A single mum named Debbie who confessed she thought her violent now-10-year-old son Joseph might kill her – has spoken on This Morning about how she felt like a failure as a mum.
And, as to be expected, she’s been judged pretty harshly for her son’s former behaviour on Twitter.
36-year-old Debbie, who also has 3 other children, first appeared on TV screens as she sought help from the Channel 5 show Violent Child, Desperate Parent.
In a clip from the documentary, which aired at the end of February, we see Debbie describing Joseph as the “dictator of the household” – along with a stream of clips showing him swearing, spitting, smacking, punching and kicking her.
The attacks started the moment he woke up to the moment he went to sleep (if he went to bed at all) – and at its worst, Debbie says he came at her with a hammer.
It’s pretty shocking stuff – and a fair few This Morning viewers were quick to judge upon viewing the clips.
“If I’d acted like that when I was a kid. Pffftt. I would not be able to stand. Or spit for that matter. #thismorning” one commenter tweeted.
“Debbie needs to grow a pair and show Joe who is boss. #thismorning” added another.
One said: “Didn’t see her tell him off once during that video – no wonder he gets away with murder.”
While another viewer chimed in: “This kid on This Morning has actually made my jaw hit the floor. When I was a kid I would’ve got BEATEN for even looking at my mum the wrong way & I had ADHD.
“This woman clearly has just no control over her children. It’s a bit embarrassing.’”
Well, as it happens, Debbie shared that she only sought Channel 5’s help after trying every telling off and external service available to her.
“I am a mum that wants the best for her child,” Debbie said on This Morning, looking back. “[I thought] it might be that what I’m giving him just isn’t working.
“I’ve done the triple P classes, I’ve had the health visitors in, I’ve done everything that everybody had asked of me, and unfortunately it just wasn’t working.
“I knew something wasn’t right with Joe. So, we were at the point where it was desperation.”
A child psychologist on the programme was eventually able to diagnose Joseph with ADHD, hyper vigilance (where you feel constantly under threat or terror), and anxiety, especially around leaving the house, among other issues.
In her chat with This Morning hosts Emma Willis and Rylan Clark-Neal, Debbie revealed she was taught 3 techniques: “step back, praise the positives and ignore and distract”.
They’ve changed her life, changed Joe’s behaviour and helped him be much happier, too. He’s now also at a school well equipped to handle his condition.
“Joe’s the one who’s had to take on these techniques. He’s learned it’s OK to be happy, and it’s OK to be sad, it’s OK to be angry. He’s really clicked with it all, and he’s just a different child.”
Mum Debbie appeared on This Morning to speak about her experience, following a survey of special education needs teachers that revealed more than half are regularly attacked by pupils.
“Violent child behaviour is so secret, it’s a secret life and it’s a lonely life,” she continued. “People don’t want to admit that this happens… it’s heart-breaking and soul-destroying to live with, and the process [of resolving it] takes too long.
“It took me 6 years to get Joseph to the school where he needed to be.”
OK, so Debbie’s story certainly is a long one, and we’re so glad it’s got a happy ending.
But we were disheartened to see how many people were shaming Debbie. As one viewer put it: “The judging about this mum is staggering. Can’t imagine how hard it must be to be in her position.”
After all, we KNOW how easy it is to attract stares and judgy looks when our own toddlers or little ones have a tantrum or kick off in public.
And we also know how hard it is to wrangle any child, let alone one experiencing difficulties, in the middle of a full-on meltdown.
There’s no built-in parenting manual explaining how to control unruly kids, right?
Share your story
Have you ever felt judged for your little one’s violent behaviour? Perhaps you’ve been in a similar situation to Debbie – or maybe you’ve dealt with an out-of-character outburst from one of your kids?
We’d really love to hear from you either way, on Facebook or in the comments below.
Images: This Morning