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I need your wisdom MN, desperately!

(20 Posts)
Ineedyouradvice Sun 23-Sep-12 22:20:43

This may well turn into a rant, so apologies in advance.

DS1 is 5. He is, not to put too fine a point on it, a total nightmare. He's always been highly strung, but it's getting ridiculous. I should point out he does not have SN, although I guess ADHD could be a possibility, I don't know.

He is completely full on and in mine and DH's face all day. He bounces off the walls, almost literally, he never shuts up. He has a hair trigger temper and has spectacular tantrums. He thoroughly enjoys winding DH up, to the point where I'm concerned for his health (DH, he has high blood pressure). The monumental effort it takes not to a. give DS1 a good smack or b. lock him outside is a feat of endurance!!

DH and I are rock solid, but our relationship is taking a serious battering due to DS1's behaviour. Sanctions do not appear to work, he doesn't care. He will NOT stop shouting, screaming, demanding and basically behaving like an uncontrollable, spoilt brat.

Tonight, DH put him to bed. DS1 thought it was bloody hilarious to sneak downstairs whilst DH's back was turned, and run outside into the back garden. After finally being wrestled back into bed, he then decided he needed a highlighter pen, proceeding to shout 'highlighter' over and over again for the next 15 minutes until he was finally put on the naughty corner/time out place for refusing to stop. He continued to say it on the naughty corner/time out place. He then prowled around upstairs, refusing to go to bed, until I finally had to go upstairs and 'stand guard' until he fell asleep.

This is a teeny tiny snapshot of today.

I cannot carry on like this, it's a fucking joke. DH is a depressed wreck, and I'm totally at my wits end. We have a DS2, he's 3, and the most perfectly behaved child you could ever wish for. I feel like packing mine and DS2's stuff and leaving with him sometimes.

I should point out that I love both of my DS's more than I can say. I do not give any kind of preferential treatment. I treat them both fairly and evenly (well, as evenly as possible, given the circumstances).

I'm desperate. How the hell can I turn DS1's behaviour around?

rhetorician Sun 23-Sep-12 22:23:16

is he at school? what do they say about him?

Ineedyouradvice Sun 23-Sep-12 22:27:34

Yes he is. The school have had a few minor niggles with him, but nothing earth-shattering. He's doing well at school and he seems to enjoy it.

TheOneAndOnlyMaryZed Sun 23-Sep-12 22:35:21

ds1 was very difficult to manage at that age and I read a book called "The Difficult Child". this seems to be the updated version of it.

I found it really helpful to try to work out why he behaved as he did. It also suggested sitting down and making lists of unacceptable behaviour and trying to work on one or two things at a time.

It was the only child-related book dh ever read grin.

It had a lot about immediate consequences rather than planned "punishment", and a lot about positive reinforcement of behaviour.

ds was later diagnosed with AS, which did explain some of his behaviour. But using the techniques in the book certainly make our house calmer (which helped him to calm himself). Previously we had all been escalating events, rather than stepping back and being more pragmatic about dealing with him.

By the way, ds is 18 now, and I have still not ever found any punishment that had any effect on him.

Ineedyouradvice Sun 23-Sep-12 22:53:56

Thanks TheOneAndOnly, I've had a look at the link..and ordered the book grin.

I really don't know why DS1 behaves the way he does. He is loved (and he knows it), he has attention, maybe not as much as he'd like. He just seems to thrive on negative attention, and it's SO difficult not to give it to him, impossible actually.

I really hope this book can make our house calmer, if it worked for you, I'm hopeful.

I know what you mean about escalation. It's so frustrating though, knowing that a simple 'no' will cause a monumental meltdown, so I'm having to think of ways to soften the 'no' blow IYKWIM. It's exhausting.

How is your DS now? I'm beginning to think I'm never going to find an effective punishment either.

DD is 3.9 and is very much how you describe.

