Grounding for a 6 Year Old

Updated on August 21, 2014
D.E. asks from Tampa, FL
26 answers

Won't get in to all the details as it would take forever. So long story short, our 6 year old had definitely given us a run for our money. Very smart, but very stubborn. He absolutely obsesses over things and will attempt to badger us half to death to try and get his way. We have followed many "guidelines" for punishments, and for awhile now, a long while the consequences are immediate. He doesn't get multiple chances to stop a behavior etc We were advised by a counselor to do that.
I feel like these consequences need to be turned up a notch. Because while he gets upset for awhile, he is still repeating these behaviors he knows we will not accept. He loses use of the tablet for the day, loses the chance to play with friends for a day etc. Last night was a doosie. He lost the chance to play outside. Then come bedtime he was just out of hand, crying and throwing a fit like I haven't seen in awhile because he wanted to watch a movie in bed, and the answer was no. Like most kids, he has a real hard time accepting no, but obviously he needs too. School has started, and it was bedtime. He was crying and screeching to the point we had to put him in another room so his little brother wouldn't get woken up. We ignored his fit, but it went on for a good while.
So I feel like maybe a good old fashioned grounding is due. No friends, no tablet etc But am not sure how long.....My husband feels like long term punishment doesn't work because he "forgets" what he's done. But the short terms not working!!! Or should for an entire day, lose all privileges? That's how I was grounded, but I don't know if ever happened this young for me.
Any thoughts? Please do not pick my question apart, I simply want feed back on the grounding. And methods that may have worked for you.
Guess I should have been more specific. No does mean no. He gets sent to his room, and will run out cry and whine, send him back until he can calm down. Those scenarios have lasted up to an hour before. We are trying to show him some consequences, as nothing seems to sink in. Its the same repeated behaviors. He simply cannot seem to accept no. YES we stick to it, and it is exhausting. And I try very hard to make sure I'm not always saying no. And I give him choices, so he feels like he has a voice. The counselor instructed us on that, and it has helped. But I just find a full out fit because he can't go back out front w/ his friends after already being out there for a good amount of time,unacceptable. And that's been one of our main battles. We tell him no, and here he goes. Whining, sent to his room, full blown fit. SO we take away that chance for the next day to play out front with his friends. I appreciate the positive answers, thanks!
We have a reward system. He can earn an extra half hour of minecraft, a trip out for ice cream etc. He has chores, he helps clean up the kitchen after dinner, empty the dishwasher etc anything I can think of that is age appropriate and he can actually do.

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So What Happened?

What I meant by picking my question apart is getting answers that don't pertain to my question. Not about grounding etc, sorry but it seems to happen a lot.

The tablet isn't "his" but he's allowed to play on it an hour day. He loves minecraft. We do a positive reward system as well where he can earn extra time, or other things. We have tried everything, taking away favorite toys etc Doesn't seem to phase him. Nothing does and that's where we're struggling! He cry and whine about it, but it doesn't seem to curb these behaviors.
HE'S ALLOWED TO PLAY OUTSIDE, just not out front with his friends. And he doesn't watch movies to go to bed, They are allowed to pick something to watch or do quietly before bed, to wind the day down.
When it's actual bedtime, the t.v. is off.

Ok, AGAIN Its NOT his tablet. He is allowed to use it an hour a day!** Just saw where I had worded it as "his" it is not My mistake there, sorry. He can play minecraft on it for an hour a day. Or read books on it. That is it.
They have no cable in their room either, just our old t.v. where they can watch a movie. Quiet time they can pick to watch a movie, or color, read etc

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A.M.

answers from Hartford on

Just in general I would set up a clear schedule for when the child gets home from school and post it so he can see it. I would also do the same thing with consquences for not doing what he told/scheduled to do. I do not think you need to read that much into it, if it is written out, posted, and he is aware of what happens the challenge is sticking to it. I know it is not easy but I think it will help if you have something to refer back to for consquences and schedule/what needs to happen each night. Kids do great on schedules at all ages, they are used to it from school.

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M.O.

answers from Dallas on

I don't have any real answers, it sounds like you are trying all you can. Does he usually act worse when he is tired or hungry? Maybe the long school day back in effect is making it worse?

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R.M.

answers from San Francisco on

I think you can ground him if you want but I think ignoring is probably the best thing for his fits, based on everything you've written.

Just put him in another room, and let him have his fit. It's really annoying, I know, but it sounds like with this kid, consistent ignoring will be more likely to extinguish or minimize the fits than giving him consequences.

Remember, some kids thrive on negative attention. That's where ignoring works well.

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E.A.

answers from Erie on

Playing outside was never something I used as leverage in discipline. That is something that is necessary for their development, it would be like restricting food in our house. Having a friend over to play is not the same thing, and something I would cancel if my child was not behaving.
(I just re-read your SWH, and so you let him play outside but not with his friends? Not good. You are confusing him, he doesn't understand the reasoning for this and it won't curb his behavior. He doesn't see the point. Stop using his playtime as leverage.)

You have a kid that would benefit from logical and natural consequences. He needs to understand that his actions have consequences that he doesn't like. So, for instance...
1. Screaming at bedtime means he's put into another room alone until he settles down. Make sure you do this as matter-of-factly as possible.
2. The Badgering. Ignore it. Change the subject. Redirect his attention. But whatever you do, do not lash out at him and angrily take away his toys. Take them away to make him pay attention to something else.
3. Positive reinforcement. Write the type of behavior you expect of him every day on the fridge. Hugs and time with you or dad is a way better reward than "things" though for this.
4. Chores. He should have them. If he has time in his day to obsess, he has time to clean the kitchen floor, or scrub the toilet, vacuum the carpet, dust the mantel, wash the windows...you see where I am going with this. Now that they are older, my kids do chores to earn time on the tv and PS3. My home has never been cleaner.

