DSS meltdown after new baby - help! (V long)(10 Posts)
I'm really worried about DSS (7). He is a lovely child whose only flaw is probably being really, really over-sensitive. He can get very emotional and cries very easily. One example is that he did something silly in class one day (hid another pupil's rubber) and when the other pupil said he was going to tell the teacher, DSS had a full-blown emotional breakdown, sobbing and shaking, it was so bad he had to be taken home.
Recently I had a daughter, whom he absolutely adores. When he's with us, however, she seems to be his second favourite thing after the iPad and other various bits of technology he doesn't have at home. He gets totally engrossed in computers and it is hard to limit his time using them as he'll want to move onto another one once his time on one of them is up. I think the point I'm trying to make here is that if he could, he'd spend the whole of his weekends with us alternating between the iPad, wii, phone, computer etc and would not eat, sleep or socialise with us.
His behaviour has deteriorated recently and we've been careful to keep all boundaries in place whilst being extra-sensitive to the fact that he's probably feeling quite unsettled about the new baby.
He has also regressed in terms of trying to carry around his comfort blanket which he stopped using 3 years ago and watching babyish TV programmes which he used to claim to hate. He is very, very fearful of a lot of things, claiming practically every film is too scary for him (nemo, toy story, Wallace and gromit etc) and certain foods will make him ill, certain activities are too difficult. The things he's scared of are all things he's never tried so it's not like he has negative past experiences of them! This makes things quite difficult when he's with us; we try and get him to expand his horizons by reminding him of the times he gave things a chance in the past and discovered new hobbies/favourite foods etc but with no joy.
At bedtimes and drop-off/pick up, he gets very emotional and doesn't want to leave whoever he's been resident with for the last couple of days. He's also feeding both parents the same complaints about each other which aren't true, i.e. saying to both parents that the other parent is withholding a privilege when in reality neither of them are. DH, exW, her DP and I all get on incredibly well so luckily we talk and see each other often and will never believe negative things about each other - we communicate about what DSS is saying and make sure we are all aware of the truth!
The latest thing he's done which really hurt me is to announce that my daughter is actually his mum's child. We initially thought he'd misunderstood and didn't realise where babies came from (mummy having fat tummy etc) but he proved he knew the facts correctly by referring to our pregnant friend. He was insistent that DD was not mine and should actually go and live with her "real" family instead of with me and DH. The thing that upset me was that he knew 100% he was wrong yet still carried on insisting DD was his mother's child.
He's also thrown tantrums and once accused DH of not loving him when DH was in the middle of changing a pooey nappy - DSS asked him to open a bottle of drink, DH asked him to wait one minute as he was literally right in the middle of clean-up. DSS went mental and it took him ages to calm down and realise firstly he'd asked at an inconvenient time and secondly that DH really could not stop what he was doing at that exact moment without messy consequences.
Last night, things came to a bit of a head, DSS' mum rang and asked if DH can go to their house and talk about things as she's really hurt by the fact he's complaining about us and telling lies about how he's treated here (she initially didn't realise it was a 2-way thing which kind of makes it worse!) plus he's refusing to go to bed or follow instructions without a huge emotional stand-off. When he first arrives at ours, he begs to be taken home but at the end of each weekend he begs not to be taken home - we can't win!!
I am at a loss as to what to do. Our lovely boy has turned into 50% nervous wreck and 50% devious child who seems to enjoy pushing boundaries and winding us up. I know it's because of the new baby and I feel awful because I'm partly responsible for it. I promise we're doing everything we can to make him feel loved and wanted and when he's good, we praise him loads. We feel a bit "stuck" on the technology front - we put time limits on it but he gets really grumpy when time's up, however he doesn't have it at home so if he doesn't get to use it at ours, he'll have to wait another week for it. We've tried going out, bowling, sport, zoo etc to get away from electronic screens but he literally spends the whole day moping and asking when we're going home so he can use them again.