Non stop. Very bad temper. Sneeky, cheeky, manipulative. She winds us up no end, all with a smirk. Shes destructive and whinges constantly.

I looked into symptoms of ADHD and the overwhelming majority fit her completely. I am seeing my GP this week about it.

Do you think it could be ADHD? This is the page I read [[ http://m.helpguide.org/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.helpguide.org%2Fmental%2Fadhd_add_signs_symptoms.htm helpguide]]

[[ m.helpguide.org/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.helpguide.org%2Fmental%2Fadhd_add_signs_symptoms.htm helpguide]]

try again smile

Oh i give up

Ineedyouradvice Sun 23-Sep-12 23:05:57

Thanks wannabe smile

I've read the link and I'm not sure if it's ADHD although some of the stuff could apply to him. His focus is generally pretty good, his teacher says that he focuses fairly well, and he loves to do well and get awards.

It's when he doesn't get awards that causes problems. Along the lines of 'I tried really hard but I didn't win, so why should I try next time, it's not fair' etc..

He takes losing very badly.

Entrepreneur1mum Sun 23-Sep-12 23:25:12

Hi. Have you researched about foods? It's a fact that some children react to certain food contents. Ie e numbers but this is not just in sweets, my daughter can not eat Chinese food as it turns her into devil child.

Fried chips and freezer food often contain a lot of additives. That cause Behavoiur differences in children . . . . . .

Ineedyouradvice Sun 23-Sep-12 23:30:41

Hi Entrepreneur1mum..I hadn't thought about that actually. He does have nuggets and potato waffles etc from the freezer. I can have a look at the ingredients tomorrow. He has sweet stuff too, that might affect him.

diddlediddledumpling Sun 23-Sep-12 23:43:12

I think it might be clutching at straws a bit to think it's food-related, sorry. He's fine at school, for example. How did he react to ds2 coming along? Could he be picking up on the different way you feel about his behaviour and his brother's? I think the fact that he thrives on negative attention is very telling.

HolyAutumnGoldBatman Mon 24-Sep-12 00:01:34

I would look carefully at what causes/triggers his bad behaviour. Is it worse when he is hungry? Thirsty?Tired? Bored? Overstimulated? Worried? Has his behaviour always been bad or was there a turning point? Birth of DS2? Starting school?

If you can pinpoint something that sets him off, you can work to prevent that e.g. lots of healthy snacks if it's hunger etc.

I would also put in place a very, very strict routine, even on the weekends. I know that can be tricky and a bit restrictive/bit of a pain, but with some children it really makes the difference. If things always follow a predictable pattern then there is much less room for arguments/kicking off.

Really try and ignore the bad behaviour, for example, if him shouting 'highlighter' wasn't causing a huge problem, I'd have just left him to it, he got the reaction he wanted there I think. Also, praise, praise, praise the good behaviour. Really go way over the top, every 30 seconds if you have to. You should always praise more than you 'tell off', so if he is a nightmare and being told off every 5 minutes, you need to find little things to praise him for.

For example with bedtime, you put him to bed and if he stays there and doesn't get out he is ignored. If he runs out in the garden/shouts/messes about he gets you and DH up there giving him attention. Maybe if one of you puts him to bed, the other could go up 5/10 minutes later and say 'your lying down and trying to go to sleep so nicely DS, well done', little kiss and cuddle and leave. Then if he's still lying nicely in 10 minutes go in again etc.

Ineedyouradvice Mon 24-Sep-12 14:36:07

diddlediddle - he reacted badly to DS2 coming along...it was the catalyst for his bad behaviour. We gave him extra attention to try and negate some of his jealousy, amongst other things.

3 years on, he has a fairly good relationship with DS2, but the behaviour remains.

HoleyAutumn - It's difficult to pinpoint what sets him off, in all honesty it's pretty much anything.

