I am very aware that I am the cause of much of his defiance by not being more strict from the start. Now he's 5 and hardly ever does anything I ask/tell him to do. For example: I lay out his clothes and ask him to get dressed. He just ignores me or tells me to shut up and leave him alone. I end up snapping at him or getting in his face. He eventually capitulates but it's exhausting. This goes on all day every day. I feel utterly lost and desperate. I love him so much but it's soooooo hard to get thru these times. Dressing, brushing teeth, trying to get out the door is almost always a huge struggle.I'm a single mom with an ex that was badly abused and therefore is frightened to discipline him so it's always left to me to be the disciplinarian. I'm sooooo tired of it.
It's not really about being more strict from the start. He's figured out how to push your buttons and it gets him attention. He is getting you to dance for him. When you lose the calm centered place, he wins. He has control over mom.
I really suggest reading about the Nurtured Heart Approach by Howard Glasser. It's not a book I recommend to everyone but when you are stuck in power struggles it can be very helpful.
You need to start energizing the positive behaviors even if they are hard to find at first. The other thing is adding some play and fun back into things.
thanks. I'm really going to make this top priority right now. things can't go on like this anymore. thanks for your kind reply. I feel like such a complete failure. I've been crying and crying and torturing myself, but that doesn't fix the problem. I know I need to do lots of reading on this, but it's so depressing that I have been just trying to wish it away instead of putting some work in on sorting it out. I knew I would have a hard time being a parent and unfortunately I picked up a lot of lousy methods from my dad, who was also a single parent when my mom died when I was 9. thanks for your support. I need it.
That was exactly the suggestion I was going to make. The book is called Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach. I just took the workshop a couple of weeks ago and it was pretty good.
The best part of his approach is that he is very adamant on spending the first 2 - 3 weeks really focusing, appreciating and verbally recognizing every single positive behavior you can find, even if you have to set up a situation for easy, quick success. Such as praising the child for putting his seatbelt on, even though it is just something the child habitually does anyway.
I am happy to hear that you realize beating yourself up doesn't help the situation. Honestly, it might even make the situation a little more difficult. You are human and bound the make mistakes. I tend to think of mistakes more as excellent opportunities to learn and grow.
Parenting is NOT easy, whether you are single or not. Please be gentle with yourself and find something that nurtures your own being while dealing with this difficult situation.
thank you. it's sooooo good to talk about this instead of hoping it will just get better on it's own. I have been beating myself up and feeling very ashamed. all that does is immobolize me and make it even harder to tackle. Financial pressures are really heavy right now making problems feel overwhelming. it's good to get feedback and know I'm not alone. I want so much to do the best for my son. I really miss the fun things I used to be able to afford like pottery and sculpture. I really like the idea of putting a lot of emphasis on only the positive things, I think that will be very effective and will start tonite. thanks
So I made up the Treat chart yesterday. It has 10 things to accomplish in order to win a treat. All the stuff we usually have a hard time getting done - dressing, brushing teeth, putting away toys etc. Last night he was very excited about it - he gets to put a gold star next to each thing he does when I ask him the 1st time. It went brilliantly and we were both VERY happpy. I knew the morning would present different challenges and he got the first star - eat breakfast. Then I made the fatal error of turning on my computer to check some urgent messages. That's when things fell apart. Also the fact that I was hungy as I had not eaten anything yet. He had a tantrum when I told him it was time to go and switched off the computer. Then I started getting upset and the negativity reared it's ugly head. No stars for dressing or brushing teeth today. But did manage the last star of putting shoes and coat on. And I did manage to get myself back into a more positive attitude. Its' much more of a learning curve for me then for him. He's very willing and so sweet in trying to please me. God love him.
Yeah, isn't it interesting how quickly some stuff can turn when you are really present with them.
You have been under a tremendous amount of stress. That makes it hard to parent the way you would like to. Then everything feeds on itself. He doesn't do something, you get irritated, frustrated and grumpy and then his behavior intensifies. And if he isn't getting the close intimate time in which you are REALLY present then he really feels that.
The more you can control your negativity and be present with him the better things will be.
I have an intense 6 year old that went through a horrible phase at 4 when I was at my most stressed. He still requires more parenting than my other son ever did.
I've learned that sometimes I just have to give him my focused positive attention when that is the last thing I feel like doing. But when I do it, I feel better. I relax, my heart opens to what a gorgeous boy he is and then I normally get some time for myself as well because he chills out.
And the book we mentioned is great. I didn't follow how they do points exactly but the section on energizing behaviors was really helpful.
You can even give him a show. Get super excited about the stuff on your list. Work on not showing a reaction when he doesn't do something. That's key.
Best wishes to you. It can be hard. Hopefully shifting this will take the stress level down.