What help can I get re: DS's behaviour(24 Posts)
I'm going to have to admit defeat with my 7 yr old son. He is still not over the Terrible Twos!
His behaviour is selfish, loud, aggressive, argumentative. Until recently he managed to behave very well at school but that is on the slide too. He currently has a friend around and I'd be surprised if his friend ever wanted to come back so it's no longer behaviour he reserves for his family.
I am not sure where to go for help. I am happy(ish) to pay to go private if it solves the problem. Any pointers?
School-wise he has a new teacher as it's a new school year. There is a boy who seems to have worked out how to wind up DS whilst still looking squeaky clean himself. However, DS has been caught out lying too so that's put his cause back. Once upon a time his teachers used to remark what a helpful thoughtful boy he was... not any more.
However, I don't think school is the issue as we've been experiencing this at home for some years now. His behaviour is just very selfish. He hasn't grown out of toddler-like behaviour. I'm not sure if the problem lays with him or my response to it. I have read quite a few parenting books but the advice I've followed from these hasn't worked so I'd like to speak to a real person about it.
So, any pointers to what sort of professional I should seek out would be gratefully received.
You have said twice that he is selfish, and mention he;s loud argumentative etc
Is this negative behaviour seen only when he's being selfish, or at all times?
His behaviour is probably generally selfish and he is generally OK if he is getting his own way. If he's not then he's loud, aggressive etc. However, he can be quite extreme even if things are going OK and he is just concerned with his own feelings.
Feels awful writing this about him. Am waiting for someone to flame me
I think you will just have to go through the pain of retraining him.
Realistically you are looking at a few months of torture and him railing against it but it has to be done.
I think you have to have absolutely cast iron rules in your head about what selfishness is allowed e.g. Siblings going into room, or borrowing stuff, how about not doing chores or only doing it for themselves what about when he tries to selfishly sabotage family activities. So (and this is an example from my own 6 year old this week) if he were upset because a sibling was getting new but needed clothes then regardless of any requests or tantrums No they would not be getting something/anything, and no it doesn't mean I don't love them, or that I am a terrible Mother.
Kids are naturally selfish, and sometimes it is easier to go with the flow which sadly in the long term makes it worse.
But don't call him selfish, tell him that he is kind/good hearted etc.
I'm also having a hard time with my DS of the same age (well, he's 8 actually) so I'm following with interest. And here's a hug in solidarity. It's hard.
With my advice I am presuming that DS has no additional needs that would account for his egocentric behaviour. For example a child on the autistic spectrum would struggle to take others feelings into account and so behaviour which you describe would be somewhat expected.
As other posters suggested! It sounds like he needs to be retrained in regards to what is expected of him. It won't be easy, and you will have to bare the brunt of his confusion/anger for a short while, but once he becomes used to the new way, your lives will be much easier, and more pleasant.
I'd start by taking away privileges, which can be earned back for a limited time at an agreed time. By privileges I mean screen time, treats including pocket money, sweets etc, trips out, and the like. These things are not rights, as his parent you are giving him everything he needs to thrive as long as he is fed well, sheltered, clothed and loved. Leave him with a few bits to occupy himself that are constant eg books, lego is as good one as he can use it on many levels, paper/pens etc. These are things that he has control over, when to use etc.
Give him responsibility. At 7 he should be able to get himself up, washed and dressed, make his bed, sort his clothes for the wash, keep his room tidy etc. he can also help you out, sorting, putting away laundry, setting the table etc. you'd be the best judge of what his caperbilities are, but encouraging him to participate in the upkeep and running of the house makes him understand his value as a member of the family team rather than someone who is waited on, and therefore more valuable than the person doing the jobs. If he is doing what you ask the pocket money (if that is what you do) can come back. I read a book, can't remember the name, where the author suggested having three money boxes, which pocket money got split between. One was for spending, to help the child learn to budget, one was for savings, to help them appreciate how money can accumulate and give them something towards their future and the third was for charity, to give the child a sense of doing good for others, that other people's needs matter too, it might help give your son some compassion for others. He could choose a charity which might involve him researching into other's difficulties and give him some perspective and compassion.
