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When a child seemingly cannot accept "no" for an answer?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Our middle son, age 4.5, has recently been very big into making superfluous demands.  I suspect he is feeling insecure (the littlest is just now 1 and seems suddenly less like a baby and more like competition, I'm sure) and needing reassurance that we love and value him.  I am doing all I can to meet that need (including trying to convince DH that that need a) exists, and b) is causing the unwelcome behaviors.)

 

But.

 

Until he finds his place and reassurance, how does one handle the troublesome behaviors?  Here they are- the first two deal with "no."

 

1) Making "superfluous demands"- requesting multiple glasses for one beverage at dinner is a good example.  This sort of demand is almost always clearly above and beyond the more typical specific child-like needs that small children think are crucial, and usually are made when it is most inconvenient for the parent to comply (in the example above, after everyone has been served, grace has been said, and all are finally sitting at the table.)  On Easter Sunday, he said he would not go to church unless I made the sun less bright.  That sort of thing.  It's like he wants to hear us say no so that he has a reason to have a tantrum.  If you comply with a demand, he will make another until he gets a "no."  

 

2) He has also begun to have more instances of blatant disregard for instructions.  "L, don't throw rocks."  L, smiling, throws rocks.  L, don't run out of the backyard; it's not [L runs out of backyard]...SAFE!!!"  "L, you just threw a hard block at your brother.  We do not throw hard things in the house, and we don't throw anything directly at someone's head." He picks up a hard-back book, throws it as his brother's head.  

 

3) Destroying small items around the house when unobserved.  Yes, the simple solution is to observe him more, and I am trying to do that, but the 1 year old is almost able to run already and there are limits to my superpowers.  He will not admit to the destruction.  The deceit worries me more than the actual damage (though he most recently broke a sweet $10 wooden top that the Easter bunny brought him by snapping the spindle off.)  

 

I am a "yes" parent.  I say yes whenever I can.  But there are some times that I can't say yes.  And, more to the point, I need him to understand that I am willing to show him I love him in other ways than leaning over backwards to comply with his requests.  If doing so felt like it would help him, I would do it- but as I've said, it seems he is just experimenting, seeing how many things he can ask for before he is told "no."

 

Ideas?

post #2 of 9

Sounds like he is testing. Just trying to figure out the laws of physics with your guidance. He is purposely picking things that are ridiculous to see what you say.

 

Like you said you are a yes mom and he is used to that and is trying to figure out the boundaires that mean no. All the testing is totally normal behavior.

 

As for the destructive behavior and lying. I would sit with him and see if he will talk about it. Maybe he is tired frustrated or so on.

 

He sounds like a normal almost 5 year old to me. Emotional, inquisitive, and just trying to figure out his world.
 

post #3 of 9

Not saying No , does not mean you are saying a Yes - you could get into a discussion and try to figure out his concern - want he wants is a solution - then share your concern and then try brainstorm a mutually satisfying solution. This is CPS - collaborative problem solving 

the problem is that it is best done in a proactive way and not in the moment 

 

we can also make the environment user friendly so I recommend having food which is only healthy and keep to ' water ' . This allows us to give up control and reduce potential conflict.

 

Behaviors- deceit , damaging , throwing  are symptoms , throwing stones is a behavior . What are the conditions which give rise to these behaviors - the unsolved problems 

 

In the moment we can just try and do our best to distract the kid , try and calm him done and if need be just say no - endure the meltdown and ride out the storm.

 

There is very little we can do in the moment. The way to avoid these problems is to be pro-active in solving problems and provide positive experiences for the kid.

 

I suggest checking out Ross Greene's CPS -  not a quick fix and not easy 

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your responses.

 

mary934, I particularly like your reminder that "not saying no does not mean you are saying yes."  I was just realizing the other day that many of the times I do say no should be "wait," either because I need to think it through or I need to set some parameters without prohibiting the activity in its entirety.

 

And LLQ1011, he is definitely testing how the mommy works, probably because so far his testing has been largely inconclusive.  :)  I feel like I myself need to get a handle on how I respond to his demands and to his disobedience/disregard of direction.  I'm going to use this post to think that through a bit.

 

1) If what he continues to do compromises someone's safety, including his own, I will restrain him.  I need to talk to him to make sure he understands this in advance.

2) If what he does affects someone else's personal space negatively (i.e., his brothers'), I will try several times to get him to stop by using my words (and, note to self, using distraction as much as I can, though I am not as good at this as I would like.)  If this fails, I will remove his brother/s if possible.  

3) If what he does causes no significant problem, I will ask him to wait while I think it through, or invite him to talk it through with me.  If he does it anyway instead of waiting, see #4.

4) If he continues to do something minor after I've asked him to wait or to stop, I will let him do it but make sure as much of the consequence of his action becomes his responsibility as possible.  (This morning he got up on the counter even after I asked him not to, and then proceeded to accidentally spill 4 cups of freshly squeezed juice.  He had to help clean it up.)

