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3 and a half year old who loses it. Please help with ideas.

(7 Posts)
madeit Fri 12-Jul-13 07:57:50

My little boy is an only child. He generally mixes well- more so with older children, girls and gentle boys. He is able to share within reason and is quite social. He finds it difficult to manage his emotions when he is misinterpreted, frustrated or another child (often unknowingly) does something to frustrate him. When these things happen I can see anger welling up inside him and if I don't get to the situation quickly he will lash out. With me he will burst into tears and hit me. I talk to him about these situations when he has calmed down, I have told him if he is really angry to seek out an adult or hit something like a pillow or something soft that cannot be hurt. What other strategies can I teach him? I punish him when he hits others maybe removing one of his favourite toys and he is heartbroken. I think he does understand that hitting and hurtiing others is wrong and he doesn't like upsetting other children. But he reacts so quickly. The trick somehow! is to get him to slow down and consider his actions but how? I don't like removing him from playgroups, playgrounds etc when this happens as I feel this is somewhat self defeating he needs to learn to socialise. I do remove him for a time immediately after an incident. I have also noticed that when we have been at a playgroup or playground regularly or for a longer period of time these incidents are far less frequent.
His nursery have recognised the problem and suggested a intervention called pals which helps young children with social skills. I have researched the programme and it looks good but I felt very confronted and a bit of a failure when it was put to me. I know this is foolish because my child is number one but I have good social skills myself and have questioned myself and my approach. He will not start the programme until September so I would like to work on helping my son before then. Any ideas? My son is articulate and has hundreds of redeeming qualities but the outbursts are something i need to help him with.

quoteunquote Fri 12-Jul-13 10:27:56

I don't like removing him from playgroups, playgrounds

and neither will he,

I feel this is somewhat self defeating he needs to learn to socialise. I do remove him for a time immediately after an incident

unfortunately if it is only for a short time, he will know this, and not be too bothered by the minor interruption,

try to have a mind change, for the foreseeable future no activity will be completed, bonus if they are.

when you arrive at an activity(early), have a chat outside before you go in,

ask him what does he think concerns you about him in the activity, don't tell him, ask him to generate the ideas and concepts, ask him what he thinks he could do to avoid getting frustrated, ask him what he could do to deal with a frustration,

have this as standard conversation before entering places,

"What am I going to say ?"
"What else?"
"What do we want?"

If you supply the ideas, then all he sees is your lip moving and hears bla bla, while he thinks about lego or what ever,

If he has to come out with the concepts then they start to belong to him,

but also explain that if he does get rough, or melts down, you will immediately be leaving the activity, and will have to try another day, and you expect him to say sorry properly to the wronged person.

at the moment you are providing a safety net, as you are becoming very good at predicting his behaviour and watching him closely, so he doesn't have to self monitor,

when you do, do a removal (pre tip off leaders of activities you are on a removal plan, so they don't worry) go home, and be boring, just household tasks, no TV, computers, screens, he has to help or self entertain,

Don't be angry, just say, how disappointing for you, I thought you liked wet play(other activities available), well you can try next time.

You will have to go through this process in order for him to do the joined up thinking that his actions mean he loses out,

Don't worry, as long as you have the pre chat, and are totally consistent with the consequence, he will switch coping tactics very quickly,

always do a debrief afterwards, pointing out all the positives he achieved,ask him what were the good bits and what were bad bits,

He will get there, but the strongest force that will speed the process comes from him, so you have to help him channel it, he has to want to hold it together, at the moment, his want to have control over others actions, is greater than his want to have a hold over his.

try to go as many activities as possible, but with pre chat, and don't see leaving as a failure, it just one step closer to him getting it,

and get him to come up with the ideas so they are "his'.

good luck, you will soon be through this stage.

ladypop Fri 12-Jul-13 14:03:48

This sounds very similar to our DS.. I am interested in the above advice too, but from a peesonal point of view (maybe selfishly) I woul feel pretty depressed if we had to leave a play date/group/party every time there was an incident......I would never see anyone!! It isnt severe, but often enough for it to mean I would not get to see a lot of friends as this is my main way of seeing people. I do understand where you are coming from though.

ladypop Fri 12-Jul-13 14:06:00

Peesanol.....personal!!

quoteunquote Fri 12-Jul-13 20:38:06

Believe me you only have to go through with abandoning the activity a few times and they completely get that it is themselves that misses out and have the power to change that.

We once arrived at the beach, set up , food out, and they were all being perfectly vile, put everything straight back in the car, had the most boring day ever at home, I have never had any grief from any of them at the beach since, we go a lot, so abandoning once has been well worth it.

If they know you will follow through on leaving anything if there is any misbehaviour, then they choose to acceptable actions.

we always have a chat before we go in anywhere,

I just ask "what are my concerns?"

they parrot off all the items of concern,

I finish with, so if there anything you need clarification on? or similar

If they are in no doubt what is the acceptable standard of behaviour that enables them to take part in activities and events, and what gets them a swift exit, they soon choose not to react aggressively and very quickly learn to get a grip on melt downs.

and then life becomes very easy, and far less stressful.

Once you start, be consistent, each and every time, have a pre chat, and leave instantly, watch the penny drop.

madeit Fri 12-Jul-13 21:08:29

Thankyou. Yes the idea of him monitoring his behaviour and coming up with what the concerns might be is putting the ball back in his court and giving him responsibility and some power. I had not really thought of it from this way and around and me giving him all the answers is what happens. I will give it a go. We are at a park tomorrow with friends.

I do not have a car and getting to events is usually an effort and I have to say going to the playgroups etc is often my only way of seeing friends. So it is a punishment for me too. However if it works then I shall give it a go.
Question: If there is a relatively minor misdemeanor (ie arguing over toys or snatching a toy) do you follow through with leaving the event?

quoteunquote Sat 13-Jul-13 09:16:36

Not if they immediately pull it back together, and use the word sorry,

we always talk through things that may or may not happen, and what you can or cannot do in a situation,

They are always amazing at coming up with the ideas, and solutions.

They like the pre talk opportunity to bring up any scenarios and solutions, think of it as having a walk through, de briefs are great,

As you can praise the positive, "I loved the way you shared your playdoo with Charlie", "Do you think there would be a nicer way to say No to Katie, when she tries to take your bike?"

Another way to save your activity time so you both don't miss out, is to set up activities you don't mind missing, do a load of in rapid succession , arrange to meet friends at the park, warn them you will be abandoning, at bad behaviour or melt down. Always do the pre talk, then the child is totally clear on what is going on.

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