Note: Mumsnetters don't necessarily have the qualifications or experience to offer relationships counselling or to provide help in cases of domestic violence. Mumsnet can't be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

My ds1 and my other children

(69 Posts)
WinkyWinkola Wed 02-Jan-13 20:02:38

Tonight my ds2 (aged 3) stood in front of me and dd (aged 5), spread his bottom cheeks and said, "Look at my butthole!"

I could have wept. His older brother (aged 7) is bringing all this disgusting language and behaviour into the house and teaching it to his siblings. Words like butt breath, constant (and I mean constant) talk of diarrhoea, poo etc. 

It makes me so sad and angry that my younger dcs are losing their childhood innocence far quicker than ds1 did. 

Ds1 has had huge anger and defiance issues. He's seen a counsellor for over a year now and his behaviour has improved slightly. As to whether this is him getting older or the counselling, I don't know. 

He finds all this foul language hilarious and gets very giddy, hyper and silly to the extent where I look at him and wonder if he's actually sane. He won't stop it regardless of our asking him not to talk of such stuff especially to the younger dcs. 

 If I do anything like take a toy off him, he gets very abusive and writes stuff like "Mummy is a shit!" on the car windows. 

Our relationship is pretty bad. His hostility to my every day requests like teeth cleaning, come sit down for a meal etc is pretty strong.

 I can't leave him alone with the dog - the dog bombs into where I am after a few minutes alone with ds1 - or playing with the other dcs because one of them always gets hurt. I may not always see what happens but it's never ds1 hurt or crying. 

He just doesn't seem bothered about his behaviour and our requests to modify it. I'm strict with removing toys or privileges but it doesn't change things in the long term. We just clash and clash because he resents my making requests of him and I detest what he brings to the family in terms of foul language and defiant, idiot behaviour.  Almost every polite word from me is met with impatience, rudeness and a curled lip at best. He adores his dad who like me, condemns the poor behaviour. 

He's only 7 (8 in April) but he has the air of an invincible teenager and thinks nothing of flying off into a rage. The counsellor just thinks he's an intelligent, highly emotional child who cannot handle his intense feelings yet. 

I can't see things getting better and am exhausted by the constant conflict. Where does he find the energy for it? I get upset at the thought of him leaving home and never wanting to see me again. But then the thought of not having to deal with him brings me much relief too. 

Is there something I'm missing? I've tried the time alone with him, going bowling, the cinema etc and if you're alone with him, it's fine. Otherwise, it's horrible. 

Any ideas please?

fattybum Mon 07-Jan-13 00:46:04

Haven't got much experience or advice, but just wanted to mention about poo/bum hole talk. I have 4 and 6 year old boys and, although to begin with it grated, I now often join in with them! Not necessarily saying it's best practice, but I honestly think it shouldn't be a taboo. My dc know we don't talk like that with others (apart from family) but they know they can be silly at home. One mention of an arse crack and they're hysterical! You have to try to enjoy your kids

garlicbollocks Mon 07-Jan-13 00:21:28

Just been on the 'Look Inside' of that play book, neo. It's great!

neolara Sun 06-Jan-13 23:47:58

Can I recommend this book, Playful Parenting. The idea is that kids act out when they feel isolated or powerless. Kids aren't adults, and because their language skills aren't great yet, they don't naturally deal with their emotions by talking about stuff. Instead, they deal with their emotions through play. By playing with your dcs in a particular way, and the book tells you what to do, you can make them feel less isolated and more powerful. Consequently, their behaviour improves. It's a very kind book. And it seems to work remarkably well. It's written by a play therapist.

I suspect a bit of 1, 2, 3 Magic may also help for when lines are actively being crossed.

garlicbollocks Sun 06-Jan-13 23:38:32

Winky, I'm delighted to hear you'll chat 'unconditionally' with him, that's great news!

As to the room, Izzy's logic makes sense too, and I look forward to reading of your experiment smile

WinkyWinkola Sun 06-Jan-13 23:32:36

Okay so you think he has an attachment disorder? As a child, I never let him cry for long, had him with me or dh all the time. However, when I went into hospital to have dd, my mother looked after him in our house and she said he was distraught with me or dh. I had two visits to the hospital where he was distraught - one false alarm about labour and one actual labour. Could that have been the start of it?

