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Are some children just born angry and negative?

(24 Posts)
DirtyKnees Wed 05-Aug-09 17:00:48

I would love to know what you all think. My ds is 6 and I am having a really hard time with him. Basically he is angry and miserable and crying for a large part of the time. Over the years I have analysed (probably over-analysed) why he is like this. He's very strong minded, hates being told what to do, and has a very short fuse. I have looked at my own behaviour and tried hard to modify it in ways I think will avoid him going off on one.

I have become better at handling him, but his behaviour hasn't changed much, if at all over the years. I'm trying to accept that this is his personality but it is so exhausting being with a child who says he hates everything, cries in anger and frustration so much, and tells me every night that "today was horrible".

I talk to him and listen to him etc etc. But it is all the time, moaning and whining and crying and hating everything.

Some examples from today:

We went to buy shoes. All fine initially. Tried on 2 pairs he liked, the same shoe but different sizes. First pair were too small, second pair fitted. But he wanted the ones that were too small. I explain why we are getting the ones that fit. Nice shoe shop lady tried to say lots of positive rational things to him, but he was already crying and saying how he hated the shoes etc etc. Shop lady looks uncomfortable, I ignore him and pay for the shoes. He finally stopped crying about the shoes about an hour later, as we were arriving home. I gave him an ice lolly from the freezer and put the TV on. 2 minutes later he appears shouting and crying because the ice lolly dripped on him, and telling me he "hates this day so much."

I can deal with these situations ok I think, I use a lot of the "how to talk" suggestions, which I supose are helpful in the short term. I just find it all so wearing, and wonder all the time why he gets so angry over what to me are little things?

Are some children just like that and there's nothing you can do? He makes life so hard for himself.

morocco Wed 05-Aug-09 17:06:00

these kind of kids need to grow up - not as in 'they are soooo immature' but more as in 'you know what, I'd be cross too if I had to buy a pair of shoes I hated just cos they didn't have the other ones in my size - luckily cos I'm an adult, that doesn't happen to me too much cos I just ask them to order them in or go elsewhere to buy them etc'.
my ds1 is a bit like this. have you ever read any sears books about parenting the high need/high intensity child? they just seem to feel everything so intensely. I always hope that getting older will make it easier as he can organise his own life how he pleases if that makes sense?

StinkyFart Wed 05-Aug-09 17:09:00

It's very easy to fall into negative patterns of behaviour isn't it

I think that if you carefully unpick these issues you might find that the attention he gets from being grumpy far outweighs the attention for being amiable, hence he is grumpy a lot QED

Obviously that is simplifying things but try ignoring the grumbles and tantrums and focus on the 'good' stuff - you might have to look long and hard at forst until you get used to the new way of behaving towards him

Do you get outside every single day for long runs in the park/beach/garden

Boys ARE like dogs you know wink

good luck

DirtyKnees Wed 05-Aug-09 17:16:08

Sorry Morocco I didn't explain the shoes thing well - it was the same shoes just 2 different sizes. He had picked them, but for some reason wanted the ones that were too small, which obviously wasn't going to happen.

I honestly don't think it's an attention issue - I tend to say something brief to him then ignore the grumbling/crying. Unless it's genuine upset of course, but it's usually anger and frustration.

He wants everything 100% his way all the time. Reasoning with him doesn't often work. I hope he will be happier once he's an adult and can do what he likes, and I tell him that.

DirtyKnees Wed 05-Aug-09 17:17:07

Meant to say too, yes we always get out for some exercise. He eats and sleeps well too.

southeastastra Wed 05-Aug-09 17:20:25

i started a thread here yesterday about the same thing.

wears us all out

LIZS Wed 05-Aug-09 17:32:28

hmm I think you over involved him . You could have just said to the assistan which ones you were taking rather than offered him what probably seemed like a choice. Reasoning and explanation are pointless. Mind you we've had episodes like that with ds and if we are going shopping say , he has to know what/where we plan to look for.

DirtyKnees Wed 05-Aug-09 19:37:20

LISZ I didn't give him a choice - we agreed on which pair of shoes he liked and tried on 2 different sizes to see which ones fit. Then there was no choice anymore. I don't know why he wanted the too small ones.

I must have a look at the Sears book. "Feeling things so intensely" describes him well.

