At Wits End With DS 11

(14 Posts)
privatebenjimum Wed 23-Jul-14 11:52:13

First time poster here. Really don't know how to parent my DS anymore. It's a mixed bag of things: He won't do anything he's asked - ever. He runs off if I call his name. If I ask him to pick up something he's dropped he'll say something (in v sarcastic tone) like, 'Why don't you do it? You're right there.' He's just become unbelievably snarky, horrid and unlikeable. He makes a massive fuss about things like bed time reading, which I've always tried to encourage before sleep. This will then escalate into an all out tantrum which can sometimes carry over the following day. Today he told me that he's 'cancelled' his birthday (in a couple of weeks) because he thinks no one cares. I can't remember his nice characteristics. I've tried talking, coaxing, encouraging. It feels like absolutely everything is a huge battle and I just feel like giving up. One of his sisters told me that she feels that he's ruining family life. He's definitely dominating it at the moment and I really don't know how to get back on track. If anyone has any advice I'd really appreciate it.

TeenAndTween Wed 23-Jul-14 12:08:35

Is he just turning 11 so just finished primary?
If so he's become a big fish in a small pond at primary, and simultaneously may be worried about the move to secondary?

Or is he about to be 12 so just done first term of secondary? What's his friendship group like and behaviour at school?

No real suggestions apart from
- pick your battles (eg is enforcing bedtime reading really worth it still?)
- stay firm on your boundaries (including rudeness and non-compliance)
- try to have some fun too

privatebenjimum Wed 23-Jul-14 12:29:38

T&T thanks for your reply and advice.
He'll be turning 12 so he's just finished Y7. He's behaved really well at school despite having a pretty hard time settling in. It's not been a great year for him and I don't doubt that his behaviour is a reflection of this. There have been bullying issues and we've talked about it a lot. The school hasn't been great about it and he is in fact changing schools in Sept. He's got a few good mates out of school. I hear what you say about bed time reading - the reason I try to persevere with listening to him read aloud is that he's been a little behind. It's not that taxing - just 3 pages each time.

TeenAndTween Wed 23-Jul-14 12:59:44

So it could be hormones.
Or it could be he's feeling all discombobulated because of the y7 issues and moving schools.
Can you pick a time when he's calm to talk to him about his behaviour and why he is acting as he is?

Reading - maybe try moving that to another time of day when he's not so tired? With DD2, who is a reluctant reader, having done her reading is a pre-requisite for screen time in the holidays. What's he reading? Would something a bit easier where he can get through more be more rewarding for him? Is he too old for things like 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid'?
This link www.arbookfind.co.uk/UserType.aspx gives books by age and reading ability I think which might help you find books he enjoys that are the right ability for him.

The thing I forgot to say with boundaries, is have clear consequences too. e.g. is he in to minecraft or something similar? Then maybe he 'earns' time on it by doing family activities with good grace, or 'loses' time for rudeness etc?

Try to 'treat' the sisters too so they don't feel it's all about him.

Hopefully someone with more experience will be along to help in a bit!

privatebenjimum Wed 23-Jul-14 14:03:19

I'm sure hormones are playing a part in some of this, yes! He does suddenly look a bit taller. Thank you for book link - I'll take a look. He looks at a lot of Tintin and Wimpy Kid too, but was told by Eng teacher that his vocabulary isn't very wide and to try to encourage something a little more challenging. One of his sisters bought him Lord of the Flies and I thought that might be a good one to read together.
I don't think I've been consistent re.consequences. He doesn't do mine craft but does love telly and film so, yes - 'earning' time as you said is a great idea. Thanks again T&T - I really appreciate you taking the time to reply. I've lost a bit of perspective over this so it's extremely helpful to have your responses and advice.

mistlethrush Wed 23-Jul-14 14:07:42

Mine made home life hell when school was not good for him. It really was awful. But the following year school was better for him and home life improved immeasurably. The bad behaviour because of school carried on through the holidays too, even the summer ones so it clearly affected him very deeply.

