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Need help with handling five-year-old DS's angry outbursts

(30 Posts)
Scrumplet Tue 03-Nov-09 10:28:20

DS - who, for the most part, I'm not too worried about - has a temper which stumps my disciplining capacity. Once he has blown, he is so full of venom towards me, and thrashes about around the house, and I feel at a loss as to how to handle it.

Specifically, I need some help with what happened this morning:

- DS was up in the night for a while, which tired us both out
- He woke up too late to play/watch TV before school
- DS was furious about this, snarling at me that it was my fault for not getting up
- He called me stupid (a no no as far as I'm concerned)
- I told him, calmly, that a stupid mum can't help him get dressed or get a drink
- I said when he could treat me respectfully, I would help him
- He told me to bugger off, twice
- He spend the rest of the morning (not long by this time!) slamming doors, sulking and snarling
- I tried to keep my distance
- I said I would think today about what I would do about how rude he was this morning
- He sulked his way to school (for which we were late), where I left him

So when he gets home, what do I do about this? Because it was about TV, I'm inclined to say none for the rest of the day - with the message being that, when you try and bully your way into getting something, as he did this morning, well, you just don't get it.

In the moment, I have tried restraining - when he's in wrecking-the-joint mode - and it makes things ten times worse. I have tried redirecting him to expressing his anger healthily - pretty futile. I have told him it's OK to be cross/grumpy but not to take it out on me/the house. I bang on about respect ...

But otherwise, I don't really know what to do. I try to stay calm (which I don't always manage, because the rudeness and lack of respect make my blood boil). I don't want to allow myself to be terrorised. But really, nothing's changing.

Any advice? Thanks.

ladylush Tue 03-Nov-09 10:34:41

Do you have a dp? Do they help you with him?
I hope someone comes along with some useful advice re discipline strategies as I'm afraid I would be very intolerant if my 5yr old ds behaved in this way toward me. Has he always behaved like this? Just wondered if there had been any changes lately that might be affecting his behaviour. If not, maybe you need to take a harder line - no tv for one night imo is not a fitting punishment for such behaviour. I'd probably ban it for a few days. Interestingly I find tv makes ds's behaviour worse if he watches it a lot so I feel even more justified in banning it!

ladylush Tue 03-Nov-09 10:37:10

I would certainly say no tv in the morning for the rest of the week.

Scrumplet Tue 03-Nov-09 10:43:52

Thanks, ladylush. DS's dad and I are separated. We co-parent pretty well, really, but DS is with me five days out of seven, and for most of the more strained times - such as school mornings and bedtimes.

I think his behaviour is out of order, too. I cannot believe/stand it that my DS talks to me this way sometimes. I just don't know how to stop it single-handedly. And I hate saying that - it sounds so weak. But it's true.

I think no TV for a while is worth a try - but of course, the time when DS watches a bit of TV (not loads) gives me a bit of a break/time to shower/cook supper. I'll be slightly shooting myself in the foot if I take it away completely. Needs must, though.

Ironically, when I enforce this, DS will hit the roof and we'll have another round of door-slamming and rudeness. Then what do I do?

This is hard.

ladylush Tue 03-Nov-09 10:53:49

sad I do feel for you. I think you need to send ds the message that you will not be treated in this way. Would his dad help you with this? Imo he needs to be on board e.g talking to ds about his behaviour toward you and making it clear that it is unacceptable. How does ds behave when with his dad? IKWYM about tv giving you a break but maybe you just need to let things hang this week whilst you try it out? If you don't mind me asking, how long have you been co-parenting?

ladylush Tue 03-Nov-09 10:57:03

Have you tried rewarding good behaviour e.g sticker chart with treat such as cinema/soft play etc?

ladylush Tue 03-Nov-09 10:59:41

By the way, if you have any tips for how to get babies into a routine I would be most grateful. I'm ok with 5 yr olds but useless with babies grin I started a thread in the sleep section but haven't had any replies. Mind you, it was a bit rambling!

Scrumplet Tue 03-Nov-09 11:52:48

Thanks, ladylush. Been separated for two years. Things been more on an even keel for about a year. DS pretty settled with this now - several friends have lately commented on how content he seems. So, much of the time, I feel like I must be doing a good enough job. Phew. But this morning derailed me, as do several moments in this vein during the average week.

DS's dad doesn't have the same difficulties I do (to such an extent), but he has him mostly for down time. He also doesn't really connect emotionally with DS, IYSWIM; I really try to listen to him, give him the benefit of the doubt - and so he will let his guard down with me completely. With his dad, he tends to withdraw a bit, and then open up when he's back with me.

I do try to get his dad on board when I can. He's out of the country for a few weeks at the moment. I don't particularly like the way his dad sometimes treats women (for example, his mum - DS's grandma) - not particularly respectfully - and so there could be a modelling thing going on here. Worth chatting about.

I have been told I can be understanding and reasonable to a fault, and this is what's happening a bit here, I suspect - I'm making allowances for DS feeling tired and grumpy/needing someone he can vent to/finding it hard adjusting to going back to school after half-term - and getting walked on in the process.

