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Nearly 5year old - how to deal with 'mad moments'?

(19 Posts)
Greenandblacksnut Sun 13-Jul-14 20:35:22

Ds is usually a fairly sensible and cooperative child. However, whenever he is either very tired, hungry or feels somehow 'stretched', he starts hopping around like a mad frog jumping on furniture, running around the apartment singing loudly, laughing hysterically and acting crazy. He really seems out of control when this happens and I haven't yet found a way to reign him in during these situations. sad blush

I threaten with time out but he just runs around rather than staying in the time out zone, any threats to take privileges away (no empty threats) are not successful either, basically I cannot reach him when he is having a 'mad moment'.

Sadly, and against all better judgement, I often end up really shouting at him when he doesn't stop as he often puts himself or his younger db in danger.

Please help me come up with things to say or do when I can't get through to him and when he seems in his senseless zone.


Greenandblacksnut Wed 16-Jul-14 20:16:11

Bumping in the desperate hope for some advice.
Today was a freakin nightmare. It's like he has zero self awareness; don't get me wrong I know he is only four but when I tell him off he looks away and does not give any cooperative or sensible answers at all, not showing any understanding of what he did I wrong.

He simply does not engage. However, he does engages during 'normal' (social) situations and he can be kind, sharing and caring. But he is a real whirlwind force of nature and it grates on me. I. Am getting quite resentful although I (and dh) am trying to empathise, set boundaries etc.etc.. [clueless and desperate emoticon].

Any thoughts, especially tips on how to get through to him who he zones out are most appreciated. Thank you.

P.s. He also uses crying a lot right no to get his way. Of course I try not to give in but he gets himself into an awful crying upset state that he ends up forgetting why he was upset and is just terribly upset. At that point I cannot ignore the crying as that would seem cruel.

DIYandEatCake Wed 16-Jul-14 20:31:16

Maybe the key is in prevention rather than cure where possible? I have a highly strung 3.5yo dd and I can always sense trouble/meltdown brewing - I know her triggers and how she behaves when at to verge if her endurance. That's when I cuddle her, put the tv on, go for a quiet walk if we're somewhere busy like a party, give her a biscuit/drink, find a reason to go somewhere in the car so she can nap if shattered... It's not always possible to head it off but I haven't found any ways to get through to her when she's tipped 'over the edge' into hyperactivity or meltdown.

BertieBotts Wed 16-Jul-14 20:40:30

DS was very like this, thankfully he seems to be growing out of it, he is closer to six now. We had to put him in his room when he was doing it because he was just dangerous. Sometimes we had to physically restrain him - hugging them from behind is good because it restrains the arms without them being able to reach you although DS did used to headbutt me backwards. Plus they can be strong, and I'm not very big or strong!

We started out holding the door closed when he was in his room as he would just come straight out but this became a game, he wasn't frightened, he thought it was hilarious hmm He used to bang the door saying "Hahahahaha I'm stronger than you!" eventually we hit on the idea that there was a specific penalty for coming out of your room when you've been put there to calm down, which we don't use for anything else - it used to be that his sweets which he buys with his own money (that he gets for good behaviour) would be thrown away. I was really at the end of my tether when I said this the first time because I think it's so important that a child gets to keep their rewards that they have earned, so don't agree with this threat in principle but it worked, so we kept it for that and only that. Lately he hasn't been buying sweets so instead the penalty is being banned from a favourite game for a few days. This, he does listen to. Of course he had to push it the first time but then he realised we were serious and stopped. But I think it needs to be the same thing every time, not random things like "We won't go to the party on Friday".

I also found he would get hysterical and I would always comfort this - for one thing it was the sign that he was calming down out of the manic period. Comforting is fine but you still have to stick to whatever it was set them off in the first place. You can't overrule a decision or boundary just because they're upset because you are right that he will use it as a manipulation kind of thing.

