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  1. #1
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    Default Single Dad needs advice about son's behaviour

    Hi there, I am not really using these types of forums usually, but am approaching my wit's end and am looking for some advice.

    As a bit of a background, I separated 2 years ago, and have full custody of my kids.

    My son is almost turning 5 and is due to start school in January. During the day he is mostly well behaved and everything is fine. But for some reason at night time he turns into this other being.

    I read to me kids then my daughter goes to bed when she is told - she is fine. But my son is never sleepy over the past few months.

    He is saying 'shut up' to me, he is saying he will hit me, he is whacking me with pillows, he is spitting on the floor, he is trying to rake holes in the leather sofa with his nails, shouting at top of his voice.

    I tried settling him early, postitive reinforcement, reward chart leading to present, hot bath with lavendar, ensuring no sugar in diet, audiobooks on a speaker, standing at the door all night putting him back to bed, shutting his bedroom door (I can't do this because he keeps flicking the light switch on and off which gets me worried about the electricity and he also starts ramming the door!) I tried switching the lights off but then he just comes in my room and pulls the sheets off me and starts putting all of the lights on. I tried smacking his legs a few times (didnt like to do this and gave up quickly after as clearly doesnt bother him)

    He's been hard to handle for the past 2 years but he went OK a few months ago was in a good routine lights off at 8pm. But for some reason now he is bad and getting worse. The past few nights I put a movie on for him downstairs at least it keeps him quiet better than the alternative.

    I dont want to sound melodramatic but it is really mental torture for me as from 8.30pm onwards unless I stick him in front of a movie he is basically trying to antagonise me constanatly. well I am not getting any respite. its 11pm he's still up!!! I dont know what else I can try now apart from the doctors. I been waking him up early but his preschool says he isnt sleeping during the day. he is an energetic kid he never sleeps!! By the way he is well behaved at preschool just seems to be at night time.

    Sorry for the long post but hope someone will read and be able to offer me advice on this. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Zombie_eyes is offline Formerly Diamondeyes
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    How awful for you!

    My advice would be take him to the gp. They might give you a referral for a child psychologist, or they may suggest melatonin to get him into a sleep routine if he just cant wind down to fall asleep.

    But by the sounds of it he knows exactly how to get what he wants, and because you are tired, stressed and in a position where the alternate is stressful and somewhat traumatic you are giving in to him. (I dont blame u!)

    My son is 5 too and he will try anything to get his own way. Its very stressful, i sympathise.

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    Have you tried letting him sleep in your bed or his siblings? He may be having anxiety over sleep. My 7 yr old did that around 5.
    Good luck.

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    Could it possibly be that your son is upset with you about the separation? I know you mentioned it was two years ago but his frustrations could have built up and reached a point where this is how he is now reacting. He seems angry toward you about something so I think the start would be speaking to him to find out why he behaves like he does at night?

    I would try speaking to him in the morning when he is in a better mood and find out why he was upset the previous night. Then ask him when he is feeling upset/hurt/frustrated like the previous night what can you do to make him feel better. Also let him know how you feel when he behaves like he did.
    When he starts playing up at night ask him if he feeling hurt/frustrated/angry etc and remind him about what you spoke about earlier in the day.

    My son is very sensitive and little things can spark him off into a foul mood. I asked him what I could do when he is feeling sad and he didn't say anything, so I suggested a few things and he eventually said a hug or cuddle would help. Next time he went into one of his moods I spoke to him and reminded him about our conversation. It did calm my son down and then I could speak to him about what exactly upset him.

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    hi, im wondering what is he experiencing through the day? is he a sensitive type who might be upset about something but hold on to the emotions until later. ? I also might suggest some 'meltonin'? it is a natural supplement that aids restful sleep. I really don't think watching a movie to wind down is such a bad thing, but perhaps a nice story book for bedtime reading might also work. perhaps a trip to the gp to make sure there isn't anything clinically wrong, and then work on other methods if you want to. if this is just a bedtime problem, and the rest of the time he is perfectly fine, I would not stress too much. it could be just a phase. marie.

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    Does he see his mum at all...???

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    Could you try giving him a good amount of your undivided attention during the day so he doesn't act up for your attention at night? Perhaps he has some stress in his life and he's letting it out at night. Maybe try having some fun with him during the day so he can connect with you? Just an idea

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    at 4 boys get a huge testosterone surge, this sort of behaviour is common in this age group.
    Does he get much physical activity?
    Of a night take the light out of his bedroom roof, put a childgate up and leave the hall light on, if he comes out take him back, repeatedly.
    no huge reaction, its bedtime now, you go back yourself or I take you (then straight back, he will resist, he will tantrum, he may even say he hates you)

    They say if your pre-school age boy is trying to rule the roost give him some responsibilities, things he can rule over (pets? bed making? toy tidying?)

    over the years Ive found reinforcement and positive reaction to work best, calm removal when theyre behaviour is bad also works better than an emotional response.

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    Thanks for all of your considerate replies. Last night was the same thing. After reading the advice there is a new strategy I am going to implement starting tonight. I will reply individually too here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zombie_eyes View Post
    How awful for you!

