What now? 5 yr ds and defiant, aggressive, hitting, biting, behavior? (Long) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 28 Old 08-22-2010, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We've been dealing with some pretty tough behavior from ds(5) for about a year now. It started about 3 months before he turned 4 and right before we moved to a new town/state. I was also 4 months pregnant at the time. So in the beginning of all the transition, I think dh and I were dealing with it but also giving him the benefit of the doubt that it was a tough transition for him. Well it has been a year since the move, Ds 2 is now 8.5 months and we've yet to see any improvement. Granted he just started kindergarten last week. But this behavior has been going on ALL YEAR! Dh and I are at a complete loss, losing our patience more quickly and have both made pretty poor parenting/discipline choices when in the moment we've gotten so frustrated. We both have NEVER wanted to spank ds and both are feeling a lot of guilt for the couple of times it recently happened. I think we just feel like we are out of tools on how to deal with him effectively.

So ds has always been spirited and high needs. Although other people rarely see this because he is SUPER RESERVED/SHY (although I don't like to use that word around him). He would never/rarely act up like this in front of other people. Although we have had a couple of episodes recently where we've been out in public. We both read Unconditional Parenting and though I agree with a lot of it. This approach doesn't work when he's hit this very defiant and aggresive point. I also read a lot of The Highly Sensitive Child and felt that he had many of these qualities, but again feel like I wasn't given the tools to deal with this kind of behavior.
He will freak out about the smallest thing, often something dh and I won't even see coming. For example, taking a bag out to the car before we leave for an outing, putting ds2 in his carseat before ds(1) gets in (this is a huge battle), which cup he's going to drink out of, which toothbrush he'll use. We try to forsee these things and give him plenty of time to make a choice about how to approach a situation. But sometimes we can't see what will make him freak out. Once he does fully panic, he has a complete meltdown. He's crying, screaming, hitting, biting, starts drooling as he's crying. He's WAY out of control. At that point I seriously wonder if he has the ability to calm down. There have been times we can reason with him before he hits that point, but nothing that works every time. There are also times where I am not willing to let him take the time to make a different choice, such as hurting, or possibly hurting someone (usually his brother) or something that is unsafe. He loves his brother, but I'm sure it is tough for him to share our time and we've tried to make allowances for that. We do try to give him time with at least dh or I, such as evening bike rides, small outings to buy a chocolate milk, story times etc. I know he could probably use more time but it is tough to always find time. Sometimes he even sabatoges the outings by acting out to such a degree where we can't go.

So for example we went to buy milk yesterday. He wanted to go with me and we had been having a tough morning with him and so I thought he could use the time away from the house. I had prefaced the outing by telling him we were not buying chocolate milk while we were there(this is something dh does for him a lot). We get to the store and he flatly refuses to get out of the car and let me roll up the window. Yes, I probably could have let the window thing go, but this was after a full day of complet frustration with his defiance. I stayed calm and told him we weren't going in until he let me or he decide to roll up the window. We sat in the car for probaly a good 20 minutes, which wasn't nice for either of us considering it was over 95 degrees that day. He finally agrees to roll up the window and we go in. I'll admit I was angry and I told him so, but I was staying calm with him. We walk in and I pick out the milk. He starts wining about wanting me to buy him a yogurt. I tell him we're not getting yogurt today and we have some at home if he wants it. He refuses to walk away from the dairy case. I have no intention of grabbing him and having him scream his way out the door. So I walk out of sight (but just around the next aisle) and wait for him, which he comes around. I do this the whole way up to the cashiers, walk a short way a way but just out of sight. We get up to the cashier and check out and now that he sees that I'm actually going to go out the door and not buy the yogurt he freaks out. He starts crying and yelling at me to go back, but he follows me to the car crying the whole time. Now that we get to the car he flatly refuses to get in his carseat and buckle up. I'm staying calm and telling him we need to go and will not go anywhere until he has his seatbelt on. We are again stuck in the car for another 10-15 minutes. With me trying to reason with him and then break from talking so I can keep my cool. I finally tell him I'm going to have to call his dad to tell him we're stuck. He freaks out about me calling dh (he never likes having the other parent know when he's acting like this, not sure why since neither of us is a punitive type parent). So he actually buckles up, but then unbuckles by the time I get in the front seat. This happens a couple more times with me telling him I need dh's help and will call him. I'm next to the car at this point and then he gets out of the car trying to get my phone from me. He's trying to stick his hand in my pocket and I'm trying to gently but firmly get it out. So he starts screaming about how I'm hurting him (I am really trying to be gentle with moving his arm). So he bites me on my hand, almost drawing blood. I'm getting sympathetic looks from onlookers at this point. But I was proud of myself that I stayed fairly calm. Typically when he hits me or bites me is when I lose control of myself and get angry. So I finally convince him if he gets in the car, buckles up and CALMS DOWN I will let him have my phone to call his dad. The next part of our outing was to possibly go see our friends chickens if she was home and dh was supposed to call us if she called. So he really wanted to call his dad and ask about seeing the chickens. (regardless I had NO intention at this point of letting him go see the chickens whether she had called or not. We finally are driving home after I had to use the child lock for the door and window to keep him in the car. I don't talk to him on the way home, except for short yes and no's. I'm not so much trying to punish him, I was just so angry at this point I didn't want to talk to him. We came home and I let dh talk to him and I went a took a break to cool down.

