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He WANTS to be naughty....

(24 Posts)
aloha Wed 18-May-05 20:35:57

Ds (3.8)has never been what I would call a naughty child. He has his moments certainly, but he is pretty easy in my opinion. However, he suddenly seems to actively want to 'be naughty'. He will deliberately do stupid things like refuse to stop jumping up and down so I can dress him, or listen (yes, I know, normal. Infuriating but normal) or will pour bathwater on the floor after being told not to.
What is odder is that he finds the idea of being naughty totally thrilling. He even makes up incidences of being naughty - he says he has done things at nursery that when I ask the staff (in a 'Ds has told me this, is it true because if it is I think you are handling it just right and am pleased' sort of way) they often tell me that he's invented the whole water-throwing/food messing/whatever incident. He has even told me things like "I just poured water on that boy' when I was watching the whole time and he did no such thing and couldn't have done it even if he wanted to as there was no water about! Also if he has done something remotely naughty, he will tell me so while grinning from ear to ear, and then, even if punished by time in his room, will repeat the story excitedly to dh or even to his grandma on the phone. We are at a bit of a loss how to respond to all this. I am trying to get cross when he tells me has 'done something naughty' partly because sometimes I don't even know if he has or not, and even if he had, I'm not sure why he's telling me.
Today he told me he hit baby (his baby sister) on the head with an apple. Yes, there was an apple in the pram next to her head, but I know he can't have hit her as she was still asleep!
I am sure that having a sibling must be part of all this - though he is very pleased with her 99% of the time - and he may be coming up to an awkward age, but this made up naughty behaviour combined with deliberate contrariness is baffling dh and me. He has gone to bed without any stories for pouring water all over the floor at bathtime (dh's idea) - seemed genuinely distraught, but I'm really not sure he's learning from it.
Does any of this make any sense? Suggestions welcome!

Donbean Wed 18-May-05 20:41:26

Act completely bored with the stories.
Dont respond, dont question him just act bored/uninterested.
I read this some where, cant remember where but it makes sense not giving it attention.

galaxy Wed 18-May-05 20:45:20

No help, but sounds like me at the same age. I was the cute blonde chatty 3 year old who put my elder shy sister in the shade.

Then along came this even cuter baby brother. Cute and blonde turned into horror!

It's bound to be a phase and he's usinghis making up stories to ensure he is still getting mummy's attention.

Hang in there!

PrettyCandles Wed 18-May-05 20:45:28

He's discovered one of your 'buttons' and boy is he pressing it! Low-key or total lack of response seems to me the best solution to the stories or attempted naughtinesses. If he does something vaguely naughty, don't punish him, just ignore it. If you can't dress him, just get up and leave him, busy yourself with something for a couple of minutes and only then, if he's settled down again, go back to dressing him. Basically don't reward the behaviour by any reaction.

aloha Wed 18-May-05 20:53:29

Just realised I put in a typo - I am trying "NOT" to get cross when he tells me these stories, though I don't want to be so laid back that he is torturing cats just out of sight and I allow him back to do it again.
PC I know you are right - though as I'm sure you know very well, this is a lot harder when getting ready for nursery or trying to leave the house before the baby wants another feed. Mind you, if I did walk out the room there is a good chance he would calm down so I will try it.

Marina Wed 18-May-05 20:54:32

That all sounds pretty logical from the point of view of a small, usually biddable boy with a new sibling. Your ds, like ours before him, is enjoying the vicarious thrill that a basically easy child gets when they have been told off. Resist the temptation to retort "ha! naughty? you don't even know where to begin!" at all costs aloha.
This "oh, look! I've been naughty" phase is the start of their understanding right from wrong, and it leads on to them becoming rules-obsessed snitches in Reception and Year One.
I think your ds is going to just love Horrid Henry - mine jeers constantly at Perfect Peter, but if you asked anyone which character ds more closely resembled, I know what they'd say.
You may also find your son expressing a fervent admiration for Syndrome, Darla, Zurg, Randall and even that wretched boy who torments his toys in Toy Story.
He is looking for a response from you when he says he's done something naughty, because he now knows that some naughty deeds are serious, whereas some barely register on parental Geiger counters. I remember it being quite a tiring and repetitive process, but you need to decide your sliding scale of acceptable/unacceptable deeds with him and your dh, because he's actively seeking that guidance. And having a laugh at the same time.
And at some level, he is also working out that there is a difference between wanting to bop your baby sister on the head with a piece of fruit and doing it, wanting to and not doing it because you realise it's wrong, doing it and being caught and doing it and getting away with it.
My turn to say does any of this make any sense

