Can't be a good mum to my 9 year old - help!

(7 Posts)
Nena7 Wed 07-May-14 09:40:13

I have a boy who is just about to turn 9. He is happy, sociable, usually eager to please and collaborate, sensible and with lots of friends. He is happy and liked at school and doing well.

About once a week however he has a huge tantrum. The only way to describe it is to say he acts like a 3 year old but with more attitude. This can happen any time, before getting ready for school, getting ready for bed, before meal times, when we are going somewhere. He will blankly refuse to do what is asked of him, he gets quite aggressive, he lashes out and kicks, shouts, swears and screams and says he doesn't care to what ever I say.

I feel that I have tried everything, talking, being friendly, joking, distracting, being strict, threatening, bribing etc etc but nothing seem to work. He can't explain himself why he does this. It usually ends up with me totally loosing my patience, shouting and screaming, saying things I regret later and even smacking him. I have accidentally hurt him on a few occasions when "holding him down" when he lashes out or trying to lift him in to the bathroom of what ever.

I feel I have no handle of the situation and I am incredibly upset about it. I feel he is not happy and I am not helping him and that I/we somehow are the cause of this. My husband thinks I am overacting and that this is normal. We have two younger children and I usually love being a mum and before having kids, had great ideas how I was going to be and how much fun I was going to be etc etc. But no I feel that I am failing miserably. Please help!

GooseyLoosey Wed 07-May-14 10:05:11

This sounds a little like my relationship with my 9 year old daughter. With her, I think there are 2 things going on:

1. Her desire to please is born out of a chronic lack of self esteem. She spends a lot of time trying to get people to like her - and they do. However, I think the effort is collasal and does not necessarily represent who she truely is and at times, she just cannot keep it up;

2. She is going well at school but finds some things very hard. She hides this breathtakingly well by observing what other people are doing. I thik frustration builds up at this over the days and again, sometime she just cannot keep it in any more.

If you think really hard, is there anything that could be causing your son to get frustrated and then making him explode. A child who seems happy and successful is not always so.

stampymumknows Wed 07-May-14 10:06:31

Hi I am no expert so I can't say why your son is kicking off, but I do have an 8 year old as well as teenagers, so I am no stranger to stroppy behaviour. Lots of kids that age are no angels and some kids have a more overwhelming need to push boundaries than others.

I wouldn't be embarrassed to speak to a doctor about it, if it's really out of character. It might be puberty kicking in or something else physical.

You are getting frustrated and overwhelmed and in that sense, you are overreacting. Been there, done that. But now is the time to set your family rules and boundaries, enforce them consistently, patiently and calmly. Your DH can't just dismiss this, got to be on the same page and have your back.

Good thing about kids with lots of friends, interests and normal good sense is that you should be able to use positive parenting sanctions, eg reward charts and screen time confiscations.

Also talking about stress and anger and demonstrating positive ways to release that.

Work in progress here so much sympathy. You are not failing you are still being a mum, it's just the bit where you are their teacher not their friend.

mazcam36 Wed 07-May-14 10:41:54

Hello omg that sounds a lot like my 10 year old she does all that and more iv tried everything to get help all I got told it to carry on doing what I'm doing but it's bloody hard sorry to be straight just be strong Hun social services won't even help me so I feel for you xx

Nena7 Wed 07-May-14 11:38:22

Thank you, some good points here.

Goosey... you might be on to something there because he has actually said this himself, "it's so hard to always be good..." so maybe it's something along those lines combined with something else. What have you done to help your girl? I want to be supportive of how he feels and help him but he also must understand that this is not acceptable.

Stampy... how has the positive parenting sanctions worked to help set boundaries for you? It sort of works for us but ultimatley I don't like it, it feels like a constant trading game, behaviour based on punishments and rewards. Have you got any other ideas or ways you have used?

Thanks again!

stampymumknows Wed 07-May-14 14:20:46

Difficult one! With us the behaviour has been going on a long time and is ingrained. We did a positive parenting course a couple of years back and it helped in the sense we could see where we were on the same page and where we needed to get things straight. Also to talk to other parents in the same boat. Each class it was like pressure cooker steam coming off! Since then it has been getting better, practising consistently over a long time has been the key. Demonstrating calm, positive behaviour ourselves ( not always possible)! However the main boundary that has remained absolute is no screaming, swearing, saying unforgivable things or hitting of any kind.

This means we have got past the always making it about punishment or reward, often now I can say to him " just because I expect you to behave such and such way" and that is enough. I only have to bring out the serious sanctions very occasionally. When I say punishment and reward, sounds quite draconian but really it is everyday stuff, loss on a sliding scale of screen time, grounding, rewards of a sweet day, trip out or money towards a game etc.

I also see the sense in how hard it is to be good. Mine is being assessed for ADHD and cannot sit still or be quiet all day so school is very difficult. He needs ALOT of releases, physical exercise, silly noisy games, play wrestling with roaring allowed, minimal homework, being allowed to fidget and leave the table early....and lots of demonstrable, obvious affection, even though he rejects it a lot of the time.

I get the sense though your son is pretty good at controlling himself and is a high achiever, as PP has picked up on. They put themselves under so much pressure they need to find a way to let it out and be themselves, my eldest DD was like this from about age 9 as she tried to find out who she was whilst remaining in the popular group and also high achieving. She had quite a few meltdowns that got physical with me and had panic attacks at school. This is not really helped much by punishment and reward, but finding out what is underlying and teaching healthy ways to express and use anger.

Finally I don't want to assume anything but I have found that whatever my kids problems, usually I need " fixed" more than they do, whatever is affecting me or showing in my behaviour has a demonstrable knock on effect. It is harder for me to look at my own issues than read a book on kid behaviour. It's even harder to attempt to change, a lot of days I " fake it to make it". Oh yeah, and and if I find it hard DH finds it impossible! I think that's why following a programme like positive parenting works.

I hope I have answered your question, if not at least have a bit of a hand hold for a while!

Nena7 Thu 08-May-14 13:40:33

Stampy.... thank you! That is really helpful and useful. I really appreciate it. A lot of food for thought...

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