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How to handle a very loud, wild animal, aka a 4 year old boy who won't calm down

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'm finding it hard to handle ds (4) current loud, physical phase. He is a dinosaur, or a lion and he has to roar in my face, pretend to eat me, etc. which is fine to a point but he won't stop. I'll ask him nicely, ask him firmly, lay out a consequence, etc. nothing helps. Eventually I'll put him in his room because I can't bear it any more which seems extreme but gentler measures don't work. He does it with other kids and adults too. Most of them don't like it either. I'm feeling a little sensitive at the moment and it honestly feels like an assault. He is so loud and in your face. I do try to play along with him and join in the game, either being the victim 'oh no, don't eat me!' or roaring back but that seems to make him over excited and silly and ends up with one of us, usually me, getting hurt. I'm sure this is just a phase, and it's not actually typical of him overall  but until he grows out of it I have to find a way to handle it. I tried to talk to him at bed time as he'd hurt me earlier (accidentally) and I wanted him to understand that if someone says stop then you have to stop but he just said 'I won't stop'. He's very stubborn. My husband thinks he's just being naughty but I'm trying to figure out why he is doing it. What's he trying to get from it? Unfortunately, neither me or dh are the rough housing, wrestling types so maybe that is what he's looking for. Is this a typical 4 year old boy thing? By the way, it's not just the roaring. There's a lot of other noises, running, jumping, thumping, screaming, spinning, etc. it's just that the roaring in my face is the one I'm having the most trouble handling. The rest only makes me anxious because the neighbours have started to complain. He also does lot of little irritating things like poking his fork into the table and pulling his sisters hair when my back's turned. Any advice or 'this too shall pass' anecdotes welcome. Thanks

post #2 of 12

Sounds like my 4 year old.  I have to get pretty mean with him every now and then.  Sometimes I get him involved in cooking or something else I'm doing.  Does he get to play with other kids?  Extended play, running around outside with peers really calms him down for a few days.

post #3 of 12
my 4yo, ds3, is like that. very loud, rambunctious, jumping and crawling all over me to the point that it hurts sometimes. i tell him that kind of loud and physical play is for outside and direct him to the backyard. that works during the day but nights are hard. sometimes i have to send him to another room. i try not to make it feel like a punishment. i give him a choice. he can either calm down and stay with me or he can go to another room if he wants to continue to be loud and rough.

you can say things like, "I don't like that. It hurts my ears, or scares me, or whatever. Stop!" If he continues, give him a choice of stopping or going in another room by himself but try to remain calm about it. If he doesn't explicitly choose but does it again, say, "I see you have chosen to go in another room to play by yourself," and take him to that room.

You can always remove yourself. Go to your bedroom and shut the door. Yeah, I know he may follow you and bang on the door and make all kinds of ruckus so that won't work. That's what my 4yo does. He just follows me if I try to leave.

It's tough. It's an ongoing thing. He will continue to behave that way until he grows out of it or finds another way to express himself. He will probably never grow out of the high energy.
post #4 of 12

make sure he is getting plenty of active play every day. I have 5 boys ages 3-11 so mama I can soooo relate!!! (rainy days make me wanna cry cuz I know the active level is ging to be nuts indoors!) Get him involved in anything to get the energy out. set up obstacle course outside, play kickball with him, let him throw bean bags, etc..... We have a firm rule as far as walking feet inside and talking voices inside. If they cant obey I get their jacket on, bring them out and remind them outside is where we run, jump, yell, etc.... I allow them a few minutes to let off steam and then firmly tell them its now time to calm down and come back in. I actually set my youngest 2 boys bed straight on the floor (no frame) and moved all furniture away and I allow them to jump on it all day long if they want. If yu react to his noise, energy, annoances in an aggravated way he is most certainly ging to feed off that and be worse. (I always love the parent who YELLS "BE QUIET!!! NO YELLING!!! CALM DOWN!!!" Im pretty sure if an adult elled at me like that it wuld get my adrenaline surging. lol) But be FIRM, matter of fact. If he pokes with a fork, tell him "If you do that again I will take the fork away because that hurts." If he does it, take it away. Explain he can have it back if he uses it prperly. Praise him when he DOES sit patiently or uses his fork properly, etc... as lng as he has an utlet for his energy, he is old enough to learn to respect boundaries and rules. Patience though, mama! It takes time. Plus I find boys are definitly wired with excess energy! :)

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks. This is really helpful. I need to find more ways for him to get his energy out indoors. I was thinking maybe a balance board or one of those wobbly bucket seats, I forget their name. A yoga ball might be good too. He only has a mattress (he broke his bed frame jumping from the dresser on to the bed and he also broke his curtain rail twice by swinging from the curtains but thats another story) so I  could get him to jump on that too. One of the problems is that he really craves a social outlet as well as a physical one so he's not really interested in doing all these things on his own. Luckily his baby sister is pretty feisty so I think the day is coming when she will be a big help. 

post #6 of 12
Can you take him to a gymnastics class? Or maybe martial arts or something like that?

My 4yo takes Tae Kwon Do and I am planning to enroll him in either gymnastics or dance. I thought gymnastics but he's actually asked for dance so I'll have to see what I can find.
post #7 of 12

Maybe check out The Art of Roughhousing by Larry Cohen


I would also say it is a typical 4 year old thing and not in anyway limited to "boys."  There isn't a day at my ds's preschool that the kids are lions, wildcats, monsters, or just simply roaring children.


