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Children who don't care about consequences.

(75 Posts)
alligatorpurse Thu 20-Jan-11 15:43:01

I have one.

He is 7, almost 8. I think he wants to rule the world. His temper is overwhelming and the only way for him is 100% his way.

I have read Alfie Kohn's book "Unconditional Parenting" and I do agree with parts of it, I see that some children do not respond to rewards and punishments, and that long-term it's better to have a curious, intelligent thinker than a yes-man or, worse, a military coup on my hands when he's a teenager.

But my goodness, dealing with this little dictator day to day is bloody exhausting. And I don't feel I'm really into UP to be honest. I have 3 dd's who behave quite normally and mostly do what they are asked etc.

One of our current issues is homework. He won't do it. He has some maths, spellings and sentences to do each week. He screams, cries, throws stuff, and once put the homework in the bin. He can do the homework if he tries, he just hates the "waste of his life" as he always says. I have talked to the teacher about it - she said try not to make too big a deal out of it, but she has sometimes kept him in at playtime to finish it. He was angry about that, but still says he's not doing any homework.

He eats and sleeps well, no issues there. He resists any organised activities but we've insisted he learns to swim, which is another weekly battle, and he makes very little effort with it. I've told him many times he can stop once his swimming is good enough (it's not), but he says he can already swim and doesn't need any more lessons.

I'm finding it hard to get the balance between letting him have the freedom he seems to need - I'm acutely aware we will have a big rebellion on our hands before too long otherwise - and insisting he accepts some boundaries and that life cannot be 100% the way he wants.

You really can't imagine what it's like unless you have a child like this. Any advice from those who do (and anyone else too) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

fel1x Thu 20-Jan-11 15:53:48

I have a child like this!
Mine is 5yo and the ONLY thing I have found to work a little bit is to focus on the ONE thing he DOES care about.
Is there something that your DS loves? That he's hate to be without? Perhaps even something that he takes for granted (like TV time)?

My DS's only real interest that he cares about is computers. We have a chart up on the wall that has 4 spaces on it. He gets 3 tokens to fill 3 of the spaces each day in the morning. He also gets the 4th token but ONLY if he has gone to bed nicely the night before (this is one of our big battles!)
Each token is worth 15 mins and he can use it on the Wii, on my laptop on cbeebies or on his DS.
If he misbehaves then he gets a warning that if he doesnt stop by the time I count to 3 then he will lose a token. Its very visual, as when he does lose a token you take it straight off the chart in front of him so it makes more of an impact.
You can use it as a carrot as well - for example, offer him the opportunity to 'earn' an extra token by trying hard in his swimming lesson. This has had good results too.

Its not a miracle way of getting them to behave but its made a significant difference actually having something over him that he cares about losing!
Some days Ds has 4 tokens and some days he has no tokens with plenty of days in between, so its always different and I also find when he's had a bad day and lost all his tokens then the threat has more impact the next day as its fresh in his mind that he had no computer time the day before.

Is there anything you can think of that your DS cares about enough to ration like this?

straightoutofthebottomdrawer Thu 20-Jan-11 16:02:48

One thing that might work for homework is picking a deadline an hour or so ahead and saying that if the homework isn't done by then then his book will need to go back in his bag with the homework not done. I think I read about that here. Then follow through.

That might work if deep down he does want the homework to have been done, but is constantly trying to put off doing it now. It won't work if he really doesn't care if it goes back into his bag undone though.

Much sympathy as this sort of temper stuff is hard to deal with.

alligatorpurse Thu 20-Jan-11 16:06:07

We do give pocket money and deduct appropriately for offences, but they can also earn it back again. He often talks about what he's going to buy, but if he's lost a lot of money he'll be so mad and doesn't seem to make the connection for the next time he doesn't want to do something he has to do,or does something he's not allowed to do. I don't think rewards work for him.

It's the same for small things like getting ready for bed - I tell him he needs to be ready by the time I've put younger sis to bed so that we have time for a story. He sort of wants the story, but not enough to do what I say obviously.

alligatorpurse Thu 20-Jan-11 16:07:50

I often put him homework in his bag half done or less, because we simply run out of days and time. He says he's going to tell hs teacher he thinks homework is a bad idea and not to give him any more.

