I really struggle with where to place the boundaries with my son, and always have done. He's a super bright, confident and very "quick" boy, he's constantly moving and a real leader - a strong personality all round. He's charming, and socially sophisticated so he understands what's what all right.
And. He. Doesn't. Listen.
Since he was about 2 I've felt its been a constant battle to stay at the helm with him - I can't keep up physically with his boundless energy, and he likes to have constant social interaction - getting frustrated if I can't meet those two needs, leading to fights. I struggle to know exactly where to place the boundaries - sometimes too lax and then I regret it, other times (more often) batting down the hatches in the interests of "consistency" and feeling massively inflexible. I feel I'm saying no WAY too much.
I DO know how to talk to my son and get through to him in a non violent, non punitive, collaborative way.... and then 5 minutes later I'll be having the same conversation.
I have used "consequences" but a. sometimes I can't find a logical consequence and b. sometimes they are just punishments by another name and it ends up being a power battle where I'm just trying to control my child by being fierce.
I make my expectations clear, in positive language and in advance. I keep my messages simple. And still, lately, I get a lot of "I don't have to listed to you" attitude, tongue sticking out etc.
I don't always have time/energy for creative, imaginative ways of wheedling my son to behave. sometimes I just want it done (leaving a friend's house, getting ready for bed)...
I'm about to be in sole charge of the kids (also have a 1 year old) due to DH's work, and I'd like to find a way of getting things clear with my son about what is expected from him behaviour wise.
Just wanted to add a clarifier - I think where I'm struggling is choosing the battles - what should I be expecting, and what can I let go? Things that press the buttons are ignoring me when I've asked him to do something (mixture of things that matter a lot and things that matter less) and being incredibly bouncy when I need some peace, and refusing to stop or take it elsewhere. I feel I'm dealing with an attitudinous teenager not a small boy.
Because it feels like, with this child, an inch given turns into a mile - so I've become really hard on him about listening, so if he ignores me on the slightest thing, I'm taking a stand about it, and he's hating it. We are fighting a lot.
My own kids are grown, but I regularly substitute teach in pre-K and kindergarten so I'm am still dealing with 5yo's. In fact, I took six kiddos school shopping (with their mom!) last weekend. The one who was most difficult was the 5yo. How did I handle it? I give a couple of corrections, then the consequence. During the shopping trip, the 5yo kept moving out of range and hiding. I reminded her twice to stay close, with a brief explanation that I needed to be able to see her. When she didn't listen, I told her that if she did it again, we would go sit in the car. Of course, she had to test me--and I took her by the hand and we went out to the car until her mom and sibs finished at that store. In the car, she had to buckle up while waiting. I had a book--I ignored her and read. She was great the rest of the trip, needing only an occasional reminder to stay close. I did make sure she got a treat--I never keep accounts and once the "consequence" is over, the kid is completely back in good graces.
At school, I do the same kinds of things. If a child ignored me and stuck his/her tongue out at me, I would immediately take them by the hand, drop down on my knee and, face to face, tell them that was totally unacceptable. They would immediately have to put their head down for five minutes--and also miss the first five minutes of recess. He/she would need to apologize before going outside for the remainder of recess. I wouldn't act upset or yell or scold or anything like that. I just give a brief explanation and a consequence that is short and swift.
For a child who refuses to pick up his things or clean up a play area--I take the child by the hand and walk to the area and say, "Let's get busy." I expect him to start picking up right along with me. If he pitches a fit and refuses, I would calmly tell him, "Well, it will be bed right after supper for you tonight. You must be very tired to act this way." One of two things will happen--either he will say, "I'm not tired!" and start cleaning up. Or he will keep screaming and end up in bed before 7pm. In school, I just tell him, "Get busy, now, and help your friends clean up." Somehow, they almost always get busy. If a child refused, I'd take him by the hand and hand him a toy to put away, with the direction to "Put this away now." If the kid melted down, refused, pitched a fit--again, a time-out and loss of 5 minutes of play time the next time we had in-class play.
I seldom have issues now--but, of course, with my own children, I had plenty of tantrums and melt-downs. I've learned a lot over the years--have clear expectations, talk less, avoid a direct confrontation when possible (redirection), deliver a short, swift consequence for a direct violation, keep very short accounts (make up quickly), and keep moving forward. Actually, most of this I learned when working in a group home for disabled and anger-prone adult men!!!
is he in any sort of sports? after school activity? if he IS a boundless energy child then asking him to check or control his boundlessness is an impossible task if he doesnt have an outlet for it. what would REALLY help now (which under the circumstances is NOT a help) is wrestling with dad - or you if possible - roughhousing.
just the fact that he doesnt listen - means there is something there. either indeed he cannot listen or you are asking too much out of him. when a 'good' boy is misbehaving - there is definitely a reason for it.
i wonder if he has some SPD - where he is doing stuff to cope with his environment. he might be sensory seeking for all you know.
sometimes children ignore if they cant understand what you meant. or sometimes when you are not direct enough. for instance if you asked him to go clean his room he might not get it. but if you asked him to do specific tasks - like go put your clothes away, pick up the toys from the floor and put them in the basket you might get a reaction out of him.
does he have regular 'work' to do at home. i hesitate to use the word chores because chores are things they usually dislike. 'work' is something they truly enjoy - like making your coffee or dressing and putting lotion on younger sibling. i have found with many kids - it really helps them and grounds them to do something they feel contributes to the family. have him sort and do laundry.