example if I've given him a warning that we are going to leave a place because he's behaving badly and not following through on that, is he just learning that I don't really mean what I say?

So basically I just don't really know what to do! Maybe I've spent too long making excuses about Theo's behaviour when all along it's down to the way I am parenting him?



  1. Firstly, you are no way a bad parent. Half the time they keep moving the goal posts anyway so as soon as you think you have one thing covered they have a new trick and then you have to conquer that one! Theo is a loving and fun little boy that is just testing out his limits, it's natural, but you must sort out what you think is ok behaviour verses what you think isn't right in certain situations I guess.

    I am a big fan of letting kids be kids. I am not a helicopter parent, in fact I probably let Stan do things other parents consider dangerous. But Stan is generally a careful kitty, so my worry isn't too great. On that note he is also a quiet boy and generally not that boisterous so I never really worry about him being disruptive. However he is bossy. Really bossy, and the thing you describe of T wanting to do things his way rings a familiar tune. I am a massive fan of following through with threats and in no way am I a pushover. So when I say I'm going to do something I will, always, even if it's embarrassing or causes me to cut short something I thought would be nice for both of us! Since I've done this a few times (my method at home is to shut him in his room for a time out thing for a few minutes - he HATES it, and so do I if I'm honest!) generally now I just have to say he will go to his room if he continues to do whatever it is and the thing stops instantly because he knows I damn well mean it!

    I have the main trouble that he spends a lot of time with his grandparents without me there and he bosses them around like no bodies business. I have now said to them it's no good them being a walkover as it isn't healthy! Although they of course find it hard to be firmer with him they are trying!

    This works for us. Every child is different and some maybe will read this and think I'm harsh. I'm just parenting the way I feel is right for us, and you must do the same in the end. Good luck!

    1. No I don't read this as you being harsh! I think that's the problem I'm having is that I don't follow through on my threats, and that perhaps I'm too embarrassed to have Theo make a scene so I just end up giving in! Think thats the first step I need to take. Thanks for the advice though! xx

  2. I tend to think in scales of harm: 'Is this going to harm [child], is this going to harm someone else?' If not, I allow freedom.

    Of course it varies based on situation/context, and I always (OK, 95% of the time) follow through on warnings that we're going to leave (if nothing else so that I don't have to deal with the glares of doom from 'perfect parents' ;)) but generally I am fairly laid back about everything.

  3. I know you posted this awhile but I just read it and wanted to post because I have been in your shoes.

    The best advice I have is keep at it. Do the pep talks, have the consequences, follow through, stand up for yourself and your rules, and don't give up.

    Kids have different personalities. Duh we know this but sometimes we forget. My daughter never did any of those things. Those parents who do think you are the problem are the ones who have kids like my daughter. :) As long as you know you are doing your best to encourage your sons independence and also make him a flexible guy who you can take out in public, you can let their opinions be just that, unwanted opinions. :)

    To answer your question I think a huge part of the equation is age. My son is 2 and a half and he runs away in parking lots sometimes, yells at me when he wants to do something I'm not allowing and sometimes I hate it. I get embarrassing. He isn't making me or us look good. lol. Then I stop and remind myself this is part of the process. Part of him growing up and learning. And I let myself be proud of the way I handled the situation. Not whether or not their is a situation. :) Did I stay calm? Did I do my best to give him a way to succeed while still following the rules. If so, go me. If not, next time!

    Give it time you you will find the boundary between letting him rule and giving him room to be himself. And as you probably already know, the boundary changes quite often.

    Best of Luck


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