I am a long-time lurker on these wonderful forums, and I've come here from time to time to gather resources/help/tips/etc. I'm finally coming out of "hiding" to make my first post here b/c I have a 5YO & I frankly don't know what I'm doing wrong in parenting him. I feel like I'm creating/have created a spoiled brat, & I'm hoping some of you experienced moms out there can give me some much-needed advice, or help steer me in the right direction--books, web sites, something! I’ll warn you all now, this is rather long (I guess I’m making up for not posting before!)….
(FYI, I first posted this in the Gentle Discipline forum, and got 2 helpful replies so far, but I just saw this forum too & thought maybe I'd get some more help from moms w/ kids the same age as my DS, so I'm posting my plea for help here too. Hope that's ok!)
So, here goes.... My DS1 is 5YO, & I also have a 6-month-old DS2. DS1 is very bright and overall a great, funny kid. Unlike his mom, he's also very social/extroverted. I've never really had any real "issues" parenting him beyond the normal developmental things that come & go. (He was a VERY difficult baby due to GERD & a MSPI, but that's a long story for another time & kind of irrelevant here. ;-)) Lately, as in w/in the past month or 2 (or 3…), DS1 has been VERY defiant, mouthy, full of attitude, & just overall pushing all my buttons! He has thrown the tantrums to beat all tantrums at home & in public--full-out screaming, throwing himself on the floor, running away from me, etc. He talks VERY disrespectfully to me & it really hurts my feelings--saying things like, as a (somewhat extreme) example, "I'm going to rip you up into a hundred pieces" or “I’m going to hit you in the face.” (He hasn’t actually hit me in the face, but he has hit me a few times in anger.) He will scream & carry on--not every time, but increasingly more & more often--if I ask him to pick up his toys before bedtime, to use the potty before we leave the house, to get out of his bath so he can get ready for bed, to not interrupt me when I'm on the phone, to wait a minute while I change or nurse DS2/go to the bathroom/put a load of laundry in before I help him w/ some non-urgent task.... It seems the simplest request from me can sometimes trigger a tantrum in him, but I never know what it will be. Sometimes he will just look at me & just defiantly scream "No!" or casually say “No way!” He's also been giving me & DH a hard time going to bed at night--coming out of his room again & again for the littlest things (which seem like silly excuses to me): "I hear a noise"; "The books on my shelf are messed up"; "My blankets need to be fixed".... DH & I try to calmly respond to these requests, & in & of themselves they’re not really an issue, but sometimes he’ll just flat out tell us he’s not going to bed. This latter bedtime battle often escalates to a screaming tantrum—the most recent one involved him repeatedly coming out of his room & throwing his stuffed animals out in the hallway, then throwing them against his door, making all sorts of noise & eventually waking up DS2! (I took said stuffed animals away from him until bedtime the next night.) Needless to say, he's falling asleep later & later--a few nights ago he wasn't asleep until 10 p.m., 2 hours later than usual! (I'm the first to admit that I do think there's an element of sleep deprivation going on here--it's a viscous cycle--and he does seem to have "better" days when he's gotten more sleep.) I am a big believer in natural/logical consequences, but I just don't know how to handle him lately. I have sent him to his room to calm down when he acts out & screams, etc., & that will work to diffuse the situation, but sometimes he'll refuse to go to his room & will continue to freak out. What do I do then? And even if he does calm down, & we talk about whatever caused the freakout to begin with, it isn't long before something else triggers him. And no matter how much I try to explain to him that he needs to be more respectful to me & DH, he just doesn't seem to get it. He'll yell at us, talk back to us, say "FIIINNNE" or "OKAAAAYYY!" if I ask him to do something. He sounds like a teenager! He's "lost" his manners & will "demand" that I get him more water or buy him a toy, etc. (More on the toy-buying later--another issue we're having....) I won't get him something (i.e., within reason anyway) unless he asks for it politely, but sometimes when I remind him of his manners, that can trigger a whole other yelling/shouting tantrum. “I KNOOOWWWWW!” And he'll actually pick arguments w/ me all. day. long. He'll ask me a question--it could be something as simple as what a word means, & I'll tell him the answer, to which he'll often reply, "No it doesn't/isn't." I try not to engage in the argument, but sometimes it's a matter of facts, & I'll keep trying to explain it to him & he'll get more & more angry until we're both yelling at each other! He'll also give DH a hard time if he doesn't do something the way I do it, or vice versa. He can throw a tantrum over it, or he'll just get very mouthy & say mean things about DH or me, like "He never does anything right" or "He never listens to me."