    My advice would be take him to the gp. They might give you a referral for a child psychologist, or they may suggest melatonin to get him into a sleep routine if he just cant wind down to fall asleep.

    But by the sounds of it he knows exactly how to get what he wants, and because you are tired, stressed and in a position where the alternate is stressful and somewhat traumatic you are giving in to him. (I dont blame u!)

    My son is 5 too and he will try anything to get his own way. Its very stressful, i sympathise.
    I think the GP is definetely one of the next steps. But I keep avoiding doing this for as long as I can.

    Quote Originally Posted by DueInAugust View Post
    Have you tried letting him sleep in your bed or his siblings? He may be having anxiety over sleep. My 7 yr old did that around 5.
    Good luck.
    I'm going to see if he wants to jump into my bed tonight. Not with his sister because they will just end up playing and fighting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Night Owl View Post
    Could it possibly be that your son is upset with you about the separation? I know you mentioned it was two years ago but his frustrations could have built up and reached a point where this is how he is now reacting. He seems angry toward you about something so I think the start would be speaking to him to find out why he behaves like he does at night?

    I would try speaking to him in the morning when he is in a better mood and find out why he was upset the previous night. Then ask him when he is feeling upset/hurt/frustrated like the previous night what can you do to make him feel better. Also let him know how you feel when he behaves like he did.
    When he starts playing up at night ask him if he feeling hurt/frustrated/angry etc and remind him about what you spoke about earlier in the day.

    My son is very sensitive and little things can spark him off into a foul mood. I asked him what I could do when he is feeling sad and he didn't say anything, so I suggested a few things and he eventually said a hug or cuddle would help. Next time he went into one of his moods I spoke to him and reminded him about our conversation. It did calm my son down and then I could speak to him about what exactly upset him.

    Sent from my GT-I9300 using The Bub Hub mobile app
    I did try this yesterday. But I can't get any sense out of him. When I asked him why he was naughty he just said 'I don't know.' Then when I try to probe deeper he is just switching off or coming out with silly remarks that don't make sense. I do wonder if he is coming to a new level of awareness about the separation now and that is what is causing the anger and frustration. Maybe a child psychologist might be a solution for that but I want to try and exhaust all other avenues first.

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperGranny View Post
    hi, im wondering what is he experiencing through the day? is he a sensitive type who might be upset about something but hold on to the emotions until later. ? I also might suggest some 'meltonin'? it is a natural supplement that aids restful sleep. I really don't think watching a movie to wind down is such a bad thing, but perhaps a nice story book for bedtime reading might also work. perhaps a trip to the gp to make sure there isn't anything clinically wrong, and then work on other methods if you want to. if this is just a bedtime problem, and the rest of the time he is perfectly fine, I would not stress too much. it could be just a phase. marie.
    I had a great day with him yesterday - swimming and soccer. He had lots of my attention. I am hoping it is just a passing phase!

    Quote Originally Posted by purpleflowers View Post
    Does he see his mum at all...???

    Sent from my GT-I9505 using The Bub Hub mobile app
    Not much. He stops over for 1 night every 2 weeks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Redcorset View Post
    Could you try giving him a good amount of your undivided attention during the day so he doesn't act up for your attention at night? Perhaps he has some stress in his life and he's letting it out at night. Maybe try having some fun with him during the day so he can connect with you? Just an idea
    I have tried this, and actively do spend quality time with him regardless. But thanks for the suggestion.

    Quote Originally Posted by ThenThereWereThree View Post
    at 4 boys get a huge testosterone surge, this sort of behaviour is common in this age group.
    Does he get much physical activity?
    Of a night take the light out of his bedroom roof, put a childgate up and leave the hall light on, if he comes out take him back, repeatedly.
    no huge reaction, its bedtime now, you go back yourself or I take you (then straight back, he will resist, he will tantrum, he may even say he hates you)

    They say if your pre-school age boy is trying to rule the roost give him some responsibilities, things he can rule over (pets? bed making? toy tidying?)

    over the years Ive found reinforcement and positive reaction to work best, calm removal when theyre behaviour is bad also works better than an emotional response.
    This (along with asking him if he wants to sleep in my bed) is what I am going to try tonight. I find it hard to not have an emotional response after an hour of confrontation with him. But I will completely be calm and robotic for the next week. I'm also encouraging him to take on new responsibilities which he already responded well to this morning and made his own bed etc.

    Taking the lights out will be a pain as there's tonnes of spots. But I'll see if I can get a cap for the light switch or something from Bunnings today.

    The biggest problem (more so than the flicking the light switch) is his spitting. This was even worse last night. He has started spitting everywhere, and at me. This is the one thing that is going to push my buttons and he knows it. If I tell him to stop he is just ignoring me. I guess I will just have to let him get on with it in his room?

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  12. #10
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    This is just a suggesting for when he does something like spitting (which is most likely for attention and to fire you up). Say something (calmly) like, "I don't like it when you spit, spitting is (disgusting, gross etc), I'm going to leave the room (or walk away), call me when your are calm/ready for sleep/rest".


    My son hates it when I leave the room (he often kicks me during pyjama changes or jumps on his bed). As soon as I say calmly that I'll be leaving the room and returning when he is ready, he calms down.

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