I really need help - 5 year old so angry and disrespectful (long - sorry)(28 Posts)
My DS who is 5 is becoming increasingly impossible to manage and it is causing tension with my parents and DH and my other LO.
He is just the sweetest child very often. Very funny, sharing, bright and kind. But he is also sometimes an angry, aggressive, disrespectful little monster.
He behaves impeccably at school (teachers say so) and although 'lively' he is not aggressive or unkind to other children though he likes rough games (mainly focussed on sword fighting). With adults in shops, friends' parents etc he is very polite.
But in our personal life he is becoming impossible to handle. He totally ignores his dad; he won't do anything he tells him, won't be disciplined, won't have his teeth brushed, won't do his reading, won't do anything he doesn't fancy in fact - instead he shouts and screams 'I hate you', 'I want a new daddy' etc. He often hits out or throws things - real mega tantrums. DH is a very kind man and I know this really hurts him.
He behaves similarly to my parents and they think he needs a good smack (which we don't give him but they have on occasion)! He just about does what I tell him and is very, very devoted to me. But even with me he sometimes goes bananas.
We all walk on eggshells trying not to provoke, so he gets a much easier time that his older brother - who is extremely polite and well mannered and does what he's told.
He is always sorry afterwards and it always ends in tears. But he is too proud and stubborn to ever apologise. His latest refrain at the end of his latest meltdown is that we all hate him - which he knows is utter nonsense. I am genuinely wondering if I need to go visit a doctor for some advice.
Can anyone tell me where to start?
Do not walk on eggshells he is the DC you are the adult. He needs firm boundries and to know that you are in charge.
You need to ignore the tantrums completely. When he says he hates you all you need to say, calmly, is 'just as well I have enough love for us both'-with 'I want a new daddy' just say 'tough-you are stuck with me'!
He behaves at school because he knows the rules.
Keep calm, don't shout or smack. Don't get into confrontation-say 'when you have cleaned your teeth we can..........
When he hits out or throws things get down to his level-look him in the eye and tell him that you are not having it-clearly and calmly-with the body language that tells him that you expect him to comply.
Have you thought of parenting classes-I found them very useful. It maybe that you need outside help.
It is frightening for a DC that age to feel that he is in charge.
Testosterone surge. He'll get over it. Until the teenage one.
OK have there been any upsets in the family?
Has your older child had lots of praise for doing well in things when he feels he hasn't had that?
Have you tried to ask him what is wrong?
Sometimes they lash out at us because they feel we are secure and safe.
What do you do to handle his behaviour and is it consistent?
Does he play lots of computer games?
Has he got a problem at school with bullying/ friendships etc.
You say he is bright....is he frustrated at the level of the work at school?
Maybe if he is worse with his dad he isn't seeing enough of him? Do they do fun things together? Does he read him stories? Play board games? Go to the park? If not I would get him more actively involved in the fun part e.g. if he won't read make it fun-do silly voices etc -turn it into a play with dad taking a part. Promise to read to him afterwards. Make the bedtime routine such that there is something to look forward to after the teeth are cleaned. When he won't do something say 'oh that is a shame-I thought we might do ..... afterwards.
exotic is completely right in how to handle it.
Also try to praise any effort he makes rather than just what he achieves.
I still use time out with my dd1 who is the same age. The other thing I say is 'if you tantrum like a baby then I will treat you like one and that means going to bed early!' Follow through and don't make empty threats.
Is he jealous of the older one-does he feel that you love him more for doing as he is told? Does he get on with the older one? Do they have fun together? If not try and bond them with fun activities.
Try to stick to the positive and not the negative. Make him want the attention for being good.
couldn't agree more exotic .
You could try a pasta jar where he gets a handful for each thing he does without a fuss and gets a small treat like a trip to the park,
chocolatestickers/ magazine for behaving.
If he is angry use a bean bag or similar and get him to punch that-get rid of some of the aggression.
The pasta jar is good but never take them out. Just don't put them in if he doesn't do it.
The other thing to think about is whether he has enough time to rest after school. My dd1 gets very emotional and stroppy a) if I forget her afternoon snack and b) if she is made to go out somewhere straight from school.