On the basis of what you've said, and my own ponderings this morning, I have some ideas of what to try with DS later/this week - so thank you.

Not much of a baby expert, I'm afraid, but I'll take a look at your thread. Now, teenagers, I'm almost looking forward to! I helped friends out by being an ear for their (also momentarily derailed) fifteen-year-old yesterday, and seemed to make a real difference. So rewarding - but argh, what to do with my own son!

Thanks again for your support and ideas.

Oblomov Tue 03-Nov-09 12:44:27

Op, I have every sympathy. And please believe me whn I say you are not alone.
I have posted quite a bit about ds1, who is in Year 1 now, in the last 9 months.
His behaviour has been awful. But so has many many of the boys who he was in Reception with last year.
All the mums were shocked by it.

And my best friend thinks that her 10 year old , was not like this at 5, becasue society has really changed in the last few years. So unless you currently have a 5 year old , you wouldn't understand.

But... Basics.
And these are just mine.
1) no tv. def not tonight, maybe for few days.

2) does he actuially respond well to rewards and ounishments ? lots of bopys do. But lots of children don't. Mine doesn't. thus, you may need an alfie kohn type approach .

thinking, thinking, what else to suggest........

am at work. but will try and post later.

Jamieandhismagictorch Tue 03-Nov-09 12:45:13

Hi. Your post is VERY familiar to me - I've got a 6 and a 9 year old. ATM the 6 year old is in the answering back mode that DS1 went through at that age, so I have faith that it will pass.

What I would say about the situation you describe is that you are getting sucked into a debate with him, and retorting to his retorts IYSWIM. I do this too! But, what I would have tried would be:

1) Don't rise to his first blaming statement. Diffuse. Yes, he's in the wrong but you don't need to prove that to him, he's the child and you are the adult. You could have said something along the lines of : "it's a real shame we are out of time this morning (acknowledging feelings) - you can watch TV after school"

2) If this doesn't work and he then kicks off/is rude, send him to his room calmly, saying "You cannot speak to me like that, I will come and talk to you when you have calmed down"

3) Go and speak to him after about 5/10 minutes (assuming you've calmed down). Ask him if he is ready to talk quietly to you now. Ask him why you sent him to his room, OR just reiterate to him that you sent him to his room because he called you stupid

4) Ask him to tell you how he feels and LISTEN. If he is still raging, leave the room again.

5) If he has calmed down and talks to you politely tell him you are really proud he has calmed down and would like him to apologise

6) If he apologises nicely, he can watch TV later. If not, tell him he can't

Jeez this sounds long-winded written down !

He needs to get the message that you will listen to him if he treats you with respect/is not shouting.

Jamieandhismagictorch Tue 03-Nov-09 12:48:11

Sorry, as for what to do now, I'd say, definitely no TV tonight.

Carmel206 Tue 03-Nov-09 12:57:28

Agree with what has been said above - I think you need to show him there are consequences to his actions. He will work it out eventually if you consistnetnyl apply a withdrawal of privilage or treat and offer a reward for even small flashes of good behaviour.

It does sound difficult though - has he just been like this since you separated?

It is so hard to be the one to dispense the punishment but I htink you really need to do this - otherwise the situation will get more and more out of hand.

If it is an amicable split could you and exDP consolidate your apporach so you are both saying the same things and re-enforcing the same messages?

Good -Luck

BendandBreak Tue 03-Nov-09 13:12:23

I agree with Jamie, really.

I think you need to let him know how angry/ hurt you are with him because of this morning's behaviour; remind him of the main things he did, calmly; see his reaction and if he comes forward with an apology, accept his apology (of course) but make sure he knows how that behaviour will not be tolerated. Tell him the consequences if it happens again, ie. no tv for (however long).

If he is still in a mood/ angry or refuses to apologise, clearly outline what the punishment will be at home, ie. no tv and carry it through.

My girls are good at apologising......

Good luck

smee Tue 03-Nov-09 13:29:31

I'd say give him a chance if only because he was up in the night and so he was tired, so that explains the temper and let's face it he's only little.
fwiw, I'd say pick him up after school, give him a big hug and see how his day was. When you get him home, sit him down with a drink and a snack and talk about it. Insist you do this, but let him talk too, so he feels listened to. Ask him if he thought he was out of order? If he says no, well you have to insist he was, but if he meets you half way and says yes, then agree a course of action. Then tell him now you've agreed, that if he does do it again that's it, no tv.
Works here, honestly it does and DS can be a demon.. grin

DooBeDooBe Tue 03-Nov-09 14:23:59

Oh, kids like this are HARD. My dd (4.5) has violent outbursts too. I'm getting lots of "I hate you" at the moment. You are not alone. You just have to try and cope however you can. It is so draining, and like walking on eggshells.
Do these outburst happen often?? Were the words shouted in anger?? If so (like mine) I tend to ignore. We 'talk and listen' after the outburst (even when home from school)and explain about what is acceptable and not. Punishments make things worse ime. I limit playdates on the grounds I can't trust her to behave. That hits her fairly hard.
I'm not saying that I have the answer - just how I personally deal with it. When she is kicking off, I sometimes hold her (to stop her hurting herself) or put her in her room (and put her back about 30 times before she'll stay there).
As for school - we are late often too.
Good Luck - and keep strong. xxx

ladylush Wed 04-Nov-09 11:20:05

How did your chat go last night?

thekidscoach Wed 04-Nov-09 14:20:25

If your mind says take tv away then do it. I do not respond to my children when they do not treat me with respect. Ask him what would he like to do if he sleep late again - does he want you to wake him so he has time for tv in the morning. If so do it.

