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To have cancelled my son's 6th birthday party

(315 Posts)
MumtoJacob Thu 26-Sep-13 16:49:28

I think I have done the right thing, but I feel truly awful. I have cancelled my son's 6th birthday party because of discraceful behaviour both at home and at school. I have had his teacher talk to me four times already this term, twice this week, about his attitude. When he is corrected for misbehaving, he is rude and disrespectful to his teachers. He has told them he doesn't care if he is in trouble and he is so defiant.

He is really out of control at the moment and has been warned many times that he will not have his party if it continues. We have never had a party for him before as they are so expensive, and had said both children could have one on their 6th birthdays. He has looked forward to it for a long time, but the threat of cancelling hasn't made a difference to his behaviour. Nor have the rewards and praise for his good behaviour on good days and his treats for earning house points or other positive achievements.

He doesn't know yet. I am waiting for his Dad to get home so we can sit him down and talk through why we have had to cancel it. AIBU to cancel the party? sad

farewellfarewell Sat 28-Sep-13 13:12:51

Don't cancel the party op, would be my advice. He is only a little one and even though he may be capable of making the association between his behaviour and the party being cancelled, it is a long way off and it seems that what is required of him is somewhat too much for him to achieve at the moment for some reason.
I think you sound fantastic by the way and I think you are doing a great job in difficult circs. I'm sure collecting him from school is becoming really stressful. I have been there.
Maybe there is something else going on with him, I do understand what it is like to have that feeling that there may be a problem, it is very difficult. Remember though that even if there is, once the diagnosis comes it really helps to understand the behaviours.
It could be that your little boy is really trying but is simply incapable of doing what you/the teacher are asking of him at this time. On that basis I think it is unfair to cancel his party.
Good luck op.

kiriwawa Fri 27-Sep-13 16:10:17

MumtoJacob - I found it much easier to deal with DS's behaviour once I knew there was a reason behind it - it's made me a lot more patient and a lot more forgiving (and his behaviour has improved as a result).

Obviously, there may not be anything behind your DS's behaviour at all but asking for input from your school Senco/CAMHS may help you rule out certain things. Feeling at the end of your tether and not knowing what to do next is horrible.

lisylisylou Fri 27-Sep-13 14:43:13

I couldn't threaten something like that. My ds at 6 was hardwork and is very deep and always whining,tantrums etc. he still is hardwork the school last year have put him through an arts and sound course with a psychotherapist and it has been fantastic for him. He turned to me after the 3rd session and said 'the lady says I am very sensitive and takes everyone's feelings as my own' he then went onto say 'I never wanted to tell you my problems because I thought they would hurt you and make you sad'. It broke my heart to think my own son couldn't come and confide in me and I can't imagine how lonely he felt. I've also been putting the kids 30 minutes earlier as I realised he was shattered through the day. The difference this has made in him has been huge plus i've been giving him a bit more freedom and choice. the other thing ive been doing is writing his behaviour down as only yesterday morning i felt bad that he'd done 6 things brilliantly and i only focused on the 1 bad thing that had gOne wrong. ive been finding that because my ds has been hardwork I've only been looking for the bad. Start writing it down and it might clarify how bad he really is. If the party is cancelled then I would expect a lot more extreme behaviour but I would give him the chance to earn it back. Good luck

Mojavewonderer Fri 27-Sep-13 13:55:08

Well done you for doing the right thing and following through with your threat. I don't think you should hold any kind of party though because that will be seen as giving in and he will behave badly again after the 'smaller' party.
You should say 'If he sorts out his behaviour and doesn't get into trouble where you are called in to see the teacher then maybe next year he will get a party'
I have 3 children and I have never been called into see the teacher because of bad behaviour and 1 of my children has autism which can be seen as 'just being naughty'
It is not acceptable behaviour and your child needs to learn the hard way. Good luck.

ClockWatchingLady Fri 27-Sep-13 12:38:44

Hi MumtoJacob.

I haven't read the whole thread so apologies if this is repetitive/irrelevant.

