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#1 of 14 Old 10-15-2012, 10:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh Mamas, I need your help. I've lost my gentle discipline skills, my temper and my mind. I just don't know what to do.

A little back ground - I am Mama to four wonderful, smart children (ages 7, 6, 4, 2). My parenting philosophy tells me that children deserve respect and guidance. I have always tried my best to consider mistakes "teaching opportunities" and to allow natural consequences do most of the teaching.  With my older two, this has always worked beautifully.  My four year old is an entirely different creature all together from his older brother and sister, though. Every single day is a struggle for the both of us (hubby too).

 

I don't know where to start, and I'm so frustrated right now, I apologize in advance for the brain dump that is about to begin.

 

For starters, W is smart and sweet and so loving. He's the most likely to randomly walk up to tell me he loves me, he constantly complements people, and seriously gives the best hugs EVER.

 

But. He has more energy than I know what to do with. He has the shortest attention span ever, unless it's something (he knows) he's not supposed to do. It *feels* like he purposely disobeys just to piss me off (I know that probably is not the case. but OH MY GOD I TOLD YOU NO 70000000 TIMES!)  He is capable of telling me what the rules are. He is frequently capable of telling me the reason for the rule and the consequences of breaking the rules. But he breaks them anyway. (I know, we all make mistakes on occasion, we all have bad days. The thing is, this is his default).  I am blown away by his complete and total lack of remorse. He is terribly dishonest, as well - sometimes to protect himself, sometimes, seemingly, just for the sake of lying. Consequences dont' seem to help at all - he doesn't mind most natural consequences, seems not to care when he upsets, angers or hurts people. He gets upset when things don't go his way, but doesn't seem to care about what caused things to not go his way.

 

What we already do: We go for three to five walks per week (depending on husband's schedule), anywhere from 3-6km/walk. On the days that we don't go for a walk, the kids play outside or on the bouncy castle, we "work out" together, and we do circle time before homeschool (the 4 and 2 year old mostly have free-time during lessons). When the kids get a bit wily, as kids are wont to do, I have them do jumping jacks or laps or play tag or do flips and summersaults, or jump on the bouncy castle or springy mattress some more. There are PLENTY of opportunities for them to expend their energy.

 

If I try to direct or structure his play, he lasts about 2 minutes, MAX. If I allow him to play without direction, it often ends with him being destructive or getting into things he shouldn't.  I try as much as possible for consequences to be natural - if you color on the wall, you have to wash it off, for example. I've tried time outs, time ins, discussing his behavior, praising good behavior... pretty much everything I can think of that isn't hitting him (and to be honest, I've come damn close to hitting him).

 

Our BIGGEST struggle at the moment (and pretty much since he was born) is rest time. Every day after lunch for 1-2 hours we have quiet time. The "rule" is everyone spends quiet time doing something quiet and restful, whether that's nap, read, or play with quiet toys. It has to be restful, and of course respectful of the rest of the family and their belongs. The other three have no trouble with this, never have (of course we all have days on occasion, but in general, rest time has never been an issue for anyone but him). He has always had a difficult time with naps - at age 3 I still had to strap him into the baby swing (he's very very VERY small for his age, and still wasn't even close to the weight limit) just to hold him still long enough to fall asleep. But now that he doesn't sleep during quiet time, he just canNOT contain himself. He talks, he wanders, he trhows things, breaks things, draws on the walls, etc. (to be clear, this is not angry distructive behavior. It's just something to do), he bothers people, puts glue on things he shouldn't, cuts with his scissors when he shouldn't etc.  I've tried giving him something specific to do during this time - he usually only lasts 2 minutes. I've made a point of removing anything he can get into trouble with - he still manages (seriously, today he pulled down some of the room decorations and tore it apart). I make sure he jumps for a few minutes or runs laps or swings or does flips or *something* before naptime - for a short while, this worked WONDERS. Now it doesn't seem to make any difference one way or the other. We've talked about how his actions affect himself, how they affect other people, etc.

 

 

I would scrap rest time entirely, except 1) I NEED a break in the middle of the day. My husband works 24 hour shifts and deploys for 6 months every year and a half or so. (2) My other kids need a break in the middle of the day. My 2yo cannot make it if she doesn't get a good nap, and my 6 and 7 yo crave this alone time as much as I do. (3) on the occasions when he stays put, plays quietly and respectfully on his own, he comes out of quiet time relaxed and refreshed (well... comparitively).  It is very important to me that he learn to entertain himself - he spends so much time surrounded by everyone else in the house - and to learn the value of time spent alone in quiet.

