6.5 yr old son. I think we've created a monster. Desperately need advice please(22 Posts)
So, my husband and I have been together for 10 years, married for 8 but have known each other thru our work for over 15 years.
In 2010 we had our DS. We always knew he'd be an only child.
The first 4 or 5 years with him have been manageable (but definitely not the picture perfect TV family life!) but lately he's become very selfish, whiny and totally spoiled.
An example from last night... We went to a local attraction and there were fairground rides. We let him go on the first 4 things he asked for and then he wanted to try this thing where you need to hang on a bar for 2 minutes to win £20. We explained that it would be very hard and the 3 people we saw try only managed up to a minute. We moved on and went for a crepe. For the rest of the evening he went on and on about that bar thing and basically ruined the night. This sort of thing happens every time we go somewhere. He always wants more and more and is never grateful for the experience and what he's already had.
I guess I always hope when we go out it'll be all fun and nice but we always seem to end up with a crying boy and p'd off parents. I know having an only child could be a minefield with them getting 100% of everything but I genuinely don't know where to go from here.
I would be SO grateful if anyone could offer any advice, insights or explanation as to why this happens and how we could manage it.
I think you need to mske his expectations clearer. If you are going to the fair give him a wallet with £x in and tell him this is what he has to spend, once it's gone it's gone. You need to stick to it though.
Most kids are a bit moany, you just need to learn how to make it background noise!
Can you give him a budget of what you are happy to spend and let him choose how he wants to spend it? Then suggest you look round everything that's there and give him to opportunity to choose wisely. My eldest is only 3 but at a pay per ride fairground I'd just say you can only go on 3 things, of course it'll be the first 3 things she sees at that age but then it's quite easy to stick by what you've said and he might learn for next time to choose wisely.
Agree with making expectations clear right from the start. Remember there's two of you to one of him so take it in turns to jolly him along if he starts flagging. Don't forget, with two or more kids they could end up bickering for ages, and it would cost you more!
Above all, try not to think of him as selfish or spoiled. After all, at 6yo, if he really really is, it's not likely to be his fault, is it?
I think I'd have dealt with it by giving him a limit before we go.
I would say (I have three dc) that they get to go on, say 2 rides, and get one thing of popcorn/candyfloss between them before we arrive. We then wander round the grounds and they decide before they spend any money what they will go on. That way if they think they're going to win £20 it's one of their turns.
Occasionally it's cheaper than I expect and they might get an extra ride. Or one of the girls goes on with ds (who's younger) if he needs an adult.
Then they think they've had a bonus.
I think the problem was you let him go on the first 4 rides. So you gave him the idea he could just ask and he got. So when you refused the bar it was both unexpected and by denying it you made it extra attractive.
What I'd have done, I think, after the crepe, is said: "okay you can have 1 (or 2) more rides. I don't think you'll be able to do the bar-I'll be amazed if you get £20, but if you want that to be one of those rides then that's fine."
That way he knows what the limit is, he can choose to use one up on the ride.
I might have also said something like "I'll tell you what-we'll go to the playground tomorrow and we'll see how long you can hang on the monkey bars."
I also would have moved out of the fairground ride area if possible when we'd done the rides.
I don't think his behaviour is down to being an only. I think it's general behaviour of kids no matter how many siblings.
It's how the parents act which determines how the kids react.
I agree with witchend
Don't make the mistake of thinking this I'd because he's an only child. You'll spend your whole life blaming yourself and excusing his behaviour.
Two or more children also behave like this. They don't always just play happily together and obey their parents! He sounds pretty much like any other 6 year old. They're all whiny and annoying when they don't get their own way.
Good advice above by the way. We always warn first - 'we'll be buying candy floss but no games' or 'you can choose two rides each and that will be all' or 'we're not buying anything in the shop today'. Doesn't guarantee perfect behaviour but gives you something to refer to 'Do you remember what I said before we came?'
Agree with posters saying it's nothing to do with being an only child.
Sounds like he's used to you eventually giving in when he whines and moans asking for things.
Stick to you gins, don't give in .
Give him limits and plenty of praise when he behaves nicely .
thats not because of being an only child. thats just what kids are like in general. You have to be really careful to not let them expect too much or they dont enjoy anything. Prep them well in advance of what theyll be allowed, and expect them still to whinge a bit. It doesnt mean hes a little monster
For the rest of the evening he went on and on about that bar thing and basically ruined the night.
