An aggressive 5yr old has appeared - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 08-19-2014, 07:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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An aggressive 5yr old has appeared

I could use some advice on curbing super aggressive behavior with my DS, almost 5yr old.

Quick back story: I'm single mom, 38, he's my only child. We have been working a fantastic summer of a reward chart - getting him involved with activities at home, clean-up play room, vacuuming, helping in the kitchen, etc. Totally empowering him to be part of our house, and he gets to pick which activities to do to warrant the reward. Awesome -- Maybe!??! or, maybe empowering him to think he controls his day? I dunno, one of my questions.

3 weeks of vacation, my mom (who lives 2500 miles away) came to help. 3 days in, she threatens punishment in a way I do not - which is OK because it's going to be 2 weeks, give Grandma power, got it.
Except... everything changed.
DS decided he didn't like grandma after that.

Now Everything grandma says.. he fights. "I'm not talking to YOU, I'm talking to Mommy"... and if she speaks, even utters anything... he Lunges at her. Hits her. Bites her.

And my mom is 5'1" and super tiny. And my son is 50lbs of all boy. Scared her instantly. A behavior I've never seen him do.

So for two weeks, I was able to curb all this by, well, interjecting.. remove the whole son-grandma interaction. "You Do Not Hit Grandma", and get him to follow the rules by my discipline of taking away whatever toy he's playing with for it's time out. He never took it out on ME, he obeyed the rules once I interjected.

But... he never stopped trying to hit grandma. He never found his respect for Grandma because she would look at me with pleading eyes, and so I'd interject... and resolve.

Except, grandma left yesterday.
And today we were at the lake just me and the boy. It was time to leave and what used to be a normal transition, he just said NO! And came at me with fists. And the mouth was open in a bite.
To me.
And now instead of being the interjector... I was the one being the reason to piss him off... he came at Me. And I wasn't able to stop him. Toy in time-out didn't work; threats didn't work. After trying to reason with him for some time, I'll be honest, I just picked up a kicking-screaming 50lb 5yr old and threw him in the car; he took off his seat-belt, and we drove home illegally for 2miles, with him huddled behind the seat.

---
So... here I am going.. WTF just happened. It was one thing to see him that way with Grandma, but with ME?! Never.

Apparently we've had an entire dynamic shift. Apparently now anytime he is challenged, his response is to Hit/Kick/Bite.

I don't know what happened to my sweet boy 2 weeks ago where we were having a fantastic summer. Maybe I was indulging him too much; maybe the reward system was too much in his control.. but it Was Working. But now everything we had in place is disrupted. And I honestly can't wait... I mean, I don't have two weeks to wait for life to get back to normal. I cannot handle his 50lbs biting and lunging at me.

Any thoughts?

single, WAH home, to my only very kind & sweet lil man
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#2 of 10 Old 08-20-2014, 10:06 AM
 
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Use the methods in book in Kazdin Method. Not that different from what you are doing, but he used scientific research to optimize everything, so it tends to work better. One thing: when you are using tangible rewards like reward charts, don't neglect to use social rewards like showing you are grateful for the help and mentioning the good character traits that he is evidencing by helping out, but maybe you are already doing this. The important thing is not the tangible rewards but the fact he is pitching in and helping out the family.

I'd like to hear how long this lasts. Grandma seems to have flipped the switch in his defiance module or something.
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#3 of 10 Old 08-20-2014, 10:38 AM
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So you are teaching him to only respect and work for rewards and then you are confused when he got around another type of authority that demanded respect without rewards ...Your child doesnt have a problem, you do.
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#4 of 10 Old 08-20-2014, 02:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Use the methods in book in Kazdin Method
Thank you - I'll check out.

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I'd like to hear how long this lasts. Grandma seems to have flipped the switch in his defiance module or something.
We have had a very successful summer up to this visit. Two weeks was a long time to have Grandma in our home - and it was amazing and awesome! But likely both my mother and I made some mistakes... obviously my interjections instead of dealing with the issue were the wrong approach. Ce la vie, I'm willing to admit my mistakes... I just need my boy back!

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#5 of 10 Old 08-23-2014, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just wanted to post a follow-up here, that the last few days have been great!

