This letter makes me so sad for the LW and her son.
I have been struggling with my son for a long time and just don’t know how to get through to him. He started out being very impulsive as a young child, not thinking things through, getting aggressive with other children, and not listening. Once he entered grade school the aggressive behavior toned down significantly, thank goodness, and he appeared to be listening to his teachers. At home is a different story. I’ve been divorced from my son’s father since he was 2-1/2 years old but up until recently he still maintained contact with him. I attributed many of his behaviors to his father’s leniency and lack of discipline. However, my son is nine now and no longer has contact with his father, who is a deadbeat.
My son continues to push me over the edge by not listening even though I am very clear on my expectations of him. He struggles with basic tasks like bathing himself properly, brushing his teeth and flushing the toilet. It doesn’t seem natural that I should have to do these things for him at this stage of his development. He is very clingy for a child his age—he cannot seem to find ways to entertain himself and does not have any consistent friendships with other kids. I get so frustrated that much of the time I resort to yelling and even slapping him. I have also removed toys and privileges, which he has done little to earn back. There has to be some better way of interacting where he understands what is and isn’t acceptable that also doesn’t drive both of us crazy. Please help!
–At Wits’ End