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Struggling with 8 year old ds(16 Posts)
I'm really at a loss as to how to make things better and hope someone may be able to help point me in the right direction please?
i have always struggled being a mum to ds, he was a poor sleeper (putting it mildly) and didn't settle well. I had pnd which was undiagnosed for the first 8 months. I struggled to bond and wished I was dead or that I never had him. It breaks my heart that I felt that way about him when he deserved much better.
I am not a natural when it comes to parenting, dh works away for months at a time and although I wanted to do my best it has never seemed enough. I have experienced several further depressive episodes since pnd which I sought help for.
My problem is I am not patient with ds and get angry and shout at him. I really want to be better but can't seem to control myself. His behaviour lately is more challenging and he's still a poor sleeper. I feel that is due to my relationship with him and its me that's making him like this. I want to change but don't know how. He doesn't seem to get the same enjoyment on things that other children his age do and I fear I have sucked the life out with my depression and shouting. I want to get better, if you have managed to get to the end of the post and have any advice I would really appreciate it. I want to make him happy and be a good mum but seem to have lost my way somewhere
Sorry you are struggling like this. I have no experience of depression so I can't really advise you on that part of it but please don't blame yourself, I'm sure like all of us you have tried to do your best even if you haven't always been perfect.
I think that sleep is such a fundamental thing that you probably need to work on that first and you might be better off posting this in that category. Does he struggle to get to sleep, or is he waking in the night, or both? Have you looked at his diet? How much exercise is he getting? Is something worrying him? How do you deal with it at the moment?
It must be very hard if your dh is away such a lot, and what I will say is that as the mother of 3 boys I firmly believe that at this age they do really benefit from time with a father or other adult male, so if your dh isn't around to help is there an uncle or family friend or someone who would be willing to do things with him? What is his relationship like with his dad?
If you are struggling with shouting and how you relate to your ds, then Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting worked for us, but equally How To Talk So Kids Will Listen has some good ideas... I hesitate to recommend either wholeheartedly but sometimes a book can help to pinpoint things that you kind of knew already but weren't sure how to handle.
Sorry if this all sounds a bit woolly but my main point is: your relationship with your ds is NOT unfixable, and please don't be too hard on yourself.
Thank you Caitlin for your kind response.
With the sleep issue its getting him to sleep that's the problem, some nights he's still awake gone midnight. It's rare to be asleep before 10.30pm even though bedtime is at 8pm. We have checked diet, tried bath then bed, reading stories to him or him reading to me, he doesn't have a TV in room. No computers close to bedtime (he only gets 1 hour after school). We've also tried audio books, relaxing music, warm drink before bed etc. it's been getting worse over a few years. He's an active not, always on the go, plays football and walks the dog with me each day. On a weekend he can go for a bike ride, football match and 2 dog walks and still not sleep that night even though I'm on my knees!
I think you are right about having a male influence in his life more, I've often felt he's missing out there. His relationship is good with his dad and he really misses him when he's away working. It can sometimes lead to problems where DH would let him do things I wouldn't etc when he was home to compensate for not being there I suppose but this caused problems in itself with us being played off against each other etc so he does try to stick with our routine as much as possible now.
Thank you also for the book recommendations, that's really useful and I will look both of those up. Fingers crossed I can turn this all around! x
Hi wonder, that does seem very late, my eldest ds was a bit like that and sometimes the more he did the more he found it hard to wind down so I couldn't win! Have you tried just having him read by himself for half an hour - not saying you can't read to him first or vice versa, but just maybe having that time alone just with a book rather than any other stimulation might work? Does he sit up and read if he can't sleep or does he just fidget?
With regards to his dad, is he able to have contact with him whilst he is away, like a daily Skype or emails or even ye olde phone call or is that impossible?
I do feel for you, you sound lovely and I am sure you can work this out.
He can read by himself, the problem is he seems to still not wind down, I have ended up going to bed and reading otherwise he plays around in his bedroom. I'm even tempted to put him in the spare room which is comfy but wouldn't have all the distractions his room has. Sometimes he's just jumping around on the bed or making up games in his head. So he's a bit of both really - sometimes just reads and others he messes about.
He doesn't speak to his dad very much (maybe 3-4 times a fortnight) when he's away, mostly due to the shift pattern but I think I will make more effort here to make time for them to have a little chat, maybe he's feeling insecure and having more regular contact would reassure him.
Thanks Caitlin I though parenting got easier as they got older!
You sounds like you are doing a great job. It is easy to blame ourselves for our children's quirks, but I know that sometimes I see fantastic parents with very challenging children, and less engaged parents with "easy" children. What I am trying to say is don't assume his behaviour etc is a result of your actions, he is who he is, and you love and support him.
Sleep is essential. Do you ever get a break for yourself to recharge? Could he go for sleepovers with a grandparent/friend?
Speak to your Doctor/school about your concerns regarding his high energy levels and resistance to sleep, or need for less sleep than "normal". They may have advice, support available.
I am sure he knows how frustrating you find his sleep issues, my 8yo Ds winds me up with this too, and I find a star chart useful for time to time. He thinks of Something he wants to buy for a set price, and for the next X nights I check on him at 8.45pm and if he is asleep he gets a star I the chart. Ten stars - gets to buy it. It usually takes 20nights at least, and we do this every few months.
Re shouting. Try to identify when you are likely to get v frustrated with him, and make some changes to those key times. If it is meal times /getting out the door in time/doing homework etc, these are naturally more stressy times. Let him know that he can choose what's for dinner if he is good for X number of meals, try allowing more time in the a.m, again if he is good every morning of the week, he can get a Croissant or something on the way to school on Friday instead of brekky at home.
