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5 year old boy has lost his way
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5 year old boy has lost his way

Hey all,

Our 5 year old boy seemed to have lost his way. He's overcome by bad behavior.  He's the first child.  He has a younger sister and 20 month old brother.  Always been great with them, and happy when they came along.  He's bright and athletic.  He's always been what anyone would call a normal, playful child - up until a few months ago.

He attends 1/2 day preschool (for the last few years) which he always loved - but now is starting to sour on it. Strangely, his behavior at school seems OK - good reports.

He's always responded well to punishment/time out.  But over the last few months, the behavior has gotten out of hand at home.  He listens less than 5% of the time - it's like we're not even talking to him.  He'll do something (like go up the sliding board the wrong way).  We'll put him in a 2 minute time out - and he'll run out and literally run right up the slide again.  He's also become verbally combative, and even claims to love his punishments.  He'll tell us how much he loves punishment, then spin something about it and how our punishment doesn't matter.

He'll also break out into uncontrollable tears at the smallest thing - sometimes.  We finally get him calmed down, only to find out it was because his sister stuck her tongue out at him. Meanwhile, earlier at that same dinner, we've had to discipline him for kicking her under the table.

We honestly have to tell him "no" or discipline him every minute.

He flies off the handle at the smallest comment.  He'll get in the car, but won't put his child seat belt on.  We'll say "hey buddy, let's get buckled up now" - and he'll scream at us "that's what I'm tring to do - you always tell me to do stuff!!"  Meanwhile - he's not trying to do it - he's digging for a toy between the seats.

This all has seemingly come out of nowhere, so it's caught us by surprise.  If he had a reset button, I think I'd push it.  He's healthy - we don't know of anything there that might be a cause.

Just a phase?  Any ideas?

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My advice is to maintain a consistent approach to this behavior and perhaps enhance the degree of structure you emply in managing the behavior. A very reliable approach can be found in Lynn Clark's book SOS Help for Parents (see www.sosprograms.com). As an aside, the two-minute time out is too brief. The time out should be from 5-10 minutes, with the time commencing only when he is seated in the time out chair and is quiet. If he makes any noise during the time out, start the time over. Use a digital cooking timer to track the time.
5 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
To add something to my original post about my 5 year old boy, there's also a lot of anger that sounds like frustration.  I'll say "hey buddy, put your shoes where they belong" - and he screams "ahhhhhhh!", completely angered at the request - every time we ask him to do the smallest thing.

Worse, we'll say "hey, did you see this postcard from your Aunt?"  He scream "I already saw it!!!!  Ahhhhh!", somehow angered and frustrated that we even mentioned it.

Finally - he suddenly holds a huge sense of entitlement.  He'll weave elaborate stories about why he should get ice cream or a new toy.  We'll explain his behavior hasn't been such that he should be rewarded - then he says he'll just take money and buy it himself.  He also says his behavior is all our fault because we don't give him toys, and unless we do, he'll act worse.

This is troubling because he's 5.  He's smart, but he's somehow figured out how to rationalize and make demands.
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Avatar_m_tn
Sounds like he strive for the attention his younger siblings get (as they are younger and need more help), so best may be to show him that he is as much loved as his sister and brother, and give him time to be dependent and cared for as much as his siblings.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you all for your thoughtful comments.  I want to mention that we do read and seek advice, so have tried many of the best-practice methods regarding behavior.  What we realized is that ALL the other parents we're friends with - these methods work perfectly for their children - but have no effect on our son....so that has been a point of frustration for us.

I should mention that he has sailed off the charts intelligence-wise.  His reading, writing, memory, logic, math, music, spanish - his various preschool teachers all say they've pretty much seen nothing like it.  

He processes and rationalizes situations around our behavior direction, and it almost unsettling how deeply he can talk about those rationalizations.

It's like he has the intelligence and brain of a 10 year old but the emotional intelligence of a young 5.  Big imbalance.  I wonder if this is the root of all our problems.
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Avatar_n_tn
Same boat over here, the book "raising lions" has help us so much, because the similar behaviors, my son also 5 , also bilingual and very..very smart I think you will get good result too. good luck!!!!
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