Behavior Problems with almost 6 year old and my anger - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 12-04-2008, 11:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My son will be turning 6 next month and he has been acting out for the past month or so. this are his behaviors that we are not happy with:
1) Talks back whenever asked to do something; 'not now', 'later', 'why?', etc.
2) Wants to watch tv ALL day long.
3) Tries to bargain everything, 'if you do _____, I'll do ____' for things that are his responsibilty and not up for debate (school work).
4) Does not clean up after himself / is out right destructive.
5) He doesn't want to be in a play he's been working on. We don't force him to be in it; but this is out of character for him, since he enjoyed things like that in the past.
6) Doesn't eat meals I make, and is constantly grazing and begging for food.

I feel constantly angry and aggravted with him, and negative to him. We have had zero enjoyable time together. I feel like this is a breaking point where we may grow apart completely. I find myself being down right mean to him, for how angry he makes me. We were at the store and I had had enough of his attitude, at checkout a lady commented that I had sweet boys, and I said 'One of them is sweet'. How MEAN!! And I cuddle my little one and tell him how special and sweet he is loud enough for my older one to hear. Those are awful things to write 'out loud'.

Kind of just venting and looking for any input. thanks!
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#2 of 10 Old 12-05-2008, 04:26 PM
 
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I feel your pain! My son is almost 7 (end of January) and I can tell you I could have written your post almost word for word, including how I often feel towards him. His nastiness, meanness to his brother and me just really drive a wedge sometimes. I will say I think it is partly the age. Six is tough, especially for boys! I am hoping 7 improves things big time!

I would suggest trying to spend some extra moments cuddling him and being sweet to him and just listening. I have been trying this lately (often by cuddling right before bed) and it seems to be helping a bit. I would also try evening things out in terms of what you say to and around him regarding his sibling. I know it's hard when you are feeling angry, but that will backfire on your other child when your oldest starts to take out anger on him. Hang in there. It has to get better, right??

Oh, one more thing. If you haven't already, get the "Your Six Year Old" book. It does explain how much of this is normal, which could be helpful in how you feel about it. Now I am going to try and take my own advice.
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#3 of 10 Old 12-05-2008, 06:44 PM
 
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I am sorry but accepting threats as normal seems kind of rediculous to me.

I am all for gentle discipline but arent we supposed to be teaching our kids right from wrong? (gently?)

Does anyone here have any concrete advice? snuggling doesnt make the bad behaavior go away, and lack of snuggling is not what causes it. (Its "normal," right?)
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#4 of 10 Old 12-05-2008, 07:09 PM
 
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You are describing my dd at 6! She is now 7 (almost 8), and 7 has been much, much easier.

What helped us was being more firm about "kid decisions" and "adult decisions". We found that, after years of negotiating things to death with dd, she felt that she had a say in everything. We, otoh, resented having to defend all of our decisions to a 6 yo . The dynamic was not good.

When we clearly defined things as "kid decisions" and "adult decisions", things soon got more peaceful. She would sometimes have a strong reaction to hearing something was an "adult decision" and not up for negotiation (big tantrum), but we rode those out. The key for keeping my temper, though, is that I was no longer negotiating while feeling resentful of it. Once the boundary became clear (kid vs adult decision), dd actually seemed much happier than she did before we started the approach.

Of the examples you listed, 1-4 would fall under "adult decisions" in our house. 5 and 6 would be kid territory.
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#5 of 10 Old 12-06-2008, 10:54 AM
 
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IME, it's my role as the adult to make the positive connection between myself and my child, regardless of their behavior. Having a close, positive connection with my child isn't going to solve all our problems, but it's going to go a very, very long way toward resolving them and toward preventing more problems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoAnnaL1209 View Post
I feel constantly angry and aggravted with him, and negative to him. We have had zero enjoyable time together. I feel like this is a breaking point where we may grow apart completely. I find myself being down right mean to him, for how angry he makes me. We were at the store and I had had enough of his attitude, at checkout a lady commented that I had sweet boys, and I said 'One of them is sweet'. How MEAN!! And I cuddle my little one and tell him how special and sweet he is loud enough for my older one to hear. Those are awful things to write 'out loud'.
I've btdt. And this is exactly where I need to make changes that do not depend on my child's changing their behavior. If I keep allowing myself to feel constantly angry, and keep behaving in this manner toward my child, things will not improve. It creates more conflict. It's been incredibly helpful for me to own my own feelings, not to place blame for them on my child's behvavior. My child's behavior is often a trigger for my feelings, but the actual cause is something within myself. My child does not make me angry, I feel angry in response to what I see/hear my child doing. It's a subtle shift of perspective, but incredibly helpful to me because it gives me a lot more choice. For one thing, I'm not dependent on my child's behavior changing before I can feel differently. For another, I have the opportunity to examine which of these issues are priorities, and which I can let slide for now so that we can focus on building more peace in our home. And finally, owning my feelings in this way and not seeing my child as "making me angry" allows me to see things from my child's point of view more easily. And often when I do take the time to look past the behavior to see my whole child (not saying you don't do this, just sharing what I find helpful), I find we're usually able to resolve these things with less anger and resentment on my part.

I find that it helps me stay positive, and is more helpful to my child, when I can reframe my child's behavior and assume positive intent. Instead of "why is she always making me angry?" and "what do I have to do to get her to change," I find it helps to instead assume that she is behaving this way because she's having trouble handling the situation more appropriately. It helps to instead ask what it is that she needs in order to do better, to ask what's getting in her way. This leads me to not only a more compassionate response, but to a more effective response.

