Hello anyone who is interested! I am sitting at home thinking about my boys, and reading through my old posts. Son #2 is starting school in September, son #1 is going up to KS2 and life is a bit different to how it was a few years ago. My big boy is maturing into a gorgeous person – his behavioural problems are on the whole a distant memory and he has calmed right down and rises to challenges beautifully. This is in no small part down to his teacher, who has provided inspiration, encouragement, high expectations and fun – exactly what a teacher should be. We’ll be very sad to move on from him and can only hope the next teacher for #1 is great too.

#2 has visited his new school and went in without any problems, the total opposite of his older brother, but thank God for that. I don’t want to go through the hanging on my legs, or following me out of the classroom after I thought he was settled, or crying hysterically – that went on for over 9 months with #1 and is a nightmare for any parent, and I sympathise greatly for anyone going through that.

It’s funny how the needs of the children dictate our lives as parents. Over the next few weeks I’ll be saying goodbye to toddler groups probably for the next 20 years – until I’m one of the helpers doing the teas lol! 7 years of meeting my friends, old and new, for tea and a biscuit and a good ol’ moan is over, which is pretty amazing. Sad in many ways, but good too – I never have to sing Wind The Bobbin Up again unless I want to 😉 but it means that I’ll see a lot less of friends. We’ll meet at the school gates for drop off and pick up, but will have to go out of our ways now to ensure that we keep up with each other’s lives.

When I hear of friends having babies now, I am full of awe about how life continues in cycles, and we are all moving along it at our own pace but being pushed along it faster than we are ready too. I cannot imagine going back to nappies and buggies, sleepless nights and vomit covered clothes. I still love babies, am first in line for a cuddle – but am so glad I can hand them back! Please don’t for one minute think I am blasé about the joy and blessing my life has given me, with my two gorgeous boys, but I am so glad those days are behind me. People used to say (old people mainly) “Enjoy every minute, you’ll blink and it’s passed” and I used to think WHAT? What’s to enjoy? I was so tired, unhappy, depressed I guess – every day felt like a durgey grind, and when bedtime came around I fell into it exhausted. Now though, we have days where we laugh so much, and they say such sweet things, and they learn new facts and grasp big concepts so enthusiastically and with such wonder, that I can’t believe how amazing life can be, and am trying to hold onto it just like those wise women told me. But it’s impossible, it’s flying by, I can’t hold it in my hands any more than I could hold whisps of smoke. I just hope my ridiculous amount of photos help my memory – which is severely addled from all those sleepless nights!




I’ve been inspired to write another post as a friend of mine, who will remain nameless, posted a desperate status on her facebook page…

“I love it when my son comes home and says he loves daddy best and wants to live with him – makes me feel really special :(“

I thought and thought about this and how much it must hurt and can relate to it totally. Children have such an amazing ability to find a weak point and hone in on it. We’d like to think our little sweeties don’t have a mean bone in their body. I remember going to a toddler group a year or two ago, that happened to be made up of mainly very young babies. The mums, all first timers, were cooing over them and doing the usual comparisons of their little sweeties with some of the older children they’ve seen now they were in contact with kids. “xxx was so rude, he pushed in front of the others, he screamed, he shouted, he stole the toys, he was horrible to his mother and she just took it”. I couldn’t help myself. In my usual way I said something along the lines of “ah, you guys, just you wait. Wait til your little sweetheart pushes another child. Or won’t share. Or tells you they hate you for the first time. Or they wish they’d never been born. Or they make you cry about something they know you feel bad about.”  They looked at me blankly. I made my excuses quite soon afterwards and didn’t go back to that group unsurprisingly. OK I was out of order, but I wish someone had warned me! Maybe it helped them in the long term, probably not though as we don’t tend to listen to crazy people trying to warn us of things.

We all think our little beauties are never going to be like that, are they?  So much has been written about the terrible twos, which were awful for the confrontational behaviour and the outbursts but in my experience the ‘threenager’ years and onwards have been the worst for the manipulative comments. Once children get a hang of language they start experimenting with it, of course. Most of this is positive. Some is negative.

