4 yo has no sense of integrity - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 04-02-2012, 02:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I feel like a total failure. I know he's only 4, but still.... He's generally very easy-going so I don't have lots of trouble with him not doing what I ask, but when he doesn't listen, it's like he doesn't get what the big deal is. It's like he does what we ask b/c he feels like it, not b/c we asked, and so when he DOESN'T feel like it, it's no big deal to just not do it. I'm ready to tear out my hair.

 

Natural and logical consequences are nothing new here. Yet, when consequences happen, he's all surprised and often devastated that something happened as a result of his not listening. But as scarring as all these consequences are to him at the moment, he doesn't EVER learn from them! It's like Groundhog's Day all over again. WTF am I doing wrong???? We are consistent. We warn him of the consequence ahead of time (after the first time he ignores us). We give him a warning, and then there's a consequence. It's so maddening that often we end up yelling, which I hate. But even when I'm calm, it doesn't matter. Same thing, every time....

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#2 of 22 Old 04-02-2012, 02:47 PM
 
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What kind of consequences are you giving him?

 

 My kiddo was just like that up until recently. I think its a stage. I found and still find that if she thinks for one minute that she is going to get away with her actions she will push as far as she can. Meaning, if we are in a store and she knew that i couldn't leave, or that i was in a mood, she would act up, and no matter what i did, not matter what consequence i threatened, it meant nothing to her because she knew it wouldn't happen then, and by the time we would get home i would be so sick of arguing with her and frazzled that i wouldn't follow through with any of my threats. Our days where always better after we got our first big fit out of the way in the morning before we left, then she would realize i meant business, and was a perfect angel the rest of the day.

 

 


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#3 of 22 Old 04-02-2012, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Consequences are always immediate and always consistent. I used to think it was a phase, and "Oh, he's only two...." But now he's FOUR and still not getting it!

 

Example: Every day after lunch we have "Quiet Time." He doesn't always nap, but he does have to go in his room to rest. If he gets too restless and can't sleep, after awhile he'll get up and turn the light on to read/play quietly. That's fine, except when he's sick b/c then he really does need the rest or he's a mess by dinner and no one's happy. Right now, he's sick. I told him today that he needs to rest and leave the light off b/c the other day he didn't nap and he was miserable and I don't want that. He agreed, got in bed and I turned off the light. A little later, I heard him playing (loudly enough that I could hear him in a different room with his door shut). I went in, and told him he was being too loud and that he needed to be in bed resting. That he could play with the toy after quiet time. He argued, and I said that he could play with it after rest time but if he didn't comply I'd have to take it away. Turned off the light and was done. (He doesn't normally have toys in his room, but we have a little 2 yo visitor right now and certain toys like marbles are off-limits so he gets to have them in his room.) A little later, I heard him again, went in, and he was back at it. I packed up the toy, and he started crying like I was going to toss it in the trash. I repeated that he could have it when quiet time was over and he needed to rest.

 

Really, it's such a shock that I took it out of there? It upsets me that I can't trust him to keep his promises. We even talk about what a promise is (one of his songs in the car talks about it) but he doesn't seem to get it. He doesn't seem to get the importance of keeping a promise once you make it, why it's important to be honest (and I do praise him for telling me the truth when he has done something he knows he shouldn't and tells me about it), etc. He seems to think that he only has to listen to us if it's a matter of safety, not principle. How do you teach that?

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#4 of 22 Old 04-02-2012, 03:28 PM
 
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It's quite possible he doesn't have the ability to think that introspectively yet--and/or that's mixed with testing his boundaries, and/or having a difficult time soothing himself when he gets upset after crossing your boundary and being punished. According to the moral developmental model of Kohlberg, young children at that age go by a morality based on a punishment and obedience orientation.  They behave morally (when they do!) only because they fear authority and punishment. Basically they just want to avoid getting in trouble. It may be too much to expect him to automatically "do the right thing", even if you think you've been clear and consistent. The abstract thinking and empathy tend to come later. Hope that's helpful!

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#5 of 22 Old 04-02-2012, 04:10 PM
 
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Question OP, is he an only or the youngest?

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#6 of 22 Old 04-02-2012, 06:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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He is an only, except for the past 2.5 weeks he has been "big brother" to our 2.5 year old foster son. Honestly, the 2 yo listens better than DS does. And yeah, I am taking the change in our household into account, but it's getting to be ridiculous.

