5 year old ruining holiday with appalling behaviour

(41 Posts)
Whatalife58 Sat 02-Aug-14 10:40:31

My child is on a holiday with me (single mother) visiting family and friends he has never met before. We have travelled to another country. I am at a loss at how to manage him and quite frankly have felt like crying my eyes out. When he first met my brother and sister he said 'But you are elderly'. That was probably unintentional rudeness but it has been so hard. He interrupts and refuses to back down if someone says wait a minute. He argues with my sister in law who has been kind and firm with him. He got angry tonight and grabbed an expensive camera and tried to dismantle it. When I told him it was bedtime (he had a 5 minute warning) he threw a toy at the TV and shouted. I understand he is stressed and out of routine and have given him lots of hugs and reassurance. I am stressed too. I have no idea what he will do next. He is totally out of control. Today he ran away from me when we were at a wildlife centre which he like. He shouts I am hurting him when I hold his hand. What can I do?

LastingLight Sat 02-Aug-14 11:29:25

That sounds very hard. Is he getting enough sleep? Is he eating reasonably balanced meals (not just junk food)? Are you spending some one-on-one time with him? How do you respond to bad behaviour at home? How are you responding now?

Whatalife58 Sat 02-Aug-14 11:46:26

He is sleeping a lot and has good healthy meals. I am spending a lot of time with him. He is constantly challenging me on almost everything. He is using the people we are staying with when he argues i.e saying She says I can do that.... it is so embarrassing and upsetting.

Kleinzeit Sat 02-Aug-14 12:08:55

It sounds as if he’s used to being on his own with you and he’s not used to have all these unfamiliar adults around who do things a bit differently? It must be very stressful for you. Are you staying in lots of different places or just with your brother? If you’re staying in one place then try to agree a few rules and routines with your brother and SIL so that you can all be consistent. That will help your DS to settle. And try not worry too much about doing a few things differently with your family from how they are at home. Don’t hold his hand unless you absolutely have to, e.g. crossing the road, otherwise try to let him have his bit of independence. Sometimes it helps if you are very clear and instead of saying “wait a minute” say “now I am talking to Jenny and when I have finished I will listen to you”.

And try not to worry too much when he’s cheeky or defiant, it’s very normal for a five year old in a new place and it doesn’t reflect badly on you. If it’s any comfort when my DS about that age my father said something about getting old and DS said very seriously to him “but you ARE old granddad”. I do hope you holiday gets better - hopefully your DS will settle in and calm down.

SavoyCabbage Sat 02-Aug-14 12:12:08

Perhaps he didn't know that brothers and sisters could be grown ups. He will know that his friends brothers and sisters are children so might have expected yours to be too.

Whatalife58 Sat 02-Aug-14 13:16:10

I did tell him his cousins were big and some were adults and working.
We are not just staying with one of my siblings we are going from place to place. I think I am handling things badly. My son is being rude and defiant but at the same time is fragile and emotional.I feel very uneasy myself but it is hard not to find his behaviour upsetting. I lost my temper with him today and told him he was spoiling our holiday and I think that was the wrong thing to do considering he is already vulnerable.

Thisisthelasttime Sat 02-Aug-14 13:38:54

Whatalife my sister came with her son when he was 5 and he sounds like the very same as your lad. She was so embarrassed and he was very naughty, I put it down to nerves and uncertainty about a strange place. Your prob best to just ignore him, let him play with his few bits and pieces and let him be. anytime he came after that he was lovely but I will admit the first time was awful.

Kleinzeit Sat 02-Aug-14 15:41:22

Aw.. it does sound like quite a demanding trip for you and your DS. Try to remember to enjoy any good / fun moments that do come along, and maybe remind your DS about them at the end of the day so he (and you smile) can build up some happy memories to look back on long after the difficult bits are forgotten!

Whatalife58 Sat 02-Aug-14 22:07:32

He seems to have become an expert in putting me in embarrassing situations.He has started calling me Grandma (I am an older mother).

Whatalife58 Sat 02-Aug-14 22:08:28

He seems to have become an expert in putting me in embarrassing situations.He has started calling me Grandma (I am an older mother).

LastingLight Sun 03-Aug-14 08:10:11

Ignore, ignore, ignore anything but the really worst behaviour. If he wants to call you grandma then let him. Even turn it into a joke if at all possible. Praise him for the behaviour that you do want to see.

FunkyBoldRibena Sun 03-Aug-14 08:29:24

He's probably just out of sorts, confused meeting all these people and moving round alot. Can you play distraction and collection games to focus his energies?

Distraction - lets count the trees, red post boxes/phone boxes, dogs, birds we see today. When we get to [number he knows, 30 or 40] you get to have a [ice cream, something area appropriate]

Collection - lets collect x today [anything area appropriate] - leaves, conkers, sticks, blah blah blah - when we get to [number he knows] you get to have a [ice cram, something area appropriate]. Or collect things for a scrap book to take home and show [grandma or someone back at home]....when you get to [etc etc]

LIZS Sun 03-Aug-14 08:39:00

Do you normally spend a lot of time one to one? Maybe he's just overwhelmed. Discipline as you would at home . Find a suitable time out spot for example and he can come an apologise when he is ready. Make sure you have some adult time when he is in bed so that you can unwind a bit too.

