Wit's end with my 5 year old (long) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 06-25-2011, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
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I have been posting on Facebook and my local playgroups forum looking for help with my son.  I've found really no valuable advice just a lot of "thats how five year olds are" and I have to admit that's not what I'm looking for.  I also get a lot of "reward with TV" and "take away his toys" which is REALLY not what I am looking for.  I realized what I AM looking for is a way to change what is quickly becoming our family dynamic even if it means adjusting my perceptions of how my son should act.  If that means reading child development books and learning about brain development so be it.  Something has to change.  


My son Leo is newly five.  He's very bright, talkative, cheerful, and has always been that all around Golden Child.  He was a happy baby, never hit the terrible twos, he's eager to please, nice to his little brother, helpful, affectionate and loving.  Really, if I were his brother he'd made me want to slap him and his perfectness.  :)  I suppose a lot of this is because we do expect so much of him all of the time.  


Oh.  And I'm pregnant, in my first trimester.  So... go ahead and assume that at least 50% of my issues will likely suddenly disappear in a few weeks only to reappear postpartum for roughly 14 days before they go away again.  


Anyway my real issues with Leo is his complete inabilty to focus and complete any sort of task.  I would honestly worry his development was off if he hadn't only developed this issue recently.  I do not handle it well, it irks me, irritates me, drives me bonkers. This one small thing is clearly a trigger for me.  I can deal whole a LOT of annoying kid behavior, more than most for sure I have been a fulltime childcare provider for 15 years.  But this... oh goodness.  I end up yelling a lot.  This sets the tone for my husband to then start yelling.  For the last 3-4 weeks there has been a lot of yelling at Leo and naturally it doesn't do any good. I say a lot that he "doesn't listen" but it's not really that.  It's more like he talks too darn much and is so very easily distracted.  I have found that natural consequences work so well with him.  The world is very black and white to Leo.  He understand that if you fool around in the shower there just isn't enough time for a book.  He gets that, it speaks to him.  But I am finding a hard time applying any sort of natural consequences to this stuff which is probably why he's run miles over me.  ;)  



Example 1: 
I need him to get in the van and into his car seat. I want him to start buckling himself in so that when I am finished with his brother I can get him. I make this very clear, every single time. What happens is he sees a rock he wants in front of the van, picks that up, I remind him to hurry, he gets in the car. He sees a toy/paper/whatever on the floor and wants to talk to me about it. I remind him to AGAIN get in his seat and start buckling up, we can talk about it when I am driving. He perches on the edge of his seat and starts engaging Auggie (who I am buckling at the moment) in something that undoubtedly makes it hard for me to get Auggie buckled. I yell "that's THREE TIMES now!" He "oh sorry"'s me and sits back. I may or may not have to repeat myself a few more times depending on how far I am in the process of getting everything and everyone in the car. 

Basically, I have now managed to put all of my things in the car, walked around to the other side, lifted Auggie in the car, buckled Auggie, handed Auggie his blanket/breakfast, shut the van door, walked around to Leo's side all in the same amount of time it has taken him to sit down. At this point I am LIVID- somewhat irrationally, but I just am. This is probably mostly my issue, but I don't think it's too much to ask a 5 year old to get in the car and sit down in under 4 minutes. He's was able to do this 6 months ago without issue. His two year old brother does fine. 

I can't take away his car seat/my van. I can't quit my job and just stay home. I can't physically put him in his seat himself. I am grasping at straws to find some sort of natural consequence for this or some sort of reward. Sure I could try to time him and give him a sticker or play around with a cutesy game like that. But I am honestly pressed for time and this is why I am having trouble to begin with. If I had the time to mess around with that, I would have the time to let him take 45 minutes to get in the darn car in the first place. I would be my preference to let him do his own thing rather than reward/punish him. I started getting up earlier in hopes having more time would correct the problem, but since I am struggling to also get him to stop talking long enough to eat, get dressed, put on his shoes, etc there is really no amount of time in the world that is suitable. 

My other examples would really be those things: eating, dressing, getting in the car. All mundane stupid things we ALL have to do every day over and over again. He is always talking, always stalling, easily distracted, unable to complete steps 1-3 with any sort of focus. It's driving me insane. It sets the tone for the whole day.  By the time I am arguing with him walking in the front door NOW!  Get out of the bushes, and into the house NOW.  I am done.  I end up retreating to my room and leaving my husband to "deal with" the boys.  


I don't want to "deal with" my kid. I want to enjoy him again!!!