I'll follow the advice about not sending him to his room.

"It's expedient to organise one bedtime for dc that are close in age, but I would ask you to further consider introducing a later bedtime, say, half an hour for him. He can be bathed, dressed in pyjamas, and be told a story with his siblings but can then enjoy a further period of time alone with you before you put him to bed."

I do this already. We all go upstairs, everyone undressed and into pyjamas, all listen to first batch of stories, dd and ds2 into their bed. Ds1 into my bed with me and ds3 who is feeding whilst I read ds1 his story. He gets his 30+ minutes and he seems deeply uncomfortable whilst I am reading his story to him. I will try without the baby there.

I'm very grateful for you taking the time to help me, Izzy and Garlic. Thank you so much.

WinkyWinkola Sun 06-Jan-13 23:20:42

Well, do you know, I never thought of having an unconditional chat with him. You're right. Just me and him talking about anything or nothing of any consequence in the mornings before anyone else is awake. Great idea. Will try that next time.

I'm trying to think of a space where he could vent his spleen safely. His bedroom is probably the safest - we live in a 3 bed house - but then he associates that with punishment. So, are you saying, Garlic, that if we tell him he's in his room to work his anger out perhaps with his dad or me there as opposed to a punishment, it may have a different effect?

I feel like a chump fumbling for the light switch. Ds1 is far brighter than any of us!

izzyizin Sun 06-Jan-13 23:18:51

Thank you for your long response which has provided an informative picture of what's has been, and is, going on with your very unhappy little boy.

There are plenty of families with a 2 year or less age gap between 1st & 2nd dc where the eldest is flourishing on every level so please disabuse yourself of the notion that you had another child too soon.

When you greet him in the morning, may I suggest you make no reference to his behaviour the day before or set out any expectations of his behaviour for the day ahead as it seems to me that, in being reminded on a daily basis of falling short of your expectations, he is to some extent being set up to fail.

I would also suggest that you give consideration to not sending him to his room when he misbehaves; any child conflicted by an attachment disorder craves the security of being included, not excluded, in the family unit at all times.

As I do not advocate the use of a specified 'naughty spot', nor am I in favour of this method of teaching or reinforcing the advantages of compliancy to a child, I suggest the next time he misbehaves you simply tell him to sit where you can see him for a short period of time while he reflects on what's occurred before asking him if he is ready to apologise, and that you constantly vary where he sits according to which room you are in and which seats are available.

When he apologises always give him a hug, tell him how proud you are of him and how much you love him, and make no reference whatsoever to his behavior

I intend to write a lot more in the coming week or so, but for the time being I would ask you to act on these two suggestions and please report back as to how he adapts to not being sent to his room.

It's expedient to organise one bedtime for dc that are close in age, but I would ask you to further consider introducing a later bedtime, say, half an hour for him. He can be bathed, dressed in pyjamas, and be told a story with his siblings but can then enjoy a further period of time alone with you before you put him to bed.

garlicbollocks Sun 06-Jan-13 22:47:43

I tell him I love him and how I hate that fact he seems so angry and all churned up and can we try and have a day without shouting.

Winky, I understand this may not be an accurate representation of your morning chats, but all the same I fear it may sound like conditional love to your child. Do you have cuddles where the 'problems' aren't mentioned at all, just an interested chat about stuff in his life or a game.joke? If you do, does he lie unresponsive then too?

garlicbollocks Sun 06-Jan-13 22:40:33

No, no, you don't sound self-pitying. It's clearly a taxing way to live.
Really good to hear the counselling makes a difference smile Has his counsellor offered out any advice to you and DH at all?

I was wondering whether continued emphasis on 'misbehaviour' leaves him feeling invalidated. I'd be interested to know whether other posters feel it might be more constructive to refer to his anger, rage or, indeed, tantrums rather than bad behaviour or being a nuisance, etc.