 

This afternoon while I was cooking dinner, the boys were playing in the kitchen. One (I didn't know which) was by the door and I made a "play away from the door" rule b/c I didn't want the little one tempted to walk out. (I can lock it, but if he even gets a bit frustrated at being told "no" or by a locked door, it's tantrum city and I just didn't want to deal with that if I didn't have to.) I realized it was DS, and asked him to stay away from the door. He NEVER plays there anyway.... He didn't move. I said it again, and scolded him for not doing it the first time I asked. (He confirmed that he did hear me, just didn't move.) Happened several more times until I said, "Next time you're going in your room. I'm tired of repeating myself." Moments later, he was in his room til dinner.

 

Now it's after dinner, and guess where he is? I wasn't even done clearing the table and he was back by the door. I said, "Remember when Mommy got really angry about that earlier?" Yeah. "Well, what do you think would have been a better choice?" His answer was a smartmouth response about neither of us getting what we want and too bad. I told him he needed to think about whether that was a good choice of attitude and if it was, then he could spend the rest of the night in his room b/c I wasn't going to be spoken to that way. He repeated his attitude. He is now crying for a hug and asking to come out.

 

DH thinks he's getting too worked up. I know it's an act. I haven't responded at all, and he is not at all worked up. He's actually muttering to himself right now. (See how quick he went from crying for a hug to occupying himself?)

 

I feel bad. But I did tell him what the consequence (however ridiculous) would be. I have to stick to it. Part of me doesn't want to b/c it may be a bit extreme (although we're less than an hour away from bedtime at this point, so it's not like he's stuck in there for an extended period of time). Most of me wants to follow through, b/c he needs to know I mean what I say and b/c maybe something this extreme will have the impact he needs to get the message into his hard little skull.

 

I really feel like I have failed him, and then I realize that maybe I'm just expecting him to be too perfect. So I'm trying to realign my expectations, but I have no idea how to get through to him. I don't want to yell anymore. It doesn't work anyway, but even if it did, it's not how I want things to be. I have no idea what to do, or what I did wrong that a 4 year old can't get what a 2 year old who has not been parented or in daycare or had any kind of authority in his life can. :(

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#7 of 22 Old 04-02-2012, 07:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post

 

I really feel like I have failed him, and then I realize that maybe I'm just expecting him to be too perfect. So I'm trying to realign my expectations, but I have no idea how to get through to him. I don't want to yell anymore. It doesn't work anyway, but even if it did, it's not how I want things to be. I have no idea what to do, or what I did wrong that a 4 year old can't get what a 2 year old who has not been parented or in daycare or had any kind of authority in his life can. :(


With all due respect, OP, I think you need to first get past your presumptions about how kids should act given the environments in which they may or may not be in at a given time.  Instilling values and morality and all that stuff is a bit more complex than whether or not a kid is attached to mom's hip 24/7 or if, oh dread, to what you may view as less desirable enviroments.  

 

That being said, he's four years old.  I've had a four year old and although while in the midst of it I was frustrated, in retrospect my DD's behavior during that time period was totally normal.  She wasn't a good person or bad person because she wouldn't listen or had frequent melt-downs...she was just...four.  In retrospect I wish I had been more patient and could have seen it for what it really was.  Her body was changing rapidly, she was gaining independence, she wanted to be close to mommy and daddy at times, other times the only way that she felt she could exert her independence was to lash out, not listen, be a general pain in the rear.  It wasn't about integrity or morals or good or bad...it was about growth.  It is frustrating, no doubt about it, especially if a child is particularly spirited.  I think the hardest part, however, is coming to terms with the idea that it is not about you and your failures, and it's not about a "bad" kid.  I don't know what advice to offer except that it is important to keep one's cool and to not lash out oneself.  The child is usually testing boundaries, which is totally normal in my opinion.  Try to keep yourself from viewing in terms of good/bad, black/white.  It's a rough stage.  I noticed we go through this type of thing every time DD begins and is in the middle of major development stage / growth spurt.  I have to keep reminding myself to stay calm, be consistent with boundaries, try to focus on what I know DD understands as opposed to trying to fit her into some kind of moral mold...or a place I think should be based on my adult biases.

