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40 minutes it has taken me

(26 Posts)
BertieBotts Mon 19-Jan-15 17:17:32

To calm DS down after his friend left a playdate confused

If I do a bit of a run down can you tell me if this is normal/badly handled/excessive please? He is six. (Apologies if it takes you 40 minutes to read it blush)

I gave them five minute warning.
Friend's dad arrived. They ran off to "hide". OK fair enough. I played along, said "Ooh this sofa looks lumpy! Let's bash out the lumps!" etc to much giggling. Ohhh look it's two boys! Surprise etc. They run off to hide again in DS' room. "This is a really good hiding place!" Again we play along, oh, where are they, can't think where they are. I get DS out by tickling and say "Okay, good call, but time to go now"

Friend wants to show his dad one of DS' toys. Does so. OK. Nice segway out of the bedroom to the hallway. Dad tells friend it's time to get shoes and coat on. They've sort of wriggled past the coats back to the living room. Friend goes to hide again on sofa. DS tries to climb over back of it to get to him. I pull him down (not allowed to climb there). They end up in some kind of dance where friend is pulling dad in one direction and DS is pulling him in another, Dad plays along and says "Don't worry if you pull my arm off, I have 10 spare arms at home". We're getting a bit stuck back and forth again so I say "Friend, can you remember where you put your hat and shoes?" DS is cajoling him to go and hide again. I try to involve him. "DS can you remember where friend left his coat and shoes?" Friend's dad is talking about it being teatime for everyone.

DS responds "No! Tell them you can't find them! Let's hide!" etc. I grab DS gently and say quietly to him "Come on, it's time for friend to go home now. He's got to have his tea. Let's sit in here while friend gets ready and then you can say goodbye" while friend's dad sort of moves him into the hallway and starts assembling coats etc. DS is not letting up or calming down so I end up literally restraining him and holding him back, he and friend are reaching out to each other and giggling. I say to dad to just push the door closed between them so they can't see each other, which he does.

DS is struggling the entire time, flailing legs, darting about, trying to get past, turning it into a game almost (he laughs when he thinks he's got past me, but I'm still stronger than him.) Friend is finished, so opens the door. I try to plaster on an "I'm totally coping and in control and cool!" smile and say "Okay, DS, time to say goodbye!" start saying bye to friend, lovely to have you, thanks for coming etc. DS and Friend are now holding hands as though they are dangling off a cliff, never to be parted. (This is a pretty standard goodbye for them, having to be peeled off each other). Friend's dad makes some joke about The Force. I do that weird semi-apology thing and explain they have been fine and lovely all afternoon but it's as soon as parents turn up they go crazy. We calculate how many hours it is until they see each other again (about 2.5 awake hours.) I dislodge DS' hand and hold him back a bit, as friend is teetering at the top of the stairs and I'm worried his dad is worried he will fall down. He then sort of hovers for a few extra seconds while I'm thinking "Smile and wave! Now is your chance! Gooooo!" and doing the cheerful "Bye then! See you tomorrow!" thing. DS' t-shirt and hair are soaked with sweat at this point because of how much he's been fighting.

He's not really leaving so I decide to just go with looking insane and back away with DS just out of sight while waving. DS continues to struggle and try to get back to his friend until I hear the main door go downstairs, at which point I find it safe to let DS go and close our front door. Now, DS LOSES HIS SHIT and starts hitting and punching me. He hasn't done this for a really long time, so I'm thrown and start trying to restrain him again while saying "Stop it! Stop hitting me!". I remember the protocol, inform him he now has a screen ban and try to get him into his room to calm down. This doesn't help. I do the usual not-coming-out-of-room threat (both favourite games banned for a whole week, which is far more excessive than normal) but immediately realise he is not in any frame of mind to listen to this either, so give up on keeping him in his room and instead shut myself in my bedroom with my back to the door. DS stands behind me and kicks, pushes, rams the door to try and open it repeatedly while shouting that he hates me, he will never play with me ever again, that I'm stupid, etc etc. I just ignore this although it's taking all of my strength now to make sure the door does not move. After about 7-8 minutes he gives up and goes back to his room. I sit there for a minute or two more in case he's taking a breather to come back (not unheard of) and then hear him start crying. At first I think it's fake crying, then I can't work it out, then fake again, then, no, that's real, then it stops, then I think fake again. I'm not sure what's going on. It's now twenty five minutes since the dad arrived. Anyway he doesn't seem to be coming back, so I go and knock on his door and ask if he's OK. He says no and sounds angry but I think the crying was real crying. He says he's upset he has a screen ban and he doesn't have anything to do. I say well, you should have thought of that.

