I am desperate and don't know what to do(52 Posts)
I am having massive problems with my 6 year old son and feel our family is in real crisis. He has always been challenging but lately, both dh and i seem to have lost all control with him. He shouts, throws tantrums and hits. He frequently laughs in our face when asked to do something and has so much attitude. Today, as I was changing dd's nappy he was smacking me hard on the bum. The other night he called me fatty. I am more worried about my reaction. I am normally placid but I found he pushes me so hard and just now after 1 hour of trying to put him to bed and him playing up, waking up his dd I put my hand over his mouth and squeezed his cheeks to shut him up. He became hysterical and accused me of trying to kill him. I know this is abuse and I am needing to rely on physical force to get him to take any notice of me. It is just awful and I hate myself for the damage I must be doing to him. I have told him i hate him twice in the last 6 months and just feel like the worst Mum in the world.
His refusal to go to bed and night wakings started off all the negativity really. He seems to think he is the worst person in the world and is very scared of witches and the supernatural. he sucks his thumb and cradles a teddy which I think is abnormal for an almost 7 year old? He seems super sensitive to all the bad in the world and is full of anger and anxiety.
My husband tries army routines with ds. making him walk up and down the road etc. DS gets upset saying his daddy doesn't care about him, noone loves him etc. it is all such a mess. Most of the time I am a good mum but I just handle it all wrong when he starts pushing me. When I keep my cool and ignore his lashing out he does calm down and tell me the problem but when I am tired from both kids waking up in the night, I just can't always keep it. We have docs appt on tues as ds has been asking for a doctor. he says he wishes he was like his friends who aren't as clever as him and that he wishes he could switch his brain off. He has said he hated himself too. I know you will all think my reaction has started this thinking off but it was there beforehand but of course my anger has only made things worse. I just want to heal my family and make us functional again...
flipping heck, I think you need supernanny!!!
It sounds like you need to sort out some consequences for when he is naughty, sit down with your dh and decide what behaviour is not acceptable and what will happen if he breaks the rules. Talk to your son so that he knows as well.
Then I would focus on doing as much positive stuff with your son as possible and lots of reassurance, I am sure you know this but to tell your son you hate him is just about the most damaging thing you can do and I really think you need to talk to him about why you said that and that you do not mean it and that you love him very much.
You sound overwhelmed and stressed and I wonder how much support you are getting? As for thumb sucking and teddies - he is a child!! And I hate to say it but probably quite a scared little boy, let him be a child.
Yes contacting Jo has crossed my mind! We have done family rules which work for a while but seem to slide if ds thinks we break the rules and don't face a consequence.
Dh wants the situation solved and thinks i am too soft (I know I don't sound it here!) My Mum spoils ds rotten and makes his behaviour much worse. All my family live away so it is down to dh and I. We are at our wits end. Yes, I know he is scared and pushing us because he needs lots of love and reassurance, especially after dd being born. Its just so hard when he treats us like a punchbag!
Poor you this sounds really difficult to cope with.
I've no exact answer but I do have a couple of ideas:
Do you think he's attention seeking as his sister is a bit younger?
Is he having a tough time at school? Possibly falling out with class mates?
My DS went through a blessedly short period of tone when he'd declare that I'd ruined his life & that he wanted to die, even got a pair of scissors & threatened to stab himself the cause of his turmoil was a house move & problems at school with bullying. He just wanted more one to one attention & cuddles. He wanted to be babied again to feel safe (though he is a boy & I think he'd like to be babied for the rest of his life if possible!! )
Good luck I'm sure this is a phase that he'll get through with your support.
Ah thanks for your kind words petesmum. I was expecting harsh words so thank you...
I have and experienced that certain children, who are on the more sensitive end of the sensitivity spectrum, are then more sensitive to slightly adverse circumstances such as birth of a sibling and the stressed parenting that often goes with it...
So in other words, a child could be perfectly behaved etc, but then once things start to go a bit wrong for them with say jealousy or negativity, they can become very badly behaved in response.. sort of like an anxiety response.
So it isn't anything you've done wrong, its just he needs more stability and calm and positivity than some children would.
Stop feeling guilty, it sounds like you have a wonderful intelligent and sensitive boy there... just calm down and lighten up with him, he will be fine.
Keep it simple and happy, plenty of play and positive comments and don't panic because he will settle down in time ... a lot of the problem is you probably feel guilty and this is interfering with your ability to relax with him.
The problem is anxiety rather than not understanding what he is supposed to do so approach it in a different way.
How does your ds behave at school ? do they have concerns ?
He behaves really well at school. Thrives on reward and recognition and the feeling of success which is everything to him. Only the other day he told me, he was the brainiest in the class!