 

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#8 of 22 Old 04-02-2012, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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With all due respect, CatsCradle, I was not presuming or passing judgment on daycare or anyone else's parenting. It is a fact that this particular kid that I was referring to has had NO parent figure in his life. At all. He has never had boundaries, never had discipline, never had any attention hardly at all whatsoever. About one step away from truly feral. So yeah, I'm comparing mine to a kid who hasn't been taught anything other than what his sister who is only 12 months older has taught him. I meant that if he had been in daycare, at least there he would have had some structure or sense of discipline, but he has not. And this kid "gets" timeouts, and while he doesn't like being told "no," he can not only understand it, but can manage to follow it at least for an hour or two. My son cannot do it to save his own life.

 

Yes, I do need to be more mindful of the fact that he's four. Maybe my expectations are out of line, but when I see other kids his age and younger who do seem to get it, I wonder why mine doesn't. And then I wonder if it's b/c of my/our parenting, or something "wrong" or something else, or maybe it's nothing else and it's "normal" and he'll get it one day. But I don't know which it is and that's why I'm asking. If there is something I can do to make things better for him and for us, I want to do it. If it's a normal phase he's going to have to grow out of, that's fine but at least then I can adjust my own reactions. If it's something I need to worry about, I'd like to worry about it and possibly get him help with it NOW rather than wait and realize when he's 12 that there's an issue.

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#9 of 22 Old 04-02-2012, 09:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post
. If it's something I need to worry about, I'd like to worry about it and possibly get him help with it NOW rather than wait and realize when he's 12 that there's an issue.


I mentioned this in another post that you made about your son not listening. When things that work for most kids simply are not working for your child, it's time to seek an outside evaluation/outside help.

 

One thing that I'd change is the giving him a warning. It sounds like you have to say things three times (once, once with warning, once again to enforce consequences). I'd give him one verbal and then one physical assist (gentle) to help him do what he needs. I know he's 4, but it sounds like his impulse control/ability to follow through aren't there yet. Treat him like he's younger and like he can't do it. The more you think that he won't, the more power struggles you'll be in.

 

The backtalk is typical 4 year old. I found it easiest simply to say "that sounded rude. Did you mean....?" which eventually morphed into "that sounded rude. try again." I ignore a lot of tone if the kids are doing what I ask. So, when I asked ds to unload the dishwasher tonight after dinner (it's a daily chore, so it's not new), he rolled his eyes and muttered. I ignored it.

 

Other thoughts: what can you do other than timeout? It's clear timeout isn't working. I don't have many other suggestions, I'm sorry, but maybe other people do.

 

 

 


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#10 of 22 Old 04-02-2012, 10:15 PM
 
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Hmmm, I may have read wrong, but it sounds like you're doing an awful lot of talking.  Have you ever heard of "silent discipline"?  I don't know if it's a thing or just something I came up with on my own, but when ds1 was around that age I would just say it once and then if he didn't listen I would go and physically move him.  It could mean taking an object out of his hand, standing behind him and using hand-over-hand guidance to make him clean up toys, or even picking him up and carrying him to wherever I needed him to be.  One thing I never, ever did was isolation in his bedroom, but I think that's because I had (still have...) major baggage from my own childhood. 

 

I'm heartened to read that you are open to outside help.  I always see that as positive; I've taken many parenting classes and had various evals done on both of my kiddos.  In fact, one thing I learned w/ds1 was that he had some minor hearing loss.  It explained why he didn't "listen" to my verbal directions.  I also learned that he had sensory issues.  For us, this was enough explanation of why he seemed to not "listen" or "behave" as well as other children.  I'm not saying these are the same issues your son faces, just that something positive can come out of having evals done.

 

Best wishes!


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#11 of 22 Old 04-03-2012, 02:27 AM
 
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 I found that the more i try to control DD with rules and expectations the more she reacts and fights back, and in turn the more i would feel helpless and frustrated. Since my dd got sick we have a new outlook on life, and how to react and raise her, i have found that if i sit and think "is this fight/rule/situation worth what I am putting my DD and myself through?" often times the answer is no. Of course the answer is yes as well, but more times than not, most is stemming from my frustration of not being able to control my daughter, and if stop myself when i get frustrated and angry, and just hug my dd and listen, we can usually work things out to where she hears me and I can hear her.

