Thank you for contacting JustAnswer.
I am sorry to hear about the problems you are experiencing with your son. You are correct that the recent stressors in his life may be escalating his behaviors. Children often feel less secure when there have been changes and may act out due to this. However, you can help by providing consistent parenting in the following way. Keep in mind that any behavior that gets attention is likely to continue happening. It has been called the law of the soggy potato chip in that if a child thinks that he has a choice between a soggy potato chip or no chip at all, he will choose the soggy chip. If your son feels that he has the choice between negative attention or no attention at all, he will choose the negative attention and so he will act out until he gets it. The only way for this pattern to stop is for you to begin to catch the good behaviors and reward them with attention, and to calmly and matter of factly give consequences for the negative behaviors with as little attention as possible. This means no whipping, no yelling, no lecturing; almost acting like a robot when he has been acting out. A very good book on this subject is Win the Whining War & Other Skirmishes: A Family Peace Plan by Cynthia Whitham MSW. The more consistent you become with this positive parenting, the more secure your son will begin to feel and the more his behavior should improve, once he determines that you are going to be consistent with this and do it every time. In the meantime, be sure to catch the good behavior and give plenty of love and attention at these times. I hope this answer is helpful. Please let me know if I can clarify further.
Thanks so much for your advice. Also there is one more possible big stresser. My husband work out of town and is usually gone Mon-Thur. The great part is, when he is home he is a great daddy and spends lots of time with our son. Also, I work swing shift. I work days and nights. My shift is a hard one when you have kids. There is however an upside. I usually only work 14 days a mth, so I have lots of time with my little one, but he does have to spend 4 to 5 night out of the mth with a sitter and then ofcourse a little while I sleep during day. He loves the babysitter but I was thinking of hiring a sitter to watch him @ home so he sleeps in his own bed. It sounds good and would make life easier but I worry about him not having the other kids around all the time? What are your thought on this? Better to be around other kids a good bit or to be in his own home and his own bed?
Thank you for bringing your question back to me here at JustAnswer. Dinner time should not affect bedtime, unless it is within an hour of bed, or consists of a high amount of sugar and/or caffeine. Most likely the change in bed is contributing to the problem. This often causes children to feel less secure and a bit anxious. You might try allowing him to take a favorite stuffed animal to bed with him. I would not suggest locking his door. This could raise his anxiety level higher, and could potentially be a safety issue. The best idea is to be sure to have a consistent bedtime ritual (bath, story time, . . . to allow him to wind down) and then hugs and kisses and leave the room. Each time he gets up, matter of factly walk him back to his bed, the first time letting him know in one sentence that it is bedtime now; after that, just simply placing him back in bed with no emotion (including no anger or frustration on your part). If you are consistent with this, the most it should take is three nights to have him back in a good bedtime routine. However, if you give in, or if you show emotion while you are doing this, then the problem will continue. Remember to give attention in the morning if he has had a good bedtime. I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have any further question.