Motherhood, am I doing it all wrong?

am I doing it wrong

Being a parent is the hardest job ever. Fact. It is a role we are thrown into with zero experience, straight into the deep end and expected to just get on with it. There are lots of books on parenting available but with so much conflicting advice and with every child being completely different, it can be so hard to know what to do for the best. As a mum I am always questioning what I do and if I am raising Leo to the best of my ability, most of the time I think I’m doing ok but things like mum guilt and other peoples opinions can cause serious blows to my confidence. Some days all I can think is that I am doing it all wrong, did I miss the memo on how to be the perfect mum? Some days I feel like everyone else is smoothly sailing through their parenting journey while I frantically try and keep my head above the water.

My latest crisis in confidence has come from a recent home visit with the health visitor. I know I should take everything she said with a pinch of salt, she doesn’t know Leo and how can she possibly judge him by spending just one hour with him? Anyway, her words and how she chose to deliver them have really struck  a particularly sensitive chord with me and I have been left with that same horrible question filling up my brain, am I doing it all wrong?

Basically, the health visitor popped around the other day for an introduction appointment, just a quick hello before baby arrives and to give me a massive pile of leaflets about breastfeeding, healthy eating and the like. She wasn’t coming to discuss Leo and yet talk of his behaviour dominated the conversation for over an hour. Now, I will be the first to admit that my boy is hard work, really really hard work at times. He has awful tantrums, sometimes he bites and hits and I have often been left wondering what on earth I am supposed to do to cope with this behaviour. So, when the health visitor is telling me how to deal with this, useful tips on what to do to avoid such outbursts of bad behaviour, I can take it. I eagerly listened and mentally noted down her techniques for positive reinforcement, reward charts and so on but when she says my child’s behaviour isn’t normal? Well, that’s where I stop being so eager to listen and start to get a bit angry.

After spending just one hour with him (and yes, obviously he chose to misbehave the whole hour), the health visitor had decided Leo is not like most 3 year olds. She doesn’t think he is ‘atypical’ whatever that means. When he walked into the kitchen and saw her sat at the table, instead of shying away to Mummy (as is normal according to the health visitor) he ran up to her and licked her arm and tried to get her to pick him up. What I see as confidence, she sees as over familiarity and unusual behaviour. When Leo started talking to her, she was again closely watching him. What I see as a very chatty and clever little boy, the health visitor sees someone with a very advanced grasp on language and a child who speaks in a far too articulate fashion for his years.

toddler

Am I doing it all wrong? Have I missed something important? I have always seen Leo’s amazing speech and confidence around people as a good thing, a sign that he is developing into a super clever little boy. Now I have been made to feel I should be concerned by these traits, along with his ‘challenging behaviour’ and need for attention, there could apparently be something more going on.

To be told your child is not like others their age is hard to hear. Obviously, everyone is unique and life would be very dull if we were all the same, but I don’t want to hear his behaviour isn’t normal. I will take it when she says his behaviour is challenging because, you know what, sometimes it is. He does have an almighty temper on him and is not afraid to show his frustration if he doesn’t get his own way. Apparently I have been dealing with this all wrong too, which is fine, maybe I have. Like I said earlier, parenting doesn’t come with a one size fits all guidebook, I wish it did but it doesn’t. I am not to shout at him, not to use the word ‘naughty’, always focus on the positive, talk to him like he’s a dog performing tricks and reward him when he’s good. All sounds easy? Well you try remaining calm and focusing on the positives when your child has just wacked you over the head with the biggest toy he can find.

I will try these techniques though, just to see if they work and to try and quash the taunting thoughts, the ones telling me I am doing everything wrong. If his behaviour hasn’t improved by the time the baby is here then it has been recommended that he spends a few sessions with some nursery nurses who are specifically trained in dealing with challenging behaviour.