 

 Is it possible that his reaction to playing on front of the door today was a ploy to get attention? Maybe the effect of the foster sibling is causing him to feel left out, and there for DEMANDING your attention good or bad?

 

 I do agree with the PP, that if you do feel like you have and are doing everything in your power to guide him in appropriate behavior, that it might be time to seek some outside help.

 

 I hope things get better for you guys. Its awful to feel like you have exhausted all options and that you don't know what to do.

 


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#12 of 22 Old 04-03-2012, 02:59 AM
 
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With all due respect, OP, I think you need to first get past your presumptions about how kids should act given the environments in which they may or may not be in at a given time.  Instilling values and morality and all that stuff is a bit more complex than whether or not a kid is attached to mom's hip 24/7 or if, oh dread, to what you may view as less desirable enviroments. 

 

^^^ Yes, to this

 

To say that your 4yr old DS has no integrity, is a very strong thing to say. 4yr olds are still very much learning about societal and moral values. To say that they have no integrity is like saying they have no worth, no sense of goodness or right and wrong (and I very much doubt that). ALL children will misbehave at some point - even those full of integrity. 

 

I think your views of what should be expected of a 4yr old are too high. You can't fix a potential, non-existent, problem in your future imaginary 12 yr old by being tougher on them now. Deal with behaviours now and don't philosophize about the future ;) Have you ever read "How to talk so your kid will listen, and listen so your kid will talk" by Faber and Mazlish? It's a very good read for discipline at all ages.

 

 


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#13 of 22 Old 04-03-2012, 04:47 AM
 
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OP, I think you're doing fine with wondering about all this.  Integrity in it's definition is doing what is right even when nobody is watching.  4 knows right from wrong by what they have been taught.  Of course there will be things they do not know, however wilfully disobeying is very difficult to handle.  4 seems to think it's interesting to see what they can and cannot get away with.  4 likes to test boundries.  It's all how you can handle it without making you go crazy.  I have one of these, she's not 4 anymore but her wilful disobedience started at 7.  She knows right from wrong, she just really likes to see how far she can push.  And when she gets in trouble, we're the meanest parents alive!

 

And like always you'll now be picked apart by so many better knowing moms for your choice of words.  Good luck.  And yes even children can lack integrity. 

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#14 of 22 Old 04-03-2012, 06:17 AM
 
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My .02:  Having a four year old IS like doing Groundhog Day every single day, I think.  Four was really the age where, every single day, we had to discuss manners/behavior/boundaries, etc., over and over and over and over and over and over again.  For about a year or two.  Because every single day, I think they were testing, "I wonder if the rules have changed today?" ....and they hadn't, of course.  ;)

 

However, every single day, we had to go through "I wonder what would happen if I totally did the opposite of what my mom was directing me to do."

 

Now that mine are 6 and 5, the behavior issues are much less about testing the boundaries than they are about occasional willful disobedience/just plain not obeying and/or disregarding our family rules.  I come down a lot harder than I used to, simply because the age & boundaries are different.

 

I just remember four and awhile into five as being the years where I truly thought I was going to lose my mind and how did I possibly do such a rotten job parenting these people that they acted like this day after day.  And then, the sun broke through the clouds and I realized that now, they really did understand the boundaries and rules, and because of the repetition and consistency, generally acted within them.  It just took a few _years_ of repeated reminders of boundaries to get us here.

 

Good luck.  You might feel like you're losing your mind, but I really think four/five are the years that test the boundaries and consistency way, way more than ages two/three did.


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#15 of 22 Old 04-03-2012, 06:21 AM
 
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My 6yo is kind of like this, and was very much like this when she was younger.  She just has no event horizon, she lives in the moment and has no concept of anything that is going to happen in the future.  If I threaten she doesn't really 'get' it, unless I am very very clear - If you do x, y will happen doesn't cut it.  I have to expand that - Remember last time this happened, how upset you were?  or, that means you will not be able to xxx, or whatever, because she is not going to figure that out on her own.  Using a strike system seems to work for her, so she's got a couple warnings before she's in real trouble - she does want to get along, just doesn't think very reflectively or deeply about how that's going to happen.  This manifests in other ways, too, she has very big emotion about anything.  If she's sad, she's really, really sad; if she's angry she's really really angry.  If she's happy, she lights up the whole world.  I've wondered sometimes if there is something going on with her (ADHD?), but she doesn't have any serious behavioural issues and is top of her class in everything at school so other than having her hearing checked I haven't had any evals or anything done.

