Help! Willful six-year-old ...

I know, what else is new. :slight_smile: But this little boy of mine has me at my wit’s end. Starting last Wednesday, both the daycare and the school (including his first-grade teacher, the guidance counselor, and the assistant principal) have had problems getting him to do anything. Literally-something upsets him, and he completely shuts down, won’t talk to anyone, walk anywhere, or anything. He’s had his favorite games taken away, made to help with extra chores, etc. but it’s just getting worse.

Part of the frustration is that he never acts up at home. The closest he’s gotten is when I told him as we were leaving daycare last Thursday that he’d lost his computer games for that night due to his disobedience. He stepped back from the exit, folded his arms, and said, “Then I’m not going home.” And I knelt in front of him, looked him in the eye, and said, “Don’t even think about trying that with me.” Whereupon he burst into tears and headed out the door … In fact, it was effectively me that got him on the bus to daycare from school this afternoon. When he wouldn’t get on and wouldn’t get on, finally the asst. principal told them to go ahead and leave & she’d call me to pick him up. “Nooo!” Mom & I get some respect & obedience, but the teachers get none.

So, any suggestions? Is he just crying for attention from Mom & Dad? (I spend quite a lot of time with him, I think, and Mom’s there more than she used to be.) Is it a phase he’ll pass through? Very soon, I hope? What should I do?


Sounds like he needs an ass whooping, YMMV. My daughter is 7 and wouldn’t dream of acting that way. BTW, I haven’t spanked her in a couple years. She never gets time out in school; 1/2 due to not wanting to disappoint us and the other 1/2 due to the punishment she’d receive at home.

IMO, he needs to know that the respect for your authority is directly transferable to teachers and his principal at school.

Best of luck.

And this dates from last week? Before that, you didn’t have these serious problems?

It sounds to me like he’s having a really hard time with something. Has anything changed for him lately? Did anything happen that could have upset him? He may have been upset by something he hasn’t told you about or that you didn’t realize would be an issue. As a 6 year old, he probably hasn’t got the words to tell you if he feels something is seriously wrong; he may not even be able to figure out exactly what it is himself. And he may be reluctant to upset you with his problems–many kids work very hard at protecting their parents.

It sounds to me like he is having some issue with the school or daycare, and feels safer at home. A bully, something about a teacher, something he misunderstood.

What Dangermom said. By “Willful” I thought this was going to be about a 6 year-old kid that does whatever the hell he wants…in which case, would you prefer a mindeless obedient with no spine?

But it does sound an aweful lot like an issue the kid can’t or won’t bring up on his own. Punishments at this age only serve to further alienate the child and make him feel more alone and helpless–which intensifies the control issues you have pointed out. hile I agree that a good ass-whoopin’ can be very therapeutic for the parent, it seldom teaches a child how to express himself or deal in any meaningful way with situations that do not resolve themselves.

I got my share of “discipline” growing up, and it DID deter bad behaviour. But I also remember clamming up because of something that went wrong at school, that wasn’t my fault but I thought was (I got smacked by a teacher when I was 7) and then getting my old man’s wrath because the teacher pegged me as a trouble-maker. The reality was that I didn’t know why the teacher smacked me and so I figured I was better off not speaking at all.

My job, and yours, is to do better as a parent than yours did by you. Take a little effort and find out what is bugging your kid. Yes, you’re going to have to play 40 questions to get at the root, but then you can walk him through resolving the issue. You’ll begin to teach him how to help himself into the bargain.

My money says that Rug Burn either has no kids or is raising axe-murderers or mindless cogs for the capitalist machine who will never be able to resolve conflict without damaging something or someone.

Something happened to him and your job is to find out what. A sudden change in behavior is a big red flag. You may have to go to school and/or day care with him and observe the interactions between children and adults. To punish him without knowing the truth is not productive.
Good luck.

I agree with the above posters, something has happened recently at daycare or school and he has not told you what it is. You need to open up comminucations with him and find out asap. Punishing him and taking away priviliges will most likely bot solve the problem and will most likely make it worse. Is his being bullied or threatened by some other kids? Is there a new teacher that he may be having a hard time adjusting to?

Good luck.

I concur with the above.

If you haven’t had this problem before… and you aren’t having this problem now at home… then something weird has happened at school, and may or may not be his fault.

Punishing him for noncompliance MAY get him to do as he’s told… but runs the risk of inclining him towards sneakiness. When a kid gets beat for reasons he can’t understand and feels he cannot avoid, that’s generally the next step.

I’m sorry but if you have given an “ass whooping” to a five year old girl then you have no business having parental rights much less posting advise to other parents.

You are a sicko.

My daughter is almost six and would never think of acting that way either. But not out of fear of being beaten or fear of upsetting the person who beats her, out of respect for herself.

I hope your daughter has a chance to learn some self respect when you are done with her. You realize of course that you have set her up to think all controls on her behavior are external to her. By your own admission she chooses behavior based on your getting upset or getting violent and not based on her own internal system.

Simmons Jr has the answer, concentrate your efforts there, but do so when there is no pressure…when you’re just swapping shit. Tell him some bullshit story about what a shit day you had at work and how you had to do all this stuff you didn’t really want to, it may ease things a little… But mainly take your time and find out what is spooking him. Just try doing your talking when no-one is wound up - get away from the problems and talk later.

:rolleyes: Damn my eyes hurt. Anyone know a good eye surgeon?

… for your ideas. You may be right that something big is upsetting him that he doesn’t want to talk about. I’ll keep trying intermittently to get at that … I also took the core of Rug Burn’s suggestion, impressing on him that disobeying the teachers is just like disobeying me. We’ll see how things go today …

P.S. Lay off Rug Burn, OK? It’s not part of my discipline style either, but corporal punishment is not the same thing as child abuse, IMO. And please don’t hijack my thread into a discussion of whether it is. :mad:

IANAParent, but I have seen, read, and experienced myself that especially with boys (ie my nephews) that approaching emotional topics whilst engaging in a non-related activity helps boys feel comfortable talking about “stuff”.

Example, go out and shoot some hoops (er… it’s winter… You know what I mean), and casually approach the subject. Or, you could do some “pretending” while playing with toys (like Good Guys vs. Bad Guys). Also, I try not to look earnestly at my nephews when I try to talk about something serious. Tend to be kinda offhand and flippant, and that seems to work better.

Just my $.02.