I wish you would have been more specific about the behaviors, but also know that a lot of this is him just being 6 and you just need to hold your ground without getting angry or upset. This too shall pass.

(And don't tell me how to answer a question. I hate that. I'll answer it as I see fit, and if you don't like my answer...scroll by...you are the one with the problem, not me. My kids didn't act like this, they knew better than to challenge me in such a way.)

9 moms found this helpful

V.B.

answers from Jacksonville on

It might be that the horse is already out of the barn so it's a little late to do certain things, but...

Seems to me that the items you listed may be things that it would have been better not to allow them to be "things" to begin with. Does that make sense?

For example: movies in bed. Why was that even an option to start with? That never happened in our home. Ever. Bedtime is bedtime, beds are for sleeping (and cuddling reading a bedtime story just before lights out). Not for movie watching. Seems like a tantrum could have been avoided from the get go by simply never letting watching movies in bed be a "thing".
Same with a tablet, although I realize that my kids are older and when they were 6, kids didn't have tablets b/c they didn't exist. Lots of people allow it, but really... it seems to me like it should be more of an extra, a "special" thing, not a thing to be taken away that they normally have access to all the time.

As for losing the chance to play outside, I'd frankly pick something else to take away. You punish yourself by not allowing your kid to burn off energy. Outside is a fantastic way to do this. Kids don't get enough outside time these days as it is.
I'd cry and throw a fit, too, if I couldn't go outside, couldn't use my tablet AND couldn't watch TV/movie. Especially if I had learned that these were acceptable ways to relax/calm down before bed.

Maybe you should find different short term things to take away. Long term doesn't usually work very well until the kids are older. (teens losing a phone for example, or use of the car).

What about something else? What other "currency" does he have? Is there an outside toy that is favorite? The slide, the swing? Maybe make THAT ONE item off limits for this evening's play, but still allow time outside.

A particular movie kiddo wanted to watch? Disallow THAT movie, (since movies in bed are normally ok?) and only allow kiddo to pick from 2 that YOU select yourself. If he doesn't like the choices, too bad. He lost his choices by whatever the behavior was.

Basically, it sounds to me like you need to take another look at what you are using as your punishment/loss of privileges with this kid. Make it specific and reconsider if kiddo has too wide of boundaries to start with.
Have kiddo earn screen time by GOOD behavior maybe. Rather than taking away a device (that he has learned is his), change the rules about his usage... he now has to earn time on it. When time's up... that's it. Maybe allow him X amount of time per day, and for each infraction, he loses 10 minutes of that time or something. Also allow ways for him to earn EXTRA time. Keep a tally sheet where he can see it. It's more specific than just taking the device away. Once it's gone, then what? You lose all your leverage and your kids loses any incentive to do better.

Don't just pick your battles, strategize them.

Good luck.
Oh.. and since I seem to have done what you wanted to avoid.. sorry about that. But grounding? For a 6 year old doesn't seem like an effective idea to me. I didn't start using grounding until the kids were old enough to have enough independence for grounding to mean anything. If they aren't going places without you already, then what's the point of grounding?

--
Ok, I'm really trying to understand this. You said he doesn't watch movies "to go to bed". But you also said, "They are allowed to pick something to watch or do quietly before bed..." So, he picked watching a movie in bed. Right? You said "no." Why? That seems like a legitimate choice based upon what you have told us. Was that something you took away as punishment for that night?

---
After your recent SWH info:
So most of his issue/tantrum throwing has to do with coming inside after playing outside with friends? Is that what the main thing is or am I misunderstanding?

If that's the case, I'd take a look at maybe HOW the playtime ends. How long does he get, or is it relative to whatever else is going on? I mean.. does he get 45 minutes, or is it however long until dinner is ready or you're tired of checking or until they start bickering over some imagined sleight in the yard... or what is the determining factor in when he has to come inside?

Because it might simply be a transition issue. Whether you are playing in the front yard or at the park or at a play place... kids need a warning that time is almost over so they can mentally adjust to the idea of being done and moving on. While at 6, they should be quite a bit better at the transitioning than a 3 or 4 year old would be, they also are old enough to have developed rather complicated play schemes with their friends. And if they are "in the middle" of something, and he doesn't get enough warning to wrap up the game, it could be very upsetting.
Say they are playing tag and everyone has had a turn being "it" except him. It's about to be his turn, but you call to him "Billy, you have to come inside now." gasp! He won't get his turn! That's not fair! Upset ensues.

Perhaps you already are, but if not, be sure to allow adequate time to transition out of the activity. When you think you are getting ready to call him in, 5-10 minutes before, call out to all the kids and alert them that "Billy has to come in in a few minutes, so you guys need to wrap up whatever you are playing." Then maybe 2 or 3 minutes before he HAS to come in, give another time warning: "2 minutes until you have to come inside and everybody has to go home. Just letting you guys know!"

Then... step back out, "It's time to come in now. Glad you guys came to play. See you next time." Then turn and come in, and allow Billy 45 seconds to sadly tell his friends goodbye for the day. Or stand and wait at the door while he does this.

Maybe that will help with this particular issue. Giving "warnings" about something that has to happen soon, is not the same thing as giving warnings to STOP an activity that shouldn't be happening. It's just information. And alert to what is coming. Not something that precipitates punishment. This sort of thing cannot be what the counselor is referring to when you were told to take immediate action. There is no infraction at this point... you are preventing one, by giving time for a transition to happen and kiddo to adjust mentally to it.
Or at least, that is how is normally works. :)

Hope this helps.