 

I really think this is a personality thing, nothing to do with me, as my other kid has an event horizon of about 25 years.  Seriously, she's made up lesson plans for her art teacher career and knows what house she wants to get.  The kid's got back up plans for her back up plans, it's ridiculous.  Don't blame yourself, or your kid.  Blame doesn't help anyone.  Just keep swimming :) 

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#16 of 22 Old 04-03-2012, 08:47 AM
 
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My 4yo DS is a fair bit like this.  He's testing.  He will take a boundary and push it as far as he can, just to see what he can get away with.  I have to mean what I say the first time, and it goes better with less warnings (I've gotten more into warning again lately and that makes it all worse). 

 

I don't think my son is devoid of integrity.  I do think he's only 4yo and he's a feisty one.  I can totally see that naptime scenario playing out.  DS enjoys the idea that he can sneak and do things like that behind our backs (so I try not to tell him not to do things that I think he could be sneaky about like that).  I think my DS is at a point where he is realizing more how his identity and actions are separate from mine, and he's testing that boundary to understand it.

 

FWIW, I see my brother in my son all the time in stuff like this.  My brother was hilarious and a deviant (not a "break the law" deviant, but an "exasperate the parents" deviant).  He is an upstanding citizen now (with a still demented sense of humor).

 

So IMO, I'd follow another poster's advice and do "silent parenting" with him and see if that helps.  And if you do find something that is the magic "key" someday, please find my name and PM me. :)
 

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#17 of 22 Old 04-03-2012, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, thanks for all the responses. We were out all morning and I just got to read them, but I did do "silent discipline" today in the grocery store. The kids wanted the fire truck cart and it had room for two in there. I let them in, and gave them a warning: If there is any bickering/complaining, you will be moved to the top part of the cart.

 

Sure enough within 10 minutes (probably more like 5, but I wasn't counting and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt), I hear FS complain (and he can get LOUD when he wants to so I need to nip it in the bud) and I look down to see DS leaning way over into FS's space. I stopped the cart, picked DS up out of the front and put him in the top seat facing me. No words. He was not happy. We talked a little bit as I walked about how I had warned him, but nothing big. When we finally were done shopping and out of there (about 40 minutes) he started complaining about how mean I was to take him out of the front of the cart. I explained that I was simply following the rules I had set and reminded him of what I had said. He still didn't get it. This is my frustration/worry that something is wrong: It's pretty simple; shouldn't he be able to make those connections by now? He's smart, he can draw conclusions about other stuff (or at least formulate hypotheses) but he can't foresee the results of his actions?

 

ETA: And no, I'm not accusing him of being evil and having NO INTEGRITY. I said he has no SENSE of integrity -- no sense of what it means to have integrity. I thought that was clear in the title of the OP but I guess I'm just not as great at communicating as the rest of you who never make mistakes. My question was about how to TEACH him about it, for *s sake. The examples sort of run away with the intent of the thread, I guess -- my bad. But I'm emotional about it at the same time that I truly just want to know how you teach your children about using good behavior b/c it's the right thing to do, not b/c of anything else. I hope that's more clear. Or maybe as someone pointed out so nicely, I'll get slammed again for trying to clarify my meaning.

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#18 of 22 Old 04-03-2012, 03:43 PM
 
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Sure enough within 10 minutes (probably more like 5, but I wasn't counting and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt), I hear FS complain (and he can get LOUD when he wants to so I need to nip it in the bud) and I look down to see DS leaning way over into FS's space. I stopped the cart, picked DS up out of the front and put him in the top seat facing me. No words. He was not happy. We talked a little bit as I walked about how I had warned him, but nothing big. When we finally were done shopping and out of there (about 40 minutes) he started complaining about how mean I was to take him out of the front of the cart. I explained that I was simply following the rules I had set and reminded him of what I had said. He still didn't get it. This is my frustration/worry that something is wrong: It's pretty simple; shouldn't he be able to make those connections by now? He's smart, he can draw conclusions about other stuff (or at least formulate hypotheses) but he can't foresee the results of his actions?