Things like screan time, and other treats can be earned by completing homework, reading etc and by being respectful to the other members of the family etc. They only happen once the above have been completed, but let him know in advance, to encourage him to engage in these things on his own terms. By doing this you will give him the responsibility which is a life long skill and will give yourself an easier time because you won't need to nag him to do it. If he asks you can I go on the tablet or whatever, simply say yes, of course, once you have done your reading or homework or whatever it may be that day. Then let it only be for a given period of time 1/2 would be pleanty for a 7 year old but you know yoyr son and will make the best decision. The danger of going over an hour is that the gratification is reduced and the need to play is more addictive rather than enjoyable.
If he complains when it is time to end the 'reward' activity ask him if he behaves like that when using x is it more or less likely to make you want you let him use it again. It will actively encourage him to see the way he behaves had a direct influence on others.
Finally as hard as it may seem at first, and as tired as you may be some days and want to give in for an easy life, you MUST remain consistent. Being firm but fair gives him a sense of safety, knowing exactly where he stands. He will push against you, especially at first, because that is a natural instinct, but when children's boundaries are flexible they often end up angry and insecure because they don't know where they stand and it all can get bit Lord of the Flies!
Hope it helps, it gets easier I promise
Thanks everyone. I'm a bit overwhelmed by the advice given - 3littlebadgers, thank you for such a comprehensive answer.
Have spoken to DH tonight and we think that DS's behaviour is beyond 'normal' behaviour but how do you go about measuring that? I can't tell whether is it poor behaviour or a bigger issue.
At home I think he is becoming ruder.
I think his behaviour has been worse with his new form teacher but I can't talk to her about it as she seems unable to answer questions in general.
Not sure who can help though.
I think you would probably look to see a child psychologist in the first instance.
But... And this is going to sound blaming but isn't, regardless of whether there is a formal issue or not your response is going to be the same: a cool refusal to accept bad behaviour and an insistence that he carries his weight within the family.
Can you give us a bit more detail of one example of behaviour and how things currently pan out.
I've had a few days off from him as he went to stay at grandparents' but any good that did was negated by a total absence of childcare including not noticing that he'd given himself a rather severe and asymmetric haircut. However, when I sought some advice on how to deal with him she said I had to hit him (apparently did me no harm) and then continued with a character assassination of me which bizarrely she ended with a kiss. I feel quite emotionally drained and tearful. Perhaps its me that needs the psychologist.
FarticCircle - I can't see the woods for the trees to even give an example. Er, we've just been into town, trying to find someone to sort out his hair (harder than you'd think) and he kept running off and hiding. Just not necessary when we're in a rush. It wasn't helped by me wincing every time I looked at him with his new, beyond awful haircut.
And as I've been typing this I've sent him upstairs as the TV was blaring and I asked him to turn it off and he didn't. I have totally lost patience with him now. I think a line has been crossed and I can't go back to feeling nice about him.
I know it's difficult and you have my sympathy, but what consequences is he seeing for this kind of behaviour?
For example, he does something daft and ruins his hair, then you all traipse round town so it can be 'fixed' - when he continues to run rings round you by running off and hiding. A natural consequence would have been to have shrugged and said 'your hair looks very silly, would you like me to clip it all off?' (we have clippers at home mind you.)
If yes - we'd have clipped it off.
If no - we'd have left him to deal with having silly hair. If that gets him into trouble with school, then that's what happens.
Not turning TV down - TV is turned off.
How are you managing his behaviour?
I was about to post the same as Vonny. You have written loads about his behaviour and nothing about what you do.
Sounds like you have got into a very negative mindset about him which is understandable when he's making life difficult. As well as being firm and consistent I would try to make sure there is plenty of positive interaction between you too. Spending time doing something nice together even if he doesn't really deserve it might help
TV was turned off by me. I did tell him I'd clipper his hair if he continued. Unfortunately we need to be somewhere tomorrow which is related to my work and I couldn't afford for him to look as awful as he did. As it is, he looks like a 1960s bovver-boy.