When I asked about a safe place - which is his bedroom; great that he's got one - I wasn't thinking of banishment for bad behaviour, as much as somewhere safe to let off steam. When emotional overload is addressed explicitly, it's then easier to encourage the child to work through what they were feeling, what prompted it and what may helpfully happen now. Not a punishment but assistance, iyswim.

WinkyWinkola Sun 06-Jan-13 21:53:37

EPIC post. Sorry.

WinkyWinkola Sun 06-Jan-13 21:53:20

He's really embarrassed about needing pyjama pants. It's tricky because he's now getting asked over on sleep overs. He's reluctant to go because of his embarrassment but he also really wants to go. I say he can get into his pyjamas in secret in the bathroom when he goes on a sleepover. He's not done it yet so I've invited friends over for him instead. He comes into my room to get ready for bed so nobody is aware of his pyjama pants.

Dd has teased him about it and she told one or two of his friends and poor ds1 was mortified. She got into big trouble. He knows we are on his side and trying to help him. He nearly went purple with embarrassment when I took him to the GP after his 7th birthday. I felt so sorry for him but we had to find out if there was a physical problem.

He does go to the loo before bed and no drinks after 6.30pm. He has lights off at 7.30am. On holiday, we do the same discreet changing into pyjamas and hiding the pyjama pants in the morning. We shared a gite with another family this summer and so we got really deft at it! He wet the bed maybe twice in 4 weeks whilst we were away.

Occasionally, I've shown annoyance about the wet bed especially if I'm tired. But generally, we are pretty neutral about it - this is the way it is, it's fine and maybe one day he'll be without the pyjama pants. I just wonder if there's a link between that and his general upset. They say children wet the bed when they're really miserable, don't they?

What triggered his rage on the weekend we decided we were/are completely out of our depth and needed help? His 36 hour rage marathon started on a Friday night after school - fair enough, tired etc. But he didn't get to sleep until gone ten because he was ranting in his bed. Then up early as usual - at that point (it was the weekend of 28th-29th February 2012 - I took notes) he was getting up at 5am.

He raged from the point he woke me up at 5am and wanted to play on the iPad (another noted trigger for his anger). I said no and he kicked off. He was sent back to his room but his rage and banging around woke up the whole house.

It didn't stop, from everything from my putting a splash of milk in his porridge to cool it down to my asking him to do his reading homework as opposed to not being allowed to watch telly for more than 1 hour. He lost one of his Hero Factory toys for that lot. He went mental at that too. Talking to him, explaining to him why the toy was confiscated just didn't work. He got warnings too.

Asking him to come to the table from his room (he'd been sent to his room 3 times by this point) for lunch angered him too. He came eventually and started yelling how disgusting the food was - roast chicken, roast spuds etc. He was sent up to his room again for that. He came down when calm and ate a bit of his lunch. He was quiet and alone at the table but not in the room as I was clearing stuff away into dishwasher etc. Dd asks for the heating on, ds1 screams he doesn't want it on.

Then we had to go and buy shoes - ds1 and dd had grown out of school shoes. He didn't want to go so dh said he'd stay home with him then but he went beserk at that prospect as well even though he adores his dad. We take dcs out to the car. He ran into the middle of the road, refused to move. I am terrified. I pull him onto the pavement, bundle him in the car, desperate to strap him in, child lock on doors so he cannot pull such a stunt again.

In the car, he started throwing his booster seat around, renting at his jumper trying to pull the buttons off in a rage. I was petrified as we were then on the motorway and he was going to hit the other kids with it. Got off the road and calmed him down. Sat him in the front so he couldn't injure anyone else. We were sweating buckets at this point.

Managed to get shoes bought and home again but not before he had kicked me and thumped my thighs in the shop, telling me he hated me and wanted a different mother, I was not his mother etc. And not before he had hidden behind a car three cars away from ours in the car park for 5 minutes. We couldn't find him.

He asked for his Hero Factory toy back at home. This was refused because of his appalling and again, he went beserk. I am in tears, the younger dcs are so distressed. We send him to his room and we go into the playroom to try and develop some calm normality for them. Ds1 in his room with dh. He is told by dh he may have his Hero Factory toys back again if he is calm and well behaved. He suddenly calms down and appears to have self control. It is now 5.30pm. We are all utterly exhausted and I feel like I am hiding from him with the other dcs.