Not necessarily. He's 4. He's still in a very egocentric stage. My mom used to say that the whole point of Kindergarten was to teach children that they were not the center of the universe. Her kids were in Kindergarten 40-50 years ago.

 

The other thing that I'd note here is that you changed the rules on him today (for the better, I think). You told him ahead of time and you removed him. He's used to getting 3 warnings. yeah, he's going to complain.

 

The other thing to think about is that you do seem to be talking an awful lot. Have you read "How to Talk So Your Children Will Listen" by Faber & Mazlish? It's a great book for those of us who tend to be overly verbal. In addition, it might give you some insight as to what might work better. For example, when he said "You were really mean when you took me out of the front of the cart" was he looking for reasons why you took him out of the cart? Probably not. He was looking for validation that he was unhappy. So, instead of trying to explain your logic to him, you can say "You sound upset that you had to sit in front, huh?" "yeah, that was sooo mean!" "Well, we'll have a chance to try again soon. It's really fun to sit up front." 

 

Try to get him to admit that you were right is a power struggle that you will never win. (Kids, Parents & Power Struggles by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka is another good book.)


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#19 of 22 Old 04-03-2012, 06:19 PM
 
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To ME, what you described at the store is a very normal scenario.  Especially for a fairly new rule.  He hasn't had to share the car with someone else before.  Hasn't had to figure out how to avoid fighting.  Even with my two, who have been together for years now, stuff like this still happens.  They're kids, and they just don't have it in them to be good all the time.  They are often very loving and helpful with one another, but they will squish the other kid in the cart just to bug them and then be surprised/upset that there happens to be some sort of consequence for that (like having to walk).

 

So the thing in the store - sounds like you handled it great.  Your DS wasn't able to share the car nicely so he couldn't.  You enforced it.  It's how they learn, and with siblings around there are a LOT more times to practice conflict and courtesy than there are without another little one.  Oh, and all his talking afterwards - he's probably just trying to talk his way out of it and/or get you to change what you are thinking/doing.  Unless he really doesn't seem to modify his behavior at all after 2-3 weeks or so of very consistent behavior on your part, I vote normal (NOTE:he will still test this and not be perfect, but I mean if he still seems 100% surprised).

 

As an aside, being with friends who have an only child for holidays one weekend last year highlighted for me how much more we see/deal with conflict on a continual basis than they do.  It seemed like the parents of the only child took every inter-kid conflict a lot more personally and seriously than we did.  Not that we let them fight or treat one another poorly, just that with so many little egos around all the time we are used to seeing the clashes and expecting/trying to help the kids work it out.  For our friends with the only child they seemed to see each conflict as a problem, whereas I tend to see the conflicts as an opportunity for practicing and learning how to handle disagreements...  Now on a rainy day when my kids are bugging each other I don't necessarily FEEL that way... but I TRY to see it that way and it helps.

 

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#20 of 22 Old 04-03-2012, 07:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you both. Yes, I feel like I'm doing too much talking. Even worse, I think DH does more talking/warning than I do!

 

And yes, I did read How to Talk... but I think I need a re-do. I'm going to just buy it (it takes too long to get it on reserve at the library) so I can read it every time I want to come here to post... Thanks for the reminder. You are right (as usual), Lynn -- I should have mirrored his feelings rather than told him what was what. I have a hard time remembering to stay in that mode. My upbringing was so different that it's just not second nature to me.

 

I noticed today that the younger one has made a huge leap in terms of using his words rather than screaming and shrieking; we have been consistently reminding him to do that. I need to remember that even though DS is older, he still needs that constant reminding that I guess I somehow assumed should be done with by now. I really don't know when I "decided" that he should be beyond it, but maybe that's just my short patience coming through. I also noticed that the boys got along much better this evening than normal, and when talking to a friend about our new situation, I actually said that DS has made a huge amount of progress in being able to share his stuff without a problem -- I guess I'm so deep "in the weeds" that I'm not even conscious of how difficult it must be for him during this transition. I've talked to him about it, but don't get anywhere.