 

Observations: his energy is boundless. I once tried to do some calming pre-bedtime yoga. He flopped and folded into all the poses we tried with no problem - look, mama! I did it! - we closed the "session" with 30 seconds of corpse pose. Before I got to five, he was wiggling. I reminded him of the instructions and he told me "I can't do this one! it's too hard!!!!!"  (he can do plough and child's pose and butterfly but cannot lay still for 5 seconds, LOL).  When you ask him to stand still, he lasts about 3 seconds before he starts bouncing, wiggling, spinning, etc. Out of curiosity (mostly to prove to myself that I'm not crazy, this is NOT normal four year old behavior) I took one of those assess your child for possible ADHD quizes. You know the ones where you rank their behavior: "never, sometimes, often, very often." He had one never, one sometimes, 3 oftens and 13 very-oftens. (for the record, I didn't take it for a diagnosis, I don't intend to pursue diagnosis or medication, and as we are hoemschoolers i don't anticipate school issues) 

 

He is extremely social, outgoing etc, and on track developmentally -  just very very very energetic and impulsive.

 

The thing is I get so frustrated with him so very early in the day that we spend the rest of the day at odds with one another. I've turned into the mom I so don't want to be. I say things I wish I hadn't with a tone I know I shouldn't. I go to bed most nights feeling exhausted and guilty. Something has to give.

 

So tell me - how do I contain or direct his energy? How do I teach him right from wrong? I just don't know how much more I can take.

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#2 of 14 Old 10-15-2012, 04:41 PM
 
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I think this is not a discipline issue. I think his needs could be best addressed by looking at interventions used for children who have been diagnosed as ADHD. I don't mean getting him assessed and medicated, if that is not what you would like to do (and I wouldn't want to go that route with my child, either). I think you might try posting in the Special Needs forum.

 

There are many approaches to working with energetic children with difficulty focusing, from looking at diet, to environmental adaptations, to sensory input. My DD is 7 and she is an only child with a great deal of bouncy energy and a tendency to do things without thinking, like cutting with scissors any interesting thing in reach. God forbid I should leave a permanent marker out. As an only child its been easier for me to simply babyproof. I understand that with four children that would probably be impossible. We also have quite a few sensory interventions in the house: A bouncy swing, a regular swing, weighted vest, hippity hop for sitting at the table, climbing structures, etc.  

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#3 of 14 Old 10-15-2012, 06:55 PM
 
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Totally agree with the above.  My children are both like this - they can tell you our house rules, they even follow them more now that they're 6 and 8, but they still are very low on the impulse control scale, and very high on the energy and curiosity scale, for their ages...ESPECIALLY at home, and when out in public - when with other people in charge of them in classes, they are DELIGHTFUL.  In fact, they are both very bright, delightful children.  They are just exhausting to parent, ESPECIALLY at that age.  We haven't done nap OR quiet time since the youngest dropped naps at 28 months old.  It was an exercise in pure frustration and futility, so I gave up.  I'm not telling you you should give up as I understand your need for time and space, I'm just saying that I agree it's not a discipline issue. 

 

They are 6 and 8 now, and while they drive me crazy a lot, it's not the same - I don't feel desperate or hopeless anymore about them ever becoming civilized ;)   because since the oldest turned 5  it has started getting better.  When she turned 6, it started getting even better.  So I know that it's just a process, and they are taking a much, much longer time than average children to develop impulse control and calm down on the energy.  

 

If I come up with any brilliant ideas about what he could do during quiet time I'll come back and post - but I agree with a 4yo like this, it's not as much a discipline thing (as in what can I do to make him behave), as it is, what can I do to make this easier on all of us, given where he's at now. 

 

Hang in, mama.  High energy, low impulse, bright kids are a real challenge!


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#4 of 14 Old 10-15-2012, 07:01 PM
 
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Another thought:  When I am on my A+ game of keeping them away from dairy, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and junky/fast food, and reduce their wheat/grain intake, things are WORLDS better.  I'm not sure where you fall on this topic, but my kids are definitely two that show behavior issues with some foods.  And the above are typical culprits.


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#5 of 14 Old 10-15-2012, 07:52 PM
 
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Another vote for re-framing the question to "How do I meet the needs of an intense and active 4 year old with a mama who needs a break in the day, two older kids in need of a homeschool education and a younger child who needs to nap?" 


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#6 of 14 Old 10-15-2012, 07:54 PM
 
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If I come up with any brilliant ideas about what he could do during quiet time I'll come back and post - but I agree with a 4yo like this, it's not as much a discipline thing (as in what can I do to make him behave), as it is, what can I do to make this easier on all of us, given where he's at now. 

 

Nod! How about books on tape? 


