5 year old angry & sad

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  • #46379 Report


    Hi All! I’m new here – first post.

    My ex and I separated when my son was 3 months old. He’s never played a big part in my son’s life (his choice) and over the years has gradually seen him less and less, now seeing him 1 day per week. I spent years asking him to spend time with him little and often, every day preferably, so they could build a secure attachment but he doesn’t want to do that as it interferes with his daily life.

    My son has always been unsettled after returning from his Dad’s but over the years it has got worse and worse. He has gone through many periods of not wanting to see his Dad at all for weeks on end. They don’t have a close relationship but my son (at the moment) wants to see him on that 1 day per week.

    There is a pattern of behaviour after he has seen his Dad and it is markedly worse if he hasn’t seen his paternal grandparents during the visit. He returns hyperactive that evening and very boisterous, rough play, hitting etc. I try to be really patient but make it clear that’s not OK here. He also regresses and behaves like a toddler, making grunting noises instead of speaking, writhing on the floor when I say no and then becoming exceptionally clingy wanting me to hold him all the time. This often carries over into the following day when he seems generally sad, disinterested in his usual interests and very angry towards me and my Dad (who lives with us).

    He asked me this morning where I got him from and I explained that he grew my tummy etc. He asked “what about Grandad?” and I explained grandad is my Dad. I think he’s confused about his place in the world and his Dad’s place in his life.

    The odd behaviour I think is because his Dad does nothing with him. He stays in the house all day and my son generally entertains himself and isn’t played with. That is why he’s better when he’s seen his paternal grandparents. They play with him and are really great with him.

    I have spoken before to his Dad many times about this and most recently I asked him specifically to take him out to a park or forest or just a bike ride round the estate so he gets quality time and exercise. He isn’t doing that still.

    He also isn’t made proper meals and I worry about the general level of care he receives over there.

    He’s been so awful this weekend that I’m considering limiting contact but that is a huge step that I have never wanted to take. The fact is though that this 8/9 hours he spends with his Dad each week leads to days of deep sadness in him. I have asked if it’s because he didn’t want to come home and he says no. I have asked if he misses Daddy and he says no.

    Has anyone experienced anything similar and have any advice?


    #46380 Report


    Most of what you describe above is normal behavior . most of it your son will snap out of. Theres many reasons why he could be showing challenging behaviors.

    What would help would be if both parents are able to co parent as i dont think anybody is to blame in anyway

    #46383 Report


    Thanks for taking the time to post. I’m curious why you think this is normal behaviour? He doesn’t behave like this at any other time. Yes he has tantrums and he doesn’t always know when he’s hungry or tired etc. But the behaviour he displays after seeing his Dad is so extreme, hence why I’m worried. Do you feel it’s normal behaviour for a 5 year old or for a kid in this situation specifically?


    Co-parenting is unfortunately not an option as my ex is not interested in resolving any issues unless they affect him directly.

    #46388 Report


    If parents dont get on , let alone co parent . Children will nearly always pick up on things and this can cause them to act the way they are through no fault of their own. most of it is only temporary and stops. I do think behaviors can be worse if they hear one parent slating another. sometimes they merely do it for attention or being naughty.


    #46407 Report

    Renata L

    It is good that you are worried about the role of the father in the life of your child, but as you can see, the father is not very much and wants to be part of the life of your son. If the child wants to see the father, let him, there is nothing wrong with it. I think it’s stressful for your son, support him.

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