My beautiful #1 son was three when he first shouted “I hate you” at me for some minor argument, but coupled it with “You’ve ruined my life” for good measure. Aghast, I tried to make sense of what he could possibly mean by this. I was so unhappy. My husband said I’d have to get used to things like that, it would prepare me for when he was a teenager and threw anything at me he felt like, but to me it was like being stabbed through my heart. My beautiful little boy, my angel, what could I possibly have done to have ruined his  life? The answer – he had watched Toy Story, and Woody shouted it at Buzz before they were friends. So innocent really but when he tried it out it worked a treat so he kept it in his arsenal of tools to upset mum. Once I realised, it didn’t work any more!

Then he switched to “I hate it here. I don’t want to live here. I hate you and Dad”. Now I’d say “OK then, off you go. Where do you want to live?” I’m confident enough that he doesn’t really mean it and he’s just trying to get a rise out of me. When he started “I hate myself” again I was shocked and thought I’d ruined his self esteem for the rest of his life – was he a manic depressive? Was he going to suffer a life of self loathing which would impact on his daily decisions? Nah. He was just trying a new tactic. The first few times it worked, and I reacted exactly as he wanted – then I got wise!

Anyway, hope I haven’t rambled too much. I’d be really interested in hearing what your children have verbally thrown at you – I’m not alone am I? Let’s all help each other realise that this is a stage and all things will pass!!!


Reading the recent news story about Felicia Boots, who killed her two children (Lily 14 months and Mason 10 weeks) led us to talk about PND and how dangerous it is, at various toddler groups this week. We kind of came up with some plans for avoiding it and I wanted to share them on here.

• Don’t allow yourself to become isolated. I didn’t go out to meet anyone until my first son was 10 months old. I was new in the area, didn’t want to disrupt my son’s sleeping patterns (ha ha ha – that doesn’t even become an issue second time around at all!), didn’t know anyone, felt frumpy and fat and had no confidence to talk to anyone etc. I was in real danger of heading down the PND route. Luckily I started going to a few toddler groups and started to meet people in the same situation. It’s easier than you might think to just talk to another mum – most are receptive to new mums who start coming to groups, especially in Sidmouth. I’ve found nothing but friendship and understanding from all the women I see regularly, and we’re all in the same boat. We all need to get out, whinge, have a cuppa, have an adult conversation and have a reason to get out of the house. The children quite like it too!

• Remember you’re not alone. Everyone struggles – some people might not show it and want to appear to cope with everything beautifully. Avoid these people and surround yourself by real mums who have bad days. Remember it’s not a competition about who can do the best job, whose got the tidiest house, whose fresh-made cookies taste the best. Don’t get into any comparisons with other competitive mums. Just think about how you’re doing, and when you have a bad day talk to someone supportive, with children of similar ages, and share your stories and theirs.

• Try very hard to get some down time. Relaxation by your favourite means is vital. If it’s a massage, gardening, cooking, reading a book – whatever – find some time to do it, even for one hour a week. You can look forward to it and really thrive when you have a break from the constant demands (if your kids are like mine). We all want to prove that we can cope but there is no shame in having a friend or relative have your blessed little bundle for an hour’s walk or something now and then. If someone responsible offers, try and accept it!

• Don’t underestimate the power of sleep. When you are having a really hard day and you’re overreacting to everything, try to remember that it’s not you, it’s lack of sleep. There’s a reason that sleep deprivation is used as a torture method. I can remember losing my rag so many times with my children because my youngest didn’t sleep past 4am for 2 years, (and now only makes it to 5), and he woke frequently in the night. I firmly believe that any benefit from sleep only comes if you have at least four solid hours in a block. When it’s disrupted constantly it is exhausting. We were constantly tired, and funnily enough my then 3 year old didn’t respect that Mum needed to sit down for ten minutes and couldn’t cope with doing any more puzzles for a bit, and didn’t want to paint, and couldn’t carry him, his scooter, and push his younger brother home from town (30 minute walk away). I lost it totally in the Byes after that episode, as another mum friend witnessed to my mortification, and I threw James’ scooter as hard as I could into the park.

