Almost 5, Are we expecting to much? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 10-22-2011, 09:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DS will be 5 in Dec.  We have a new baby here but this is NOT a new issue.

 

We are having a tough time now with listening and following directions.  Getting dressed for school, eating ANY meal and esp. bed time are just torture for all of us!  He refuses to stop whatever he's doing to do what he needs to be doing (ie playing lego's over getting dressed).  We warn, we give choices, we warn again and he just will not do what we need him to till HE is ready.  

 

Bedtime has DH and I at the end of our patience.  He refused to calm down, refused to go to the bathroom or get his PJ's on.  He turns into this wild beast that neither of us can stand to be around and it devolves into a screaming match.

 

Neither of us know what to even try anymore.  I am not sure any of us are going to make it to 5 :( 

Help!  Ideas?  Are we expecting to much?  What else can we try?

 

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#2 of 22 Old 10-22-2011, 09:44 AM
 
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I just want to offer hugs.... my kids are hard to manage for me to.


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#3 of 22 Old 10-22-2011, 10:26 AM
 
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#4 of 22 Old 10-22-2011, 10:42 AM
 
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While I agree that it needs to be done with patience and gentleness, I have found that when we face issues like this with our kids it means we need to warn less and do more.  So when we say "5 minutes... 3 minutes...1 minute..." we build tension because the kid knows it is going to be over, but not exactly when.  We do one warning and then that's it.   

 

Also... using a timer for warnings can help - we'll set the timer, and when it goes off, it is time to get ready for bed.  Then when it dings, no extra time to finish this or that.  We don't do that very often, but when we've ended up with too much battle we've done it once or twice and it changes the dynamic. 

 

We have something the kids like after the bedtime routine - my kids like reading books, so if they get ready for bed nicely we read books.  If not, we just get ready for bed and they go straight to bed without extra stories.  I think we've only had to skip stories a couple of times for them to choose to control their bodies and mouths enough during bedtime prep.

 

Also, what happens when there is this problem?  What are you doing and what is the child doing?  Do you get mad?  Does the child get to keep doing whatever?  What is the "reward" for not cooperating? 

 

Not everyone around MDC operates this way, but we expect a decent attitude and polite interactions with our kids - no matter how they feel like treating us, we expect them to be decent.  So even when they don't want to get ready for bed or they don't want to come for supper, it's something that needs to be done and it is to be done with a decent attitude.  We have a spot where we sit with our kids when they need to calm down, and once they have collected themselves or used the self-control to contain a bad attitude, we continue.

 

HTH

 

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#5 of 22 Old 10-22-2011, 11:04 AM
 
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For the bedtime, I'd try moving his bedtime either up or back 30 minutes and see if it goes easier, and if not try the other way. Sometimes they're either not quite tired, or a bit overtired, and a half hour one way or the other can help.


My other suggestion is to try giving him some autonomy in these areas. Is he choosing his own clothes, for instance? Wherever you can give him power, try to, and then the places where you have to force things might meet less resistance.

 

For food, I'd just put the food out and let him eat or not as he wishes, and if he doesn't eat it, put it in the fridge and take it out again if he says he's hunger later. I personally just disengage from food fights completely.

 

But yes, these are typical areas where kids that age can have trouble. There are two issues, one is transitions, and the other is that if they're getting into power struggles due to a desire for autonomy, sleep and food are big places to do that, as those are areas where they have real power. You can't force someone to eat or sleep, and they know that. Giving autonomy in as many areas as possible can help if that is the problem. If it's difficulty iwth transitions, then a warning, not using time but using something he can count (like choose 5 more legos to put on your building), can sometimes help.

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#6 of 22 Old 10-22-2011, 12:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks all.  

 

Many of the suggestions we have tried already.  I appreciate hearing that they are things others have tried.

