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Tips for grumpy almost 6yo DS

(16 Posts)
berri Sat 01-Nov-14 11:00:23

DS (6 in Dec) is sooo grumpy. It's really starting to get everyone down in the house.

We have an 18mo DD but this is not a new problem.

He constantly says he doesn't want to do things when we suggest a day out/play in garden/read a book etc etc, and is constantly obnoxious about meals served up.

We never give in to the food criticism though and he eats it eventually after moaning he doesn't like it. About everything.

He's recently started being nasty to his friends too and playdates are becoming impossible as they just constantly argue with each other and bicker.

I started a method of 3 warnings then no TV that night (he gets 40mins before bedtime) but he soon started using them all up in the morning and didn't seem bothered by the no TV…

He has no favourite toys really so threatening to take them away doesn't work, or he just says 'I don't like it anyway' for anything.

If I threaten that he won't be allowed to go to a party or something he just says he doesn't want to go anyway…

He is so rude and grumpy, it's so depressing. I don't understand why - we are generally a happy bunch and he doesn't get how lucky he is to have a nice home life (I know they don't get appreciation for a while…) and parents who want to take him out for the day or run around in the park etc.

Any tips?

ClawHandsIfYouBelieveInFreaks Sat 01-Nov-14 12:37:38

Is he getting enough sleep? What are his bedtimes like? Also, does he eat many processed foods?

My older DD has always eaten a good and healthy diet but we noticed that when she DID have processed foods, they affected her enormously....bad temper etc.

berri Sat 01-Nov-14 12:51:23

Thanks for the reply Claws, he sleeps 7.15/30 until around 6.45/7…and we eat virtually no processed foods...

ClawHandsIfYouBelieveInFreaks Sat 01-Nov-14 12:53:35

Hmm. Is he ok at school? How's he doing socially and academically? Does he have much opportunity at home for "free play"? Or is his free time quite structured?

berri Sat 01-Nov-14 13:06:34

He's only just started school this Sept as we were living abroad until the summer. Although this has been going on for over a year! I kept putting it down to being unsettled with the prospect of moving/actually moving etc but I would have thought he would have settled down by now.

He does a lot of sport but the rest of his free time is unstructured.

I think sometimes he is daunted or nervous by new things or playdates etc so he acts badly to try to get out of them? But that doesn't explain the grumpiness the rest of the time. He just literally never seems happy sad

kleinzeit Sun 02-Nov-14 19:03:13

It is possible to just blank the moaning? Don’t ask him if he wants to do things, just tell him what to do and be deaf to grumbling. He may be a “slow-to-warm-up” child, the kind who needs time to adjust to the idea of doing anything he’s not doing right now. The kind of person whose first reaction to any suggestion is “No” but once they have to do it and adjust to the idea they go along with it and cope? He may also be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Maybe treat him a bit like a younger child, with simple choices of two things “you can have this or that for supper” or “we can go to the park or the library”.

I’m sorry he’s being unkind to his friends. Maybe he is not so good at unstructured socialising yet? Try keeping playdates short and maybe structure them a bit for him (first we have tea, then half an hour in the garden, then ..whatever… and then hometime) and include an activity that you can supervise if things are likely to get out of hand - decorating biscuits always went down well with my DS and his friends! They could work side by side and were always happy with the results however unappealing to adult eyes wink

Also don’t threaten him. I know, I know, but taking away telly time isn't working and if he is already feeling miserable and daunted or nervous then threats will only make him feel worse and act worse. (Save telly removal for any really atrocious behaviour!) Praise, encourage and reward any little things he does right, like playing nicely with his sister for a couple of minutes or sitting nicely at the table or anything really, he might just benefit from a bit of a boost.

berri Mon 03-Nov-14 12:42:41

Kleinzeit - thank you for the tips, that's actually all very helpful and good advice. I think maybe I'll take a few steps back and give him a bit more structure like you suggest.

This morning he refused to say goodbye to his cousins who he won't see for months, which again made everyone angry as it seemed so rude but I guess he was actually upset and wasn't sure how to convey it?

kleinzeit Tue 04-Nov-14 17:26:31

Goodbyes can be a real problem! Especially if they’re are drawn out or if people are making a fuss over them, or as you say if he's feeling tired or sad anyway. It might help to remind him in advance “when freddy leaves remember to say goodbye, I enjoyed playing with you” but don’t make a fuss about it at the time and try not to put him on the spot. You can always suggest he goes off upstairs or outside ready to wave them off as they drive away – then if other people say “he hasn’t said goodbye” you can say “oh he’s already at the window waiting to wave to you!”

oohlalabonbons Tue 04-Nov-14 17:37:00

Do you feel he truly understands his feelings, and the 'cause and effect' that then makes everyone else grumpy with him?

