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#1 of 14 Old 07-19-2014, 08:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Please help me with my son

He just doesn't believe I mean it when I set boundaries. I always follow through- he just is super impulsive and the biggest issues are hitting his sisters (but I suspect this is happening because they are watching a show he doesn't like or he is bored) and staying in his room at bedtime. He is 5 and a half so definitely old enough to stay in his room when he is told. He usually just needs reminding of the rules and he obeys. At night time, however, we remind him and he comes out to bother his sisters. He is allowed freedom to do whatever in his room until he falls asleep but after 8 he cannot come out. Last night he was barging in on his 12 year old sister while she was taking a shower and the bathroom lock doesn't have a lock. I told him last night that he lost doing the stuff at archery today since he is showing that he doesn't know how to follow directions and arrows are dangerous. Now dh thinks that was too harsh (this was after he came out 4 times last night and 6 the night before.) but apparently spanking him would NOT have been too harsh. HELP PLEASE!!!!????? Any suggestions? Sticker charts don't really work with our family- I tend to get too busy to remember and we have issues with siblings sneaking stickers off etc.

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#2 of 14 Old 07-19-2014, 09:04 AM
 
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A lot of impulse control is based on cognitive development, and children develop cognitively at different rates. It is a later brain development, not something during that rapid first two years of brain development. It emerges slowly over the next few years.
I am only speaking as a parent but your son's behavior seems normal to me. He is still quite young. Just one note, it seems like a lot of his behavior is to be with others. The human species, especially children, do not feel comfortable alone. Not long ago, any child left alone could end up prey to predators, so it is instinctive to want to not feel comfortable alone. The multiple rooms of modern housing make it difficult for a child to feel connected to others in the house.
When you said that he often needs reminding and then he obeys, that may be because his memory is not yet very developed. A lot of learning accepted behaviors is memory based.
Hopefully other members will be able to help you out more, there are ways that may help to improve his behavior so that you are all more comfortable, including him.
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#3 of 14 Old 07-19-2014, 09:04 AM
 
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I think I would start with a good child development book. I like the Louise Bates Amies books. The reason I suggest this is that I think some of the expectations you have set for your son may be a bit too much for an impulsive 5 year old. For instance, I think that a 5 year old alone in his room and allowed to stay awake and do whatever he wants may be too much of one kind of freedom and perhaps not enough boundary setting in other ways.

I have never had much use for punishments or reward charts, although I acknowledge that they can sometimes be the most effective and gentle solutions for some kids. I wouldn't make them my "go to" unless they seemed to work especially well with my individual child, however.

I want to gently say that I think the problem with the sleep issue is more of an issue with inappropriate boundaries. I am a fan of high-expectations but I think that a 5 year old, isolated in his room with the freedom to stay awake while the rest of the family is awake in other rooms would not be something the average 5 year old could manage without acting out for connection.

Perhaps others will disagree?

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#4 of 14 Old 07-19-2014, 09:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well first of all- the "whatever he wants" is not what it sounds he is allowed to either play or read in his bed. He can get out of his bed if he needs to but he needs to stay in his room. I have studied a lot of child development as a former kindergarten teacher certified in early childhood. And at this point the only one not in their own room is his oldest sister who is 12 and she was taking a shower before bed to go to bed and she is old enough to have the privilege to stay up 30 min later than her siblings who are 7 and 5.

I know he is impulsive and perhaps the problem is less that he is coming out but - which I could simply remind him to go back- and more that he is being intrusive to his sisters. He is old enough to understand personal boundaries and not walk in on someone who is taking a shower. If he accidentally does and she says- I need to take a shower please give me some privacy- he says he doesn't have to and comes back. This is what is frustrating me, his lack of respect for others' space.

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#5 of 14 Old 07-19-2014, 10:25 AM
 
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Originally Posted by granolamommie View Post
If he accidentally does and she says- I need to take a shower please give me some privacy- he says he doesn't have to and comes back. This is what is frustrating me, his lack of respect for others' space.
Is the problem restricted mostly to bed-time and bathroom related privacy issues? Or is he generally acting out?

Generally speaking what works best for my kids is to find some solutions to what their core needs and desires are. So, the first goal is to try to figure that out.

If the core issue was a lack of respect for personal space, I think I may consider going the empathetic route and really try to help him understand why the person needs that sort of privacy. I don't think it's necessarily intuitive.

Our family tends to be pretty open with the bathroom and personal space so I haven't had much experience with trying to help create privacy.

If my 12 year old decided that she wanted privacy and my toddler had trouble understanding that, I think maybe I would try to offer the toddler privacy and maybe make a deal out of whether she wanted it or not?

