This could just as easily go in Personal Growth because I recognize my role in the issue, but I am looking for parenting strategies. This is so hard to write, but many days, I hate my DS (5). I am mortified by his behavior, and I don't enjoy him as a kid. I can't take him fun places. I can't do fun things with him. He is aggressive and mean. And, because DD (3) is such a follower, she doesn't follow basic rules (like hold my hand, stay with me, no spinning, two feet on the floor/no kicking, inside voices/no screaming, etc) either.
Today I had to register the kids and myself for community center classes. The process is fairly simple, but involves a lottery and waiting in line for 5 or so minutes. DS FREAKED out about every little thing: which color vitamin he got before we left (our rule is you get what you get, you don't have a fit); not drawing the first number in the lottery; having to wait in line; keeping his hands to himself; not starting today the class we were signing up for, etc. He started spinning, kicking out his feet and hurting others. He got mad at me after were were finished because I said that with the bad choices he made we had to go straight home afterwards, and he spit in my face, a typical aggressive response for him. He huffs and sticks out his tongue whenever he doesn't like something. He frequently hits and kicks and hurts others. He is terrible, and nothing seems to work to change his behaviors.
I am out of ideas. I have no reserves. And I don't like him anymore. At all. Help!
It sounds like your situation has progressed to a pretty low point. But, that doesn't mean it can't improve and get better! My friend was having so many problems she decided her dd had some genetic flaw that caused her to be difficult, that things would never change, and grew to actually dislike her dd - they were having very similar sounding problems. She decided to bring in outside help and scheduled an appointment with a child psychologist. The first one wasn't a good fit - she dumped her and tried another. He gave her many wonderful parenting tips, worked with her dd, and helped change their whole family dynamic. I'm happy to say that her daughters behavior has improved immensely, her feelings toward her daughter have changed and they're on the road to becoming the happy family she has been trying to have for a long time. Maybe if you feel like it's progressed beyond your control bringing in some type of specialist would give you some ideas to help get things back on track.
In the short term, do you have a regularly scheduled break from the kids? Sometimes just getting away for awhile helps to build our reserve of patience to deal with parenting issues.
Hopefully, others will have some additional ideas for you, too!
My son at the age of 4 acted very much like that. I worked with a behavior specialist and was able to remedy the situation in about a month or two. I would seek outside help.
Any tips on finding a professional and screening them to see if they are a good fit? Do I go the route of a child psychologist? Developmental pediatrician? A parenting class?
I do have a break. DS is in a play-based preschool class three mornings a week, during which he is frequently in trouble.
I should have mentioned before that didn't put this in Gentle Discipline because in so many ways I think this has gone way beyond strategies of playful parenting and consistency.
The person that I worked with was actually through the school district and it was a free service. Not sure how many areas have something like that, but I learned of her through the Head Start program.
The behavior specialist sounds like a great idea, but I also wonder if you've considered physical causes. Have you had him evaluated for sensory issues or food intolerances? Your son's daycare or pediatrician would be able to recommend someone to do this.
hugs mama. And this will pass, and whatever is going on, there is help.
I wanted to add that my friends dd was actually asked to leave 2 preschools for "bad behavior". She is now in a different school and is doing great - gets a "green" (good behavior) 99% of the time. This is after two years of daily nightmare reports from various teachers. My friend credits most of the change to going to the psychologist and using some of the techniques he gave her. She found her specialist based upon a recommendation from one of the preschools her dd was enrolled in - they gave her a list of a few local professionals who specialized in early childhood behavior. You might also start by seeing what, if anything, might be covered by your health insurance? Good luck! I know it's got to be a difficult, frustrating time for you.
He has been evaluated through the school district and some sensory issues were identified, along with a likely ADHD diagnosis. Although we ended up choosing to not pursue the provided options at that time (primarily for financial reasons, but also because shortly there after DS' behavior greatly improved).
We have been kicked out of so many playgroups. He hasn't been kicked out of preschool yet, but I seriously dread the daily reports of his misbehaviors.
If you or your partner work outside of the home and the employer offers an EAP (employee assistance program), I would suggest contacting it for referral options as well.
Mama to add 10/05; ds 3/09, and two angels
Well I definitely have days like that, today for sure, so I wanted to first give you some sympathy. It's just a terrible feeling, feeling like you don't even like your own child.
We do work with many child development professionals as my child is on the autism spectrum. The center where we go is a training institute, so they are right on top of the latest research about what works for kids, and they have many interns so there is a lot of energy and passion on the part of the behaviorists and child development specialists. We also saw some through Early Education and the school district. I did not think highly of most of those therapists. My point is there is a wide range of effectiveness in professionals and you absolutely have to feel good about anyone you want to work with your family.
Have you heard of Floortime? I think it was originally for special-needs kids, but it is great for every kid. Floortime might help you generate some good interactions between you and DS, and that can help a LOT with those feelings of despair. www.floortime.org
I bet other people will have some good advice for you too.
Wishing you the best.
I just wanted to chime in and say that I also have days like that. My ds can be very difficult and does have ADHD. He has improved on medication, but that choice is not for everyone I know. Just wanted to let you know you are not alone.
Have you read The Explosive Child? (Greene) I really like the author's style, and his ideas about giving kids the tools they need so that they'll behave better. My kid was fairly explosive at 5, too.
One thing Greene talks about is the importance of working on only a few behaviors at a time - he talks about 3 baskets - Basket A for a few non-negotiable things that you're willing to provoke a tantrum to enforce, Basket B for things you're working on with him but you're not going to push on, and Basket C for things you're just letting slide for now. So, for example, I would have put vitamin color squarely in Basket C - digging out a different color of vitamin is not worth provoking a meltdown.
The other key thing is helping kids learn the skills they need to manage their behaviors. So, for example, if you knew that you were going to have to wait in line, you could start by talking to him about it beforehand, so he'd know what to expect, and making some plans. Maybe the two of you could pack a bag of things to do in line before you left, and maybe he'd like to have a clock so he could keep track of how long you were waiting and write it in a notebook, or he could count the people ahead of him in line and write that down, or whatever. And you could talk to him about things to do when he starts to get upset, like taking a deep breath or counting to ten, and when he tries to use these skills notice and acknowledge how hard he's working, even if he ends up exploding anyway.
It's not going to change overnight, and I do think you should also post in PG for some help keeping yourself nurtured, because this is hard stuff.
Single mom to Rain (1/93) , grad student, and world traveler
We eventually sought counseling for our explosive dd when she was 6 and we absolutely hit a crisis, but I wish we'd found some help earlier!
I see you are in NC. We are too, in theTriangle. We found low cost care through the university system. PM me for details if that lead would help you at all.
I second the idea of reading The Explosive Child. I finally did and it's led us to seeing a beharvioral specialist. I actually asked some parents I know and a social worker who they recommended and they all said this person. My ped would have had this rec, too. For us, we met with her once and then she will see our child 3x and then it's back to us. Just knowing that we are taking steps and it will bet better has helped a lot. the specialist hasn't seen our child yet but DH and I met with her once.