I make supper and we manage to get through that meal without too much upset. A spot of telly whilst I tidy up then it's bath and bed. We are totally exhausted. Dcs get their stories but ds1 decided one is not enough and shouts and screams in his bed until 8.20pm (50 mins) until he falls asleep.

And the next day begins in pretty much the same vein. We explain to him what will happen if he doesn't do the small things we ask, we ask nothing that is surprising (teeth cleaning, meals, homework), we reward good behaviour and we tell him what he loses if he doesn't cooperate. We sound like Stasi officers but we do explain why he needs to do these things.

Having said all that, we haven't had a weekend quite as bad as that since he started seeing his counsellor. He will still kick off but it can be hours between each outburst so we are walking on eggshells less and less.

However, nothing seems to work long term or permanently. His room has become the area to which he is sent when misbehaving. When he comes down after his specified time in there is up, we ask him to apologise and we hug him sometimes and try to get back to normal.

He's started waking a bit later or getting out of his room a bit later in the mornings now. I greet him from my bed as he goes to the loo and I ask him to hop into bed with me for a hug. I tell him I love him and how I hate that fact he seems so angry and all churned up and can we try and have a day without shouting. He lies there, like a board listening to me but not really responding.

I know it's me. I had another child too soon and it totally rattled him and now he is venting his anger about his sense of being rejected. I'm so worried he's not going to be able to get past this, that we, his parents cannot help him.

I sound utterly self pitying - sorry. The counsellor is definitely helping but I wonder if he needs more.

garlicbollocks Sun 06-Jan-13 20:44:21

Yh, Random, you mean like toddler tantrum management? I'd assumed you were doing this, Winky, but does DS1 have a safe 'angry' place where he can go to punch cushions, cry, tear down Lego buildings or whatever? How does he respond to getting lots of love after a tantrum, and being given genuine listening to his worries?

izzyizin Sun 06-Jan-13 20:39:23

Does he show any concern about his nocturnal enuresis? How do you manage it - do you, or have you at any time, become angry and/or express blame/negativity?

If he has spent overnights with others, has he wet the bed on those occasions? Does he wet the bed when/if you are on holiday or staying away from home?

Do you restrict his fluid intake before bedtime and does he urinate before going to bed?

With regard to the 36 hour period of rage, did he sleep or nap during this time and can you recall what triggered it, or what occurred immediately beforehand?

Does he require accompanying to the toilet when he is at school? What happens if you/your dh are not immediately available to take him to the toilet at home?

RandomMess Sun 06-Jan-13 19:56:30

Perhaps the hysteria and refusal is the only way he's learnt (so far) to handle how he feels and he sees no value/incentive in trying to find an alternative?

You could try completely ignore the hysteria, walking away etc and then speak to him later once he's calmed down, asking him what he would have liked to happen instead etc?

WinkyWinkola Sun 06-Jan-13 19:40:32

Hi again Izzy.

Ds1 was 2 1/2 when he refused to wear nappies in the day. He was running around naked in the garden in the summer, did a poo and was displeased by this that he demanded I take him to the loo all the time since then! It was easy apart from nighttime.

He only wees at night and sometimes so much his bed is wet even though he wears those pants for 8-15 year olds. I've tried taking him to the loo but he still needs the pyjama pants. The GP said not to worry - it's very common and to come back when he's 10.

His 36 hours of rage one weekend occurred when ds2 was 2 years and 3 months old. It was a very intense weekend with him kicking off and going mental at everything. He only has hysterics two or three times a day now at the weekend.

He seems to like ds2. They sometimes have a laugh together as he does with dd. When ds2 was born, ds1 was fine. Curious, interested, helpful. When dd was born, he would try to attack her, hitting her with toy cars etc.

I'll be in the kitchen and they will be having argy bargy in the play room and it is always one of the younger dcs who ends up crying or upset. Maybe that's because he's older/bigger. The younger two definitely do their fair share of trouble making though for which they get reprimanded.

I just don't get the hysteria that is his default reaction and his refusal to behave in an appropriate way when we ask him.