Dh and I are wondering whether we have been consitent enough with having consequences. I lean towards natural consequences while he's is inclined towards traditional consequential outcomes like taking XYZ away if he doesn't do something. I just never understood how taking his favorite toy away because he wouldn't brush his teeth is relating anything to ds. Obviously if he's throwing said toy at someone I can see taking it away for a certain amount of time.

We've never tolerated this kind of behavior, but obviously whatever we've been trying to help him manage his anger, frustration, anxiety is not working. We've tried to help him take time in his room to calm down (not forcing him in there as a time out). Usually we end up in there with toys being thrown at us. I never wanted to lock him in his room during this behavior. But he rarely chooses to go to his room on his own. We've tried walking away, which occasionally has worked but then sometimes just has him coming after us and hitting us. I've gone into the bathroom to get away, especially if I know I'm about to lose control but then he ends up kicking and throwing things at the door.

He really is becoming defiant like yelling at us when we tell him he can't do something, what he did wasn't kind, or try to redirect him. He'll scream "Daddy/Mama don't talk to me" or "NO", "NO I don't!" or "You're bossy!"

I'm just so fed up and frustrated. I feel like this is becoming a daily occurance and dh and I can't remember the last time we had a calm day without some huge drama with ds. Last night he just refused to go to bed and after we both spent over an hour trying to get him there. Firmly talking about getting ready, telling him he wouldn't have time to read his books, giving up on brushing his teeth, and even cuddling with him in a chair trying to help him talk to me about why he didn't want to go to bed. Nothing helped. We ended up going to bed and dh got up later and found him asleep on his little toy couch in his room with his toothbrush in his hand.

Hoping for a better day today...... I feel guilty for thinking how grateful I'll be while he's at school. I'll miss him I know, but still grateful I don't have to be with him all day at home. Sounds awful I know.

Thanks if you've managed to get all the way through this.... I'm out of ideas.
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#2 of 28 Old 08-22-2010, 03:53 PM
 
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I confess that I did not get all the way through it, but I got enough of it to get the point. I discovered a web site called Hand In Hand Parenting last night and the articles (make sure you click Browse All Articles so you see more than the first few that are there) brought tears of recognition and regret to my eyes. (We've been dealing with aggression here too). I am so glad I read the article called "Troubles With Aggression."

Your child sounds like he's hurting inside and doesn't know what to do. Mine too. As soon as we stop treating it like "a behavior we need to STOP" and realize that it's a symptom of something the kid can't handle emotionally, I think the defiance will subside.

The article does give you "tools" as in ideas of how to help the child so this acting-out doesn't need to happen. I recommend you go read it right away. I am not sure if I can put links in here but you can easily Google it.

Best of luck.
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#3 of 28 Old 08-22-2010, 04:13 PM
 
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I got through it, and it seemed like your ds started a sort of game with you at the beginning of your shopping trip. I would have turned around and taken him home as soon as we got to the parking lot and wouldn't roll up the window or leave the car. There is no way I would have sat in that car for 20 minutes waiting for him. Why does HE get to control when you can leave the car?
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#4 of 28 Old 08-22-2010, 05:17 PM
 
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For what it's worth (and I know Buttercup probably wasn't talking to me), but I agree that one should not put up with endless power struggles or be held hostage by a child's tantrum or whatever. But the point of my reply was to draw attention to the fact that while certain behaviors are indeed nasty, disruptive, upsetting, inconvenient, confrontational and they make you want to rip your hair out....it is still worth trying to get to the root of it. Unless you believe your child is manipulative and is just out to get you. Which some parents think (judging from what they say) but really, wouldn't it be better if he wasn't in such an emotional jumble that he does this stuff in the first place? To put it another way...if he were getting his needs met (whatever those might be...and I mean TRUE, inner, emotional, connection needs...not "whims" or "wants"), would he be this crazed? Wouldn't he PREFER peace? Wouldn't he prefer a good relationship without all the conflict? Don't we want to give him the benefit of the doubt?

So my approach was not to recommend being confrontational (as in "no child of mine is going to control ME") but was seeking understanding....to sort of solve it from the inside-out.

Seriously. If anyone's still stuck on looking at the behavior and remedying the behavior without looking deeper, I truly recommend the article and web site I mentioned above. Otherwise, like our family, you might just end up trying to hammer your kid harder and harder (like a square peg into a round hole) and what's left is a broken relationship. Trust me, I am not judging. I am sharing what I know from experience.