• Being a mum is 95% durge and 5% fun – at least in the early years. This was told to me by a friend and its a refreshing idea if you think about it – just try and enjoy the 5% because when you do it makes the 95% much easier to stand. It’s a thankless task – you get shouted at, called names, told that you’re hated (I do anyway) on a semi-regular basis, clear up all sorts of mess, cook, clean, wash, iron, vacuum, tidy, teach, organise, and everything else, for no thanks at all most of the time. But those times that your child laughs and tells you he/she loves you, throws their arms around you, rides their bike for the first time, swims, tells jokes… they make it worthwhile.

• Having a second child is a big jump for everyone. I overheard a conversation this week by a mum of 3 who said that it was hard to adjust to one child, harder to adjust to two, but the third was a doddle. I think that the second child makes you realise that there is only one of you, and two of them, so you’re already outnumbered. They can run off in separate directions when you’re out, fight, unite against you, display amazingly strange behavioural problems to get attention, regress, rebel, defy and hate you. It’s hard to remember that the first one has had their whole world turned upside down by the arrival of a new baby. Everyone coos over the baby now, when the week before they thought the toddler was so cute. Often the older one becomes repulsive with spiteful, defiant behaviour issues, knowing exactly how to push your buttons when you’re tired. Then you bite back and that wonderful bond you had with your oldest is fractured for the first time. The hardest thing is trying to spend time with a child who is being obnoxious but we know that’s the thing that needs to happen in order to reassure them. Putting the baby down as often as possible, and trying to do the old routine things with the older one is vital. (Sorry if I sound like I’m lecturing but this was honestly the result of conversations this week, not just my ideas!) That bond will return but everyone in the house needs to find their roles again when the dust settles.

The thing about PND and tiredness is that it is so irrational. You do and say things that you wouldn’t normally do. That’s why that poor woman Felicia Boots deserves our enormous sympathy. What she did she will have to live with for the rest of her life; how can she? It is too horrible to contemplate. But you can see how it happened. She was already suffering depression due to her brother’s suicide a few years ago, she’d moved to the UK from Canada due to her husband’s job and didn’t have many friends, and was alone with the two very young children all day. I’m very lucky that I recognised that I was starting to experience extreme anxiety and anger, and I got myself down to the doctors for some help, as have so many other mums I know. I’m not ashamed at all, but proud of myself that I sorted it out.

If you feel like you are suffering and in need of help, talk to someone. Whether it’s a GP, a health visitor, a mum at a toddler group, or a family member, neighbour or friend – it doesn’t matter. Just talk. Don’t suffer on your own and try to cope.

I’d love comments about this – let me know your experiences and lets see if we can help any mums who are struggling



After a visit to Crealy at the weekend, I am now pondering the expense parents incur in taking their children out for the day, and am left wondering how larger families cope? We had a special voucher ticket to use for myself and my husband, leaving only James to pay for – but he goes for an adult price at Crealy as he’s over the height limit. Luke is under it so he is free. So we spent £14.95 getting in, which, when divided between the four of us, isn’t too bad – but if we’d had to pay for us too we just wouldn’t have gone.

Then we got inside and all the ‘extras’ appeared:

£3 for the water walking balls thing (we said no)

£4 for the go-karts each as we’d need 2 for the 4 of us (we said no)

£1 each go for the little remote controlled cars – 2 of which didn’t work and we had to get someone to get our money back

£not sure for the boats (we’d just got used to saying NO by now)

Loads of sideshow games, £2 for 2 balls to throw into a bucket, etc etc

Now I know that we don’t have to do all the extras, but it seems to me that some of them could be included in the admission price? What about a Peco type ticket that you have stamped to go on the go-karts once etc?

The other thing that struck me was the poor choice of food – the ‘American Diner’ is just burgers and chips – not like any American Diner I’ve ever been to. Why do we put up with rubbish? Or maybe I’m just a snob… (well yes I admit that I definitely am).