WinkyWinkola Sun 06-Jan-13 19:22:26

Garlic, I've done/am doing love bombing. Dh and I do mother/father-daughter/son days throughout the year where each child gets at least half a day alone with each parent. I'd say they get one each every six weeks. Obviously I have to take ds3 with me because he is 12 weeks and ebf.

You sound slightly censorious in your post. I'm am totally taking heed of other's recommendations and have been waiting with interest for Izzy's responses.

Ds1 does behave like a prat a lot of the time IMO.

I'm not saying he is morally responsible at all. What I have been saying in my posts in that I am unable to get him to behave I the way I would like. That is what makes me sad and feel i cannot make a difference to this child's behaviour and any negative influence he may have my other dcs. He does not respond to positive reward or negative punishment and is often in hysterics or anger at the slightest request I make of him.

When he is well behaved, we are SO grateful and relieved, we lavish him with praise. Lack of praise really isn't a problem here.

garlicbollocks Sun 06-Jan-13 18:55:51

Izzy's questions are highly relevant to the possibility of an attachment disorder. If you're the kind of person who prefers to understand the theories rather than be told what to do by an old-fashioned nanny (blush !), try reading up on it.

I second your recommendations for the 123-Magic and How To Talk books.

garlicbollocks Sun 06-Jan-13 18:40:32

Umm, I agree that your labelling him has contributed to the problem. You called him a prat!

FWIW, you're overstressing about the obsession with bums & poos. It's normal for his age and no child should be expected to censor themselves in front of their siblings - do you want to add shame to his burden, and make him morally responsible to his younger sibs? He's a seven year old child. You are the adult; your responsibilities include educating all of your kids in appropriate behaviour & vocabulary.

You're clearly not doing too bad a job of it, as DS1 is good at school. It looks most likely, then, that you have unwittingly created this problem, and are prolonging it with your blame, dislike and labelling of the poor kid.

Other posters with similarly bright, energetic children have offered good advice imo. Above all, go with the love bombing. It may feel weird but will do your whole family a lot of good.

izzyizin Sun 06-Jan-13 18:02:02

I haven't forgotten you, Winky smile

Thank you for the clarifcation - I asked if you had been a sahm throughout because I wondered whether ds1 was in any form of childcare at the time of dd's birth or shortly thereafter.

How old was ds1 when you began toilet training and how old was he when he stayed dry throughout the day and was able to toilet himself?

In saying 'he has a full pyjama pant every morning', are you referring to excreta? If so, does he also excrete during the day? Have you established whether there is any medical cause for his lack of control at night?

Did the '36 hours of his rage one weekend' that motivated you to seek private counselling for him occur shortly after you gave birth to ds3 or were you heavily still pregnant at the time?

What was his reaction to the birth of ds2?

Dededum Sat 05-Jan-13 14:08:30

I have an active 9 year old who can be a PITA, though like as bad as yours. Also he is the youngest.

Couple of things:
- he is an active boy but doesn't have many friends / emotionally immature for his age perhaps? Does he get on ok at break times at school?
- as the oldest, can you give him so more control? Chores, jobs, tidy his bedroom? Though maybe initial refusal, should get into it.
- look for places to praise - not just academic, sport but emotional skills (kind, helpful, thoughtful, funny) DS1 counsellor - said that kids with low self esteem often don't see when they themselves are being kind and in fact can be kind.
- bunker down it will get easier
- is he year 3? New school perhaps
- maybe he is working so hard to hold his emotions together at school that it explodes at home
- kinesiology / cranosacrial therapy. Kids can be so highly strung that they are unable to let go. Stress affects kids as well

countingto10 Sat 05-Jan-13 13:46:21

We have been told by a psychologist who we are seeing re DS3's food phobia and discussed DS4 that the brain doesn't mature in these children til 8/9 and hopefully the behaviour should moderate then. She was from Eastern Europe and felt that children in this country (especially boys) start formal education for too young and before they are ready for it.