 

I try to give as many choices as I can (you can do A now or after teeth brushing, you can wear A or B).  It doesn't seem to help with the getting dressed part.  We have moved bedtime earlier but it still takes 2 hours most nights before he goes to bed.  He doesn't nap but doesn't go to sleep till 9 most nights. He's up at 7-8.  On school days he needs to be dressed and ready to leave at 8:45.  I don't feel right about sending him to school without food in him so I am not sure the putting the food away would work.  I am all about natural consequences but being hungry at school just seems cruel to me.  

I don't force these things when it isn't a school day/have some place to go.  Many days I'll let him stay in PJ's all day for all I care.  But when it comes to school days, it isn't an option.

 

DH and I do get angry and things do tend to become escalated at bedtime because of it.  I will try the "5 more" legos and see if that works to get him going.  He also refuses to use the potty before bed and I get the autonomy but again, if he doesn't go and wets the bed, we are the ones stuck holding the wet sheets! ;) 

 

Dh and I have been actively trying to fix this.  That's why I came here to ask if we were expecting too much at this age.  From the sounds of it, we aren't but these are typical struggles at this age.  That is good to know.  I just wish that this "stage" would pass already.  I love him and feel horrible every night for how we end the day.  It breaks my heart.  

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#7 of 22 Old 10-22-2011, 02:50 PM
 
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Ah, the problem is the time crunch.  If you don't have the time to wait, they can very well know that and it can lead to problems (in my experience). 

 

I'd also personally give less choices.  I found that my kids got overwhelmed with choices and it caused more conflict.  I agree that kids need to develop autonomy and make decisions they can, but when the experience is fraught with conflict I remove the child's decisions and make it much simpler for us to move on.  If they can function in a decently calm manner, we can do more choices.

 

Personally, I have found that having the routine in place every day sets it up to go better when there is a time crunch.  They know what is expected and that it does indeed, need to happen.  When it varies, they can think that if they delay enough or whine enough, they can just stay in their jammies all day or what have you.  I think that if you want to do jammie days, go for it, but I'd do it AFTER I had a great routine without fighting on the regular days.

 

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#8 of 22 Old 10-22-2011, 04:03 PM
 
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#9 of 22 Old 10-22-2011, 05:32 PM
 
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Routine routine routine! it works. it does take time to establish though. I think it gets confusing to kids to be able to stay in PJ's all day one day and not the next. IIt doesn't have to be about power, it isn't emotional- it's just just the routine. My advice is pick a routine and keep doing it every day and it will eventually sink in. I have a very strong willed oppositional 6 year old but the things that go so well for us are the things we've set up the same for years. Wake up and get dressed, brush teeth, come downstairs. Bedtime is exactly the same every night down to reading some, then potty break which is the 4 page warning. The same 3 prayers, etc. The things that are fights are things that are rushed or have no regular routine. The thing with it is you can't give up if it doesn't work immediately, you just keep it up day after day and eventually it just is.

 

Good luck!! It stinks to feel bad at the end of the day.

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#10 of 22 Old 10-22-2011, 06:26 PM
 
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I absolutely agree with the pps who are suggesting following a "stricter" routine (as in the same every day).  All the things that absolutely must get done on weekdays should get done at the same point in the day on weekends.  Right now just focus on building the routine, getting it 2nd nature.

 

Something you can do that might help is make a routine chart for especially trying times of day.  Sit down and make it together.  Brainstorm the different things that need to be done to get ready for bed (it seems like bedtime is the worst time of day for you guys).  With his input decide what order you're going to do them.  Make a chart writing down what will be done and draw a picture representing each step.  Have him participate in whichever way he's able/willing (drawing pictures, colouring pics that you drew, etc).  Then at bedtime have him lead you through the chart.  You can just use it to "remind" yourselves what comes next, or you could tick off each thing as you do it.

 

As for simplifying the morning routine, the best thing we ever did with dd when she was that age was have her sleep in her "tomorrow clothes".  We would do a bath, then she'd put on clean clothes and sleep in them.  With kids clothes you can't tell the next day that they've been slept in.

 

Also dd was sometimes not hungry right away in the morning but we would make something she could eat on the go (pb&j sandwich, bagel and cream cheese, etc).