LeninGrad Thu 20-Jan-11 16:11:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

magnolia74 Thu 20-Jan-11 16:14:19

We had this with dd2 (she is 11) From age 8/9 she refused to do any homework at all hmm

I talked to her and her teacher (together) and the teacher came up with the idea of her looking at her homework and if she really insisted she wasn't going to do it then at least write half a page at the back of the homework book. She was allowed to write anything at all as long as it was half a page.

After a few weeks she decided doing the actual homework was better (most of the time)

If she did nothing at all she was kept in at lunchtime the next day (this worked well in the summer!!)

She is 11 now and always does her homework although last minute!! hmm

scurryfunge Thu 20-Jan-11 16:20:41

I would pick your battles -homework is not the be all and end all at aged 8. Save that battle for secondary. If he is progressing well enough in school then find things he is interested in.

Again with the swimming -if you want him to do it for the exercise than find another activity he is interested in and can develop.(and therefore bargain with). If he has been having lessons and can stay afloat and has confidence in the water, then encourage it later.

notskiving Thu 20-Jan-11 16:21:57

I have one of these children and he is 13.
He is a nightmare still. So I can only tell you how my son has been!

Some homework he will do - but not usually.
If he gets detention he isnt bothered and often will not go to them. He has been put into "academic remove" (not in lesson and by himself) numerous times for not going to detention regarding homework or being late to school (takes train) even though he has left in plenty of time, for being insolent to the teacher in front of the class (eg arguing why she is wrong about the subject - he is very opinionated about things that can be subjective eg English, RE, Geography, Art). If he decides he doesnt like a teacher (usually because they are 'strict') he will not make any effort in lessons either.
He has spent the first 2.5 years of secondary in trouble and frustrating his teachers; he is very bright, and still gets top marks in most subjects (in top set) with this terrible behaviour.
He is now being referred to have an 'inclusion officer' from the authority to follow him round in lessons to see how the school can change their teaching style to suit him! School has just started being great.
At home I could ban everything, and he wouldnt care. He doesnt have any great attachment to possessions. At your sons age he would trash his room if he didnt get his own way and has grafittied how much he hates us all on his door. He writes a lot of poems about people who annoy him.
Primary school were useless and really couldnt wait to see the back of him.

He can be nice if you pay lots of attention to the things he likes - in our case space, science, 'big ideas', bushcraft type things, cooking.
Avoiding a head on confrontation and using distraction techniques help.
Ignoring mediocre bad behaviour.

I feel for you - and look forward to reading the rest of this thread.

fel1x Thu 20-Jan-11 16:23:14

yes, def agree with ignore mediocre behaviour - you have to pick your battles!

notskiving Thu 20-Jan-11 16:26:04

i think it is a GOOD idea for him to tell his teacher he thinks homework is a bad idea - he can use his arguing skills to try and convince her, and hopefully listen to her reasoned response.

alligatorpurse Thu 20-Jan-11 16:40:46

Oh his arguing skills are very well-developed so I'll be interested to see what happens at school. His teacher is great and I'm sure would be open to alternatives to homework. If he was finding it too difficult or too much I would be more sympathetic, but he can do the work fine, he just doesn't want to. He loves all the practical activities he gets to do at school and home - if they said he had to make a pizza for homework he would probably be perstering me to get started. That's fine, but sometimes you just have to sit and think and write.

juuule Thu 20-Jan-11 16:47:50

I second what Scurryfunge said.

KateF Thu 20-Jan-11 16:56:07

Marking my place ecause dd2 is like this and I am out of ideas. Homework also a big issue here especially as she is dyslexic and hates writing. Have asked school for help with her behaviour this week as she can be violent so will wait and see.

alligatorpurse Thu 20-Jan-11 17:04:55

I guess we could stop the swimming. He can float but can't/doesn't do strokes despite a LOT of lessons.

KateF I suspect ds also has dyslexic tendencies although on test he came out in the normal range for everything. What has the school suggested? DS is doing ok with school work but not as well as I would expect from his level of intelligence. I'm quite laid back about education but I do think they need to get the basics behind them so that they can apply it all later in secondary school.

straightoutofthebottomdrawer Thu 20-Jan-11 19:12:53

Have you read The Explosive Child?