Soon my son and husband will be home (they went away overnight, and the peace time gave me this time to think and reflect and read).....so I will soon get to put my theory into practice. My first task will be to "fill up" my son. I don't mean with activities or toys or other externals. I mean with time and with connection. Real connection. I have been on my "mama's gotta work" hamster wheel for too long and he has gotten the short end of the stick. He needs to be FIRST on my list, despite my growing list of unpaid bills and (since we are homeschoolers) me never having enough time alone to think or work.

I wish I had more time to write and be more coherent. They will be home in about an hour and I have so much more work to do in this precious peace time. :-)
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#5 of 28 Old 08-22-2010, 06:36 PM
 
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NellieKatz, I actually agree that there is some need not being met with this boy. I was just pointing out what the OP maybe doesn't see. That her son's behavior is literally holding her hostage, and as the adult she is allowing that to happen.

I don't care how gentle someone's discipline is, isn't it lunacy to think you have to sit in a car for 20 minutes in 95 degree weather to effectively deal with a 5 year old?

There are some long term solutions that re-connecting with her son would accomplish, but this has become a safety issue and immediate action needs to be taken to get him under control. He is removing his seatbelt, and she is scared he would try to get out of her vehicle!

This is not about "I'm the parent, so what I say goes and I'm in control". A parent needs some control over a child this small for safety reasons, and also because a child who feels that they are in control of every situation will spiral out of control. Since the OP has stated that she and her husband are doing their best to give him one on one time with them, maybe the problem is that this kid doesn't know what his boundaries are and is panicking.
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#6 of 28 Old 08-22-2010, 07:53 PM
 
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I got through it, and it seemed like your ds started a sort of game with you at the beginning of your shopping trip. I would have turned around and taken him home as soon as we got to the parking lot and wouldn't roll up the window or leave the car. There is no way I would have sat in that car for 20 minutes waiting for him. Why does HE get to control when you can leave the car?
I'm confused.

What's the difference between the two options in terms of how much control the kid has? I mean, how is choosing to sit in the car at the grocery parking lot giving him control and choosing to go home is not giving him control? Neither one is what the kid wanted, right?

If I'm not being clear, suppose the mom had decided to drive him back home instead of waiting, and complained about the cost of gas instead of the heat. Why could you have not said, "I would have stayed in the car until he would roll up the window and leave the car. There is no way I would have driven him all the way home because he didn't want to get out. Why does HE get to control when when we leave the grocery store?" and later "I don't care how gentle someone's discipline is, isn't it lunacy to think you have to drive back home from the grocery store without buying anything to effectively deal with a 5 year old?"?
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#7 of 28 Old 08-22-2010, 09:14 PM
 
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Well I assume that going out is something her DS enjoys doing since he's the one who wanted to go with her. He likes going to the store with mom, then I think he should learn that if he makes it difficult for his mom to bring him with her that he won't go with her.

Also I think sitting in the car and waiting for him to roll up the window and get out is passive. OP isn't taking an action which I think is hard for kids to understand. Actually driving him home is a concrete action that is easy to understand. "If I don't cooperate, I go home." He isn't driving the car, and we assume he doesn't actually want to go home. I say bring him home and leave him with dad, or go for milk later.

I'm sorry, but I can not imagine sitting in a car for 20 min while my child decides to roll up the window, and then going into the store and continuing my day.
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#8 of 28 Old 08-22-2010, 09:26 PM
 
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How does he sleep? When does he normally go to sleep and wake up?

Cathy mom to 13 y/o DD, 10 y/o DD, 7 y/o DS

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#9 of 28 Old 08-22-2010, 09:31 PM
 
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I think I agree with buttercup. I too would have driven DS home, dropped him off and then gone shopping alone. I also wouldn't bring him the next time he asked to go. I would gently remind him of what had happened in the car the previous time and explain that he couldn't go out again, but he could try again on another trip. Before leaving for the next shopping trip with him, I would again remind him of what had happened with the windows in the car and what the consequences had been and also remind him that the same consequences still applied. If he can't listen cooperate, then he will need to come back home and not be allowed to go on the following trip again. Seems like pretty natural consequences to me.

I do tend to think that this child might really be hurting on some deeper level as well, but the immediate actions for me would to leave the child home if possible.

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#10 of 28 Old 08-22-2010, 09:32 PM
 
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Also, is there any chance he is reacting to something in his diet? I have seen so many threads here on MDC about children losing it over things repeatedly and it ending up being something in their diet.