 

ETA I also wanted to say that I've had the same experience as Tjej that oftentimes it works better to give fewer choices.


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#11 of 22 Old 10-22-2011, 06:57 PM
 
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I agree about a routine and also I think he sounds tired!  My son needs to be in bed for about 12 hours (even if he's not sleeping the whole time).

 

We did consequences for not getting dressed on time (no time for a movie later, etc) and that kind of nipped it in the bud.  I think our conflict about it was becoming a habit.  Becoming our 'thing'.  It's hard to change patterns!


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#12 of 22 Old 10-22-2011, 07:17 PM
 
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Consequences definitely help. My friends advocate stronger harsh punishments like spanking but my son is like yours and will work to co-operate only if he knows that's how he earns his computer time, reasoning doesn't help and spanking doesn't either. Keep calm and be nice and understanding as possible with tiredness or hunger or emotional upset. But follow through with any warnings and make things happen as you say whether he likes it or not. Luckily at 4 they're still (barely) light enough to pick up and carry if needed, for now you can physically make things happen. They really devolve into infants when tired, and all you can do is force them to get some rest at that point. I agree an earlier bedtime sounds better, or bedtime routine (like cleaning up and reading) done at say 7:30-8 then maybe quiet time in his room til 8:30 with or without you, lights on or off whatever works best for you.

 

Something we're working on is a rule to "be instant," that is answer and act right when he's called to whether he wants to or not. With rewards and/or recognition each time he does it well. Kids like ours have a hard time overcoming their own will even for their own good, it's a long process.

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#13 of 22 Old 10-22-2011, 07:30 PM
 
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my ds just turned 4, but hes all about "5 more minutes". setting the alarm on my phone tends to work pretty well. since i know hes going to want 5 more minutes a couple of times, i set it for 10 or so minutes before we need to hop in the bath or whatever. then his 5 more minutes seems like a compromise, but we still usually get going at the right time.

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#14 of 22 Old 10-22-2011, 08:43 PM
 
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Sometimes when kids are overwhelmed by change (either developmentally their own change, or family changes like the baby), I also find that giving them FEWER choices helps a lot. Making decisions requires some emotional effort, and when they're emotionally on edge, sometimes a decision might be the thing that tips them over the edge.

 

A couple of things struck me in your post: You warn, and then you warn again, and (reading between the lines), you warn again? It's a perfect set-up for letting him know that you don't really mean it.

 

Also, are you expecting him to do all of this  on his own? My kids both needed my help in getting dressed until they were 5 1/2, maybe closer to 6. Not because they couldn't get their clothes on, but because they needed me to help keep them focused, and they liked the attention. Even now, when my 7 year old has trouble getting moving the AM, if I tell her to bring her clothes in and get dressed with me, it goes better.

 

My advice would actually be a mixture of focusing on connection and a clearer routine with clearer boundaries.

 

1. Give him one-on-one time for about 30 minutes every day. During this one-on-one time he leads the play. You're the follower. You take part, but he's the director. This time connecting really helps my kids (even though they're now 7 and 10 1/2). I find that little things I ask them to do go much more smoothly if they've had the connection time.

 

2. The kitchen timer, as others have suggested, makes a really good 'neutral' party. We still use the kitchen timer. "When the timer beeps, it's going to be time to..." My kids have even turned the tables on me and when I've said "I can play with you in 10 minutes," they go set the timer. (They know me well enough to know that 10 minutes soon stretches on to 15 or 20.)

 

3. When the timer beeps, it's time. Period. No more warnings. If you need to escort him to get dressed, you do so. If you need to sit down to eat, you do so. If you need to leave the house, you leave, whether or not he's dressed. Preschool teachers have seen more than one child in pajamas during the day. (You might want to warn them that this might happen.)

 

4. A routine really does help. A visual routine often helps. Another trick is to ask him what comes next? If he has a routine and knows it, this somehow gives him more ownership over the steps. (At least that's my theory, because it works with my kids.) The routine needs to be the same every day.