Whatalife58 Sun 03-Aug-14 10:11:41

Thanks he was better today. He is very friendly and affectionate and he doesn't seem to know how to respond when cousins (in their twenties) don't respond.I have told him in child speak to back off a bit but it is hard for him. Also I have been stressed by the situation and his behaviour and he is aware of this.

mausmaus Sun 03-Aug-14 10:15:59

is he getting enough fun excercise?
playground/pool/hike.
just time for you two to have fun together, a couple of hours every day?

IsItMeOr Sun 03-Aug-14 10:28:03

It sounds like this is about him being out of his comfort zone - and understandably, as this sounds like a pretty full on trip for a 5 year old. Lots of new people to meet, and just as he gets used to one place, you're moving onto a new one.

So, it does sound as if you have planned a trip that would suit adults, rather than a 5 year old. Too late to change that now, but chalk it up to experience.

All 5 year olds say the odd tactless thing because they are still learning - everybody should know this and understand. He is persisting in calling you "grandma" because it is probably getting a reaction out of you.

Try to ignore the (minor) poor behaviour, praise the good behaviour and brief time outs for the unacceptable (for me, that would include throwing toys at TV, persistently not listening if firmly asked not to touch the camera).

Try to spend at least half an hour a day just playing something that he gets to choose and be in charge. That usually helps a lot with compliance through the rest of the day.

Good luck - you will both survive this!

Athrawes Mon 04-Aug-14 07:32:17

We just returned from a 6 week holiday with 4 yo DS visiting family and friends rarely seen.
Try and make a BIG chunk of each day child friendly. Not all bells and whistles and fun parks, just basics like staying home and playing. Maybe the cousins and relatives could help him build some Lego or bake cookies?
Lots of people find holidays stressful, with new faces and foods, so he is just expressing this.
At 5 maybe he could earn points every day towards a treat at the end of the day - try the pebbles in the jar technique, one in for every good (however minor) thing he does and one out for everytime he calls someone a rude name or kicks off.

I think an (easy) reward chart could help too. It sounds pretty overwhelming for him so he's taking the easy option of being a pita. Incentivise him to be his usual delightful self. grin

antimatter Mon 04-Aug-14 07:40:32

I think change in diet may have some impact?
Are they giving him sweets or treats he isn't used to?

I think at that age kids get very overloaded emotionally. You are talking to other people where he is used to have your uninterrupted attention.

Maybe have 1-2 days with very little interaction with others and just let him calm down in his own time.

Whatalife58 Tue 05-Aug-14 05:18:36

We are having a quieter time over the next week so will focus on good behaviour and simple activities. He bite me last night when he was refused a second helping of pudding so things can only improve.

MexicanSpringtime Tue 05-Aug-14 05:26:17

Yes, and try to de-stress.

It is very stressful when you want your child to make a good impression and they are doing anything but, however he will be picking up on your stress and that is only going to make the situation worse.

You know how lovely he is capable of being and your relatives probably know too that children go through difficult phases.

Whatalife58 Tue 05-Aug-14 11:45:58

Yes I do want my son to make a good impression but realistically I have very little control over it. He is so extraverted and vocal that it isn't possible and really I wouldn't want it to be otherwise.

sezamcgregor Tue 05-Aug-14 13:01:02

Don't worry about it!

It's happened, tomorrow is a new day.

I would try to spend some time on my own with DS, take him for a walk/to the playground and let him have some space to run and be unrestrained.

It will probably just be too much stimulation and he's probably tired after travelling and does not know how to express his feelings. He also seems to be pushing boundaries ie will she shout at me in her friends' house? Will she get as cross? Will she let me get away with it?

Explain to your friends when he is asleep about his behaviour and that he's just excited - and you're so pleased to see them.

If it is better, cook him something quick and easy, feed him and put him to bed before you have your evening meal rather than fighting with him at meal time.

MrsJamin Tue 05-Aug-14 18:43:36

He could easily be having a testosterone surge- very typical at that age, so as able to curtail aggression and surliness as you may be able to stop being touchy when you have PMT. He needs boundaries firmed up and lots of time to run off the excess energy. We are having tricky times with DSs 4 & 6 and I think this has a lot to do with it.

booglywoogler Tue 05-Aug-14 21:17:07

Just to say that I know its really hard when your little one is naughty in new places and with other people. My dd is 5 and I think really hates change, so she was really difficult on our recent holiday. I don't know about you, but I often get stressed out worrying what other people will think, or thinking "OMG, if this is happening today, what will happen tommorrow/next week/next year..." I then get really stressed and this makes me more controlling and snappy, which obviously makes dd worse...I found it helps to mentally "let go" of what others will think or catastrophising about the future ("i'm just doing my best"/"there's no point stressing about this now"etc).
Also I think all the advice about lots of child-centred him and you time is really good. You are probably both really tired and stressed with all the moving around and changes of scene, so go easy on both of you!

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