Please help-Mom on the edge

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by lisaaa1970, May 10, 2008.

  1. lisaaa1970

    lisaaa1970 New Member

    Sorry--my first post will be really long, but I am desperate. I am so glad that I stumbled upon this forum today as I think I have about hit my limit with my darling 3 1/2 YO DS.

    So I don't sound completely awful in this post, I want to preface this by saying that I absolutely adore my DS. He is funny, creative, very intelligent, and usually quite affectionate. He loves the world of make believe, superheroes, and playing dress-up. He also adores his weekly gymnastics class and is really good about paying attention and following instructions.

    He's always been a challenge, but the past few weeks have been pure hell at night. DS will go from the sweetest little thing on the planet to suddenly defying every thing I say. I feel like I've read every parenting book for his age group and the strategies will work for a day or two and then we're back to square one. The one thing that we're really good about is following through with consequences, so you'd think that he'd finally get a clue that misbehavior gets him no where. Tantrums and whining are NEVER rewarded in our house.

    Right now our biggest issue is sleep and defiance. I know that a lot of his behavior issues would improve if he'd just sleep, but he flat out refuses. We follow the exact same routine every night, and still we have battles. We've been basically giving up lately and just locking the door on his room and leaving him alone. We've tried taking things away (he just calls our bluff and says he wants us to take his clothes away), threatening him (again, always calls our bluff), sticker charts, lying down with him, lots of stories, no stories, I could go on, but I feel like we've tried EVERYTHING. Our next move is going to be to take all of his clothes out of his room because he pulls them out of the dresser and changes clothes up to 5 times before falling asleep. We've already removed his toys, which is why he's going for the dresser.

    What made me think there must be something more going on than just typical 3 year old behavior was at nap time today. We've had a hard time with naps for a while, but today was ridiculous. He was obviously tired so I took him upstairs and tucked him in after lunch. He acted like he was going to sleep and then of course got up and started messing around almost immediately. This post will go even longer if I go through all of the details, but everything I tried backfired. I would try to lie down with him (which used to work) and he got up and started running around, laughing. He would get into his window seat and jump out, yelling, "Look at me, Mommy! Look what I'm doing!" in a very taunting voice. When I just ignore him, he escalates rather than getting bored with no reaction. I am very much anti-spanking, but I even tried that today because I didn't know what else to do to get his attention. He just laughed at me and I was the one who ended up crying! The last time I went into his room he was jumping on the bed and laughing and said, "Mommy, I'm smart!" ARGH!! My mom is here helping out because I've been sick, so she and my DSD and I took every single toy he has and boxed it up. I am not totally cruel, so I left his books so he'd at least have something. We were hoping to shock him into behaving when we finally let him out of his room and he saw the emptiness of our family room, but he acted like he didn't even care!

    I finally thought to suggest that my mom take him for a ride in the car because that will usually work. Since she needed to give DSD a ride somewhere anyway, they put him in his car seat and off they went. Mom just got home and he was sound asleep. YAY! He's upstairs asleep in bed now, but I know that we'll just be fighting the battle again at bedtime.

    Please help me! I don't want to become one of those parents who is constantly screaming at their kids. I want to enjoy this fun time in his life, not dread every day.
  2. jkrupinski

    jkrupinski New Member

    You poor thing! I'm new to this forum as well, having just had my 6-year-old daughter evaluated for three months before we finally got the diagnosis of ODD. Your 3-year-old reminds me of where we were three years ago ourselves. Unfortunately, that's a tough age because from ages 2-4 certain oppositional behaviors are normal. But let me tell you, you KNOW when yours is just a tad more exaggerated than the next child's...

    We always knew something was different about our daughter, but unfortunately most doctors will not refer you until after the age of five. However, I have been reading that some doctors will diagnose ODD at your son's age, so maybe look into having your pediatrician refer you to a qualified therapist. I honestly regret not doing that sooner with my daughter, as even the past three months have been helpful and I've learned a lot about better parenting techniques to use.

    I have to admit that I would get so sick of punishing my daughter that it got to a point where it didn't even seem worth it. It never worked. So I just quit...but this is where my problems really began. Despite the discipline I handed out in the past, my daughter never responded to it. That's because (as most of the therapy sessions we've had so far have made me realize) the kind of punishments for these children have to be very firm and absolutely consistent...and sometimes even what you might think is cruel (taking away dance or football, not going on a trip, not getting to see grandma, etc.). Unfortunately, the time-outs and loss of toys aren't going to work as well with these kids as they might with others.

    For a three-year-old, I can see how discipline is even harder. I always felt like a horrible mom when I punished my toddler/preschooler. They're just so little and there temperaments are so volatile. But please remember that you must stay firm and consistent, and even though you might think you are being cruel, you certainly aren't (you may even have to turn it up a notch, as crazy as that sounds). Just keep reminding yourself that it's for his own best interest, so that 3 years down the road you aren't having problems with teachers (as we are) and impaired social relationships (as we are). Keep your chin up and explore what resources are available to you. Good luck!
  3. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Welcome to you both. There's a lot of different ways to parent kids and what works for one can totally bomb with the next.

    Lisa, what I'd suggest is deliberately not make it a battle because sometimes that really knocks the wind out of the sails of a little guy who wants to be in control. He might be a little young for this but tomorrow night (or tonight if you're still up) don't fight him. Take him to his room and tell him he can change clothes, read books, or play quietly in his room and when he's tired he should climb in his bed and go to sleep. It doesn't work with every kid but with some just the fact that you gave up control allows them to give up the fight. You achieve the same goal of getting him to sleep (or whatever) but you go at it a different way.

    If that doesn't work, there's a natural product called Melatonin that a lot of parents here have used with very few reports of side effects. I'm normally hesitant to suggest taking something for the little ones but I'm comfortable with this one. Melatonin is given 30 minutes before bedtime-it helps calm and allow them to get to sleep but won't keep them asleep.

    My child needed huge amounts of flexibility--firm and consistent amped up his behavior big time. Check out the thread at the top of the board about the book The Explosive Child and pick up a copy for yourself.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'd have him evaluated. Also, I would never lock him in his room. That's considered a fire hazard. If anyone finds out about that, you could be turned into CPS. If you want, lock yourself in a room to get away from him, but don't lock him in.
  5. Matty's Mummy

    Matty's Mummy Member

    Hi Lisa
    I’ve had a lot of problems with my son #3 with sleep from birthday but when he was around 3 we were still needing to drive him in the car to get him off to sleep. I had never needed to do this with my other children, it felt crazy but it worked.
    I did the battles with my first son and it’s tough, you have my sympathy.
    With son #3 I just have avoided as much confrontation with him that I can. I cant lay their with him when he falls to sleep because he much around even more.
    some night he wouldn’t go to sleep till 2am no I’m not kidding, it was horrible, this would happen if I took him for a drive and had him asleep before 8:30 at night, 8:30 here is about what time 10year olds are heading off to bed.
    Also around 3 we had to get rid of that day time sleep, once we had this done with, things slowly improved. Yes he was cranky and tired but he at last started to go to sleep better at nights.
    It brakes your heart when you know how tired and miserable they are and know it would all be ok IF THEY WOULD JUST SLEEP!
    I hope you can find a solution for you all and you all start having better sleeps.