Anyway, whinges over, we still had a fun time. How do bigger families cope? I’m genuinely interested to see if I am just tight or if anyone else agrees with me,


When I talk to people about what I’m doing I’m getting a real mixed reaction – people who agree and people who clearly think I’m a crazy person – how can fruit be bad for children? I’m not saying it is at all – I’m just totally convinced now that it has a very detremental affect on James’s behaviour.


Another thing we’ve now discovered he can’t tolerate is ‘natural vanilla flavouring’ – which unbelievably can contain additives. How do the food industry get away with calling things ‘natural’ when they aren’t??? He had something last night that I thought he’d be ok with and his behaviour was shocking – I’ve got so used to the calm, reasonable lovely boy that we’ve had for the last few weeks, to see him spinning around, shouting, dancing uncontrollably, crying and screaming and shaking was scary. What caused this? A small Milky Way that he had on the way out of school that another boy was giving out for his birthday. We all realise that these ‘treats’ are not treats for James (or us) and so we’re going to avoid them as well. I gave in because it’s awkward when everyone else is having something and my normal 5 year old pesters me for it, but we both agreed it wasn’t worth it last night, when he couldn’t stop crying in bed and kept saying he felt sad and his head was buzzy.


This is the information about vanilla, taken from my new favourite site at the minute, fedup.com.au

Do you eat commercial products with vanilla flavours?


If the diet is working, it is okay to have a little bit sometimes.


 Artificial and natural flavours, fruit flavours and even vanilla can cause problems. Vanilla essence used to be limited to 2 drops per day but even that can be too much for some children. If your child is not improving, reduce or avoid ‘flavours’, ‘vanillin’ or ‘vanilla’ in commercial products such vanilla flavoured yoghurt, custard, ice cream, soymilk, caramels, biscuits, carob and sweets. Home cooking is safer but avoid vanilla in that too.


So we keep going with the elimination, until I think he’s had an ‘episode-free’ month, then we will start to reintroduce tiny amounts and see what happens… watch this space

Denise x

Local Family Stuff

J has had a great few days – the only hiccup being Bourbon biscuits which resulted in a return to the shouting and fronting up to me.

We’ve had some nice meals too as it’s forcing me to cook from scratch so we’ve had:

Pizza, made from a nice dough recipe and topped with butternut squash and red onions, which were roasted in the oven to soften first then liquidised with some lemon juice, topped with cheese as usual – and the verdict from all the family was DELICIOUS! So we didn’t miss the tomatoes or flavourings at all.

Soup – sweet potatoes, butternut squash, onions, garlic, carrots, potato and chicken stock. Accompanied by warm crispy non-preservative rolls – again delicious and both boys had seconds which is unheard of! So much for missing out on goodness by avoiding all the fruit, this was packed with great stuff! (Next time I’m going to slip some sprouts in and mush them up, and I’ll see if I get away with it)

Chicken and chips – chicken cooked by rolling in some flour then baking in a little oil, chips again just roasted in the oven in a little oil (I use frylite). Delicious with garlicky mayonnaise.

Tonight it’s egg & chips – yum

The interesting thing about this diet is how it frees me up to add a little salt to their food which before I was hesitant about, but compared to a processed pizza or fish fingers anything I cook will be far lower in salt than that. Same with sugar – we’ve started having ‘Magic Squash’ which is made from sugar, boiled water and citric acid, sounds horrid but actually is very nice, and I’m not going to worry about the sugar as long as they do their teeth because it’s got to be better than aspartame, tartrazine etc…

I am having to really contain my enthusiasm for this as I easily get on my soap box and want to tell the world. Every time I hear a parent say their son has asthma, eczema, behavioural problems, poor concentration etc, I’m ready to jump in. Woah tiger!


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Right, after posting yesterday we had a bit of a glitch this afternoon. J had crab paste* sandwiches – one of his favourite sandwich fillings – that his Dad did for him without thinking, and it has totally reinforced my view. He went loopy about 20 minutes after eating them and did all his usual things – winding his brother up, shouting, restless legs, inability to sit still for even a few seconds, rude, punching, kicking, dropping his ‘t’s in words (he honestly doesn’t normally do that, I sound like a nutter I know but honestly he doesn’t). We watched in amazement as he cycled through hysteria, crying, laughing then crying again. We went out for a walk to try and get him out of the mood but he moaned all the way, then tripped over his feet and hurt his knees. I carried him home and cajoled him out of his mood and he talked to me about how he felt. He scared himself, he felt very sad and he said he didn’t mean any of the things that he’d said.

