4 year old...kinda weird behavior - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 04-01-2011, 06:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all.

 

so I really dont know...my son is 4 years old and has hit all the developmental stages at the normal time or a bit early, he's extremely smart and picks up things very very fast.

 

But, I'll be frank...his behavior has started to become a bit...I dunno, strange. Both my husband and I are completely exhausted with him, like seriously exhausted.

 

So, he seems to have a LOT of energy, but like way way way more than most kids Ive seen, although I know people who say, nah he's way better behaved than their kid or grandkid, whatever...but hes always running around, moving, getting into stuff...you name it. Really never a moments rest unless I manage to put on a video. We dont have a TV but do subscribe to some stuff online so I can say, put on Mr. Rogers Neighboorhood or whatever now and then. He wakes up super early and rip roaring to go...and he goes to bed around 10 or 11pm and NO nap. I'm at home right now until I start Nursing school in the Fall...he was in school but we pulled him out cuz it was not a good environment for him, we felt. The place was a mess basically. This weird behaviour kinda started around when he hit 4, like 4 months ago. He does NOT take a nap at all and its VERY hard to get him to calm down and relax.

 

He tried to be extremely independant, thinks he's a big man or something to the point that he incessently sasses us and talks back...I've tried times out, rewards/punishments, bribes...you name it, NOTHING works...he fights them all and frankly...I'm exhausted as so is my husband so 9 times outta 10, we give up cuz there is no point. He will NOT behave when we need him too. Its insane.

 

For his behavior not only is he active like 24/7 it seems but like hes excessive with his imagination and play, like he really, really gets into it and just doesnt stop...like right now hes going through a gun phase where he makes gun noises and runs around, pretending he is fighting aliens...all this from watching Lilo and Stitch with his family!   Hes not destructive by any means...hes quite intelligent and is gentle with stuff when he needs to be...but I dunno, just the activity on hyper overdrive is...wow.

 

Originally we thought...OK maybe too much sugar, whatever...so we r now more careful w/ the food we buy and we generally dont eat processed foods, I basically cook everything, from scratch daily and we dont have junk food...cept for some maybe cookies to have w/ tea or something.  So i dont think its food allergies. My hubby says as a kid he was very active and running around...and I know im kinda hyper myself...but our son is like way, way way more!

 

So what are we doing now? Frankly...we just try to ignore his off the wall behavior...which prob makes it worse, but as I said, we are both straight up exhausted...and we dont get a break...like no nap or anything... also we moved to this crazy tiny, blah town which is boreing to the extreme so I'm sure that does have an affect cuz im sure he's bored and he also has no friends to play with...thankfully we r moving back to the city in 2 months...I hope that may help his behavior...he'll be back in a place where there is stuff to do, activity, friends oh and he is starting school once we move.

 

But still...I dunno...I worry.

 

any ideas? Is this behavior normal?

 

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#2 of 18 Old 04-01-2011, 07:35 PM
 
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Wow, it does sound like you and your husband are a bit overwhelmed. Can you tap into your son's imagination and creativity while encouraging him to be still? Take up bird watching (research 3 birds, say robin, cardinal, and blue jay together, then go for a hike and look for them)? Or, have a dance party in the afternoon, every afternoon? To get him interested in a particular activity which allows him to be creative while being active? The 4 year olds do "sass" or talk back, but please remember to him it is not talking back, it is asserting his independence. Have you said things like "I can't hear you when you do not speak politely," and talk to him about what rude and polite are? Can you take him to play dates? Boys do play guns, even those with limited exposure (I've read on these forums that even those with no exposure play gun games!), but redirecting, maybe in line with the playful parenting philosophies, might be helpful for all of you!


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#3 of 18 Old 04-01-2011, 07:50 PM
 
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Did your move mess up his sleep?  We travel a lot, and our kids get messed up sometimes.  Usually, that translates into being extra energetic, and more difficult in general. 

 

It's really hard to get them to sleep more, but I would maybe try making that a priority.