Maybe the school hours I mentioned before are something to do with it too - DS4 is always rushing his lunch to go out and play because they only have half an hour break. When I was at school we had a whole hour, half an hour hot meal and half an hour play, plus morning and afternoon break and there were certainly no kids with extreme behaviours in my school. In fact it is all probably to do with how life is lived now - the thread in chat about 70's & 80's childhoods and the freedom and control kids had over their own play and life etc, the freedom to roam etc - ok not so good in some respect but much healthier in others. I hardly ever saw my mum in the school holidays then, out with friends going everywhere with no real restrictions. I even remember at the age of 10 going on the bus to the middle of Brighton to the cinema with my 5 yr old brother to get him out of my mum's hair (2p return fare - showing my age) - would anyone contemplate letting a child to that now?

I have started the Love Bombing book and it is about letting the child have full control of the time and play so maybe freedom does have something to do with it. Even at school they do not have enough time for proper play.

i do find the coincidence of toilet problems and behaviour problems interesting - have a nephew who was similar and heard of lots of others. from a psychotherapy perspective it's interesting that the toileting 'phase' of development is linked to behaviour and boundaries and the tension between authority v autonomy. not sure i believe in those theories mind despite studying them for years. i'm wondering more if there is a physiological link between developing healthy toilet control and emotional control - as in brain development.

sorry to state the obvious but are you praising the good? it's great you're trying so hard to ignore the bad behaviour but the other half of that strategy is the praising the good supposedly even if it is minute things that don't feel all that impressive.

i really think you have to stop beating yourself up about the breastfeeding business and nursery etc - some kids are good at picking up on maternal guilt and playing it like a fiddle.

also if he loves one on one time so much use that as a reward - obviously you can't cut it out totally so the reward would be 'extra' one on one time. so if you had a chart that monitored stuff all week there could be mini ones for each day he does well (a game of battleships with dad or something) and the opportunity to win a big one if the whole week is good overall.

sorry no great ideas - it sounds really bloody tough but please do knock the guilt on the head and stand firm so he can't play you.

WinkyWinkola Sat 05-Jan-13 12:10:26

Countingto10. Bloody hell. You are definitely under the cosh with the amount of haring about you do. You must be bracing yourself for the new term! Is there any chance of car shares/lift timetables with other parents?

In terms of games, ds1 loves battleships. Quite handy as you can play it anywhere on paper! Cars Monopoly and Guess Who also popular.

Sigh.

countingto10 Sat 05-Jan-13 10:54:57

My DS has ongoing bowel issues and is on 2 Movicol a day. He wasn't dry at night til 6.5 and we still have the occasional wet bed. The bowel issues don't appear to be linked to his diet and we are hopeful he will grow out of it (leaking etc).

I think a lot of the problem for us is the number of DCs we have (my last 3 were born within 5 years), all being boys and the fact that you really can't give them all the attention they deserve. I was one of 4 (all born within 6 yrs of each other) but being girls, we seemed happy to go off and play together so mum could get on IYSWIM (my mum had no washing machine and was washing nappies by hand so really didn't have any time).

Life is more stressful now too. I asked my mum if she could remember it being like I find it ie school runs, packed lunches, sheer amount of paper coming home from the schools, after school clubs etc. Mine are at 3 different schools so my school run takes an hour in the afternoon plus the stress of trying to park, be time etc. When we were kids, we all had school dinners (there was no choice), we all walked to school with older kids, school started at 9.00am and finished at 4.00pm (why did that change?) so mothers had more time to get everything done. I have to get my first to school by 8.30 and start the afternoon run at 2.35 just to park (and I have to use my car to get to the other schools on time, we are not on a bus route for older one and the council decided to split up the 1st & middle school which are now a mile apart hmm). My dad did the afternoon run with my mum the other day as we were away and nearly had a cononary! Told my mum he wouldn't want to do it too often!

My ds4 just wants attention most of the time, his older siblings don't really play with him that much or that well which doesn't help the situation. DH & I am trying to change the way we react to him as it really isn't helpful or working but DH is extremely stressed with the business and DS4 knows which buttons to press. Ds4 probably gets more attention that the others put together whether good or bad, they are clever really.

I have actually made a decision to try and cut back on stuff we do so not so much running around and spend more quality time with them so this holiday we have been doing board games in the afternoon as weather is rubbish etc and sod the housework.

Sorry for the long post.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now