However, I'm sensing that he is really quite upset and I thought it might be a good time to connect so I decided to sit down and talk to him. We found out he feels so sad when he has to say goodbye to his friend. He feels like he never has a chance to finish his game. They were having so much fun and they didn't have enough time. He can't control himself when it happens. (TBH, I think he's picked up this phrase and thinks it's a get out clause.) I asked him what would make it easier for him to control himself and at first he said "Nothing." but then he said "More time." How much more time, five minutes. OK so I promised to warn them 5 minutes earlier next time. Lengthy discussion about how much time they had and what five minutes means. We were going around in circles so I agreed to that and got up to make his dinner.

End. And he's perfectly fine and normal and cheerful after this, some whining about the screen ban, but nothing out of the ordinary. He even came up with something non screen related to do (shocker). But, really? I mean, after this he did actually empty his bag and his lunch was half eaten. So he could have been low-blood-sugar-ing. But still, what a bloody... argh. Are other six year olds like this or do I just have an exceptionally persistent and/or emotional one??

spritesoright Mon 19-Jan-15 18:27:13

My sympathies. You must be totally drained after that, it sounds completely exhausting for both of you. I don't have a six year old, I have a three year old but he does sound particularly strong willed.
Have you thought about threatening not to have his friend over for a while if he behaves like this? It seems like a natural consequence to me if he can't deal with the friend leaving. But perhaps you wouldn't want to follow through with that.
I hope you're feeling a bit better.

BertieBotts Mon 19-Jan-15 19:06:00

Well he is an only child, so I can't really ban him from having friends over, that seems really unfair. And he's like this whenever he has to separate from a friend (less extreme but the same kind of behaviour) - when I picked him up from a friend's house the other day I had to carry him out of the friend's room, deposit his shoes, coat and bag in the hallway (of the flats) and I was intending to carry him out there and make him get dressed there but then the friend's mum appeared with a party bag (!!) so I used that as leverage saying I'd leave it behind if I had to carry him, so he got ready sensibly.

After kindergarten it takes a while if these two are in the cloakroom together, they wind each other up. It's better if his friend (same as today)'s mum is there rather than his dad, but we are both having to constantly be on top of them, reminding them to focus, getting them to race getting ready rather than forget getting ready to make some complicated game/song/chant/fart noise but I have had to physically pull him off him and carry him away before. Usually they are OK-ish as we split in different directions but he will wander off halfway down the road in the wrong direction occasionally.

I am drained! Better now he is in bed grin DH came home while I was checking DS was in the shower and I practically fell on him. He brought me a kit kat grin

Georgethesecond Mon 19-Jan-15 19:15:06

I think you have to start to talk about this behaviour before the play date. Tell him what you expect, then it is more a case of "DS what did we talk about?" when he kicks off. It will take him a few goes to get the hang of it, but you need to be very explicit about what you want him to do. And suggest that his friends' parents will be less keen on play dates if they have to go through that nonsense at pick up time.

Enjoy your kit kat!

spritesoright Mon 19-Jan-15 19:15:35

Ah yes, if he's an only child I suppose he needs friends to play with. I thought it was just the one friend he was like this with.
Thank goodness for DH and the kit kat. My DH will listen to my occasional debriefings but I'm not sure he really 'gets it' or understands the intensity of our relationship as he's at work all day.

You gave me some really good advice on dealing with rejection from my 3 year old and I didn't want to read and run.

I'm afraid I can't be terribly constructive except to say I can't see what else you could have done.

BertieBotts Mon 19-Jan-15 19:32:15

I have talked about the behaviour at kindergarten pick up but it's like when he gets into the whirlwind of it all happening he's beyond communication let alone remembering something we talked about. It's like the only option is firefighting.

I don't think I'm really looking for advice on how to deal with this any more, unless I'm very obviously doing something terribly wrong, it's more is this normal or have we got to a point where we need to perhaps look at the possibility there is something more to his behaviour. It's not just this issue it's just this was a particular example of something which is striking me as "Does everyone have to go through this?"