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V.S.

answers from Reading on

I was going to respond, but I figured I'd be accused of "picking your question apart." Not sure what that means...

Eta - well, that happens because people see a problem in the set up of your question that you haven't considered. That's what I see. Your problem, in my opinion, doesn't lie in how to punish, but rather the environment and habits you've set up. A tablet for a 6 year old? Movies in his room? My Tweens don't have those things, and they don't have them for a reason. To me, those are for older kids, those are rare privileges that are earned, not just given because you're cute. In almost every family I know where kids are given expensive and mature privileges and toys at an early age, the kids just want more and more earlier and earlier. Families who love simpler and more frugally, who focus on board games and reading instead of movies and electronics, have kids who have less sense of entitlement. Your son at 6 won't accept no for an answer? To an extent, that's normal, but it's also a sign of a feeling that he's believes he is entitled to these things, outraged that you're not giving them, and mistakenly of the belief that he is old enough to have these very mature privileges.

Me? I'd be less concerned with the punishment for this particular infraction and more focused on shifting the environment from movies in his room and tablet time (both very isolating activities) to family games, chores together, and reading together (building family community and developing empathy and reducing entitlement). I'd take away those very mature privileges for good and not reintroduce them for a number of years until they are earned.

But what do I know? Anyone who posts a question with a defensive disclaimer of what type of answer is allowed is not likely to be open to anything else.

ETA: Yup! The SWH is proof. When the poster dictates the types of answers she wants, she isn't open to anything other than what she wants to hear. What she needs to hear will be rejected. Why did you bother to ask the question if you already know the answer? Good luck to you. You're gonna need it.

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G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

I can absolutely relate to what you're dealing with. I have two very "spirited" boys, 5 & 8, and they can really test me.

I really do understand your frustration and why you want to try and turn it up a notch. I have to agree with your husband, though, I'm not sure at 6 years old he would be able to understand a week long grounding.

I know you had a rough night. How did the night ultimately end? Did he fall asleep in the other room or continue his tantrum?

Sometimes I am amazed at how determined one of my boys can be. They can really dig their heals in. I could be absolutely convinced that this is never going to work or this is going to end bad, but I try to stay calm. I can outlast them! They can be absolutely convincing one second and pleading the next, "Please don't take away my IPod!"

I think you need to stick to your guns and give it more time. I can absolutely feel like it is not sinking in. He's testing you, and you have to stay strong!!! And it can be so hard to stay strong, especially when you are so frustrated. It is completely ok to feel like you need to come up with a more severe punishment. Hang in there!!! He will get it. He really will. Right now he probably things he can shake you. He might still remember the days when he could get you by just repeating the same question over and over until he got what he wanted. You need to just stay strong. It will take time for him to really get the new rules.

Keep in mind, this is ultimately a good trait. Yes he's stubborn, and that's frustrating to you, but try to remember that he's also determined! That will serve him well in many aspects of life.

You can do this!!!

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

Grounding is something you do with a teen.
I don't think it's appropriate for a 6 yr old.
Keep talking with the counselor.

In our house I read to our son all the time.
Anytime we had to wait for anything we'd read - I carried a book with me at all times.
No matter what happened during the day, reading a bedtime story was our special time.
Only once did he do something so horrible (I can't even remember what it was) that he got no story time and he really really hated that.
He'd do ANYTHING for story time and if he was really good he could sometimes earn extra story time - he really loved it so very much!

If 'No' is a trigger for him, try to find ways around saying 'no' to him.
If he wants more play time say 'That would be great but we don't have time for it right now. If you can <do what ever needs doing now> without a fuss I will work in 30 more min playtime tomorrow.'.
And then follow through.
Sometimes punishment and time outs become over powering.
Try to find ways to praise him when he does good things.
"You've been such a good helper today. I'm so proud of you!".

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H.W.

answers from Portland on

I would encourage you to factor the 'why' of his behavior in somewhere. When my son started first grade, behavior at home wasn't great for the first month or so. He was adjusting to being under instruction for a good portion of the day (plus the getting up + getting to school dynamic in the mornings), new classmates, new teacher, etc. It was a lot for him and he needed some containment help from us.

If it were me, I'd just keep it quiet in the evenings. Make this your routine-- no media time in the evenings, so he knows to expect this. LOTS of structure, and when he is doing well, lots of hugs. (not just for the 'good deeds' but anytime you can.) He is tired. Try an earlier bedtime for the next few days. (How is he in the mornings? Tired and hard to wake or ready to go?)

It is imperative to me that I must tell you one thing I keep in mind:

You CANNOT punish a child into being good. Period.

Stick with the counseling or find other parenting resources. I personally like a book written by a Portland woman who cofounded our Parent Support Center: JoAnn Nordling's "Taking Charge". She discussed different misbehaviors, their underlying causes (taking into account the child's reality as well) and offers many different corrections which are far more of the 'consequence you did to yourself' variety and not as punitive. You really want him to feel the result of his own actions, without giving the message of 'you are a bad kid, you get nothing'.

That's why I feel that taking away everything for days doesn't work. By the way, my parents thought they could 'straighten me out' grounding me like this (I was even grounded to my bed during adolescent years: no stereo, no books, nothing all weekend.) I can tell you from experience that it didn't help me solve any of the problems I was dealing with-- it just made me more resentful and angry and to act out more covertly but with more aggression toward my siblings. I *strongly* caution against that approach. Kids need help figuring out how to manage their feelings and their place in the world.

Make the punishment fit *specifically* to what happened: do not let your feelings of "short term punishments aren't working so I'll bring ALL the thunder on this one thing". My guess is that he was tired and overloaded and had a tantrum. It was unfortunate, and I'm wondering what are his other options to getting the feelings out? It might seem soft, but I have to think there is a missing piece somewhere.

