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Grandson problems

(20 Posts)
grannyactivist Wed 12-Nov-14 12:16:25

My grandson is nearly five. He's a very bright little boy with lovely manners and is a wonderful big brother to his twenty month old sibling. His daddy died when he was just weeks old and his mother remarried just over two years later - he loves his new daddy. He has been in hospital three times, has suffered four house moves and moved schools/nurseries three times. His new daddy works away a lot and has recently left to work abroad for several months. His mummy works from 9-3pm each day and so grandson has stayed with me and his grandad during school holidays and sometimes with his other grandmother or been in 'holiday club'.
You get the picture? Even writing it has me feeling sorry for the poor little mite. However, he has been 'acting up' quite a lot just recently and his mummy is really worried about the deterioration in his behaviour. The past cannot be changed, so what can we do to provide stability for him? When he stays with us on his own his behaviour is usually very good, but seeing him at home last weekend we saw a very different little boy. He's becoming quite aggressive with his mummy and because she feels guilty about all the trauma in his past she hates to tell him off so spends a lot of time reasoning with him. Reward charts don't seem to be effective, nor does time out. Any ideas?

janeainsworth Wed 12-Nov-14 13:04:55

Oh I feel for you GA, and of course, your DD and especially your DGS. Quite apart from the traumas of his past, I think it's difficult for children when lots of different adults are in charge at different times.
His other GParents probably have different methods/expectations/rules etc from you and your DH and that will be confusing.

Personally I think that four-year olds don't do reasoning and attempts to reason with them make them feel very frustrated.
I think they respond to 'firm but kind'.
Praise the good, ignore the bad as much as possible.
Obviously some of the bad, like aggression towards his mummy, can't be ignored, and he has to know what the boundaries of acceptable behaviour are.
Four year olds can definitely cope with that, and I think they can also understand that their behaviour can make adults feel sad and upset.

Do hope things improve soon flowers

glammanana Wed 12-Nov-14 13:33:30

GA Your little man is finding his feet I think,the years between 4/6 are very difficult I have always found they are still so small but mix at school/nursery with children who are more Street Wise and they tend to "try it on" with specially their parents in this case your DD is getting the treatment,whilst he has moved schools etc and had more than his share trauma in his short life I find children so resilient.
This chap knows he is winding up mum and knows which buttons to press so I do think reasoning and telling him that it is not expected behaviour is the best way to go specially as she is going to be sole patent at home for a few months.The removal of favourite items worked wonders with my DGS and under no circumstances would DD relent it did him no harm and put mum in charge again.She used a 3 day star chart to get privilages returned as 3 days is just about right for the little mind to accept.

whenim64 Wed 12-Nov-14 14:02:06

The picture you paint of your grandson's routines is very like that of my 6 year old grandsons, ga. They have breakfast or after school club a few times a week, get picked up by their dad and stay over with him once a week, picked up by me once a week when mum works a late college night, and often spend a Saturday with me to enable mum to work from home (clients visiting for seven hours). When there's a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, they seem to accommodate it, but it's when they get home to mum that their behaviour has been challenging - they appear to be letting off steam that has been building up elsewhere. My daughter has a lovely new partner now and they adore him, as he does them (he has his own home but they see him frequently), but it's when they're alone with my very patient daughter that they seem to start with a determination to undermine her confidence as a loving, thoughtful mum.

Reward charts and the marbles reward jar worked for a while. Treats for good behaviour helped until they started working the system to their advantage - twins! Watching American wrestling and Horrid Henry was withdrawn for a few weeks as they were copying (Horrid Henry now reinstated as they've stopped that now). The thing that really helped was individual time with each child. One likes to go jogging with her and they stop in the park for swings and an ice lolly before going home. The other likes to have her to himself for some games of table football or a snooker 'tournament'. We can only assume that they want and need more time with her because they settle down beautifully over the course of a few days when she can do that - difficult for a busy single mum with two part-time jobs.

I wouldn't put it all down to the sadness of the last few years (I don't suppose you would, knowing you're a wise woman) as children of his age come with that sort of job description, don't they? I feel for his mum, though. Hope it settles down soon.