When baby arrives next month I have been told I’m going to find it really hard and if Leo is still not ‘behaving normally’ by the time school starts then I am going to be in for a world of problems. Thanks for giving me something to look forward to health visitor, I thought you were meant to reassure me not make me feel worse than ever.

I know I am probably being over sensitive and she was only trying to help, to share her professional opinion with me but how can she possibly make these claims after just one hour with him, one hour where he was playing up? I am sorry but no three year old is perfect, I have read enough blogs and seen it myself plenty of times while at toddler groups to know all little ones can be naughty and are hard work sometimes. Why try and put Leo in a box and label him as ‘challenging’ and ‘different’? He is three, he’s still learning what’s wrong and what’s right. I am trying my best to teach him and support his development but right now I just feel like I am failing.

Am I doing it all wrong? Is she right? Am I just blinded by the crazy love I have for my boy that I refuse to see it? Perhaps she is right, maybe I have missed something and the clever, confident boy with a tendency to have regular meltdowns that is my son, does in fact have some kind of problem that needs addressing? I don’t know, I really don’t think so. What do I know though. I’m no health professional, I’m just his mother.

Do you ever feel like you are doing it all wrong? Do you get mum guilt or doubt yourself after comments others have made? Am I being unfair, do you think I should take less offence to what the health visitor said? I would love to know your thoughts on this.

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41 Comments

  1. Claire
    September 7, 2016 / 9:08 am

    I can’t believe she said that to you Wendy! Health visitors are supposed to be there to support, nothing else. What three year old can’t be challenging at times? They’re finding their feet in the world and becoming their own person. This is the second time this week I’ve heard of a health visitor upsetting a mum looking for support and it’s so upsetting! You sound like you’re an amazing mum! #familyfun
    Claire recently posted…Cleaning Up My ActMy Profile

  2. September 7, 2016 / 9:55 am

    That is shocking!! I have had similar comments with my youngest daughter, also three, as she is challenging to say the least. As a mummy of five I have had countless times when I have felt I was doing it all wrong but when I look at my children and the amazing little people they are, I know that I am doing something right. You sound like a fab mummy, keep doing what you’re doing! #BloggerClubUK
    five little doves recently posted…For Eva, on your first day at school.My Profile

  3. September 7, 2016 / 11:04 am

    I can’t comment on your exact situation but I have a three year old and I hated the health visitors so much that when we had baby girl, we didn’t bother with them at all. She is almost 8 months now and apart from the first 6 weeks, we’ve not seen them. I’ve never even taken her to a baby weigh in clinic. I might take her around her first birthday to settle my own curiosity but only so that I can get her official weight at 12 months. Don’t take it to heart. If you have any questions, I think asking parents that have been there will get you better answers as the HV team get theirs from pages

  4. Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons
    September 7, 2016 / 11:40 am

    Wow, I’m not sure I really see what the issue is here? He sounds like a pretty normal 3 year old to me, with some great language skills and maybe some challenging behaviour, but what 2/3 year old doesn’t? And I don’t believe for a minute that you can judge a child based on one short visit. And given that she wasn’t even there about Leo, that’s just even more shocking. I’ve had my own issues with our health visitor team, so I can well believe this. It’s impossible not to take things personally when they are talking about your child – it’s so so personal! Please don’t feel you’re doing anything wrong – he sounds like he’s doing great to me! #familyfun
    Katy – Hot Pink Wellingtons recently posted…Finding the right work/mum balanceMy Profile

  5. September 7, 2016 / 12:00 pm

    I don’t think anyone should judge a child based on an hour of interaction! And health visitors are not always the best judge, my first HV wasn’t even a parent….and all the books in the world can’t tell you what it’s like to actually have a child with you 24/7, good days and bad. If you have any contact with a childcare setting, childminder/nursery/preschool etc. I’d have a chat with them. They are much more likely to know what his normal behaviour is like and they can let you know if they have any concerns. #familyfun

  6. September 7, 2016 / 12:43 pm

    Your boy is who is he is. I am sure he will grow into something completely amazing. I second guess myself every single day- no joke- EVERY DAY AT NIGHT I think…. I have to do better.