I think you're doing a great job by doing exactly what you said you would do. I think this is incredibly difficult and I'm all admiration that you're doing it.
To not carry this threat through would, in IMHO, probably be much worse for him than having a smaller birthday celebration. Whether you "should" have threatened this in the first place is only really a helpful question for future scenarios - not this one. To me it sounds a reasonable thing to have done anyway.
The fact that you clearly love him, show him this, and will continue to do so, is what matters. Emotional support and discipline are separate (albeit related) things. Good on you, and good luck!

YouHaveAGoodPoint Fri 27-Sep-13 12:10:10

My kids were raised by my husband and I AND our Nintendo blush.
I allowed them to play for a hour a day from quite a young age. They absolutely loved it and would do anything to maintain the 'privilege' of being allowed to play.
If they were naughty I would, after the appropriate warning, ban them for playing for a day and if they continued I would increase the amount of days.
It was such a powerful motivation for them that it really helped them focus their minds.

I used to set a timer for 55 minutes when they stared to play so that they had a 5 minute warning before they had to finish. If they then complained when it was time to turn the computer off it was an automatic ban for the next day and any further complaining would result in a week ban. It was harsh but they were good as gold grin

I quite often let them earn back any lost time by chores or good behaviour

I know this would not work for every family and that a lot of people hate the idea of letting young kids play computer everyday but it really worked for our boys AND our girls. You have to work out what motivates your child.

I did also use the naughty step.

( BTW , my DCs are now young adults and we still play some of Nintendo games we played when they were preschoolers such as Tetris and Bomberman. smile)

pigletmania Fri 27-Sep-13 11:06:36

I would follow through, but if his behaviour does improve he can have te party. If it continues, tan no party. I would also sit down talk to him, find out if teir s anything happening at school, seeking help if you believe he's on the spectrum

Mooycow Fri 27-Sep-13 10:56:30

I am a great believer in following through with a warning/ consequence. However if this punishment does not sit right with you then maybe it was a little harsh.
Make it an achievable punishment on a daily basis,ie, if you do not behave at school today then no tv/games/computer etc tonight. Also make a big deal out of all the positives DAILY ,remember he is only 6

MerryMarigold Fri 27-Sep-13 10:51:52

Sorry for multi-posting.

I would re-instate the party and explain why. Then talk to him about how he is feeling. A lot. Plus the advice on a good chat about behaviour at the party. Things may start coming out, you will have to read between the lines quite a bit too.

MerryMarigold Fri 27-Sep-13 10:48:54

PS. My son was uncharacteristically difficult in Reception. Turned out there was A LOT going on. Threats and punishments like this would have made his life even more miserable.

MerryMarigold Fri 27-Sep-13 10:46:57

YABU. I'm pretty harsh and I wouldn't do this.

If punishments are not working, what makes you think this will?

Something is up imo. Kids generally behave badly because of:
a. Poor boundaries
b. Something is making them unhappy

Perhaps he is struggling academically or being bullied, or has a genuine problem like dyslexia/ dyspraxia/ adhd which can make being at school very difficult and comes out in frustration/ anger/ rudeness.

pigletmania Fri 27-Sep-13 10:43:45

Look mumto. There is nothing wrong with seeking help, it looks like you need it! Seeking help will not harm but probably improve things. Isent that what you want. If you think he is on the spectrum, don't just sit teir doing nothing, you have to seek help. In the long run you are doing your ds no favours by ignoring it, if he does have a sn that could be helped!

ToffeeWhirl Fri 27-Sep-13 10:37:32

My son was diagnosed as dyslexic at six, cjel, so it can be done. Turned out to be an incorrect diagnosis, mind you, but it was the beginning of the 'pathway of diagnosis' for us.

cjel Fri 27-Sep-13 10:32:06

Just read one of your posts in which you said his teachers said he is coping well with structured part of school. I have generations of dyslexics in my family including MIL H,dcs,dgcs, nephews etc and would say that teachers (sorry teachers) don't have a clue about recognising it unless it shows as bad reading and writing. They are usually very clever people who find ways of coping and because of this it is hard to diagnose without full assessment by educational physcologist.
Luckily for my family we have learned to watch and get it sorted before it shows in extreeme behaviour, but it is a battle all the way including the education secretary to allow some to drop all languages at school. It is very common for schools to look to' problems at home' first and our experience (through all parts of the country)has been to get private testing and out of school teaching is the only way. I think he is probably on the age edge for testing yet though.

