4 year old driving me nuts. - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 9 Old 07-26-2007, 06:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Should a 4 year old be expected to NOT destroy a house constantly? I am really becomming frustrated at my 4 yo ds's behavior. I realize this probably has something to do with the fact that I have recently had a new baby, and the limited time I do have to straighten the house has me a bit stressed. But I don't feel that I should constantly all day be picking up after messes that he's creating. He knows how to clean up his stuff - I have modeled clean up time for years now. I help him or stand with him when I ask him to clean up. It's just driving me nuts!!

Some examples: just now, I asked him to give me a few minutes to get baby to sleep for a nap. I came out to find him in the bathroom that I had just cleaned, dripping in shampoo, lotion, soap, etc. that I had in a basket for guests, and the bathroom dripping in it as well. I know kids like to mix stuff, and he is welcome any time of day to hop in the bath and use his "mixing" stuff. He knows this.

Another example: Every single time I fold towels or clothes and he wanders in the room, he immediately has the urge to tear into them and mess them all up. This one makes me insane. I don't know the logical consequence for this, but I need a consequence for it!

Maybe I'm expecting too much, I don't know. I know I need it to stop. This was happening before baby, so I don't think that's the problem.
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#2 of 9 Old 07-26-2007, 06:15 PM
 
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no advice
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#3 of 9 Old 07-26-2007, 10:45 PM
 
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That sounds so tough...esp with a newborn!
Our DS will be 4 at the end of August and we are seeing some defiant/destructive behaviors crop up. (He has an almost 2YO brother so newborn is not the issue here!)
I tend to think he is simply testing limits and asking for guidance...not EASY to deal with, I know, but pretty typical stuff.

Can you leave the towels for a time your DS is a little more willing to cooperate and at least help pick them up? Can you roll towels, rather than fold them - making it more interesting for your DS to actually help roll? As you fold, can you remove the temptation by placing the folded items too high for him to reach? I find that removing things that tempt our DS's mischief that it helps. (We leave things out on purpose for him to discover some times)

On another note, can you or someone else close to you spend some extra time with him? Making sure he gets some extra TLC and serious outdoor large muscle time? I know our DS regressed for about one month when his brother was born -mostly sleep issues, but it was VERY hard.

Hang in there.
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#4 of 9 Old 07-26-2007, 11:17 PM
 
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hi,
i just wanted to tell you that i don't have a newborn, but my son is 3 1/2 and i can't really leave him unsupervised (or if i do...it's with the disclaimer that i *may* or *may not* find things as i left them ). my daughter is very trustworthy for the most part and always has been, but my son really needs supervision ....or i can just expect that things may not go as i had hoped if he's left unsupervised. during those times, i can't really get angry though, yk? i left him unsupervised, ykwim? my ds has gotten naked and painted his body completely, used all of our scotch tape on my furniture, drawn on walls with sharpie markers, pooped on the floor or peed, poured juice on the floor, made some "food" i.e. WHAT IS THAT??? put gum in a strange place... dressed the dog....

and all of this is in the matter of literally brief moments unattended while i was in another part of the home. if i were you, i'd put on a nice 30 minute video that your son loves while you put the baby to sleep....but that's just my advice....and that's the only full-proof idea i can think of that might work with my own child as for laundry, have him help perhaps with hand towels...my son would love to help. he really enjoys housework, and despite my description...he's honestly wonderful!!! ....just VERY CREATIVE AND BUSY AND NEEDS SOMETHING TO DO!

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#5 of 9 Old 07-26-2007, 11:22 PM
 
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I have 5 kids and my 9 y/o and 7 y/o still mix things in the bathroom, or get into things that i left out. One example is I left out some baby powder. The next time i went to the bathroom it was sprinkled ALL over the bathroom. Now I have 5 kids and anyone of them could have done it. I chose not to make a huge deal about it. Yes I cleaned it up, because i did not feel like sitting them all in front of me and waiting for one of them to crack. Baby powder is not worth the frustration. I did however bring it up over supper. I told them that some how baby powder was all over the bathroom and that it took be a long time to clean up. I told them that if they made a mess they needed to come to clean it up, or come to me and tell me so i can help.

A 4 y/o is able to clean up a mess, but usually not a big one. I think you are putting to much on this little guy. Help him clean up and give rewards after he does it. They don't have to be the if you do this then you get this kind. I would just say, "We need to clean up our cars, so we can play a computer game." He will be like, "Oh I want to play on the computer!" This is your time to again say, well first you need to clean up.

Just a thought.
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#6 of 9 Old 07-27-2007, 08:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Every single time I fold towels or clothes and he wanders in the room, he immediately has the urge to tear into them and mess them all up. This one makes me insane.
This would caues me to loose it. I am a little bit obsessive about my laundry folding, an this one would push me right over the edge. No kidding.

When my kids were toddlers, and likely to do this, I'd take the basket with me when I left the room. I guess you could still do this with a 4 year old -- but I'd also have no qualms at all about telling a 4 year old exactly how this behavior makes me feel.

But laundry is definately my vulnerable spot.

I do think being very consistant about calling him back to help you clean up messes all day could be effective. If my kids move on to a new activity and leave a disaster in the next room, I will ask them to "pause" their game or activity, and come back to clean up the other mess first. They get the message eventually, because its easier to do that in the first place than to have their games interupted.

It also sounds like he has a bit of destructive streak too, and I would probably try to find some acceptable ways to channel/honor those impulses, with the hope that it will cut down on the unacceptable ways. Some ideas:

- A pouring/mixing station with basins of water, soap bubbles, etc.
- A basket of old newspapers for shredding or cutting whenever he feels like it.
- A basket of pom-pom balls from the craft store, for dumping/throwing/scattering.

I'm sure others here have ideas too.
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#7 of 9 Old 07-27-2007, 05:57 PM
 
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mamaduck, so nice to hear you have an achilles heel!! laundry, huh? i always look for and value your advice!

it sounds to me that most of these behaviors are attention-seeking, especially if he's doing things that he knows drive you nuts. i'd try to talk to him about what makes him feel special to mommy and build up whatever he says. i wouldn't tie it into the destructive behaviors though. and, if my 4 yo dd makes a mess, i fully expect her to clean it up. sometimes i'll help if it seems excessive. he's not too young to learn how to fold towels!! he probably won't do it as neatly as you'd like but at least he's involved in repairing the destruction.

Mama to three crazy, wonderful kiddos: dd1--12/2002, dd2--3/2005, and ds--3/2006

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#8 of 9 Old 07-27-2007, 06:02 PM
 
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Oh believe me, I have more "achilles heels" than I do feet!
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#9 of 9 Old 07-27-2007, 11:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks ladies for all the suggestions. Maybe I am putting too much on him right now. Of course, DH thinks I'm a total pushover and that I let him run me over. I would love to let him help me fold the towels, and I've tried all varieties of that. But it's like a little voice takes over him and he just can't help diving in. DH and I joke that "the voices are talking to him", because DH was quite spirited as a child too. DS was such an intense baby and spirited toddler, I was just hoping for a little mellowing. And it's next to impossible to really shadow him all day. I do think he's probably not getting enough exercise lately - it's hard for me to get out of the house lately, and he stopped wanting to go to his gymnastics class. I guess I need to just try to focus his desctructive energy somewhere else somehow. **sigh** Hopefully this phase will pass soon.
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