If he has an outburst just remove somewhere quiet and tell him he can come back when he has calmed down. If you try to reason with him before he has calmed it will ignite the anger again.
It seems a good link. Everyone gets angry-you have to learn to deal with it.
I think that you and DH have the wrong body language-and DCs pick up on it. You say something -but expect trouble-hence the 'walking on eggshells'.He senses that you are not in control-he is.
I haven't seen the book 'how to talk so DCs listen' but it sounds good. Language is very powerful.
You need to go with the brain.
e.g. if I say don't think of a blue balloon-you immediately think of a blue balloon. Therefore you don't want to say to a DC 'I don't want you to make that noise' or 'I don't want that fuss you made yesterday' because they immediately think of what you don't want them to think of. Stick to the positive of what you do want.
Even little words are powerful. If he is arguing that he won't clean his teeth because........dont' say '*but*.......' say 'maybe -however right at this moment I need you to ........' This means that you are not arguing with him and he may have a point that you will take into consideration afterwards.
Keep discussions until when he is calm e.g. if he has a tantrum ignore it completely, when he stos say calmly 'whatever was all that about?' 'How was it going to help when I couldn't understand' 'Why were you angry?' 'What would have been a better way of dealing with it'. Give strategies for dealing with anger-e.g. count to ten first.
Thanks for all your hints.
I really do think he understands the boundaries at home and he knows he's not in charge but he is really unable to control himself. I can see sometimes in his eyes that he knows what he is doing but cannot stop. I read some stuff on the internet about calming him down which I have tried to apply to some success. Such as getting down to his level and once calm trying to get him to explain why he did it and talk through the consequences. But then he goes an does it all over again.
I think tiredness and testosterone are at play a little. He is physically very very strong and very boisterous. He is a very bad sleeper too. But he is also the baby of the family and loves cuddling and being kissed and sung to. I think he does feel safe at home to go mental but the problem is also he does it with my parents and in public sometimes if things don't go his way.
I know my mum and dad are totally fed up with him. For example they were on SKYPE last night and DS was so keen to chat and excited too - until it came on. Then he pushed his brother of his chair while he was having a chat. He then shouted at my parents putting his face up to the camera thinking he was being funny. He grabbed a sword to hit the computer (to demonstrate being a knight). My parents couldn't get any sense form him, called it a day and switched off. This led to being told off (for his aggression to his brother - now crying) and sent to his room (by DH) which led to tantrums and throwing things down the stairs and more 'I hate you'! I was exhausted.
exotic his dad does work long hours but he is a good dad and great with kids (so my friends tell me!). He is always running around the garden with them, reads stories at night, helps them build dens, takes them to clubs etc. But DH is firm - he believes kids should do as they told first time not tenth.
I have just started a v similar thread about my son who is 5. I really understand were you are coming from, my son sounds v similar to how you describe yours, he was v calm, sensitive, kind etc... now completely different. Good lUck
Ah ha! Been skimming over this post and then it leapt out at me "he is a bad sleeper". There you go! He is able to control his behaviour at school in his sleep deprived state, but at home (where he feels safer) he no longer can due to being knackered.
Sort out his sleep, set clear boundaries (consequences that are always followed through, staying calm yourself, lots of praise for the good stuff as other say), and fingers crossed you will have a different child. I bet most of it is his bad sleep.
Be careful with expectations from grandparents- pushing brother off chair not to be tolerated but the rest of the behaviour quite normal for 5 year old boy- phones are funny things for young children.
Other than that I recognize the "not being able to control himself"- my DS who is almost 5 was like this sometimes until fairly recently. He seems to have got over most of it now and is like a different child. I put it down to his brain developing and also (I hope) us being consistent with boundaries and consequences etc. On the occasions when DS did get out of control he had to go to his room to calm down- gives adult thinking/calming down space too.
One thing I learnt (very hard I have to say) is to detach slightly when he looks like he is going out of control- to stay calm and not get involved with the tantrum that is coming- it's enough having a child emotionally frazzled, avoid getting emotionally frazzled yourself!
The 'sleep' issue also jumped out at me. Maybe look at that first?