To go along with this, when we were in therapy and addressing my child's behavioral issues the first "prescription" we were given was 15-20 minutes of child-led, positive, one-on-one special time every day (or at least most days). During this time, our child chose what we did, she directed the play, and we adults asked no questions (unless pertinent to what we were doing) and all of our comments were positive. This time together allowed us to reconnect, to develop trust, and to create more positive feelings between us. This was the foundation for all of the other things we did to address the behavioral difficulties she was having. The relationship is so important. And it's not our kids' job to save our relationship. It's our job as parents to nurture that relationship. I'm not saying don't address the behavior, I'm just saying work on nurturing that trust and connectedness with no strings attached so that you can more effectively address problems together with your child. I do know it can be hard to be positive and think positively about your child when you're struggling so much, I get it. But remember that it's also hard for your child.
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#6 of 10 Old 12-06-2008, 11:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunnmama View Post
You are describing my dd at 6! She is now 7 (almost 8), and 7 has been much, much easier.

What helped us was being more firm about "kid decisions" and "adult decisions". We found that, after years of negotiating things to death with dd, she felt that she had a say in everything. We, otoh, resented having to defend all of our decisions to a 6 yo . The dynamic was not good.

When we clearly defined things as "kid decisions" and "adult decisions", things soon got more peaceful. She would sometimes have a strong reaction to hearing something was an "adult decision" and not up for negotiation (big tantrum), but we rode those out. The key for keeping my temper, though, is that I was no longer negotiating while feeling resentful of it. Once the boundary became clear (kid vs adult decision), dd actually seemed much happier than she did before we started the approach.

Of the examples you listed, 1-4 would fall under "adult decisions" in our house. 5 and 6 would be kid territory.
I like that response/approach! I am just struggling with a 2 year old right now but I think I am already going in the wrong direction...
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#7 of 10 Old 12-06-2008, 11:11 AM
 
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First of all, let me say this type of child is tough -amazingly tough - I know because I have one. It may be behavior, it may be age, it may be parenting, it may be circumstances that we cannot understand or control at this time. The point is that it is happening for a reason and it is good to keep an eye on it.

Second, you need to work extremely hard on a few things. First, separating your reaction from his behavior. You own your reaction. He is pushing your buttons. If those buttons are not there to be pushed, then your reaction will be much more positive.

That is not to say that his behavior is not to be discussed, handled, met with consequences, etc, but how you react has nothing to do with him.

When a kids acts like this, they often need you more than ever. It is really hard, because all one wants to do is stop it or get away, but you need to try to affirm the positive things in your child, build their confidence (say, hmm, this was tough for you and it is normal for kids to have things tough for them. You will do better next time and if not, we'll keep working on it).
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#8 of 10 Old 12-06-2008, 07:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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First, Thanks for all your replies. Right after I posted this DH started talking about DS's behavior issues must be something we are doing. I thought about it sincerely that night, and yes there are defintaly things to improve upon.

I really like the 15 min special time idea, aside from hopefully a behavior improvement; I think that would really improve my relationship with him at this time. And work on improving his self-esteem, more encouragement.

We also don't have structure, in general. This is difficult because I feel structure is not really what I'd like to be about. But, if this is something I have to do to make my kids feel better and have a more predictable day, I am going to implement structure. Basically, the chart says it's time for _____ ... the chart will not be debatable. Or After _____, you may ____. We've started making the chart together, and I've already refered to it and it been working well, so far.

I did resent having to explain myself / debate, for basic things.

Thanks for giving me a different perspective, I can see where it would be confusing for him, not having the same result to the same requests; and he would try to debate. And I feel better knowing this is somewhat a devolpmental stage that is normal at this age.

Thanks!!
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#9 of 10 Old 04-24-2014, 07:00 AM
 
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Let me say it this way I have 2 adult children as a small child my daughter was a beautiful smart for her age toddler. My son was 2 years younger and a premmie so their were issues right from his birth . Not with him my daughter. I had a huge family with lots of support when my daughter turned 3 it was an about face. My sweet baby girl was obstinate, nothing made her happy, she would be destructive breaking things on purpose, son and so forth. did everything under the sun and more to try and please her by 6 she was out of control. brought her to be tested for just about everything changed her diet gave her more attention, finally therapy to tell me it was all in my head this sweet child is fine . I have to laugh because when it escalated and never got better I lost. She still has these issues as an adult but knows when to reign her temper in. As an adult she has also been to therapy. My point the same thing is happening with my 6 year old granddaughter,She had been the sweetest child and she is now  showing the same behavior problems . It started about 8 months ago I would ask her did you wash your hands and she would say yes and she did not. today her hands were soaking wet in front of my eyes said please dry your hands I did no they r still wet no they are not? once again please dry your hands they are not we? crying screaming throwing things around and her mouth still answering me but i stopped talking ranting they arent wet they were soaking dripping water. what do I do? I called her mother and explained they need to do something  I am her caregiver and love this child with all my heart and soul but it is a nightmare and I can not go through this again I went through so much with her mother specifically because I was told to give her up because she was uncontrollable but I did not but there is no way at my age I can go through this again because this is just the beginning of this nightmare. Help someone please.

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#10 of 10 Old 04-24-2014, 07:08 AM
 
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I think you are right just from my own personal experiences nothing actually worked in the long run . Although she always knew right from wrong it didnt matter. no punishment worked no pats on the butt nothing tried everything it was a long hard battle and it is sad to say battle but it was constantly everyday. 

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