 

Finally, I came up with an idea to talk to his gym coach (and his teachers once Spring Break is over) and ask them to be more immediate with consequences. He has a tough time staying focused at gym class and keeps getting put in "timeout" which doesn't phase him in the least. He's fooling around b/c he doesn't want to do whatever they're doing -- timeout is just the same thing. So I came up with the brilliant idea to ask the coach to have him do something during timeout that he doesn't like, like a stretch or a position that he has trouble with. The coach thought it was a good idea, but also said, "He's only 4, right? He's really doing amazing for that age. He loses focus in the middle of class, but he's way better about it than most kids I've had, even some who are older." Then he guessed that DS is my only.... :bag

 

So slowly, and dimly, the light is coming on. I get it. My expectations are out of whack. Thanks for setting me straight, especially those of you who did it gently.

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#21 of 22 Old 04-03-2012, 07:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post

I feel like a total failure. I know he's only 4, but still.... He's generally very easy-going so I don't have lots of trouble with him not doing what I ask, but when he doesn't listen, it's like he doesn't get what the big deal is. It's like he does what we ask b/c he feels like it, not b/c we asked, and so when he DOESN'T feel like it, it's no big deal to just not do it. I'm ready to tear out my hair.

 

Natural and logical consequences are nothing new here. Yet, when consequences happen, he's all surprised and often devastated that something happened as a result of his not listening. But as scarring as all these consequences are to him at the moment, he doesn't EVER learn from them! It's like Groundhog's Day all over again. WTF am I doing wrong???? We are consistent. We warn him of the consequence ahead of time (after the first time he ignores us). We give him a warning, and then there's a consequence. It's so maddening that often we end up yelling, which I hate. But even when I'm calm, it doesn't matter. Same thing, every time....


I'll read through the rest of the thread tomorrow.  For now, I'll say that my youngest was just like this.  It was mind boggling how little got through.  It is better now, at 5.5.  Much better.  Not perfect but better.  Some kids just need more repetition than others.

 

That almost sounds like I'm brushing off your frustration.  Believe me, I am most definitely not.  If I had any patience to spare I would send it your way bbecause i know that feeling you get after you've mentioned something over and over and they still don't get it or act like they heard you or whatever.  Sigh........

 


"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
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#22 of 22 Old 04-03-2012, 08:41 PM
 
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I haven't read every response, but I would agree with the "Talk less, DO more" approach.  I really feel for you.   One of my sons was very similar from age 3-5.  We really had some power struggles.  So badly, that I feared he had oppositional defiance disorder!!

 

Here are a few things that worked for my ds:

 

1.  Remember to tell him what TO do more than what NOT to do.  For example, when you said "play away from the door" try to give him an idea of what he CAN do.  Like, "how about you play in the living room?"  Or distract him with an activity that happens to be located away from the door.  That will help get his mind off the door.

 

2.  How about rewarding the positive behavior to get him out of some of his bad habits of not listening?  Believe me, I really don't like to "train" kids like animals, but sometimes I think the kids need to get out of their ruts and habits of negativity.  When I ask my kids to do something, I like for them to respond to me so I know they heard me. I had to sit down and ask my kids to please let me know that you heard me by saying, "Yes, Mama!"  or for you it could be, OK or yes ma'am, or however you roll :)  So, first of all I would practice with my boys at a low-key, fun time.   play "MAMA SAYS."   You play simon-says with your ds and get him to practice listening and responding.  Make it fun.  Mama says, touch your nose.... yes, mama!  Mama says, run to the bathroom and back... yes, mama!  You get the idea.  I even do this when I want my boys to clean their room, I just insert "pick up three things."  You get the point...keep it light!    After we did this, I decided to keep it fun, so I would challenge my ds to have as many "yes mamas" as he could that day and I would give him a chocolate chip for every yes, mama (I know some people are going to hate this idea, but I was so desperate!)  I did this for a couple of days and once he really started doing better we didn't do it anymore and it helped get him in to a spirit of cooperation instead of being so obstinate.  We moved to a broader approach by giving him a sticker if he had a good listening day.

 

 

 

Finally, please don't think you failed your son.  He is only 4.  In a few years, you will see a 4 year old and think that they are SO little.  I know he seems like he's big and he's growing up, but he is NOT grown yet!  You have lots of time, mama, just don't give up.  Be consistent and faithful and it will pay off.

 

PS.  My now 5yo ds who gave me such hard days is now so joyful and helpful!

 

 

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