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S.S.

answers from Atlanta on

as a mother of 4 boys, I can tell you that consistency is what matters.

Like others have said, no must mean no.

There is NO way a 6 year old should be punished for a week. Six minutes SHOULD be fine and sufficient. Communication MUST happen after the discipline time is over.

YOU: "Jimmy, do you know why you had to sit here for six minutes?"
Jimmy: "because I was a bad boy."
YOU: "No, Jimmy. You are NOT a bad boy. You made bad decisions."
Jimmy: "I don't want to be here"
YOU: "Jimmy. When mommy says No. She means NO. If you are not going to listen to mommy, you will need to sit here until you can. Do you know WHY I said no to your request?"
Jimmy: You're a mean mommy
YOU: "I'm sorry you feel that way. You cannot go outside alone because I will not be able to watch you."

Yes, your son will tell you you are the meanest, worst mommy EVER. It means you are doing your job. Yes. Your son will tell you he hates you. He doesn't. He's learning how to use words to hurt.

If you don't like saying NO. Then you need to preface with "we can't do that now. When Daddy gets home, we can do that."

Punishment should fit the crime. If he didn't follow the rules, he needs to sit - no tv, no radio, no tablet (which I disagree with him having at his age), no fun. If he can write? he can write why he didn't follow the rules. Keep it his age, don't expect novels or even more than three lines.

Does he have a favorite show that is recorded or on at a certain time of the day? If so, tell him he will NOT be able to watch that show if he cannot behave and follow the rules.

Also, I don't see anyone tearing or picking apart your question. You asked and people answered.

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L.A.

answers from Austin on

He is 6 years old. His attention span is about 6 minutes. Think about that. Every six minutes his attention is turned to something else.
This falls in the normal scale for a 6 year old boy. Sure there will be some children that have a lot longer attention span, but not your son at this point. This is who he is. You need to always in your mind have an option for distraction or to give him an option that HE can succeed at. If you you want him to learn a new task, or behavior, you will need to make it seem as though he is helping you get the job done right.

Children like structure, no Loosey Goosey, They thrive on knowing and following a schedule. When things shift, they fall off the rails in their worlds. Make a schedule for every day and stick with it as much as possible. When there will be a change, be prepared to almost hand hold him through it .Yes, it takes time, but how else will he learn how to emotionally prepare himself? This morning we will be going to the store. I need you to put all of your toys back in your room, then come and find me, I need you to help me.

To tell you the truth, I would turn off the tablet, or disable it, change the password and tell him it is broken. With school starting there is to many other things he can be doing than playing on the tablet. Some children become anxious and then lethargic when/after using electronic devices. These feelings are very strong and they have a hard time switching this off and going on with their day.

School has started so this is a new schedule. Make sure in the afternoon you have a set schedule. Come home (no time to run errands) snack, homework, then play outside for as long as possible. Dinner, bath and start to get ready for bed. Do this every day. EVERY day. He will respond.
You will see he will begin to seem more secure.

You have to guide him into changes. Almost like hand holding to reassure them they can get through this difference.

I do not abide whining. It makes my ears bleed.
Learn these words and use them as if you mean them. Make him follow through. He cannot come out of his room until he has calmed down enough to talk. And yes, if it takes a couple of hours, stick with it. He needs to know YOU are the parent and you will not allow him to whine until he gets what he wants.

"I do not understand whining, go to your room and find your regular words. "

"You need to stop whining so I can understand."

"Your voice is too loud, I need you to bring down the volume so my ears can understand you. "

"You sound frustrated, go to your room until you can talk with me in a regular voice."
Purchase ear plugs, lots of them. Keep them in your car, in your kitchen, in your purse and use them. They will not block out all of the noise, but they will help.

Grounding is abstract to a child this young. He needs defined immediate guidance.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart! You can do this!

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

My instinct would be to not take away outdoor time. And grounding...I guess I would pick his currency and ground him from playing Minecraft for x days. Maybe 3? Our son has been grounded off screen time for up to a week before. He is a much better kid when he gets no screen time we have noticed. Wow, your son sounds so similar to my son - who is now 10. I could have written this 4 years ago. It gets better...my son is so much more mature (although he still is hard, stubborn, hates being told no). The thing is...no matter what you do your child is not going to instantly have good behavior. That is what I believe. This is a long term project...and with you being consistent, giving consequences consistently (taking away Minecraft for example), giving him positive attention and love, and never giving in when he is being bad...he will slowly grow and mature and get better at this behavior stuff. That has been my experience. It's hard. Geez, it has been a long slow road though...our son has exhausted me. Last year (age 9) we had him see a wonderful child psych. who really worked with him on taking responsibility for his own behavior. He really loved her...and it all really sunk in with him. It helped a lot. If needed I may have him see some one again this year. So far things have been better though.

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D.K.

answers from Pittsburgh on

It sounds like punitive parenting (and using rewards is just the flip side of punishment) simply isn't working for you. Although you may only want to hear recommendations on how to make grounding and more punishments/consequences work, you might have much more success (and like your child a lot more) if you look into positive parenting. Please take a look at Laura Markham's site ahaparenting - she has some wonderful advice.

He is only 6. Tomorrow might as well be 2028 to him. He needs better tools to help him get what he wants/needs that are socially acceptable. Whining - 'DS, I cannot hear whining, whining hurts my ears. Please tell me what you want correctly. Only do this when it is a request you can say yes to. Making him ask correctly (tone of voice and words) is just cruel when you are going to say no anyway.