I'll give the strict routine a go, and attempt to ignore the annoying behaviour, it's just so hard because he keeps going and going until we snap. 3 days (obviously not continual!) is the record for going on about the same thing. He wanted a particular toy and I said no, so he pestered, moaned and harangued for that length of time, until I lost my temper.

fattybum Mon 24-Sep-12 15:03:02

Maybe lose your temper sooner? Sometimes they need to see they've pushed you to the limit.

Maybe you're being too patient? Saying the same thing over and over at bedtime is the kind of thing my ds1 would have done at that age, but to be honest I probably would have smacked his bum and he'd know not to do it again.

I know this goes against the grain, but I truly believe it's been the best thing to do with our ds1. He's 6.3 now and it's very rare that we smack him.

Valdeeves Mon 24-Sep-12 23:13:18

Smacking only works with a child who isn't afraid to smack you back.

AnxiousElephant Mon 24-Sep-12 23:29:28

For his health and your sanity you need to go back to basics.
Fruit, veg, meat, non processed carbohydrate meals.
Only drinks - water/ milk or pure juice diluted 1/10 with water. Low sugar squash (Robinsons etc have aspartame in them which is a stimulant, as are fruit shoots, those triangle carton things etc). Avoid caffeine. Red food flavourings and certain E numbers for colours, preservatives and flavourings can all make children hyper.
Ensure he is getting enough sleep (11-12 hours per day if possible) Notice the signs of tiredness in children can be hyperactivity.
No action cartoons/ pc games for more than 30 mins per day.
Discipline - be consistant. I use 'I will count to 3 and if you do not stop x will happen. Always follow through.
MORE IMPORTANTLY - notice when he does anything helpful/ good/ timely and thank him i.e. you got dressed really quickly this morning well done' or thank you for clearing the plates off the table for me, it was very helpful for me.' Children need responsibility appropriate to age and doing jobs with reward is a great way to raise self esteem.
Check that he is getting the right level of work at school, is he bored, frustrated that he isn't being challenged and takes this out on those closest to him.
Hug him tight until he calms down and ask him to talk calmly so you can understand the problem. A good start is 'I'm sorry but I can't understand what you want when you scream at me, please talk to me' which shows you want to listen.
Try to stop what you are doing if he wants to talk, make time to discuss his day, ask how it has been.
Consider if he has friends or is being bullied.

AnxiousElephant Mon 24-Sep-12 23:31:07

Smacking does not work full stop. It shows you have lost control and demonstrates to the child that if you are bigger than someone else you can get what you want by violence .......not the right message to give a child really shock

thewhistler Mon 24-Sep-12 23:42:16

7x praise to one tell off.

Check his sugar levels. He sounds just like one nephew who was hypoglaecemic ( I think, not hyper). DSis had to carry protein with her to sort the levels out. And plain old fashioned home made 1950s food and regular bed times and at least an hour if exercise in the fresh air each day.

But I'd also have some quiet cuddle sessions with him, just you and him on the sofa or your bed, perhaps when he us calm or else when he has burst into tears. He needs you to be there, esp if Ds2 is pretty good. And we find that when things are miserable at school Ds takes it out on us because he can. Cuddles, or you driving him somewhere and him having uninterrupted you to talk to. He may be doing well academically but how is the social side going? And don't forget this first half term is miserable as they are all jockeying for position.

rhetorician Tue 25-Sep-12 20:10:46

I find that praise works wonders (will bear in mind 7:1 ratio), also I usually sit and chat with dd1 as she is going to sleep and praise her for all the good things she has done that day - or as many of them as occurs to me, tell her I love her, that I am proud of her. I was very struck by something I read about children taking on board the image of them you project - so if you are always nagging, shouting etc, then the child will get a negative self-image and then act accordingly. Usually she herself points out the thing that she did that was naughty - even if she isn't old enough to always control herself (she's 3.7) I like the fact that she is able to reflect on what she has done. It makes me a bit sad that she always adds in the things that she did wrong to my list of praise, but that's what I am working on. Good luck.

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