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Is my parenting destroying my childs self esteem???

posted 1 decade 2 years ago
Hi guys

I am writing as I am in complete turmoil about my eldest son. This is quite a long story but i will try to shorten it as much as possible.

I am a single mum of 3 children 2 boys age 6 and 3 and 1 girl aged 2 and am doing a full time degree and have a nearly non existant support network around me.

My childrens father was a violent alcoholic and we only split up 6 weeks after my baby daughters birth 2 years ago. My eldest saw alot of violence from his father towards me to the point where social services got involved and I eventually got away from him.

Since then my eldest has had behavioural problems and has found it incredibly difficult to make friends. At first when he was in reception class at the age of 4 he was violent and aggressive towards other children. This has subsided and he is no longer violent and his aggression is way down to around the same as a normal child. He does however have a tendency to overreact to things more then other children but on the whole he is much improved.

However, he is incredibly isolated at school and keeps himself to himself alot. He frequently comes home upset that he has no friends and no one will let him play with them. It is breaking my heart. Since September he has only been invited to 2 birthday parties and both times he wondered around on his own looking lost and insecure and when he has tried to approach other children at the parties he gets rejected or they are rude and nasty to him, then he gets upset and comes running to me in tears.

I am starting to worry that it is my parenting making him this shy as I am very strict and dominating. I am under alot of stress with the degree and no support, and am very snappy and irritable with the children all the time. I am resorting to shouting over most things and cant seem to get it under control. I am not being abusive by calling them names or anything like that, just when I am telling them off I am doing it with a raised voice and being all shouty instead of trying to say what I want to say calmly. I can hear myself doing it and in an almost out of body experience I'm looking at myself going...."Do you really need to be shouting about this???".....but i cant control it. Then I feel guilty about shouting and apologise to the kids and explain that it isnt right for me to be shouting at them and they shouldnt think its their fault its just mummys stressed. Then I just go ahead and shout again!!!

I think i am also being too hard on my eldest about making friends, like making too much of an issue about it and its putting pressure on him. But i have no idea how to help the situation. I came from an abusive family and ended up in foster care myself so have no experience of how to gently coach a child through this kind of thing and i am floundering. I have no friends who have children and I struggle making friends myself so a socially inept parent trying to coach a socially inept child is like the blind leading the blind.

I have tried to move my son schools but all the schools in my area for his year are full so cannot take him on. I cannot move towns for finacial reasons so moving schools is not an option. I have got him into a karate club to try and get him making friends that way and i have seen some improvement but then when took him to the party today he went back to being painfully shy and sticking to me!!

I have tried asking friends over to my house from his school, but his only friend from school, his mum wont let him come to the house which i just dont understand. When he came before they had a whale of a time and I have heard the friend asking if he can come over alot but every time i ask the mother i just get blown off, and i can only put it down to the fact the school is incredibly snobby and i live in a council estate. I know this sounds ridiculous but i have heard many mothers at the school slagging off the council estate i live in, not realising i live there, saying they wouldnt want they're children "associating with those kinds of people". Then I he has a friend come over ONCE and they're not allowed over anymore!!! My house is clean and well kept so I just dont understand it!!

I just really need some advise on what to do, I love my children very much and this whole situation is breaking my heart. I have been bursting into tears about it left right and centre and it is keeping me up at night. I just dont know where to turn!!! PLease help???

posted 1 decade 2 years ago
Becca1980 The fact your looking to improve your eldest sons situation means you are a good parent and you should cut yourself some slack, my eldest is 6 and for the first year in school he would come home from school saying no one plays with him, a big group of boys came from a different nursery and they cold shouldered him. He is by nature a sensitive soul and took all this to heart. But in time he started making friends with some of the others not in the main group. So your boy isn't so unusual and too say he has seen some not pleasant things, perhaps he actually doing quite well. I found just talking to my son about it and giving him big hugs on a regular basis worked the best. I know it sounds a bit flimsy but I hope it gives you some encouragement.


