I don’t often address specific parenting questions because everyone has different parenting styles and all children are different. I do however get lots of questions about kids and behavior from readers and friends. If my advice doesn’t work for you that’s okay. You know your child best and are the best parent for your child.
I have a four almost five year old little boy. He’s always been very needy and demanding for attention and I feel awful for always seeming to push him away. He now has a one year old little sister and I’ll play and snuggle with her, and then he will come running in and cause too much havoc.
I know this is an attention seeking thing, so I do that thing where I set aside some time each day just for him and I. But it never seems to be enough for him. He is acting up and not following rules and demanding and demanding and demanding. I’m tired of being frustrated with him, and I’m tired of yelling at him, but I need to be consistent with the rules.
I don’t stay at home and my husband and I have opposite schedules. He has different rules than I do and know there’s a consistency problem
with that, too. I also believe in giving my son some space to play by himself, and my husband doesn’t do that. So now I’m the mean mom that
doesn’t play with her son. Eeek!
…I didn’t know if you could provide me with some helpful suggestions or simply put me at ease with the fact that this will someday pass?
Thanks so much for your question, but I think if you’ve actually answered your own questions in your email. Sometimes it helps to have an outside perspective, so although I’m not a parenting or marriage expert I’ll share my opinion.
Get on the same page as your husband.
In my opinion this is the biggest issue. Children need consistency from both parents. If a child knows they can “get away” with something with one parent, the child will start manipulating the parents and cause even more conflict.
Have you discussed these issues with your husband? I would make a list of all the concerns you have about your son and then set up a conference with your husband. Get a babysitter or wait until the kids go to bed but you want to make sure you have time for uninterrupted conversation.
See if you and your husband can come to agreement on ways to help your son behave better when he is with you.
Create boundaries and stick with them.
If you are unable to come to an agreement with your husband, create some boundaries for your son when he is with you. It is important that you share the expectations with your son from the beginning.
For example: Tell your son you are going to have 30 minutes of playtime with him, then it will be his time to play by himself for 30 minutes. Let him know the consequences for not obeying. If he does not obey you must follow through!
Let your son know he is a priority.
It sounds like your son is acting out because he feels displaced by his little sister. His havoc creating behavior is a way to get attention and become your priority. If you make him your priority in a positive way this might decrease his acting out.
You mentioned that you set aside time to spend with your son, but maybe it isn’t enough time. I know when I had two little kids they were with me all of the time. I wasn’t playing with them 12 hours a day, but they would clean along side me, make meals, or work in the yard. We definitely had time for fun activities too, but I involved them in my every day projects.
I used their nap time (or quiet time) to catch up on my projects.
I have never met anyone who feels they benefitted from being yelled at as a child. Yelling just doesn’t work. It might get a temporary obedience, but it isn’t something that sticks. Most children I know do not react well to being yelled at and often block out yelling because it is so ineffective.
Instead of yelling, set consequences and stick to them. You don’t need to raise your voice to impose a consequence. If the child breaks a rule quietly remind them they are going to have such and such consequence if they continue. If the behavior does not change, follow through.
Reward positive behavior.
If your child is behaving in an appropriate way make sure you praise him. This child craves attention, so give him lots of positive reinforcement. Not only should you praise the child to his face, allow him to overhear you talking about his good behavior to others.
Many times this positive attention is enough to help curb the negative attention seeking behaviors.
Remember he’s five.
Five year old boys are…. well havoc creating kids! All three of my boys were little tornados. Remember some of this behavior is just being a boy. Let the boyish enthusiasm stay and the get rid of the misbehavior.
If you reread the email you sent I think you’ll find the answers to your questions within your message. You know what you need to do to modify your son’s behavior, it’s up to you to do it!