Tonight there was a battle in my house... and no winners... All the trend of the past few weeks, that everything is getting better, that J is no longer impossible, that I know some strategies, that the hideous out-of-control oppositional scenes (involving both of us) are over, all crumbled tonight... And I ended up giving him three or four really hard slaps on the backside, for which I hate myself (of course), my own lack of control... The scene: bedtime. J's bedtime is around 8. It's been a long day and he's tired. He had bath and supper as usual, then I said he could play for "five minutes". He was running outside looking through some new binoculars he's got. I called him in. He said "one more minute!". To avoid the show-down, not get into battle to no purpose, I say, ok, one minute but he must then come in when I call him. When I call him, he comes in. I say it's bedtime... he again says he wants to play with his toys for "one minute"... I insist, he starts veering towards tantrum. Again, to avoid show-down, I say I have a short phone call I need to make and that when the call is finished, it is bedtime.. He agrees. When the call is finished... he refuses to come. At this point I feel angry, my tone gets irritated, I feel as if I am being messed around, this is ridiculous... pick him up and take him to the bathroom to brush his teeth - at which point he goes ballistic. Hits me. Screams insults at me (French playground insults but still...) and then... spits. Which causes something to go off in me and I hit him... hard... which I instantly regret. The absurdity of telling him not to hit if I am going to do it... But his behaviour feels so "crazy" to me, so out there, I think it frightens me... I don't want it to be like this, I don't want him to be like this (though he hasn't been for quite some time). I can't really yet accept that I have what you call a difficult child... Partly also my feelings arise out of the shame of knowing that our next door neighbours can hear all of this - my desire for J to be "normal", for us to have a "normal" relationship... What if anything did I do wrong? What makes a four year old scream insults with rage and hatred? How do I make J into a normal child....? The last question is of course ironic. I know I can't. But I am still unwilling to really accept and deal with the violence within him... And then my own violence!!!