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If you had a difficult 6 year old, did it get any easier?(9 Posts)
6 year old DS is demonstrating some very challenging behaviour at the moment, and for the last 6-12 months we've been struggling with him.
He is bright and doing well at school (yr 2), is sociable, behaves for grandparents and with friends.
He is also an anxious perfectionist and quite rigid in his thinking.
About 75% of the time he is fine, and when I'm at the top of my parenting game I can often manage to deflect an approaching meltdown.
However I'm 37 weeks pregnant and exhausted.
When he gets into a meltdown, maybe 4 or 5 times a week, he is an absolute nightmare. He's picked up horrendous language from his best friend at school (who is a really bad influence - not blaming the friend because DS is responsible for his own behaviour, but it is relevant) so he calls us fat fucking idiot, fat cow etc, hissing, spitting, hitting, breaking things.
I think (hope) this is within the realms of normal behaviour but I'm a bit terrified that it will carry on forever and he'll become uncontrollable as an older boy.
If you've been through this, is there light at the end?
Does he get immediate time outs every time he uses bad language to try to phase it out? My DD is also 6 and is clever but anxious also so goes into bad moods where she says she hates everyone (she gets a time out if she declares she hates a specific person in the family) and she says she's stupid, it's very stressful and I feel awful for her. I haven't found a solution yet
Time outs really don't work with him unfortunately, they escalate his behaviour badly.
We use a positive reward system for good behaviour.
For bad language or bad attitude we ignore until he stops, to the point we leave the room if possible. He responds best to a complete lack of attention and time out seems to give him more because then I spend the whole time trying to enforce it.
I’m not sure if time outs ever work in this kind of situation.
I am doing a parenting course where they have given really helpful advice about trying to understand a child’s feelings particularly when they say things like “I hate you” or “I’m stupid”. Recognise that the child is just trying to express a feeling, and do your best to guess at what the feeling is. “I hate you” is probably anger, so you can say “it sounds like you’re really angry at me.” “I’m stupid” might be frustration so you can say, “sounds like you’re really frustrated, it’s tough to have those feelings”. So you try to stay connected to the child even when they are doing or saying things you don’t like. I have done this with my son and it has worked amazingly well in some (not all!) situations to calm him down. The other thing is to notice, notice, notice when they’re doing things right and comment on it, not in an over the top “good boy well done” kind of way but more like “I noticed you shut the door quietly”, “I noticed that you turned off the TV when I asked” so that you’re giving loads of attention to the good stuff they do and not just the bad. It sounds a bit airy fairy maybe but these techniques have really helped me and make me enjoy him more, if that makes sense.
Not sure how helpful any of that is in your situation though - it sounds exhausting. But he clearly wants your attention - do you think he is anxious about the arrival of the new baby?
My son is 7 and can be like this, I find he's best just left alone as even speaking/ reasoning with him just escalates things!
Unfortunately although he goes through times where he's better behaved (he was very different in the holidays compared to
School times) it has never completely stopped.
All your strategies are good and advice given is good too, if your situation is anything like mine was (sounds very similar). I found understanding a few quirks helped (eg let him finish the tv programme he’s started if turning off will cause a meltdown - plenty of warnings, choose your battles etc). Showing empathy and calming a meltdown is better than getting angry but sometimes at the point of no return it just has to burn itself out. It is possibly not what you want to hear but it really peaked at 7/8 for us - then at 9 things improved hugely. I understand his triggers and can try to avoid them or calm him.
Good as gold at school throughout, thankfully.
Good luck OP it is hard hard work but if he’s like mine he will come out the other side a lovely boy (nearly!) all of the time.
Thanks everyone, and thanks @mariniere for your insight, to be honest I don't hate the idea of it getting worse if I know that there is light at the end one day! It's just the idea of him being a violent terrible teen that I can't cope with.
We've randomly found something that calms him really well this week, I bought one of those mops with an integrated squirt bottle and when he's getting antsy he goes and mops the kitchen floor, it seems to really distract him and bring him back down, random!
We're also working really, really, really hard on positive praise, even eg thanks for only saying shut up and not swearing, which sounds ridiculous but is working.
Hopefully when baby arrives it will take some of his anxiety away. It could ramp it up though and I'm prepared for that.
I don't have much advice but this age is really hard and you're not alone!
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