So, we are having some major issues with one of our 7 yr old boys...
Background: We have gone through some big changes recently, bought a house and moved almost 2 months ago (still getting settled), boys didn't change schools (we transfered them to stay - its about 20 min away now), Mother-In-Law has moved across the country to live near us and help with the kids, and has been staying with us until she finds an apartment (moving her out this weekend!). She has been picking them up from school everyday, occassionaly also takes them. I take them on the other days, but get home later than usual (longer commute), and so see them only for dinner and tucking in. Their dad has been spending most of his home time outside as there is much to do on our property (for our animals and cleaning up junk last owner left). So most of their time, lots of time, is spent with their grandma. Although she is friendly and silly and listens to them read to her (for their homework), she is a very be-in-the-same-room-but-don't-really-interact kind of grandma. This is VERY different from my parents, and my upbringing, and how I am.
DS2 has always been a very curious kid, likes to see how things work, likes to understand cause and effect relationships, check on "what-if" scenarios.. and much more active than DS1 (who can be contend drawing or reading or playing cards for a long time).
Lately (maybe the last several weeks) DS2 has been doing destructive things like: stabbing a watermelon sitting on the counter with whatever tool he finds lying around (for us to find later when it starts to rot or draw flies), dumping out hand soap or shampoo (into the sink/tub), stabbing holes in bananas with a pencil, popping their outside balls with sharp sticks, clipping chunks out of his hair, cutting a small piece out of our bottom sheet on our bed, and this morning, DH finds his phone charger wasn't working, only to discover the cord had been cut completely apart.
He has never been caught red-handed for these, but we are confident it is him. When I came back to my room (trying to play the game Sorry with them in-between cooking dinner) and found a cut out of our sheet, I ended the game and asked him to sit in his room for a while because I was very upset that he would destroy our things that cost us money (btw, we parents are very financially stressed at the moment). I texted back and forth with DH who was working out in the yard and we decided he should pay for the sheet out of money from his piggy bank. We ended up taking $15 (left him with the coins and 2 $2 bills).
This morning after the phone cord incident I had a talk with him about how he feels about not seeing me much and spending a lot of time with his grandma. He stated that I was never around and that it has been "really boring" with his grandma, that he is just by himself, that his brother doesn't want to go outside and play.
I told him later we would come up with some ideas so that he doesn't get so bored.
The permanent arrangement will be that MIL will have an apartment near their school, she will continue to pick them up everyday, DH will get off work and get them from her place and bring them home, I will get home a little later.
I can definitely understand his feelings, but can't have the destruction continue... any thoughts on natural consequences (he is out of money), or ways to approach this? I would be very grateful.
mom of boys born 9/13/05 and
First of all, hugs to you. Parenting is a tough gig, isn't it?
Here are my thoughts:
At 7 years old, couldn't he be out with his Dad helping in the yard/property some? That would give him a wonderful opportunity to be with his Dad and to be active. I bet that would go a long ways towards giving him the attention he is craving.
Maybe you could make boxes for when he must be inside with Grandma so he doesn't get bored. Take small plastic containers with lids and fill them with fun activities, have Grandma let him choose one at a time to play with. Fill one with playdoh and cookie cutters, toy scissors n such...fill another with a couple of books, stickers and pencils and paper...or maybe a model he can put together...another with a bug book, magnifying glass and paper/pencil(for when he can go outside)...yet another with crayons, construction paper, kid safe scissors, glue stix, googly eyes, yarn...you get the idea. One could have cheap shaving cream and shampoo with cups of various sizes for water play--this can be done in the tub for easy cleanup. These do not have to be 'new' toys, just a new arrangement and the fun of choosing one at a time. Maybe fill four or five to be used for a few days then shake them up and change things around.
Another idea is to get things together for basic and fun science experiments. There are lots of those ideas online. Surely Grandma can help a little with that if you provide everything plus printed instructions?
.It's been a trying time for your family, sounds like. Hang in there!
discovered some more items he ruined, severed the cords to download their camera to the computer, and DH's hair clippers... also he found a mascara tube and wiped it around a few areas in the bathroom (not mine, something left by the previous owner).
So, he definitely does go out and help with his dad a lot when he gets home, he has probably been spending MORE time with his dad than usual in fact... its those hours they spend with just their grandma before I get home that has been as issue.
Definitely an issue is that we have stuff everywhere.... is taking us a while to settle in, the cutting of cords thing, he found some plant snippers lying around and decided to try them out...
I'll keep trying to think of ways for him to fulfill his curiousity and need to "do" things hands on, as well as try to give him quality time with me when I'm home. Hope that will help.
Oh, I should also include the fact that he just received an award at school for displaying "Self-Management" in the class! (least he is saving the mis-behavior for home)
mom of boys born 9/13/05 and
Umm..... my brother and I totally did that. He is now a games software engineer and builds bicycles, and I knit, sew, do woodwork, and am always adding a new crafting skill to my repertoire. I mention that because it's totally relevant. There was seldom any malice in our sprees of destruction; we were always trying to figure something out or make something. We didn't always understand as kids that we were destroying or wasting something.
Obviously there has to be consequences for destroying useful stuff that costs the family, but maybe you can also pick up some old landline phones and cables and screw drivers from the thrift store? Or give him bottles of really cheap handsoap for "projects" with caveat that he only gets refills is he leaves the family stuff alone and only uses his soap in the sink? His own sheet to cut up? Teach him how to knit? Cause to me the compulsive cutting up stuff says he seriously needs something to do with his hands.