Today, after picking up DS1 from his weekly yoga class, I took him & DS2 to Starbucks, a special “ritual” we started years ago when DS1 & I took a mommy/toddler yoga class & something he really enjoys. He finished his snack & then asked for something else. I told him that we were leaving to go home & if he’s still hungry he can eat something else when we get home. He kept going over to the case near the registers & bringing stuff over to me—“Can I get this? How about this?” I kept telling him no & repeated what I told him about eating something else at home. He got increasingly upset & starting yelling, “You HAVE to get me something!!!!” I then told him we were leaving right now since he was freaking out. DS2 was on my lap, so I went to put him back in his car seat, & DS1 pulled the car seat out from under him, yelling, “No, we’re not going!” It was a good thing I hadn’t yet let go of DS2, or he would have been on the floor!! I told DS1 to stop & attempted to put DS2 in the car seat again, & DS1 pushed it away; he had his hands around the handle & wouldn’t let go! I told him firmly again to let go, we were going home. He pushed the car seat on the floor & then proceeded to keep kicking it again & again. My blood pressure was through the roof this time! I grabbed his shirt & told him to stop b/c he was going to hurt DS2. He threw himself on the floor & then started yelling, “Ouchie!! You hurt me!!” UGH! (Grabbing him by the shirt was not my proudest moment, but I was losing it here. ) I finally got DS2 in the car seat, & then said, “Let’s go!” Amazingly, he followed me out to the car, I buckled him in, & we headed home. We were silent the whole way home (except for DS2’s screaming off & on—he seems to hate his car seat lately. Why do I leave the house??!!). When we got home, he told me (out of nowhere) that he didn’t like my shoes… & then apologized a few minutes later for that comment & for acting up at Starbucks. I told him I’m glad he apologized, but we won’t be going to Starbucks for quite a while now, until he learns how to behave when we’re out. (He pulled a similar tantrum when we were out yesterday at a kids’ clothing store. I was looking for something specific for DS2 and for DS1; DS1 found the small section of toys in the store, pestered both me & DH to buy him 3 different toys, screamed when we told him no, yelling, “You NEED to get this for me!!” & then hit DH w/ one of the toys. We left right after that, w/ DS1 in tears b/c he didn’t get his toy.)
Of course, one would think that a lot of DS1's behavior could be due to DS2's arrival, & that might be true to some extent. However, DS1 is absolutely WONDERFUL w/ DS2--he dotes on him, showers him w/ hugs & kisses, reads to him, wants to play w/ him, talks to him, etc. He is a great big brother, & a big help to me when I ask him to help me w/ DS2. He hasn't shown any resentment toward him at all--unless his acting out toward me & DH is how he's showing it? Some of this behavior had been going on sporadically since before DS2 was born, but it has intensified since then. I'm not sure if it's a coincidence or not, but just though I'd mention it.
So, back to the manners issue--how do you all encourage good manners in your home? DS1 had always been very polite & others have always commented on his good manners, but lately his manners have been AWFUL, & he has been SO disrespectful to me & DH—just talking back & being mean, for lack of a better word. He has been SO greedy lately too. I feel like I'm creating this spoiled brat & I don't know how to undo it. He acts like he's entitled to whatever he wants--he actually said that to me & DH one day: "I can do whatever I want to." He also has said, "I can say whatever I want." I don't know where he gets this stuff! His grandparents have definitely spoiled him--pretty much any time he's mentioned a new toy he wants, it's arrives in the mail from my mom practically the next day! DH has certainly indulged him too lately, I think b/c maybe he feels guilty b/c he hasn't been able to spend as much time w/ him lately (due to work, etc.). But now it's gotten to a point where DS1 sees something he wants & he expects DH to run out to the store & get it. He saw some toy in one of the newspaper flyers a few weeks ago & threw a complete fit when we told him we weren't going to buy it for him, that he has enough toys & our family room looks like a freakin’ toy store!! He carried on for well over an hour about it. This greediness & materialistic streak really bothers me, & I'm not sure how to curb it. I certainly don't buy DS1 whatever he wants & I do say no to him a lot, but DH & his grandparents don't, so I feel like any effort I make is essentially useless. (Although DH has been seeing the “error of his ways,” so to speak, & hasn’t bought him anything in at least a few weeks.) We dealt w/ a lot of this greediness at Xmas last year--I remember trying to find age-appropriate books that would "teach" DS1 that greed is not good, but never found any that I thought would help. I had a lot of "talks" w/ him about it, but nothing seemed to ever really sink in--he just kept talking about all the toys he was going to get. Any advice here?