He grumbled all through dinner - always the same no matter what I give him to eat (unless sweets for dinner maybe). He has just been sent upstairs after biting his sister because she went into his room to get her book which she left in there earlier.

DirtyKnees Thu 06-Aug-09 22:35:53

So today I collected him from his morning holiday club he's doing this week and within seconds he's crying because I told him it's pasta for lunch and he hates pasta (he doesn't) blah blah blah. Then on the way home he whines and whines and asks "Why do we NEVER have teddy bear crisps?". At home he eats the pasta (knew he would) then wants to watch tv. I think phew I can have a coffee but a minute later he's there moaning that Ben 10 didn't change into the alien he wanted hmm

Is there anything I can do about this constant misery or do I just need to develop a really thick skin to get me through the next 10 years? He's coming across like a spoilt brat which he is not - I'm really consistent about discipline and make sure treats are not all the time etc. I can see family and friends giving each other loaded glances at his behaviour. Today we had dinner with my parents and my Dad had bought cherries for pudding which he thought would be a nice treat but ds just hung his head and asked "Is that it?" (then ate the cherries wink). Poor grandad.


cornsillk Thu 06-Aug-09 22:46:03

You sound like a fab parent dirty knees. Try to ignore the 'looks.' Parents who have less challenging children do like to imagine that they would be able to sort out other people's offspring! If I were you I would try to ignore the grumbling and model positive behaviour which I'm sure you already do.)

morocco Fri 07-Aug-09 11:11:53

Do you tell him the kind of things he's not allowed to do, even if he feels it? like say 'is that it?'. We practise the 'happy face'. he's probably old enough to learn how to 'act happy' even if he's cross, especially for occasions when people have made an effort blah blah (this is all part of 'the talk' me and ds1 have regularly about appropriate behaviour)

food and ds1 are horrendous as well - I never ever ever announce what we are having (bet you don't usually either cos they sound similar in that respect) as it is so not worth the immediate fuss about how its not what he wants, he wants ...., etc etc for ages. We have a house rule that it's the 'happy face' at the dinner table or you can ask to leave the dinner table and go upstairs (no tv/games) so miserable faces don't put the rest of us off our food.

tbh ds1 is not too bad but he has the same tendencies. we meet it with a kind of 'caring indifference' which it sounds like you also have? and repeated reminders about appropriate behaviour and how it is not necessary to communicate misery to the rest of us. that sounds so bitchy and I am a bit hard on him perhaps. sigh - am feeling your pain

3littlefrogs Fri 07-Aug-09 11:40:14

You could also try telling him that you will respond to a "nice" voice, but not a whiny voice. It sounds as if he has got into the habit of whinging and whining, and the only way, I think, is to ignore, and be as up-beat and "jollying along" as possible.

morocco Fri 07-Aug-09 12:05:51

lol 3littlefrongs - am very 'jolly mummy' at times.
does your ds also do the manipulation thing? ds1 is amazingly in tune with what buttons to press and far ahead of the game on emotional blackmail. I take the mickey out of him but some things he says are 'wow - a* for emotional blackmail'

jybay Fri 07-Aug-09 18:15:24

It sounds like you are doing all the right things but I think this child needs professional help. It is not normal for a 6 year old to say "Today was horrible" every night. Young children have very labile emotions of course and will be utterly miserable one moment and high as a kite the next, but it is not normal to be consistently miserable like your DS. I definitely don't think you are doing anything wrong but I wonder whether he has a mental health problem.

I would suggest taking him to your GP to discuss a referral to CAMHS.

Jybay (GP)

DirtyKnees Fri 07-Aug-09 23:32:43

Thanks for replies - just read them now.

Cornsilk, thanks, that's a lovely thing to say. I do have shouty days though!

Morocco, yes we've talked a bit about things you shouldn't do or say as you will upset someone. This has mainly been things like saying "yuk!" to the dinner grandma has put in front of him. I explained to him that he's old enough now to think that thought but keep it in his head to avoid upsetting grandma. I find this difficult as one of the things I always wanted with my dcs was that they could be emotionally honest with me, but like everything it's a delicate balance. I mean, they have to eventually become "civilised" don't they? You can't just go around doing and saying anything.