Teetime Wed 12-Nov-14 14:17:02

I agree with glamma and when although this little boy has had some sad and difficult experiences I wouldn't necessarily put the current situation down to that but rather just him flexing his muscles as he grows. Our GS was rather like this at this age and beautifully behaved with us but quite naughty with his Mummy and Daddy. DD put it down to her being in full time work and Daddy having to go away a lot - he's 10 now and its all worked out fine apart from the quite normal little displays that all children do to test the boundaries. Try not to worry too much.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 12-Nov-14 14:25:14

I think he could just be missing his new Daddy. Does plenty of skyping/facetime go on? I am sure you all tell him that Daddy won't be gone forever and that he is missing him as well, but that can't make up for him not being there.

Mind you, some kids just do seem to have more 'spirit' than others. Often the clever ones That can be had to deal with. flowers

Ariadne Wed 12-Nov-14 18:33:46

Is this the son of your late soldier son, Ga? I ask because if he is, there is another dimension to all of this for all of you, isn't there? And how hard it must be. Hard anyway.

(Dear old Dr Spock - "There's a lot of ...loud talking goes on around four years old." )

And - the one you love most is usually the one you can afford to hurt most, is it not so? So you take it out on your parents, and n an odd sort of way that demonstrates a sort of security, because you know where you stand.


jinglbellsfrocks Wed 12-Nov-14 18:38:37

I remember that bit in Dr Spock Ariadne. grin

Some of his words became engraved upon my heart.

Iam64 Wed 12-Nov-14 18:53:42

Sorry to hear the worries about your grandson ga. As usual on gransnet, there is both support, and sensible advice here already. Little boys of 4 can by a challenge, as they can at any age. I found 7 - 8 a challenge with my children and I sometimes wonder if we over think the challenges that each age/stage of development bring. I suspect I over compensated with my oldest, because there had been a difficult divorce, new marriage etc. On reflection, firmer boundaries and less explaining would have been the wiser course. Who knows though, the personality of the child comes into the equation.
I know many parents feel that star charts, withdrawal of something significant and so on don't work. I've been involved in running parenting skills groups, with many committed, supportive and loving parents who despite their best efforts, have found their children "difficult" at times. The key thing I believe, is consistency. It sound so easy to be consistent, but it isn't is it.
Sending positive thoughts to all of you. Everything changes!

Ariadne Wed 12-Nov-14 18:53:45

"You know more than you think you do."

"All you have to do is be a good enough mother."

"When I say how pleasant children are between two and five, I have to make a partial exception for four year olds..."

Me too, Jingl - found myself with a baby at 18, never having known one before, and having a sneaking suspicion that my mother might not always be right..

Nelliemoser Wed 12-Nov-14 19:12:06

GA I also think it is very possible that because of the history of early loss and changes your daughter might be finding it particularly hard to be firm enough with him.

Could the grandparent's helping with care do more practical things for mum to allow her more positive time with the little boy?

My DGS gets very clingy with his mum when she has had to do several long shifts at work and he has hardly seen her in waking hours.

Ariadne Wed 12-Nov-14 19:50:46

Apologies (real ones!) for the digression.

rosequartz Wed 12-Nov-14 21:13:24

I was wondering who looks after the 20 month old - is he looked after by the same people or are there separate arrangements? He may think his sibling is wonderful but at the same time have underlying feelings of jealousy that he can't articulate. He has had a lot of changes to cope with so perhaps when he settles into a routine he may behave better.

We talk about the 'terrible twos' and thunderous threes but I am wondering if he has just started school if he is nearly five. Children can become quite cocky, rude and arrogant when they first start school - usually with their mothers.
I think firmness if his behaviour is completely unacceptable - and not giving in later on, which is easier said than done if your DD is on her own. Withdrawal of a treat sometimes works although it can cause more trauma in the short-term. However, it's best not to get too wound up about small things.
I know what it's like as DH used to go away for long periods; it was not just the DC, it was the dog who played up as well.

I wish I still had my dog-eared copy of Dr Spock.

soontobe Wed 12-Nov-14 22:12:05

Good posts on here.

As he is getting a little older now, could he be asked about what familiar items he would like at your house and the other grandmother's etc.
Toys, but also a toothbrush, favorite towel, whatever.
Sounds like he wants routine and stability and roots.

Ideally mum needs to be consistent in how she raises him too.
If he is allowed too much of a free rein and choices, that could be unsettling.
[not to sound flippant, but if I have too much choice in a supermarket, I find it bewildering].