My dd is just coming up to 5, and started school 2 weeks ago. She has always been lively/stubborn/wilful/prone to tantrums etc, but her behaviour these last few weeks has been something else! I realise starting school is a huge life-changing event, and must be at the root of it... but anyway, I just logged on to Mumsnet to post about dd, and saw your thread. So much of it resonated with me. I know all the theory, firm boundaries, praise the positive, use reinforcement charts with stickers etc to shape behaviour, get down to their level, don't get angry, adult is in charge etc. I went on a triple p course last year which refreshed my memory for the techniques which can be used. But basically dh and I feel dd's behaviour is completely unacceptable. Apart from the screaming tantrums when things don't go her way we have this permanent 'attitude' - her tone of voice and mannerisms when you tell her to tidy toys/come to the table/get dressed etc. We often get 'NO!' screamed at us. Yesterday she was so angry she said she was going to hit dh, and she did. He always responds calmy, "We don't hit in this house, I'm putting you on time out" but she doesn't care. She sits out her time then comes back for more, being deliberately awkward, and downright unpleasant. We've tried to let some things go as the picture is becoming so negative that all we ever do is pull her up on things. I understand the whole 'pick your battles' thing, but don't understand where to go when refuses to do what she is told. This morning when walking to school she had the same choice as she's always had since she was two when crossing the road, hold my hand or the buggy handle. She refused and started screaming, so I had to grab her hand and virtually drag her across the road. I don't understand what I'm doing wrong. Dh and I are firm, but she's running rings around us. I dread each day now, and feel like a complete failure. Ds and dd#2 copying negative behaviours too, so my nerves are frayed with all the crying/screaming/shouting/demanding. Will it change as she settles more at school?!!
I think the sleep is a huge part now that you have siad he is a bad sleeper. My dd1 5 needs a 7-7 bedtime otherwise we have loads of meltdowns. When they go into Y1 it is so different from reception isn't it, more concentrating which means they need plenty of sleep imo. If he isn't sleeping well why don't you tell us more about that and we could suggest how to deal with it.
Could write the same post! DS has turned into Darling Monster over the last 3 months! I think its a 5 year old boy thing a bit as I've noticed friends having similar problems from time to time. But also we've had a house move and to a new country as well as stepping up a year at school so I know a lot of it is to do with that and he now has to wake up at 6.30 for school run (as opposed to 8am in the last place!). So I agree sleep is a factor - and here is where for us, routine has been so important - I've been sneaking his bedtime forward by 10/15 mins every couple of days so he is going to bed earlier and not really noticing. The new school run time has meant we had to do this.
So we have probably 3 layers of dealing with it
i) genuine miserableness and temper tantrum we try and wrap up in cuddles and keep at his eye level talking him down
ii) naughtiness/cheekiness - we take away a toy. He is obsessed with Lego which is ideal for this as even if he is out I can say 'right thats 1/2/3 pieces of lego going once we're home'. But you absolutely must follow through with taking it away as soon as you walk through the door - and accept there will be a very angry wee boy at the start but now he gets it - even sometimes trying to negotiate which bits of lego go!
iii) unacceptable behaviour under any circumstances - hitting, attitude, that type of thing. Its time out whether we're at home or out and about. He has recently spent probably 60% of a playdate on time out (god was I mortified!)
Its not there yet - he's still homesick for our old place, and still unhappy at school so I expect we're in for a rough time for a while yet but slowly the behaviour is getting better or at least it comes in waves as opposed to all the time.
But I've picked up some good ideas for this definitely need to think about the language side of things and may consider getting the old sticker charts back up and running again
I agree with exoticfruits - you mustn't walk on eggshells. Giving him a firm slap (not a painful one) might be a good solution - a wake-up call. You sound frightened of him, and he will know this and find this amount of power extremely anxiogenic. He is probably trying to force you to lay down the law in a clearer way.
They stretch the boundries to find out where they are i.e 'how far can I go before they stop loving me?' It is scary to have the power. While it is sensible to avoid situations that are going to cause tantrums there are times when you have to say ' tough-if he has a tantrum he has a tantrum' -shut the door and leave him to it it-discuss when he has finished.
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