Handling the mixture of immature and mature behaviour(20 Posts)
I'm having issues with DS1, who is 10 and very bright, especially at maths / logic type stuff, but struggles with social stuff. The other day, he was really annoying his younger brother - trying to take over the game that DS2 was playing and do it his way. I told DS1 to stop several times, and when he didn't, I told him he needed to go to his room. I had to semi-manhandle him there - but then ended up having a conversation with DS1 with him asserting that he didn't need to calm down, he had stopped his unpleasant behaviour, and spending 10 minutes in his room would have no effect on the way that he behaved afterwards.
I find it really hard to deal with the conflict of the immature behaviour, and the pretty mature and sophisticated analysis of the inadequacies of my discipline system. How can I help him understand that he needs to apply the same maturity to the way he treats other people? We have had so many talks about the fact that it's not acceptable to hurt people who are annoying you, and if you want to join someone's else's game, you need to play the way that they are playing, even if you think that is boring. But his behaviour, although improving, is still a long way behind his understanding.
He is going to end up a pain in the arse at school if he thinks he can challenge reasonable instructions.
How do you want to play this? An authoritarian style 'I told you to go to your room and I'm in charge so you go or you face escalating sanctions'? (This is what will happen at school if he tries to argue). Or a better reason for him to go to his room? (E.g. You are annoying people and regardless of whether you think you need to go to your room, we would benefit from you being in your room and not in here, it's a break for us)
I wouldn't be having a conversation at that time tbh because he's playing you. I would give him either option as Noble suggests and completely blank any attempts to be drawn into debate with him then. Once he has completed the sanction and at a time more convenient to you then discuss with him the reasons why he got that sanction and how he can avoid repeating the same mistake and experiencing the same sanction again.
I used to use a mix of the two approaches Noble suggests the one with quickest effect was increasing severity of the sanction imposed. I would not have manhandled ds not least because he was as big as me at 10 but increasing sanctions moved him under his own steam and only needed threatening after the first couple of occasions.
I share your frustration!
We have had this issue with our dts since they started school (they are very bright but I am not saying they are gifted and talented). We held them back a year to give them a chance to mature but this has resulted in them learning nothing at school for 2 years, hence being bored and disruptive. The one less disruptive and more confident is now being given maths for the year above. The other more disruptive one (has also been promised more difficult work but it hasn't happened yet) continues to be bored and therefore disruptive. They just don't get it with a lot of the social stuff. Teacher says that they are in some respects still like infants in their social and emotional behaviour. I have noticed though that the DT who is now being given more challenging work at school has suddenly made huge jump.
Perhaps he likes going to his room and it is no discipline for him. Discuss it with him and check he understands what he has done wrong. Try making a plan together that will make him take responsibility for his behavior and his discipline.
Tell him to treat others as you would want them to treat you
do onto others as you would have them do to you.
Eventually the message goes home, but you will sound like a broken record at first (and you'll probably get bored before he does).
DS1 was like this - clever way of arguing but immature arguments. Its exhausting and I feel for you! When I say "DS1 was like this" I mean he's stopped recently but as he's 13, i am expecting it will come back stronger than ever in the next year or so!
I think he's ok-ish at school still, and at friends houses when we're not there. It seems to be at home that he is increasingly pushing boundaries.
I've been using a mixture of those two approaches - the authoritarian one has basically stopped working now. Our standard sanction is the removal of screen time but he has stopped responding to threats (even though he knows I will follow through). Once it becomes a battle of wills he won't back down. I can physically move him away, but won't be able to for much longer. And if I move everyone else, that usually means penalising them (small open plan house).
Hence attempting dialogue to try to engage cooperation. But I'm not very good at it, and we tend to get sidetracked into discussions of perceived unfairness. Plus the whole thing of not teaching him that it's acceptable to argue the toss on everything.
Insanity - what increasing sanctions worked for you?
I do already feel like a broken record on the subject of Do As You Would Be Done By. But when the behaviour is happening, he doesn't seem to recognise or accept that he is being annoying. I'm not sure how much of that is that he doesn't like being called on it.
Well if I removed something of theirs like screen time it would double for any dissent afterwards. Or if I had said they were to go to their room for ten minutes, they'd get twenty minutes for not gong immediately, and thirty if, after I had doubled it, they protested. Or I'd said they were going to bed early they'd go even earlier.
It never happened very often tbh because once they knew I'd double up they soon learnt to do as I said first time without protest .
My boys are adults now and we laugh about how strict I was. Their friends could never understand why they'd worry about being in trouble with me because I'm very small and don't shout and never smacked but ds said it was the calm, quiet, consistency that used to worry them Well, that and the "d" word of course, telling them I was disappointed in them really used to bother them so I'd save that for their more serious misdemeanors.