Faye Thu 13-Nov-14 16:15:40

Apparently at around the age of five, boys have passed the stage of babyhood and their attachment to their mothers and need to spend more time with their fathers. I can see this is the case with one of my GSs, he was very attached to his mother to the point of refusing to go anywhere with his Dad, even to the local shop. My SIL was quite hurt that his son only wanted his mother all the time. GSS behaviour did seem obsessive seeing his parents are happily married and he has always had his father in his life. Around the age of five he started wanting to spend more time with his dad and this afternoon my GS 6 said he missed his dad, he hadn't seen him since breakfast.

Sadly your GS lost his father at such a young age and if he is attached to his step father he may be finding it difficult when he is away for months at a time. This may be why he is acting up, some boys may react differently to how often they spend time with their fathers. I don't think the problem is so much being babysat by his GPs, but not having his father in his life every day.

Steve Biddulph talks about this in his book Raising Boys, really informative book and worth reading.

Faye Thu 13-Nov-14 16:17:38

*GS's not GSS

rosequartz Thu 13-Nov-14 20:14:04

GA you say he is bright, with lovely manners and a lovely big brother to his younger sibling.

Well, I think that they can't be good all the time. My SIL had a theory that difficult children were fairly reasonable teenagers, and that easy children could be horrendous teenagers!

I just think that they are not perfect, they can't always articulate what is upsetting them (he may not even know himself) and he is probably reacting to his new daddy's absence by being horrible to his mother.

Perhaps your DD could read the 'Horrid Henry' books to him and they could have a giggle together (as long as he doesn't get any ideas!).

nannynoo Fri 21-Nov-14 03:01:00

As you said you cannot change the past

Children obviously react to what they have been through

Sounds like he needs lots of love and stability and consistency now

He is probably feeling a bit insecure / dealing with his emotions

Sounds like he simply needs some boundaries in place re hitting out , maybe let him punch a pillow instead? Be there for him , be consistent and he should definitely settle down in time and feel secure again :-)

My 7 yr old GS with special needs has been through A LOT bless him and still IS unfortunately , but when things settle down for him I EXPECT there to be some difficult behaviour due to his emotions , fear and insecurity but with love and consistency I expect he will settle down shortly and feel secure and loved again , knowing that whatever he goes through , however he behaves you are there for him and you UNDERSTAND that his behaviour is just his reaction to what he has been through

Children do not like change and children with Autism which my GS has like change even LESS , he needs security , consistency and calm , he will settle down but behaviour shows EMOTIONS and it is healthy for children to get out these emotions in healthy ways

My GS gets aggressive when he is upset but am going to encourage him to punch the settee instead of a human being which he has done before and it is the hitting action which helps him get his anger and frustration out and I myself have punched a pillow before to get my anger out and if he needs to cry let him cry and just be there for him

It breaks my heart to see what my GS has been through and is still going through and when things DO settle down I expect there to be some ''emotional fall out'' for a while possibly at school as well but with boundaries and love in a calm enviroment I expect he will settle down

I just hope and pray my DD finds the healing she needs too as he does / will need to be in a calm and consistent enviroment and when 'disturbed' in the past a few days at my house and he was ''back to normal'' but I don't WANT him to be or become ''disturbed'' ever again if possible! xxx

FlicketyB Fri 21-Nov-14 07:05:49

Please do not use deprivation of favourite toys as a disciplinary measure. It is simply making everything he loves more uncertain, and he has had enough of that. I used that punishment just once for my DD . It caused her so much psychological distress the beloved object was returned within hours and I never did that as a punishment again..

His mother has to be gently firm, yet reason with him as she does now, but he may also need lots of physical contact. A 20 month year old will get a lot of physical human contact by definition of age and level of development at that age. Hold him a lot touch him, gently, casually, an arm round the shoulder or body when talking to him, cuddle him when reasoning him. Make physical contact a priority.

Eloethan Fri 21-Nov-14 16:56:15

There are lots of good insights and suggestions here. I feel that, as Flickety says, plenty of physical contact may well calm him and make him feel more secure.

It did occur to me that perhaps in a quiet, settled moment his mum could start chatting to him about anger and what makes people angry. Or, I think there are several books to read to children about coping with anger, which might help to open up a discussion. It might be helpful to find out if there is anything in particular that he is angry or worried about.