is 4 challenging? Tell me about 4 years old - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 17 Old 08-10-2013, 11:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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People always talk about terrible twos or difficult 3s but 4s?

 

It is not actually difficult with my DD but it challenging. She seems to have gone though/be going through many changes.

 

What are some experiences other moms have had with their 4 year old??

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#2 of 17 Old 08-11-2013, 07:06 AM
 
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I feel like age 4 is most challenging in that you might become vividly aware that toddler parenting isn't applicable anymore. The four year old is becoming more articulate, beginning to mirror parental behavior more, and is beginning to grasp logic and reason to some extent.

Redirecting and distraction, being very popular in most GD parenting styles, is not likely to be as helpful. Their bodies are getting bigger and stronger, so stopping aggressive behavior might not be about picking them up and holding them to protect them and others from aggression. We parents might suddenly realize more than ever that these little people are REALLY people in small bodies. They begin to need much more explanatory guidance and (most of all) modeling what we see is appropriate behavior.

Four year olds are likely to show emotions both more obviously AND more subtly. It's those subtle emotions that we really need to be mindful of, or they might get lost in the shuffle. We need to see it if they are feeling internal anguish over not fitting in with peers or living far from cherished extended family. We need to be watchful and help them talk about those feelings so they will know that we are attuned to them.

This is also a great age for making great strides in every aspect of their lives. They are fine tuning their skills in myriad ways right now. It's a perfect time to really implement collaborative problem solving techniques, mindfulness, empathy, and to discuss importance of perseverance and self-love. This also includes empowering them to express needs, verbally set boundaries with others, learn to understand boundaries of others, and effectively stand up for themselves to those who might be less than kind or respectful to them.

I realize I worded all this as someone who might know all about many four year olds. Mostly I speak from what I know about my son who turns five next week and from what I wish I had been taught as a child. I was taught to be a pushover and not to process emotions effectively. I was not given tools for empowering myself in very many ways. I see this age, being the beginning for many children to have more low-supervision playtimes with others, to be a key time to help them understand that bullies exist in all ages and how to be confident in themselves to stand up respectfully for themselves and others.
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#3 of 17 Old 08-11-2013, 04:08 PM
 
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ok let me let you into a secret. 

 

every year is challenging.

 

4 was esp. challenging to me because i thought it would be easier. apparently not. they would still be challenging. 

 

for us even/odd being difficult/less difficult also happened to us. 

 

also between 5 and 7 it peaks - at its worse. hitting, tantrum, etc. then when it was over there is this super mature child.

 

this is a fabulous series. the best out there. its old so ignore the advice, but what goes on with our kids is spot on.

http://www.amazon.com/Your-Four-Year-Old-Louise-Bates-Ames/dp/0440506751

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#4 of 17 Old 08-12-2013, 06:11 AM
 
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when parenting my own children, I absolutely loved the 3-4-5 age range. Fun, more independent, more able to fully participate in the family adventures. And always, the thought: will this be a first memory my kid looks back on?  

 

They are also still little, cuddly, and loving. And stinking adorable.

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#5 of 17 Old 08-12-2013, 08:18 AM
 
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In our house, 4 is when we had to start talking about Big Things.  Bullying, where babies come from, trust and respect, relationships with friends...it was hard at first to navigate the "how much do I say, how do I say it so he can understand, how much information is too much at that age..."  And more turning NPR off to something else because I just didn't have the energy to explain it that day.  Lol...

 

And what Mama Amie said was spot on.  Everything I knew about parenting a toddler I had to throw out the window.  They start to ask sooo many questions, trying to figure out the world around them.  It's fascinating when you can step back and watch it happen, and exhausting when you're in the thick of it!  And then for a while, you get used to them acting "older" - which makes the occasional backslides into toddler-like tantrums or whatnot extra frustrating sometimes too.  You start to forget that it wasn't that long ago they were potty-training...


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#6 of 17 Old 08-12-2013, 05:48 PM
 
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Thanks for posting this question, OP.  I have a nearly 3.5 year old, and I know that I see this year as the end of babyhood, expecting to have a whole new child at 4.  I'm just not sure how that transition happens :)  All the 4 year olds I know seem to be so much more mature, more self-aware, more mature interests, etc. than my daughter.  Not sure if there's something I'm missing to get her there, or if it just happens??  So, anyway, I'm enjoying reading about people's experiences of 4. 