Formerly single Mama to the zaniest boy on the block, born on my birthday on 3/28/07. Soon to be Mama to a new little and can't wait to bfinfant.gif and femalesling.GIF and familybed1.gif again! 
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#11 of 28 Old 08-22-2010, 10:02 PM
 
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Also, is there any chance he is reacting to something in his diet? I have seen so many threads here on MDC about children losing it over things repeatedly and it ending up being something in their diet.
We restrict dairy for our 6 yo because he gets really emotionally labile and unable to control himself if he has too much. He's able to handle 2-3 servings a week (which sucks because he LOVES dairy), but if we go loose while visiting people and let him have more, we have a hell of a week after while it works its way out of his system. We have gotten to a relatively acceptable place for all of us, where he's not having meltdowns daily (like he was before we started cutting back, he was having at least two servings of dairy a day) but he still gets to have a slice of pizza, or a cheeseburger, or a yogurt a few times a week. Thus far restricting major dairy sources is working well enough, we don't look at hidden dairy because he's not violent or completely out of control, just hypersensitive and emotional when he has too much.

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#12 of 28 Old 08-22-2010, 10:13 PM
 
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This is the first avenue I would investigate. Dairy leads to this sort of behavior. The fact that the story you told was about milk and him fixating over a yogurt helped. Food colorings (red 40, blue lake, etc...), dairy other names for dairy here http://gfcf-diet.talkaboutcuringauti...-is-casein.htm, soy (vitamin E, lecithin, alpha tocopherol) other names for soy here http://gfcf-diet.talkaboutcuringauti...hat-is-soy.htm Basically whatever food they crave and eat a lot of is most likely a trigger. HFCS is also like that, caffeine... there are a few. Try completely cutting out dairy and soy firstly, and then possibly gluten. Dairy is the one most likely to cause this sort of thing.

We have So Delicious coconut milk and yogurts and coconut bliss ice cream for replacements. I also make homemade almond milk

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#13 of 28 Old 08-22-2010, 11:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm confused.

What's the difference between the two options in terms of how much control the kid has? I mean, how is choosing to sit in the car at the grocery parking lot giving him control and choosing to go home is not giving him control? Neither one is what the kid wanted, right?

If I'm not being clear, suppose the mom had decided to drive him back home instead of waiting, and complained about the cost of gas instead of the heat. Why could you have not said, "I would have stayed in the car until he would roll up the window and leave the car. There is no way I would have driven him all the way home because he didn't want to get out. Why does HE get to control when when we leave the grocery store?" and later "I don't care how gentle someone's discipline is, isn't it lunacy to think you have to drive back home from the grocery store without buying anything to effectively deal with a 5 year old?"?
At the time I guess this was my attitude. I wasn't willing to go all the way home after finally heading out for milk at a grocery store that is out of our way to begin with (we are on WIC and can only get this natural local milk at a small local grocer where we don't typically shop). I wasn't about to have to turn around 20 minutes later and come back without him. I also think that if I had told him we were going home because of his behavior, we would have had the same problem with his unwillingness to put on his seatbelt. The only way I often end up gettting "control" is by physically restraining him and this does not work with a 5 year old. So I guess yes, maybe I have been passively trying to gain control by getting him to cooperate without a huge explosive fight.
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#14 of 28 Old 08-23-2010, 12:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Also, is there any chance he is reacting to something in his diet? I have seen so many threads here on MDC about children losing it over things repeatedly and it ending up being something in their diet.
I have thought of this before and I am unsure of how to go about figuring it out with eliminating it from his diet completely. He definitely is a carb addict and craves sugar. Although we don't have a lot of sugar around. He used to eat a really well rounded diet until about age 3 and then he got really picky. Food is one of our battles and so I'm not sure how I could eliminate dairy. He drank soymilk when he was younger but no longer likes it. I actually was concerned about a soy allergy when he was 2-3 becaue after eating soy yogurt on a few occasions had a mild rash on his cheeks. But he doesn't eat soy anymore.

He loves yogurt and cheese (although we don't do a ton of cheese and would be easier to eliminate). We do have a lot of yogurt though and he has a fair amount of milk. I would be willing to try it, I just don't know hot to get him to.

As far as food additives, I think he's getting very little exposure. We eat a lot of whole and home cooked foods. We have only a few packaged items and many of those I try to buy natural/organic brands with low sugar content. On a recent thread I saw someone talking about the flavorings in vitamins and so I just put his vitamins away Animal Parade Kidz Greenz to see if we saw a difference.
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#15 of 28 Old 08-23-2010, 12:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I confess that I did not get all the way through it, but I got enough of it to get the point. I discovered a web site called Hand In Hand Parenting last night and the articles (make sure you click Browse All Articles so you see more than the first few that are there) brought tears of recognition and regret to my eyes. (We've been dealing with aggression here too). I am so glad I read the article called "Troubles With Aggression."

Your child sounds like he's hurting inside and doesn't know what to do. Mine too. As soon as we stop treating it like "a behavior we need to STOP" and realize that it's a symptom of something the kid can't handle emotionally, I think the defiance will subside.