motherinferior Wed 18-May-05 20:57:58

Good grief, Aloha, how baffling. I would never associate him with 'naughty'.

Do you think there may be something in the fact that his sister's unpredictability (I know she's a dream baby - sigh - but just the waking, feeding, stuff that all babies do) is both intriguing and enviable? Is it partly just a thrilling experiment with new ways to behave?

motherinferior Wed 18-May-05 20:58:41

And Marina got there first making sense, dammit.

PrettyCandles Wed 18-May-05 21:04:24

Marina and MI - what you say makes such good sense. It really puts some of my two bears' behaviour into perspective!

Aloha - sympathies . I confess to sometimes just pinning the little bear down on the floor and squidging her into her clothes while she screams her head off in order to get out on time. It's a luxury to have the time to react 'correctly'!

aloha Wed 18-May-05 21:05:17

Oooh, Marina, that's certainly stuff to ponder about and I know you are right, and insightful and have clearly been there. So help me! What do I do? Hold my hand through this -what should I ignore and what should I respond to? Is there a chance that ignoring will lead to an escalation?

aloha Wed 18-May-05 21:06:18

This is all helping btw and I am grateful. Off to eat supper with dh and will be back. Thanks.

cori Wed 18-May-05 21:16:50

My DS is the same I think. At times when I praise him for being a good boy for tidying up, eating his dinner etc he says' no I am a naughty boy'. He has actually said at time he doesnt want to be good, wants to be naughty. I have also noticed that he has made friends with the 'naughtiest boy' at nursery.
The other puzzling thing is that we have recently started a star chart to reward him for eating his vegetables, it is working well he seems to be eating vegetables but when I go to give him the star he says 'no star' like he doesnt want to be rewarded.

aloha Thu 19-May-05 10:02:03

Of course he's been the most adorable little angel this am and skipped into nursery!
He he mostly lovely, and he is worse in the evening when he is tired.

Marina Thu 19-May-05 10:15:24

Back again this morning - sorry to cut and run there aloha.
From everything you say about ds he does sound not dissimilar to mine - an essentially loving, loveable child who likes pleasing his parents almost to the point of anxiousness about being naughty.
Our house rules are the usual suspects - we don't do or say anything to hurt other people: so no shouting, hitting, name-calling or pushing. We are specially careful around anyone smaller than us. We acknowledge when spoken to, however busy we are, and if someone asks for help with something (Bionicle busting, table-setting), we find time to do it asap. I am sure you do all of these and more already.
If these rules are broken we always apologise and explain and the other person must listen to the explanation without interruption. We then agree to leave it there with a hug, unless nasty names or violence were used. Or an apology is refused. Our 100% effective BIG sanction is loss of a story at bedtime. If the transgression is a temperamental one he is sent to his room to cool off, or if a toy was involved it is confiscated for a time.
We ignore petty attention-seeking behaviour because with ds it doesn't tend to escalate into dangerousness or destructiveness, and I'd say you're very probably going to be in the same boat. Has your ds ever had a major tantrum? I bet not - some children just don't get angry enough. I feel I should say at this point that dd is already a carpet-chewing, heel-drumming, cutlery-chucking diva, so I am not ascribing ds' innate easiness to my own skills .
I think at his age and with his good levels of understanding and interaction with adults, your ds can start to have useful theoretical conversations with you about house rules and the impact of naughtiness on others - you, his baby sis, his step-sis, his little pals. I think almost all preschool children with good adult role models in their lives are essentially kind and eager to start flexing their empathy muscles, so focusing on how any misdeed makes other people sad or hurt is a good one - including him - "and if you don't stop squeaking the stairgate NOW your Megazord is going on top of the wardrobe".
Plus appreciative comments when help is offered unsolicited, toys are shared nicely, etc, of course.
With regard to the "wanting to be naughty" because it looks so much fun, almost all thrilling villains end the film or book friendless or reformed. Disney makes me spit tacks at times for various reasons, but its "cheats never prosper" hardline does hit home.
Oh, I hope this helps. A lot of it is based on reading other people's previous terrific posts over the years on positive discipline for preschoolers, I have to say!