    Moms are their worst critics I think

    #BloggerUKClub
    Kristin McCarthy recently posted…The Second Best Thing About Having A BabyMy Profile

  7. September 7, 2016 / 2:00 pm

    Aaaw you poor thing! In my experience child professionals (Health Visitors, teachers, GPs, etc) can sometimes say things without thinking how the poor parent will take it, and how much worry they’re causing! Leo is probably acting up because his home will (naturally) be in a bit of upheaval at the moment with the baby coming soon. It can be unnerving, but it’s not your fault.

    I am a firm believe in positive parenting, though, so I hope it works for you. With the ‘not saying naughty’ thing, I’ve always understood it more to be that you don’t give the child labels (self-fulfilling prophesy and all that). So instead of saying, “You naughty boy!”, you would say “That was a naughty thing to do”. I hope that helps. #BloggerClubUK and #FamilyFun
    Lucy At Home recently posted…Bloggers Bluff #01: Over Heaven’s HillMy Profile

  8. September 7, 2016 / 3:30 pm

    Well if you’re doing it all wrong lovely then so am I! I have the same issues with Ethan aswell. He thinks hitting & biting is acceptable at times and loves to kick off when he can’t get his own way. Like you, from the blogs I have read I know I’m not alone. They are normal three year olds testing boundaries. She probably doesn’t even have a child. I can’t believe she gets paid for making hard working Mum’s who are doing their very best, feel bad about themselves. You sound like you’re doing an incredible job. Please don’t dwell on it. Hugs. #bloggerclubuk
    Jaki recently posted…Little Grey Fergie at Cotswold Farm ParkMy Profile

  9. September 7, 2016 / 7:56 pm

    No you aren’t doing it wrong. There is no wrong or right way to bring up a child. It sounds like you have so much love for your little man. You said you wrote this in a low point, I hope that you have picked yourself back up again, being super pregnant does mess with our heads. Try not to worry everything will work out! Thanks for linking up to #FamilyFun. Hope you can come back next week!

  10. September 7, 2016 / 10:08 pm

    Oh I really feel for you, I had a recent similar encounter with me HV, and took to my blog to vent it out. She said my boy was behind and not where he should be for his age, he was 2 months premature so he couldn’t be expected to be. Anyway, its hard not to feel put down or upset by comments like this but it is important to remember you are by no means doing it all wrong. Like you said, they are all different, still learning the ways of the world and pushing boundaries – it is perfectly normal toddler behaviour to my mind. I hope you can put her comments to the back of your mind as such negativity is no good for anyone. All the best for the new arrival too! Thank you so much for linking up to #Familyfun – hope to see you again next week xx

  11. September 7, 2016 / 10:55 pm

    Alfie my eldest has been quite the monkey and went through a phase of biting and hitting and I found him incredibly hard to deal with. Hopefully it is just a dreaded phase but honestly don’t get too bogged down with other people giving advice. Thanks for linking up #bestandworst
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  12. September 8, 2016 / 9:32 am

    Oh this is such a horrible thing for you to have gone through. As you said,though, you see his behaviour as confidence and brightness – I love that positivity and it is that totally! We had lots of questioning issues when my daughter was 4 – talks from the HV, the nursery teacher – all broke my heart and left me in tears – but oh my word if you could see the beautiful girl she has become at 17- nothing wrong whatsoever! #ablogginggoodtime
    justsayingmum recently posted…An Interview With The Unmumsy Mum!My Profile

  13. September 8, 2016 / 11:54 am

    I hate the word ‘normal’. Normal by what? Society’s standards? I would be more concerned if a child didn’t speak at all than if they spoke very articulately. Motherhood is already hard enough without HV’s telling you your child isn’t behaving how they ‘should behave’.