3littlefrogs, I always make him ask nicely for things and won't respond to whining. If he really wants something he can make an almighty effort and remove the whine but he's so stubborn he would rather go without than do what I say. tbh his 3 yr old sis is better at asking nicely.

jybay, now you've got me thinking. That is a very worrying possibility which I will have to give a lot of thought to before I think whether to take it further. The "today was horrible" comments are sometimes in response to being asked what was the best thing about today etc, at bedtime, but tbh I've given up on that kind of conversation with him. He does sometimes just say it though, but not sure if he really means that or if it's his response to something frustrating in that moment. He is quite labile and defintely wears his heart on his sleeve. When he feels happy it's very obvious. He is also very affectionate to me and wants lots of cuddles and often says "Mummy I love you soooo much", not in response to anything, just because he feels like saying it.

DottyDot Fri 07-Aug-09 23:50:36

yes, I think it's entirely possible for children to have different temperaments from birth.

I've always said we have an Eyeore (ds1) and a Tigger (ds2) in our house.

I'm confident in mine and dp's parenting, we're active, firm but daft at times parents with gorgeous boys but ds1 will always, always see the worst side of everything and ds2 is constantly positive (driving ds1 even more bonkers).

it's nature, not nurture so I see my job as a parent to try to help ds1 find the positive things in life and to 'adapt', if that makes sense?? I worry that life will always disappoint him, but accept that as he always looks on the bleak side, that isn't always in my control.

sigh - it's tricky and worrying sometimes and I feel your pain!

DottyDot Fri 07-Aug-09 23:55:14

PS, we've also got very firm rules with ds's - mainly for ds1's benefit - about saying thank you for presents/meals at other people's houses, even when they've not enjoyed it. eye contact is also something we're working on with ds1 - that he must acknowledge people and look at them when he's talking.

he's getting much better at all of the above - you can tell it's hard work but gold stars (10 and you get a treat!) liberally awarded after a good tea out or whatever, help.

DirtyKnees Sat 08-Aug-09 00:31:31

Sounds familiar DottyDot. Unfortunately my ds has never responded to rewards - I've completely given up on them.

I sometimes try to confront him in specific situations. The other day he was sulking and refusing to play at the park and just kept asking for ice cream. I said to him that he could mope around if he wanted to but it was him who was missing out and everyone else was having fun. He eventually did join in but I don't know if he had really taken in what I said. I don't really like doing that tbh, I feel like I'm kicking him when he's down.

Sometimes I think he just wants to be an adult who can make all his own decisions.

edam Sat 08-Aug-09 00:39:53

I've noticed with a few people that they were miserable at various stages of childhood and then much better once they'd reached the next one. Babies who are just unhappy in their skins and cheer up once they can toddle, or older children who are frustrated and fed up but come alive a bit when they reach the next age up and can do more for themselves/have a bit more freedom to make their own decisions.

But you say ds has always been miserable - has he never reached a stage where he's relaxed a bit? Would be nice to think he'll find one before he's grown up...

DirtyKnees Sat 08-Aug-09 10:52:23

That's interesting edam. It certainly applies to my dd who was a really cranky baby but much happier once she could move around.

I suppose looking back ds became more difficult around 2.5, before then he was averagely grumpy I think. Age 3 and 4 seemed to be constant massive tantrums and battles to get him to do anything. He still has the odd meltdown where he completely loses control but generally since he was about 5 he's calmer overall and it's more moaning, whining and crying than tantrums.

Everything is definitely better for us if he can be in control, but that's not life is it?

DottyDot Sat 08-Aug-09 12:36:26

Yes - ds1 is getting happier now he's getting older - he's always seemed to be an old person in a child's body and even now (at the grand old age of 7) he calls other children "little ones" or 'kids' and doesn't seem to relate. He loves doing more stuff on his own - getting his own cereal in the morning or going to the postbox for us. Hopefully as he gets older he'll get more comfortable in his skin.

DirtyKnees Sat 08-Aug-09 19:20:57

I hope so Dotty. He does remind me of DH in some ways - and there is a family story about him having a 2-day strop on holiday when he was about 7, because his mum was sick and they couldn't go to the amphitheatre, and he couldn't understand why they wouldn't just let him go there on his own!

HCasey Wed 02-Dec-15 10:02:25

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Debbriana1 Wed 02-Dec-15 10:13:30

Have you checked the date of when this was posted? I think it says August 2009.

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