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Hello Everyone

I have posted about my son before but just wanted to see if anybody has any ideas or just a word of support.

My eldest son (5.5 years) is extremely strong willed, bright, fascinating and amazing.  He can also be very physically and verbally aggressive to me, my husband and my other son (definite struggle with accepting his brother’s arrival and existence).  Basically I feel that I have read everything and tried everything.  I am a fan of books such as Playful Parenting, Siblings without Rivalry, and Unconditional Parenting.  In short over the years I have validated his feelings, consistently told him firmly “no” to unacceptable behaviours and discussed why, created special time for him and I, and done everything to try to maintain our sense of fun, playfulness and connection.  However, the issues go on and we are increasingly drained and saddened.  Recently I have become so sad and worried for my younger son who is essentially being bullied in his home.  I cannot have this, and having tried everything else, find myself removing my eldest regularly which seems to be the only option, but I feel I am losing the connection with him as well as parenting outside of my ideals.  It is all so sad.

I am considering family therapy or counselling, for all of us but not least as some sort of support for me.  Anyone have any experience of this?  I am so tired of thinking and trying and things not improving.

Thanks for any thoughts x

Mum to two boys, Roan (Nov 08) and Jude (Oct 11) and a little girl, Amalie (Jan 14). Trying to parent as gently and lovingly as I can.

My first thoughts would be to question sleep, is he getting enough for his age? My youngest DD is very strong willed and we have had issues with ‘difficult’ behaviour over the years (She turned six in March) Two things make her act out, being tired and getting hungry. Even an hours less sleep and she will act up and will bring the whole family ‘down’. If she can’t settle of for any reason, I know I’m in for not such a good day when she wakes up. I’ve learnt to keep snacks in my bag. If I see bad behaviour popping up and she hasn’t eaten for a while, I’ll give her a snack and it does put her back on to an even keel again. So if she’s well rested and well fed at frequent intervals (she’s a grazer) her behaviour is a 100 times better, and even sometimes quite angelic. She goes to school, she gets very tired with school so her lights are out at 6.15, I massage her and say good night. If I’m lucky, she will be asleep at about 6.45 pm and usually wakes at about 6.30 am.

Having a strong willed child can be difficult and can wreak havoc on the entire house, so hugs to you. X

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Thank you mama, have noticed worse on hunger, will observe sleep patterns too, thanks x

Mum to two boys, Roan (Nov 08) and Jude (Oct 11) and a little girl, Amalie (Jan 14). Trying to parent as gently and lovingly as I can.

I’d consider a cranial osteopath for him plus the Walnut Bach flower remedy. Walnut is for transition and he’s had to ‘move’ from being only child to eldest - who knows how that might affect him emotionally…

And I second the sleep / hunger things too - two of the basics we all forget about sometimes!

I’m wondering how your ‘family rhythm’ is and whether he’d benefit from knowing what is coming next on a day-to-day basis. I know this made the world of difference with my spirited DD…

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I’ve been thinking on this today after I replied this morning and I was wondering about possible allergies linked to behaviour? For example I know allergies to wheat can cause rages/physical anger etc etc. XX

http://www.WishCharms.etsy.com
Sterling Silver Charms hand knotted onto hemp or waxed cotton card and set against beautiful keepsake cards with inspiring quotes and words.

http://www.notonthehightstreet.com/wishcharms

Notes on a Waldorf inspired family life:
http://mamauk.typepad.com

Hi Sara, huge hugs because I know how draining this is. My dd sounds very much like your eldest. She is now 11 and still has phases of this behaviour although over the years I have learned to understand it a little better and better with time. Hunger and tiredness are HUGE issues of her and always have been, but the worst seems to be anxiety. She is wonderful (mainly) throughout school holidays but once school is back, she is a bag of nerves - but not in a worried/panicky way - just general anxiety. She adores school and chooses to do loads of clubs which means she’s there til 4.30 or 6pm 4 days a week - her choice! But even though she loves being there, she still has anxiety every morning and this is when her verbal abuse at her middle brother (9) happens.

If we are more organised in the morning (such as I hurry them up to get ready a lot longer before I really need them to be ready), bags packed etc long before we need to leave the house she seems better. I’m a bit rubbish at getting out the door on time which doesn’t help either but I’m getting better myself.