Scrumplet Thu 05-Nov-09 11:33:46

Thank you all for your advice - and reassurance that I'm not alone.

I'm so pleased to be able to post that the last couple of days have gone sooo much better.

When DS came home from school on Tuesday, I had an arsenal of sanctions, incentives, Thought-Provoking Discussions lined up for him grin - and so far, so good.

I had a list written down of the things he'd done that morning that I was unhappy about. He sat at the table with his snack and we talked/listened through it. I managed to stay calm throughout (always helps!), and started by simply stating what DS had done that morning. Unprompted, he apologised - sincerely and repeatedly. He explained that he had been feeling very tired lately - which I know he has - and couldn't help it. I said I understood how tired he was, and that this can make us grumpy, but he has to learn how to handle this respectfully. He agreed. I demonstrated how to be grumpy without taking it out on someone else!

I have also started a swear box, and 5p of DS's pocket money for that week has to go to his favourite charity each time he swears. First he said he didn't mind, because he wants to help the WWF hmm - but still, no swearing since Tuesday. wink

And, although not a fan of reward charts - I prefer the Alfie Kohn approach but God it's exhausting doing it on my tod - I made a sticker chart. When DS has had seven co-operative, polite school mornings and bedtimes, I'll take him to see 'Up' in 3D. He drew the poster of it, to go on the wall - and seemed pretty motivated.

He was rude to my friend's daughter that morning, so I asked him to make her a card to say sorry - which he did without fuss. He ruffled up my made bed before school, solely to wind me up, so I asked him to make it - which he did. There was no TV Tuesday night or yesterday morning - without complaint. Natural/logical consequences, which I'm happier with.

And he won the class prize yesterday for working hard throughout the day despite being tired (the teacher has noticed, too!). So we seem to have our mojo working again.

Feeling encouraged. Thank you all again.

Jamieandhismagictorch Thu 05-Nov-09 15:49:10

Yay. Can I come and ask your advice next time I lose the plot with DS2 ?

ladylush Thu 05-Nov-09 17:26:44

Well done Scrumplet smile Good to hear you sounding happy and in control of the situation smile I'm sure ds will be happier with those boundaries as well. That's the thing with kids - they push boundaries but so need them!

smee Fri 06-Nov-09 09:47:21

Scrumplet, yeay from me too. You sound like a fab mum. I just wanted to say you mentioned that you're a single parent and that he's like it with you, not with his dad. Just wanted to say don't let that guilt you. Small boys are like this with both parents present - mine certainly is. He challenges you most because you're the one he can feel safe with, so it's like an inverted compliment! My boy is mostly only like it with me, even though DH lives with us. He's just not around as much, so I get the brunt of DS's challenges.

Jamieandhismagictorch Fri 06-Nov-09 10:58:16

Yes, that's true smee

hellsbelles Fri 06-Nov-09 11:10:10

wow! Sounds like you really handled it well - and tbh he sounds like a lovely and thoughtful little boy with the way he is responding to your guidance.

And as SMee says small boys do this wiht both parents too - mine does!

Only other thing I would say is sometimes in the morning (when we are in a rush) I pick my battles with DS (6) . If something he does isn't 'terrible' - just morning grumpiness I don't make a thing of it - or I just defuse it with a joke or smile...and it stops it becoming a big set to....with him usually releasing how daft he's been.

But that isn't really relevant here as it sounds like you dealt beautifully with the situation.

ki28 Fri 06-Nov-09 12:25:56

hi, and well done!! We have just gone through the same behaviour but not as much or as angrey. now were back to a normal(hate that word!!) average behaviour,my mum asked if she could give me some advice and that she wished some one would ahvw told her wen she was a new mum. Its to try and make a joke if you see the naughtyness(not sure what other word fits the bill).


My son has just got into a prog called horrid henry on citv, bout a little boy is a bugger(to be honest) and very cheeky. in this programme is a girl who lives next door called 'moody margreat'.(who s moody at time ana rite girl) If a ask my ds to do something and he says no or is just kicking off for no reason, I give him a cheeky smile and say ' your never moody margreat are ya??' and laugh and he protests this laughing and then it back to the job in hand.
Dont why it works but is does and we base it round all other aspects of day to day life now.

also saying 'i bet ya crnt do that can ya' light hearted and joking as friends do to each has shown a good one to.

Not sureif this is for you,but for us it sure beat arguing all the time.

good luck x

hellsbelles Fri 06-Nov-09 12:52:11

KI - that's what I was trying to say - but you said it so much better grin

But Horrid Henry?!?? I've 'hidden' those books - DS was finding them rather too inspiring! After all the hero is naughty and perfect peter is portrayed as such a bloody wet!

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