 

You might also consider mixing things up too. Can he go to bed in his school clothes? Eat peanut butter on toast in the car?

 

 

 

 

 


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#15 of 22 Old 10-23-2011, 08:42 AM
 
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We've had luck with 2 things: the first is to not have to put away the one game they are playing with so that it is there in the same spot and configuration the next morning (though.....we homeschool so they actually have time in the morning to play with it.)  Or there for after school.  

 

The second:  for a while we did bedtime right after dinner.  That helped because they had no time after to start a game to have to set aside.  Luckily they are better at transitioning to story time so we don't need to do that anymore.  Often I'll ask them how long they need to "wrap up" their game because storytime is next.  That gives them some control here, though that wouldn't have worked a year ago.  Recently, storytime has been welcomed without trouble.  For now.

 

I tend to drop some issues and head straight to the most important.  If I was having trouble just like this, my first thought would be to tell him that he can just go straight to bed if he wants, clothes, cruddy teeth and all.  Straight. To. Bed.  That's the "big" issue.  Sure you can talk about solutions with him, but not at bedtime.  That is sooo not the time to get into big negotiations.  I've used this tactic on several occasions, and they very soon chose to stay up a bit longer even though it meant brushing teeth etc.  They saw they absolutely could not get out of bedtime and chose to postpone it in whatever way they could.

 

You could do storytime after all the PJ's and teethbrushing (we have snacks then, so that didn't work for us).  Eventually, sticking to a routine absolutely, he'll stop fighting so much.  I still have trouble calming my girls down some nights, especially dd1 who gets wild and crazy a half hour before bed.

 

We don't do PJ's.  I don't have the fight in me to get my homeschooled kids into playclothes in the morning, so bedtime we put on comfy clean playclothes.  

 

 


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#16 of 22 Old 10-23-2011, 11:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for the suggestions.  I have passed a lot of this onto my DH and we talked about it over lunch.  I think we have a game plan now to start trying something new.  We also talked with DS about some of the "why's" and have asked him which of the suggestions he likes and thinks he can work with. So I think we have a plan and we will start working on it tonight.  I am not expecting thing to go well though as we have a Halloween Hayride tonight so it's a test but we aren't expecting much.  We will get serious about it tomorrow.


Again, thanks for the ideas.  I am sure something here will work for us all.

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#17 of 22 Old 10-23-2011, 02:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scsigrl View Post

DS will be 5 in Dec.  We have a new baby here but this is NOT a new issue.

 

 


We had a similar situation - new baby, old issues, but the old issues tended to escalate when the baby was here. So I wouldn't discount this transition. I also found that I fell into the trap of thinking that if he can get dressed on his own within 3 minutes in the guest bathroom at granny's house because he wants to run upstairs and play with granny he can do it at home in his bedroom in order to go to preschool. He needed my attention to focus - still does most days. trying to have him get himself dressed in his own bedroom (with supervision, but without physical help) was also a change in routine (bfore, he had his clothes in the bathroom and now that's where we kept the baby's clothes) and it didn't work. Now he's back to getting dressed in the bathroom.

I agree with everyone who says routine routine routine - stuff that happens every day is stuff that tends to work. Changes tend to bomb. not gettin to bed on time, not getting him to eat etc starts out a vicous circle for us (physical exhaustion, low blood sugar - bomb). So I suggest putting your foot down early and the rest of the transition may go more smoothly. In a similar vein, I second the suggestion to make it s smooth track from dinner to bedtime, without many choices or downtime in between - fun downtime is after pjs are on teeth are brushed, bladder is emptied and feet are under the covers. And there is a time at which the light's off and the book is on the shelf and the more he dawdles the less time there is to read it.

the playful paretning stuff works too, but personally for me I just donät have the playfulness in me if everyone has to get ready in the morning.


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#18 of 22 Old 10-23-2011, 03:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

 

 

My advice would actually be a mixture of focusing on connection and a clearer routine with clearer boundaries.