    #ablogginggoodtime

  14. September 8, 2016 / 1:31 pm

    firstly – you are not doing it wrong (i know you know this but just to confirm with you!) i dont think anyone can say anything about a child after having spent such a short time with them, and as for being too articulate thats ridiculous. hopefully she was well intentioned but she should have kept her beak out. #bloggerclubuk

  15. September 8, 2016 / 4:52 pm

    I’m also not a fan of this lady – you can’t know a child in an hour! There is such a wide range of what “normal” is considered to be, and even then, it’s not the end of the world if he doesn’t fit in that category.

    However, I don’t think anyone is immune from mommy guilt. Just keep doing the best you can, that’s all any of us can do. Thanks for sharing this post!

  16. September 8, 2016 / 7:39 pm

    What is normal, anyway? My daughter doesn’t act like other children her age, but I think that’s just her personality – how boring would it be if all children acted exactly the same? I think we all we all feel like we’re failing sometimes, but it’s important to remember that you know your child better than anyone..even an ‘expert’. #ablogginggoodtime
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  17. September 8, 2016 / 8:57 pm

    I really believe as Leo’s mother you know him better than anyone – if there was anything to be concerned about, you would be the first to spot it. Trust your mothering instincts hun, don’t doubt your own abilities. There’s no harm in following up on anything though, don’t beat yourself up you are doing a fantastic job xx
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub
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  18. September 8, 2016 / 9:22 pm

    I think sweeping generalisations are so dangerous! I’m a teacher and iveworked in early years. He may be challenging but that doesn’t mean there is anything ‘wrong’. Some kids are difficult are home and perfect at school and visa versa. If you need to chat get in touch! #ablogginggoodtime
    Faye Colegate recently posted…Ready to wean?My Profile

  19. September 8, 2016 / 9:48 pm

    That’s an awful thing for her to have said. How can she make any assessment of his behaviour in such a short space of time? I know lots of three year olds with this kind of ‘challenging behaviour’ and I wouldn’t ever think it’s a cause for concern – they’re just being 3 years old and can be little tinkers sometimes! He’s your son and I’m sure if there was something to be concerned about, you’d have picked up on it yourself. Sounds like he’s just being a toddler! Don’t be hard on yourself. #familyfun

  20. September 9, 2016 / 8:12 am

    What a rude person! You should never, ever tell someone their child isn’t ‘normal’. grrr. Grays best friend is turning 4 tomorrow, and she can already READ. eep. Gray refuses to even try. though apparently he’s different at nursery. On the other hand Gray was walking by himself by his first birthday, but one of my friends kids has only just started walking unassisted aged 16months. All kids are different! Your Leo is perfect xx Claire xx #picnmix

  21. September 9, 2016 / 3:12 pm

    Oh that is so annoying. 1 hour is Not long enough to make such an assessment! If it had been a different hour she probably would have thought differently. Like you say it is good to take some advice of different techniques but try not to let her comments bother you. I’m sure you are not doing it all wrong xxx

  22. September 10, 2016 / 7:37 pm

    Oh no this is just horrid. I have had major problems with health visitors too. They see the child for such a short period of time, and quite frankly I don’t think they should have as much say as they do. As parents I feel we are qualified to make our own judgements, and I would only worry if it was someone who knew my child well and saw them on a regular basis (their nursery or school for example) making these conclusions. Keep going, you are doing an amazing job. Three year olds are impossible! PicknMix
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  23. September 10, 2016 / 10:53 pm

    Don’t feel you are doing it all wrong! Kids are actually people with their own wiring and yes, nuture plays a big role but so does nature. Not that I’m saying there is something wrong. Listen to the Drs, investigate all the possibilities, get a second opinion. All worthwhile, all in the best interest of your child. BUT don’t own it all, don’t beat yourself up. Life is not the picture book story that we’re fed. There is a million and one other influences on any moment in time. All you can do is your best. #KCACOLS
    Lydia C. Lee recently posted…Run away to the circusMy Profile

  24. Jane Taylor
    September 11, 2016 / 12:42 am

    This is a tough one and I would be falling into the same trap if I tried to give advice without knowing you or your child well enough. However, I think the Health Visitor should have been more tactful, sensitive and perhaps suggested setting up another appointment to discuss things and chat through your own concerns and also share some of her thoughts but without her jumping to conclusions from a 1 hour visit. Being a parent is hard enough and what is ‘NORMAL’?!!