Honeydragon Mon 19-Jan-15 19:35:48

Ahem, I usually produce leaving gifts of a small bag of Haribo at going home time (for guest to take home) and one for own child.

I give it with "thank you for being so lovely and well behaved you two".

I know it's a cop out.

I prefer the easy life blush

TheReluctantCountess Mon 19-Jan-15 19:37:51

I'm knackered just reading that!
My son is eight and episodes like you describe have been rare, but not unheard of in our house.
I think you need to try to nip it in the bud earlier - set out really clear expectations before the dad comes to pick up his son.
It sounds like they had a bloody good time and are both tired.

Ubik1 Mon 19-Jan-15 19:39:10

I always to the
'Im going to count to ten and if you don't put shoes on etc you will be on trouble'

Counting to 10 always worked with mine. You also need to get control fairly early on - after the first bout of 'hiding.'

BertieBotts Mon 19-Jan-15 20:29:43

I've never heard of the party bag thing! Plus don't really want to fill visiting child with sugar on the way home...

Ubik counting to 10 doesn't work when he's beyond caring about the consequence.

Honeydragon Mon 19-Jan-15 21:32:14

Oh lord not a party bag, just whatever is small in the cupboard grin

WipsGlitter Mon 19-Jan-15 21:37:04

You have my sympathies. I once had to physically carry DS out of someone's house with him screaming he hated me. I think he's just having so much fun he can't cope with it ending. It's one of the reasons I HATE play dates.

Stumbleine Mon 19-Jan-15 21:42:22

Sorry no advice to offer. But you have just described the exact scene in my house on quite a few occasions when both dd and ds had friends over!

They are 10 and 8 now and you'll be relieved to know those crazy goodbyes are a thing of the past. It generally tends to be a civil affair nowadays, as opposed to a scene from 'The color purple'.

dancingwitch Mon 19-Jan-15 21:42:32

DD is only five & hasn't gone to this extreme yet but I could envisage her doing it. It is usually a combination of not enough food at the right time plus not knowing what to do with her emotions. Regular chats acknowledging it is sad to say goodbye to friends, annoying to have games interrupted etc are all I can suggest. Threatening not to have friends oover would be a genuine concern & reason for DD to be well behaved when she is rational but not in the heat of the moment.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Mon 19-Jan-15 21:44:54

Ok that's fairly full on and I think you are right to be a little concerned about it. Is it just when he has friends over? Or is at all transitions? Is there anything eel in his behaviour that troubles you?

I would go much further with the countdowns, so letting him know when he has 15 minutes to go, then 10, then 5. I'd even consider making some big count down cards so he has a visual reminder. I'd also make sure coats and shoes were all laid out and I honestly wouldn't join in with the hiding games, I can see why you do, but it's really not working out so stop. There's a lot of attention being given to both boys here, which isn't helping.

I'd do him a social story to help him understand the 'rules' when someone comes over to visit. And I think you need to get the other parent on board too. Keep everything very calm, firm and factual.

arlagirl Mon 19-Jan-15 21:47:21

I had a similar situation when my D's had a particular friend over. The boy started play fighting, running upstairs etc when his dad arrived.
His dad was totally ineffectual.
Used to take me half an hour to get rid of him.
So at 5.25 I would get his coat on and shoes and make him sit on bottom step ready for dad coming at 5.30. As dad knocked on door, I took his hand and handed him over on doorstep.

MoreSnowPlease Mon 19-Jan-15 21:56:45

I'm just worried I have this to come helpful
seriously though, reading it if I was in your ds shoes I wonder if more warning before dad arrived would help? And then don't entertain so much hiding. Once if you want and then stop looking. He's stalling and hoping you'll change your mind and Starr talking to the dad and getting angry that hasn't happened. So he feels robbed of his time with friends because he spent it stalling which although fun wasn't really what he wanted to be doing? Make it very clear that there are 5 more mins he can do what he wants in and then they are going. If poss in front of the dad as he sounded like he was following your lead and really you just needed him to leave. Say something like "i have to start dinner now,lovely to see you" after 5 mins are up. Don't let ds cling to any notion of you extending your chat with the dad.

I used to use these stalling tactics as a kid and got similarly angry when they didn't work because sometimes they did.