Because of his visual with the fridge and emphasis on action = reward, I did the same with consequences. I built a visual of the norms of the day (dessert, iPad - which is still a reward from his point system, but something he gets 30 minutes of each day because he always bathes/brushes teeth)... and now there is a visual on consequences. Still counting, and the threat is putting a magnet on top of one of those activities (not getting dessert).
And let me just say... No Melt-downs. Anything and everything has stopped at TWO... whether it's not using listening ears, or saying NO. Whatever. He's not been aggressive... the situation hasn't even arisen to Get To The Point of frustration.

so.... there you have it. For 3 days at least Fingers crossed.

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#6 of 10 Old 08-23-2014, 09:31 PM
 
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My take...
there are some kids that punishment is absolutely the wrong method, plain and simple. Yours is probably one of those kids given how he reacted to Grandma. Just avoid all punishment from now on. And don't let Grandma or anyone else punish. It's going to make things worse.

I also think that kids "act out" when they need you most. They do not have the emotional control to behave well, so they behave poorly. But what they need and crave is love, connection, acceptance. The trick is to model the appropriate behavior, ask for the appropriate behavior, reward the appropriate behavior and NOT blow up when you get the poor behavior. Just reconnect as soon as you can and try again.

Check out: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/f...ts.single.html
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#7 of 10 Old 08-24-2014, 09:42 AM
 
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Perhaps Grandma's behavior created the coercive cycle described here:

http://www.pendletonpsych.com/doc/pa...cive-cycle.pdf

Grandma inadvertently taught him that the cycle since her response amounted to negative reinforcement of his behavior (she stopped doing something negative in response to his attacks, thereby reinforcing his attacks). Then he tried it on you. He is learning that it does not function to stop your interventions.

Interesting that you and your mom have very different parenting styles and skills.
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#8 of 10 Old 08-25-2014, 09:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My take...
there are some kids that punishment is absolutely the wrong method, plain and simple.
I remember when he was maybe 2 and in a great daycare and they mentioned that their time-outs didn't work for him; that he responded much better to Talking To (within reason, I mean, he was 2), and more of a reward system. He Thrives on helping and being productive (I mean, all kids do, sure, but this is different... it's like his definition... "I Always help" he'll tell any stranger). Which is why his visual point-system is so great for him.

Tonight, for example, he earned a point for "respecting mommy" (aka, good listening). A few hours later he wasn't listening, and I picked his point up off the fridge and reminded him of his good listening, and threatened to take it away.... That's All He Needed to get himself in check. Just the fear of losing that point, he stopped being a buttimus.

Thank you guys for all the links because I feel like we're on a good and real path, but knowing that there is a potential for.... ACK!... remains a bit scary; kinda like I'd be scared to leave him with someone else for any length of time. And that'd be a real bummer. Thanks again!

single, WAH home, to my only very kind & sweet lil man

Last edited by JordanKX; 08-25-2014 at 09:33 PM.
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#9 of 10 Old 08-25-2014, 09:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I also think that kids "act out" when they need you most. They do not have the emotional control to behave well, so they behave poorly. But what they need and crave is love, connection, acceptance.
Maybe I'm reading too much in to this, but I picked up on an interaction we've never had before: I work from home. But HE is never home with me while I'm working. So for this vacation, he was here with Grandma and I was... "No, buddy, I Can't", over and over again. As a single mom, when we're together, we're Really Together. And just hearing me say NO to him, over and over again; I heard it and it was awful - and I had to change my mother's schedule to... Get Out of the House so I can work, and you guys can have your day together, and it won't confuse him. But that was probably right about day 3 when things started getting messy.

Really great point. I need to keep that in consideration for teacher work-days (which will be new now that he's in public school); days that I have to work and he's still with me in the house.

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#10 of 10 Old 09-10-2014, 03:37 PM
 
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I don't have any sage advise to add, but, wanted to let you know you are not alone. I have a five year old little guy who is wonderful, energetic, all that great stuff. A really kind kid. But, he seems to be at that point in growing up (fabulous fives or whatever they call it) when his emotions get the better of him and he doesn't have the tool/skills to control them yet, so he doesn't seem to know what else to do other than try to hit me.
I've been there, lugging a flailing little one back to car to 'cool down'. For him it seems to work if I give him some time to calm down, then reinforce what he is feeling and, hopefully, help him to be better at recognizing and controlling it. Sounds a bit corny but I tell him, 'you are frustrated. It's fine to feel mad, but, you cannot hit b/c you are mad. Go ahead and growl, yell, stomp your foot, [insert non aggressive behaviour], all you want, but, you cannot hit just because you are mad'.
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