PuffTheMagicDragon Thu 19-May-05 10:30:51

Marina has said everything so eloquently (move over Supernanny ).

Rofl at children who become "rules obsessed snitches in Reception and Year 1" - I remember them well - the little darlings !

motherinferior Thu 19-May-05 10:36:47

I have taken to saying 'well, you have to do it because we all live in the house together and have to help each other' in sententious manner to which DD1 replies 'you're always saying that' with a huge sigh

PuffTheMagicDragon Thu 19-May-05 10:39:20


Marina Thu 19-May-05 10:58:19

ROFL MI! we have "do we have to respect each other all the time mum" with much eye-rolling. We do also have plenty of arguments and boundary testing I should point out (especially from dh )

aloha Thu 19-May-05 11:05:32

No,he has never had a tantrum - unlike his mother!
We do talk a lot about why we must listen to/help each other etc etc
I do suspect it is a phase and a bit of testing and if we go easy on anything that doesn't really matter then life will be easier while we ride this out.
I have never heard of a child inventing totally fictional stories of being naughty before! I suppose that's why I wondered if he really understood punishment - if he did, why tell us he did naughty (ie punishable) things when he hasn't? I find it very odd.
Better than actually doing the naughty things though, I suppose.
I might have to have a Conversation about listening to each other I think. As he doesn't!
Typical absent-minded professor, I think. More interested in counting to 1000 than putting on his socks. God, he sounds a right weirdo when I write that, doesn't he!

Marina Thu 19-May-05 11:15:02

Maybe because he has worked out that as parents go you are so incredibly reasonable and he fancies some fireworks?

Blu Thu 19-May-05 11:16:35

Oh, bless him.
It sounds to me as if he is imaginatively exploring the concept of 'being naughty' in the same way that he might soon latch on to the concept of super-heroes or whatever, and is hugely enjoying the whole thing, and that this has converged rather inconveniently with baby-sister.
I think DS sometimes deliberatly 'acts naughty' with me simply as a way of exploring what happens between us - it's an emotional and psychological adventure, just like doing something risky on the climbing frame.

And I think that just like risky behaviour on the climbing frame (and yes, your DS will get round to it) you have to let them explore, whilst saving thme from themselves. So maybe being firm and persistent with boundaries, but don't let it become catastrophic for him. Which you would never do, anyway. Like no 'extreme' banishing of toys or valuable priveliges.

I'm sure it's a novelty, picked up at nursery, and he is conducting a home experiment. It sounds v v wearing - but I bet it will pass soon!

elliott Thu 19-May-05 11:16:45

crikey marina, your discipline techniques sound so...well, civilised compared to our house which is screaming and tantrums all round, I'm afraid! Well not quite that bad, but I can't quite get my head around the idea of calmly talking things through in that way!

Marina Thu 19-May-05 11:25:39

We do our full share of apologising to ds for shouting Elliott although we don't throw cutlery or shove...this scenario is us when all is going to plan...!

Blu Sun 22-May-05 23:53:20

Aloha - Ds told me he had weed in his trousers and on the carpet today - when he had done no such thing. I am sure he wanted to wind me up a bit / get my attention.
I was cooking, he said 'I need to wee' I said 'off you go then', and he carried on playing / trying to get me to go with him, I reminded him to go a few times, he didn't, then I told him I'd be cross if he didn't do as I asked and go to the toilet now...he dissappeared and called from half way up the stairs that he had wet himself. He hadn't.....but I had stopped cooking to go and see...One Love to BoyBlu!

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