    You worry about being a good parent and that to me is always the marker of a good parent! Caring and loving them so much you want to do a good job.

    Being a parent means: Love them, Tell them you love them, Show them you love them. Everything else will fall into place.

    Jane recently posted…The ‘real’ Jane Taylor revealed: 25 shocking facts about me

    Thanks for linking with #KCACOLS

  25. September 11, 2016 / 1:45 am

    Sorry that you’re feeling this way. We don’t have health visitors in Canada but I would have thought that someone in that type of position would be trying to help not make you feel like you’re doing everything wrong. Personally, the fact that you’re thinking about this and writing about it shows me what a wonderful mom you are and how much you care about your son. I’m always worried about doing the wrong thing with my son since he too is a strong willed child. Parenting is so difficult as it is; we don’t need to be judged by people who are supposed to be helpful. #KCACOLS

  26. September 11, 2016 / 6:15 pm

    YOU are doing an AMAZING job. Someone who meets your child for an hour, quite frankly does not know shit about the,. I really don’t like health visitors as good ones seem to be very few and far between and a lot of their knowledge seems to come from textbooks, which we all know isn’t adequate when it comes to children as they’re all different. Try not to worry. You’re doing an awesome job and your happy, confident boy shows that #KCACOLS

  27. Rachel George, Ordinary Hopes
    September 11, 2016 / 8:54 pm

    Don’t let anyone affect your confidence. Keep enjoying your wonderful child and keep letting him just be himself.
    Rachel George, Ordinary Hopes recently posted…Field Notes: Junior Innovation CampMy Profile

  28. September 12, 2016 / 10:18 am

    Off the cuff comments from health visitors have a lot to answer for in my opinion! I’m also amazed they did a home visit before baby comes…I’m sure they don’t do that in my neck of the woods… #bestandworst
    Crummy Mummy recently posted…Speedy school night hacksMy Profile

  29. September 12, 2016 / 11:16 am

    I can’t believe that Wendy – I have always felt the same about health visitors that you have to take their comments with a pinch of salt, but that is too much. To be honest, I feel that at 3 years old, they are still developing and changing a lot, that she shouldn’t have created this cause for concern – what is normal anyway? Sorry you’ve had to go through this lovely xx #coolmumclub
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  30. September 12, 2016 / 12:38 pm

    I’m always wary of these Health Visitors. Especially the judgemental types. From what you describe, he’s confident and articulate…. how can that be wrong? Sure the temper tantrums are a handful but at 3, is it just the “terrible twos”? Oh and trying to be calm and focussing on the positive when they’ve just whallopped you in the face is just something I can’t do either!! The word naughty gets used a lot…. to the girls and to the dogs! #KCACOLS

  31. September 12, 2016 / 12:50 pm

    I think unique and intelligent are both great things and it certainly sounds like your son is both of these. I find it incredible how children’s personalities are all so different from such a young age. My daughter is certainly what I would describe as challenging at times and very sharp but toddlers test you, it’s a way of learning boundaries and it sounds like you are doing a fantastic job. #KCACOLS

  32. September 12, 2016 / 9:28 pm

    Oh my goodness, I cannot believe that the health visitor said that. Leo is unique, intelligent and confident and you should be proud of that. You are doing everything right. Not all kids follow the same pattern book and if they did the world would be a very boring place. I would never let a health visitor in my house again – the health visitors I came across when Cygnet was a baby made me feel a failure and that’s about it. You are a great mum and doing a great job. Pen x #KCACOLS
    Pen recently posted…“Surely you want to grow old with someone”My Profile