Playing with friends and having problems coming inside - 6 year olds have little grasp of time. You need to tell him before he goes outside when he will need to come in. DS - you can play outside for an hour - then we will have dinner. I will tell you when you have 10 minutes left and then 5. Then you will come inside. Ask him how he can make this easier. Perhaps a watch (they make cheap virtually indestructible one) will help him manage time. Then when it is time - he comes in. Period. No penalty for whining, but no extra time and no attention.

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J.Y.

answers from Chicago on

I think grounding him will create more problems. Children who feel well and are happy do better than when they aren't. They don't cope very well when something is off. He will be bored and cause more ruckus.

If you use punishment as part of your disipline , short, immediate consequences would probably work better than long ones. Understanding the connection and reason behind the punishment would be important for him to learn something from it. But, it sounds like punishing him isn't working. Just ratcheting up the punishment won't likely solve your problems.

Trying to look at the situation from his perspective may help create a solution. Why is he doing what he's doing? What does he get from his behavior? His way eventually, attention? Is he bored, frustrated, tired, needing time from you, stressed? What is the need behind the behavior? If you can determine that, you can help guide him to a better way to get his needs met. People do what works for them. If he knows a better way, he will do better. He is only 6, so he doesn't have the coping and reasoning skills needed to deal with his emotions. This needs to be taught to him.

I second the suggestion about not taking away outside time. He needs the opportunity to be active, and it will help his overall behavior when he has it. Maybe even increase his outside time. Take a bike ride together, play tag or catch, or go to the local playground.

Have you tried having more structured activities for him? If he is badgering you and driving you crazy, perhaps he is bored and not sure how to entertain himself. Some kids need to be taught.

I have a home daycare, and I usually have 6-8 kids each day. I will frequently set up an open ended activity for the kids if I notice they are starting to act up. Redirecting their attention works well. Even little things like putting art supplies or play doh on the table (paper, glue, pencils, and scissors can occupy them for an hour with little mess), setting chalk and bubbles on the driveway, giving them a bucket of water and a paintbrush outside, or grabbing a stack of books off the shelf will quickly get them engaged in something fun. Keeping them occupied helps prevent the misbehaving that comes from boredom.

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S.G.

answers from Grand Forks on

I like FrogMoM's idea of a schedule.

As for the grounding...I would explain to your son that things like use of the tablet and movies before bed are special privileges and that they are completely gone until you see a change in behaviour. Every time he whines, throws a fit, badgers etc remind him that he needs to work toward getting his privileges back.

I would never take away outdoor play for behaviour issues. Outdoor play is very important, and kids who don't get to play outdoors are going to have worse behaviour. Sort of like taking away recess from a kid who misbehaves.

I would not give any attention for whining, screaming, carrying on, fits or badgering. If he is going to do these things he must go to his room so as not to disturb anyone else.

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C.O.

answers from Washington DC on

D.,

Your six year old shouldn't have a tablet. Sorry. that's just overboard.

What has worked for me? STICKING TO MY WORD...

He knows he can stretch boundaries with you and his dad. In order to help you - your question NEEDS to be picked apart. Remember - everyone sees this differently, reads it differently and catches things that others do NOT catch the first read through.

You need to stop trying different things and figure out what works. How about saying NO?!?! And if he asks again? Your response should be: "You've asked me this question before. What was my answer then?" His response should be "NO". And then YOU need to state "My answer is NOT going to change. If you ask again, you will lose X for the rest of the day." And then follow through.

Let him scream.
Let him yell.
Let him cry.
Your answer will NOT change. You MUST follow through. PERIOD.

When I was living in Germany, I had friends that had two kids. My daughter and their kids would play together. My daughter would ask me a question and I would give her an answer - it was never vague "we'll see" it was either yes, we can do that. Or NO. When I said NO - she said okay and walked away. Her kids? peppered her until she caved...just like your son does with you. She said 'how do you do that?" I said - I say NO and mean it. She knows when I say NO my answer won't change - no matter how many times she asks it nor how many ways she asks it. Her kids KNEW my answer. They didn't mess with me about it. They took a step back and re-evaluated their parenting and decided to try to be more firm - doesn't mean you can't have fun - it took about a month - but after that? Their kids realized no meant no.

Their kids are now 26 and 21. One is active duty Air Force and the other just finished up cosmetology school and has a job - living on her own. My daughter just turned 28 a few weeks ago. She's living on her own and doing fine...so SAYING NO AND MEANING IT??? WILL NOT HURT YOUR CHILD!!

You need to set up a rule chart for the house - that EVERYONE must abide by. PERIOD. Grounding a six year old for more than 24 hours isn't going to work or be productive.

Sitting him down and explaining what he did wrong and telling him how you expect him to behave?? That will work. You need to model that behavior too. As what children will pick up and learn from? IS YOU. They are your mirrors....and sometimes, we don't like what we see in them...and if we take the step back?? they are only mimicking us...

You and your husband need to get on the same page in parenting and discipline....children will spot that weakness and work it - causing fights and hard times...so be a united front and work TOGETHER on your marriage and parenting...

Good luck!

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S.B.

answers from Houston on

Oh I remember this when my bundle of blue joy was this age. He is stubborn and mule headed. Don't know where he got that from! =)

I read on here some saying redirect. I do not subscribe to that method of child rearing. I believe all children should learn the word "NO". "No, you cannot have another piece of cake." "No, you cannot go back outside and play." No.

You don't want to break the child, you just want to bend a little. Can be difficult. Our son didn't really care about consequences, until we found his currency. You haven't found your son's currency yet. At this age, our son's currency was playing with friends. Oh, he could still go outside, that was required BUT not with friends. He hated that! Also, as he got older, we would take his "stuff" out of his room and he would have to earn it back. He kept slamming doors, so his door to his room came down. We got really creative with him as instructed from his counselor because he was wired differently than our daughter.