 

As far as his demands, we need to have a conversation about this outside of the heated moments.  I want him to know that I will comply as often as I can, but that I need to safeguard his safety and the safety of those around him.  I also want him to know that I recognize it is difficult to be one of three children in the house, and that if he feels he is not getting enough time with me we can fix that.  If he is upset by my saying no, it is ok to cry and yell and be mad, but I don't want him to break anything or hurt anyone, and crying and screaming is not going to change my answer.  

 

I definitely need to protect his right to melt down.  He is definitely the kind of kid who just needs that every once in a while.  I'm that way too. 

 

He also needs a bit more sleep.  This is such a challenge for me.

 

And as to the deceit... we need to have a talk about trustworthiness and why it's a good thing.  Preferably on a one-on-one date.

post #5 of 9

Thank you for posting this, OP.  I needed these reminders and I will try my best to remember your steps as I think they will be helpful for me.  My 3.75 yr old DS seems to be testing me in the same way that your DS is testing you.  I also have an almost 1 year old who is bearing the brunt of DS1's testing skills. 

post #6 of 9
You are asking him to translate what you are saying into what he is expected to do when you put the word "no" or "don't" in front. Even adults can have trouble with that sometimes.
post #7 of 9

I love Janet Lansbury's blog about RIE principles for things like this. Specifically behaviors that you know are coming like being destructive or mean to his sibling. She'll say & stop the behavior by grasping the hand before it hits or destroys, "I won't let you hit your brother", "I won't let you break that toy" "I won't let you run out of the yard". You have to be proactive w/this kind of testing and stop it in its tracks which is tiresome, but will pass...

 

http://www.janetlansbury.com/

post #8 of 9
Quote:
2) If what he does affects someone else's personal space negatively (i.e., his brothers'), I will try several times to get him to stop by using my words (and, note to self, using distraction as much as I can, though I am not as good at this as I would like.)  If this fails, I will remove his brother/s if possible. 

 

 

IMO, I think you should say no once and then remove HIM.  It is unfair to expect him to know which "no" is the REAL "no" and removing him will have a greater impact...unless you remove Brother and yourself and say, "I can't let you play with him if you're unsafe, so we're going to do blah blah blah together while you settle down."  I would be very careful about giving the impression that the other person is punished when DS 1 acts up.
 

As far as unreasonable requests, just say no, we are eating, I can't do that, whatever.  And that's it, don't try to explain or convince him because that gives the impression that it's open for negotiate OR if he's just trying to draw you into an altercation, that's what happens.  Say no and change the subject.

 

It's fine to be a "yes" mom, a lot of people do say "no" as a reflex, but it's also just fine to set reasonable boundaries.  He has to live in the world and he should know for his own sake that there are limits.

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aletheia View Post

Thank you for your responses.

 

mary934, I particularly like your reminder that "not saying no does not mean you are saying yes."  I was just realizing the other day that many of the times I do say no should be "wait," either because I need to think it through or I need to set some parameters without prohibiting the activity in its entirety.

 

And LLQ1011, he is definitely testing how the mommy works, probably because so far his testing has been largely inconclusive.  :)  I feel like I myself need to get a handle on how I respond to his demands and to his disobedience/disregard of direction.  I'm going to use this post to think that through a bit.

 

1) If what he continues to do compromises someone's safety, including his own, I will restrain him.  I need to talk to him to make sure he understands this in advance.

2) If what he does affects someone else's personal space negatively (i.e., his brothers'), I will try several times to get him to stop by using my words (and, note to self, using distraction as much as I can, though I am not as good at this as I would like.)  If this fails, I will remove his brother/s if possible.  

3) If what he does causes no significant problem, I will ask him to wait while I think it through, or invite him to talk it through with me.  If he does it anyway instead of waiting, see #4.

4) If he continues to do something minor after I've asked him to wait or to stop, I will let him do it but make sure as much of the consequence of his action becomes his responsibility as possible.  (This morning he got up on the counter even after I asked him not to, and then proceeded to accidentally spill 4 cups of freshly squeezed juice.  He had to help clean it up.)

 

As far as his demands, we need to have a conversation about this outside of the heated moments.  I want him to know that I will comply as often as I can, but that I need to safeguard his safety and the safety of those around him.  I also want him to know that I recognize it is difficult to be one of three children in the house, and that if he feels he is not getting enough time with me we can fix that.  If he is upset by my saying no, it is ok to cry and yell and be mad, but I don't want him to break anything or hurt anyone, and crying and screaming is not going to change my answer.  

 

I definitely need to protect his right to melt down.  He is definitely the kind of kid who just needs that every once in a while.  I'm that way too. 

 

He also needs a bit more sleep.  This is such a challenge for me.

 

And as to the deceit... we need to have a talk about trustworthiness and why it's a good thing.  Preferably on a one-on-one date.

It sounds like you are doing what you can and trying to find positive solutions. That said, I think that it is important that children understand that sometimes the answer is "no" and they should know that we are serious when we say "no". Repeating yourself or trying to reason with him when he needs to stop doing something is not really teaching him that. When he is doing something disruptive like climbing on the counter, why not just remove him from the area instead of allowing him to spill juice? This can be done gently but firmly and to me is a better lesson than letting him get away with something you clearly don't want him to do.

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