Six year old boy - feeling completely desperate(16 Posts)
sat here in tears. 6 year old DS has always been very strong willed, but recently his behaviour has been off the scale.
He gets hysterical and aggressive when asked to do anything - I mean anything, even put his socks on. This morning he was raging and screaming / pushing because I (with warning) turned the TV off.
I think he gets very jealous of any attention 3 yr old DD gets, so much so that I struggle to help her get dressed in the morning. He is on a months' technology ban for weeing on her and is always pushing her around. I hate it it and don't want her to grow up thinking it's ok to be victimised. My father was violent and this aggression is a massive deal for me. The thing is, although excitable, he is usually kind and helpful toward the younger siblings of friends. I don't know what is going on with him - I can't get anything out of him. I've tried spending more time with him one on one to negate the jealousy thing, but the minute he doesn't get his own way he has a massive hissy fit and I - if I'm honest - dread spending time with him.
The thing is, he gets on pretty well at school, so I feel like I'm the one causing the problem.
Sorry for the the essay. I am truly desperate. I can't leave the house in tears every morning!
That sounds very tough. Do you give him warnings, eg five more minutes of TV, one more minute? That helps with my DS. Are you a lone parent or do you have a partner to help manage this?
Sorry, have just read the 'with warning' bit that I'd weirdly missed before.
What do you then do when he has these massive hissy fits? I know mornings are tricky as you're getting them ready for school etc but at other times, could you just ignore him? Does he damage stuff? Don't mean to be critical, just trying to walk through what actually happens.
Oh and I see why the long tech ban, but the length of it probably makes it ineffective as you can't then remove it for any other misbehaviour - he's just stuck without it and resentful. I would think about giving him a chance to earn tech time each day with good behaviour, being kind to his sister and so on.
I do have a partner. He is difficult with DH, but less so, so I do feel like this is something to do with me. He was very jealous when DD was born, but it settled down after a year or so and I wonder whether it's reared its head again over the holidays when it was more apparent that my attention was divided.
I work from home and do the bulk of childcare in the week. DH is helpful, but not usually here in the mornings or until 6.45 in the evening. On the days that Dh works from home, I tend to let him cover mornings so I can recuperate, but perhaps we should take a child each so I can focus more attention on DS.
That's an idea - although I tend to find his behaviour is a little bit worse after technology, but perhaps it is too focussed on punishment rather than reward. I was just so furious with him as it was such a horrible thing to do!
Have you spoken to him about weeing on his sister and pushing her around and how it makes people feel? I have a son who is very immature and inappropriate and struggles to understand people's personal space and often irritates his brother and I won't allow that, he loses bed time after a warning (10 minutes), he is gradually becoming more aware of others.
How much tech/screen time does he usually have?
How do you respond when he is aggressive towards his sister? When he refuses to do as he's told?
Does he get any praise at all on a regular basis? Even for the tiniest thing?
What is his sister like? Would you say she is also 'strong-willed'?
I think there was too much screen time over the holidays - certainly when we were relying on GPs supprt in terms of childcare. (Their health isn't great and I think they needed a break!) He still gets TV and I would say that is probably an hour or so a day.
He is very aware that the weeing incident was inappropriate - I've noticed he is starting to say that these kids of incidents are accidents (it definitely wasn't!)
I do my best to stay calm and explain why (insert offense) was wrong and how would you feel if someone much bigger than you did that to you. That said, with the weeing thing, I did burst into tears, because it just so horrible.
DD is definitely more of a gentle soul, but she is starting to mimic DS in terms of ways of expressing anger - this is tantrums and outbursts, not pushing and shoving, which is yet another reason why I need to work this out!
Oh - and praise - i do usually try really hard to find things to praise, although these past few weeks, I am struggling...
Is he tired? When does he go to bed/does he sleep well/does he have a bedtime routine? Lack of sleep or disturbed sleep can have a huge effect on children. How is his diet? What/when does he eat?
I am wondering a bit whether he feels compared to his sister, even if you don't do so explicitly? And in a way he is acting out his 'role' in the sibling dynamic (the strong-willed one, the troublesome one)? It does give me pause for thought that you interpret her outbursts/tantrums as mimicking ds rather than as what you often do when you're three, iyswim.
I am thinking if this were me (we never really had to deal with sibling rivalry at this stage - can be a different matter now they are 8 and 10!) what I might be doing, at least in the heat of the moment, is simply breaking up the situation in a decisive manner while avoiding any comment on it. So quickly and silently removing her or preferably him to a safe and contained place when he starts being aggressive towards her, so they both get the message that you will not tolerate this but the discourse of 'rough ds/gentle dd' is not perpetuated. I would also be using every opportunity to point out other sides of ds to him - when he is kind to others' smaller siblings/to animals/younger children at school.
Has be been seeing/playing anything that might be a bit too old for his age or development (if not in ratings, then perhaps in content)? My nearly 8yo cannot cope with a lot of things that are nominally suitable for children of his age - can't deal with anything dark or scary. Perhaps the same might be true for yours in terms of 'violent' content?
I am also wondering - and I may be massively off track here - whether he has picked up any messages from his wider environment that girls are somehow 'better' (because quieter, 'nicer', more compliant) than boys, and whether this might be part of the jealousy? I have two sons but I read so much about privileging of girls over boys on here and it does make me wonder whether this is playing into it.
Diet / sleep wise, we have a good routine and eat a pretty balanced diet. Viewing-wise, he uses his TV time for Minecraft videos, which I vet, so there's nothing disturbing there.
I wonder if he is settling into a 'role', Hetero. I say mimicking DS as the phrases and mannerisms she uses when having her meltdowns are those that he uses - even when they are completely nonsensical and out of context. That said, it's very possible that he is picking up on a different manner as much as I try to avoid it, as it is easier to be with the 'easy' child than the explosive one. I'm tense even before I approach him as I know that I'm in for a massive battle. And I feel very protective toward DD at these times, probably because of my family history.
I like the suggestion of moving one of them (it would have to be DD as I don't think I could shift him!) away without comment at the time of any aggression. I think strategies that help me to deal with what's happening now without triggering my own baggage are very helpful.
And I think I also need to refocus on finding things to praise. It always seems to roll off him, but hopefully it sinks in somehow!
Thank you all for the responses. It really helps unpick what's happening.
I think he's almost certain to be picking up on your tension, without you necessarily being able to do anything about it at the moment it arises, especially considering your own childhood/history It must be very hard to deal with. Perhaps you could reinforce to yourself (am suspecting this belief is subconscious rather than conscious) that this is not history repeating itself, but a situation where positive action can make a real difference?
One final thought for now - could anything have been going on at school that might have triggered a worsening in his behaviour? Often kids hold it in at school and let it all out at home. His sister may also be a scapegoat for (real or perceived) injustices he is suffering elsewhere, iyswim.
Some new strategies I have found worked with my child. Having an egg timer on things like tech so that it's not you telling him to finish, it's the timer. I also do heads and tails for choices, again it takes the blame off you. Get him to help you with your daughter, and thank him when he does even if it's tiny. The more positive interactions you can make the better.
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