The whining drove me nuts! I would tell him "I don't speak whine so I don't understand what you are saying". I would then disengage. I ignored his tantrums and walked out of the room. He hated that and would follow. I would keep ignoring and say "when you can talk like a big boy, I will listen" and I just kept going. He was looking for a reaction and since he didn't get one got bored. He was about your son's age when we went to counseling. It helped. He did have anger issues.

So, what to do? Find his currency and use that. Grounding? Sure, I did that as well but always creatively. "You are grounded to the four corners of the yard". He couldn't live in gray. Everything had to be consistent and the same. Change is hard and with school starting, this is a change. Work with him on this. Establish a schedule. We were very regimented.

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F.B.

answers from New York on

I would opt to dole out chores, instead of something abstract like grounding. At six he can scrub the floor, sweep the garage, weed, wash the baseboards, wash the windows etc. etc. Chose things that are lengthy but not delicate or difficult.

I would find grounding to be difficult for me because I would be stuck at home with a surly child.

Best,
F. B.

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

Edited to add: are you saying you only want answers that agree with grounding him? If so, I suggest that your willingness to only considdr your own thoughts could be a big reason you are having ddifficulty with your son. You expect obedience without considering why he acts this way and the possibility that a different approach might work better.

One thought. I always found grounding to be more about making my life difficult than making their life difficult. For me, consequences are about teaching while building a positive relationship with my child. I suggest you are punishing your child adding to his anger as well as yours.

I suggest you stop grounding and taking things away. Start giving verbal rewards for acceptable behavior. Spend more time telling him what he's doing right than what he's doing wrong. Schedule fun times to be together

Andd find ways to provide natural consequences for midbehavior. When he badgers send him to his room because he's not good company. Talk with him about this plan and then consistently do not listen to him and take him to his room.

When he throws a fit because he wants to watch a movie, walk out of the room and shut the door. Do this immediately. Do not interact with him when he's inappropriate in his reactions to your rules. Send him to his room. When he's calmed down give him a hug. Tell him you're proud he calmed down.

And most importantly sympathize with him. "I know you want to watch TV. IT'S OK to be upset. Now go back to your room." Then immediately take him back. After that no talking or reacting to him. Firmly back to his room. Do not try to convince him of anything. Never argue with him. He will stay in his room once he realizes that you are not going to interact with him; that you're not upset; that you're modeling for him how to be calm. This worked for my grandchildren in a couple of weeks being firm and consistent.

I suggest that one reason we often have difficulty disciplining our children is that we expect to be able to directly change them. We cannot change anyone except oourselves. We can teach our children how to behave in the way we interact with them. Punitive measures don't work because the child reacts in anger without the opportunity to learn how to act. You want to ground him because you are frustrated and angry. You sre modeling for him to act out when frustrated and angry.

Instead you want to model calm confidence; to show in your manner that you are in charge. I suggest grounding as you describe it as a last resort sort of action. I suggest that Iif you calmly say to him that you know he will learn to behave and that you will help him learn by not accepting tantrums, yelling, refusing to cooperate by sending him to his room to calm down and that you will then talk with him about what happened and how to do better next time he will learn. Give him lots of positive reinforcement in the way of noticing and praising.

It also helps to schedule time doing pleasany things together everyday. Often we get in a pattern of going round and round in frustration. That perpetuates the negative pattern.

I suggest you read Love and Logic by Foster Cline. It's about childten's nature snd natural consequences. I also recomment Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish's books about how to talk with children. The way we use words makes a big difference in gaining children's cooperation. One of the ways of talking with children suggested by them is to say "I know watching that movie would be fun. We can't watch it tonight because you have school tomorrow but you could watch it tomorrow after school." I suggest he is acting out in this way because he feels powerless. Instead of just saying no, you can't do that, tell him what he can do. Also let him know you are on his side. You do understand how he's feeling. It's an you and I will work this out attitude. Sounds like you might be Iin a power struggle with him. Give him power where appropriate. Often we can do that just with the words we use. Instead of saying no, give an alternative. "It's too late to watch the movie but we could read a short story." "Once you pick up your toys, you can go outside."

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O.O.

answers from Los Angeles on

I think different approaches work for different types of kids.
Clearly, what you're doing is not working for your child.
(Is this picking your question apart? If so, sorry. What your asking about is basically super sizing what you've already done..which hasn't worked.)
I like the suggestion of a written daily schedule. As h Ives along the day, give a star or a sticker. If all ( or all but O.?) activities are done? Tablet time for the next day, etc.

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G.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Hubby is right.

A child this age doesn't get it. So what he doesn't get to do something for a day, by the end of 30 minutes it's out of his mind that he's in trouble for something. He just sees you being mean and not letting him go outside.

Did his offense have something to do with playing outside? Did he break something outside so he wasn't allowed to go out?

Try short immediate consequences such as time out. Sit him down in a chair and let the fit start. When he calms down his time out starts. I'd say time out in this instance can be longer.

I've sat kiddo down at the table for half an hour until he was completely in control of himself again then we talked about what he did wrong. That was it.

I know some people think kids this age do understand and associate grounding with some thing they did but most don't.

He needs consequences that pertain to what he did. Talk back? Not taking away the tablet. What did he talk back about? Are you squashing his ability to grow independently? Does he have the right to say NO? Is he allowed to think things through and make some decisions? Are you a parent who expects immediate compliance and he's bucking at that?

I am gladly a dictator. There was a time where I expected immediate obeying. No discussions, no opinions, just get to what I told you to do.

