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What consequences are effective for disciplining a five year old?

(44 Posts)
evaseven Sat 17-Mar-18 15:07:56

Our 5 year olds behaviour has been awful lately. Shouting, hitting, throwing things, saying nasty things. It's relentless and exhausting. He's doing ok at school but it just seems to fall apart at home. It's mostly aimed at me but sometimes at his dad or little sister. What I'm struggling with is that I feel nothing I do is effective and he seems unfazed by any consequences of his bad behaviour. He has time out at the bottom of the stairs, he's had toys confiscated, today we had to cancel a day out that he was looking forward to because his behaviour was awful we couldn't get out of the house! But he doesn't seem to care. I told him that I'd have to talk to his teacher about how he's been behaving and that she was going to be disappointed. I'm at a loss at what to do and it's putting strain on my relationship. DH says we have no control over him and he's right.

RunningHurts Sat 17-Mar-18 15:09:16

Following with interest! Have similar issues

BumpowderSneezeonAndSnot Sat 17-Mar-18 15:10:55

If punishment doesn't work try a star chart where he earns a reward (small pack of Haribo per week and a bigger prize like a small Lego set at the end of the month) give him realistic targets to work for and when you say No mean it!!!

TittyGolightly Sat 17-Mar-18 15:12:11

He has time out at the bottom of the stairs, he's had toys confiscated, today we had to cancel a day out that he was looking forward to because his behaviour was awful we couldn't get out of the house! But he doesn't seem to care. I told him that I'd have to talk to his teacher about how he's been behaving and that she was going to be disappointed.

There’s a reason prison doesn’t work. Taking things away from young children rarely works. Time out rarely works. Read up on lovebombing and positive parenting - everything you describe is so negative it can’t possibly lead to anything but fear and upset.

And don’t involve the teacher. Kids act out at home because it’s where they feel safest. It’s hard work at school toeing the line. Home should be a comforting nest.

evaseven Sat 17-Mar-18 15:16:16

We've got a reward chart. He responds really well to positive praise but there just isn't much opportunity for it at the moment! At bedtime when everything's calm we talk about trying harder the next day to behave and get stickers on his chart. He always says he wants to do better and just 'forgot'. Then the next day it's the same thing. Weekends especially are just miserable at the moment.

BumpowderSneezeonAndSnot Sat 17-Mar-18 15:17:10

Then give him the chance to try again. When you tell him off how do you do it?

BumpowderSneezeonAndSnot Sat 17-Mar-18 15:18:19

Have you asked why he is acting how he does? As in what is the catalyst? Is this the only way he gets your attention?

evaseven Sat 17-Mar-18 15:22:56

I've read lovebombing. We have special one on one time and I cuddle him and tell him how much I love him every day. I praise him whenever he does something well and I tell him all the reasons I'm proud of him. However I also feel that he has to have consequences for bad behaviour such as hitting. We didn't take his toy away the first time he did it, it was after several times. We cancelled the day out because we literally couldn't get out of the house! We said if you want to go you have to stop yelling and get dressed. He didn't, the tantrum went on and on and so we couldn't go. The step we use as a place to calm down, then we have a talk and a hug when he's calm. On better days that works pretty well but he's too worked up at the moment.

BumpowderSneezeonAndSnot Sat 17-Mar-18 15:23:56

Do you stay calm or does your voice raise with his?

evaseven Sat 17-Mar-18 15:27:07

Well my aim is always to stay calm as I'm aware us both yelling at each other doesn't achieve anything! I just say in a firm voice 'we do not hit'. Sometimes I shout, usually due to the stress of it.

evaseven Sat 17-Mar-18 15:31:22

As for what triggers it, it's usually something quite small but he just gets so angry it's as if he's been holding it in and the smallest thing makes it all come out.

TittyGolightly Sat 17-Mar-18 15:33:33

I just say in a firm voice 'we do not hit'.

Do you explain why we don’t hit?

MinaPaws Sat 17-Mar-18 15:33:38

Take a look at Positive Parenting techniques. As you say he responds well to praise, so they'd suit him.

Set up a cosy corner somewhere. Not a naughty step, but a nice chair in a quiet place with cushions, a cuddly toy, a book and a blanket. Show it to him when he's not in a mood and tell him that it's a special cosy corner for people to go to when they're upset. That you won't be using the naughty step anymore because it doesn't work and it makes you both unhappy.

Next time he kicks off, say with concern, not anger, 'You seem very upset right now and that must feel horrible. Go and snuggle in the cosy corner until you feel better and I'll go into the kitchen because I get so upset too when you're angry with me. As soon as you feel better, come and let me know and we'll have a cuddle if you want.

Then leave him to it. The advantage of this over naughty steps is that it teaches him to self-regulate his anger, and it shows him that when he's angry, the most effective thing to do is to be nice to yoruself away from others, until the feeling goes. It allows him to control how long he needs, and shows him you look forward to being with him when he;s in a nice mood. It also tells him that you don't accept being hurt and that your feelings matter too.

You can also use it. If you lose your temper with him, say, 'I don't want to be mean to you but I'm feeling so cross right now, so I'm just going to calm down in the cosy corner.'