Maybe something like, "You know, it occurs to me that your sister really likes to use the bathroom all by herself but that may be confusing to you because you don't mind if we use the bathroom or supervise you while you bathe. Do you prefer privacy?"

But, as I say that it seems like you've probably had all sorts of conversations with him so maybe it's more impulse control combined with a developing sense of empathy (developmentally appropriate). And if that's the core issue, it's a different set of solutions.

In a 5 year old struggling with impulse control I think I would increase supervision and help create a period of success, lowering the sense of excitement, and perhaps giving more attention. Maybe offering to read a bit more or do something to help wind down more at bed time. At 5 I think if my DC was having trouble sleeping I probably stayed with her until she got into a better rhythm.

We tend to get pretty out of sleep rhythm in the summer so for us most sleep problems would probably be primarily related to excitement in the day, odd tiredness/second wind cycles, and light in the sky at bed time.

Hope some of that helps and you get more suggestions!

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#6 of 14 Old 07-19-2014, 01:15 PM
 
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How does your DS transition from his reading/playing time to sleep? Does he do it on his own, or do you go in and do a lights out/tuck in/kiss goodnight?

If he does it on his own, it might help him to know that you'll be in in half an hour (or however long) to get him settled.
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#7 of 14 Old 07-21-2014, 12:18 PM
 
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“Research has shown that the most effective way to reduce problem behavior in children is to strengthen desirable behavior through positive reinforcement rather than trying to weaken undesirable behavior using aversive or negative processes.” –Dr. Sidney W. Bijou

Perhaps the OP does not give a well-rounded picture of the situation, but it gives me the impression that you are relying too much on aversive and negative processes and too little on positive reinforcement. The book (available free online here) "Power of Positive Parenting" (that has the Bijou quote as it's guiding principle and was written by someone with a large family) might help. Also, the book "Kazdin Method" would help you.

Also, you should think about what your goals are for the 5 year old's sleep. Get an image of what you what. The consider if the specific boundaries you have set are necessary to reach your goals. I think the kid will sort of look at the older siblings as his peer group so it will be hard to impose a different sleep schedule on him I think.

Relying too much on reacting to boundaries that you set is not a good idea. Instead, focus more on the region of acceptable or wanted behavior within the boundary, focus on ways to use positive reinforcement to draw your children toward that region. This blog will give you some more info on how to do this.
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#8 of 14 Old 07-24-2014, 11:38 AM
 
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When I was 12 and my little brother was 5, his favorite thing to do in the whole world was push my buttons. If it bugged me to have him burst in on me in the shower, you can bet that would be on his To Do list every day! He used to tease the dog, just to get a rise out of me - but never bothered the dog if I wasn't around.

The best Christmas present my older brother and I got in those days was locks for our bedroom doors! Then the responsibility was on us to ensure our privacy, not on the 5-yr-old to respect that privacy (which was very, very hard for him).

What is your reason for banishing the kids to their rooms before they're ready to go to sleep? You say he can do "whatever he wants in his room", but it sounds to me like what he wants is to not be alone in his room.If he isn't going to sleep right away, can he stay out until it's time to actually go to bed?

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#9 of 14 Old 07-26-2014, 04:20 PM
 
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I was going to say something very similar to tadamsmar. I've been having various issues with my 4 year old recently, so I started reading the Kazdin Method. The only part of the method I've applied so far is the "catch your child being good" part where you notice and specifically praise any degree of the desired behavior. I saw almost immediate results when I started doing this. The other thing that stuck out at me from my reading that might help you is to restrict yourself to near-immediate consequences. By that advice, the archery thing makes sense as an adult, but it's probably too conceptual and distant to really help your son change his behavior. A lot of my DD's behaviors are impulsive, too, and I think the immediacy of the response really suits an impulsive kiddo. Anyway, it's been a helpful book for us so far.
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#10 of 14 Old 07-27-2014, 01:46 PM
 
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Hmmm....I have a 5 YO, and there is no way in the world I could put her in her room at night and expect her to stay there. It would break her little heart to be left alone like that. I remember being sent to my room at night, alone, as a small child and hated it. Can you stay with him until he falls asleep, or stay up until the rest of the family is ready for bed?

As for the privacy thing...I don't know, I think a lock on the bathroom door would be a good investment.

I guess I have a hard time understanding the issue. Our family goes to bed at the same time (in one or two rooms), and there really is no expectation of differentiation for adults/kids (though, after the kids are asleep, the adults sometimes retreat to another room). There's really no expectation of privacy, either. We do have locks on the bathroom doors, if anyone ever wanted to use them.