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#7 of 14 Old 10-15-2012, 08:45 PM
 
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 (he can do plough and child's pose and butterfly but cannot lay still for 5 seconds, LOL).  When you ask him to stand still, he lasts about 3 seconds before he starts bouncing, wiggling, spinning, etc.

 

This sounds SO much like my daughter.  She turned 6 in June.  In the recent past she has started asking me when we're out places, 'Why are people staring at me?"  and I've given her various kind of nice, noncommital answers.  But last week we were out to dinner and waiting to be seated, and she asked me again; it had been a long, somewhat challenging day and I said (not meanly, but honestly and a little wearily) "Probably because you've been bouncing almost nonstop since we came in here, are touching everything on the front of the hostess stand, and can't keep your hands off your brother.  You kind of stand out in a crowd, kiddo!"  and gave her a little hug and kiss.  I ADORE HER.  She is exhausting, and frustrating, but I adore her so.  And is IS getting better, year by year.  When she was 3/4/5 it was HARD. We didn't go to the library for a year because it was just too much to manage their personalities and energy and always wound up with me angry and them in trouble.  So I removed it because it was more trouble than it was worth - it was kinder for us to not go together, than it was to go and try to manage it.  This morning, we spent over an hour just lounging around the children's section, them getting up occasionally to get books to look at and just hanging out.  It was brilliant.


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#8 of 14 Old 10-16-2012, 12:32 AM
 
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Not easy . Sometimes medication , or the natural route , mindfulness is needed to address impulsiveness . I would look into cps - the collaborative problems solving approach for promoting lagging skills and solving yourk id's problems in living

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#9 of 14 Old 10-16-2012, 12:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Another vote for re-framing the question to "How do I meet the needs of an intense and active 4 year old with a mama who needs a break in the day, two older kids in need of a homeschool education and a younger child who needs to nap?" 

 

Yes, honestly, that WAS my question (though poorly worded. yesterday was one of those WTF IS YOUR PROBLEM kinda days. yikes)

 

 

 

Quote:
Nod! How about books on tape? 

 

Tried it... Can't even get him to sit still for more than 5, MAYBE 10 (on a "good" day) minutes of me, his father or his siblings reading to him. He made it about 45 seconds into the book on tape. :-/

 

 

 

Quote:
This sounds SO much like my daughter.  She turned 6 in June.  In the recent past she has started asking me when we're out places, 'Why are people staring at me?"  and I've given her various kind of nice, noncommital answers.  But last week we were out to dinner and waiting to be seated, and she asked me again; it had been a long, somewhat challenging day and I said (not meanly, but honestly and a little wearily) "Probably because you've been bouncing almost nonstop since we came in here, are touching everything on the front of the hostess stand, and can't keep your hands off your brother.  You kind of stand out in a crowd, kiddo!"  and gave her a little hug and kiss.  I ADORE HER.  She is exhausting, and frustrating, but I adore her so.  And is IS getting better, year by year.  When she was 3/4/5 it was HARD. We didn't go to the library for a year because it was just too much to manage their personalities and energy and always wound up with me angry and them in trouble.  So I removed it because it was more trouble than it was worth - it was kinder for us to not go together, than it was to go and try to manage it.  This morning, we spent over an hour just lounging around the children's section, them getting up occasionally to get books to look at and just hanging out.  It was brilliant.

 

*blush* I don't think my son has set foot in a library since he's been able to walk. Sadly, that means his siblings haven't, either. As a book junkie, this breaks my heart, but this is just not a situation I could handle (at least, not at THIS library, but that's a post for another day and another forum).

 

 

 

Quote:
Another thought:  When I am on my A+ game of keeping them away from dairy, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and junky/fast food, and reduce their wheat/grain intake, things are WORLDS better.  I'm not sure where you fall on this topic, but my kids are definitely two that show behavior issues with some foods.  And the above are typical culprits.

 

I am toying with the idea of cutting dairy or wheat - we are pretty consistent about colors/preservatives/sugar. His older brother had difficulty with dairy when he was younger, and his younger sister had difficulty with wheat that she's only recently outgrown. I was really hoping we were done with the diet restrictions. :-(  

 

 

 

Quote:

I think this is not a discipline issue. I think his needs could be best addressed by looking at interventions used for children who have been diagnosed as ADHD. I don't mean getting him assessed and medicated, if that is not what you would like to do (and I wouldn't want to go that route with my child, either). I think you might try posting in the Special Needs forum.

