Originally Posted by MagnoliaDragon
We are in an urban environment where it's not safe to be out and about. We try to go to the park every day but there are limits to how much we can, and it's an event - have to go out in the car and drive somewhere, as our neighborhood is just too dangerous.
Is there a way to get there by Public Transport? Is there a restaurant with a play space he can romp in? We used to take DS to this indoor play space with a food court across the way so I could shoe shop without also running interference. It was a godsend. They are not easy to find but a lot of shopping centers have them now...It might be a good way to get some alone time...
I have to do my shopping with them because there's no one else who can watch them. So they always have to come with me. No matter where I go. I haven't really gone anywhere "for me" for years, since before I got pregnant with DS. Wow, half a decade now, lol. No spiritual groups, no bookstores, no coffee shop, no movie, no clothes shopping, etc. Can't afford a babysitter... They do get daycare a few times a week but I have to do work stuff then, and its' only 3 hours 3 times a week.
Five years is too long to not have any you time. Doesn't their dad ever give you a break? Can't you leave him in charge sometimes, or are things really that bad? If things really are that bad, can I ask why you would let him come back to live with you? You must be just exhausted!
Can you have essential items delivered and then wait until he is fed, rested and calm to do the shopping? Most Urban grocery stores deliver for free.
We have to stay in the kitchen for eating because the apt is covered in white carpet and it can't be stained or we don't get our deposit back. We've tried putting down sheets and stuff but then he has to stay on the sheets and it's the same struggle as staying in the kitchen. We've tried to make it fun like "let's have a picnic on the kitchen floor" or matter of fact and he doesn't care...
Can you get that platic sheeting stuff that goes over the carpet, wall to wall, or is that too much money right now? I cannot imagine being terrified of letting my kids ruin the house. I just gave up on the deposits for our apartments ages ago, and suck it up as the price of my sanity. Is that maybe something you could consider doing?
You're right. It is a control issue. I bet the little guy feels totally out of control. I feel very bad for him and I want him to feel safe and secure... I'm at a bit of a loss because DD is handling things just fine, and I moved cross-continent when I wasn't much older than him and I didn't have any issues like this, so I'm having a hard time getting where he's coming from. We moved every year when I was a kid and we are going to be facing a lot of moving in our future as well. I want him to feel safe and in control of things to his capabilities, but I'm struggling.
Patience is hard to come by when there's SO much going on for us as a family. Just ONE of the issues would be enough to set the average family back but we're dealing with a LOT. Health issues, possible terminal illness, unemployment, housing issues, separation and potential divorce, moving a bunch of times, having to move in with my mother, therapy, low income, no health insurance... just thing after thing after thing. I'm trying to stay sane so I can devote as much patience to him as possible but it's so, so hard. I'm going to do some more visualizations and meditations; those have always helped in the past. (Breathing in gold, breathing out black, that sort of thing.)
Wow! That's a lot on one person's plate. There has to be someone you can get some help from...I am going to meditate on this and see if the universe can't send you someone to help you. You need a break. You guys need help!
So...here's what I can see about the boy...He's four, so already he may be dealing with a hormonal shift from toddler-hood to big kid, and that takes a toll on a lot of kids' attitudes. They can become defiant, and needy at the same time. Emotional and stand offish at the same time! It's enough to drive one crazy even under relatively stable conditions. Add to that environmental stress, fear, and anger and you have a ticking time-bomb of a child in your arms. I see there that somebody is in therapy, and that is good, but you may want to see if the local school district or a local community center might have someone for your boy to talk to, even a spiritual leader? It doesn't hurt to ask. A lot of these places offer free counselling and a safe place for kids. They might even be able to offer other help. Sometimes you don't even need to be a member. Ask and you shall receive is often the motto.
I think restraint and time-outs are not working or you wouldn't be posting here, and perhaps going the other direction might help. Give him more leeway and see what he does with the responsibility. At first it will mean a lot of consistent boundary drawing, but in time I am sure he will respect that you respect him.