I reassured him that we knew that anyway, and we want to get to the bottom of what’s making him go like that, so he’s very willing to go along with whatever we suggest.

[*Crab paste ingredients: Crab (70%), Salmon (10%), Water, Full Fat Soft Cheese (Contains Milk), Soya Concentrate, Lemon Juice, Tomato Puree, Rusk (Wheatflour, Water, Salt, Raising Agent; Ammonium Bicarbonate), Potato Starch, Salt, White Pepper, Cayenne.]

This evening we had things we were allowed to have – jacket potatoes with butter, pasta with tuna and mayonnaise, topped with a bit of cheese. He ate it all and asked for seconds and then afterwards – lovely, calm evening, no niggling, no shouting, and an easy bedtime. Woohoo!

Tomorrow it’s homemade pizza – the base is already made and in the freezer and the topping I will make tomorrow from butternut squash and red onions, with a bit of cheese on top. Anything to avoid those darn tomatoes!

That’s all for now


Local Family Stuff

By the way I’ve been told to be careful as health visitors might think I’m a crazy nutter but I don’t think I am – I am definitely not imagining the behavioural problems and there’s nothing else wrong with my lovely boys so hope there’s nothing for anyone to worry about! I think apart from the odd behaviour issue we’re doing ok so far x

The reason I’m writing this post is because of my last post – Boys Behaviour – My Diary – where I summarised my now 5 year olds’ behaviour. I mentioned in that that we may have found a reason for his mood swings, etc. I always knew there was a link between what he ate or drank and how he behaved but always put it down to artificial additives – in particular orange colouring – but have since been flummoxed as to why he is behaving so badly when he has a very healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, and as few artificial additives as we can manage.

After a particularly vile eisode after eating some Arctic Roll, we lost our temper with J, said no more Arctic Roll ever (which for him was a real punishment) and he went to bed in tears that night as the mood lasted for over an hour. Among the lovely symptoms on show was: hitting, shoving, shouting (right in our faces), crying uncontrollably, wanting a hug then pushing away and shouting again, throwing himself around… you name it, he did it in a Linda Blair style.

I decided that enough was enough and so I thought I’d do a little research into the Arctic Roll ingredients. This is the list…

Vanilla Flavoured Ice-cream (64%), Sponge (25%), Raspberry Flavoued Sauce (11%).
Vanilla Flavoured Ice-cream: Reconstituted Dried Skimmed Milk, Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Vegetable Oil, Dextrose, Emulsifier (E471), Stabilisers (Carob Gum, Guar Gum), Natural Vanilla Flavouring, Natural Colours (Beetroot Red, Mixed Carotenes).
Sponge: Wheat Flour, Water, Sugar, Dextrose, Pasteurised Egg, Soya Flour, Raising Agents (E450, E500), Skimmed Milk Powder, Emulsifiers (E475, E471).
Raspberry Flavoured Sauce: Sugar, Water, Glucose Syrup, Raspberry Purée (10%), Cornflour, Citric Acid, Natural Colour (Anthocyanins), Gelling Agent (Pectin), Acidity Regulator (Sodium Citrate), Natural Raspberry Flavour.

I started googling the obvious ones “glucose syrup behavioural problems”, “sugar behavioural problems” “Emulsifier E471 behavioural problems” but I didn’t get anywhere. There were a few pages that brought up some issues but it wasn’t really fitting the picture. I carried on with all the other ingredients, and it wasn’t till I got to RASPBERRY PUREE that I got a bit of a shock. This page came up half way down the page and it describes J’s symptoms quite thoroughly – he doesn’t have all the symptoms but definitely a few fit him perfectly (as shown in italics)…