After taking parenting classes I've learned that allowing a child to say no is so good for them. Kids that are taught to comply are never taught they can say no to an adult. If a stranger comes up to them and tells them "Get in the car" this type of child will obey simply because that person is an adult and they're not allowed to say no to adults.

Being allowed to say no sometimes and it be accepted by his parents gives a child that ability to stand up and say no to an authority figure. Not that you want that to happen for silly reason's like going to bed on time.

Perhaps phrasing it a different way would be more acceptable to him.

Such as, just some ideas..

Johnny, what time is it? What do you do at XXpm? Johnny, are you supposed to be getting jammies on? Asking him to remember and not ordering him to stop what he's doing could take his brain down a different path.

Research some good ways to transition kids from one thing to the next.

This was the biggest explosion issue in our house. Hubby has no concept of transitioning. He would order kiddo by saying "Time for bed" and expect kiddo to get up, go put on jammies and stuff, lay down in bed, close his eyes and be asleep. Not very realistic especially if kiddo was watching TV and it was the middle of a show or playing a game on the computer. Transition transition transition.

Kiddo was much more compliant when we'd give him....warnings?....notices...neither of those is the word I'm searching for...promptings. That's it.

Let's say kiddo goes to bed at 8pm.

7pm would be like this. "Kiddo, it's getting close to bedtime, time to start thinking about what you need to do". Not expecting them to do anything.

7:15pm. "Hey Kiddo, it's about bedtime, are you ready yet, TV goes off at the next commercial (If it's the end of that show)"? Expecting them to start physically showing signs of thought...like putting the tablet down or ending their game, stuff that shows they are starting to transition.

You have to time it right though, if you turn off the TV or tablet or game or anything before their mind is there it stops the whole process and his brain goes down the throw a fit path.

Set a kitchen timer to go off at 7:25/7:30. That's his Pavlov's bell. A sound that signals time is up and that he needs to do something specific now. I'd say get jammies on right away. Then he can have a snack, have a story, have quiet time with mom or dad. AND if bedtime isn't working with one then the other one might need to take it over. Sounds like dad could do it just fine.

I let hubby put kiddo to bed in our house and I get the girl going. Kiddo listens to hubby much better than me at bedtime and hubby has better skills now that he's worked on transitions.

Teaching is your job, not being the boss. Sometimes parents, especially me, have to be reminded that teaching a child a skill they'll have for the rest of their life is what our goal is. It's not to form a small person who stands at attention and obeys every order.

Teach him how to do this, work on your transition skills, and don't get caught up in "it's bedtime NOW". He will pay his consequences the next day when he has to get up and go to school and he's tired.

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

it can be very frustrating when you do things *right* and they don't appear to work.
but i still think you're doing it right.
although it probably seems as if your sensible and prompt reactions and consequences aren't having the desired effect, i'm betting they are in the long-term (which is what's most important, after all.) but nothing works ALL the time, and it sounds as if last night's bedtime ordeal may be more rooted in the upset of back-to-school than a failure of discipline. i do think that upping the ante to losing EVERYTHING for a day might be enough of a jolt to make a fast impact. and is appropriate even if he does remain exasperating.
i do agree with your husband that long-term punishments are inappropriate and ineffective. 6 is pretty young, after all. but ramping up the direness for the short term is just fine.
and overall it sounds as if you and your dh are really handling things well. let the school schedule settle in for a while, and expect that your son might be a handful while he's getting used to it. doesn't mean he doesn't have consequences, but don't worry if the effects aren't yet visible.
khairete
S.

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A.J.

answers from Williamsport on

I have a very spirited 6 year old stubborn boy too. And he never in a million years would have responded to mild immediate things like tablet removal, not going outside, etc. I commend your hard work at being diligent, immediate and consistent. But you're right. These things are not effective enough deterrents in the least. And at 6, he's got a much stronger will than he did all along. The only reason my son will now heed a stern warning without a battle is because I have always been much much firmer than what you mention. "Removal of stuff" (usually luxuries or privileges to begin with) and grounding is a void of action. It's literally nothing to a spirited child. And hubs is right on this, making the "void of something" longer will not be effective at this age.

Get the book Back to Basics Discipline and implement a boot camp. Once he's in check he'll be a new kid. I'm sorry to go against the common grain of thought these days, but imo ignoring massive tantrums is NEVER productive. Not at 2 and not at six. He needs serious discipline for that behavior or he will keep doing it. I know an 8 year old who still acts that way.

He should be warned what will happen the very next time he attempts a fit (or whining or fussing when you say no-he's way too old for that!!) and then disciplined the very first few seconds he even attempts that. EVERY time. If he blows up even bigger in response to that consequence, warn him calmly if he doesn't pipe down he'll be disciplined again plus some compounded measures. A few fits may fly past you at first since he's been enabled to do this, but once he NEVER gets away with, and you always act right away as he's STARTING it, he will stop. And if he pulls it in public, he is old enough to pay the piper when he gets home. He's a big boy. The jig is up.

Let dad step up and be the disciplinarian whenever possible too. Boys need men to put the clamp down. I'm a single mom and I was able to do it, but couples I know with strong dads have a much quicker time with discipline. And even my kids snap to quickly with their dad when he visits. You guys need to be on SAME TOUGH PAGE. Don't get mad, just act immediately and calmly. The key is preventing escalation so you have more opportunity for peace and positivity in your day.

***ps my kids have no tablets or electronics until they get jobs. They're allowed a little tv in evening IF THEY WERE GOOD all day, otherwise no tv. They can occupy themselves some other way. I'd take that away until he earns it back with a significant span of good behavior.

