Saturday, January 15, 2011

Attitude Intervention

I should probably follow that title with "Episode I" or something like that, since I am reasonably certain this will not be the only one of these required before Luke graduates from high school. This has been coming for some time, but I think being home for a week due to the snow just accelerated the time table.

We've been having attitude problems with Luke for a while now. Not listening, not following directions (my biggest pet peeve), talking back (DH's hot button issue). And I swear it started not long after he started school. We didn't have this problem when he was at Kindercare (at least not to this degree). I don't know what is going on at Kindergarten, or if it is a phase that would have started anyway and the timing is coincidental, but we have had it. Taking things away for a day or two would produce something of an attitude change, but only for a day or two, and we were right back where we started. If things are this bad at age 6, how are we ever going to survive middle school, much less high school?

Today was sort of the final straw, a culmination of every single thing we have been harping on for weeks. Luke crashed and burned spectacularly, including an out and out tantrum as we got ready to leave the restaurant. DH had to physically pick him up and carry him out, which is difficult with a struggling 6-year-old who is 4 feet tall and weighs over 60 pounds. This resulted in having all electronics (Wii, Move, TV) and all "big boy toys" (Star Wars figures, LEGOs, Tinker Toys, Hot Wheels, Pokemon, etc) being taken away for today. He can read (well, look at books since he isn't very good at reading), write (he loves to practice writing, which I find intriguing), and color. I might concede to crafting of some type using scissors and/or glue, but no "toys" of any kind. Also, if he was going to act like a baby, then we were going to treat him like a baby and make him take a nap (hard to do rest time without a television). You can imagine how well that went over with him. There was much screaming and crying in the car, which finally settled into sullen silence.

When we got home, Luke refused to get out of the car. There was nothing left to take away for today, so we took it away for tomorrow, too. "I don't care." Um, yeah, wrong thing to say. DH blew a gasket! He doesn't get angry like that very often, but when he does, you'd better look out. We left Luke in the car (it's well over 40 degrees and sunny out there; he was fine), came inside, and cleared all rooms of his toys. The only things left on his shelves are his books and a few of his stuffed animals. Nothing else. The game systems themselves are still out (too much of a pain to disconnect them, plus we do play some after he goes to bed), but all controllers and games have been put away where he cannot see or reach them. We checked on him twice while we did this (every 5-7 minutes or so).

When we checked on him for a third time, just after we finished boxing things up, and he decided of his own accord to come inside. We didn't say anything about what we had done, and he didn't really notice that his toys were gone from the den (he's never been the most observant child, plus he was still pouting). However, when he went to his room and saw his toy shelves bare, his face fell and his eyes filled with tears. We explained that only big boys were allowed to play with those things, and since he was acting like a baby, we had taken them all away. His lip trembled, and he started to genuinely cry. This is the first time he as done anything but cry in anger since I don't know when. Maybe we're finally getting through? (My God, two stubborn people should not breed!)

He will have to earn those toys and privileges back, and it will not be a quick process. They will not all be earned back at once. It will take many many days of consistently improved behavior to even *start* getting a few of them back. I actually booked our Disney trip for this year last weekend; we're supposed to leave in just a few weeks. I'm starting to wonder if I should cancel it. This whole situation is as much (possibly more) punishment for DH and me as it is for Luke, but we have got to get through to him *now*, before he truly is uncontrollable. I just don't know what else to do, and of course, I keep wondering what we are doing wrong. It's not that hard! You say please, thank you, yes sir, and yes ma'am. You listen, you obey, you obey immediately!, and you don't talk back. Or else what? You lose it all. It is going to be a long few weeks (or months), for all of us. If you have any spare patience, we could all use some.

Currently feeling: so frustrated


  1. My post isn't going to make you feel better. First, it IS a stage of development which occurs around age 5-6 and then again around age 9-10, IIRC. If you have a really good pediatrician, I would highly recommend you and your DH making an appointment for a consultation (without Luke present). I applaud you and your DH for not taking the easy, ignore it, path. Parenting is not always fun. Sometimes you have to do the hard work. All I can tell you is now that mine are teenagers, I am really thankful I was that mean, Atilla-the-Mom when they were younger. We still have issues, but they are truly minor when compared to what most parents of teenagers have to deal with.

    The only other thing I might suggest to augment your good plan of attack is to give Luke a voice. Ask him to articulate why he's having these difficulties. Sometimes they need a means to deal with other stresses and pressures (like school). Acting out can sometimes be a symptom of something else. Perhaps he's feeling uncomfortable in some way at school. We had this with Diva when her auditory learning difference became an issue. Once we dealt with that, her behavior improved.

  2. I can't offer any advice because it's far too long since I had a 6yo (ummm, 31 years to be precise!) but we had our own traumas with both of ours, at different ages and of different sorts since we have a girl and boy who were chalk and cheese. We have been through the 'Where did we go wrong?' anguish and come out the other side knowing that although we obviously were not perfect parents, we did what we thought was right at the time. All you can hope to do is your best.....and keep telling yourself 'This too will pass'. I'm pretty sure he won't have to be carried out of a restaurant kicking and screaming when he's 19 :)


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