Challenging time with 6 year old DS(6 Posts)
I am a Mum to three DC, my eldest being DS aged 6 who has mild cerebral palsy due to oxygen starvation at premature birth. He requires Physio and is currently undergoing a series of casting his left leg for a three week period, of which we are half way through. He doesn't require any other medical interaction other than wearing an AFO splint.
He has generally always been a laid back child, happy to entertain himself, and he is fairly close to DD1 (5), closer than he is with DD2 (3). He is doing well at school academically and has progressed fantastically since being in year 2.
Over the past few months, he seems to have had a personality change. We learnt initially that he was upset at school because he wasn't able to play football with his friends due to lack of balance and speed. This in turn affected his confidence and the teacher drew up a list of a group of friends to play something different than football each day with DS. This seemed to work for a while, but it appears DS now feels these people are playing with him because they have to, not because they choose to. Him and DH had a heart to heart last week, and to cheer him up, we bought him a new bike so that he could have something to look forward to and to try lift his spirits.
However, in general at home, he started to become lazy, disrespectful and difficult. He will blatantly lie about things to my face, answer me back and adopt a 'cannot be bothered' attitude to life. At first I put it down to being emotional at him feeling isolated from his friends due to the CP, but there's only so much of that I can use as an excuse.
He won't put a foot out of line for DH, yet I am the one who does the school run, packed lunches, cleaning, washing, homework, reading, bathing, little treats etc and I feel like I am being walked all over by him. He lied to me this morning about having not brushed his teeth, he won't wipe his bottom properly after going to the toilet and needs constantly reminding to wash his hands. He started to answer me back tonight when I asked him why he isn't wiping his bottom properly and DH overheard and told him not to be disrespectful towards me. No sooner did DH go out than DS starts again with copying anything and everything I say.
This may all sound so trivial but it's really starting to get to me. He was once such a pleasant and happy little boy, now he's 6 going on 16 but with the bad attitude only aimed at me and nobody else. I bend over backwards for him and all I get in return is bad manners and disrespect.
I don't know how much of it is down to the CP, but his anger is starting to get too much. We don't see the consultant for a review until 1 May and although I plan to mention it then, I don't know what to do in the meantime. There is just no reasoning with him, and no reply other than 'I don't know' when I ask why he does what he does
What consequences are there for bad behaviour? Do you spend one-on-one time with him? (Difficult I know with 3 DC.) Does he have any special privileges because of being the eldest, like going to bed a bit later?
The other week I found out he'd drawn on the wall and so banned him using the iPad for a week. He was well aware of what he had done and actually stuck to the punishment without kicking up a fuss.
It's hard to spend one on one time with him, especially as DD2 is very demanding. DH and DD2 are going overseas to visit DHs family on Sunday so I plan to make the most of only having the older two DCs and spend valuable time with them, although without any other sources of help, it still won't be alone time with DS
I never really thought about privileges for him being the oldest. Usually after a long day at work and then the manic few hours before bedtime, I'm happy for them all to go at the same time
I don't know if he would be too old for a reward chart, but I know some of the children in his class have charts in school for achievements at home so maybe it's worth mentioning to the teacher.
I just don't know what has triggered this bout of anger and emotion. We have ever treated him any different with him having CP. He has a lovely group of class friends and absolutely adores his teacher. All his emotions just seem to be aimed at me lately and it's starting to hurt
At your son's age children enter a new level of reasoning ability and that's probably why e.g. he worries about other children being coerced to spend time with him at break. He is also getting new insight into the limitations his CP places on him, whether they are real or perceived.
I know from personal experience how hurtful it is to do almost everything for a child and get a bad attitude aimed at you in return. It is almost certainly because he feels so safe with you that he acts out like that - he knows you will love him regardless. Also, is there anything upsetting going on in your own life? Sensitive children can react very badly to emotional turmoil in their parents.
Of course there has be consequences for unacceptable behaviour and one should try and make them as logical as possible. E.g. if he doesn't wipe his bum properly he is going to get sore and you will not be very sympathetic as you did warn him. He will have to wash his underpants by hand to get rid of the skidmarks. People might tease him because he stinks.
I don't think he is too old for a reward system. We started a system with dd when she was 9 where she could earn marbles for certain behaviours (like getting ready for school on time) and lose them for others (like clothes on the floor). Once she had a certain number of marbles there is a reward.
Try to catch him being good and acknowledge that. "You were very patient with your brother DS, thank you". "Wow DS1 this is a very interesting picture you drew. Tell me about the dinosaurs? I love the way you used the colours".
Can you try and get him interested in something that he might be good at and enjoy, like chess or music?
Many thanks for your reply LastingLight. We are trying to find something that he is interested in at the moment, a little hobby to call his own. He really enjoys car simulators and luckily as DH isn't a football fan, cars maybe something that they could get into together to also help DS have that special one on one time.
A few weeks back his teacher mentioned a confidence group run in school hours by the school's learning mentor that she thought about getting DS to attend so I must find out if he had attended. She also wanted to set up an ICT club for after school so that DS could join as she felt it was only fair on him that something other than sports is offered which I thought was a lovely gesture.
Thankfully there are no major issues at home that could be having a negative impact on him. DH and I are (touch wood) in a good place at the moment (almost split early last year), and so the children know we love each other. I, on the other hand, have just had to go back on anti Ds as I felt that some days I just wasn't coping with the work load, the demands from the kids, having no surviving family of my own etc so I could have a break. I feel constantly tired and worn out, and so now you mention it, I wonder if DS is maybe aware that something isn't 100% with me and is playing on that? Despite that though, I'm still trying to be a fun mum
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