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#7 of 17 Old 08-12-2013, 07:09 PM
 
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Newmamalizzy- I've found that all of the maturations have just magically befallen us.  Sometimes it seems to be over night, and occasionally it can be seen developing over a week or more.  I don't think there's much of anything to be done other than stay connected to your child- letting her lead you where she needs to go.  If she's wanting to lear to read or tell you about something she knows, follow that.  No need to impose, but facilitate, right?  Be there to support interests and concerns.  Show her how to find information when she asks.  Help her get answers, rather than just spouting them out from your adult intellect bank.  Help her learn the steps to her physical, emotional and intellectual development as she indicates readiness.  Not that I know it all or anything, but it's worked for us thus far.  :)

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#8 of 17 Old 08-12-2013, 07:27 PM
 
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i have discovered that there at usually two stages of maturity. also known as growth spurts. kinda about midway btw birthdays and right before birthdays. half way more kinda emotional, and yearly mostly physical and cognitive. 

 

and yes sometimes it seems overnight they have changed. at other times its like - hey wait a minute did i just hear that. you said no and she said ok. woah.

 

however what i have found almost always is horrible horrible behaviour right before change. you know like the last horrible burn right before crowning and you feel you cant take it any more and then suddenly baby is here and magically the pain is gone. same thing. you hold a new being in your hand. as they grow older the changes are much more subtle. 


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#9 of 17 Old 08-12-2013, 07:47 PM
 
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Toddlerhood is easier after dealing with a 4 year old. My son is about to turn 5 and it has been like the others said, many ups and downs and lots of growing. My daughter is 2 and terrible twos are nothing compared to the 3s and 4s. DS still gets upset over little things. Like tonight at dinner, he got all pouty because he wanted daddy to get him a glass of milk. He eventually came around and sat back down to eat.
He's also more independent and can do most things without help. Learning new board games has been fun too as well as playing with Legos and watching him learn to swim.

Ryan 08-28-08  & Julianna 5-3-11
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#10 of 17 Old 08-13-2013, 03:35 AM
 
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Age 4-5 was the most difficult for us. It was when ds weaned and with dd I am near that stage now. Nursing was the perfect solution for tantrums, meltdowns, whining, and now I'm starting to lose that "ace in the sleeve".
Also, around this age both my dk started the constant chatting, and that's wearing me down. I can survive sleepless nights, nursing through the night, but the nonstop talking is driving me crazy.
On the other hand, they become more articulate, you can have interesting discussions, both my dk started being interested in reading at this age. And they don't need constant supervision, playdates become more fun.

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#11 of 17 Old 08-13-2013, 05:33 AM
 
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OMG the incessant chattering! DD is 3.5 and with her it started nearly a year ago. At least now it's starting to become a bit more articulate and interesting! But still, this kid never shuts up and it can be draining. She even talks in her sleep! lol

 

Although she isn't 4 yet, I see big changes happening. She listens to and understands EVERYTHING, and is starting to ask those "big" questions and I find myself struggling to tell her enough to satiate her intellect and curiosity without overdoing it. I've also noticed that she sees our parenting inconsistencies sort of calls us out on them, behavior-wise. She also mirrors back what we say/do to her, which has really made me realize that  the reward-based style of parenting is manipulative and doesn't work. Everything is a negotiation! And she has started to tell me "mama, if you read me these books, then I'll brush my teeth" or "if you don't stop nursing that baby I'll throw my toy in the trash" which undoubtedly stems from our parenting style. We try to point out natural consequences to her in an "if/then" fashion, but obviously we're doing it wrong! So now I'm searching for something better and reading some Alfie Kohn, which hopefully will help.


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#12 of 17 Old 08-13-2013, 09:25 AM
 
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there is something about turning 4 1/2 for some kids. mainly boys. i have seen this sooo many times with sooo many children. at 4 their mother worries if their son will be ready for K next year, and suddenly huge maturity happens at 4 1/2 and the mom wonders why she even thought her kid would not be ready for K. 