I agree I have now got a negative mindset about him. I am trying to be nice to him but I think the hair was the final straw.
In answer to what do I do.. well at the moment what I do is shout at him a lot because I am just too angry and frustrated for anything else. The rest of the time I mope around feeling like the worst mum in the whole world. So, it's all very unhappy at the moment.
DD has a sleepover guest coming at 4pm so I need to sort myself out.
You have to stop shouting love. I now have a 10 yo who shouts back, and that's my fault because I shout too much at him.
Calm, firm, fair and follow through with consequences. And always have a kiss and cuddle at the end of the day, no matter how bad, and agree to start again tomorrow.
I'm not proud of the shouting. Its not the type of mother I planned to be at all.
We do always manage the kiss/cuddle at end of the day. We always have a snuggle in bed as we read a bedtime story. It's probably my favourite part of the day.
Oh Tearing it sounds like you are having a hard time of it. The kindest thing you can do for you, and your son is to put in the hard work and be tough with him now, while he is still young and more malleable. You may feel mean taking away privialiges and putting your foot down, but he will thank you for it in the long run. How do you envisage him growing up? What kind of person would you like him to become? What kind of life would you like him to live. I know for me, I want my children to happy, to have successful relationships, be they romantic platonic or professional.
They key is getting the balance right between giving our children firm set of boundaries and the security of knowing how loved they are. Often love gets confused with a lack of boundaries, or discipline with a lack of affection. Neither of the latter two will help a child to grow up into the kind of adult we would all like our children to become.
Totally agree 3littlebadgers
Cece, I'll take a look at that book but I'll also go to GP on Monday and ask him who can help DS and me.
Meanwhile, since DD has had her sleepover friend over, DS has been a bit naughty but we needed up having a good time playing Uno, just the 2 of us. Then it was bath time and I said he could use my ensuite bath so the girls didn't walk in on him having his bath. He got in with a poo-ey bum and there was a lot of poo floating around. Had to get him out, drain it, disinfect it etc. He just had to wipe his bum - he is 7 years old after all. DH has come home and is dealing with it.
Need to sit down and write out the rules and the new consequences of not abiding by them.
Good plan Tearing, involve him in making the rules if possible. Encourage him to use reasoning to get to them. For example, using the bottom cleaning incident. 'Why do you think it is important to clean your bottom?' So he doesn't get sore, doesn't get and infection, doesn't give anyone else an infection, is pleasant to be around, not smelly etc, makes less work. Sometimes for a busy child something like that can seem like a waste of good play time, after all they can't actually see their bottom so it is easily forgotten about. Next time, he needs to soak any dirty underwear, etc he'll soon learn that those few moments spent cleaning his bottom were a better investment than cleaning up the resulting mess and all the time that took.
Deep breaths and remember you are doing this because you are a good mother, because you love your child and want the best for him.
123 Magic- definitely- a life saver for both parents and children.
Poor you, this sounds rally hard. It reminds me of how my DS was actually!
My DC has Autism and went to what was in hindsight a terrible nursery. There was no routine, it was very chaotic and when I noticed DC was not joining in with activities they told me it is against their policy to force them to take part!!! Laziest staff I've ever encountered.
The above combined with the Autism let to some pretty bad behaviour (I think it was PDA type behaviour). DC then started a school which was very organised with lots of structure and discipline and I decided to have much clearer consequences for bad behaviour at home. Between the new school and the rules at home the bad behaviour has been mostly eradicated, although I do find that it is very dependant on situation, as yours is. We have perfect behaviour at school (angelic), almost perfect at home, fairly poor around grandparents and poor when out shopping (mostly centered around obsession with pushing the trolley).
So I agree with others above saying that even if there is a diagnosable problem the rules will still help.
I do think you should try to get a referral to see if there is anything that needs to be diagnosed. Best of luck!
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