Interestingly enough, my parents were visiting 2 weekends ago & they had been planning to take DS1 to see the “Toy Story 3” movie, along w/ DH (I was going to stay home w/ the baby.) DS1 threw a HUGE tantrum at lunchtime about something—I can’t even remember what it was about now—and was screaming at me & DH. My parents were just shocked—they couldn’t believe how he was yelling at us. My dad decided he didn’t want to go to the movies w/ them b/c “DS1 is just going to act up again in a few hours.” My mom told me I shouldn’t let him go, that that would “teach him a lesson.” After DH & I had a talk w/ DS about his behavior (& giving him the benefit of the doubt b/c he was up too late the night before w/ the excitement of our visitors, plus my sister & her BF were here too), we decided to let him go to the movie. He had really been looking forward to it & he sees my parents who live in CA (we’re on the East Coast) only 2x a year. Both of my parents thought it was a mistake. I told them if I thought having him stay home & not go to the movie would “improve” his behavior, I wouldn’t let him go, but I didn’t think it would do any good. My mom ended up going w/ DH & DS; my dad did not. DS1 was very well behaved at the movie & had a great time (i.e., no tantrums, screaming, etc., & he kept telling DH & my mom “thank you for taking me!”). Weeks later, I’m still second-guessing myself & wonder if I handled this the right way. Would forbidding him to go to the movie had made a difference? Is this one of the things I’m doing wrong?!
Now, to give you more of the picture here, I'll admit that I don't think I've been handling things very well overall. DS1's behavior has been a lot for me to handle, along w/ taking care of an infant. I am very sleep-deprived (DS2 is not sleeping well at all), irritable, having trouble concentrating on tasks, & just overall unmotivated/lazy/too tired/too overwhelmed to do things like laundry, cleaning, etc. Patience has never come easy to me, but now I find myself losing my temper w/ DS1 a lot & yelling at him WAY more than I’d like to admit. I’m embarrassed to say that I’m sure he’s picking up a lot of his yelling/screaming/dealing w/ anger behavior from me. I need to find a way to dig deep into my patience reserves too, but it’s SO hard. When the baby woke up from a 20-minute catnap after not napping all day except a few minutes in the car, I actually started crying &, well, kind of yelling (not really at the baby, but just out loud), “Why won’t you SLEEP??!!!!” I feel awful & embarrassed about MY behavior too, but I’m not sure how to change it. These kids are really just wearing me out.
And as if on cue, DS2 just woke up from another catnap, so I guess this is a good place to end this post! A million thanks to those of you who actually read this far! And a billion thanks to anyone who can make sense of my sleep-deprived ramblings above & offer me some tips/advice/help in dealing w/ DS1. Even if you can just point me in the right direction—something to read, something to think about…. Other than trying to work on my own behavior (& I could use some direction here too), I am truly at a loss as to what to do & feel like I am the world’s worst mother right now.
Jen 47 DS C 2/03 04/29/08/ DD S 10/28/09 DH Bill '97.
mighty-mama and her sister Kundalini-Mama
I've read some parenting books (quite a few to be truthful), and we use The Nurtured Heart Technique, which is spending a lot of time "noticing" your child. "I noticed you're enjoying that toy. . . " But a theme of the parenting books for "difficult children" is to only say no when you really need to. If you know that saying "no" is going to trigger an upset and you don't really need to say no, say yes."
Not sure if this will work for you. It's kind of a permission of sorts just to give in if it isn't a big deal. I think especially when they're feeling like second-class citizens, it's effective. I also think that it's not lazy parenting. Especially with a tired kid, it just relieves all the stress. If it's unsafe or disrespectful or unkind, I will still say no, but if everyone is melting down and it's something harmless and saying "no" would just be to prove a point, I say yes. I don't think it's spoiling. I think it's just relieving a stressful situation.
I hope you are able to get something out of this! I hope things get a little easier for you soon.