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P.M.

answers from Portland on

Sticks are important, but so are carrots. Rewards for desired behavior are often better motivators than punishment, especially with difficult kids who don't respond well to punishment. But parents have to train themselves to notice, remark upon, and appreciate those possibly rare moments when a child did something mostly right. And "rewards" don't have to be material (in fact, over time that would become detrimental). They can be as simple as a genuine smile and "I noticed what you did there. That was lovely!"

A friend in my religious community has a son much like yours. She was in deep despair a few weeks ago; when I asked her what was up, she confessed that she was having a hard time even liking her own 7yo son.

As with other parents in similar pickles, I suggested she read How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk. It's a brilliant little workshop in a book; each chapter coaches you on simple techniques that really do work with most kids. I suggest this book for you, too. I can almost guarantee that, you'll find a new level of mutual respect and appreciation, more trust, and most likely, better compliance. And your son will be able to decide how to change his behavior for better outcomes. A calmer and happier family all around. (My friend is delighted with the new dynamics in her home!)

Please be aware that learning new attitudes and habits will be gradual, and he will probably continue to resist your wishes, but that should diminish. Stubborn kids can't always help how they are, and obsessive kids quickly lose awareness of other people's needs and feelings while they are obsessing. With consistent coaching and some new habits of your own, I'm pretty sure you'll see results. Sometimes very fast.

It might be helpful to be aware that many kids are affected by artificial colors and certain common preservatives in foods, and air-borne chemical traces from household cleaners/laundry products can cause alarming mood problems. I suffer from this myself, and have to be very careful what I get exposed to, or I can find myself in a surprising rage that seems connected to nothing at all.

Wishing your family the best.

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G.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Hubby is right.

A child this age doesn't get it. So what he doesn't get to do something for a day, by the end of 30 minutes it's out of his mind that he's in trouble for something. He just sees you being mean and not letting him go outside.

Did his offense have something to do with playing outside? Did he break something outside so he wasn't allowed to go out?

Try short immediate consequences such as time out. Sit him down in a chair and let the fit start. When he calms down his time out starts. I'd say time out in this instance can be longer.

I've sat kiddo down at the table for half an hour until he was completely in control of himself again then we talked about what he did wrong. That was it.

I know some people think kids this age do understand and associate grounding with some thing they did but most don't.

He needs consequences that pertain to what he did. Talk back? Not taking away the tablet. What did he talk back about? Are you squashing his ability to grow independently? Does he have the right to say NO? Is he allowed to think things through and make some decisions? Are you a parent who expects immediate compliance and he's bucking at that?

I am gladly a dictator. There was a time where I expected immediate obeying. No discussions, no opinions, just get to what I told you to do.

After taking parenting classes I've learned that allowing a child to say no is so good for them. Kids that are taught to comply are never taught they can say no to an adult. If a stranger comes up to them and tells them "Get in the car" this type of child will obey simply because that person is an adult and they're not allowed to say no to adults.

Being allowed to say no sometimes and it be accepted by his parents gives a child that ability to stand up and say no to an authority figure. Not that you want that to happen for silly reason's like going to bed on time.

Perhaps phrasing it a different way would be more acceptable to him.

Such as, just some ideas..

Johnny, what time is it? What do you do at XXpm? Johnny, are you supposed to be getting jammies on? Asking him to remember and not ordering him to stop what he's doing could take his brain down a different path.

Research some good ways to transition kids from one thing to the next.

This was the biggest explosion issue in our house. Hubby has no concept of transitioning. He would order kiddo by saying "Time for bed" and expect kiddo to get up, go put on jammies and stuff, lay down in bed, close his eyes and be asleep. Not very realistic especially if kiddo was watching TV and it was the middle of a show or playing a game on the computer. Transition transition transition.

Kiddo was much more compliant when we'd give him....warnings?....notices...neither of those is the word I'm searching for...promptings. That's it.

Let's say kiddo goes to bed at 8pm.

7pm would be like this. "Kiddo, it's getting close to bedtime, time to start thinking about what you need to do". Not expecting them to do anything.

7:15pm. "Hey Kiddo, it's about bedtime, are you ready yet, TV goes off at the next commercial (If it's the end of that show)"? Expecting them to start physically showing signs of thought...like putting the tablet down or ending their game, stuff that shows they are starting to transition.

You have to time it right though, if you turn off the TV or tablet or game or anything before their mind is there it stops the whole process and his brain goes down the throw a fit path.

Set a kitchen timer to go off at 7:25/7:30. That's his Pavlov's bell. A sound that signals time is up and that he needs to do something specific now. I'd say get jammies on right away. Then he can have a snack, have a story, have quiet time with mom or dad. AND if bedtime isn't working with one then the other one might need to take it over. Sounds like dad could do it just fine.

I let hubby put kiddo to bed in our house and I get the girl going. Kiddo listens to hubby much better than me at bedtime and hubby has better skills now that he's worked on transitions.

Teaching is your job, not being the boss. Sometimes parents, especially me, have to be reminded that teaching a child a skill they'll have for the rest of their life is what our goal is. It's not to form a small person who stands at attention and obeys every order.

Teach him how to do this, work on your transition skills, and don't get caught up in "it's bedtime NOW". He will pay his consequences the next day when he has to get up and go to school and he's tired.

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M.M.

answers from Chicago on

I have friends that did it for a weekend with their 6 year old. She would tell you it was more hell on her than on him, unfortunately. It got mixed results. And in the meantime, she had to put up with her younger one clamoring to get outside and go do things.

So maybe for a day? We have done it for evenings at a time, and our DS is just like yours, so I can't actually say it worked to curb the behavior. But it did work in giving us a well needed break at that point in time.

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