If not, maybe a book like 'Have You Filled a Bucket Today' or the 'Learning to Get Along' series might help? It may be that you feel he's too old for that, but IME (and no criticism on you!) it's easy to forget 6yo s are still little children learning to process emotions and sometimes they need a structured approach to it.

Good luck!

Foxbiscuitselection Wed 05-Nov-14 00:30:08

Tell me more about him. Does he pick up on your emotions easily? Is he observant, watching before partaking, does he get over whelmed and need down time?

Just wanted to point out that all the things mentioned above are punishments. Can you try appealing (without an audience) to his empathic side? Also you've all got into quite a routine with him being grumpy and you punishing. What about trying more playful parenting tactics. I'd also aim to give him a lot more one to one attention and make him feel really treasured.

Cherrypie32 Wed 05-Nov-14 12:27:51

If it helps I too have a very grumpy 6 nearly 7 year old. It can be unbearable and affects a lot of our family time. I've not got any magic cure I'm afraid however I do feel with my son his behaviour is mainly attention seeking. So currently I'm going down the ignoring route when he's very stompy and shouty. Put him in his bedroom when he is affecting the rest of us and resorting to good old reward for good and happy behaviour. Annother coping tactic when he's completely gone into one is to try and make him laugh, mimic him, tickle him etc as it is not usually genuine anger it often snaps him out of it. But I feel for you, they are high maintenance!!

berri Wed 05-Nov-14 12:55:20

kleinzeit that's a good tip with the goodbyes, he'd probably benefit from not having to deal with it directly.

I think I do need to realise that he struggles with certain emotions. The problem is that I talk about things with him all the time when he's calm, and he agrees that he'll try to be a bit less grumpy etc, then literally a minute later he's saying he doesn't want his breakfast, doesn't want to put his shoes on, etc etc.

ohhlala I'm not sure if he truly understands it…he knows he shouldn't do certain things but I think he really sees red and loses his temper when he can't do something or gets frustrated. I haven't heard of those books but will try to get them from the library, thank you for the suggestions.

fox he's a lovely little boy who comes across as quite boisterous but I think inside he's actually shy and nervous. He definitely gets anxious when there's a new situation but instead of looking shy like another child might, he acts badly - maybe to cover it up? Or so he gets taken away from the situation?

We've had a few big changes in the last couple of years so I keep thinking things will get better when he settles down, but I think he does need help with this!

More playful parenting tactics sound like something I should be trying - I get frustrated too especially when we're in a rush to leave the house, or he's yet again being rude to his friends - do you have any examples I could use?

cherrypie I was thinking of starting some kind of reward system so interesting to hear that works for you sometimes.

Thanks for all your tips, I'm determined to have a happy child!

berri Wed 05-Nov-14 13:11:20

foxwithbiscuits I've just noticed on another thread that your DS gets annoyed with socks with seams - this made me laugh, I can get my DS to wear anything in his wardrobe without him complaining, but he only has a few pairs of socks as the other ones 'don't feel good' and he spends ages pulling around at the toes of them!

Never heard of this before so that's actually cheered me up, haha. What socks do you buy, out of interest??

Foxbiscuitselection Wed 05-Nov-14 14:46:10

smile socks are such a nightmare! I just grab them when I see a semi suitable pack in the supermarket.

A book called the highly sensitive child by Aron has been a huge help to me this year. DS can be socially awkward in new situations and really embarrass me with naughty behaviour. The book helped me realise that he is super sensitive and finds such situations overwhelming.

About playful parenting. We tend to pretend DH is a dog or a baby dinosaur, so getting changed involves lots of giving invisible dog biscuits for doing tricks. Sometimes I even pretend to be his teacher (in a daft way) and this week I've mostly been evil ghosts. Tea was a witches brew. Distraction also works so generally we talk a lot about nice things in the day ahead while putting coats on and getting into the car.

Foxbiscuitselection Wed 05-Nov-14 14:53:21

I also do a lot of acknowledging how he's feeling 'you want that umbrella don't you and it's making you very cross not having it'.

Also helping him learn to take turns. 'It's jakes turn now. Let's put the timer on for 10 minutes and then it will be your turn next'

If he's rude I will gently rephrase what he said politely and low key
'I want xxx now'
'Please can I have xx mummy'

All my children are very different and not everything works sadly

kleinzeit Wed 05-Nov-14 17:36:14

You might also find some of the ideas in The Unwritten Rules of Friendship helpful. It’s meant for parents to help kids who have different problems with friendship (from tearful super-sensitivity through bad temper, bossiness and even outright weirdness!). It has a lot of practical advice. There’s a chapter “The Pessimistic Child” on helping grumpy negative kids and “The Short-Fused Child” about temper. (You can see quite a long preview on the website)

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