PeterParkerSays Fri 27-Sep-13 10:27:58

When he behaves badly in a social situation, such as with you rather than at school, relate it back to the party:

You said that I was an idiot and you wanted to kill me. You threw your bags at me, you threw rubbish at me, bottles off the floor, whilst shouting all the way. We have talked about you having a party at Bob's soft play for your birthday. If you went to someone's birthday party, and they shouted at you, or threw bottles at you, would you want to be their friend? Would you want to stay at the party?

Focus on the behaviour, not the child - so they might want to leave the party, not stop being friends with him. It sounds odd, but could you have something to give him to signify his emotions? When I hold this red plastic spoon I am angry, when I hold this blue one I am sad etc? It would give him a non-physical means of expressing his emotions and feelings, and give you chance to praise him when he does that.

Others have mentioned the "talk so children will listen" book, which has some good techniques for the next step - how you handle the conversation with the "child with the spoon" to find out why he's feeling what he is.

LazyMonkeyButler Fri 27-Sep-13 10:26:08

I think it is incredibly harsh to cancel your DS's party when you have wondered about whether he may have Aspergers!

DS1 has Aspergers, so I do understand how difficult it is to know what to do for the best. However, if he does later get a diagnosis, you will have to live with the fact that you punished him for something that he ultimately cannot help or control.

bundaberg Fri 27-Sep-13 10:25:49

wow, just finished reading the whole thread. many conflicting views and ideas on here!!!

i'm putting myself pretty firmly in the YABU camp, for a lot of the reasons stated below.

OP... IF there is a chance your child is on the spectrum, then rewards/punishments like this simply do NOT work. Personally, even if it's just a suspicion you have, I would say that this way of parenting is worth putting on the back burner for the time being. It may be that he is not ASD, but if he is, then this could potentially be quite damaging for him

My 8.5 yr old has ASD. He simply cannot cope with "if you're good for x amount of time you can have Y"
Even if Y is something he desperately, desperately wants.

because he CANNOT always control his own behaviour. He knows he can't, he knows that he explodes easily, he knows he is sometimes behaving irrationally, but he still does not have the ability to spot this before it happens and to control it.
A 6 yr old with Aspergers/ASD/HFA almost certainly will not be able to stop himself from behaving like this.

And so.... they know they will not get the treat. The know that however hard they try they will fail. And you end up with a child who sees no point in trying, because even when they do their very best they end up getting punished.

It breaks my heart being told by DS1's teacher that he has shouted at someone or been rude or pushed someone... DS1's version of events is usually along the lines of "I tried for a really long time to stay calm, I managed it for a long time but then I filled up and I couldn't stop"

Add to this the fact that a child with ASD is unable to read social cues and non-verbal communication and you find that what you actually have is a child who truly believes that their response is utterly appropriate for the situation and who doesn't understand what they have done wrong.
If you don't know you've done or are doing something wrong then how can you change?

Your son is 6. He needs help with this regardless of whether he is on the spectrum or not. He is clearly struggling with something and he needs the adults in his life to help him recognise and cope with it.

I'd advise seeing his class teacher and SENCO and voicing your concerns and seeing if they can help come up with some strategies for helping him get less stressed at school... I hand on heart believe that if you can take some of the stress away you will see an improvement in his behaviour

Gerragrippe Fri 27-Sep-13 10:17:57

I wouldn't have threatened such a big consequence in the first place... Too much pressure and if he does wrong, huge huge consequence and I just couldn't do that to my child. As one prev poster said, what next, cancel Christmas, life??!!
Change it round and say, he's been in trouble, he has no TV and early to bed as he obviously must be exhausted due to back to school, keep after school activities to a minimum.
Tell him your job as a parent is to look after him and part of that is ensuring he gets enough rest food and a good education. That he will be happier when he is behaving well at school. Tell him you have a fairly low key party planned which you know he will be good for and everyone will enjoy.
Also cut him some slack with minor things and give up on big punishments and lectures.... Keep it simple.

