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Does DS (8) need professional help?

(4 Posts)
SuperSaint Fri 22-Aug-14 13:05:52

Sorry this is going to be long...

DS is 8 and I am really struggling with his behaviour. It has been an issue for a while now but is getting worse and I need it to stop.

He argues back at me all the time and speaks to me so rudely. If I ask him not to speak to me like that he answers back saying "well don't speak to me like that". He seems to think I am his equal and doesn't understand that I am the parent and can ask him to do things and expect them to be done (nothing major just pick up toys, clear the table etc). Every normal conversation turns into a bickering session. He shouts all the time and is physically violent to both me and his sister (age 11).

I am struggling to discipline him. I have tried punishments for bad behaviour (nothing electronic for a week for example) and rewarding good behaviour (a treat like the cinema or McDonalds if he behaves for a set period of time). However nothing changes beyond the very short term. I have tried talking to him when we are both calm and explaining his behaviour is not acceptable but he claims it is not his fault and DD or I caused him to do it. We have had many chats about how you can only be responsible for your own behaviour etc.

This morning for example I had some important paperwork to do. I asked him to just give me a few minutes but he climbed all over me and talks about nothing. I asked him very politely to just let me do this for a few minutes then I will help him. He kept bothering me so I got cross and shouted for him to leave me alone. He then picked up my bag and threw it across the room and charged at me bashing me into the door. He then hit my arm several times. I asked him to stop and explained he was hurting me but he didn't so I told him to go to his room. He eventually did (after much shouting) but said it is all my fault he went like this as if I had just talked to him he would not have got cross. This is a fairly common situation.

He has lots of toys in his room so being sent there is not really a "punishment". The other day I tried to move the toys out but he started scratching my arms so I just left.

If we have argued he says he hates me but then talks about killing himself with a knife as I obviously hate him and want him dead. I don't think this is normal for an 8 year old.

But, most of the time he is a lovely, affectionate tactile boy who tells me how much he loves me. He is doing very well academically at school and is popular with a good circle of friends. He occasionally loses concentration at school and can distract others but his teacher said he is generally fine and she has no concerns at all about his behaviour (I specifically told her I was having problems at home).

His Dad and I separated about 3 years ago. STBX sees the DCs when he has nothing better to do. He has a very strained relationship with DS as DS was a "mummy's boy" when he was younger. STBX shouts at DS a lot and says his poor behaviour is down to me being too soft on him and I should show him who is in charge.

DS is very insecure and thinks his Dad does not really like him (and STBX does not really do much to prove otherwise). I reassure him all the time how many people love him and how special he is.

I am being made redundant soon so am quite stressed and worried at the moment. I have tried not to show the DCs but I think DS has picked up on it and is worried as he has made a few comments about not being able to buy food if I don't have a job. I have obviously reassured him that this is not the case.

There's loads more I could say but I don't want this to be too long. Has anyone got any advice on how to stop the shouting, rudeness and violent outbursts? I have asked friends but because he does not behave badly in front of other people I don't think they really appreciate how awful the situation is. Does DS need some professional help? Would counselling help him as he is so insecure?

Well done if you have read this!

LadySybilLikesCake Fri 22-Aug-14 13:22:17

Tricky one. I think boys of lone parents can think that they are now the 'man of the house' so expect to be treated as an adult. My son was exactly the same as this, and I found role play worked better, he doesn't like being told off as he see's himself as my equal and doesn't get the hierarchy of life. It's always been just me and him. I had to alter the way I told him off, so I had to explain why I didn't want him to do XYZ rather than tell him off, but he wouldn't do it again, if that made sense. So rather than saying 'I'm busy, I'll play later', I'd say 'I just have to do this. I can't concentrate if you distract me so you'll have to wait longer for me to play with you'. I'm also careful with my own tone. I can get snappy when I'm tried or stressed, and I have to make sure I don't become snappy when talking to him as it upsets him, he gets snappy back, I tell him off for being snappy, he gets more upset because why is it OK for me to do this and not him? As for the violence, you need to tell him that this isn't how adults behave. You don't hit him, so he shouldn't hit either. Ds has got a heck of a lot better as he's aged, he's 15 now.

Bottom of the stairs for time out works better than a bedroom as there's naff all there and you can keep an eye on what he's doing wink

I'd say your son's father has caused damage to your son's self esteem and security though, and he'd benefit from counselling for this. If he's feeling insecure, it will show in his behaviour. He'll try and push boundaries to see if you'll leave him too, but then he'll be incredibly affectionate because he loves you, so he'll be so confused about things. He sounds like a very sensitive lad and I'm sure there's a lovely boy there, he just seems very confused. It's worrying that he's saying he feels like dying though, absolutely speak to your GP and ask for a cahms referral.

I hope things work out with your job. There's always something around the corner thanks

SuperSaint Fri 22-Aug-14 14:15:50

Thanks for your reply Lady

You are right about my tone of voice. I can get snappy then DS is snappy back and I tell him off. I try so hard but he does keep pushing and pushing me until I snap. I do try explaining things to DS - why I am saying no etc.

I agree that STBX is the cause of a lot of insecurities. If DS does not want to speak to his dad on the phone ex will give DS a load of nonsense about being sad because DS won't speak to him and how lonely he is etc etc. (For the record STBX left me for another woman but he seems to forget that when talking to the DCs)

I think the dying thing is the scary part - an 8 year old should not be thinking like that. I will speak to the GP and see what he advises.

Thanks again for your reply - it is good to know I am not the only one in this situation.

LadySybilLikesCake Fri 22-Aug-14 15:26:07

Oh, that's a nasty thing for your ex to do, that's a huge amount of guilt to throw at a small child sad. Can you get ds to write or email his father rather than call if this is a bit too much?

Tone can be a tough one. I tell ds to tell me when I'm getting snappy and I apologise, and I've explained that people can get snappy when they are tired and it's not because I don't love him. It's OK to say you're sorry to your children, I think, and it shows them that it's not right to be snappy. I stop, ds knows that I'm sorry so hours of stress and arguments are avoided, it's really helped here. I think all children do feel insecure. You can tell them a million times that they are loved and wanted, but when you lose your temper they forget and react because they think that they are not wanted. It's worse for children who have an inconsistent absent parent as they often feel like they are to blame for what's happened and they are terrified that the parent they live with will leave them too.

I do think cahms is your best bet, if you can get an appointment. There may be other places so your GP should be able to help. If they are a bit useless you could try your school nurse. All schools have one, so all you need to do is ask at the school reception for her to contact you (you don't need to say why), and they will ask her to call you. She can refer to cahms too.

It does get easier, I promise smile

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