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#11 of 14 Old 07-29-2014, 09:38 AM
 
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First, there needs to be a lock on the bathroom door and your 12 year old needs to use it. You may also want to put one on her bedroom door. She has a right to privacy that is NOT dependent on her impulsive little brother behaving. This is really important.

What if he had friends over to play and she needed to poop? Seriously -- locks are good things.

Second, since you are looking at it in behaviorist terms, for every behavior there is an antecedent and a consequence. Right now, you are focusing on how to change the consequence to make it unpleasant enough for him to stop the behavior. What the others on the thread are saying is that it would be more effective to change the antecedent -- that is to say, your bedtime routine. It doesn't work, and it sets him up to misbehave. When he comes out of his room, he gets to be part of the family again, which works for him, even though it is in a negative way. He would rather than negative attention than be alone.

Some options:

  • have him get ready for bed, and then hang out with the family until it is time for everyone to retire to their rooms.(my DH and I went to our bedroom early for couple of years when our kids were at this stage)
  • If you feel the wind down time in his room is important, make it for a set number of minutes (like 10) and then go in a read a book to him, snuggle, and have lights off. SET A TIMER and make spending those last few minutes a priority.
What works in a school isn't the same as what works at home, and what works with one child doesn't necessarily work with the next. But your expectations of him wouldn't have worked for either of my kids at that age.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#12 of 14 Old 09-24-2014, 02:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by granolamommie View Post
He just doesn't believe I mean it when I set boundaries. I always follow through- he just is super impulsive and the biggest issues are hitting his sisters (but I suspect this is happening because they are watching a show he doesn't like or he is bored) and staying in his room at bedtime. He is 5 and a half so definitely old enough to stay in his room when he is told. He usually just needs reminding of the rules and he obeys. At night time, however, we remind him and he comes out to bother his sisters. He is allowed freedom to do whatever in his room until he falls asleep but after 8 he cannot come out. Last night he was barging in on his 12 year old sister while she was taking a shower and the bathroom lock doesn't have a lock. I told him last night that he lost doing the stuff at archery today since he is showing that he doesn't know how to follow directions and arrows are dangerous. Now dh thinks that was too harsh (this was after he came out 4 times last night and 6 the night before.) but apparently spanking him would NOT have been too harsh. HELP PLEASE!!!!????? Any suggestions? Sticker charts don't really work with our family- I tend to get too busy to remember and we have issues with siblings sneaking stickers off etc.
IMO, your son is the victim of very inadequate parenting so get into parenting classes or see a therapist to correct the inadequate parenting that is CAUSING his behavior. It is abusive to FAIL to normally socialize a child.
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#13 of 14 Old 09-24-2014, 04:27 AM
 
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How old are your kids, jr37?
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#14 of 14 Old 10-06-2014, 10:47 AM
 
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IMO, your son is the victim of very inadequate parenting so get into parenting classes or see a therapist to correct the inadequate parenting that is CAUSING his behavior. It is abusive to FAIL to normally socialize a child.
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How old are your kids, jr37?
Good question, Stormborn, though I do not think any amount of parenting experience would make this into a good response to the OP's question. The OP asked for help and advice, not for condemnation. See the thread title. It is inappropriate to use language like "inadequate parenting" and to tell the OP that she is failing to normally socialize a five year old who gets keyed up and acts out at bedtime.

It never hurts to see a good therapist, of course, though this presumes that the OP has either adequate insurance coverage or funds and access to a very good child therapist. The behavior isn't outside the realm of what other five year olds sometimes do, though. Being a pill to his sister at bedtime doesn't say anything about how the child acts at school or with his friends.

I think the advice upthread that suggests an emphasis on creating routines that prevent the kid from being too wound up in the first place rather than punishing him will work better. If you are willing to devote attention to the little guy at bedtime, he might even be willing to go to bed earlier.

One strategy that has always been successful for me has been to enlist the child in self-experimentation. (I must say that my son is very mellow and an only child, but this worked very well on the few things where we had snags, like toilet training and getting ready in the morning.)

In this situation, I would try telling your son that you want to find out what bedtime stories give him the best dreams, so you are going to read to him from a bunch of recommended books before he goes to sleep. In the morning, you can ask him whether he had good dreams the night before. Maybe keep a notebook and write it down. Tell his siblings in front of him that they need to be extra quiet in the half hour after the story so that you can find out if this works. That way he won't be tempted to jump out of bed to be with them.

It might not work, but if it does, you'll have a record of several months of what you read him and his dreams, which could be pretty cool.

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