 

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#4 of 18 Old 04-02-2011, 07:56 AM
 
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It sounds as if more sleep might solve some issues. Our ds, 4, goes into what we call "overdrive" w/o enough sleep. He's seemingly energetic, but, really super tired. When he's tired, his behavior is off, too. Our ds needs more than 10 hrs of sleep each night to be well rested. Try putting him to sleep earlier. Good luck!
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#5 of 18 Old 04-02-2011, 08:56 AM
 
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He NEEDS more sleep.  10 or 11 PM is not good for him, and I can't imagine it's good for you either! He should be getting 12 hours of sleep at night, and you should be getting evenings to yourself.  If he wakes up at 6AM, he should go to bed at 6 PM or 7, 8 at the absolute latest and that should be infrequent.  He is a kid that will need some help relaxing, mine is too. We always do a warm shower before bed, perhaps you could find something similar that helps him.  


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#6 of 18 Old 04-02-2011, 11:11 AM
 
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My ds would get reved up when he was tired, too.  Some kids have a really hard time winding down.  Their mind is too busy.  I used to be able to get ds to nap with a well timed car ride, at that age.  One thing about being over tired is that kids (and adults) actually sleep more poorly.  They can have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep and will be more prone to sleep disturbances like nightmares, night terrors, insomnia, sleep walking, etc.  So it turns into a vicious circle.  If they haven't been getting enough sleep, it's hard to get them back on track.  If you can trick him into a nap (with a car ride or something) to catch him up on sleep, it might be easier to get him to sleep earlier.  If your guy is like mine and you miss the window of his starting to get sleepy, he'll likely get all wound up and be unable to fall asleep for a couple more hours.

 

And 4 can be a really tough age, on it's own!


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#7 of 18 Old 04-02-2011, 08:53 PM
 
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Sorry you are having a hard time mama (& daddy!)!  I have a super energetic 3.5 yr old. He stopped taking naps at just over a year, I think 15 months. Anyway, he goes and goes all day long and also has an amazing imagination. He plays gun games as well, although he has no experience with seeing shows with guns or anything like that. That is totally, totally normal.

 

For my son, he gets ultra crazy and wound up if he is overtired, just like others have said. And he definitely needs about 12 hours of sleep per day! So, at my house, bedtime is 8pm. We have a routine for night-night time and we stick with it religiously. We have found that it works best if we eat supper, take a warm bath, get jammies on and brush teeth, and then we read a bedtime story in the dark with a flashlight and after that, one of us lays down with him til he falls asleep. He knows this is the routine now, and it works UNLESS we miss the window of sleepiness. If we go out to eat or are at an activity where we miss that 8pm deadline, all heck breaks loose,and he goes into that overtired, super wound up, can't calm down mode. And it's ugly, and then we're fighting to get him to sleep for hours on end.

 

So, I would recommend trying to put him to bed around 6 or so if he is getting up at 6. My son goes to sleep at 8, gets up at 8, or sometimes a little later, around 9. It might take time to get him into the routine of going to bed earlier, but it will be better for all of you!!! he won't be quite as wild during the day either.

 

Does your DS get outside every day? I find that is super, ultra important for my little guy. If he doesn't get outside, and run off some steam, then the day is much more difficult. It really gets some of that energy out.

 

I also wanted to say, I think it's ok that your son is energetic. He's 4. That's normal. But I think he is getting overtired and that's the problem.

 

Good luck, I hope this gets better!

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#8 of 18 Old 04-03-2011, 12:46 AM
 
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Sleep!!  My 4 yr old no longer naps but she does have a quiet time for one hr after lunch.  She does sleep at school (b/c the other kids do).  Is it possible that he could go to a different school?  THe socialization is so needed at this age.  My daughter goes to bed at 8-8:30.  She does not need to go to sleep, but she does need to stay in her room.  She will fall asleep, it's the 2 yr old that needs a strict routine!!  Set up a routine and stick with it.  Make sure he have plenty of exercise and stimulation.  Stick with a routine for about  a month and see how it goes. 