Pookietooth – Sorry to hear you’re dealing w/ similar issues at your house, but at least we’re not alone! Perhaps some of the advice others post here can help you as well? (I got a lot of good tips on the thread I posted in the GD forum—check it out! )
Lyss – Thanks for the info. I do feel like I’m saying “no” to DS a lot more often, especially since his baby brother arrived. Unfortunately, I don’t always have the energy or the time to do everything he wants or cater to his every whim--at least not as much as I did when it was just he & I. It makes me sad, but that’s the reality right now. I did get similar advice in the GD forum & am going to try to be more conscious about saying “yes” more often whenever I can, within reason of course.
Beppie – HA! Your description of your relationship w/ your DD is similar to that of me & my DS. He is very extroverted & talks a lot too & has TONS of energy (he reminds me a lot of my mom in terms of personality, with whom I've clashed a lot over the years!). I, on the other hand, am an introvert & value my quiet time. I feel like I can’t handle high levels of noise AT ALL lately (even less tolerance than I had before), & of course, my mom LOVES to get DS toys that make lots of noise. (Since her last visit when she saw how DS was acting—and when both she & my dad could not handle the noise levels in the house either--she agreed w/ me that he doesn’t need any more noisy toys, one good thing that came out of that visit!) DS1 is also like me, however, in that he has very little patience, is kind of stubborn, but also likes/needs routine in his life. So it is no wonder that we are struggling so much lately!! I’m realizing that it is more important now than ever for me to model being calm & patient w/ him so he does the same. Oh, how I struggle w/ that every day lately, but I need to try super hard for all of our sakes! Like you, I need to try to seek out & praise all the good DS does—it will probably go a long way towards helping us all get along better!
I also think some of it is age and wanting independence, and some of it is lack of attention. It sounds like your DS is pretty tired too. I hate the bedtime struggles. DD is pretty good about it now though. I think he is old enough that you can try sitting down with him during a calm moment early in the day and discuss the bedtime routine. Tell him you can see he needs some mommy/daddy time and extra attention at bedtime, but you are worried he isn't getting enough sleep and bedtime at a 8pm or whatever is non-negotiable. Then get his suggestions on what he would like to have happen during his bedtime routine. Does he want cuddles on the couch for 1/2 hour, 3 books read, etc... So work out the details of the bedtime routine together and tell him he needs to respect it and that you will stick to it. That means no coming out after tuck-in, and that you will not come back to his room so many times. But this way he is involved in the process and be more cooperative hopefully.
One thing that has helped with the "I want this, I want that..." is I have taken it out of my hands and put it into hers by giving her a small allowance. I give her a dollar every other week and spare change sometimes and that way she can either save it or spend it. If she asks for something, I tell her that she can buy it in a few weeks if she saves her allowance. For example, if your DS wanted an extra something to eat at Starbucks, he could use his own money if he had it, or choose to wait until he got home to eat something. Of course, the trick is to keep his wallet in your purse too so you have it with you!
I also make sure I spell out very clearly before we go anywhere what we are buying and ask my kids not to ask for anything in the store. Of course they do anyway, but all I usually have to do is remind them and they are okay.
I don't have a lot of suggestions for the attitude and disrespectful talking back. Lately I just say "I feel like you don't respect me when you speak that way or say those kinds of things to me." I have to admit that I've lost it a few times this week - it is just so hard to be kind and patient 100% under the onslaught. I want to spend more one on one time with DD though and I think that will help a lot. I think when your DS got to go to the movies without DS2, it probably made him feel more independent and special.
Good luck. Feel free to PM me if you want to vent or if you find something that works!!!
Mostly they can use it how they like, but sometimes I guide them a little bit. Like when my ds (5.5) is saving for something special- most recently, a firefighter costume for $30. But he gets impulsive when we go to the store and just wants to buy something because it's been a couple of weeks since he had anything new to get excited about. So then I have to gently remind him that he really should keep saving for the costume, because I know how he will feel if he keeps spending his money and never gets there! When the money is really burning a hole in his pocket, I might take him to the dollar store so he can get something while still saving most of his cash.
We do $5 a week for each kid. That way, he was able to get that costume in 7 weeks (he spent some along the way). I was proud of him for saving that long at his age.
If he expresses interest in something expensive, we usually say that would be a good present for his birthday or Christmas!
Tallulah Dare 8-01, Marcos Gael 12-04, Cormac Mateo 9-09, Leonidas Ronan 11-11
Mama to Marcus (1/05) and Arianna (3/10).