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#13 of 17 Old 08-13-2013, 02:50 PM
 
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I found 3.5 and 6 to be the hardest (outside of the colic baby times for the one who had colic.) But 4 isn't that far removed from 3.5. In my house, it has seemed both times to start to ease up a bit around 4, but all kids are different. Maybe your kids won't be sassy hotheads at 6. LOL. smile.gif

The hardest thing of that age is probably that they can't just be redirected. You have to actually work through everything with them. There starts to be a lot of negotiation, as they have their own individual opinions, likes, dislikes, etc. more than when they're little. I find that easier than physically stopping stuff all the time like you have to do with toddlers, so it felt easier to me, but it is different.
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#14 of 17 Old 08-13-2013, 04:29 PM
 
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My son is quite the negotiator. It gets old real fast. Now I am noticing the sibling rivalry. They play nice together for the most part but then they'll fight because they want to play with the same toy.

Ryan 08-28-08  & Julianna 5-3-11
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#15 of 17 Old 08-14-2013, 05:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skippy918 View Post

My son is quite the negotiator. It gets old real fast. 

I know. it can get irritating pretty soon.

 

but how about looking at it differently. first its about independence and wanting a voice of their own. so negotiating is kinda imputing some of their needs. secondly look upon this as critical thinking developing skill.

 

for that reason i always encouraged negotiating (but then i have only one child). if she could logically show that her way was the better way then we would have it her way. i still remember she was negotiating for another popsicle. her reasoning that i gave into - well mom havent you sometimes just wanted another popsicle? good enough for me. she could have another one. 

 

i would put up boundaries though. now is not the time for negotiations. this is not a request but a command. i dont have time to explain. i will later. just eat this today pleaaaaaaaaaaase without any questions or bargaining (executed with a bit of exaggerated pantomime for her entertainment). and she would. sometimes when she was too tired and hungry - she'd struggle to not have a say. but most of the time it worked. 

 

gosh she loved negotiating over time. sometimes just for the sake of it. "NO!! i want one minute more." 'oh sure' silence. oops. "no i meant i want 5 minutes more." lol

 

i also increased her chores that she LOVED doing. sorting and starting the laundry. sweeping and moping the kitchen floor. 


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#16 of 17 Old 08-22-2013, 10:37 PM
 
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This is a great discussion. What resources would you recommend for things like creating win-win situations for when giving options fails, for explaining different choices people may make in a way that fosters kindness, dealing with aggression, and for general non-violent communication especially in "negotiations"...? We're hitting 4yo behavior and I'm all-- Where's my toolkit??? :) Also, peer influence is becoming huge and my little guy seems to be really processing the different social challenges he's facing-- odd man out, "if you do this, I'll give you a dollar", taunting/teasing, other hurtful language... those things that seem to crop up in play with older kids. He's always masked his emotions so it's hard to see exactly what he's struggling with, and what he's figuring out, but he's not yet articulate enough for us to chat about it. This pony welcomes some new tricks.

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#17 of 17 Old 08-23-2013, 07:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mudhugger View Post

This is a great discussion. What resources would you recommend for things like creating win-win situations for when giving options fails, for explaining different choices people may make in a way that fosters kindness, dealing with aggression, and for general non-violent communication especially in "negotiations"...? We're hitting 4yo behavior and I'm all-- Where's my toolkit??? smile.gif Also, peer influence is becoming huge and my little guy seems to be really processing the different social challenges he's facing-- odd man out, "if you do this, I'll give you a dollar", taunting/teasing, other hurtful language... those things that seem to crop up in play with older kids. He's always masked his emotions so it's hard to see exactly what he's struggling with, and what he's figuring out, but he's not yet articulate enough for us to chat about it. This pony welcomes some new tricks.

It is hardest when they aren't that articulate because they can get really frustrated when they can't articulate how they feel and what they want. I'd try to verbally empathize and give him words for what he's feeling and wanting so he feels heard.

Also, try checking out the book How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen. This is the age where that starts to make sense, and it has a great list of strategies for just what to say so, well, kids will listen. LOL. For instance, rather than saying, "You need to pick up the Legos" you can describe what you see: "I see Legos all over the floor." It gives them the information they need - from that they know you want them to pick up the Legos - but it does really seem to not create power struggles in the way telling them what to do does. Kids as they get older hate being told what to do and just rephrasing really helps. That's just one of quite a few good real-world suggestions. Some might seem for kids older than 4, but I think this is where that book can just start to really help, and it'll help more and more as they get older.
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