Finding my 4 year old impossible - really long - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 05-01-2005, 04:39 PM - Thread Starter
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I am going through a very tricky patch with my 4 yo and i am finding that i am not handiling situations very well as i find myself becoming angry with him and find that my gd fails miserably when this happens and that when i have calmed down i am much better at looking at the situation objectively i am just not sure how to give myself that breathing space before responding.

for instance this evening. we went to a show today and the 2 booys were bought helium balloons. my 4 yo let his balloon go as he wanted to see it float away in the garden, but as soon as he had he decided he wanted to share (in other words take) his brothers balloon as he was actually sad that he had lost his balloon.

i tried to empathise about the lost balloon but reinforced the fact that he had made the decision to let his balloon float away and that that had been his choice. my 2yo was enjoying playing with his balloon and i stated that he had chosen not to let his balloon go and that ds 1 was not allowed to take it from him. i did mention that perhaps ds 2 would feel like sharing the balloon later but that ds 1 could not have it right then.

ds 2 was walking close to the patio doors so i tied a toy to the end of the balloon to ensure it didnt float away by acident. not much later ds 1 announced that he had let ds 2's balloon go, he had purposely untied the toy and let his brothers balloon float away.

i was SO angry.

i felt he had been very unkind and selfish. i am not sure if he just wanted to watch another balloon float away as its nice to watch helium balloons sail into the distance or because he was mad because he had lost his balloon and he didnt want his brother to have one either and i guess i never will know, however after he was sad because he didnt have his any more i would have thought he would have had some idea his brother would be sad without his.

anyway ds 2 was then walking around downstairs saying 'boon' in avery sad voice looking for his balloon, well this made me even more cross. and worst of all ds 1 is so laid back about it like it was an ok thing to do.

have i been doing the wrong thing by not shouting at him for any sibling disputes and letting him fix them with his brother himself - has this created the idea that any treatment of his brother is acceptable and that he can always make it better afterwards so he can do anything he likes as there is always a way to make it better without it being a problem. (which is what i have always encouraged as i ahve always believed that his 'mistakes' were genuine and not wanted to damage the relationship with his brother but teach him the skills for maintaining a good relationship with him)

i made ds 1 stay in hs room while i bathed ds 2 and got him ready for bed. i tried to let ds 1 know that what he had done was wrong, he wasnt bothered still. eventually after i had yelled at him he got the message and asked if he could still get the toy we had been talking about him having and only when i told him no did he gets upset and remorseful. to be honest i did lose and handle it badly but i had run out of ideas and was really mad (no excuse i know) i was acttually mean to him

after i had calmed down i held a more rational conversation with him about why he had done it and about his brothers feelings and about how he could make it better by giving hs brother a hug and apology which he did willingly as he said he felt so bad and gave ds 2 one of his toy cars. i also apologised and told him i had lost my temper and i had said unkind things and that that wasnt fair of me and that i had made some not great choices tonight in my choice of words just as he had made some not great choices in what he had decided to do with his brothers balloon.

i just dont know how i could have handled this in a gd way, he seems to feel that he can do as he pleases and that as long as he tries to fix it its ok.

what is a natuiral consequence of his actions?? i am bewildered, it just seemed so planned and premeditated the fact that he actually had to untie the balloon to let it fly away makes me think it wasnt a spur of the moment ooh i would like to see it sail away.

plus i am finding him very difficult generally at the moment.

sorry this is very long i am just really struggling with him and to be honest with myself right now and any advice from you wise mothers would be great.
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#2 of 3 Old 05-01-2005, 11:39 PM
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Hugs to you momma! This sounds like a rough spot indeed. My child is younger and I only have one so I have not dealt with the sibling issues yet.

I do have a good friend whith two boys of very similar age spacing as yours. She told me that her first one at 4 was a very hard child. She laughed about the standard "terrible twos" comment that you get from people. She said that 4 was by far the hardest time with both her kids!

I hope you get some helpful input from mothers who have been where you are now.

"To err is human, to forgive, canine." - Unknown
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#3 of 3 Old 05-02-2005, 12:51 AM
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he seems to feel that he can do as he pleases and that as long as he tries to fix it its ok.
Sooooooooo familiar.


We have similar aged kids and similiar issues. We're lucky -in a way- because DS2 doesn't let DS1 get away with too much. That being said, DS1 is ALWAYS trying to make sure he gets the best toy (oh, this one is bitten, so you can have it), the most food, to control games, etc. I let him get away with this stuff because a) it is relatively minor b) DS2 will figure it out one day and put a stop to it.

I think in your situation that you described, I would have told DS1 that his balloon was gone and that he could ask DS2 to share. If DS2 said no, or wanted his balloon back, then DS1 would have to give it back. Then, when he released the balloon I would make him explain, silly as the conversation would be, to DS2 what happened. Depending on DS2 reaction, I would either 1) ask DS1 to work with DS2 to make him feel better (share a special toy, give a hug etc), 2) make time the next day to get new balloons.

I would also explain to DS1 that while it looks cool to watch a balloon float away, it is bad for the environment. Maybe you could engage him in an experiment showing how things that are lighter than air float (or easier to do is lighter than water). That might stop him from releasing the next balloon.

We've actually faced this situation in a different way -popping of the balloon. My 4 yo loves to pop his and used to try to convince DS2 to pop his too. I think balloons are boring for 4 yos (after the initial 2 second coolness) unless they can experiment with them.

Good luck. We face challenge after challenge with our DS1 and fail with GD too much to be comfortable with. We keep trying though . . .
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