posted 1 decade 2 years ago
Hi Becca,

Please don't worry so much but as yellowstar said, give your little one lots of hugs and kisses and try and sit with him and interact with him as much as you can. Give him some time, even if it means he goes to bed a little bit later than your other two. An extra half hour with him every night reading a book or playing a game will show him that you care, even if you do shout at him from time to time. And have you tried speaking to his teacher about him being so lonely and shy? When my son was finding it hard to make friends, his class teacher made sure that he was never alone and she constantly tried to pair him up with children she knew would not be mean to him. Believe me, that really helped. Even if things in school are not great, make sure he is happy and loved at home...
All the best!!

posted 1 decade 2 years ago
Hell Becca,
My heart goes out to you. I have lost many a nights sleep and shed many a tear over my children. Even now I am in a "don't know where to turn" situation with my youngest (12yrs). But, my reply to you is based on my own past experiences and knowledge and I hope it helps.
You are right when you say that your behaviour is affecting your child's self-esteem. He is feeding off of your emotions and reacting to your negative attitude. (been there, done that...) Though it is not the only thing I can assure you. School and peer relationships have a huge affect on this, as I am finding now. But you can make positive changes to help your son and your other children too. Could you change your degree to part-time? if not you could transfer to an Open University Degree part-time- you can transfer credits. Changing to part-time will take some pressure off of you and allow you to spend quality time with your children equally. What all children crave and need is time with their mum. You need to get into a routine - write it down. Allot time each day to spend with them doing silly things like finger painting, making and playing with playdough, play games, doing puzzles and watching TV with them. Become a child again almost and get down to their level, you will have as much fun as they will and you will see the positive change in all of them and your self. Have you considered that you may be suffering from depression? Sounds like you may have some of the symptoms. If you still have contact with your Health Visitor you could talk to her about the posibility and all of your concerns about your son. Or visit your GP and talk to him/her. As you say you did not have positive role models as parents and you need help with how to positively-parent. Well done for admitting that! Again you could ask your GP and Health visitor about positive parenting classes in your area. I found Nanny Jo Frost to be the most helpful. Have a look for her books in the library. She is an absolute Icon when it comes to positive parenting and raising self-esteem etc. She always has programs on sky and she is British. Watch them and use her methods and take her advice. I did and still do at times. Actually just typing this has given me an idea to go to her web-site and see if she can help me! I would also say it is important that you get you and your family out there- mixing with local groups like the parent and todler groups - churches tend to run them. I did that and ended up helping out when I was there and made some great friends. Sounds like you need to make friends as well as your son. They will become your support network. Also try joining the Parent Teacher Association of the school your son goes to - it won't take much of your time, but it will show these judgemental parents who you really are and they may change their attitude toward your son. Do you know how your son is behaving at school? If he is moody and withdrawn then the other children will notice this so you need the school to be aware of the problems and they need to help him to integrate in school and be positive, they will have strategies for this. Schools bang on about education being a partnership. It is, so use it. be open and honest with them - go and see the Headteacher and tell her of your concerns and ask them to help you. With positive parenting and positive schooling you can turn this around before any lasting damage is done. On that note; unless your partner physically abused the children then they will have no memory of it. It is from about the age of 7 that there developmental stages allow them to see things as they are and remember them. Before that, seeing it would have been upsetting, but within days it would have gone from their minds until it happened again. So do not worry to much about the past. Look only to now. Finally, the most important thing is to make time for yourself. Once a week have a hot soak in a bath and pamper yourself with a movie and some chocolate. Also, and this is not from my own experience but knowledge - Have you heard of Gingerbread - it is a network of groups for single parents - they organise social gatherings etc for families and parents as well as being a support network. Look them up on the net.

There is a lot more I could say, but I hope this has been of some help. I will see if I still have the Jo Frost book... If you would like to make personal contact with me then I would be happy to be your online friend and support. Have a look at my profile, see what you think. I hope to go back to my degree in September- what are you studying for?

Well thats all for now, hope to hear from you again. Best wishes and take care
Nicky Scott

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