The article does give you "tools" as in ideas of how to help the child so this acting-out doesn't need to happen. I recommend you go read it right away. I am not sure if I can put links in here but you can easily Google it.

Best of luck.
Thanks, Nellikatz. This sounds like an interesting article I will definitely look it up. He is very sensitive and always has been. I know that our move last year has been hard on him. He still talks about his friend, old daycare, family friends, in our old town. He's even asked if we can move back there. I know it's taken too long for him to find new friends here, which is why I hope starting school this year will help. Maybe sharing mom and dad with his brother has been harder on him than we've realized, he did have us to himself for 4.5 yrs. So I realize this is a big adjustment.
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#16 of 28 Old 08-23-2010, 12:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This is the first avenue I would investigate. Dairy leads to this sort of behavior. The fact that the story you told was about milk and him fixating over a yogurt helped. Food colorings (red 40, blue lake, etc...), dairy other names for dairy here http://gfcf-diet.talkaboutcuringauti...-is-casein.htm, soy (vitamin E, lecithin, alpha tocopherol) other names for soy here http://gfcf-diet.talkaboutcuringauti...hat-is-soy.htm Basically whatever food they crave and eat a lot of is most likely a trigger. HFCS is also like that, caffeine... there are a few. Try completely cutting out dairy and soy firstly, and then possibly gluten. Dairy is the one most likely to cause this sort of thing.

We have So Delicious coconut milk and yogurts and coconut bliss ice cream for replacements. I also make homemade almond milk
Thanks for the reccomendations for milk. He's not had soy for years and I still wonder if he has a sensitivity there. I think I will try to coconut option if he'll be willing to try it.
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#17 of 28 Old 08-23-2010, 12:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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How does he sleep? When does he normally go to sleep and wake up?
He gets a good amount of sleep. Lately he's been sleeping for 11 hours at night. Bedtime has been between 8:30-9:00 and he's up between 7:30 and 8:30.
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#18 of 28 Old 08-23-2010, 12:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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NellieKatz, I actually agree that there is some need not being met with this boy. I was just pointing out what the OP maybe doesn't see. That her son's behavior is literally holding her hostage, and as the adult she is allowing that to happen.

I don't care how gentle someone's discipline is, isn't it lunacy to think you have to sit in a car for 20 minutes in 95 degree weather to effectively deal with a 5 year old?

There are some long term solutions that re-connecting with her son would accomplish, but this has become a safety issue and immediate action needs to be taken to get him under control. He is removing his seatbelt, and she is scared he would try to get out of her vehicle!

This is not about "I'm the parent, so what I say goes and I'm in control". A parent needs some control over a child this small for safety reasons, and also because a child who feels that they are in control of every situation will spiral out of control. Since the OP has stated that she and her husband are doing their best to give him one on one time with them, maybe the problem is that this kid doesn't know what his boundaries are and is panicking.
My willingness to sit in the car was not because I was okay with him dictating what was going to happen. It was because after seeing this type of behavior for so long I knew that a fight (hitting, screaming, etc) was going to ensue if I were to leave the store (also the issue of getting his seatbelt on). I know this is a problem. I've probably spent way too much time trying to reason with him so that I can help him stay under control. The hitting, biting and huge physical battles are awful and I end up losing control and really angry as well when he gets to that point. So I guess both dh and I are guilty of reasoning for hours to get him to stay emotionally under control of himself. I feel like we set clear boundaries about what is okay and not okay. But I realize we may not be clear enough about what the consequences are when he crosses the line.

Dh is supportive of using positive and negative reinforcements for consequences. Maybe this is something that I've been reluctant to use and maybe should consider.
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#19 of 28 Old 08-23-2010, 10:53 AM
 
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We do have a lot of yogurt though and he has a fair amount of milk. I would be willing to try it, I just don't know hot to get him to.
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We told our son we were going to try something to see if it made him feel better - because he clearly doesn't like being so emotional like that. We told him that we were going to have him stop having milk and yogurt and cheese just for a couple weeks to see if helped, then see if he could have it again a couple times a week. We talked about how upset he got and how yucky it felt, and while he wasn't happy about it, he accepted it with only minor protest (the protests were kind of vocal for the first week but then lessened to nothing, maybe perhaps not coincidentally to when the dairy proteins were working their way out of his system?). We tried every milk replacement and he likes vanilla rice milk the best, with vanilla oat milk a close second. Soy milk, I was worried about giving him too much soy so we stuck with other kinds of milks. As I said in my post above, we don't look for hidden dairy, we just do major sources. I feel like we've hit a pretty good balance of him feeling OK, behaving OK, and still getting to have foods he loves occasionally. I have been toying with eliminating it completely but I'm still undecided because I do sort of believe that there is something to having the enjoyment of foods you love, and if he's "good enough" that might be OK enough. I dunno. I'm kind of in general a "good enough is sometimes good enough" kind of person so I'm not sure i have it in me to completely eliminate; plus, I'm not sure it would make that much more of an improvement - the improvement we see with doing what we do is great enough that it's worth doing what we do, but I'm not sure if doing more would show that much more improvement.