Help!  I will happily accept and and all book suggestions. Direct me to website, anything!

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#2 of 11 Old 06-25-2011, 12:52 PM
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Oh, sister, I feel for you! My DD is only 3, but when I was pregnant last year (YDD is four months old), I thought I was going to absolutely lose my mind. Hormones are not fun! And, like you, our most challenging things were getting dressed, getting out the door, getting in the car - all those routine things you do over and over.


Here are a few things that have worked for me (well, it's still an ongoing process, I won't lie!.... wink1.gif).


1. My DD likes to do everything herself (and I'm sure your son is the same way, especially since he's 5). But rather than do the 3 times thing, I count to 3. So she has to get in her seat and put the straps on (which I then buckle) by the time I count to three. If not, she knows that I will put her in the seat myself, which she absolutely hates. It only took once or twice of this happening for her to get the clue. Now, I only have to ask," do you need mommy to count?" and she scrambles into her seat. I can do the counting very calmly, and I don't feel like I'm being the bad guy - it's the numbers!

2. I also sometimes offer a treat when she's in her seat. Not candy, but usually a book. So I'll say, "do you want to pick out a book (or toy) to bring in the car with you?" And then I carry it and she gets to have it once she's in her seat. If the picking out a toy part takes too long, then when we get outside, I'll just say, "look! I brought this book for you to read in the car! Hop in your seat and you can check it out." I'll admit, sometimes I let her have gum, too, as a reward. DD LOVES gum and is constantly asking for it, so sometimes I'll say, "okay, you can have it when we get in the car later." We've also been doing "racing" a lot lately. Let's see who can get in their seat and buckled in the fastest! (Obviously she will win, since I have to buckle her before I can get in, lol). 


3. For the morning routine - getting dressed, teeth brushed, shoes on (and in our case very long hair brushed)....oh, this is the worst. My DD has no concept of time, so I can't just set a timer and say xyz needs to be done before we can leave (especially because there's no consequence - kids don't care if you're late to work!) I have pretty much resorted to half an hour of TV in the morning. While she's catatonic (yes, I know how bad this is), I can get her entirely ready, quickly, with no struggle or dilly-dallying. She usually has to get her clothes on before she's allowed to watch her "show." I help with the clothes as needed if she wants. Now that I'm not working, we don't so this as much....and my child is often still wearing PJs at 2 in the afternoon!!!


Good luck. I hope this is helpful to you!  Lady Named Carlos



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#3 of 11 Old 06-25-2011, 03:06 PM
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For the example that you give, the magic bullet for me is Playful Parenting (Lawrence Cohen). One of my 5 yo twins is immensely distractable but if I'm playing a game with her to have her do something it works amazingly well.  For well over a year there's been a buckle race in the car -- dds are a team and every day I'm sure they're not going to beat me today but, lo and behold, they do -- much to my amazement followed by pledges for me to be faster next time.  We've had other car games -- there's a monster on the corner and the only safe place is buckled in your seat, tell them to buckle up after they already have and say they tricked me and the next few bucklings happen quickly so they can trick me again...  They know these are games and it is fun so playing the games keep them from getting distracted as easily.  Teeth brushing --racing the cavity bugs -- I can see them crawling to dds and chasing them upstairs to the bathroom.  Getting dressed is fixing their fur, getting ready for a ball, or some such thing; hair brushing -- pretend they're Rapunzel, there's a mouse living in their hair that needs to be brushed out, or I tell a story while brushing it for them.  I've been doing this stuff since they were 2 or 3 and the games have changed, but they still work and are especially useful for my girl who is distracted by the tiniest little thing if left to her own devices.

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#4 of 11 Old 06-28-2011, 08:41 AM
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. At this point I am LIVID- somewhat irrationally, but I just am. This is probably mostly my issue, but I don't think it's too much to ask a 5 year old to get in the car and sit down in under 4 minutes. He's was able to do this 6 months ago without issue. His two year old brother does fine.>>>>>


I'm going to agree that it's somewhat irrational to be livid, lol, I guess I don't really consider 5 minutes a long time to get 2 young children plus stuff in the car.  If you were talking 15, then that may be a problem.  Are there other things you can do to make getting ready in the morning faster since the 5 y/o likes to take his time?  Could he sleep in his clothes?  Can you pack the van the night before so all there is is buckling when you go out?

