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AIBU?

I can't cope with my 5yo anymore

132 replies

Dara99 · 12/02/2024 19:15

He had always been high energy but since starting school he is something else. Huge tantrums, won't listen to anything I say, calls me stupid, tells me he never wants to see me again just because I have run him a bath and he doesn't want one. He punches me, kicks me, is vile. I'm a good mum, I have boundaries, he has good nutrition, but he's just awful to me. He has suspected adhd but as he's so young nobody will help. Everyone just says 'watch and wait' with no support at all. I just want to cry all the time and count down the minutes until he goes to school. I don't understand what had changed. It doesn't feel like a phase and I feel like he hates me. I don't know what to do.

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Dara99 · 13/02/2024 07:38

MorningSunshineSparkles · 13/02/2024 07:35

Also punishments for meltdowns are barbaric. A meltdown is an entire loss of control over your actions and emotions and comes with a lot of shame and self disgust, even at that young age. You’re punishing them for losing control when you’re the one that’s not shown them how to regulate.

Edited

We use consequences not punishments. I think it's different. Mainly used for when he kicks me. It does work sometimes because when I remind him of the consequences he often refrains and says sorry. But often he won't.

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MorningSunshineSparkles · 13/02/2024 07:43

@Dara99 consequences are different and once instance of kicking doesn’t equate to a meltdown, sorry if I didn’t word that right. There should absolutely be consequences for violent behaviour.

What id meant is my DS can have a meltdown out in public, he’s overstimulated by how many people are about and how loud it is. First we try ear defenders and moving somewhere calmer but if that doesn’t work and he’s a screaming crying wreck trying to bolt away because of it, punishing him for that would be wrong because it’s not something he can control and it often makes things much worse. If he’s simply not wanting to be there and starts hitting or kicking then he is in trouble.

I tried too hard to convey the different things I found helped and it unfortunately coincided with your latest update, I really wasn’t aiming anything at you I’m sorry. It’s bloody hard as it is without getting barbs from others going through the same Flowers

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emmaempenadas · 13/02/2024 07:43

@Dara99

I heard the same stuff you heard from the GP. It's a phase, he will settle, he's emotionally immature. This shit went on for years and I couldn't get anyone to listen to me. He was diagnosed with both adhd and autism when he was 8.

Medication changed everything for him. He's 13 this year and doing brilliant, has a lovely big group of friends, his self esteem has sky rocketed because he can pay attention in class, with his friends, he doesn't get upset about breaking his pencil or losing an item or any of what we would perceive as small stuff. He went on medication when he was 8 and if I could have gotten him on it sooner I would have. His wee brain was going 100mph as was his body he was berated at school because he couldn't focus or concentrate, we couldn't have a back and forth conversation, he couldn't sleep, kids treated him differently from age 5, his self esteem took a massive hit.

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Sonora25 · 13/02/2024 07:45

Does he kick children at school too?

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BoyMum170 · 13/02/2024 07:45

In a similar situation with my 4 year old so can sympathise - it's tough. Try to push for an assessment, although CAMHS has a long waitlist. Meanwhile try to read some books (like the explosive child that's already been suggested) and use techniques like you would if he was formally diagnosed with ADHD. I'm hoping my kid will develop his coping mechanisms as he gets older - he's already slowly improving but is so unpredictable as can just switch to being violent in an angry outburst so quickly. Like you say, most of the time he's a really kind and sweet kid!
Ignore the people on here saying that your kid has no boundaries or consequences - it's impossible to enforce anything meaningful when your kid has a meltdown/ is aggressive like that, as they've just completely lost control and no amount of reasoning with them will help. Unless people have a child like that they have no idea what it's like - it's not 'just' a tantrum.
Sounds like you're doing exactly the right thing by walking away and not engaging in the behaviour. It's is tough though.

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DelilahsHaven · 13/02/2024 07:47

ilovebreadsauce · 12/02/2024 22:34

But you are not holding firm boundaries are you? Kicks you in the face and you just ignore it!

This is exactly what a parenting course tells you to do - don't reward unwanted behaviour with attention, good or bad. It's a de-escalation technique.