  33. September 12, 2016 / 9:37 pm

    Blumming health visitors – they’ve made me cry on more than one occasion – I would say take her words with a HUGE pinch of salt. You seem like a hugely reflective woman who knows her child extremely well – that’s so much more important than the snapshot the health visitor got. Take care. x #fortheloveofBLOG
    Mindful Mummy Mission recently posted…Where will you be at 4pm this Tuesday? – An Open letter to local MPsMy Profile

  34. September 13, 2016 / 8:03 pm

    I think it is perfectly normal to question your own parenting. I think it is also normal to be relatively ‘blind’ to the things that make your child the individual that they are. Like you say, everyone is different. I think unless she is genuinely concerned about his health and wellbeing from a medical perspective I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Try some of the constructive advice she gave you and then try and forget the badly phrased criticisms. Good luck with the new baby.
    #KCACOLS

  35. September 13, 2016 / 9:22 pm

    I’ve only just moved back to the UK and am waiting for my first health visitor appointment but I can assure you it will pretty much go EXACTLY like yours (except there will be a two year old copying his three and a half year old big brother!)

    My guy is incredibly sensitive, very bright, confident and uses big words. This makes him challenging, inspiring, irritating and adorable in equal measures. One article I read back in Canada that really helped me get to grips with him as a baby was by Dr. Sears about High Needs Babies. You’re not doing anything wrong, I promise!

    http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/fussy-baby/high-need-baby/12-features-high-need-baby

    #KCACOLS

  36. September 14, 2016 / 9:32 am

    I haven’t read the replies to I apologise if you’ve heard this before but: from what I’ve just read, he seems like a very very clever boy who is beyond his years. He might be frustrated because his mind has developed faster than his body.
    He sounds like he could be an overachiever.
    The health visitor should have spotted that. I really don’t like this bracketing of people. Everyone is different.
    You have done all you can with you boy and it sounds like you are doing great job.
    Hopefully, in years to come you might have the next Steven Hawkins, look back and laugh at the ‘health victor’ #KCACOLS
    Alex Fihema recently posted…An ode to all mothers, but mainly, the mother of my children!My Profile

  37. September 14, 2016 / 1:30 pm

    I find it very unusual that she felt qualified to make assumptions about your child after one hour. She was not there for Leo and should not have made comments like this in my opinion. I think you should speak to someone and maybe request another person. We had a problem with a teacher at preschool when our son was younger. She was very brutal in her assessment of our son but actually in the end she did have some valid concerns.Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime
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  38. September 15, 2016 / 8:15 am

    Oh hun I can completely understand what you’re going through. The Health Visitor had no right to discuss Leo with you like she did, she has only seen him for 1 hour and that is definitely not long enough to make any assumptions. You know your child best, try to take her advice with a pinch of salt. The nursery said to me yesterday that my daughter wasn’t walking. I know that. But she’s only 13 months, this got me so worried and after doing a twitter poll I’m not so worried anymore. We have to remember that all children are different, they have different temperaments and denvelop at different times. It’s easy for HV or professionals to put children into a developmental box but we need to remember that they grow and develop their personalities at different times. I hope you’re OK. Thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofblog. Claire x

  39. September 15, 2016 / 8:16 pm

    All children are different and it seems very young for her to be thinking there are issues, especially after a one hour appointment! We all parent the best we can, don;t let her make you feel like a bad mum as you clearly aren’t as you care so much.
    Thanks for linking up to #PicknMix hope to see you there again tomorrow 🙂

    Stevie x
    A Cornish Mum recently posted…Ten Rules of Primary School ParkingMy Profile

  40. September 19, 2016 / 5:09 am

    This isn’t the first post I’ve read about tactless and sometimes offensive health visitors! I wouldn’t take to heart what she says, she only has a first impression which is not the full story. You know your son, trust your own instincts and know that you’re a great mum! #KCACOLS

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