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Sorry I stepped out my computer did some crazy things...
I would love to discuss your situation if you have time. I have a 6 year old son who was going through some of the things you mentioned in your question. I can share what we did if you would like.
Have you discussed this with the childs doctor?
Yes, please. I think maybe I should also tell you that at the moment I have a lot on my plate. We don't have a good doctor
I totally understand the full plate feeling.
How does your son act while at school?
Maybe to give you some insight: I am relocating abroad in 3 months, my newish boyfriend who my son adores and who adores him has a severely disabled son in hospice abroad, my son is mixed race and is popular at school but other parents don't appreciate us much
Thank you for the details. I can only imagine the stress both you and your son are feeling.
When in school he seems fine, it's a small primary school with lots of outside fields etc. Only 5 other boys in calss though. My son likes girls and also loves ballet but is very sporty and chatty in general
Does his mind seem to drift off the topic at hand?
No, he is very focussed, he has lots of intricate interests such as cars, model making, science experiments but like me he is impatient
OK That makes my answer much clearer then. I was concerned at first about the possibility of an attention issue.
How long have you been seeing this behavior?
I have read lots about that but I cannot see much indication of that. He is quite clingy and protective of me which I assume is natural being the only adult in his life
Some of it has been there for quite some time (hitting, spitting, kicking for about 18 months and swearing and verbal behaviour for about 4 months)
Good job ruling that out first. Sometimes with children we need to rule some things out to get a good idea of what is going on. How long has your "newish" boyfriend been in the picture?
since beginning of this year but he does not live with us. He is the same race as my son's Dad and he is very intuitive with him. He also would never exclude him unless I say I want to see him on his own
From what you have told me I think a lot of this is in response to stressors you son is feeling in his life. As you mentioned your plate is full unfortunately children feel when parents are stressed and react in varying ways.
Could you think of anything that happened around the time your son started misbehaving? Was there a change in the living situation?
I know that but he is also doing the same with the grandparents. No change at all either at school or at home. However, if I remain single I have other issues than if I spend effort building a relationship
I totally understand.
The physically aggressive behaviour has been there for some time, I think due to the fact that his verbal capability was lower than it is now. I believe that even if I was in a 'normal' family situation we would be busy and it's not stress-free
I think what you need to do is sit down with the adults in his life. Grandparents, boyfriend, teachers, and any other influences and discuss what they are seeing. I would then sit down with your son (not during an outburst) and discuss what is going on. By acknowledging that there is something major going on he will have a chance to talk to you about what is going on. I would ask him to draw a picture of what is life looks to him and ask him to explain it.
By giving him a voice you are giving him some power back. As you said children sometimes have a hard time expressing them selves verbally. This is typical for sons age. He may feel as though he can't get the words out to say what he wants to and gets frustrated which then results in an explosion.
That sounds like a good idea, the only drawback is that the grandparents live abroad and they are antagonistic to any boyfriend so they have yet to meet
Once you have had your family meeting I would suggest asking him how he thinks life could be better. By giving him input into defining how life will work he will feel empowered and take ownership over trying to make life the way he would like to see it.
Could you talk to them over skype, email, or telephone?
I would suggest in order to keep the grandparents from judging your new boyfriend I would talk to each separately.
Once he has been able to express what he 'feels' though I would need to take some actions and if I cannot right what he feels is wrong either because it's not in my sphere of influence (such as the boyfriend coming to see him) or I don't want to change it such as not moving, would that not result in total loss of faith?
My father is an educator and has but been over recently but even he did not really get through to him. It was ok between the two of them in the end
I understand your concern. The good thing is that in this "meeting" with him you will discuss what he sees going on. You can discuss with him why moving is necessary, why you can't control when your boyfriend comes, why you can't control things that are outside your circle of control. I would suggest before meeting with him making a list of 5 things he can control himself. For example he could make a plan as to where he does his homework. Let him decide where works best tell him you will try it for a week or so and if he can complete his homework with no fights reward him. Children his age are very into sticker charts where they can ear stickers for good behavior. We do this with our children and it works great. Pick 5 or so things he can earn stickers for such as doing homework, practicing piano, cleaning room and whatever else you would like to,
Then make a list of what he has agreed to work on. I suggest using both words and pictures because the pictures will work as good visual reminders of what is expected of him. Hang this chart somewhere he can see if often. Give stickers when he earns them but be sure not to give stickers whe he doesn't. We allow our children to use stickers for fun things. For example my son has to pay 5 stickers to play on the computer for 30 minutres. He can save his stickers up and work toward a toy or outing he would like to have.
Part 1 of your answer is very reassuring, part 2 we are doing but it doesn't really make much difference because he doesn't care for rewards or the reverse (withdrawal of privileges) What he is concerned about is not getting physical affection and I really cannot withdraw that.
Glad you won't withdrawl affection at his age he needs as much love and cuddling as he will take.
I have an article that is about Childhoos Stress which will help you understand his reaction to the stress he is feeling.
The other problem is that everything goes on forever, so in the end I am exhausted and if I need to talk on the phone or do something urgent (or even just have a shower) he gets to see a DVD etc, so effectively it's just trying to cut the tantrum shor.
Thanks for the link, will have a look at it
Great. One other thought...
For some children being able to release the anger in a physical way is helful. Could you get something that he could use to release this anger/stress? I have suggested punching bags before and know they work great. If he starts to feel that he is going to explolde (which believe it or not he can tell) suggest he take a 3-5 minute time out and punch the bag. The release of this energy will give him a chance to think and then return to the sitiation.
I will have a look at it. Once we have moved I would like him to attend scouts because he'll love the variety and meeting other boys and do lots of energetic things. I know I am asking a lot of him in terms of being understanding and also to be patient
I know a punching bag sounds strange as we want him not to hit but by giving him an appropriate place to release the stress he will feel in control. Also the brain releases chemicals in response to the physical action which will help calm him down.
Scouts is a great idea also martial arts great for self control as well.
Is there anything else I can help you with at this point?
OK, thanks, XXXXX XXXXX to step out now. Have a good day
You too hope the ideas we came up with work great.