A typical week might look like: one slice of pizza, a couple Stonyfield yogurt tubes, and a cheeseburger, spaced out over the course of a week. Or he'll sub out one of those for a small ice cream. Then a few times a week he gets about a Tbsp of blue cheese dressing with dinner (but the rest of the nights eats his veggies plain or with an oil based dressing). Prior to that he was having at least 2 servings of milk a day, plus cheese and yogurt throughout the week, and maybe ice cream every once in a while. I think that being able to look forward to and have a few servings of dairy every week makes the other tiems tolerable for him, and leads to less stress about it.

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Thanks for the reccomendations for milk. He's not had soy for years and I still wonder if he has a sensitivity there. I think I will try to coconut option if he'll be willing to try it.
As I wrote before, DS likes vanilla rice milk best, and oat second. We tried every kind of milk sub our store had.

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I've probably spent way too much time trying to reason with him so that I can help him stay under control. The hitting, biting and huge physical battles are awful and I end up losing control and really angry as well when he gets to that point. So I guess both dh and I are guilty of reasoning for hours to get him to stay emotionally under control of himself. I feel like we set clear boundaries about what is okay and not okay. But I realize we may not be clear enough about what the consequences are when he crosses the line.

Dh is supportive of using positive and negative reinforcements for consequences. Maybe this is something that I've been reluctant to use and maybe should consider.
I'm speaking from our personal experience, something I've had to learn over hte last year - trying to work through things with DS when he's in the middle of a meltdown makes it way, way worse and last way way longer. If I bring him to his room and just let him do his thing, without trying to discuss it with him at all, and/or distract him with another quiet activity while he calms down, and THEN we talk about it later, it takes about 10-15 minutes. If I try to reason with him and explain and discuss, etc. it can last upwards of an hour of him being hysterical. I wish I would have learned that sooner, and saved us all some grief. So I typically say something like, "WOAH! No way buddy, let's go" and walk with him up to his room (or somewhere secluded depending on where we are), and then try to get him into an activity where he can zone out a little so his brain goes out of overdrive - sometimes that's a book, sometimes it's a computer game. THEN, after he's fully calmed down (which is usually about 10 min), we'll talk about what happened. Initially I felt like I was "rewarding" the meltdown (especially when I accidentally found out a computer game like chuzzle or tetris calms him down super quickly) but then I realized, *this* is the way his brain needs to calm down, and when he's in a frenzy like that he really can't control it. SO after he's calm, we really do discuss what happened, and it's not like he's "getting away with" anything - if he did something he shouldn't have, he makes amends, or whatever we've decided beforehand is an appropriate thing (we talk about consequences for things before situations/events). But short circuiting the hyperdrive his brain goes into when that happens is the top priority here. When I was trying to work with him in the moment, it was just overloading his brain and emotions and making it take 3 times longer to get to the point where he could talk about it, and making him a lot more upset (and me too).

So reasoning in the heat of the moment is totally futile in this house. My daughter is the same way, but with her I can do deep breaths with her a few times and she calms down more readily. DS has this perfection thing going on, DD is just feisty

Hope this helps.

Heather, WAHM to DS (01/04)DD (06/06). Wed to DH(09/97)
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#20 of 28 Old 08-23-2010, 11:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The4OfUs, Thank you for that post it was really helpful. I can see how I can eliminate much of the dairly when I cook. Dh was vegan for the first 8 yrs of our marriage, so I got pretty good at cooking/baking without dairy. I've already at times bought dairy "ice cream" treats that ds never new were not real ice cream. The milk for drinking and a possible sub for yogurt might be the toughest to sell him on. Although a lot of his yogurt is in smoothies and hopefully won't change the taste too much. But I think the approach of sitting down with him and talking about why we need to eliminate the dairy for a while is a good idea.

Yesterday we talked about consequences prior to a family outing we'd been planning. We were going to a local music event that had kids activities and rides. We told him he had $5 to spend on any of the rides, if we started seeing behavior that wasn't appropriate before we left for the event he would start losing a $1 each time. After a couple of warnings he was down to $4 and we stuck to it. He whined for a while about it, but we just stopped discussing it. Once at the event and he used up his money, we said okay that's it and he didn't argue at all.

Dh and I talked last night about how maybe for him he needs more reinforced consequences. That maybe we allow him to come back around and make amends and then not follow through with a consequence. I've been hesitant to use "punishments". But if it seems like I'm not giving him strong enough boundaries (like some pp's have mentioned), then maybe he needs more consequences.
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I'm confused.