FarelyKnuts Mon 19-Jan-15 21:58:43

I'm only going on what you described but from his perspective you kept playing when the dad arrived. So for him the play date wasn't over when you said and yes I understand why you did it.
But to him it was play play and then stop and restraint very quickly iykwim?
What about a 5 minute wind down as the play is ending? So 10 minute warning. Then 5. Then winding down to helping friend get coat hat etc and saying goodbyes?
And as other posters have said setting out clear expectations like "I expect you to say goodbye to friend and stop your game and I will give you a warning so you have time to finish. I expect you to be polite etc"

WipsGlitter Mon 19-Jan-15 22:00:53

On the flip side another child had a total meltdown here because he couldn't take a toy home (I didn't mind but his mum didn't like them doing that). This dad carried him out and ten minutes later the car was still parked in our drive! God knows what was going on in the car!!

LizzieMint Mon 19-Jan-15 22:01:05

My DS has a friend who is quite like this (they together are inseperable so we also have the peeling them apart scenario). He's also an only child, I wonder if it's connected as it maybe feels playmate time is too limited?
Anyway, I've always worked on the basis of three chances : first time you ask them, second time you tell them, third time you do it for them (putting shoes/coat on etc).
I also would cut out the joining in with the hiding - you are 'approving' of the behaviour by joining in, even though it's completely the opposite of what you've asked them to do. So confusing for them when you do insist on following through - as far as they know, you are still playing.

But do be reassured, every child tries it on to a greater or lesser extent when it's time to come home. Mine all do anyway.

BertieBotts Mon 19-Jan-15 22:02:53

I am so relieved to hear others have the same issues. I remember hiding being a pretty normal thing when I was younger (parents always seemed to take it as a chance to have a cup of tea and a chat) and I don't mind playing along to an extent - I think it's a bit joyless not to play along at all but it's the reaction when I say OK that's enough now which was making me think it was all a bit "too" much.

It does seem to make a difference which parent - they create less of an explosive twosome with me and the mum than me and the dad. I don't know about DH, I'll ask him. I think Dad is less used to doing these transitions with this pair.

DH reckons it might help to have more friends closer to his age as well - this friend is around 18 months younger and they don't really have a lot of the same interests unless they can do very physical running, jumping, chasing kind of play which is impossible in our tiny flat.

I will do more countdowns next time and try timing it better/offering bigger snacks so they're not screamingly hungry!

ch1134 Mon 19-Jan-15 22:03:09

- choices. 'Friend's daddy is here now. Shall we get coats or shoes on first?'
- positive language. 'You two have been playing beautifully this afternoon. I know you can put your coat on just as nicely'
- challenge. Let's see if shoes can go on by the time we count to five.
- Expectations. ' friend is off now. Bye! Which window are we waving from? Can you get there before he shuts the car door?
- more positivity. I'm so proud of you playing nicely, saying bye nicely, being polite...
- in the case of a meltdown, don't threaten/ bargain/ lose your cool. Say gently 'oh it's hard when friends leave. When you've calmed down we'll think of something nice to do / eat/ read'
- good luck!

BertieBotts Mon 19-Jan-15 22:07:10

And when the weather gets warmer that will help. Can take them to the park etc rather than letting them hole up - DS is a bit rubbish at playing without directing everything and kept wanting to show his friend stuff on the playstation which friend could not have been less interested in. (A child, not entranced by screens? I thought this was a mythical being...) I'm sure it's an only child thing but the only way to improve it has to be more playdates?? I reckon he'd have loved a close in age sibling, would have suited him down to the ground. Ah well, it was not to be.

MoreSnowPlease Mon 19-Jan-15 22:09:01

Was going to say take them out so they are so worn out they don't have energy to hide. Even in cold weather??

GlitterKandinsky Mon 19-Jan-15 22:10:50

My DD was exactly the same at his age whenever her best friend came over. Would take 30 mins to get visiting child to leave and then meltdown. She was never violent (not her style) but would have a massive strop with hysterical sobbing and dramatics.

I spoke to the friends mum we decided that instead of picking our child up, we would drive visiting child back and leave our own child in the car when doing the handover. Either that or have a play date in neutral territory like the park, or at least do the handover there. This cut down on the high jinks and tantrums to some extent.

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