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ilovebreadsauce · 13/02/2024 07:49

SecondHandFurniture · 13/02/2024 07:19

Er - I'm talking about saying "What do you fancy for breakfast? Cornflakes? Weetabix?" and him saying he wants porridge, me saying ok and then him saying he doesn't want porridge. Similar with colour plate or socks. This is not a hill I'm going to die on - I'm not going to him he can't have a third breakfast option which he can see is in the cupboard just to assert myself; nor have I told him he must choose between option 1 and 2. Thanks though!

Edited

So why do you think he asked dor the 3rd option he didn't want?

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weebarra · 13/02/2024 07:50

I really feel for you.
I have two ND children and my oldest, now 16, has ADHD.
Parenting courses organised through my local Sure Start were great. As a PP said, Incredible Years is good, as is How to talk so children listen and listen so children talk - this one is based on a book which is old but useful.
The parenting courses were good as you got to meet other parents experiencing the same issues.
My health visitor referred me.
If he does have ADHD, consequences aren't helpful and will escalate. As someone else said, you can't punish meltdowns.
DS1 is doing well now. It's worth remembering that school can support now, he doesn't need a diagnosis.
DS1 was known to CAMHS anyway but they did say they did want to wait until it's clear a child's behaviour is significantly different from his peers.

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Inthemidstofamist · 13/02/2024 07:56

DelilahsHaven · 13/02/2024 07:38

What a vile, unhelpful post.

Watch and wait is a very common approach in all manner of potential illnesses and conditions.

Op does not need judgey people like you telling her it's all her fault.

It’s a troll, don’t worry about it. Having said that, there are other (I assume non-troll) posts that are very damning and seek to blame the OP. My children are younger so I won’t wade in with advice but one thing I massively sympathise with is talking to them when they’re screaming at you. My 3 year old doesn’t lose it often but when he does all the advice makes me laugh ‘name the feelings’ - ‘you are frustrated because … AHHHHHHHHHH!’

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Notquitegrownup2 · 13/02/2024 07:56

Wow OP, you are doing an amazing job. Walking away is the right strategy. And getting him fed, bathed, relaxed and to bed for 7

I've not much helpful to add that hasn't already been said - and ignore the awful posts of some folks here - but just wanted to add my support.

One thought. Do you have a range of ways for him to decompress after school? Does he have eg soft fairy lights in his room with the curtains closed, for when he comes home. Can he sit there, or with you on a settee and cuddle, and listen to gentle music for 20 minutes before any screen time? Could/would he play in the bath then, by any chance? Or Yy to a trampette, if bouncing helps.

Best of luck, and do keep posting - perhaps on the SEN boards rather than in AIBU to avoid those who just want to pile on.

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emmaempenadas · 13/02/2024 07:58

@Dara99

"It's beyond normal though. It's every day multiple times a day. Major meltdowns in public. Trying to smash things up when I give him a 10 minute warning for bath/bed/tv/anything basically. It feels extreme. I'm just so exhausted by it"

Dd is also like this, she was diagnosed with autism when she was 3 and is being assessed for adhd. She's 5 next week.

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ilovebreadsauce · 13/02/2024 08:01

DelilahsHaven · 13/02/2024 07:47

This is exactly what a parenting course tells you to do - don't reward unwanted behaviour with attention, good or bad. It's a de-escalation technique.

That is very poor advice and confusing for a child
Pick your battles by all means, but allowing your son to kick peopke in the face with impunity??? What are you going to do when he does it at school, what are you hoing yo do when he reaches the age of criminal responsibility?

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Meadowfinch · 13/02/2024 08:01

OP, I think you need to cut down his choices. Don't expect him to choose his breakfast, just make it. One less thing for him to have to decide.

Try to get him into bed earlier, even if that means you pretending to go to bed earlier too.

My ds always fought against bathing so I'd have a bath and leave him out. Pretty soon he was asking to climb in with me.

You are right to try to de-escalate, and you are also right that kicking someone has consequences every time.