Just some ideas, good luck and you're not alone!
It's possible that he simply needs significantly less sleep than the average child...there are some people like that.
Another possibility is that when you read to him, switch the lights off and use a torch or a booklight.
I would also recommend the book Divas to Dictators, by Charlie Taylor. The six to 1 praise strategy is described well, with lots of good examples of the sort of things you can say as praise without sounding false or over the top.
I've an 8 yr old DS and although he's a good sleeper, just thought I'd share what his routine/agreement is in case it's of any use.
On a schoolday, sleep time is 8.15pm. He can go to bed whenever he wants up till then and basically do what he wants in his room i.e read, play music but come 8.15pm it's lights out (by himself) and sleep. Not sure whether giving him the "autonomy" and trust helps at all?
Just out of interest, how is your DS with school? Also what books does he read? Just that DS is quite into the Wimpy Kids/David Walliams types at the moment.
Did you steal my son?? Seriously they could be twins but I had no depression to deal with so please don't tear yourself up with guilt on that.
I won't repeat what's been said although I agree with all of it esp a small night light (a head torch makes a great fun way to do this) and reading to himself.
A few other ideas that work for us
- meditation apps - DS likes Relax + with Andrew Johnson, there's kid versions. He's allowed to have an old iPod in his room to listen to it but the iPod had to stay on his chest of drawers so no midnight mine craft sessions!
- an adult 1 to 1 discussion, this has proved quite good for us. At 9 DS is old enough to understand a lot more than when a young kid so I've explained how hard I find the continually battles at night. It makes us fight and I don't like it - then we both wrote out a list of things we could change, some were good some were bad some were crazy! But it was a good 'grown up ' discussion and he really liked that I let him get a say. I often refer back to that discussion when things are going a bit off track!
- and finally it's one of those thing that you either like/get or you don't - but love bombing has been great with both of mine from time to time. A whole weekend for them - sod the housework, supermarket only for their favorite foods, trip out somewhere they like, their choice of movie cuddled up on the sofa. DS loves these weekends as a reward - especially with a sleepover in my bed (again controversial on MN but he likes it - so meh!) I'm not sure if there are siblings but if so can someone else take care of them to let you do this. Key rule for us is as long as it isn't dangerous, illegal or stupid expensive it's the kid's choice all the way. In return they agree to basic hygiene and being kind of reasonable i.e. not 10 hours of non stop Xbox. But it takes all the agrguing and shouting away for a short period of time and allows everyone to 'reset'. It may be even worth thinking about this with his dad one time he is back?
Hope that helps and just remember 8 year olds can be stinky, sulky, shouty and drive you nuts but - at least I'm hoping - 'this too will pass'
Agree with your "grown up" conversation yakari. DS also partial to liking these.
Thank you all for your helpful suggestions and taking time to reply, it really means a lot. I will try and answer all the questions as best I can, I apologise in advance if I miss something!
Allthenames - I do get time to recharge, in fact my mum is having him tomorrow night and I'm going to meet a friend and have a lie in Saturday - can't wait! I have also made a doctors appointment (which is ages away) just to rule out anything else. Definitely a good suggestion to work out the times I'm most likely to shout (morning getting ready and bedtime mostly) so will try and build some things in here to make it run smoothly.
Kesstrel- thank you for the book recommendation, I've been ordering lots of books this week, could open my own self help library!
Shakey - you make an interesting point about autonomy. I often wonder if I'm too strict and expect things done at certain times. It would be interesting to see if allowing more freedom at bedtime has any impact and I will certainly be trying it out. He's ok in school but they always say he needs to concentrate more in class, he can also act a bit silly. He enjoys reading and currently loves all David walliams books and the tom gates ones.
Yakari- I did have an open discussion with him about sleep tonight, he agrees that he needs to settle more. He says he finds it hard as he has all this energy. He's currently still awake and complaining of a tummy ache but hopefully these discussions will help him understand that while he may be unable to sleep it is also not a time for messing about. It's interesting that you mention lovebombing as the book arrived today! I have already read bits of it at lunchtime and set a date for our special day. So far he's planned a full English breakfast cooked by me, watch a film, go out for some lunch and to a shop, back home to play on Xbox with me (not looking forward to that bit) then chip shop tea . We have a head torch for camping do will dig that out too. Relaxing mediation CDs are also useful - I will try anything! it's good to know it's been useful for you too. Sorry you've experienced similar issues but it's good to know I'm not alone!
Thanks again everyone, I shall be busy putting these suggestions into practice over the weekend (except when I'm enjoying my few hours peace tomorrow!!)
Good luck, hope things do start to improve. Be kind to yourself, kids are frustrating!
How but asking the Paed to prescribe him Melatonin?
What you're going through sounds tough.
Another one with a very hard work 8yr old ds here. He veers between dreadful brattish shouting and kicking off and ultra lovely budding maturity .
A few things..I have a DS (8) also bad sleeper.
My Ds is definitely having hormonal changes he has pecks, arm muscles and he does sound like a teenager at times..
I recently changed things around and started getting him to earn his console time.. i part was getting ready for school no fuss... another one was for settling down properly...He is actually going to sleep much quicker which has a knock on effect of improved behaviour..
Things that have helped in the morning are world record attempts which means simply I time him and a tick chart.
It is a tough age for them they are not little children but not even teens..I see my Ds as a little bit lost at the moment.
I also find we sometimes are locking heads and we have to take time out to do something fun together to reconnect
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