I would have said if he managed to not mention it for 15 whole minutes [and set your stopwatch on your phone] he can have a go.
In future, limit what you are going to do before you go in so teaching him to choose wisely. And if he is very very good, you might give him an extra treat.
what Sebastian said.
Set expectations prior to event and stick to them. X number of rides or £X, no whinging, ice cream or sweets not both. And stick to them. Be consistent. If you threaten a consequence for bad behaviour, you must go through with it, so be careful what you say! I found that the phrase "That's enough" with the hard stare became quite effective.
IMO it's not a single child thing though.
I also realised that fairs and gaming-type things can be difficult with small children. They are exciting but confusing. Little's do not understand that mostly you will lose money/games at this sort of commercial enterprise IYSWIM and get overly disappointed. We used to try to distract and avoid the conflict.
It's about managing expectations and allowing him to make some mistakes himself.
Eg, having had the same as you with my eldest, my youngest would be given a set number of rides on a set amount of money. . If she then chose to blow the lot on hook a duck at £2.50 a go when she could have bought the same tat at the pond shop, then so be it. So in your case, if the bar was within his ride/cash limit I'd have let him try. It's then a case of ignoring the moaning afterwards, if and when it happens.
You're not creating a monster, you're teaching a small human to become a functioning adult in time. You're probably doing a better job than you think.
I'd be happy if my child wanted to have a go at a challenging thing - I don't like quitters. Otherwise, I think the main problem is your approach - like others have said - you should have given him a budget or told him how many attractions he could choose. I also wouldn't expect gratitude from a 6 yo as it's a learn thing. You meet to point out to kind things and presents from others + get him to say thank you/write a note. Perhaps some child development and parenting books could help you understand how children work?
I have a 7 year old plus an 11 year old, they whinge, moan, bicker & snipe at each other! Being an only child should not impact on behaviour
When we last went to the fair they had 5 rides each. After each ride I'd say OK remember you have 4/3/2 rides left. Then 'this is your last ride'. Just keep reminding him of the current status & it won't (from his perspective) suddenly become an arbitary & unfair decision when you refuse what have been perfectly adequate requests so far.
It sounds as though this in indicative of a larger problem though, so just remember to manage his expectations & that he's only 6.
Thank you so much everyone for your suggestions. We will definitely give the budget a go. Hopefully he'll enjoy being in control of his own money.
He can be a fantastic little boy, very loving and cuddly but then stuff like this happens. It's reassuring to know that it's not just an only child thing as I have so much guilt over that that I guess it clouds my judgement at times.
I appreciate your help xx
This is normal for a 6 yr old
I solved this kind of problem bynot taling them to these kind of entertainment hellholes
I would have let him do the bar thing, why not? A few more quid down the drain, so what.
It doesn't make him a monster to have wanted a different activity from the one you wanted him to choose.
It sounds as if you have an ideal image in your mind (we do 4 things, child will love it and be grateful), and then you struggle if the reality doesn't match....
With kids, it's all about winging it
I could have written your post OP! Except mine is DD, same age, same family make up. We are currently on holiday and I have got so frustrated that she will fixate on the one thing she can't have for whatever reason and whinges and moans and sulks and spoils what should be a lovely outing/day/treat! We have tried to chat about it after the event and she does understand and have insight afterwards, but at the time can't help herself. Like yours, she is lovely most of the time! And like you, I feel a bit guilty about her being an only ( especially on holidays etc.) and worry that other people will think she is spoiled or that we are somehow making her this way!
I am wondering how much this is a phase at this age where they are developing their own tastes and independence a bit, and also want to test boundaries (seems to be a constant process!).
I don't have the answers but I empathise and sympathise. I was almost in tears today with frustration over her getting in a mood about a tiny thing when we had done an amazing activity all together.
He went on and on and ruined the night? So you say. No. We have said we aren't spending money on that. If you ask one more time we are going home.
Sounds like you tried to avoid a direct and confrontational no. But then a child hears a maybe.
Agree with frankly about managing expectations. Also try not to let it spoil the whole experience. My DS is the same. Constantly asking for stuff and DD rarely does. So agree it's not an only child thing. Also lower your own expectations about how he will enjoy things. Maybe stick to cheap/free things for the rest of the week!
My go-to phrase, was always (said with a friendly smile) "No you can't, but thanks for asking!"
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