  • headaches or migraines
  • itchy skin rashes such as hives (urticaria), eczema and others
  • irritable bowel symptoms – reflux in babies or adults, nausea, vomiting, stomach bloating and discomfort, wind, diarrhoea and/or constipation
  • bedwetting, cystitis
  • asthma, stuffy or runny nose [we thought he was intolerant to cow’s milk as he was snotty all the time so he had goats milk], nasal polyps, frequent throat clearing
  • behaviour problems such as irritability, restlessness, inattention, oppositional defiance, symptoms of ADHD
  • sleep disturbance – difficulty falling asleep, night terrors, frequent night waking, sleep apnoea
  • anxiety, depression, panic attacks
  • rapid heart beat and arrythmias
  • tinnitus, hyperacusis [sensitive to loud noises], hearing loss
  • joint pain [we put this down to growing pains], arthritis, and more …. (plus a further list on this page – see the “Mental and Behavior Symptoms” section)

“Research shows that about 20% of adults with asthma, 60% with of people with food-induced itchy rashes, headaches or migraines, 70% of people with irritable bowel symptoms and 75% of children with behaviour problems may be sensitive to salicylates. In my experience, most people with salicylate intolerance have no idea what could be affecting them.”

I’m blown away by this as this has described my boy perfectly. Whilst he might not have all the symptoms on the list, he definitely has a lot of them. I can’t believe that I have never heard of salicylates – have you?

My youngest son has an allergy to tomatoes – he gets terrible nappy rash if we’d had tomato based sauces on pasta, and if he eats more than a few cherry tomatoes he gets a rash all round his mouth. This apparently is an early indication that he has the intolerance as well as tomatoes are one of the main problems.

I’ve just ordered and received Fed Up by Sue Dengate from Amazon so I will be finding out more and implementing it all soon so will keep you up to date with the results. So far, after watching what J has eaten for 2 weeks, he hasn’t had a single flare up, except after having some fish fingers which we subsequently found out had salicylates in the coating. They’re not listed in the ingredients so you just have to watch out for stuff that contains high levels of them… mainly (taken from this very useful website):

  • All dried fruits
  • apricot
  • avocado
  • blackberry
  • blackcurrant
  • blueberry
  • boysenberry
  • cherries
  • cranberry
  • currant
  • date
  • grape
  • guava
  • loganberry
  • orange
  • pineapple
  • plum
  • prune
  • raisin
  • raspberry
  • redcurrant
  • rock melon
  • strawberry
  • sultana
  • tangerine

So basically every fruit that kids normally eat except for pears and golden delicious apples!

And now the veggies…

  • Canned Green Olives
  • Capsicum
  • Champignon
  • Chicory
  • Chili peppers
  • Courgette
  • Endive
  • Gherkin
  • Hot pepper
  • Peppers
  • Radish
  • Tomato
  • Tomato Products
  • Water Chestnut

So over the next few weeks we’re going to cut down or eliminate as many of these foods as we can from J’s diet, while trying to work in the low salicylates so that he still gets a nutritional balanced diet. 2 weeks of no tomatoes or berries have helped so far so I’m very keen to carry on. I’m going to keep reading my book and work out exactly what it is that sets him off, and will post back if he has any relapses or if we have any advances…

I hope it’s helping anyone out there! Let me know



Dear Diary… No, don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you to tears. I’m just going to use extracts to try and chart my DS1’s behaviour to see if a pattern might emerge that makes him very typical, in the hopes that I can help any other despairing mum, and also to remind myself when DS2 comes to the same stages…

J aged up to 1 was gorgeous, a perfect little bundle…

9 months: “What everyone notices about J is how funny he is. He really is laughing all day from the moment he wakes up, currently about 5.30!! 😦 until he goes to sleep… His whole face lights up and his dimple gets so deep when he smiles.”

11 months: “He’s such a happy boy, and very adaptable to wherever he is. He enjoys everything and seems to take everything in his stride.”

12 months: “At toddler groups J makes me so proud – he plays with everything, laughs at everything, doesn’t try to grab what other children are playing with” (sorry quick pause while I laugh A LOT here) “and doesn’t throw any fits or cry. He’s so happy all the time. He seems to have a glow of happiness about him that especially old women respond to!”

