After having nearly 6 years of a lovely little boy, N is going through a nasty phase. I don’t think he realises he’s doing it, and from talking to people it sounds like lots of children go through it. But it’s really sad to be on the receiving end of some of the things he says. It’s strange having his personality transplant moving from nice child to nasty child.
We’ve had it lucky so far with him. He’s generally been a joy to have as a son. As a baby he was easy to look after and easy going.
We had no terrible twos.
Around his 3rd birthday there were a few times we had a lot of no’s. But after a month he was over that and back to normal.
At 4 and 5 he’s generally been no bother. He’s just a nice happy little boy who likes to joke around with his dad, but has largely been as easy going as usual.
Until the last week or so approaching his 6th birthday.
He’s really started to cosy up to his dad and side with him on everything. Even when the OH backs me up on telling him to do his reading or homework (mainly because he’ll get to watch the news in peace), N doesn’t mind him telling him that. But when I remind him he has to do it, there’s ructions.
It seems anything can set it off. Usually I’ll make a suggestion or ask N to pick up some mess and it’ll be met with a scowl and a snarled no. Mostly it’s when I’ve mentioned that he’s not put his breakfast bowl in the kitchen or cut up yet more pieces of paper and left them and the scissors on the floor in the back room. I spend all my time picking up after him because he’s not done it after several times of asking. Reward charts aren’t working for tidying. Why he won’t tidy up after himself at home when he will help at after school club or school is beyond me.
This week I wasn’t happy. I’d got his breakfast and yet again told him to eat it in the kitchen reminding him that afterwards, spoon and bowl should be in the dishwasher or at least by the sink, yoghurt pot in the recycling and lid in the bin. And please could he pick up all the new bits of paper he’d shredded on the floor (anyone else got a child obsessed with scissors and cutting up pieces of paper?).
Of course he didn’t, so when I came down after my shower, everything was still in the room, lights were on all over the house, bits were still all over the floor, and I’d spotted a second empty yoghurt pot under the chair. I wouldn’t have minded so much, but only the day before I’d picked up another yoghurt pot and a half eaten banana complete with skin from the floor behind the chair! Oh yes, and found a dried up bowl of weetabix left in the utility room when he decided he didn’t want to eat it after all.
I was impressed I didn’t shout. I turned off the tv, reminded him he shouldn’t be watching it if he’s not done any reading, writing or spellings first, and asked him why his breakfast stuff hadn’t gone into the kitchen, why he was eating outside the kitchen, and asked him to pick up the mess. All while cleaning it up myself. I explained why he was asked to do them – respecting being part of the household, part of the family, everyone doing their thing, helping out, learning how to be tidy ready for when he has his own house and family. His response.
‘I hate you mummmy, I wish you were dead’.
Thanks N. I was a bit flabbergasted. Ok, I might have expected it during teenage years and moodiness, but from a generally happy 5 year old.
‘Really? That’s not a nice thing to say, why do you think that?’ No answer.
So I just started to talk about how it made me feel, how saying words like that was also bullying and how he didn’t like bullying so why is he saying nasty things to other people. How I wouldn’t expect him to speak to people like that, especially not his parents. And wondering why he’d started saying horrible things.
The only thing he said was ‘why does it make you sad?’. I couldn’t believe he didn’t realise. I think I talked myself into it, but I cried. Cried in front of N. Not something I ever thought I’d do when I was telling him off, and especially knowing that lots of other parents hear it from their children. And that of course, it’s probably a phase.
But crying might have worked. He, like most children, doesn’t like to see anyone upset, and pointing out that his words had made me cry might just have made him understand how much saying hurtful words can upset people.
I left him to it because I couldn’t talk anymore.
Then I realised that it probably wasn’t a good idea to walk away. I headed back in then had to look behind the door to see N crouched behind the chair with a tissue. So maybe it had upset him too, not realising what he’d said.
He happily gave me a hug and said he’d been joking. Not a very funny joke – I blame his dad for permanently tricking people about things and joking about.
I’ve had a few days previously where he’s said ‘the house isn’t for you mummy, it’s only mine and dad’s’, but that’s easily headed off. But thankfully there’s been no more nasty comments like these.
Although N did ask me why I picked him up from school on Fridays.
‘I like picking you up from school or after school club. I get to see how you are, speak to other mums and dads and the teacher, and feel part of the school’. His dad’s been finishing early over the winter, so has been able to pick up N from after school club so N seems to think that it’s no longer my job. Hopefully after our discussion he knows that it’s not because I don’t want to, but just because dad’s beaten me to it.
I did ask him if he liked me again. I was relieved when he said yes, and that he was only joking. Hopefully I’ve shocked him a bit into thinking more about what he says first.
Have your children gone through a nasty child phase? How did you deal with it?
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