I'm at my wit's end with this latest behavior from my 4 yo son-- all my old tricks aren't working anymore :) The problem is two fold
- he's been saying the word 'stupid' a lot. Sometimes he'll use it to insult someone, like stupid mama! or she's so stupid... and sometimes he'll just say it randomly.
-When he's upset, he's been saying just horrible things-- like "I don't love you anymore", "You are always the problem", "I want you to go away", "get out of my house" etc... most of this is directed at his sister (nearly 3). Honestly, I can tell this is coming from the heart, and we all say things when we are upset. But he just goes on and on and on... at this point his 'venting' is really getting to his sister.
I really don't know how to handle either issue-- I feel like most of my parenting skills are geared towards babies and toddlers, and I"m completely lost with this 'new' 4yo son.
Hugs to you! I haven't had this particular challenge, but one thing I've found helpful in other situations is suggesting other options. So perhaps in this case, some suggestions about what your son can say when he's upset ("I'm upset." "I want some time alone.") or other things he can do when he's upset (drawing about how he's feeling, getting a lovey or other comfort item). I hope these ideas help!
Does he have a stuffed animal that could be set aside for these times? I've worked with kids this age and found having a stuffed animal they could just hug the heck out of during times of anger was a great diffuser and allowed them to take charge of their emotions (they were welcome to go get the stuffed animal whenever they needed it.)
I have a couple suggestions based mostly on the book Siblings Without Rivalry. First, you want to make sure your son feels heard. Obviously you wouldn't want to do this when your younger child is present, but maybe after he has one of his outburst at his sister, take him aside after he's calmed down and repeat back some of the things he said to her. Like "It sounds like you really don't want your sister around. Maybe you wish she would live somewhere else." My guess is that he doesn't really mean the things he says, even if he thinks he does when he says them, and if you can get him to reflect on it, he'll realize that. I think a parent's natural response is to say, "Don't say that. It's mean and you really love your sister." However, if you have a heartfelt conversation with your kid where you try to understand what he's feeling (even if it's not what you want to hear), it's a better response because it's more likely to diffuse the bad feelings. The book also has several suggestions for how to diffuse the anger in ways that are not hurtful.
The second bit of advice when your son is saying naughty or mean things is kind of just to act like your son knows better. Instead of saying, "don't say stupid," phrase it more like, "I know you know better than to talk like that." If he says mean things to your younger child, instead of going after him, give all your attention to your daughter and say something like, "your brother needs to remember that words can hurt people," so that he can overhear. I think the main point is to try and give him the benefit of the doubt that he can behave better.
Thank you for your replies! I checked out siblign w/out rivalry on your suggestion and am reading through it right now. I'm also going to try the stuffed animal, as most of his have been 'adopted' by his sister. I just want to say, that he generally is sweet and patient with his sister-- hopefully the good will out weigh the bad in the future!