I'm so sorry you are finding things so tough with your DS at the moment. It sounds as though you are all caught in an awful vicious circle .
I would honestly suggest that you see if you can find some local parenting classes - not because you are a bad parent, but because you are a good parent who wants to be better. There are all sorts of charities and organisations running local courses around the country which will give you the chance to share ideas with other parents and gain some confidence. Try asking at your local Children's Centre, or your Health Visitor.
In the meantime - take a browse around www.parentchannel.tv/, which has lots of clips of experts and other parents talking about ways of coping with different childhood behaviour. You might find it reassuring and get some tips and ideas.
I think your OH's 'army routines' need a swift cull for starters!
I can't offer you advice other than to say having a teddy and sucking his thumb isn't abnormal behaviour for his age. I can empathize with dealing with a challenging six yr old. Ds is 7 and his behaviour was bad at 6 and has got worse at 7. Bad at school too. I'm just hoping that now he's in yr 3 he'll find the work more interesting and settle down.
Read your post and really felt sorry for you all, sounds tough at the moment. I'm sure it will get better. Can I recommend a book - the highly sensitive child, Elaine aron I think? It really helped me.
should have said I have read
bit mainly i remember my eldest ds being so attuned to me he picked up every mood
I was thinking of the HSC too! Poor you, OP, i feel your frustration.
Try dialling down your tone at all times when you speak to him. Try it for a few days and see what happens. You should take special care not to raise your voice or overreact when he's naughty. I find that DS gets overwhelmed by strong reactions and then backchats. I get through to him more effectively with a stern but quiet and gentle approach.
I am a bit concerned about this supernatural stuff - where is it coming from? Also how much TV does he watch - that can overstimulate children.
Army routines ?
I think there is a lot you conveniently haven't told us op.......
Fucking hell, that poor kid.
Is he scared of going to bed.. been watching Harry Potter etc ?
When I was 10 I was terrified of satanic type things.. all stemmed from an unsuitable film we watched called the devil rides out ..used to live in fear of accidentally saying the lords prayer backwards etc.. childrens fear can be very strong
I wish I had a magic wand that could help you - you sound worn out and very
I will say that sucking a thumb and cuddling a teddy don't sound odd to me for a nearly 7 year old, although mainly because my nearly 8 year old does both and it really doesn't concern me.
I hope things do get better for you soon.
Ok, on a more helpful note take a huge step back. Look at the way you and your partner behave towards the boy and how it could be effecting him, everything, from the way you react to him playing up to the things he enjoys doing.
Praise him where possible, don't get into silly rows and mind games, stop any screaming and shouting.
Then see what happens.
Could I just ask- does the Aron HSC book discuss bad behaviour as an anxiety response? (looong time since I read it)
OP- I hope it improves soon- It can be so hard when they're small, the lack of sleep makes everything 10 times worse I'm sure. I hope things improve for you soon.
His TV is Horrid Henry, Total wipeout, tracy beaker (which he has admitted upsets him sometimes) kid detectives and similar. I don't think he watches too much.I am not concerned about any of it. His peers seem to making the most impression, one telling him about 'bloody mary' so I had to look in the miirroe in front of him to prove her face doesn't appear in the mirror. It took ages to get him to calm down that night.
Yes the army routines just don't work although when dh took ds to the park and they did exercises, ds asked for more! Fair enough that teddy and thumb is ok. Again, his peers seem older for their age hence me asking (peers in road not peers at school)
Dh and I are not consistent, we rarely agree on how to deal with ds's behaviour which is where problems lie. We agree we need to go back to basics and will look at some of the suggestions you all make. Thank you.
Good luck cheekymonk
When things get out of control especially with the first its easy to be too tough on them or to over react.
Hopefully with calm routine and reassurance he'll settle down.. if not seek further help
Sounds like you need to turn this on it's head. If he thrives on the positive feedback he gets at school, you need to try and replicate it at home.
Consider a version of a star chart. Use positive language, never tell him he's bad or naughty, though he may be a good boy that has done naughty things.
Have a calm conversation with him and set some simple ground rules and goals.
Make sure you use positive language. Tell him what you want rather than what you don't want IYSWIM.
make sure that with this you have clear recognition and praise for his successes.
Get him involved in making a poster or a chart with the golden rules and the prizes.
Consider helping him to express how he is feeling, you can help him draw faces and use them to show you how he feels.
When you are dealing with his fears use positive language. If you say 'there are no witches' his subconscious doesn't hear the 'no'
Witches are only from made up stories.
Witches are only pretend.
Dig down into his fears, what makes him frightened and why? Where does he feel safe? Why??