It may seem artificial, but it works. And it's kind. And stops battles from escalating, so it's win win. One of my DC is autistic. I came across this technique when he was young (about three) and realised at a recent meet up with fellow parents of autistic children that I was the only parent who hadn't faced years of tantrums and escalating violence. I honestly think it was down to trying this technique and it working. Before that the battles were exhausting. But even now he's in his teens, he knows how to self-soothe and calm himself down.

TittyGolightly Sat 17-Mar-18 15:34:56

As for what triggers it, it's usually something quite small but he just gets so angry it's as if he's been holding it in and the smallest thing makes it all come out.

Just like lots of adults. What helps them? Understanding. You wouldn’t send an angry adult to calm down at the bottom of the stairs because it wouldn’t work. It doesn’t help your son to understand what he did wrong and why it was wrong. He’s too little to work it out himself.

evaseven Sat 17-Mar-18 15:35:29

Thank you minapaws I like that idea

wejammin Sat 17-Mar-18 15:43:40

Our 6 year old can have outbursts like this.

We use a positive reward system where tokens (bottle tops) are exchanged for privileges like screen time, time, extra bedtime story etc.

We allocate tokens at the end of each day and he gets one for having gentle hands all day, one for having gentle words all day and one for listening ears all day (amongst other things, like spellings or reading or tidying). We also give out tokens for very nice behavour like if I see him be extra kind to his sister.

Before this year I always supported the idea of intrinsic motivation and was a bit up my own arse about reward charts etc, but this system is working for us.

Also the book "Calmer Easier Happier Parenting" gave me some good ideas about preparing for things in advance (like food shop or something equally tedious for a 6 year old)

TittyGolightly Sat 17-Mar-18 15:47:24

Before this year I always supported the idea of intrinsic motivation and was a bit up my own arse about reward charts etc, but this system is working for us.

It does work. But what’s the wider damage? The bits of the brain your system rewards now are the same bits that light up when heroin addicts get a hit. At some point bottle tops will stop working and you’ll probably instigate a money for chores system with your child, but what happens when that buzz wears off?

evaseven Sat 17-Mar-18 15:55:08

I read lots of parenting books and calm parenting has always been my goal. I have and always will give him positive praise wherever possible and I never intend to raise my voice, when it happens it's always a result of stress. The thing I struggle with is when he does something that is clearly very naughty eg punching me, throwing a plate of food on the floor. What then? I'm so desperate to stop these behaviours and make him realise it's not acceptable. That's why I try consequences, I don't feel like it's enough to say that I understand he's angry. It just feels like he's in control and doing what ever the hell he likes and that really worries me. I feel anxious because I never know how he's going to react. If his behaviour was less extreme I do believe I'd be a calm parent!

TittyGolightly Sat 17-Mar-18 16:01:51

When he’s calm talk to him about why we don’t hit or throw plates.

Is he getting enough exercise?

TittyGolightly Sat 17-Mar-18 16:02:21

His behaviour doesn’t sound extreme (unless it’s happening hourly). But your expectations might be.

MinaPaws Sat 17-Mar-18 16:06:31

Thinking long term, though, there is nothing more useful to a child than teaching them how to self-calm and self-regulate anti-social behaviour. If he's in a fury and punishedf, he'll feel resentful and more angry. If his fury s acknowledged as upsetting to you both and he's trusted by you to learn to control himself with some assistance, that's a life skill. They need to learn there's no shame in feeling powerful emotions but acting anti-socially because of them has tp be stopped. And by them. Nopt anyone else.

evaseven Sat 17-Mar-18 16:11:20

Yes it happens hourly some days, if it was only every now and then I'd agree it wouldn't be extreme. It's not, it's constant. I'm pretty sure he gets enough exercise. He really needs his sleep so goes to bed on time every night (7). His diet is pretty good. We're conscious of stuff like that because tiredness, hunger, boredom etc all have a very obvious impact on his behaviour. He's happiest when he's colouring or playing Lego, he likes quiet time on his own esp drawing or colouring.

evaseven Sat 17-Mar-18 16:14:00

Ok that all makes sense is definitely what I want to achieve. I think I just get so caught up in it all I lose sight of the bigger picture!

MinaPaws Sat 17-Mar-18 16:19:28

I think I just get so caught up in it all I lose sight of the bigger picture!

Easily done. I felt like the worst (and shoutiest) mother in the world til I found that technique.

grasspigeons Sat 17-Mar-18 16:21:08

It sounds like you've done a lot of reading and are trying really hard. It can take a while to find things that work.

I have had similar problems, seen a health visitor for some one to one sessions and seen the home school link worker (me twice) who also worked with my child. So I would suggest asking to see the home school link worker if you can.

I would say you cant tackle a behaviour once they have lost control - so if someone is mid tantrum or in the process of hitting out - that isn't the time to say 'carry on and I'll do this' as their emotional state is too heightened to take anything on. So a place they go when wound up to calm down is good , but not like a naughty step more like a 'safe space'

When they are calm its a better time to say 'we don't hit - it really hurts and frightens me' as they can hear it.

There are some great children's books to read with your child as I think your aim is to get him recognising he's angry/disappointed/anxious and dealing with those feelings in a better way.

Have you filled a bucket today
How to take the grrr out of Anger
a volcano in my tummy
Disappointment dragon
Huge bag of worries

I'm not sure about consequences - I've not found them that effective for changing behaviour much. Some work great of course, but helping the child to behave rather than punishing them for getting wrong seems to work better for longer.

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