In our family (and at ds's school) we work with an idea called "safe body."  It's like a safe word/ off-switch to the game.  If someone says "safe body" or "stop" then the other person(s) need to respect that and stop.  Also the teachers at ds's school will sometimes tell the kids "safe body" which means they are doing something unsafe with their bodies and need to resume a "safe body." (This could be playing too rough, climbing too high, spinning too fast etc).  I try to really model this for ds, so if we are tickling him and he's laughing as soon as he says "stop" I stop.  Then sometimes we'll talk about it like, "remember when I was tickling you and you said 'stop?' Well, I stopped right away because you were telling me you did not like what was happening to your body.  I need you to do the same thing if I tell you to stop doing something to my body. etc"

post #8 of 12

My DS (4 yrs) gets like this, and I tell DH that DS needs some roughhousing. *I* don't love roughhousing; I have a bad back and I'm pregnant. I will do SOME activities like chase, but DH is the one who is the roughhouser. SOOOO necessary. Also called rough-and-tumble play in the literature -http://www.fira.ca/article.php?id=151. Flanders did an intervention group with fathers and young boys (who all had bad behavior in the classroom, and not-so-great relationships with their dads, as it turned out). Watch the video of Joseph Flanders talk, "Rough-and-Tumble Play and the Cooperation-Competition Dilemma: Evolutionary and Developmental Perspectives on the Development of Social Competence"




Here is a direct link to a video of his talk, if the link works --  http://vimeo.com/18707772  . I think the intervention they did (group therapy where each father-boy pair had a chance to roughhouse during the session) was AMAZING. I wish all boys had this relationship with their dad. (or mom)


post #9 of 12

Great advice. I love the "safe body" idea and the Art of Roughhousing link.

I have a little bit of a different situation. My ds is 4 and is rough and tumble at home with me, DH and DS2  but in school he "does not stand up for himself" (teacher's words) and is very intimidated. Is this normal? I was really concerned and called the pediatrician because I'm afraid of low self-esteem. 

Does anyone have any advice / experiences like this?


post #10 of 12

We have some experience with this--- at 4 years old, my son found it really hard to sit still and needed to run, jump, climb, vocalize, and go crazy.  I think much of this was typical.  As children grow and become more familiar with their bodies and capabilities, pushing physical limits to the max (whether in strength, sound, or energy) can seem like the "logical" thing to them.smile.gif  But your DS is also pushing boundaries, because when you ask him to stop he continues.  With my son, it seemed like he "couldn't" stop no matter how we asked/what we tried.  (We later learned that he's in the autism spectrum, and recognizing facial expressions/understanding people's reactions is a challenge for him.)


My kids are older, and these days we use a couple of strategies.  1) Outside voices or outside behavior belong outside. FULL STOP. I have to be careful to distinguish getting a little silly or rowdy (which we all do in winter!) with behavior that we don't want; usually the clincher is if I've asked for it to stop and it does not.  I begin laying out coats, shoes, etc in a very deliberate and determined way, and I have bundled them up kicking and screaming and sent them outside.  I always offer alternatives--- "If you want to play inside, we will ..." (draw a map, get out a game, etc).  2) People only have to ask once.  Saying "stop" one time is enough. If things don't stop the first time, immediate removal is necessary. Yes, this will result in some tantrums, but consistency is the only solution here.  3) We use the phrase "make safe choices" to underscore the fact that they can choose what to do and *always* have a choice, and when we need to separate them it's not because someone didn't listen, but because s/he needs to "get control of their body."  Until the shouting/running/craziness stops, and breathing slows, and heartbeats return to normal, this person is not going to interact with others. 


This may seem pretty harsh, but we have developed a family understanding of expectations. For example, if I feel like I'm getting frustrated, I'll announce that I need to get control of my body/temper and go on a walk or drink a glass of water upstairs.  I try to model removing myself from situations to reinforce the idea that this is often the best plan.  Getting kids to respect boundaries, remove themselves, and go calm down is a looooong process! This is what works for our family, but only after a lot of really ridiculous trail and error and not knowing what was going on. The seeds you plant today will pay off when your child is older, so think about the values you want to instill (probably respect and safety, since "being quiet" is unfortunately not a value we can teach kidsROTFLMAO.gif) and how to express them in your family's philosophy.  On the one hand, "this too shall pass." On the other hand, only if you guys can agree on an approach that suits you.  Good luck!

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone. My initial problem (him being too rough with me) has actually improved.  I've been trying to do more rough housing play with him which he loves and I've noticed my husband trying to do more too. We're still have issues with the excess energy and not listening though. He does get a lot of outdoor play, swimming and gym time. The trouble is when we're home and can't be outside (like first thing on a weekend morning). He stomps and runs and jumps and then the neighbour bangs on the wall. We've started letting him watch TV which is not only against our values but makes him more hyped up later but at least the neighbours won't hate us and we aren't yelling at our kid for just being a 4 year old. In a few weeks we will have access to our basement (lodger leaving) so hopefully he can be noisy down there without the sound carrying so badly. I think I'll start looking on craigslist for some suitable equipment we could put down there. 

post #12 of 12

Wish I knew! Watching my Grandkids while parents are on a cruise. 4 year old gets way out of control if you don't do what he wants when he wants it!!

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