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Can a 4 y.o. be a "button pusher"? aka What do you do when you just want to lock them in the...

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 


I have been having a really hard time with my son, just turned four, of late. We have been through a lot of changes as a family in the last year (new baby, two moves, two new countries, concentrated and intense (and lovely!) time with grandparents and now none at all, new preschool...), but I am finding day to day life with him really difficult right now.

Mainly I am frustrated by the tears/tantrums over things that can't be predicted or helped or what seems to me very much like fight-picking or button-pushing over similar issues.

As an example, today he rode his scooter to the park, zooming all the way there and quite a bit while we were in the park. On the way back, it was a busy time in our neighborhood and he had to go very slowly. As soon as we turned into our alleyway, he started crying, "I wanted go speedy! I wanted go speedy all the way home!" I explain, it was crowded, I am sorry you can't always go as fast as you want to, and his refrain changes to "I want be ahead of you!" And commands of "Go back there!" so that he will get to our gate first. More "I wanted go speedy" cries and then when I suggest he can do a speedy up-and-back on the flat pavement behind our building before we go inside, he replies with "I want go back and forth TWO times!" More tears and shrieking when I say, "No, just once." Still more crying when it really is time to go inside and he's crying, "I don't want go inside!"

I know there's a lot going on here - he wants to be in control of his movements and loves going fast. He was tired at the time this happened, I was anxious to get the baby inside for a nap. But there's a lot of this happening lately, tears and shrieking and screaming over things that can't be helped ("I wanted pears!" when there are none or "I wanted my red pyjamas!" when he's already wearing the green ones and the red ones are in the wash or "I wanted The Gruffalo!" when we've already read our allotment of bedtime stories and it's time for lights out.). And it's wearing me out, making me not like spending time with him, leaving me at a loss as to how to handle these situations.

Ideas? Commiseration?
post #2 of 14
I have a 5.5 year old, it's a little better this year than last year, that gives me hope.

I don't have great advice but one of my friends says it helps her to say "Hey?? What are you, FOUR years old ??" and that helps her keep behaviors and her own expectations in check when she's exasperated.
post #3 of 14
Sounds normal to me. At least based on my own experience. Things do get better...though at almost 6, dd still has days like this.

I put myself in timeout, usually in the garage (comfy old recliner) whenever I want to lock dd1 up.
post #4 of 14
Commiseration here.

Quote:
I don't have great advice but one of my friends says it helps her to say "Hey?? What are you, FOUR years old ??"
This is great.

Quote:
I put myself in timeout, usually in the garage (comfy old recliner) whenever I want to lock dd1 up.
Me too. It's usually when she's much more aggressive, but yeah. I lock myself in my kitchen with the little one. It happens rarely but I know I have that space...

With my DD, who is what I call a limit-tester, she likes to push the limit, in both positive and negative ways, I reply in a low voice (when I remember ). I repeat, repeat, repeat what is going to happen.

It is so hard, mama. I know how you feel. You are not alone and my only hard and fast rule is if someone starts telling you how if you just listen to them, empathize, and explain yourself, then they will magically comply... pretend that was a joke and that such children don't exist.

I know they do but I can't deal with it right now.
post #5 of 14
Quote:
making me not like spending time with him
Oh, and I understand this one, too. Do you have any time during the day, even a 20-minute block, when you can spend undivided attention on him without interruption? Baby is 9 months, surely daddy can help? Or during a naptime?

I have found that even if the rest of the day is a total disaster, having that one time reminds me how much I do like her personality, because when she gets to be the baby, she's really sweet. I mean, who wouldn't be? LOL! But it does help keep the connection, even if it doesn't always solve problems outside of that time frame.
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by madskye View Post
.

I don't have great advice but one of my friends says it helps her to say "Hey?? What are you, FOUR years old ??" and that helps her keep behaviors and her own expectations in check when she's exasperated.
My DH says the same thing when DD acts like that

I have a 4 year old, I have witnessed some behavior that yes is button pushing with her-like literal button pushing.

Me "Please don't touch, x,y,z(usually involves my lap top, phone, something electronic)".

DD looks at me grabs it and pushes a button, calls someone-it happened yesterday in fact. This happens pretty often, she'll just look at me or DH and do the exact thing we just specifically asked her not to. Usually it's because she's tired.