Have you asked him why he runs away when you ask him to stay close? Maybe there is a need for space, or distance and you can reach a compromise. It was at this age that DS started needing more space on the sidewalk so we agreed he was allowed to walk five squares ahead of me no more, and he got three warnings, and if he didn't stop when asked to, I scooped him up and we went home, no matter what. I was able to explain my fears, too. It helped to know in a calm collected way that I was TERRIFIED of him running across the street because the drivers are very wreckless here and because he was still too short to be seen by the drivers he would be smushed. I showed him a shmushed frog that had been run over by a car and said "I don't want that to be YOU." It was graphic, but it got through to him AFTER I made the direct connection to MY FEARS. Before that it was just a oooh look a squished frog. That would hurt. But he didn't get why that meant I was screeching like a Banshee everytime he tried to cross without holding my hand. I had to connect those dots for him.
I think it is also tell that most of his defiance is about putting himself in danger...I bet that gets QUITE a dramatic reaction out of you. I bet he is feeling a little unimportant with the magnitude of all the other stuff in your life. He may need to reconnect with you a little. It may be his way of trying to pull you out of your stress and engage with him the only way he knows how. Just a possibile thought.
Oh, and re: traffic... just a few months ago his cat got hit by a car and he died. I didn't hide it from them (they saw it happen) and they saw me cry, and we all pet him as we said goodbye, and that was that. They still talk about it sometimes, not in a traumatized sort of way, but that Figaro died because he got smooshed by a car and that would happen to us if we went in front of a car, and it would hurt a lot like when I fell down the stairs, etc etc. So they... they "get" it... To the extent that a four year old can understand that sort of thing, I think, which I know isn't the same way an adult can, but... but he still does it. =( And he will try to leave our apartment in the middle of the night (we're not allowed to put up additional locks from the inside) and he will stand on the window ledge even though he knows he's not allowed because he could fall out, and he's like, "and then I would die, right mom?" Yeah, buddy, that's what would happen... =/
Yes, but does he know how truly SCARED that makes you...Does he understand the visceral reaction it creates in you? I had to really sit my DS down at that age and explain how afraid I was, to say, it's is like the worst most scary nightmare EVER and it makes mommy want to cry and hit something to think of him even getting hurt and I can't sleep at night when I get so scared thinking of that. I had to make the emotional connection and then he started to get it a lot better. Have you had that sort of talk with him? Have you asked him, when everyone is calm, what need he is trying to fill? Have you discussed other ways to fill that need?
Also...not allowed to add extra locks? In a dangerous neighborhood? Just do it, Just put a chain lock on up high, or add a dead bolt to the top. It's your apartment while you are there, you have the right to secure the safety of your family. I don't know of any state that would come down on the side of the landlord over that one. Put a chain lock in and explain to the landlord that you have asleep walking child who MUST be protected. End of story.
Oh, and they're also 99% media free. They were TV free before we moved and since we've moved they watch the occasional movie but they're still not TV junkies. Like a movie a week. They watched a lot for a few weeks right when we moved but we since moved the TV out of their living area and they don't really miss it.
Have you looked into diet issues though? That may also be a way to at least tone down some of the seemingly crazy hyper activity you describe. DS gets really hyper after artificial coloring. So we have banned brightly colored candies, fake colored drinks, and fake colored snacks. We also have a strict protein for breakfast policy that has really helped us here. It might be worth a shot...it doesn't calm down his independant Can-do attitude, but it does help him to be more polite about asking for that need to be filled. So rather than stick his tongue out and say "Shut up Mommy!" while he runs a city block ahead, He says "I need a little quiet time, Mommy." and kisses my hand as he strolls ahead by about 20 meters. This took a lot of modelling and discussion, too, but within a few weeks he was able to request his need for space more appropriately.
I like the laundry game idea, and see how that could translate into other areas too. The only issue I can see is that they'd get too noisy and run around, and then the neighbors come upstairs to yell at us and it's stressful... So I tend to be all neurotic telling them to please shush in the apartment etc. And we just don't have the money to be out and about all day and night just so they can stretch their legs. Ugh. Can't wait to move out of this place, but then we'll be with MY mother, whom *I* have control issues with, lol.
Oh, and stairs - well in our apartment anyway they locked the stairwells because people were getting raped and mugged in them... so the elevator is the only way to go. ;)