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Getting desperate - not in control

(9 Posts)
chickbean Mon 06-Dec-10 19:52:20

Sorry for the long post!

DS1 (4) has been more than challenging for more than a year now. Had him on "behaviour watch" at pre-school to see if they thought he had special needs but they said not (his key worker has a child with ASD, so I trusted her opinion) - they just said that he was "at the lively end of normal". Also raised his behaviour with his new teacher at infant school, so she knows that we are concerned - she's let us know about a few things (poor listening skills/hiding when he doesn't want to do things), but has also said that he's improving.

Since starting school (he's the youngest in the year) his behaviour at home has deteriorated to a point where we're all pretty miserable most of the time - especially DS1. To begin with I put it down to tiredness, but I'm getting desperate now. If we're lucky we have a good first half hour of the day. Problems start at breakfast or getting dressed. We have major tantrums about the slightest thing (one day because I haven't given him the green cup, the next because I have). He is horrible to DS2 - can't just leave him alone - has to plague him, snatch toys, etc. just "because". Reward charts and "naughty step" do not work - nothing seems to work (ignoring used to be the best, but now he starts destroying things to get attention). He fights walking to school nearly every step of the way (don't think he's seriously unhappy at/scared of school as we don't have these problems when I drive).

He has no fear of being told off. Punishment seems to come as a huge surprise to him, even though we have made it clear what consequences there will be if he does something. When the "red mist" has descended he will not listen to anything.

The latest development is running off when we're walking home from school - he just won't stop when I ask him to. Twice I have been on the point of ringing the police when I have found him. Today he tried to board a train at the unmanned station we pass "to go and see daddy at work" - I had lost sight of him while struggling through foot high snow with the pushchair - luckily the guard spotted him and stopped him. I am buying a wrist strap tomorrow - he'll hate it and I'm not sure if it will work with a child this old.

We've tried the health visiting team, but the lady didn't suggest anything that I hadn't already tried. My mum (former teacher) and MIL say that they have never met a child who behaves like DS1. I am going to talk to school again.

Does anyone have any advice/has anyone been through this kind of thing? Last time I posted I had a woman telling me that if I couldn't control a child by 3 then it was too late - if you think this, please do not post, as I'm depressed enough as it is. I just want DS1 to be the lovely boy that he can be (and usually is on a one-to-one basis)and for DS2 and DD to grow up in a home that isn't always stressed sad.

piprabbit Mon 06-Dec-10 21:59:48

Hello chickbean, you sound so stressed sad.

I don't know if there are any underlying causes for your son's behaviour, although I think you are right that tiredness won't be helping things at the moment.

You mention that your son seeks attention, and that he is usually lovely when he is getting one-to-one attention. Children really are driven to seek attention, and if they can't get good, positive attention then they will settle for the next best thing by forcing you to give them negative attention instead (bet he got lots of attention trying to board the train grin).

You also sound like you have all got stuck into a routine of fighting each other.

Can you try tweaking some of your family routines a little so he gets more of the one-to-one attention he seems to crave? Special bedtimes, the odd trip to the library alone with you? Make a real point of noticing when he does behave well, and treat his siblings nicely and tell him you are proud when he behaves that way. Try not to focus on the things that he does to annoy you all.

this website might give you some more ideas on things to try.

BTW - you didn't mention how is behaviour is in school. Is the teacher happy with his behaviour, and is he saving up all the stress of the day to let it loose on you?

Sorry I can't help more.

chickbean Mon 06-Dec-10 22:44:17

Thanks for the website - I will have a good look.

The problem is that he is so tired. It took the whole week of half-term for him to recover - we had one happy, tantrum-free day right at the end.

I try to do fun things on Wednesdays, when his brother and sister are at nursery until later, and on weekends when DH is at home too. It may get easier when I stop breastfeeding DD and am not so tied to her.

I really do praise him whenever he does something good - in the hope that he will crave good attention rather than just any attention. School are trying really hard on the positive reinforcement too - they have given him some special awards when he has listened well, etc. He seems to be doing okay there - but I think it's a big effort, which is why it goes pear-shaped at home.

I think I am just worn out by worrying about it all - and the terror of him running off. He says "Why are you crying mummy?" when I've been looking for him and almost given up - I need him to be a bit scared that he can't find me - but he isn't and can't understand why I am.

piprabbit Tue 07-Dec-10 09:43:58

My daughter was 4.5yo when her little brother was born. Lots of people commented that she would be a great help to me, or that I wouldn't need to worry so much about sibling rivalry because she was old enough to understand about the new baby.

In the end it took over 12 months for her to settle down again. When the baby first arrived my DDs behaviour changed hugely, she even lost the ability to play on her own. I felt so sad, that I had lost my lovely daughter, that I had done this to her by having another child.

And then she started school when DS was 4months old - and she was as tired as I was. It was very hard for several months.

Then she suddenly seemed to find her feet at school, DS became easier for us both and I had more time with DD and things really started to improve.

I'm sure your little boy will come through this all fine (and that you will survive too smile).

If he's really tired, I'd not try to change too much between now and the end of term, perhaps try bringing bedtime forward by a hour or so, and maybe work on keeping him safe when he runs off. Does he know what to do if he gets lost (who to speak to, to stand still etc. etc.)? Perhaps using the wristband as a final resort so he knows that if he ignores you then he will need to use the wristband, once he's walking nicely it comes off again? Maybe even change his school bag to one of those little backpacks with a built in handle?

