My son is so defiant....HELP!!!!!!!

Christina - posted on 02/28/2013 ( 14 moms have responded )

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My son will be 5 in July. He is constantly throwing things at me telling me no and screaming at me. I put him in time out and that doesn't bother him. I put him to bed he doesn't care. He calls me stupid. No matter how much I tell him that name calling is bad. Tells me to shut up. What do I do? I can't handle this anymore.

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You might be letting him have too many choices--it's a less common reason for defiance, but it can lead to it all the same. Try to limit his choices a little bit--by letting him make ALL the choices, he feels you are stepping on his turf when you step in and try to assert yourself. It's a game of balance.

Yes, your playtime should not be all educational. It is okay to do a few educational activities with him, but make sure you add in some one on one playtime as well.

Also, here is a little advice for balancing the school with parenting. It worked for me when I was working from home with J.
Set a timer for 10 minutes and play with him for the entire 10 minutes. When the timer dings, tell him that you are going to do some work, and you need him to play on his own, but only for 10 minutes (I started out with shorter times away from J because J was so much younger. At 5 years, your son should be able to handle 10 minutes on his own, but if you find him struggling, shorten the alone time)
When the timer dings again, go play with him for 10 more minutes. Follow this pattern for at least 1 hour, 2 hours if you can.
The next day, play for 10 minutes, but leave him alone for 11 minutes.
Gradually increase the alone time by one minute about every 3-4 days until you have 30 minutes or so of alone time between each 10 minute play time. Don't increase it too fast or he'll push back.
Some kids have the attention span to go even further than 30 minutes, but that's a stretch for a 5 year old. You can add another 5 minutes when he turns 6 years, and so on. Once you have this routine established, you will have 30 minutes to work on school uninterrupted.

[deleted account]

In regards to the name calling, I simply don't respond.

Another idea, regarding the defiance is that he might be struggling for some control in his life, which is healthy and expected at his age. Try allowing him to make decisions whenever possible: Would you like to go to the park or the library today? Play with blocks or draw? take a shower first or brush your teeth first? etc. When he makes a decision, praise him specifically for demonstrating his ability to reason and make decisions: That is a good choice!

Also, let him dress himself most of the time, and complement the outfit if he does a good job (you can choose to say nothing if it's not a great combination, or just praise him on how quickly he got dressed, but don't make him change. Eventually, he will begin choosing outfits that earn a compliment, and he will let you dress him for important events, like pictures, weddings, etc.)

Last but not least--PLAY! Spend 15 minutes every single day with him doing whatever HE wants to do--let him lead, let him tell you what to do, and just play. When I started doing this with J the effect was almost instantaneous.

Also try playing games that put him in control, like Simon Says and Follow the Leader--if he wants to always be Simon/Leader, just let him. Eventually he will let you have a turn, but if you try to assert control and make him do it, he will push back.

Essentially, what you are trying to do is let him have as much control as possible in areas that don't really matter to his health or safety. When situations arise where YOU need to be the one in control, he will be more likely to let you have that control, because he knows he has control in other places.

[deleted account]

I'm with Jodi, a thrown toy is gone for good. I don't put up with that. He got one warning, I think he was about 2 1/2 years at the time I warned him. If he threw a toy, I put it in a box, and we donated it to charity together. I just put the box in the trunk of my car & dropped it off at the donation box next time we were out. (I have a Miracle Hill Donation box less than 5 minutes from my house, Goodwill has tons of them throughout our community too--I prefer the donation boxes over going to the actual store because the person taking the box would always act like I was being mean to my son, making him feel like a victim, when in fact, the donation was HIS choice).

When I took the toys, I explained (very briefly) that we do not care for our toys, they will be donated to someone who will care for them. Throwing is not a sign of caring. Then when we took the toys to be dropped off (try to do it the same day, or the very next day at the latest) I would ask him why we are donating the toys & explain again that children must care for their toys in order to keep them.