It's tough, but I'd go along with the watch and wait for another term. Keep a diary and record bed times, bath times, food, how long he sleeps, what causes any meltdowns etc. Then you will have a record if needed.

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Moosely · 13/02/2024 08:01

You’ve really described my just turned 6 year old here. The anger and violent outbursts, extreme meltdowns etc. All since starting school. Apparently he’s well behaved at school although I think that is starting to slip. I also feel he may have adhd and it’s the masking all day at school that starts this behaviour when we get home. They’ve commented on his lack of focus at school, and not great at following instructions but otherwise they haven’t seen any of this other behaviour. I’m really just hoping the school start seeing more behaviour we do so we can go for a referral (one thing I read is the behaviour needs to be in two settings at least, so if it’s just at home it’ll be hard to get a diagnosis I think). No advice really but just to know you aren’t alone!

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CommentNow · 13/02/2024 08:02

Futb0l · 12/02/2024 19:31

Put him to bed earlier. He sounds tired. Tiredness utterly ruins kids behaviour. Its also why so many kids cope all day at school then let rip at 4pm with parents, they are shattered by then. 5 yo DS was pretty ready to start school (more so than most boys - liked reading etc) and i had to have him in bed lights out by 6.30pm in reception. Concentrating, sitting still, navigating socially etc just took it out of him. By contrast, August birthday younger sister? Couple of weeks at the start where she was tired, then was absolutely fine. Loves practising her writing and is happy in classroom environment.

It is worth trying earlier bedtimes. Mine never slept in, up at 7am on the dot, so if she needed to catch up we put her to bed early. Even in year 2 we have a fair few 6/630pm bedtimes. In Reception she behaved similarly and had a few 530pm bedtimes. Theres no point keeping them up when they are tired and unhappy and going to get themselves in trouble.

I think what your GP means is give it adjustment time if there are no other clear indicators of SEN and look at the whole picture- your child is on after school club twice a week and swimming at weekends. Do you also have days out or busy weekends? Walk to school? It's a lot for them on top of learning and making friends, their brains are always on.

My daughter is exceptionally well behaved but even into year one would have breakdowns over similar things, scratching, saying she wont love me etc. Its just the tiredness talking. See how DS is over half term with lots of quiet days.

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DelilahsHaven · 13/02/2024 08:03

I was in your shoes OP, it is a very difficult position to be in.

You sound like a great parent, please don't listen to the judgier posters, they have no clue.

My child was very like yours, and was diagnosed with ADHD plus some additional conditions.

You sound like you are taking a very sensible approach with him.

It is exhausting. It is draining. Being a parent of a child with a neurodivergence can be beyond frustrating, because the waits for assessment are ages and those that don't have to tread this path just don't get it.

But, my boy is 15 now, and although puberty has rocked everything again, is a lot better.

You and he will get there together. Do what you can to look after you, you need your energy and good mental health.

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rainbowstardrops · 13/02/2024 08:42

You sound like a great mum and I'm in awe that you're handling all this largely alone.
I would agree with some of the other posters who say he's masking at school. It's like a pressure cooker and by the time he gets home, the cooker explodes.
I've worked in an infant school and it's overwhelming! The noise, the business, the rules etc etc. We had one little girl that was the quietest child. Excellent behaviour. Tried her best and it was hard to believe her mum when she described her awful behaviour at home. Much like your son. She ended up pulling her out of school and home schooled her (I'm not saying you should do this) and things improved enormously.
Even as an adult, I'd come home and just have to sit quietly for a bit, just to let that pressure cooker simmer down.
I really hope you can get some support soon but you might have to keep pushing for it.

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Dara99 · 13/02/2024 08:44

Sonora25 · 13/02/2024 07:45

Does he kick children at school too?

Never. He's never hurt another child

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hummmmm · 13/02/2024 08:59

Hahaha all the perfect parent advice, I'd love to see them try their stern consequences and loud shouts on a child already in sensory overload.
Except it would make the experience 500 times worse for the kid so...

