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Only have a minute before baby wakes, but yes, totally normal (or so I am told
) My almost 4 year old recently told me she was going to cut me up with a real knife, which totally shook me. We talked a lot about it afterward, and I think she came away with an understanding of how someone feels when she says something like that. I posted here about it and got lots of similar stories as well.

My DD1 has also recently taken to saying, "Oh dammit! I mean, darn it!" in our hearing
I'm sure she's trying to see what reaction she'll get. She already knows it's not a "nice" word, so we just ignore it.

HTH!
 

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Okay, not that I'm promoting lying to your kid or anything but when my DD (3.5 years) says mean and hurtful things I act very upset, like I'm utterly destroyed. Personally, I know that she's a child and acting out her frustrations and I can normally figure out exactly what's bothering her so we can later discuss it-when she and I are both a little calmer. (Not too hard to figure out as most of her more unpleasant comments to me have been while I'm nursing my 2nd child.) She has said horrible things like "damn baby is crying again-I'm going to smack her and maybe she'll shut up" or follow me around the house throwing a temper tantrum and shrieking that she hates me, is going to shoot me, etc. My ongoing stress with this situation and a new baby in the house led me to have issues with mastitis, then some pretty bad postpartum anxiety attacks. We are currently seeing a psychologist about some of her more worrisome behavior (she lacks impulse control when she gets angry and deliberately shoves, pinches, hits, kicks, bites, etc. in a really hateful vindictive way). I'm a little stressed still (but the psychologist is seeing me as well, he is very helpful) because I cannot leave my 2 children unattended for any length of time for fear something will happen.

Oops, sorry, went off on a total tangent about my own situation (which is gradually improving). Anyways, one thing that we have found very helpful is to get a specific baby doll for my older DD to role-play with. This teaches her that #1) It's okay to have feelings of anger, frustration, jealousy, etc. and #2) gives her an appropriate way to express those feelings. For example, if she is really angry with her sister for touching her toys then she can get the baby doll and hit it, yell at it, etc. I praise her when she does so because she has vented in an appropriate way and I always remind her that it's NOT OKAY to hit people, etc. b/c it hurts but it is okay to hit dolly. I got this idea from a parent of a child I used to teach (I taught 2 year old preschool). This 2.5 yr old boy was having a very difficult time adjusting to his new sister so the parents had read about using a doll to vent those frustrations instead. It was a little alarming in our preschool class to see this little boy take a baby doll and slam it's little head on the floor yelling "dumb baby" at it but considering the alternatives-telling the child that those feelings were wrong and not validating them or ignoring the behavior until the child did something unspeakable to the baby-I think working them out with a doll was completely appropriate.

Also, from my experiences as a preschool teacher, children want to be able to share those feelings but sometimes don't quite have the language to express them. Having a child express anger, etc. at a dolly clues you in that he is having a rough day about something so that you can address those feelings and help him to verbalize them. Eventually you will have a sensitive young man who knows how to communicate with others in a relationship-your son's future girlfriends will thank you!

Good luck and I hope this has given you some alternative ideas for dealing with this situation. Oh, and perhaps if you use a dolly and a water gun you can explain to your son that you NEVER point a gun at a person, only at dollies or targets (maybe put up a sheet of plexi w/a target painted on it in the backyard for him to shoot at). I would, if I was going to role-play with a gun, definately use a brightly colored water gun and not one of those realistic looking ones.

Beth
 

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Yeah, I think a lot of this kind of behaviour is a way of testing for reactions.
I remember clearly being around 4 years old and I'd had a nosebleed (from the heat, i think), and my singlet got quite messy.
I knew that "bloody" was a bad word (I grew up in Australia), and I remember thinking consiously that this was a great time to test it.
I went up to my dad, (who was a bit distracted at the time with something else) and said "can I take this BLOODY singlet off?" my dad slapped me for using such language.
My mum was all defensive, she told my dad off for smacking me when I was referring to something that was actually bloody, but while my dad was a bit apologetic, he replied that he could tell that I was testing him and trying out swear words. yep, he had me read like a book. but still, NOT the right reaction.
When my dd swears, I dont react. theyre just words. I didnt yet have to deal with threats like you described, but it does sound like a combination of releasing anger with testing limits. I would respond by not reacting, and wait till the child is finished expressing, and then express how it makes me feel in a calm way and let it be.
 

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my three and a half year old has started to occasionally use aggressive language to see if he can get a reaction. Sometimes what he wants is a horrified "No!"

If the language is bad enough I say, "I'm not going to play the 'no' game with you with this one, it's too yucky."

i think truthful is the best way to go. The words hurt your feelings, but not that much, so don't pretend that they do. Mild disgust, information "That's rude!" or even in some cases, letting him know that it's okay to say something like that but you would never let it really happen.
 
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