Another thing that affects her as it does me, is clutter and mess at home. We are NOT a tidy family, but I have noticed with both her and me that if the house is tidy and there is floor space then we are both much more chillled people. We’ve had 2 birthdays in our house in the past couple of weeks and haven’t got round to doing a clear out of toys yet so along with that and being half term so the house is generally messier anyway, she was a bit on edge at the weekend which meant anger towards her brother. The de-clutter is something we’ve been working on and are still working on and slowly we will get there. We have plans for this summer to create more space with our outbuildings to turn into a “big kid” chill out den which I think will be good for her (and ds1) as right now she has very little space.

When she was going through her severe anxiety problems a year or so ago we used Rock Rose back flower remedy for her panic attacks which along with pulsatilla homeopathic tablets which seemed to help tremendously so I would highly recommend following Starchild’s suggestion of using Walnut.

We also try and teach ds1 how to deal with her behaviour towards him by not fighting back (which he never used to do but then decided he wasn’t taking it anymore so started throwing/hitting/kicking her back) but this always made her more angry and even worse so now he tries (he struggles sometimes) to ignore the verbal abuse and walk away/shut himself in his bedroom/go out in the garden and play etc and it is actually working in that she’ll do it and then give up when he walks away. Whereas if he fought back and then walked away she would be SO mad he would never get away with it!

Gosh, it sounds like she’s awful…she’s really not. We have gone through some awful times over the years - worst when she’s feeling very anxious (big times in her life, starting nursery, starting school, new babies etc etc) but generally she’s lovely to be around. It really is the anxiety that makes her lash out for seemingly no reason - but she does appear to be getting much better with age….that is until puberty begins! Gulp! A teenage girl with anxiety issues is probably a very bad combination!!

Hugs. x x x x

Skye-Blu - 24 April 2014 02:01 AM

Hi Sara, huge hugs because I know how draining this is. My dd sounds very much like your eldest. She is now 11 and still has phases of this behaviour although over the years I have learned to understand it a little better and better with time. Hunger and tiredness are HUGE issues of her and always have been, but the worst seems to be anxiety. She is wonderful (mainly) throughout school holidays but once school is back, she is a bag of nerves - but not in a worried/panicky way - just general anxiety. She adores school and chooses to do loads of clubs which means she’s there til 4.30 or 6pm 4 days a week - her choice! But even though she loves being there, she still has anxiety every morning and this is when her verbal abuse at her middle brother (9) happens.

If we are more organised in the morning (such as I hurry them up to get ready a lot longer before I really need them to be ready), bags packed etc long before we need to leave the house she seems better. I’m a bit rubbish at getting out the door on time which doesn’t help either but I’m getting better myself.

Another thing that affects her as it does me, is clutter and mess at home. We are NOT a tidy family, but I have noticed with both her and me that if the house is tidy and there is floor space then we are both much more chillled people. We’ve had 2 birthdays in our house in the past couple of weeks and haven’t got round to doing a clear out of toys yet so along with that and being half term so the house is generally messier anyway, she was a bit on edge at the weekend which meant anger towards her brother. The de-clutter is something we’ve been working on and are still working on and slowly we will get there. We have plans for this summer to create more space with our outbuildings to turn into a “big kid” chill out den which I think will be good for her (and ds1) as right now she has very little space.

When she was going through her severe anxiety problems a year or so ago we used Rock Rose back flower remedy for her panic attacks which along with pulsatilla homeopathic tablets which seemed to help tremendously so I would highly recommend following Starchild’s suggestion of using Walnut.

We also try and teach ds1 how to deal with her behaviour towards him by not fighting back (which he never used to do but then decided he wasn’t taking it anymore so started throwing/hitting/kicking her back) but this always made her more angry and even worse so now he tries (he struggles sometimes) to ignore the verbal abuse and walk away/shut himself in his bedroom/go out in the garden and play etc and it is actually working in that she’ll do it and then give up when he walks away. Whereas if he fought back and then walked away she would be SO mad he would never get away with it!

