Question about behaviour

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Question about behaviour
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 6:34am
I have a hard time telling what is true unhappiness or attempted manipulation on Jamie's part.

Last night he was ready for bed and asked for something he couldn't have. (he wanted to go outside in his pjs and bare feet and look at the stars)

We tried diversion, etc...but it wasn't working, even suggested coat and boots, no go.

He spent the next hour in his bedroom screaming that no one wanted him, no one loved him and that he didn't want to be here anymore, that he hated us, "I don't understand why no one wants me, am I that bad" etc.....

He threw stuff around his room, broke a couple of his fav toys tore up a couple of books and then after an hour fell asleep sobbing.

He's only 4.5 and it breaks my heart to see him like this. His psychologist told us not to intervene when he gets like that, but is he really that sad??? does he believe what he is saying???

I guess it's kind of stupid, but I remember being his age, and if I made a mistake or got in trouble, I honestly thought that no one would love me ever again. Is it just part of the learning process to go through these black and white comparasins only to wake up the next morning to a Mum and Dad that does love you to confirm that you were wrong.

Half of me thinks it's just part of the learning process, the other part makes me want to go to his room and hug all the bad feelings away.

I'm lost.


Avatar for keke0116
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 6:58am
Probably a little of both ... What kind of reaction does he get when he goes into the dramatics? If you go into a whole long disertation about how you do love him and all that (translate: give him lots of attention) then he is likely doing this, at least in part, for your attention as well as to delay (going to bed) a bit longer. Some kids are naturally dramatic. (My 7 y.o. DD, for instance, who doesn't have 'behavioral issues' is the biggest drama queen I've ever seen ... and I'll get letters from her any time something doesn't go quite her way explaining to me how families should be nicer to each other ... and how she'll run away and be part of a broken home! Geesh!)

I think your best option is to try to diffuse a situation before it escalates to that level. When he asks to do something, before you say 'no' you need to think of alternatives or options. If you say 'no you can't do that' and then start giving in when he cries or whines or continues to ask, you're reinforcing the persistence. So, when he says "can we go outside to look at the stars," stop a moment and think "does this HAVE to be a 'no' or can we compromise" ... then give him options like "well, we can either stay inside in our pajamas and look at the stars through the window ~OR~ we can put on our coats and boots and go outside for 15 minutes; which would you prefer?" When giving options, the only real 'rule' is to make sure that either choice is one YOU can live with ... then let him decide. In that way, you are empowering him to make a choice, and you are not saying "NO" which often just prompts the crying or whining or drama.

It's very easy to immediately say "NO" ... but if you take a few extra moments, it's possible to have a different answer that can make everyone happy ... and, when you do that, the times you do say "NO" will be met with less resistence.



<?xml:namespace prefix = v ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" />
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 10:50am
When he goes into these dramatic tempers he is put in his room and I don't approach him. This is what I was told to do by the behavioural therapist. I don't go near him unless he's going to be a danger to himself. The door is left open so he doesn't feel abandoned.

He's only allowed out if he calms down and "gives up" basically. I don't go back on what I originally said to prevent another meltdown. I used to give him what he wanted if he could come back out after the tantrum and behave himself, but that was when he was little and I didn't know any better.

For over a year now I refuse to give him what he wants regardless of how "nice" he is. I just find that the tantrums are becoming more and more "I hate me" based over time. Most times I do give him choices, as I said last night I said that we could put our coats and shoes on and look at the stars and that's when he flipped and I had to say no.

Another example was a couple of days ago he dashed into the fridge and grabbed a huge tomato late in the evening and was heading to his room to eat it. First of all food is not allowed in his room except popcorn on movie night, and secondly it was the only tomato I had. So I asked him to give it back to me and I'd cut it up and he could have some pieces of it. This precipitated into the same type of meltdown.

May sound like I should pick my battles but the no food in his room rule started last summer when his room became infested by ants from the leftovers I found hidden, and I happened to be making a salad at the time and needed the tomato.

He's not yelled at, and always gets a caring explanation for why he can't do what he wants. I was told by my ped to say no and not give an explanation but he's almost five now and more than able to understand on his we have to share.

Anyhow, I'll bring it up with his psychiatrist next time I see him and hope I don't get a repeat tonight.



iVillage Member
Registered: 04-04-2003
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 8:21pm
I think you need a new pychoigist. I can't how letting him yell those things and fall asleep crying is helping him to learn to cope.When our boy was eight he did something like that in front of the pyscholigist and we were called in right away and told what was going on so that we could all help him.

I know you are doing your best but it sounds like your Doc isn't helping your son.If your HMO will cover it get another opinion. If they don't see if your Childrens hospital has a pyschitry clinic.Your son sounds just like mine and that was not the advice we were given on how to help him learn to cope.

Avatar for kathy_in_ga
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 04-05-2003 - 7:32am
This is how I would have dealt with that particular situation. My son reacts horribly to the word "NO". I try to use other words like later, not right now, It's too cold out, it's raining ect. If you answer with you explanation of why he can't do a particular thing it may help lessen the result.

Another thing, if you haven't read it yet, read "The Explosive CHild" By Ross Greene. It helped our family lessen the stress in our lives. If Joiner wanted to go outside to see the stars we would ask this question of ourselves, "Is it really worth it to have a rage attack?", "What harm would it be to take him outside (maybe carry him) & show him the starts?", "Why do I not want him to go outside?". Now this is just our family, and we do let the smaller things go, cuz there are some very big issues we have to stand our ground on. Choose you battles, ask you self those questions before you say no, figure out your answers. If yo want to buy some time say "Let me think about it", and taske 5 minutes. If you decide to let him see the stars set a time limit, take a timer out & set it for 5 - 10 minutes. We have founbd that 10 minutes of doing what ever, he goes right to sleep, as opposed to hours of crying, screaming & yelling.

As far as if it's unhappiness or manipulative ask these questions. Is he learning from his punishment? Am I consistant each time he asks for the same thing? By the way we too have to lock Joiner in his room at times. At first (before meds) it was for his safety, and to help me calmn down a bit. Now that he is able to learn from it, we don't have to do it near as often. Now he even calms down, and says "Mama, I am ready to come out". Not all times, but most.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-05-2003
Sat, 04-05-2003 - 10:43pm
As a parent of a 5 year old redhead I certainly can empathize with you. But what you may have to consider is: at the point when he was destroying things in a rage, which was more important to you, a few minutes out in the cold or your child's happiness and emotional stability? Adults like to look at the stars together frequently and "share the moment". Perhaps that was his motivation. I think that we as parents sometime don't give our children credit for being as sensitive and insightful as they really are. I've been through moments similar to this one with my daughter and I am learning to be more open to exploring life through her eyes and heart. If I may, I'll suggest a few books that may be helpful to you, they have certainly helped me. The Indigo Children , published by Hay House Books (as well as the companion books for this one); Children are from Heaven, by John Gray; Raising Your Spirited Child, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. I hope and pray that you and your child will find peace in each other.