If I'm not being clear, suppose the mom had decided to drive him back home instead of waiting, and complained about the cost of gas instead of the heat. Why could you have not said, "I would have stayed in the car until he would roll up the window and leave the car. There is no way I would have driven him all the way home because he didn't want to get out. Why does HE get to control when when we leave the grocery store?" and later "I don't care how gentle someone's discipline is, isn't it lunacy to think you have to drive back home from the grocery store without buying anything to effectively deal with a 5 year old?"?
I totally understand this. It has happened to us exactly twice. DS was being horrible and unmanageable in the store and I dropped EVERYTHING right where it was, cart & all (sorry, store folks!) and we went to the car, and as I was pulling away, I literally realized what was happening and stopped and went back to the parking lot and said "you don't get to make the family go without food.....we're going to solve this if it's the last thing I do" and in both cases we DID solve it and we DID go back in and there WAS an agreed-upon consequence for the rotten behavior (hitting me in the store, running away etc). and that was actually a good way to resolve it. Because frankly if we didn't need the food, we wouldn't have been there. I was not willing to go hungry!
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Dh and I talked last night about how maybe for him he needs more reinforced consequences. That maybe we allow him to come back around and make amends and then not follow through with a consequence. I've been hesitant to use "punishments". But if it seems like I'm not giving him strong enough boundaries (like some pp's have mentioned), then maybe he needs more consequences.
I hear you on this. Our house was about 98% nonpunitive until the past year, for both kids. We did redirection/distraction, discussion/negotiation/playful parenting etc. and it worked fine, and they were a joy to be around both in the house and out in public. But in the last year they have both gotten into stages where explaining, discussing, trying to find a mutual solution just is not working and in order to keep people from getting hurt (physically and/or emotionally), from breaking things, from disrupting others when we're out in public, and from wreaking chaos in the home, we've had to implement some basic logical consequences....which was not necessarily the way I wanted to parent, but seems to be what they need *right now* - these two seem to need a solid consequence to prevent them from doing things, because "it's the considerate/polite/kind/responsible/respectful thing to do because X can make people feel/think Y" doesn't work with them right now - it used to, and I hope it does in the future, but right now "If you X, we'll have to Y" is the way we have to do things. I was punished exactly one time as a kid, so it's something I've had to get used to and work through myself giving them the "if you X, we have to Y" and then following through instead of trying to talk with them over and over again about why they should or shouldn't do something they're doing or not doing. We're still not overly harsh, but there are definite, enforced boundaries and if they cross them, there is a logical, brief consequence.

Sigh. I didn't even like typing that out, but I've discovered in the last year that giving them what they seem to need (firmer boundaries and consequences for overstepping them) is more important to their development than me being a nonpunitive parent, as my parents were with me - I was a different child than they are (read: calmer, more compliant by nature) so I need to respond to them with what works for them, instead of trying to make what worked with me work for them. It's been a lesson, for sure, for all of us. They still at 6 and 4 do not have a ton of impulse control (less than many other kids I know and see), and since they're bigger and stronger and more creative and louder now, we need to impose more rigid boundaries on them for safety, respect for others, and general family harmony. I am really, really hoping with maturity they will get out of thise particular phase and we can go back to the discussions and epxlanations. Really.

To be clear, I **** do the discuss/explain/expectation thins FIRST. And give a chance or two - if there is no result (them not listening, or even being willing to discuss with me), then it becomes, "If you X, we'll have to Y." That's why I'm hoping maturity and time will bring us back around to a nonpunitive place again, because we're still doing that work there.

Heather, WAHM to DS (01/04)DD (06/06). Wed to DH(09/97)
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#23 of 28 Old 08-23-2010, 12:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The4OfUs, Yes thanks for that! What you described is so much of where we're (or at least where I am coming from). I've been reading some of the threads on natural consequences and so many of the examples/approaches described are what we've done with ds and they worked pretty well until he turned 4 last year.

I was raised with punitive parents, but like yourself was a pretty calm laid back kid and I only remember being punished a few times. Dh on the other hand had a very punitive upbringing but not surprisingly he was a pretty renegade tween/teen (so it's not like that worked).

I would like to work on having logical consequences relating to the behavior. Which is why I've resisted dh's approach of consequences, they always seemed to arbitrary to the situation/behavior. Especially things like "I will take Y away from you next week if you do this X behavior now".
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#24 of 28 Old 08-23-2010, 02:16 PM
 
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That Hand in Hand parenting link was amazing. I read the Troubles with Aggresson article with tears in my eyes. We have been having difficulty here with 5.5yo ds biting. Just all of a sudden. It seems to have come out of nowhere, he has bitten his sister a few times and once he bit one of the kids I do daycare for I actually came to the GD board to look for help for biting behaviour, I'm unfamiliar with it in a 5 yr old.