Gosh, it sounds like she’s awful…she’s really not. We have gone through some awful times over the years - worst when she’s feeling very anxious (big times in her life, starting nursery, starting school, new babies etc etc) but generally she’s lovely to be around. It really is the anxiety that makes her lash out for seemingly no reason - but she does appear to be getting much better with age….that is until puberty begins! Gulp! A teenage girl with anxiety issues is probably a very bad combination!!

Hugs. x x x x

Two things really stood out here for me in terms on my own daughter, the mess and clutter (for example she is unable to watch a film/TV programme unless the room is tidy and everything out away for example) and also my being more organised. If I haven’t kept an eye on the time and she thinks we are going to be late for school this will panic and upset her and lead to anxiety/worry. I really feel that if I’m better at reading the situation and knowing what triggers her we can avoid ‘meltdowns ’ which is nicer for everyone in our family. It sounds like I pander to her, which I know I do every single day, but if I don’t ‘manage’ the situation it is miserable for everyone.

http://www.WishCharms.etsy.com
Sterling Silver Charms hand knotted onto hemp or waxed cotton card and set against beautiful keepsake cards with inspiring quotes and words.

http://www.notonthehightstreet.com/wishcharms

Notes on a Waldorf inspired family life:
http://mamauk.typepad.com

Thanks everyone, really good to get tips and know I am not alone in the challenges of parenting a strong willed child. One more question, what do you do for support or how do you manage yourself if that makes sense? I am obviously tired with a baby of 15 weeks but I do worry that I fall apart too much in front of the kids. I suppose I have a big cry in front of them approx once every 2 months or so. I worry about them seeing me like this-I think I internalise the challenges for so long then fall apart in a heap of despair! Any tips on that one??

Mum to two boys, Roan (Nov 08) and Jude (Oct 11) and a little girl, Amalie (Jan 14). Trying to parent as gently and lovingly as I can.

Sara - 24 April 2014 05:44 PM

Thanks everyone, really good to get tips and know I am not alone in the challenges of parenting a strong willed child. One more question, what do you do for support or how do you manage yourself if that makes sense? I am obviously tired with a baby of 15 weeks but I do worry that I fall apart too much in front of the kids. I suppose I have a big cry in front of them approx once every 2 months or so. I worry about them seeing me like this-I think I internalise the challenges for so long then fall apart in a heap of despair! Any tips on that one??

Breathing, to keep calm. I recommend this book to everyone on here and people must get bored of me saying it but this book really is good: http://www.amazon.co.uk/10-Mindful-Minutes-ourselves-healthier/dp/0749957662 it could be helpful to your child as well. It’s amazing how five minutes of deep breathing can make everything seem a bit better and more in perspective. X

http://www.WishCharms.etsy.com
Sterling Silver Charms hand knotted onto hemp or waxed cotton card and set against beautiful keepsake cards with inspiring quotes and words.

http://www.notonthehightstreet.com/wishcharms

Notes on a Waldorf inspired family life:
http://mamauk.typepad.com

It sounds really tough but also like you are doing everything you can to be the most amazing mother - sometimes its good to think how things might be if you didn’t approach him with the very obvious love and respect that you do x

On to what little advice I can offer!  Food and sleep - my oldest daughter is a mess when hungry and or tired.  I have to be super strict about mealtimes and bedtimes….which might run contrary to the general vibe here but without it she is prone to rage, lots of tears and will end up shaking with it all.  Snacks, drinks and plenty of down-time.
Sugar.  This is one of her biggest triggers and I see it all the time in other children.  I keep ‘treats’ to dried fruit bars or home-baked cakes where I can avoid refined sugars.  On the odd occasion she does have it the shift to negative behaviour is very obvious.
Cranial osteopathy is an excellent suggestion!  My youngest needed a lot of this post-birth (sleep issues, feeding issues, loads of crying….you name it!) and it sorted things out beautifully.
Homeopathy - I know its not something a lot of people ‘buy’ into but its worth consideration (I speak from personal experience)
I’m sure you do this already, but finding time to do things with him one to one can also be a useful tool if he’s struggling with the appearance of a new sibling.  Books can be useful sources of guidance and information, but only you know your child.  What was he like before his brother arrived?  Are there times when his behaviour is worse? 

Hang in there and know you’re doing your best
x

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