4 year old boy, really don't know what to do. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 05-29-2011, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Paul is 4.  We just don't know how to deal with him, totally lack the tools.  I know that we are at fault for many our current issues with discipline because of lack of consistancy and, well laziness, but we don't know where to even begin.  I am truly at the point of thinking spanking would work, even though I know in the long run it doesn't.  You get 'good' behavior because the kid scared, not because they WANT to do 'good'. 


Right now it seems as though he runs the house, I would call him a brat, I am afraid to have people over or take him to places like other peoples homes or play group type settings/classes.  He NEVER listens, ever, unless you scream your head off at him.  It doesn't matter if he's hurting you, breaking something, messing up something...........................sometimes if you threaten him with no tv or taking away something he will stop, for a little bit, but that's not how I want things to go.  I wouldn't want to be constantly threatened.   We have tried just focusing on 'respectful interactions' you know, not hitting people, stopping when some one asks you to stop (like him jumping on you, or sitting on you, pulling on your clothes, running at you.  Or even messing up my piles of laundry I'm folding, throwing stuff on the floor...), not throwing trash on the floor, picking up clothes and dishes instead of leaving them on the floor (that mostly comes from my hubby who is super bad about that). 


If he's mad, he'll hit you, kick, yell and scream.  I tried time out for a bit, but it didn't seem to be working.  He'd hit his sister then ask 'am I in time out?' get the timer and turn it himself.  It must not have been enough of a consequence for him.  Plus it was just a huge fight anyway, getting him to sit there, not talk, not play, not have his sister come over and play with him, not have him screaming.  It was too much, plus I did not at all like it.  Felt to controlling.


How do you find a natural consequence for things like hitting your sister, parent, dog?  Our house is very small, and my hubby works nights, so we can't just leave the room (we have the 'front' which is living/kitchen, and the 'back' which is a hallway with bathroom/laundry and the bedroom, there is a door that we put up to seperate the front and back).  I know most say to remove yourself, but that wouldn't work for us, there is no where to go.  I could go outside, but he can open the door, so that's pretty pointless.


I just really have NO idea what to do.  I am so lost and very frustrated.  Just while writing this I have had to pull him off the stool twice for getting in the freezer for ice cream.  He can undo the locks.  Why can't he just LISTEN.  we are not having ice cream right now, maybe later.

Julie ~ homesteading, Traditional Catholic, wife to Chip, mom to Angelbaby(4-06), DS (3-07), and DD (11-09).
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#2 of 10 Old 05-29-2011, 12:10 PM
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Some kids are still developing impulse control at 4, so that could be part of it. I only have one 5 year old DD at home, but during visits I also have  4 year old and one year old granddaughters. What I use for hitting/pushing/slamming doors is a time in. I take the offending girl and say "you can sit by me until you can play nice" and then keep the child with me awhile, sometimes letting her help with what I'm doing. I do alot of talking about why some behaviors are good ideas and why some behaviors are bad ideas. With my DD, we've talked about what kind of person she wants to be and how we choose our behavior to match the person we are.  When she does make a bad behavior choice, I calmly point it out and then sometimes talk about the natural social consequences of the behavior. For a simple example "Shouting hurts peoples feelings and ears. If you shout at your friends they might be afraid to play with you.".


I don't have any advice for using a stool to get into the freezer because that's something my DD has been allowed to do since she was 3. We control her diet by only buying stuff we want her to eat. Sweets are bought seldom and with the expectation they will be eaten quickly.

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#3 of 10 Old 05-29-2011, 01:54 PM
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For hitting here, you go to your room for A LONG TIME (I don't know how long, really but it's a BFD and it's until I am really really done being pissed off about it) and we wouldn't be leaving the house to do anything special for the rest of the day.


Other things that keep us all sane:

Preschool :)

Sleep/snacks.  Behavior is terrible with either of these are deficient.  My 4 year old needs 12 hours a night.

A predictable schedule with a decent amount of outside time.

Consistent expectations and consequences.  I never ignore aggressive or rude behavior. Like I won't give him anything without hearing a please/thank you.  No altercation with his sister is ignored etc.  


That's all I can think of right now..


DS (6.06), DD (10.08), DD (05.11).

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#4 of 10 Old 05-29-2011, 04:10 PM
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What helped me with my 4 yo is a book called "Setting Limits For the Strong Willed Child." 


Strong limits and the consequences behind them for me is the trick for successful GD a strong willed child/ fit thrower.  That book even gives you a timeline so you aren't changing everything immediately but in steps.  Truly worth the money. 


I also find it easy to "trick" DS into thinking he has his way when I am just getting him to come up with my idea.  This is covered in the book "The Explosive Child, " which is another good book to read. 