Believe it or not, the yelling, shaming (telling him that 5 yr olds don't bite, he's acting like a 2 yr old, etc), punishing (taking away his Wii nights) all haven't worked To think that all of those things I was doing to try to make the behaviour stop was making him feel worse and in turn encouraging the behaviour I feel horribly guilty for losing control and letting my anger and frustration get the best of me and for making him feel more guilty for losing control of himself. He knows not to bite and always feels bad right away.

Again I'm crying as I type this, I'm just so frustrated and feel out of control myself. I love my ds so so so much, he is a highly intelligent, sweet, loving boy and he doesn't deserve to feel badly. I know I can connect with him in the ways the article suggested. Anyway, just wanted to thank the pp who posted this link, I think it will seriously help me and turn this all around. BIG THANK YOU.

Amanda - wife to DH Kellyjog.gif, Mummers to Trentreading.gif born 03/03/05 Bridgetdust.gif born 08/08/07 and a IT'S A BOY! Kennedy babyboy.gifborn 02/20/11!
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#25 of 28 Old 08-23-2010, 04:43 PM
 
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I totally understand this. It has happened to us exactly twice. DS was being horrible and unmanageable in the store and I dropped EVERYTHING right where it was, cart & all (sorry, store folks!) and we went to the car, and as I was pulling away, I literally realized what was happening and stopped and went back to the parking lot and said "you don't get to make the family go without food.....we're going to solve this if it's the last thing I do" and in both cases we DID solve it and we DID go back in and there WAS an agreed-upon consequence for the rotten behavior (hitting me in the store, running away etc). and that was actually a good way to resolve it. Because frankly if we didn't need the food, we wouldn't have been there. I was not willing to go hungry!
I think that's different than what happened with the OP. Actually actively coming up with a solution and still imposing the consequence is the key.

After re-reading the OP though, I think in that situation I would have just left. For one thing, she mentioned that already they were having a hard day. Maybe next time don't offer ds to go on a trip to the store on a day he is already struggling. It seemed like she was taking him along for a treat to get out of the house rather than out of necessity.

I don't think there's anything wrong with logical consequences, which to me is different than 'natural' consequences. IMO, some bad behavior has no natural consequence unless the person is caught, and I don't want to instill in my kids that getting caught is the 'wrong' thing, KWIM?
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#26 of 28 Old 08-23-2010, 07:50 PM
 
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That Hand in Hand parenting link was amazing. I read the Troubles with Aggresson article with tears in my eyes.
I am *SO* incredibly happy to hear this! I had the same reaction (crying) too, and I am glad to have shared something that made a difference to someone.
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#27 of 28 Old 08-24-2010, 07:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Nellikatz. This sounds like an interesting article I will definitely look it up. He is very sensitive and always has been. I know that our move last year has been hard on him. He still talks about his friend, old daycare, family friends, in our old town. He's even asked if we can move back there. I know it's taken too long for him to find new friends here, which is why I hope starting school this year will help. Maybe sharing mom and dad with his brother has been harder on him than we've realized, he did have us to himself for 4.5 yrs. So I realize this is a big adjustment.
I just wanted to follow up. I checked out the article on Hand in Hand parenting and I can see that it some really great advice for parents dealing with a child that has aggression towards other children. However with my ds his agression is only directed at dh and I. I've tried letting him express his feelings by holding him calmly but firmly but let him struggle. But usually that only makes the whole thing worse, kicking, biting, fighting harder etc.
He is really kind to other kids, just reserved at first.
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#28 of 28 Old 08-24-2010, 07:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been trying to give more logical consequences for ds in the last couple of days. He spilled water from his water bottle on the table on purpose and I asked him to clean it up. Dh cleaned it up first and ds panicked and started a tantrum. So he wanted more water to spill. So I calmly humored him and gave him more water, but prefacing that whatever water he spilled HE needed to clean it up. Of course he ended up spilling ten times as much water as he did the first time. It took him 5 minutes or so but I kept reminding him that he needed to wipe it up and if I did there was a consequence. Well I'm glad he actually did end up wiping it all up no problems. What do you think would've been a logical consequence if I had to wipe it up? Take his water bottle away?

This morning he wasn't dawdling a bit about getting ready for school. We are still in the beginning stages of this so I wasn't wanting to be hard on him. But after he kept ignoring dh about getting his teeth brushed (and dh was starting to lose his temper). Ds kept saying "one more thing". I told him if he wasn't ready in 5 minutes then he would have to take his toothbrush, comb, and socks and shoes in the car and put them on at school. He really usually resists not walking out of the house ready. But 5 minutes passed and he didn't have time to put his shoes on, so off to the car they went anyway.

I know these seem like such small battles, it just little things like these are what so often lead to battle of wills and screaming on ds's part. I know dh and I have both lost our temper. But I feel like dh sometimes has a tendency to hold a grudge against ds and not just let something go. Where I have tried more often (not always, I know) to give ds more time, humor him, parent playfully.
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