We get triggers for meltdowns that I think are similar to ritual behaviour (so I think related to mine having things like needing to touch a post every time we pass it on a walk). He gets habits that are triggered so eg me telling him to sit on the toilet before we go out for a while was putting us on the path to meltdown. Inventing games for going up the stairs or using the potty for a few days broke his association and then he was fine being asked to sit on the loo (or as fine as any 5 year old is anyway). Work out when the rumbles might be starting related to bath time and see if you can think of something to divert him off the path is my advice... Like if it's you running the bath can he help you fill it with the shower head or if it's the getting in put things on the floor in a path to the bath for him to jump between. Silly things like that sometimes help us avoid the trigger and thus the meltdown.

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Moosely · 13/02/2024 09:27

hummmmm · 13/02/2024 08:59

Hahaha all the perfect parent advice, I'd love to see them try their stern consequences and loud shouts on a child already in sensory overload.
Except it would make the experience 500 times worse for the kid so...

We get triggers for meltdowns that I think are similar to ritual behaviour (so I think related to mine having things like needing to touch a post every time we pass it on a walk). He gets habits that are triggered so eg me telling him to sit on the toilet before we go out for a while was putting us on the path to meltdown. Inventing games for going up the stairs or using the potty for a few days broke his association and then he was fine being asked to sit on the loo (or as fine as any 5 year old is anyway). Work out when the rumbles might be starting related to bath time and see if you can think of something to divert him off the path is my advice... Like if it's you running the bath can he help you fill it with the shower head or if it's the getting in put things on the floor in a path to the bath for him to jump between. Silly things like that sometimes help us avoid the trigger and thus the meltdown.

Yes this, we’ve tried consequences many many times but when he’s in a meltdown nothing helps. I can see it in his eyes that nothing is even going in. All this can stem from his chair not being pushed in the correct amount at the table etc. I have no idea how to deal with this and it must be 10 x harder doing it alone op. I do think you should ask the school for more support, hopefully they can offer something. Even classes on how to manage this sort of behaviour, I’m looking into this for myself too. You sound like a great mum!

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cakecoffeecakecoffee · 13/02/2024 09:46

It sounds really hard OP.

The thing is that if he does have some kind of neurodivergence then “normal” parenting just doesn’t work in the same way. People who don’t have to parent differently don’t get it and will think you’re not being firm.

my DS is in reception and is waiting for ADHD / ASD assessment and he looks totally out of control to outsiders but we work tirelessly with him. His Ed Psyche has also suggested PDA and when I read the description I was like “oh my god, that’s exactly him!”

What we know with our son is that any form of punishment has the opposite effect, rewards/incentives/bribes etc don’t work. Responding to him in the moment doesn’t work as he’s so dysregulated that he can’t hear or take on board what is being said. We can only deal with things after the event when he’s calm.

watching and waiting is a very common request, to see if it is a phase, especially after a significant change such as starting school. DS school initially said they do watching and waiting for 2 terms to get a good understanding of a child…. but by Christmas they said DSs difficulties were very clear and his needs were very high so they did a CAMHS referral.

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hummmmm · 13/02/2024 11:29

We find a few things calming once we're either heading to or in a meltdown.
Counting things - toes, blue things in the room, leaves on a plant, how many cats we regularly see on our way to the shops. Sometimes me sitting near and saying I'm doing that and counting out loud will make him crawl onto my lap and calm down. Can also sometimes turn it around by getting things wrong which is hilarious.
Liquid timers to watch.
Fidget toys.
All things they can do a bit passively while they get themselves back under control.

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BigDogEnergy · 13/02/2024 14:12

@Dara99 see if you can self refer to occupational therapy in your area. They will hopefully be able to work with you to help him find ways to decompress and regulate his emotions so that you don't keep getting these explosions.

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ilovebreadsauce · 13/02/2024 14:16

Dara99 · 13/02/2024 08:44

Never. He's never hurt another child

So he must be able to control himself if he can manage to be able to not harm other kids?

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ilovebreadsauce · 13/02/2024 14:21

I'd love to see them try their stern consequences and loud shouts on a child already in sensory overload

Literally nobody has suggested that.put him on time out spot and keep returning him like supernanny does

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