It is really easy to get caught up in a cycle of negative feedback especially when you are tiered, sleep deprived and distracted by other children, but you have to work with your partner to find some reserve, prepare and spent some effort defining the good behaviour, helping him to achieve it and most importantly praising it.
Never get yourself into the situation again where you are holding him down. You have to walk away and find some composure or let your dh take over.
If foe his own safety you ever have to hold him, use a safety cuddle. Sit behind him, cuddle him and say mummy is keeping you safe till you calm down. You are safe here and you are going to start feeling better.
Cuddles are amazing things, stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to lower the heart rate and blood pressure and will help him to calm down.
Teach him how to cuddle himself to calm down, by helping him recognise his anger/fear and coping with it.
Keep calm and take control. He has lost control because he doesn't know how to deal with his feelings. Help him understand his feelings, recognise what they mean and how to cope with them
Take care x
Poor you - you have struck a chord today - we all feel like this some days!!
You and your partner need to have a long and hard think and talk about your parenting styles and how you want to be as parents. Once you have thought and talked this through you will be in a better place to sort this blip out. Work out ways to deal with situations where you can see and help when one parent is struggling which allow the other parent to step in without the struggling parent feeling undermined - very very tough!!
It is worth reading a few books if you can as this can give you strategies and ideas. I like "how to talk so your children listen" and "unconditional parenting". You don't have to follow everything suggested but it can make for a more relaxed house and allow you develop a better relationship with your son where he feel safe. Take great strength from the times when you do "keep my cool and ignore his lashing out he does calm down and tell me the problem". If necessary, write these down and talk to your DH about these.
Tell your son you love him and having your daughter doesn't change that one little bit. Tell him how lovely it is when things are going well and how difficult it is when it is not. Apologise for the times you loose it and say you hate him and acknowledge that parents are human and get things wrong.
Any "damage" you think you are doing can be healed by the love you obviously have for your son. Remember that as often as you can when you are "up against" it.
Night waking is a killer which is probably driving you all to the edge of insanity - many many people on here know what that feels like. Get help for this, on the two ocassions we have needed to, it was invaluable and really really worked. Talk to your health visitor and your doctor and if you can, find and pay for a private sleep consultant, talk to them about their approach and strategies first so they are in tune with your needs and how you want to parent.
I've extracted a quote from the kind of person I think would help your family: "combines cognitive behavioural approaches (which examine how children think, behave and feel) with systemic practice (which deflects blame by examining the role of each family member) and attachment theory (which focuses on building trust, reassurance and bonding between parent and child)." Now if only I could wave a magic wand, and fix it all....
OP - I had to reply as I was just like your son when I was his age - really terrified of the supernatural and in a bit of a world of my own. I think oversensitive children can appear naughty to other people, but they live in a bit of a world of their own. His behaviour is not an attack on you - and probably more than other children he needs complete consistency - and more than that - security. So - a lot of discipline doesn't really suit these children - they need to be talked to, held, comforted, have everything explained to them - without being made to feel they are wierd. You need to come across as together and comforting and very clear about your messages - and they have to be loving but firm.
It's an odd thing to say, but it can be hard work being a child when you are like this - it is hard when you are over sensitive/ big imagination - being very small but having big thoughts !
I remember finding life easier the older I got - people talk to you more like an adult, your friends are more mature - so, just because he finds it tough now, doesn't mean he will always be like this.
One last thought I totally sympathise with your son about wanting to switch his mind off - I still have that problem! What about meditation techniques?
My mum bought me a relaxation tape when I was about that age - it was a life saver, I listened to it in the evening before bed - very simple stuff, aimed at kids, imagine you are in a lovely field, trees everywhere etc etc....but I can still remember how calming I found it. I had a quick google and there's lots of stuff for children.
I used to lie in bed imagining the devil was going to get me in the night!...but that really helped...
Another calming idea could be yoga? Childrens yoga may include meditation techniques that he could use at home...or you could do together..
Exercises with dad sound a great idea - but marching up and down the road does not sound fun - why doesnt your DP sit down with your son and together they can create an exercise plan, that they can go and do together. That way it's not a punishment - exercise should be enjoyable anyway, not equated with punishments.
another thought - if he feels cleverer than his friends - is there perhaps a weekend class he could go to for particularly bright kids? Not to push him too hard, but for the sake of enjoyment. A science club or a reading club? It can be hard if you read a lot of have lots of thoughts but others around you don't. Have you spoken to the teachers about the gifted and talented track?
There is an interesting argument in Oliver James book 'how not to fuck them up' - where it says that if a child is insecure, you need to go back to the beginning and really baby them - let them act like a little child, give them all your attention, cuddle them a lot - make them feel safe again.
anyway, you aren't a bad mum - he is a kid with particular needs and you will learn how to work best with them - at least you are trying ! thats what matter.
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