Well worth a read IMO. Amongst other things, it goes into the type of thing AK talks about but in a more useful and realistic way, I would say. It's aimed specifically at finding solutions for problems with kids for whom simple consequences just don't work.

LeninGrad Thu 20-Jan-11 19:42:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

notskiving Fri 21-Jan-11 09:25:41

Sorry in advance if this is a slight thread hijack - wont do it again!

LeninGrad - i read about PDA and i dont think my DS fits into this - but at least the school are trying to help now(!)

I do think that having a 'label', finding something where 'the light comes on' as you say, is helpful, because you can accept it and know he is not just being bloody minded. My DH works with people who amongst other things have challenging behaviour and because they have a diagnosis and he knows its not their fault he is very patient and good. His own son he avoids interaction with and frequently screams and shouts at. I do think that if someone said "oh he is like this because he has 'x' 'y' or 'z' then DH would cope better.

DS has was referred to CAMHS last year but wouldnt speak to the psychologist at all - so obviously they couldnt help him

alligatorpurse Fri 21-Jan-11 09:32:42

Thanks for the book link - I am always up for reading a book which might help us and will try to get a copy.

LeninGrad I do want to know how to work with him, that's exactly right. I was (am?) very much a people pleaser as a child, intimidated by authority, didn't want anyone to be cross with me etc, and DS is so not like that it's hard for me to understand him. I know it's a GOOD thing in general that he doesn't care what anyone thinks, but we have to get through the next 10-15 years before I can send his confident self out into the world!

FredKarnosCircus Fri 21-Jan-11 09:52:53

Thanks for this thread. I've just had the shittiest of mornings getting my DS to school and was ready to throw myself under a bus. Thought I'd have a quick look on MN to see if anyone else was feeling similar, instead.

Have ordered the Explosive Child book, just so I can feel I've done something positive about the situation. My biggest fear is that I will end up losing my temper with him.

Chin up, all.

FredKarnosCircus Fri 21-Jan-11 09:55:52

One of my issues is that I remember being like him. I thought most of the discipline around me was a load of complete tosh.

LeninGrad Fri 21-Jan-11 10:51:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FredKarnosCircus Fri 21-Jan-11 18:12:05

Leningrad - you and I sound pretty similar, you know. Question for you and all concerned with this stuff: what were YOU like as a child and how were you treated?

Boring auto-biography: my Mother was inattentive, then excessively (I thought) harsh when I did finally appear on her radar. I hated her - she was all about the bad stuff and never much bothered about my qualities, except to claim boasting rights. So I deceived/defied her from a young age. I didn't value her methods, so I didn't care much about her opinions. Even now, 20 years since I left home, i feel an underlying disdain for her (although we can rub along). But I suspect I was a real trial for her - pretty much like my DS is.

I want to be a different kind of parent, but when my son is deceiving and defying me (over really small things), it feels as if the only two options are a) to get tougher or b) to capitulate and let him be utterly obnoxious. What is that third way?

Your thoughts ... ?!

alligatorpurse Fri 21-Jan-11 18:15:24

Thanks for the support, it's so good to hear from others who have dcs with similar personalities.

Do you those of you who remember being similar as children find it easier to understand your dcs' behaviour now? I see nothing of myself in my DS, but a lot of my DH! (who seems to have turned out fine but his parents say he was so strong-minded as a child that he actually resented having parents at all). MIL and FIL did I think get a very good balance of being strict with giving freedom. I wish I know how they did it.

activate Fri 21-Jan-11 18:20:19

Personally I don't understand why you let a 7 year old argue with you

walk away FGS and save your sanity

he seems to have become the boss in this situation

I would say stop doing homework this year because it doesn't matter - tell teacher you're not going to do it and why

When homework has to be done - say year 5 and up agree that homework is to be done first thing Saturday morning before tv, computer, games and stick to it - but no arguing about it

Ask teacher to enforce consequences if not done (but try and make her agree to the write half a page concept first)

and grow some balls - set boundaries, enforce them and don't become a child trying to win the argument - you are a parent

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