If this is the case with your boy, I hope that next year brings a much better situation at school and that does make things better at home too.

privatebenjimum Wed 23-Jul-14 14:29:01

Mistlethrush - I'm glad your situation came good in the end. I am really hoping that a change of school will help things. I'll be glad in some ways to put his first year at secondary school behind us.

mistlethrush Wed 23-Jul-14 15:28:08

I'm hoping we've had our fair share now - I didn't realise how much it insidiously dripped into our family life until it started improving. It's something I have to keep a close eye on and regularly ask myself whether a bad blip of behaviour outside school is associated with school or something else - luckily they have been blips and anything at school has been quickly dealt with in a positive way.

privatebenjimum Wed 23-Jul-14 15:44:42

It's lucky that your son's school have been quick to act and you seem very on the ball. Unfortunately, my son was too terrified to name the people who bullied him which meant the situation was really never resolved. I do now actually have the name of one of the boys that taunted him so vilely although again, DS is terrified of me reporting this boy, even though he's leaving the school. It's all been pretty isolating. May I ask how you managed with your DS's 'challenging' behaviour? Did you just ignore it? I am finding the constant unreasonableness hard.

mistlethrush Wed 23-Jul-14 16:30:36

Ours was a bit different (although probably equally awful) as he was 5 / 6 at the time. You don't realise how bad its got until the Holiday Club call you over and say that he's been talking about killing himself and you think to yourself 'not again' rather than shock that your 5 yo is saying that sort of thing. Frankly, it was the teachers in Yr1 that had this adverse impact on him, not the children.

He's now 9 and so near in age to your son - we had some awful behaviour from him on the first day of our recent holiday - we had to spell it out really clearly that his behaviour was not acceptable, and that we would not be taking him on a future family holiday if it continued but would be sending him off to grandparents whilst we had a holiday on our own. (I know this sounds drastic, but it was required at this time). Anyway, we got his perceived issues out in the open, and drew a line and requested better behaviour afterwards and I was careful in picking up when any 'issues' reoccured and dealing with them immediately so that it was fair and they didn't rankle with him.

For my DS 'fairness' is absolutely critical. Punishment (including school's sanctions) is accepted provided that it isn't a result of something that he considers unfair. This helps with negotiating a line through life quite helpfully at the moment. And he is pretty empathetic for a 9yo boy which is also helpful.

Can you see if a carrot and stick approach works - you do need to be prepared to carryout the 'stick' bit and carry through and its really important that they realise this, and that you make appropriate levels of 'stick' outcomes for the result of different behaviours but make sure that they are ones that you really will carry through.

mistlethrush Wed 23-Jul-14 16:31:06

(We still find a hug works wonders which is also helpful)

TeenAndTween Wed 23-Jul-14 16:41:15

For information, Lord of the Flies is used as a GCSE text. DD1 is about to study it in y11. (However, I'm not saying it will be a difficult read, I need to reread it so I can discuss it with DD, I haven't read it for years as I found it quite disturbing).

If vocab needs to be increased, have you tried Hunger Games, or books maybe by David Walliams?

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman is a good read, (though may appeal more to girls?)

You maybe also need to talk with your DS about starting at the new school, and responses he could use if bullying / name-calling starts up again, how to make friends etc. As far as I can tell it is easier to nip things in the bud than try to recover later.

privatebenjimum Wed 23-Jul-14 19:07:41

mistlethrush - That sounds like it was really distressing, not least because your DS was so young. Funny what you say about sending yours to G'parents whilst you have a nice holiday - that had crossed my mind but then I didn't want going to his Nan's to feel like it was a punishment as she's the only one he's got!

Teen&Tween - I honestly didn't realise that Lord of the Flies was a GCSE text. I feel that I'm misjudging pretty much everything right now! I thought that the bullying themes might help in some way. (I'd forgotten how fantastic the writing is btw if you're going to read it again.) I'm honestly not pushy and would never knowingly give an almost 12 yo a gcse set text unless they were academically advanced! We tried Hunger Games but didn't get very far and have read DWalliams books which were great. Might just go back and have another look at those though or give HG another shot.

mistlethrush Wed 23-Jul-14 22:05:49

Our conversation went something like 'you get x weeks of holiday from school - you get lots of things you like doing then. Part of that, we all go on holidays together. However, DH and I only get 4 weeks of holidays a year and we want to enjoy our holidays. Its not fair on us for us to spend our holidays having a horrible time because you're making it all so difficult. You're not enjoying it either because you're not happy and we're not nice because you're making us cross with you. We would like to have a nice holiday that you enjoy and we intend to do lots of things you will enjoy but if things don't improve we'll do things we want to do and not worry about your wishes because its obvious you aren't going to enjoy it whatever we do for you...' That worked for us.

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