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What to do...

Tazia - posted on 08/28/2010 ( 5 moms have responded )

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I have a 4 almost 5 year old son and recently he has had a major attitude problem(talking back, hitting, screaming at everyone, not listening, melt downs, etc.) and I don't know why and it is driving me to the point where i'm about ready to have a melt down myself. I have no idea what to do and every time I ask him whats wrong he says nothing. Does anyone else have this problem or have any advise???

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Tia - posted on 08/29/2010

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My oldest son went through something like that a few years back. It was very, very difficult to deal with. I finally got to my wits end and talked with his Dr. about it. He gave us a referral to a children's therapist and my son went once a week. Plus, I also put him into a boys discussion group once a week that the therapist suggested. Turns out, my son was just very angry..about many different things. His father and I splitting up, our moving, having to go to a new school where he didn't have many friends, and my working so much as a single mom trying to support our family. I learned how I had to make sure I spent more quality time with him even though I was totally exhausted after work all day. I also learned some skills for being able to stop taking everything he did or said so personally and allowing it to hurt my feelings, how to stay steady and consistent with my rules/discipline, to set boundaries for him and to discuss those boundaries with him so that he would know exactly what was/was not acceptable...and the punishments that would result if he did break the rules. I'm not going to lie, I think it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I always felt so guilty about his father not being there..like somehow it was my fault. I felt like I should go easy on him because his dad wasn't around but I think I just let too many things slide and that was a huge mistake. It has taken over 2 years but things are much better now. Just communicate with your child, take time with him, be constant and supportive yet unwavering in your rules. A good therapist will be able to find out exactly what's going on with him. I used to think that no one would be able to know my child as well as I do but that's just not true. Our kids (especially boys) hide what they're thinking/feeling sometimes and clam up.Like if there's a bully at school bothering him. He may feel ashamed to tell you about it. Sometimes it takes a professional unbiased stranger to get them to open up because they don't have to fear getting in trouble for what they say. Hope this helps and best of luck to you!

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Tia - posted on 08/30/2010

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Well, he's still very young and is probably pretty confused about his own emotions. He may be feeling happy about having a man around, but upset at the same time because it's a new situation..plus he may be feeling upset that your new boyfriend is stepping into a place he has mentally reserved for his own biological father. I think most kids dream of having both of their parents together. They aren't able to understand or even imagine the reasons WHY their parents aren't together. Kids see things in idealistic ways. That's what we like to call 'innocence". As we get older, it's name changes to "naivete". Are you getting to speak to the therapist as well? I think it's important that the therapist hears what you're experiencing as far as your sons behavior goes. It may seem like the therapist is clueless about what's really going on but I'm sure he/she is very much aware of things, even if your son isn't being open about stuff right now. My son was in therapy for almost 2 years. It may take awhile for your child and his therapist to actually form a good trusting relationship. I'm sure your son is becoming more aware of his feelings about his father now that he's growing older. It's good that you're handling this now while he's still young. Do you have a good support group (close family/friends) to help you build a strong social foundation for him..as well as yourself? True, no one will ever be able to completely fill the void of his father missing from his life, they just won't...but having loving supportive (and good quality) people in his life will help him to feel loved and stable. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Church friends, Neighbors, School/Preschool friends, even Teachers can all help you to build a strong social support base for him and yourself. You may be surprised at just how many people you already know who would be willing to put forth a little extra time and care with him if you take them aside and ask for their help. It will give him a place that he feels he belongs to...instead of feeling lost because his dad isn't around. It will help him form a positive outlook on his own identity.

Leanne - posted on 08/30/2010

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when my boy was younger i tried out the naughty corner placing him in a spot where he was out of each of toys and anything distracting every time he got up i would place him back but only for a few minutes at a time

Tazia - posted on 08/30/2010

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Well he has been in therapy for the last couple months and he absolutely loves going but the thing is, is that he acts just fine with the therapist and tells him everything is good so the therapist doesn't really know whats going on. He keeps saying stuff about his dad to me but he's never really been around so I know he has a reason to be angry but its just all of a sudden he's acting like this so could it be he's just getting older so he's realizing more about his feelings about his dad? He keeps asking me to find him a new dad so he can have one so I know its frustrating to him to see all his cousins with dads and not him. I recently got a new boyfriend and my son loves him and he treats my son very well but he does act out when he's here sometimes and I know its cuz its something new but if he likes him so much then why would he still have an attitude with him sometimes? It just hurts me to know how he's feeling and I take care of him 24/7 and it gets so hard when he's so mean sometimes having to be the mom and dad and not being able to have that middle ground. I'm doing the best I can but I don't want to seem like I'm being a mean mom because I keep getting so frustrated with him and his attitude.

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My first question is if there has been any major life changes for him recently to cause him to behave in such a manner? did you move? change day care? alter work hours? death in the family? If you think this is the case then I would reccomend talking to your child's pediatrician about this - they can help you with your options.

If you think this is truly just acting out, a slowly escalating behavior problem - I use "Love and Logic" discipline strategies. Just google them. I couldn't reccomend the techniques enough!

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