Honestly your friends are right, this is normal and not something you're going to be able to stop right now, KWIM?  Kids go through all different phases and the best way to deal with them is to find ways to make it easier, not fight it.  Would he do well with a list of things he needs to do(pictures or words) to help move along?  Honestly I still sometimes watch my son do a task like clean his room b/c he gets lost in legos and he's 7.

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

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#5 of 11 Old 06-28-2011, 09:50 AM
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I'm not sure what to tell you.  My DH is 28 and still does this.  He gets easily distracted and is always dilly-dallying.  But I know he has ADD.  It drives me bonkers so I can only imagine how it is with a child doing that.


However, if you've known him to do it all on his own before, he may just be in a little phase and hopefully it will pass too.

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#6 of 11 Old 06-28-2011, 11:02 AM
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My 6.5 ds is like this.  Starting new conversations, asking a new question, finding a little thing to play with.  I have finally let go of the maddening frustration with it, usually...  I have found he does respond to the urgency (threat, perhaps you could say?) of me actually going ahead and leaving, or making like I am.  So, if I've asked him to get his straps on, and he's not, and I do repeat it, calmly, a few times while I am buckling in little brother, I then move to "so, ds1, you're buckled in now, right?" as I head for my door and start up the car...  he generally scrambles and gets it done fast then.  So, in a way, you might have to let go some of the control of exactly HOW he gets it done, as long as there aren't minutes passing while everyone is in and buckled, car running, waiting for him.  My ds also actually responds to counting, or counting down.  "OK, we're leaving in 5 - 4-  3-- 2 - 1..".  The promise of a book, or reminder that he can choose one once he's in, also works for us. 

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#7 of 11 Old 06-29-2011, 09:04 PM
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I'm sorry but I had a little chuckle with your description of the seat buckling marathon because it fits my own newly-five-year-old son so perfectly.  I could totally imagine him in  your van. smile.gif Everything distracts my son, is exciting, causes him to forget.  My current approach, instead of leaving it up to him to get distracted and not buckle himself in, is to spend two minutes to focus on him alone, just walking him to the van, guiding him through the whole process start to finish, so he doesn't have time to be distracted.  In the end it's as much work as if I do it all myself but I'm hoping that if I do it that way enough times it will become a habit for him and he will do it without thinking.  Or when he matures a little.  I think we had been building a pattern of mommy asking, him not listening, mommy asking again, etc. etc..  I'm hoping to switch that around.

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#8 of 11 Old 06-30-2011, 07:25 AM
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I often find when I'm frustrated and want to scream, to just keep my mouth totally shut (or else I probably will yell) and just physically move my daughter through what she needs to do. Sometimes humming. Also if you tell a story while you do it, you can keep their attention.

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#9 of 11 Old 07-05-2011, 01:20 PM
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My 5 yo DD is the same way and I feel your pain! Somethings that work for us (sometimes!) are:

1) pretending/role-playing- as my daughter she is insanely distractable, no concept of time whatsoever, likes to debate and negotiate anything I ask of her. BUT, as Dorothy (Wizard of Oz) or Liesel (Sound of Music) or whatever character she is obsessed with that week, she is amazingly accommodating. She'll do almost anything "As" someone else.


2) a timer- we bought a $1 wind up timer at IKEA the other day. She LOVES to set the timer and race it! I always offer to hold the timer for her and adjust it as needed. She has no concept of time yet =)

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#10 of 11 Old 07-12-2011, 07:40 AM
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My son is 6.5 and we have dealt with this same thing for years now. The only thing that I found that works when I ask him to do something is to get down on one knee lovingly hold his face and ask him very kindly to do whatever it is that I need him to do , e.g. --pick up toys, --get in the shower, --change clothes, --get his shoes, etc... I could go on and on. I have 4 children so he has to pull his weight when it comes to getting ready. If I look him directly in the eyes, he tends to get less distracted and focuses on my request. This is difficult when you have a baby in your arms and a two year old running around like crazy but he needs me to make the time for him. Of course, it is not guarentee that on the way to his room, he won't get distracted by something for the 5th time but it works some times. Dealing with the carseat issue -- once I him in the car but I won't pull away until the older two buckle themselves, even if it means them being late (or me). And the thing that my husband does is....just allow more time to get ready. 5 minutes is pretty quick to get into a vehicle, at least around our house.

D. proud Mom of H. E. M. and T. always remembering Norah (11/07 at 40 wks) and (10/06) see profile
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#11 of 11 Old 07-12-2011, 08:12 AM
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That sounds like both my kids. I need to check up often to make sure they are doing what they need to
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