Please help - any advice on any of the above issues is very much appreciated. This situation needs to be sorted for everyone's sake - it cannot go on like this
First of all - I wouldn't be too upset by your DSS's insistence that your DD is actually his mum's baby. He's only 7yo. What I feel that shows is that he has such a good bond with your DD that he is missing her when he is at his mums, and wants her to be wherever he is...
I feel that is just him being unable to articulate that he misses your DD when he is not there. I find it rather sweet actually.
Lots of older siblings regress in some way when a new baby is born. It passes. Lots of reassurance and time with his dad.
The nappy/drink incident was probably part child impatience, part trying to show his worry of not 'coming first' in his DSS's eyes - maybe involve him in nappy changes, give him a responsibility like keeping her interested in a toy to keep her still - probably has no actual effect on the nappy change, but gives him a sense of being involved.
Computer time and grumpiness afterwards, I can't solve! Even when they have them all the time and you are really strict on limits, I haven't solved that with my DS's! I just say that if they ask more than 3 times on a day out, then they won't get any screen time when we do get home...
(Disclaimer - I'm no longer a SM, but was a few years ago, I had 3 DC's and that partner had two DC's, I had a 2yo DS, a 3y6mo DS, a 4yo DSD, a 7y6mo DD and a 9y6mo DSD.
I now have a 2yo DS, a 9yo DS, an 11yo DS and a 15yo DD!)
I think this "DD is my mums" may be him trying to reconcile that mum and Dad are never going to get back together.
Would bringing his baby pictures out and engaging him in his role as Big Brother help?
If it helps my DD (12) lives with her Dad and his lovely DW and she has one brother and a new sibling on the way. DD is fine with this
BUT because Dad is her primary Carer and I am NRP she had a meltdown when the subject of me having children with my DH came up
"You are MY mum and I don't want to share you!
Could this be reversed in your situation do you think?
You sound like a lovely step mum and mum
I've always told DD she is lucky as she has 4 people who love her.
I took up her baby pictures when her lovely step mum had DS and I think it helped.
Best of luck.
You make a lot of sense. I shall be storing up your screen time rules for DD!
Ooh I like the screen time idea and will also do the baby photos thing.
With the insistence that DD is his mum's, he does articulate (a lot!) how much he misses her but could his crazy statement be in addition to that?
I've tried so hard to get him involved with DD and when he's done it really well, I've gone on and on about what a good job he's done ("wow, much better than me, look how much she loves you, she really enjoyed that!"). The problem is that the majority of the time, he won't go near her when he knows he's in the same building as the iPad or a TV...he runs out if the room with nappy changes in case there's poo and the one time he helped with a bath, MIL told him off cos he got distracted half way through and ended up pouring shampoo in DD's eyes cos he wasn't looking at her while he did it (the TV was on-doh!)
He does sometimes ask to hold her but asks for her to be taken off him after about a minute and at other times if I ask him if e wants to h
Oops posted too soon!
...ask him if he wants to hold her, he says he's too busy waiting for his turn on the iPad and he doesn't want to miss out on that. I tell him he can do both but makes no difference. I even do a silly voice pretending to be DD asking him to play/cuddle her but he just huffs and says no
I think he is one very unhappy little boy at the moment
I know it seems tough, but you really do need to make a set time in the day that is 'ok' for screen time, and the rest of the time screens are off.
Easier said than done though...
I find that screen time takes over my DS's lives if I let it. I have to constantly keep on top of screen time rules. Tbh it's the bane of my life and I sometimes wish I lived in a time before they were invented!!
My 7 year old DS doesn't like holding babies either. So don't worry about that. Lots of adults (particularly men IME) don't like holding babies. They are frightened of dropping them or unsure.
I think it is all a reaction to the new baby and quite normal.
My dc are always on at me to have another baby, (not going to happen!) but when their Dad broached the subject of his gf getting pg a while back (they are ttc) both my dc were horrified. "You are OUR Dad!" They would happily share me but not their Dad! If she does have a baby I wouldn't be surprised to see them react in a similar way to your DSS.
As for screens - I'm at a loss too. My DC and DSC would happily spend all day every day on their tablets. We limit it to an hour but its hard work.
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