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#9 of 18 Old 04-03-2011, 09:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Sooo...you all are saying he needs a lot more sleep. Yes, I would LOVE for him to get more sleep...but...um...how?

 

He fights us tooth and nail and makes an insane fuss when we try to put him to bed at any specific time. Norm we just wait till he says he's tired and then we put him to bed, when we tried a schedule...didnt really work...sooo...any ideas??

 

also any ideas how to get him to sleep longer in the morning? Cuz we are frankly very sleep deprived...and he doesnt even nap so we dont even get that break.

 

Thanks all.

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#10 of 18 Old 04-03-2011, 09:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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He's not in school...we pulled him out and because we live in the middle of no where there really isnt anything around, also my hubby works all day and I cant drive-I'm a city girl...never needed to learn until we moved...so no, hes stuck at home with me all day...bored to tears. Cant go anywhere cuz you cant walk anywhere...

 

But we are moving in late May...back to the city, and he will def. be going to school from then on...so that should help a bit.

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#11 of 18 Old 04-03-2011, 09:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Nope, most days he's stuck inside...much like me...what can he do outside? Its been a very cold, crazy winter and some days are finally getting a bit nice, those days I make dh drive us near to the city where we hop a bus and spend the day outside like normal people...LOL...but at home, there is NOTHING to do outside...we are in the middle of no where. Its not a good environment because its duller than dishwater. We all hate it and are extremely bored.

 

 

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#12 of 18 Old 04-03-2011, 04:37 PM
 
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This is my second post.  The talk back and the activity all sound normal to me.  But the staying up so late is not normal.  Lack of sleep magnifies the annoying things and the hyper behavior.  So, first thing I would say is that you need to start putting him to bed before he appears to be tired.  Start a routine and stick to it.  When it comes down to it, he needs to stay in his room whether or not he sleeps after a certain time, say, 7PM or whatever you choose.  Hopefully you can find some things to relax him (the book Sleepless in America might be helpful to you) and get him to sleep, but no matter what he should be in his room and you and your husband should essentially have the evening to yourselves.  He's old enough to do this.  


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#13 of 18 Old 04-03-2011, 07:21 PM
 
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Things to do outside:   Play Bubbles (so inexpensive and fun!), play ball..any old ball will do but my son has a soccer ball, football, and basketball. He also has a tee to practice his baseball on, and a tiny bat, as well as tiny golf clubs and golf balls. We also have plastic tennis rackets that are his size and tennis balls. If you don't have sports equipment, what about a game of chase or tag?! 

 

 A shovel and a bucket and dirt are really great. He can pretend to garden, or just dig to his heart's content.

 

A wagon is also a wonderful thing if you don't have one. He can use it to pull around, or be pulled around in, or put things in, etc. My son loves to pretend that his wagon is a train, because he's really into trains.

 

If you have a concrete patio, porch, or sidewalk, then outdoor chalk is a great thing too. He can color and be creative and it washes right off.

 

As the weather gets warmer, a kiddie pool would be great. Not sure where you are or when it gets really hot there. But I really do take my kid outside in almost any weather. Unless it is just insanely cold or storming, we go out.

 

If you don't have any outside toys or balls, I recommend investing in some. You could find some used stuff cheap, I'm sure. Or maybe even free.

 

As far as the sleeping, believe me, I GET that he is fighting you. DS is a fighter too. But truly, if you will just spend a week or two of really serious, "this is the rule, bedtime is at 8pm, and we are going to take a bath, read a story, and then you go to sleep" and you stick with it, I promise he WILL get in the routine. I would suggest telling him ahead of time. "DS, tonight we are going to bed at 8pm. (or whatever time you picked) We will eat, then take a bath, and then we will read a story and go to sleep." Just tell him. And then stick with it. No matter what. He can't get back up. If he gets back up, take him right back to bed. (In our case we just lie down with him til he goes to sleep) You could even make it a big boy thing. "Big boys go to sleep at 8pm. Do you think you can be a big boy and do that? I think you can." If he says no, just remind him, this is the rule, and it's mommy & daddy's job to help him follow the rules.