I've been having thoughts about possible ADHD? He's not having any problems at school so not particularly concerned, but it helps to assume that he can't control this manic behaviour. Helps me to keep calmer and remind myself to try and help him figure out solutions to prevent it rather than getting cross or feeling like he's doing it to get at me. He also runs everywhere now. Literally everywhere. So getting a lot more outside exercise seems to help a lot. He doesn't do the manic rage thing any more but he will occasionally go a bit manic or hyper and now I tell him that he needs to do it in his room because I can't cope with it. As long as he's not standing over me annoying me or doing dangerous things, I'm happy for him to have his little moment, but he's clear that if it starts getting purposefully annoying or destructive then he needs to go and take 5 minutes to calm down (even if that is by strong persuasion and threats!) And I try to keep on top of his hunger and tiredness, luckily he's in a kindergarten where I can choose to pick him up earlier if I want to so if I know he's going to be tired then I might pick him up early if I can. And just expect histronics on the way home if he's very tired. IMO they don't feed them enough at the kindergarten but I can't do anything about that apart from feed him as soon as we get home.

I'm also much more aware of the lower level stuff like silly name calling, putting on a silly voice, climbing over furniture rather than walking around, throwing shoes in the air instead of putting them away which in the past I would have ignored, I nip those now with one request, one warning and then a 30 min screen ban with an extra 30 mins added on for any further similar behaviour, and it just gets him to stop and think a little bit. I also find if I get lax with it and don't screen ban him for a few weeks that is when it's likely to build up into one of his uncontrollable episodes. So the smaller boundary holds up the bigger boundary like a support!

BertieBotts Wed 16-Jul-14 20:51:48

YYY to watching for triggers although with DS he didn't seem to have any - but I wonder now whether the lower level stuff was happening before and I didn't notice it so much as a pattern.

Asleeponasunbeam Wed 16-Jul-14 21:02:27

I still use '1,2,3 magic' with DD who is nearly 5, when she's in this state. The counting means I don't need to engage emotionally at that moment (we do, later, when she can handle it). There's a book. The consequences are known beforehand (eg, if we're out somewhere I might say 'if I have to count to three, then xxx will happen/ not happen).

Because we've practised this so much (and it was literally practising in the early days, with misbehaving dolls and teddies), the counting immediately gets through (in public I try to just show her my counting finger discreetly!).

Greenandblacksnut Wed 16-Jul-14 21:08:00

Thank you, thank you, excellent posts. Yes to nipping things in the bud as you go along, (liitle breaks in the day to snack, connect or calm down) I am trying to do that. However, it's especially when I am feeling tired, run down, have a back ache or whatever, when I am not 100% that things get really out of control and it really gets to me. sad

bertie the situations you describe sound very familiar indeed. I have also, now and then, worried about ADHD (of sorts?) but pre school just gave us his final report and nothing serious was mentioned.

I really know what you mean when you say that when things get a bit lax the meltdowns get worse. This is what I find so hard,it doesn't seem possible to just relax and enjoy each other.

I have Laos just come across the "want to join me to become a better parent" thread and am checking out Aha parenting.

Greenandblacksnut Wed 16-Jul-14 21:11:23

Asleeponasunbeam (love the name), dh often uses the magic 1-3 but it has never clicked for me, I will try it again tomorrow. I worry that he will just let me get to 3 and not sure what the consequence should be.

Asleeponasunbeam Wed 16-Jul-14 21:26:18

The idea is that you're giving them time to stop the annoying behaviour. They already know they should stop, and why, so you don't need to go into all the discussion. Making sure they know what you're counting for (the consequences) is important. It's not the same as 'you've got three seconds to conform...' more 'I'm giving you a verbal cue to stop' (if that makes sense...!).

If you have a kindle the book is available. I also like 'Calmer, Happier, Easier Parenting' (by Noelle something) although it takes some effort (not easy in the middle of a school pick up tantrum or similar...).

plentyofshoes Wed 16-Jul-14 21:46:14

Mine does this too.
We have found that eating certain sweets (love hearts, starbursts) sent him crazy.
I have no answers I'm afraid but he goes to his room when it gets bad.

BertieBotts Wed 16-Jul-14 22:13:05

Don't beat yourself up about it. Everyone has off days where their parenting is not 100% - stop thinking of this as a role that you have to get perfectly right all the time and remember this is a relationship which will have its challenges and its good and bad phases. Yes, this a phase and yes you will be able to relax and enjoy each other. You WILL! DS rarely does it now, as I said it flares up once every few WEEKS. Before it was several times a DAY.