When my DS throws his fits then I put him in his room and sit in the room with my back against the door so he can't open it.  I am in his room at the time with him because that is just how the door opens.  I don't talk.  If he comes near to open the door I hug him or just sit there.  If I talk he'll get more upset.  He might throw a few things, spit, do some other things but he eventually calms down enough to "trick" him into coming up with my idea. 


Good luck!

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#5 of 10 Old 05-29-2011, 05:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you all for your replies, lots to think about.  I think I need to make a list of rules and have them out somewhere so we can see them and follow them to a tee.  I think there is something like that in Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline. 


Also, Paul doesn't have a room, we have one bedroom that we all share, my hubby sleeps during the day, so I don't have a place to send him.  Soon we hope to add on so that there is another room/s but it's just not right now, hopefully within a year.


I think from reading your replies, and several on the 'does GD breed wild kids' thread, I see our biggest problem is no consistancy and not having concrete boundries.  Being to 'soft' and giving in because I'm tired.  Lots to think about.  I would really like to know how people get to be consistant?  How do you remain calm and not yell.  Especially if you were raised by people who only yelled, belittled and such.

Julie ~ homesteading, Traditional Catholic, wife to Chip, mom to Angelbaby(4-06), DS (3-07), and DD (11-09).
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#6 of 10 Old 05-29-2011, 06:53 PM
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First off, before you can take care of others well, you need to take care of yourself.  If you're tired you have less patience.  So get some sleep, get some exercising in, eat well.  Then focus on what you want to happen for your son.  Is he sleeping well?  Being overtired can lead to crazy behavior.  As for the listening, i'm sure he hears you but he's learned that you're not going to do anything until the yelling starts.  When you are telling him something get down to his level, touch him, make sure his eyes are on you and then talk.  Then if he isn't moving to where he needs to be, guide him gently.  If he still is getting into things then put things up higher, put away chairs/stools or maybe even alarms(I think they make door/window alarms) so you can be alerted.  He may just need another year(around age 5) to get more impulses under control.

If you're looking for some resources to read, Playful Parenting is a great book for this age.

Cathy mom to 13 y/o DD, 10 y/o DD, 7 y/o DS

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#7 of 10 Old 05-29-2011, 08:13 PM
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I have a friend who made rules for herself, and told her ds she had to follow them.  One of them was, "Mommy can only say it one time."  Then, if he didn't listen, she moved straight to the consequence.  Maybe setting up some if/then scenerios with you ds would help.  You could even make a chart.  If you hit, then you x.  If you make me tell you twice, then y happens.  That way the consequences are not unexpected or feel arbitrary, and you don't have to come up with them on the spot.


ETA-I wanted to add that with my ds (4yo), I have been pointing out that the consequence was his CHOICE.  It wasn't me being mean.  In our house, he KNOWS what will happen if he chooses to behave a certain way.  I didn't do anything untoward to him, it isn't "unfair".  He CHOSE. 

"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."

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#8 of 10 Old 05-30-2011, 07:30 AM
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we have a chill zone here for the kids. ds3(6 w/ autism can be volatile) and ds4(who is 4 now and very strong willed) sometimes hit and lash out. I give them the option if i can between sitting on the stairs with a book or going to their bed to chill out. it's not really a punishment but it does remove them from tons of fun toys and sort of resets them.
we have a color ladder on the fridge. each color is a downgrade in privileges  so they can both see how their behavior effects my ability to do fun things for them and with them. It can be considered slightly punitive by some I guess, but for us the visual reminder helps a ton. for example each day we start at the top on the heart. if we have an issue *hitting, outside without telling mom,fighting, not listening * ds4 will drop down 1 to fun outings. or the purple step. this means he can still go on outings, watch a movie, play a game, read a book, cook with mom. its more of a reminder step. he doesn't really loose anything at this point. then if it happens again he will drop to the green step or the Movies step. he can still watch movies but now I remind him *Nate if you are  ___ it isn't safe to go for an outing.* he can earn back the steps by showing good choices and looses steps by poor choices. because I figure in real life he will loose privileges when he doesn't follow rules.  
I hope that made sense. we don't make a huge deal when they drop steps but we do explain it. lots of praise when he earns a step back.
Something that helped us a ton was the personality plus books by Florence littauer . it talks about different innate personalities of people and how to work with them. we use a lot of the ideas from that book and just gear it for our kids

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#9 of 10 Old 05-30-2011, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by mom2grrls View Post

... As for the listening, i'm sure he hears you but he's learned that you're not going to do anything until the yelling starts.  When you are telling him something get down to his level, touch him, make sure his eyes are on you and then talk.  ..