After about two weeks, we no longer had the throwing problem. Every now and again he would get too upset and throw a toy, and we still donate them. He had the warning back when he was about 2 1/2 so he knows throwing the toys is wrong now.

Also, we do NOT replace the toys. When he was younger, I would buy him another toy after about a month or so, but once he was 5 years old, he knew that if he threw a toy, he would not get any new toys unless it was a birthday or Christmas, or he used his own money for the rest of the year. Now, grandparents are another story. They did try to buy him new toys, but our rule with them was that the new toy had to stay at their home until the month/year was up.

Jodi - posted on 02/28/2013

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I'd throw them out. Totally make it obvious it goes in the bin (perhaps warn him first that if he throws something again, it will go in the bin). Very calmly. I would also not react when he screams at you. Try totally disengaging from the situation. Walk away. If he follows you, keep your back to him. If he throws his things, calmly pick it up and place it in a bin that he can't get into. Make sure you will ONLY listen to him when he calms down.

Do you ever discuss this with him when he is calm? Ask him why he does it? He's almost 5, he is old enough to have a conversation with.

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Christina - posted on 03/01/2013

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I know what one of his problems is. For the first 3.5 years of his life his daddy was always around and mommy was working, so he had much more discipline. Since January of last year I have been out of work and daddy has been working. Daddy works sometimes 18 hrs. a day. Mommy can not discipline him the way that daddy can. I don't have the heart. I feel bad. I don't like getting mad at him. I let him make all of his choices from snacks, dressing himself, everything. Our play time consists of learning time, so maybe that's what needs to be changed. He has never been to daycare or preschool. We have taught him everything. So maybe I just need to have actual playtime with him.

One more thing I am also in school full time on line so that is even more of a stressor
for me. I have deadline and such that I have to make as well. It is very hard to juggle everything. Like I said before I love him to death and I would do anything for him but my patience is running out. When he is good, he is a perfect angel, I couldn't ask for anything better out of a child. But when he is being bad he is like a devil child.

I am going to try the donating the toys and the playtime. Hopefully it will work for the both of us.


Thank you!!!!!!

Christina - posted on 03/01/2013

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I am definitely going to start doing this..........at this point he is not going to have any toys left. That is also a good idea to donate them. We have a Goodwill right up the street from me that we drive by just about everyday. Now if anyone has any suggestions on how to stop the screaming and talking back I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you to all who is helping me with this I appreciate any and all input.

Christina - posted on 03/01/2013

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Yea unfortunately I tried this and it didn't work. I am 32 years old and I wonder sometimes if I made the right choice to be a mother. He gets me so frustrated that I wish I could send him to boot camp. I love him with all my heart, but sometimes I can not deal with him.

Clara - posted on 03/01/2013

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What I did with my son when he was 5, very active and stubborn. First, i ignored him for a day. I realized that I was overwhelmed. The second day I start talking very softly at him without commanding voice. It worked! My son responded to me very nicely ( not always but most of the time!) sometimes they need attention and they loved being talked like grown ups. Good luck.

Christina - posted on 03/01/2013

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Should I throw them away and never give them to him again or just put them away for a week or two? Also any ideas on his screaming at me at the top of his lungs?

Christina - posted on 02/28/2013

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That is a good idea. No I haven't tried that. I have tried to have a conversation with him after things are calmer he just cries and says I'm sorry mommy I have to be a good boy. The reason why he does it he says is because he was mad at me and I am being mean.

Christina - posted on 02/28/2013

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He is throwing his toys at me when I tell him to stop hitting other things with his toys. He will start throwing his toys and then I will tell him that he shouldn't do that because it is not nice and then that is when he will start throwing them at me calling me stupid and he also screams at the top of his lungs. So frustrating.

Jodi - posted on 02/28/2013

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What sort of things is he throwing at you? And when is he displaying this behaviour? For instance, WHY is he calling you stupid and throwing things at you? Sometimes understanding these questions can help with managing the situation.

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