I really hope you find some ideas that work for you and your family.

chickbean Tue 07-Dec-10 22:22:46

Thanks Piprabbit. Today has been relatively calm - only had one meltdown because I got DS2 out of the bath first! We did drive to and from school though, which I don't want to do on a regular basis.

DS1's teacher is being really helpful smile

Tgger Tue 07-Dec-10 22:32:14

Ah, I feel for you. My son is a bit younger, but I recognize quite a bit of the behaviour.

I think as Piprabbit has said it's a combo of tiredness from school which probably he is a bit young for, and the good old sibling rivalry/finding new place in family.

The safety thing is worrying and perhaps when you are both calm and happy you can explain it to him and set some boundaries whether this is using the wrist strap- or can he just hold onto the buggy?

I lost my son for 5 minutes on the beach this summer. It was the longest 5 minutes of my life. He just didn't know he wasn't supposed to go and look for Mummy at the cafe smile.

I wouldn't start adding any extra activities or anything if he's tired, but see if you can really give him quality attention just at small points during the day. Any way you can get him to stay in bed for 30 mins longer a day? Encourage lie-ins!!! And hang on in there and things will settle, just sounds like there's a lot on your plate at the moment.

catinthehat2 Tue 07-Dec-10 22:47:26

It's hard to search for similar threads on this very specific subject , but I know I have posted in the past on this.

I would go further than most people here and bet that 99% of his troubles are down to sheer, utter, devastating tiredness. ANd if he is a lively chap anyway, he will be using up all his energy at playtime as well. I bet the poor kid has nothing left and si,ply cannot control himself. He is a year younger than some of the children in his class.

This term is a nightmare - new school,new learnbing, long dark term, full on activities and Chriustmas excitement.

Can you keep him going till the end of term with very early nights (6pm isn't too early), food when he gets in the door, lie ins at the weekend, jsut to get him over this hump? You probably all feel you have been in a war zone.

defineme Tue 07-Dec-10 23:00:05

If he's that tired I'd say all rules are off really
-eg drive every journey-walking is lovely and the right thing to do in principal, but not good for him right now.
Bed early, if mine need it I let them sleep in and give myself 20 minutes to get them up and out (I had 3 under 3 at 1 point so I do know where you're coming from).
Is he doing any after school stuff? If he is I'd put them on hold for the moment and concentrate on attention and relaxing after school.
I find if I do a '10 minute tea' like pasta or beans on toast and leave any jobs until thet're in bed then I can focus and talk to each child, start a game with them or evn just sit and have a cuddle in front of the tv.
In terms of any special needs he does sound a little like the adhd kids I've known in terms of running off and not understanding your worry, but then I know of nt 'runners' who've driven their mum's to tears.
Utter shit re not being able to control a child at 3....I've seen teenagers turned around!

My ds1 has as and tbh I always knew he was different and more difficult than other kids-ds2 and dd proved that!

I've come to the conclusion tha though I'm sensitive to his difference and so don't get cross at his repetitive questioning and stuff, there are lines that if he crosses he gets an absolute bollocking eg scratching his sister-in his room and so on, but I do make sure he gets what he's done wrong -can take a lot of explaining. However, I also don't worry about stuf that hurts no one eg rolling around on the floor of the gps-he's in no ones way and he's happy so that's fine.

4 was an awful age for us-he had just been dx so were coming to terms with that, but the worst stuff was 'dirty protests'-yes you can imagine what that involved and I knew no one who that was happening too. Ds1 is 8 now and has calmed down a bit and adjusted to school.

We send babies to school in this country and I think it's so hard-I started school the September after I was 4 in the July and mum says I fell asleep in my tea every night.
It has taken the youngest in my twins' class a year to adjust-the little girl just cried all the time.

So I think time will help whatever happens. Give yourself a break re travel/chores/activities. Get him all the sleep you can.
Safety is paramount though. Ds1 ran across a road when he was nearly 4 (for a laugh)-near miss with a car and I had him on a wrist strap for 2 months before I could trust him. It did work-I think he's lost interest in getting a laugh by the time I'd let him off!

Sorry for babbling. Good luck.

chickbean Thu 09-Dec-10 00:24:06

Thanks for all the great support Tgger, catinthehat2 and defineme - it helps to know that I'm not alone. Today has not been a good day (despite driving) but he had his Nativity Play rehearsal today with daddy and grandma watching, so he may have had too much excitement - plus I had to go out this evening. Have come home to find the house and absolute bombsite (if I didn't know better I'd think we'd been burgled) - I imagine it all kicked off at bedtime - DH is asleep in his clothes in bed - putting off going to bed because I don't want to wake him and find out what happened!

Bedtime is around 6.30 anyway - may try to bring it forward a bit. We have not had any playdates or activities planned after school since half-term. Tea is usually as quick as I can make it - pasta or sometimes just cereal if he's had something good for school dinner.

defineme - sad at dirty protests - DS1 has regularly soiled his pants in the past, but we are pretty sure it's constipation related and the doctor is treating that. Fingers crossed, it has been a couple of months since anything like that has happened.

I try to get him to eat something like a banana as soon as he wakes up, just in case it's blood sugar related (though I have to weigh this up against the potential for constipating) - any other suggestions? Have also been trying Omega 3, as I've heard it can help with concentration, but with no noticeable effects.

Thanks again everyone.

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