Just pick a consequence for the 3, something you feel okay doing and then DO IT! smile Let him let you get to three. He probably does it because he wants to see what will happen - make the punishment, unless there's an obvious logical link, something generic and something you know he can handle emotionally (this is why I don't agree with hitting children or holding doors closed - though I have done this - because I don't think they can handle those things emotionally) and then do it and just cope with the fallout. I think that I caused a lot of DS' problems because I am sooo reluctant to ever punish him or follow through on something, it seems my natural instinct is to let it wind me up and up and up until I shout and then quite often feel justified in that (it seems I went past the point of feeling guilty somewhere along the line hmm) so I was giving him a million chances and then it was very recently actually that I realised, sometimes he is just pushing to see that the boundary is still there, because it makes them feel more secure. I'd always read this but I don't know, tried to avoid it? I would end up giving him endless chances to redeem himself, win something back, OK I counted to three but he did it just after three so that's okay, no it's not okay! It's just teaching him that me counting to three is some kind of joke or game. I found that once I got tougher (on myself!!!) and actually applied the things I was threatening to, firstly it was nowhere near as bad as I feared it would be and secondly it really helps in the long run, and sometimes in the short term as well, once the inconsolable "my life is ruined" crying is over - and I comfort this physically but I don't minimise or excuse or explain, I'm just there - he is often able to have a calm, rational discussion about things and how we can improve things in the future.

I do still slip into letting things go which is why I try to nip smaller things with a really, almost token consequence when I notice because just doing that keeps me in practice and reminds DS that there are boundaries which I do uphold and it allows him to have his little push up and meet the boundary in a safe, not very upsetting, not difficult for me to enforce (emotionally or practically). And it is so, so so rare that I ever have to do a bigger punishment because he is just not getting to that point any more. He's happy to work off his energy outside or go and do something calming in his room and it all flows so much better.

Asleeponasunbeam Wed 16-Jul-14 22:27:51

Our DC, we as parents, sound really similar, Bertie. I think I remember you from baby threads (sleep, perchance?) in the early days! (I was belindarose back then).

DD often decides on the way home from school that she wants to go to her room to play on her own. It tends to work really well.

BertieBotts Wed 16-Jul-14 22:31:39

Ha, I don't remember, but then I posted a lot on sleep that I don't remember, possibly because of the lack of sleep! I was CherryChoc in my very early days here, when DS was very little.

BertieBotts Wed 16-Jul-14 22:36:13

Oh I've found you! smile <taps nose> The good old "UP" thread days! As you can see I've changed my stance somewhat. But I still believe it's possible to parent 99% without punishment. Maybe 100% if you are magic. But I am not. And I have realised that's fine.

Beehatch Wed 16-Jul-14 22:37:32

This 100% sounds like my 4yo, who is generally a happy and compliant child, but sometimes just gets the devil in him! There is a certain tone of voice he uses that alerts me to an impending attack, then he starts giggling and all hell breaks loose. It usually comes on after he has eaten and often just before bed - sometimes I think it's related to over tiredness, but not always. He doesn't listen to a thing we say, will break things, has no regard for time outs or penalties, and it is guaranteed to end in a tantrum and tears sad

I hate it because I know I can't get through to him until the storm has passed sad

BertieBotts Wed 16-Jul-14 22:58:38

Oh god YES to the voice! It strikes - not terror, exactly, but a sort of anticipated frustration and/or rage in me. It's like my child on helium kind of voice. Almost like they press the fast forward switch.

BertieBotts Wed 16-Jul-14 22:59:28

But the voice is a late sign. You need to spot the warning signs before the voice comes on. That's the problem.

Greenandblacksnut Thu 17-Jul-14 20:47:48

"There is a certain tone of voice he uses that alerts me to an impending attack, then he starts giggling and all hell breaks loose. "
Yy "the voice" is terrifying and I often hold my breath anticipating the next outbreak hmm. However your description of this terrifying situation made me smile! smile

Greenandblacksnut Thu 17-Jul-14 20:53:02

Today was better but not great. I did the 1-3 threatening we wouldn't go to the favourite playground. It worked.

I also took one tip from the aha website, which was to ask ds to use his "strong" voice as the constant whining rally grates on us. This worked really well too.

I really agree that it would help to prevent situations where ds gets too taxed etc. but it is so hard. I hate having to reprimand /nag /criticise correct him all the bloody time. I do try to be positive and am whenever possible but I have am starting to judge him sometimes and that feels like betrayal or really bad parenting. I know it is. It's too negative.

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