"A father's contribution to his children is primarily a measure of how much he adores their mother. "

Spiraling Seven Year Old

Question

I would like some advice on how to handle our 7 year old son. Our family has had an extremely tough season. We had to re-home the dog my children grew up with (my sons best buddy) due to my sons allergies suddenly getting worse, 12 days later his grandfather passed away, this left my husband and his sibling with a business to take over very suddenly. There was a ton of work to be done. We also had to renovate the house at the business and have been wildly busy with our regular lives and then moving out to the country, with no other kids to connect with, and my husband's regular work (now an hour drive away) and he is also working on his masters degree. I homeschool our kids as the schools are very very far away and only teenagers are on the bus. It didn't seem right to put a 6/7 year old and a kindergartener on a bus for over 2 hours a day with teens only.

Our son has taken everything very hard. But things are getting out of hand now. I know he is upset at all that he has lost in his life this past year, and his dad had been so busy with jobs and university that he is hardly around to really parent. I have been home with the kids, but I am burning out. I need advice. I am too quick to snap and not as patient as I used to be.

We have been using your methods, but in the chaos of this last year, it has fallen by the wayside. Our son is a "tough nut to crack" and we have tried early bedtime for nearly a month, cleaned out his room, we even cancelled his birthday party with friends and that didn't work. After more lies, sneaking and talking back/being rude with his sister, we then said any gifts from us or family were off limits until he earns them back with consistent good behaviour.

School is still tough, lots of complaining and working extra slow, even though he is a year ahead for his age and finds school quite easy. He is really rude to his sister, still will lie about completing chores or playing with things outside that are off-limits. I am not sure what else I can take away. We hardly watch TV and have no video games.

I am not sure which system is best to use with him right now, strikes, tickets, something else? I know he feels really bad about his choices and struggles with feeling like he is a horrible kid. We tell him that his choices are bad, not him. But that the more you make certain choices the harder it will be to turn that around and begin to make the right ones. As soon as he's in trouble he gets very angry with himself and acts like he is a failure. I do not want this to continue, but I don't want to make his feelings rule what we do.

We have NO family to help or babysit, one grandparent tried to give a birthday gift anyway! And thought it wasn't right to take away a party. There are no kids where we live and the nearest town is 40 min away. He goes to church, and karate 2x each week. That is all. I have thought about taking him out of the karate class, but it is his only social time, and it has good discipline as well.

Any advice as to what we should do would be great. We are just trying to keep up right now, but don't want to let this pattern with him go unchanged.
Thank you so much!

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