 

It will be hard. He may fight you. But if you can just strictly enforce it, it will be soooo worth it.

 

Also, make sure he has a really dark room to sleep in. In our house, we also dim the lights before his bedtime. While DH gives DS a bath, I turn most of the lights off, and this sort of signals to DS that it's bedtime too. No tv or music on once we sit down to eat too. If there is, our DS will never go to sleep!!

 

I also think if you can really engage him in some things he enjoys during the day that will help too. What does he really show interest in? Encourage his interests and do some things with him at home that he likes so that he isn't so bored. I don't know where you are but where I am is pretty dull too, and we have no friends with children his age since we moved here. But, if you are home with him, it can be super fun! I know DS and I do fun things every day. You can too! Don't give up.

 

 

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#14 of 18 Old 04-04-2011, 02:47 PM
 
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There is another thread on the difficulties of parenting a 4 yr old boy on the parenting forum right now, too. You might want to take a look. I notice it's a more difficult age to parent than 3 was for my ds, too. Hope u get some more good advice; good luck!
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#15 of 18 Old 04-04-2011, 07:38 PM
 
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have you read Ilg & Ames Your Four Year Old: Wild and Wonderful? http://www.amazon.com/Your-Four-Year-Old-Louise-Bates-Ames/dp/0440506751/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1301970910&sr=8-1 It's a series of books on childhood development based on a longitudinal study, published a while ago, so they're dated on some of their suggestions. The developmental stuff discussed is spot-on. I read each in the series and it helps a lot in understanding what's going on with DS, helps me gain perspective and understanding. I suspect your DS's behavior is in the range of normal. My DS dropped his naps, is totally a mess all of the time, and I think we'll have another year of this (he turned four this last Sat).

I would also consider backing away from punishing, but that's just my personal point of view. They are so oppositional all you do is end up fighting.

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#16 of 18 Old 04-12-2011, 12:02 AM
 
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I tend to agree with a lot of the pps that more sleep would likely do wonders.  Our dd (5yo) used to stay up til 9-10, and I had thought that adjusting that earlier would be far harder than it actually ended up being.  For us, our dd is a very sensitive, somewhat anxious girl, and I knew that wouldn't be comfortable with "forcing" her to go to bed by herself (would have involved too many tears and genuine upset)-- so we worked to find something that she REALLY looked forward to to make a part of the bedtime routine.  For us, it's having my dh read her to sleep.  He's at work all day, so having that one-on-one time with him is really special to her, and he picks out longer chapter books so that every night she can't wait to find outwhat's going to happen next.  It really has made a HUGE difference in our home-- some nights she's asking to go to bed right after dinner  :) 

 

One other thing that I've noticed is that if we try to do anything outside after dinner it winds her up for a solid hour past bedtime (nomrally she goes up to brush teeth at 7pm).  Especially now that it's staying light out later, even a short, quiet walk just seems to reset her body to think it's daytime.  Even though she happily gets ready for bed on time after being out, dh often ends up reading for far longer than usual because she's just too awake. 

 

Good luck!  

 

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#17 of 18 Old 04-12-2011, 06:57 AM
 
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My older dd has always been like this. She's 9 now and is still wild, although maturity has made it more manageable. Some kids are just very active. However, at that age I put her to bed every night at 7, and more sleep might help. It doesn't sound like he's getting enough sleep even if it doesn't change his activity level.
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#18 of 18 Old 04-12-2011, 07:21 AM
 
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It all sounds pretty normal to me.  But my kids are movers, they will never be the kids who sit quietly, they just aren't.  I'd set a bedtime routine and stick with it.  Yeah it'll be hard the first few days, but he needs more sleep. 

 

 

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