 

1. Give him one-on-one time for about 30 minutes every day. During this one-on-one time he leads the play. You're the follower. You take part, but he's the director. This time connecting really helps my kids (even though they're now 7 and 10 1/2). I find that little things I ask them to do go much more smoothly if they've had the connection time.

 

2. The kitchen timer, as others have suggested, makes a really good 'neutral' party. We still use the kitchen timer. "When the timer beeps, it's going to be time to..." My kids have even turned the tables on me and when I've said "I can play with you in 10 minutes," they go set the timer. (They know me well enough to know that 10 minutes soon stretches on to 15 or 20.)

 

3. When the timer beeps, it's time. Period. No more warnings. If you need to escort him to get dressed, you do so. If you need to sit down to eat, you do so. If you need to leave the house, you leave, whether or not he's dressed. Preschool teachers have seen more than one child in pajamas during the day. (You might want to warn them that this might happen.)

 

4. A routine really does help. A visual routine often helps. Another trick is to ask him what comes next? If he has a routine and knows it, this somehow gives him more ownership over the steps. (At least that's my theory, because it works with my kids.) The routine needs to be the same every day.

 

You might also consider mixing things up too. Can he go to bed in his school clothes? Eat peanut butter on toast in the car?

 

 

 

 

 

I am seeing a wonderful psychologist for similar issues with my daughter and the above is what she recommended and what is working for us.  We do the one and one play as suggested.  We use a visual schedule now and follow much stricter routines.  We have seen big improvements in our daughter.  Our psychologist recommended the book "The Incredible Years".  It definitely isn't Alfie Khon but it is on the GD spectrum and has really helped us.
 

 


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#19 of 22 Old 10-24-2011, 07:48 PM
 
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I have a strong willed 6 year old and one thing that helped us a lot was the book YOUR EXPLOSIVE CHILD, which basically gave me a roadmap for how you compromise with a child.  The biggest thing that made a change for us was just giving her a simple hug, instead of the hard line, when she started to melt down.  So, before he turns into a wild beast, you get down on his level and give a hug and ask what's going on.  So now he's able to tell you "I don't want to get my pj's on because xyz" and bizarrely, what I found is that at that point the conflict generally goes awaay.  I have had times where DD has told me what's going on and I've said, "ok, finish what you're doing/we'll find new clothes/etc" but in general, once we connect--she's over it and we actually can get stuff done.

 

I am apparently very authoritarian by nature, because this was really hard for me and took me two years to figure out!  We still have bumps but for the most part, I feel like it really helps.

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#20 of 22 Old 10-26-2011, 07:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks again for the continued suggestions!  This morning I was about to go off but controlled myself and we managed to avoid a HUGE meltdown.  I have the "free chapter" for "Easy to Love, Hard to Discipline" and the one line that really struck me was something like "You want to lose weight?  You want to to XYZ but you can't.  How can you teach discipline if you don't have your own!"  And it really hit me!  I am trying to keep that in mind as we navigate these tough spots!

I have a happy report to make, we did the chart idea at bedtime and at 4 days in, he is really getting it, liking it and bedtimes have been SO SO SOOOOOOOO much better!  DH has been very happy with the results as well (which is good since he is the one doing bedtime for both "big" kids since the baby was born).  I am so happy for all the suggestions.  Thanks again so much!

 

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#21 of 22 Old 10-26-2011, 08:12 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scsigrl View Post

I have a happy report to make, we did the chart idea at bedtime and at 4 days in, he is really getting it, liking it and bedtimes have been SO SO SOOOOOOOO much better!  DH has been very happy with the results as well (which is good since he is the one doing bedtime for both "big" kids since the baby was born).  I am so happy for all the suggestions.  Thanks again so much!

 



Great!  Glad it helped. :)


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#22 of 22 Old 10-26-2011, 02:26 PM
 
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For our son(5) we give one warning. After that his favorite toy gets taken away. Then a privilege gets taken away if he continues such as a sweet dessert or watching pokemon before school. By then he has stopped usually. We learned a while ago that time outs just didn't work for him.

 

Good luck!


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