Mixed up 6 year old & mixed up mum.(7 Posts)
Hi, I'm new here and at my wits end.
My 6 year old son is a popular, bright, funny, confident and well liked boy who is doing well at school and in out of school activities. We have a stable family background and he has 1 older brother (7), they have a love hate relationship but nothing out of the ordinary. DS has always been rather flamboyant and dramatic and a little temperamental but nothing compared to how things have gone over the past few weeks.
From being very young, he used to do something we referred to as 'yes/no', where he'd say he didn't want something and immediately want it as soon as it was withdrawn. For example, throw his favourite bedtime toy out of bed then want it straight away, or refuse a goodnight kiss then cry as soon as you left without giving him one. We tried to manage this by sticking to our guns despite him getting very upset (we've not always managed it, but have tried our best).
Recently this behaviour has started again and has been coupled with him saying he 'doesn't deserve' things. For example refusing a bedtime cuddle when it's offered because he 'doesn't deserve it', and then of course wanting one when you walk away. We'll give him a 'last chance' but he inevitably behaves the same and gets all upset when you call his bluff.
This has escalated into him saying no-one loves him, everyone hates him, he hates everyone, wishes he'd never been born etc. It isn't all the time, but these episodes can come on at the drop of a hat and for no apparent reason.
As well as this he's developed a fear of going upstairs on his own (even in daylight) or being left upstairs on his own if you go down for something. He sleeps in a room with his brother but even so can sometimes go into meltdown if you go out of the room and leave them alone.
I've tried to be calm but firm and stick to my guns when ds tries it on, and have done my best to bolster his self esteem without crowing to him (in case all the 'not deserving things' and 'being hated' feelings were just attention seeking). All this behaviour gets my husband very wound up, it's being going on for so long it's hard to be rational about it, especially when you've been told for the umpteenth time that day that you're the worst daddy in the world etc. etc.
The problem is that my husband blames me for all this behaviour, he says that in the past I've 'given in to him' and 'molly-coddled him' and this has conditioned him into thinking that if he plays up then he'll get lots of attention from mummy. I dare say there's some truth to that but I do try hard to be firm and reasonable and not just cave in and let ds rule the roost. DH seems to think that a good telling off is what he needs to stop him being like this but I can't sit back and let him bawl at him and make him hysterical, even though if I interfere I know it's undermining his parenting methods. He's not a disciplinarian, he's a very kind and loving father, but doesn't believe in the softly softly approach when ds goes into one of his episodes and finds it hard to tolerate that type of behaviour.
It's really starting to come between us and I just don't know what to do. How can we help ds with his self esteem and frustration if we are at each other about it? We've always put on a united front before, even when we've not always agreed with the other's approach, so DSs behaviour hasn't come from an unsettled environment at home, but it has resulted in one.
Have you ever tried the How to talk so kids listen book? Also, I enjoyed the Playful Parenting book.
It sounds as if something may be going on with your DS, and you need to try and get him to tell you what it is.
You might want to think about how you would feel if you were struggling with something (and therefore behaving oddly/badly) and the reaction from the people you loved most was to tell you off. Would it help you? I know it wouldn't help me.
He sounds very bright indeed. Is he marked as very bright in school? I ask because this over sensitive over anylising trait is a mark of a gifted child.
It also sounds like a cry for attention. Is he getting enough general affection? Some DC need a LOT of hugging and reassuring generally....d you do this through the day?
Hi FooFoo, your son sounds very like our eldest son who's 7. He does the yes/ no thing, and the being afraid of going upstairs alone.. And the "not deserving stuff".
We've just gone for the softly softly approach, he seems to have too much going on in his head already at the moment. Loads of hugs. Loads of reassurance. If he doesn't want something then immediately changes his mind.. Well no problem, we give it to him. Sounds counter intuitive but it really has helped.
The two books recommended previously are great. Sorry if this post doesn't make much sense, I'm tired.
Also I really don't think he's trying it on. It sounds as if he's struggling with something. Is he happy at school?
i think he is anxious about making choices and it is best to view his reaction as almost a 'panic attack' rather than bad behaviour.
I think your DH response is unhelpful and will make things worse.
try to explain to your DH that you are not 'giving in' to him, but you are trying to help him overcome his anxieties by supporting him in practical ways (whilst always being clear with DS that you don't share his anxieties - ie. going upstairs is fine)
DS has a bit of this and I try to do a bit of compromise e.g. I stay with him whilst he falls asleep (fear of being alone upstairs even though in bunk with sibling) but I sit on the landing barely visible to him and the other night I was able to go downstairs without protest.
softly softly is my advice
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