Mystuff Fri 27-Sep-13 10:15:53

This is a 6 year old. I don't think the punishment is appropriate for his age.
If there are SENCO issues, then the punishment is certainly inappropriate.
If there are no SENCO issues, then there must be something else going on. Your efforts to manage his behaviour are not working. Go to parenting classes, read parenting books, work out a better strategy. Try communicating more effectively with him.
I really don't see how cancelling a party could ever be appropriate for a 6 year old.
Maybe different for an older child but 6 - no way.

(My oldest ds is 7 btw so I do have recent exp of this age group)

I also see no problem in backtracking - I often do this if in the heat of the moment I make a ridiculous threat.

I just explain that I was angry and I should never have threatened that in the first place and then talk with them to agree a more appropriate punishment. I think that approach helps teach them that adults can get it wrong when they are angry but can be reasoned with.

Being a kid can be hard when you have no control ever.....

MrsZimt Fri 27-Sep-13 10:15:41

I think it is way too early to say this "sanction" or whatever you call it - had no effect.
He will care about the cancelled party, even though he says he doesn't.
It may be that his behaviour will improve because he takes you seriously after you followed through with your threat.
You mentioned he doesn't accept authority, maybe this shows him that his actions do have consequences.

Children with Aspergers need clear boundaries. Being on the spectrum would explain some of his behaviour, but it doesn't make it acceptable. So I struggle to understand the calls for help INSTEAD of consequences. Surely both are needed?

I like waltermitty's idea - positive behaviour management regarding the party could work really well. ie the kind of party he has will depend on how well he can behave between now and then, but with a more positive angle on things.

ToffeeWhirl Fri 27-Sep-13 10:12:38

MumofJacob - forgive me if I'm telling you all the stuff you already know, but I just wanted to share this with you. This is the reward chart I used for my boys. It's important to use it with both your children, including the well-behaved one. My boys loved the spooky castle. There is also an underwater reward chart on the website if your DD would prefer that.

There used to be little cut-out figures that you could move up the chart, but I can't see them on the website anymore. I cut out photos of my sons' faces and stuck them on the figures. They thought this was hilarious.

Identify one or two behaviours that you want to work on with your son (and daughter) at home. Don't include school behaviour because that is down to the teacher to manage, not you (and you shouldn't punish your son for his behaviour at school either).

The notes suggest that your child can move down the chart for bad behaviour, as well as up the chart for good behaviour. I disagree with that myself and would never move my child down the chart, only up.

The best thing about doing this reward chart was that it stopped me focusing on my son's difficult behaviour. I ignored his bad behaviour (except for certain things, such as hitting, which gained instant time out) and focused only on the good stuff. I made a big fuss every time one of the children moved up the chart for good behaviour and I also surprised them with little presents sometimes, eg a comic each because they had reached a certain part of the chart.

It is hard work for the parent to stick at reward charts, so they can only be used for a short time. Make it fun. Give lots of praise. And remember that this is for behaviour at home, not school. You are not responsible for your son's behaviour at school - the teacher is.

kali110 Fri 27-Sep-13 10:10:40

Op is emotionally abusive and her son cant meet her standards???get a grip! Children do need to learn comsequences of behaviour. Op clearly loves her son and isnt cruel.

shewhowines Fri 27-Sep-13 10:09:23

If you feel you need professional help then seek it early. The earlier anything like that is diagnosed, the better support he will have and greater understanding. I know families where they haven't sought help, because they have hoped it will settle down or because they were embarrassed and didn't want their child labeled. Not good outcomes.

cjel Fri 27-Sep-13 10:08:59

Mum, I'm afraid that I haven't read all the posts but from your original post I wouldn't cancel the party. He sounds as if he is very sad to be living with that much defiance at such a young age,
I can't imagine how hard it must be for you and can only say that IME he sounds as if a big party will really boost his self esteem.
I would suggest that you try and work with the school to see if they can offer any support. has this just been going on recently I wondered about something like dyslexia?
Hope you find a way that works for you.
If you haven't cancelled yet can you reconsider?

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