She has also had that same type of tantrum you are describing, in fact I posted wondering if it was emotionally appropriate for a 4 year old and yes it was pretty normal behavior. I do believe some kids do some things to get our goat. DD talks and interrupts whenever the conversation isn't about her, my Dh and I never even get to talk because she'll start singing, talking, or just make annoying sounds until we stop and give her our 100% attention. She's not really like that with DS, for some reason she realizes as a baby he needs attention, but if it's an adult she just will.not.stop.
post #7 of 14
Oh, on the radio the other day, there was the funniest dedication: "Evan, to his baby girl Ava. You're four years old! Happy birthday, Ava!" And the song was "Funkytown", you know, the one that goes, "Talk about it, talk about it, talk about it, talk about it..." LOL!
post #8 of 14
My 4.5 yr old DD is doing the same thing. She's constantly trying to get more. I say we'll read two chapters, she says three. I say five minutes until bed, she says ten. I repeat first offer, she throws a tantrum. It makes me want to rip my hair out sometimes!

It sounds like your DS might be trying to control *something* about what's going on in his life after all the changes. Maybe figuring out some activity where he can safely be in control of what's going on for a half hour a day would help get that out of his system, at least to an extent. I'm very sure that a good chunk of it is age related, though.
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Oh, mamas, thank you so much! Why is it that the twos get such bad press and no one says anything about how difficult four can be? And mine just turned four (though this difficult behavior has been brewing for a month or so)... I feel like someone failed to warn me.

We are really lucky in that my husband doesn't have a strict WAH schedule and can stay home or work from home if necessary, so we (my DS and I...) do get breaks from each other and my DS does get one-on-one time from one or the other of us pretty much every day. When the baby was brand new, I took the advice from a friend who suggested that the first 10 minutes that the baby is sleeping or happy with someone else should be devoted to the big kid. But that's slipped now... I will try to do that more often.

And give myself timeout! Ha! The only place in our apartment I can lock is bathroom, but the baby does like to splash in the sink and it could always use a scrub...
post #10 of 14
I actually had locks installed on the kitchen doors for this very purpose, as it's the most dangerous part of the house and I felt I could reasonably leave my child outside of it, but not alone with access to it. Locksmiths aren't TOO expensive.

Otherwise, the bathroom, go for it. Really. Cleaning makes me feel better, as does washing my face. It truly helps me personally calm down.

Hey, just saw you were in Munich! I am in Rheinland-Pfalz. :hi
post #11 of 14
Of course they can push buttons! DD did an extremely loud moan for tantrums at that age. Thankfully hers even sounded ridiculously fake, so it was easier to at it rather than be or !

More attention when they're *not* behaving that way can help. I always tried to ignore the moaning and tell her that we'd talk about her problem when she was calmer/quieter, which was extremely hard, but tended to help. They go back and forth between charming to be with and annoying to be with in my experience. Hang in there!
post #12 of 14
Four has been the toughest year thus far. We moved in to a new house and DS2 was born.
My ODS will be 5 in January. He was a perfect 2 and an even better 3, but now that he's figuring things out and learning more, he's becoming smarter and wiser and really knows how to push my buttons. He doesn't do this to DH - no, never - he only does it to me!!!

"I KNOW!!" has become a part of his everyday responses - when I ask him to get buckled in his carseat, or to feed the dogs, or to do this and that... he always has this response. TEARS when I don't play the right CD in the car right away. TEARS when we don't go get his favorite drink every morning at Starbuck's. He doesn't seem to understand that this is a treat and that it costs money!

I pray and I hope that 5 is much better. I really do. I try my best to do things with him that will keep him calm and enjoy our time together, but most of the time, it's a struggle. The best time is when we are playing a board game! Go figure.
post #13 of 14
It is the age of learning emotional interaction, aka manipulation. LOL! They are not manipulative in an evil scheming way, but they do love to figure out how to get people to react in certain ways and that IS manipulation. A necessary skill but one that is hell to teach.
post #14 of 14
My FIL has been warning us about four since DD was an infant. He refers to this stage as "the f***ing fours".

Though I must admit, thus far it has taken the cake...Even after everyone else said age three would be the worst.
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