 

 

It hadn't occurred to me to try the special needs forum. Or maybe it had. The strange thing is while he's energetic and impulsive, he doesn't seem to be sensory-seeking. (for a while, jumping helped with his "symptoms" but it was a very temporary fix).  One of his siblings and myself are sensory adverse, and another is sensory seeking, so that behavior is familiar to me, and he just doesn't seem to fit it. He just.can't.hold.still. :-p

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you all, ladies, I'm already feeling better (a good nights sleep and some perspective both help, but knowing i'm not alone is the best part)

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#10 of 14 Old 10-16-2012, 05:42 AM
 
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Yes, honestly, that WAS my question (though poorly worded. yesterday was one of those WTF IS YOUR PROBLEM kinda days. yikes)

Hugs, mama!  I know all about those kinds of days. 

 

I agree that you may get some extra help in special needs or in posting specifically about how to help your 4 year old. My instincts would be to get him involved in way more activities where he's moving but I'm not sure if that is the right choice for a child like your DS. I'd be inclined to do some majorly physical stuff before quite time. I see you're in DE. Do you guys go to the indoor pools? What about the lovely gymnastics programs they have for kids? Are you on base? Do they have soccer or youth sports? Perhaps your DC is the type of kid who would do well in some sort of play-school program. Kindergarten? 


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#11 of 14 Old 10-16-2012, 07:49 AM
 
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I will agree that swimming has been the ONLY thing that tires my kids out.  Not playgrounds, not parties, not other activities.  But on days we go swimming for a couple hours of horseplay in the water, they are sooooo much calmer in the evenings.  I *just* discovered this this summer - before then they were so hyper and not swim-teachable, I'd not dare take them to a pool alone.  But now, I plan on buying a swim membership at our Y for them, and a regular membership for me.  It's been that good that I'm shelling out the $50 a month for it on top of the 2 individual activities they're doing.  lol.   Swimming is hard work.  I remember reading an article about Michael Phelps and his parents said he was super high energy too, and when they threw him in the pool, it was like finally something that helped calm him.  Now I can see it first hand.  I mean they're not like, calm, compliant children after a swim...they just have a normal amount of energy instead of their super reserves. orngtongue.gif


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#12 of 14 Old 10-16-2012, 07:51 AM
 
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*blush* I don't think my son has set foot in a library since he's been able to walk. Sadly, that means his siblings haven't, either. As a book junkie, this breaks my heart, but this is just not a situation I could handle (at least, not at THIS library, but that's a post for another day and another forum).

 

I'm sure if you're a book junkie, he's not missing out on quality books.  I wouldn't sweat it too much.  As a kid I don't think we went to the library regularly, but we had a mountain of books, and I was a voracious reader.  


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#13 of 14 Old 10-16-2012, 06:39 PM
 
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Hugs, mama!  I know all about those kinds of days. 

 

I agree that you may get some extra help in special needs or in posting specifically about how to help your 4 year old. My instincts would be to get him involved in way more activities where he's moving but I'm not sure if that is the right choice for a child like your DS. I'd be inclined to do some majorly physical stuff before quite time. I see you're in DE. Do you guys go to the indoor pools? What about the lovely gymnastics programs they have for kids? Are you on base? Do they have soccer or youth sports? Perhaps your DC is the type of kid who would do well in some sort of play-school program. Kindergarten? 

 

Yes, yes, yes.  This is was my immediate thought on reading the first post.  I think getting him involved in way more physical activities is exactly the right choice!  Adhd aside, we humans have a range of different needs. Some of us are sedentary, some of us are go go go!  I'm not familiar with life on base, but OP, if you can get your son immersed in gymnastics or soccer or swimming, or all three  -I think you'd see an improvement in his behavior. 

 

About the library, just some sympathy-  my dh is in a choral group.  I love the concerts, but ohmyword, helping my ds behave during the concerts was maddening for a few years there. When ds was maybe 5.y.o. we missed a whole season, didn't see any of dh's concerts.   Ds is 13 y.o. now and actually enjoys the concerts.  Progress! 


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#14 of 14 Old 10-16-2012, 09:31 PM
 
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My ds1 is just about to turn 5, and although he doesn't have boundless energy like your son, some of the organized activities (we've done soccer, martial arts, gymnastics, swimming) are not what get his energy out and often he's not able to focus on them anyway.  He's "tired" for soccer, yet the moment we get home, he's bouncing off the walls.  What really keeps him occupied are places that offer free/open play...like Little Monkey Bizness, My Gym, etc.  My son plays very differently (much more physical) in these places than playgrounds and he's not big on long walks or even bounce houses.  Have you seen if any of these kinds of places help expend your son's energy?  Obviously not something you can do every day, especially with 4 kids to pay for!!  Another thing my son likes to do at home is rip paper...we have loads of scrap paper, so I just let him tear it up. He also loves to mix everything in the kitchen together...it's an amazing mess, but perhaps putting him in the bathtub and letting him mix things together would work?  Then just turn the faucet on to wash it away.  

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