Lula’s Mom – Thanks for your reply too! As I mentioned above to babsbob, I like the idea of the allowance, but I’m not sure it would work for my DS, at least not right now. There is just too. much. stuff. In my family room. In the kids’ playroom. In their rooms. The toys--it’s just overwhelming. I don’t know though. Maybe I should give it a try…. I just really feel this urge to simplify & purge all the excess right now. Maybe I am just overwhelmed & need to control some of the clutter around here to give myself the illusion of sanity & control!
zannster – Sorry you are dealing w/ the same issue in your house. It looks like our kids are about the same ages. (My DS1 was born in 2/2005; DS2, in 1/2010.) Maybe it is really just the age (5) & dealing w/ the new baby that are triggering all these issues? If you find anything that works for you, please share! Is your baby at least sleeping okay?
Nighttimes are a little different here. Before DD came along, DS slept with me, and bedtimes were very easy. He read a few books with DH at a set time, and he went to sleep (with me there) between 9-9:30. When DD was born, DH took over the whole bedtime routine, and DS would come to bed later. I couldn't deal with the arrangement (being woke up, nursing but keeping them separate, getting kicked) so he and DH started sleeping in DS's room. It was not a smooth transition - I know he missed being with me. And now bedtimes are a battle, with him resisting as you described and often not getting to sleep until 10:30 or later.
As for DD, she goes to sleep with nursing and/or rocking, nurses 2-4x per night, and wakes up between 6:45 and 8:00. I think she's doing alright for this age.
Mama to Marcus (1/05) and Arianna (3/10).
Mama to Marcus (1/05) and Arianna (3/10).
I have to share w/ you all that DS's bedtime struggles have been getting a little easier lately, but I think it's mainly b/c we've come back from traveling & he's just been WORN OUT! So he hasn't really given us a hard time about going to bed because he is in fact quite tired! I'm hoping the momentum we started here continues.... I guess I need to make it a point to get him more exercise, whatever during the day to really tire him out--without tiring myself out too much int he process! Before we went away on our trip though, DH had threatened DS w/ no TV the following day if he came out of his room again at bedtime, & that actually worked--for a few more nights in a row too! I'm not a huge fan of using "threats" to get DS to go to bed, but at that point, I was going w/ whatever worked. Now that he seems to be not as sleep-deprived, I've noticed his behavior in general has improved a little as well. Both DH & I made a point (putting into practice a lot of the great advice I received here!) to praise his good behavior. He said to me several times over the past few days, "I've been really good & nice to you, right, mom?" Yes, yes you have, DS! And he's noticed (well, we've tried to point out to him) that we do more things together when he's behaving better--outings don't get cut short, we're able to go to a special place for lunch, we have time to read him a longer book at bedtime because he didn't throw a fit before, etc. We have many more miles to go, so to speak, before we're back on track here, but I feel like we've made some improvements in the past week or two. Thanks again, moms, for your help & advice! I will check back in again when I can....
I have also been assigning her chores recently to get her used to the idea that she is a contributing member of the family. She didn't like setting the table at first but she knows that if she doesn't set the table at breakfast, I don't cook the meal.
My Dd is terrible about asking for things in stores. I try to make it a habit whenever we go somewhere to point out what we will be buying in the store. So in Starbucks, I might say, OK, when we are inside, we are going to get a hot chocolate, a coffee and a donut. We are NOT getting anything else. Are we clear?...I need you to be clear on this before we go in. If you ask for something, we will leave right away." But then you MUST follow up on the consequences and leave if he asks for something.
Hope this helps.
also please note 5 is a v. hard age.
many adults who remember that age say that is even worse than teens,
not sure if you have seen it yet but u will see the angst by about 6. many children go thru extremely emotional sensitivity and turn into this child even they say they cannot recognise. at their very worst.
but that's when they need our greatest support. i think its a developmental hormone change that happens. i know when it happened with my dd - oh she was HORRIBLE - at that age she also started getting body odor. however i was able to keep things in perspective for me, as i knew there was a reason she was behaving that way. not coz she hated me. plus in a way i felt really honoured that she could really let lose and be comfortable enough to be her true self.
i tell you that experience brought us even closer.
meemee -- Yes, I'm finding out that 5 is indeed a tough age, based on just the replies I received from other moms of 5YOs!! I haven't yet witnessed the full-on angst you speak of, but I guess I won't be surprised when it appears! DS already acts like a moody teenager sometimes! Thanks for the heads up!