Blah blah, anyway you get the general idea – he was a very happy boy up until…

2½: “J has hopefully just come through a ‘stage’ – he was hitting me and throwing stuff at me which was upsetting but which all the books I read say is perfectly normal, just a toddler’s frustration being let off against their ‘primary care-giver’! It coincided with a huge growth spurt so it MUST hurt to grow an inch in a week, I don’t care what doctors think!”  (In hindsight this also coincided with us finding out that we were going to have another baby and we tried to include J in it as much as possible – there could be a link?)

3: “J has been really good lately and the transition to being a big brother seems to be going well. He gives L kisses and cuddles – a little over zealous to begin with but he’s growing more gentle… He can be cuttingly rude though, it’s not all fun at the moment. He’s been rude to both sets of Grandparents lately, as well as random people in the street to whom he might shout ‘NO! Don’t look at me/ talk to my Mum/ steal our shopping!’ ”

3½: “Wow J is a pain at the moment! I know how bad that sounds but he really is! He is such a threenager – argumentative, aggressive, rude, shouting at me and at other children, telling me he doesn’t like me – it goes on and on. I am trying  (but failing most of the time) not to take it personally – I know it is a stage and my lovely J is still there – but it’s definitely a testing time.”

3¾: “J is a lot better but still has his off days (but we all do). He needs a lot of positive attention and if he starts going off track we have to pull it back pretty quickly or he descends into threenager mode again. He can be such an angel but turn to devil behaviour instantly. I think (hope) that it’s his age.

Nearly 4: “J has been brilliant for the last month. He seems to have come through the threenager stage and we’re getting on brilliantly now. He’s really affectionate again and loves cuddles, and tells me he loves me all the time which is definitely an improvement on how he was a few months ago!”

4½: “J has been very hard work again lately, although he has more uptime than down now. We had to resort to a star chart to get his behaviour to improve as he can be really horrible when he’s in a bad mood. He had a few days where I’d lose my temper with him and we’d spend the whole day arguing, but we’re better again now. Some days I have to dig very deep to find something to praise him for and then I can try and get him back on track, but when you’re tired it’s hard to stay positive.”

4¾: “It’s been hard to find something nice to write in here lately as things with J have been rocky. There have been days when all it felt like was telling him off all day. It had to stop so we’ve made the decision to step back a lot, lighten up and pick our battles, and it’s working as he’s responded really well. He’s very sensitive and worries a lot, but equally has the capacity to be extremely happy. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground at the moment, but he’s still so young, I forget he’s only 4.”

5: “James has been great the last few weeks. We have always known that he has a low tolerance to certain foods that can make him hyper and plummet into tears and anger but we’ve never really found out what it was before, but having seen him after eating Arctic Roll I decided to do some investigating… and the results have so far been amazing.”

Hooray – if you’re still with me after that epic post and you’re having similar problems with your child, stay with me. My next post will tell you what we’re trying with J and how it’s going…

Anyway, Happy New Year from Local Family Stuff (and me!)


I love talking to my friends with boys of similar ages about the phases our children are going through. It’s always just a little bit amusing to see ones who one minute are cute and sweet, the next minute they enter a testosterone fuelled madness phase, lasting anything from a  few weeks to a year, around 3.5 to 5 years old. My eldest is getting better although still has a few moments of craziness every day. The red mist descends and all logic goes out the window as he suffers a meltdown where he hates everyone and wants to leave home, but normally calms down after a few minutes and it’s all forgotten.

When you have a younger child (or a girl) it’s easy to be smug about these mood swings I imagine. I bet we’ve all blamed the parents when we’ve watched a child misbehave in a supermarket etc. But it’s hard to know what to do when your household is on the whole quite peaceful, you don’t allow guns, you encourage good behaviour and discourage bad, and then they behave like that anyway. We all see it time and time again at toddler groups.

I think my eldest is pretty typical in the phases he’s gone through so I’m going to dig out my diary and try and work out when it all happened for us… and maybe it’ll help others work out what’s going on with their little horror bundle of joy.

More to follow…