Hmm... that's the sort of escalation that just doesn't work now. He goes into "I don't care" mode, even though he does care desperately.
Is the going to his room the punishment? Would loss of screen time be an acceptable alternative to you? Then you can give him a choice "either you go to your room for ten minutes or you lose your screen time for today, it's your choice'. Then if he doesn't go, he loses his screen time and you can back off because he has been punished?
Sometimes backing them into a corner where they have to do as you say can be an issue due to this battle of wills. He can't back down and lose face, so you need to give him a way out.
I think you're right about the way out. But I didn't particularly want to punish him, I just wanted to stop him annoying his brother. Maybe I should have phrased it as a choice - stop being annoying or go to your room - rather than as a sanction at the end of repeated requests.
I come back to the DC afterwards when its all calmed down and ask them why they did x or said y. I don't just pretend to consider their opinions, I actually do and that seems to take the rest of the heat out of it. Then when we've finished talking about them, we talk about the effect on the other people involved - me included. Then we ask how this can be avoided in the future. Then I tell them how loved they are.
It sounds a bit touchy feely, not disciplined enough, but it has worked for me with both children (and stubbornness runs deep in their blood!).
I'd give up physically removing him by force now, or it will just be a continual test of strength until he beats you. If he's hurting someone though, I'd pointedly remove that child to give them a treat. There is nothing my sons hate more than their brother getting something nice that they don't!
Also I was taught some techniques for handling people effectively at work once. You never say "you are" or "you are being", you talk instead about behaviour as though its an external thing to them, rather than intrinsically part of them.
As though their behaviour is a coat that they can choose to put on or take off but its not who they are. This stops them from feeling they have to defend themselves apparently.
Yeah, I'm trying to do more talking - and listening - because I know that a lot of his behaviour is to do with him feeling things are unfair. He thinks that other children are being mean for not letting him join their games - even though that mainly stems from the way that he tries to take over.
You're right that I need to stop the test of strength. But I'm still not sure how else to do that. If it's just hurting his brother, then absolutely I can remove him for a cuddle, and focus the attention on DS2. But when it's DS1 spoiling a game, it seems really unfair to DS2 (or the other children) to make them stop playing their game, given that quite often there's not room to move it elsewhere. And if we start doing something else fun and deliberately exclude DS1, then he feels that we're being mean to him, and his behaviour gets worse. Maybe I should ask him for suggestions for that situation.
Will try the depersonalising behaviour stuff - thanks.
My boys hate the chat afterwards where we calmly discuss what happened (unless they still feel aggrieved and then its a chance to calmly state their side of the story).
I guess its a little like having to watch a video of yourself the morning after when you were drunk the night before and then justify your behaviour. I see it as part of the punishment!
it is really unfair on the others to let their game be disrupted, but what choice do you have? You can't keep physically pulling your DS1 away because it will put you at war with him, and he'll focus on winning. So, your only option is to pause the game for a while (disconnect it to stop DS1 from winning) and give the other children a biscuit or something.
I recognise that bit about just wanting to be allowed to play but not knowing how to get what he wants so becoming frustrated and charging in. We have had a lot of that too. The problem is compounded by DS2 who speaks rudely to his brother in a way that he'd never speak to his friends.
I recently gave both my boys a set of rules to govern this - ask nicely to play but promise not to take over. If its a yes, then keep your promise. If its a no, then arrange a compromise (e.g. turns or a time limit). If that can't be done, speak to me - but DO NOT FIGHT. If you fight, then blame is on both sides and I won't be able to help either of you.
It seems to be working i.e. now there's an effective justice system, they both that they'll get justice as long as there is no escalation, so everything has calmed down to the extent that they seem to actually like each other sometimes.
It does get better, I promise, but it is exhausting. This is for you
OP we had similar problems with DC's behaviour than realised we had spent a lot of time cultivating his academic and extra curricula pursuits but he really needed remedial emotional intelligence lessons. We did a lot of worksheets together and subtlely talked about feelings, empathy and did lots of role play. It's made a huge difference to his behaviour.
Oh, this drives me crazy! Place marking for answers.
Is he an avid reader? A tip I found on another website was to send them to their room to read for 20 minutes, not to punish them but to reset their mood. We've been doing it for about a year but DD still sees it as a punishment even though she loves reading. I think she'd rather watch CBBC.
ei - what worksheets did you use?
Bathsheba - he is a bookworm, and quite an introvert, so sometimes he does just need some space to calm down.
I have been trying to not get worked up and confrontational myself, and it seems to be helping.
Join the discussion
Please login first.