This is exactly where we were a few months ago! And I can tell you, if you are consistent, it can be undone. We do still have days where the listening is non-existent, and I end up yelling in frustration, but most of the time (I'd say 90%+) it works. I don't yell about cooperating with getting dressed anymore. If he wants me to stay and help, he has to cooperate. At the first sign of trying to play instead, or fighting me on it, I leave, saying he must want to do it himself.


When climbing was an issue, stools were put away. Chairs and other furniture are not for climbing, and we don't rearrange them. If he wants food, he has to ask. He doesn't get it himself (although he's only 3, and I think by 4 we'll be creating a snack shelf in the pantry where he can get snacks on his own since he's already on his way to that). Snacks are choices: Do you want an apple or cheese and crackers? If the answer is chips, I ask again. If it's still neither, he gets nothing or I say I'm going to choose for him.


I have to say that I agree with the rest of mom2grrls post, but I couldn't figure out (with a kid distracting me) how to split it up....


I also like the suggestion of "Mommy Rules" -- I may have to try that!

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#10 of 10 Old 05-30-2011, 10:14 AM - Thread Starter
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We have made our house very child proof/kid friendly.  The two remaining stools are all that we have left to sit and eat on, there is no place to put them during the non-eating times (very, very small space).  I don't generally care if he uses a stool to get himself something, but if I have told him 'no, not right now' then I want him to NOT do it.  Treats are very special here, we live on a very limited budget, I grocery shop once a month and then pick up a few things on payday (twice a month), so if I get us treats they have to last.


I do generally move him if he isn't moving when I ask him too, he either starts screaming bloody murder or starts kicking, which of course means I have to actually physically pick him up to move him.  I know some of the issue is that sometimes, some things are okay, and other times they are not.  He is also going through a phase (oh, goodness please be a phase!) where he has to be able to see me at all times, even going down the hall to the washer (sits in the hall, and our hall door is just a screen door), he freaks, cries, screams, bangs on the door.  This is an issue because my husband works nights, so he's sleeping, right at the end of the hallway.  Some times it's okay if he comes back, but other times it is not.  If he is being calm, I know he'll come and not run in the bedroom or jump around banging on stuff, and then he'll come in the living room when I'm done, but if he's not in a calm mood, he simply can not come back.  Also sometimes, frankly I think I should be able to go throw something in the washer, put a diaper in the diaper pail or grab a towel unhindered, not having to worry about him running into the room, or making noise, or fighting me on coming back in the living room.  I simply want to open the door, walk the 15 feet to the washer, open the washer and walk to 15 feet back to the living room.  It's like 10 seconds.  I wish every single time was not a huge deal.  Some of it is this phase he's in.


So, on the note of a phase, is it normal for a boy who just turned 4 (in March, so he's like 4 and 2 months) to suddenly become super duper clingy?  There is a LOT of stress in our life right now (uncertianty is a better word, we are moving, but it keeps getting moved back and changed, and not on our part, if it was us we'd be living there with an outhouse, but silly laws and then rain and such have put off moving to our land, we have been 'moving in a few days' for about four months, it's wearing on us a lot) and he's terrified of tornadoes and with those happening all around us lately, along with two weeks or more of thunderstorms every day, he's stressed.  It is just adding to the stress and frustration with his lack of listening, which of course stems from my own lack of consistancy (husbands too, but he's not around much except on his days off).


Also, writing this, I am seeing that somethings depend on my mood, do I want to tolerate it or not.  I have been working on that with myself (one big one is going in the bedroom when I'm folding laundry, not a big deal, but he (and his sister) will just destroy the piles of laundry, also throw the blankets all over the place, big mess, some days the bed mess didn't matter, some days it really did bug me.)  So to remedy that I just made the rule that they could jump on my bed and pile my blankets but ONLY mine (we have two beds pushed together), and they also can not touch the laundry.  Not touching the laundry is easier for Paul than Dolores, but I am seeing where we totally lost it with raising Paul, while watching Dolores.  I find myself trying to really be strict with her, like if I tell her to not drab the laundry I have to MAKE her stop and take it out of her hand.  I never did that with Paul, we just let him do as his wished and he pretty much ran the show, wasn't a big deal when he was only 1 or 2, but now at 4 it is a BIG deal.


Thank you all again for writing.  Helping me see something things and I'm getting a good plan of action, at least in my head, need to sit and actually type it up.  Now to help get hubby to be consistant, that might be harder than me!  But I think having it typed up and on the wall to be seen will be helpful with that.


So, ideas for what basics you'd have on a list as helpful reminders?  I like the idea of having the consequences written right now.

Julie ~ homesteading, Traditional Catholic, wife to Chip, mom to Angelbaby(4-06), DS (3-07), and DD (11-09).
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