When your six year old has an attitude problem

Parenting. It doesn’t get any easier, the more you do it, you just seem to face different challenges at each stage.

I imagined during the tantrums, of the terrible threes, the times I felt like crying during the f*<%%]^g fours and the know-it-all insufferableness of a five year old in reception that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. That at some point soon it would all click, for him and for us, and parenting would indeed become easier.

Or at least more manageable.

Especially now we’ve added to our family in the baby. Three children, two adults, were definitely outnumbered.

Yet here we are at six years old.

And the attitude problems we are facing daily astound me. I didn’t know it was possible to be that sassy, confident and cocksure at SIX.

But it is.

six year old parenting

Six year olds and attitude issues.

I’m not sure how much is down to becoming a big brother for the second time and having a new baby in the house.

How much is down to the jump in school from reception to year one.

How much is because he had the flu a couple of weeks ago and is only just getting on the mend.

And how much is just sheer bloody minded attitude, but this kid has it in spades.

boy in ironman costume

And we are at our wits end.

Some days I look at him and I’m at a complete loss on how to parent him. His back chat, lack of listening and downright disobedience just make my jaw drop and I’m left wondering what happened to my kind and loving little boy.

He’s fighting with me, his dad, his brother. Lashing out and a general increase in aggression. Yet at school he can be super quiet and introverted, the complete opposite of his normal, talkative, self.

We needed to do something and looking around at the “easy” parenting we’ve undertaken since the baby has arrived, the increased screen time, video games and generally being stuck in the house with an immobile, unable to drive, stuck under a feeding baby mum our first port of call was to ban screens.

A complete ban on screens

No iPad.

No Nintendo Switch (even though he’s limited on this already).

No TV.

No phones.

Absolutely no screen at all. No little mesmerizing box having him stare blankly into space as I call his name so absorbed is he in the dancing pixels in front of him.

He has rallied against this. Raged that we won’t give in.

And then, as if by magic, accepted the ban and found other things to do….

More outdoor time

It is the perfect time of year here in Qatar to get out.

To ride bikes, play football, practice tennis, and run around being a kid.

We’ve signed him up for tennis lessons, shooed him out on his bike timing him as he races around the compound, played silly games with the hose in the garden.We’ve allowed him the independence to go out on the compound and play on his own, encouraging my cautious child out of his shell. Watching him run with old friends and new playing games that only they understand.

Boy riding bike

And it’s worked. The fresh air, the exercise has reduced the pallor, the asking for screens and improved the attitude and attention span somewhat.

More focused indoor activities

We play more board games.

Make marvelous imaginative creations with LEGO – no instruction books for this kiddo who would rather make his own transformer than build the boat on the box.

Spent hours clicking and making structures with magnet blocks.

We’re drawing maps, colouring thousands of pictures and making books of our own.

Reading stories together

We are getting to the stage now where he can read comfortably to himself and to us.

His school books however leave a lot to be desired. The adventures of Biff and Kipper I’m afraid to say don’t get much more exciting.

So I’ve been reading chapters of Roald Dahl to him, we’ve been hunting easy reader books down in the library, reading the well loved books from their bookshelves and of course to keep the reading going having him read to his brothers instead of to me.

You can’t beat a little time alone with a book to lose yourself in a new world.

Introducing mindfulness and gratitude

During my anxiety CBT sessions I spoke a lot about techniques to help me. Gratitude and mindfulness came up a lot, and I continued with my own gratitude journal which I found really helped my inner peace. I went to bed happier and as such woke up happier.

gratitude journal

Then, by chance, I read a thread on Mumsnet during a night feed about the Happy Self Journal. Which is about promoting gratitude and mindfulness in children.

Each night now before bed we sit down and we read the quote of the day. Asking what that means, thinking of examples where we can. Then we talk about our too three things.

Which can be anything, so far we’ve have dowing my journal, pizza, playing with friends, tenis lessons to name but a few.

happy self journal

A positive checklist, a lookback at the GOOD bits of the day and we are all going to bed a little happier. A little earlier. Sleeping a little better.

And waking up better to make sure we find another top three things to write about that night.

It’s early days but…

By burning off that extra energy. Shaking those sillies out, clapping those crazies out with more outdoor time. By spending time curled up together with books. Using our imagination to build various creative structures instead of absorbing the tv show. It’s all working.

And at the end of the day I’m seeing my lovely little boy return as we sit and we fill in his journal together. Looking for the three best things of every day. Ticking off the positive check list. And changing our mindset.

It’s small steps, but it’s working. And the biggest thing I’ve come to realise is that it’s not just his mindset and attitude that needed to change. But mine too. And yes, what we are doing isn’t perfect, and I definitely still shout more than I would like, but it’s a work in progress. One I will never stop working on.

{I bought and paid for the journal myself after reading about it on a @mumsnet thread this year – so far I’ve only good things to say about it}

Parenting. It doesn't get any easier the more you do it, you just seem to face different challenges at each stage.

I imagined during the tantrums of the terrible threes, the times I felt like crying during the f*<%%]^g fours and the know-it-all insufferableness of a five year old in reception that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. That at some point soon it would all click, for him and for us, and parenting would indeed become easier.

Or at least more manageable.

Especially now we've added to our family in the baby. Three children, two adults, were definitely outnumbered.

Yet here we are at six years old.

And the attitude problems we are facing daily astound me. I didn't know it was possible to be that sassy, confident and cocksure at SIX.

But it is.

Here are five ways we are trying to improve our childs attitude.

#positiveparenting #parenting
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