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<p>What would you do in these circumstances?  My children are 4 and 2, both boys.  These questions are mainly about the 4 year old, but I point at that there is a 2 year old in the mix because the 2 year old is sort of like an instant cheerleader, and does whatever it takes to show his support for his older brother whenever his big brother is acting out.  (Why can't they team up when they are doing something nice?)</p>
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<p>They have a "preference" (and that is stating it very, very mildly) for me, their mother.  When they are hurt, both my partner and I usually agree that it isn't worth making an issue of, and Daddy's job, if any, is just to help get the hurt child to Mommy as quickly as possible.  But here are the two types of scenarios that just get me regarding my 4 year old.  Help!</p>
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<p>1)  Their loving father is often ignored when he asks the 4 year old nice questions, and almost always when he tells him to do something in a disciplining sense.  How should we deal with this?  Should I step in?  It pains me especially when he just wants to hear how the 4 year old's day was and asks good, specific questions-- often at the dinner table-- and gets not even a glance in response.  And as far as the other types of questions go-- he asks them to go pick a book for story time, or to go get their toothbrushes, or to take off their clothes for jammies... and it's like he isn't even in the room.  He is not a quiet guy.  He speaks with more authority than I do.  He is kind, but firm.  I sometimes fault him for not being more playful, or sort of manipulative ("why don't you show me your bellybutton?" instead of "Take your shirt off") but it's not like he is mean, and it is not like he is a pushover. </p>
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<p>2)  If he is nearby when they need anything-- need their bottoms wiped, their spoon picked up off the floor, their water bottle fetched, they will both positively scream, "NO MOMMY DO IT MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY" when he tries to help.   If he goes ahead and gets the spoon or water bottle, the four year old is likely to throw it back on the ground or refuse it, all the while screaming that Mommy should do it.  I cannot tolerate this anymore.  I hate to stand by when they are disrespecting my partner, but if I take the reigns, aren't I reinforcing the idea that their father is not an equal parent?</p>
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<p>And lastly...</p>
<p>My 4 year old has also gotten very, very bad at taking "no" as an answer.  He is really into the full-on tantrum.  I often cave.  I need a refresher course here. </p>
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<p>I have not read much about GD other than what I have encountered here.  I guess I need to get started.</p>
 

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<p>I have to say, off the bat, you will probably get really great responses about the sibling thing, but I only have one son, and he is 3.5. My responses are below, in blue. Hope it helps! <span><img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/smile.gif"></span><br>
 </p>
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Aletheia</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282468/a-few-wwyd-scenarios-for-you#post_16081211"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>What would you do in these circumstances?  My children are 4 and 2, both boys.  These questions are mainly about the 4 year old, but I point at that there is a 2 year old in the mix because the 2 year old is sort of like an instant cheerleader, and does whatever it takes to show his support for his older brother whenever his big brother is acting out.  (Why can't they team up when they are doing something nice?)</p>
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<p>They have a "preference" (and that is stating it very, very mildly) for me, their mother.  When they are hurt, both my partner and I usually agree that it isn't worth making an issue of, and Daddy's job, if any, is just to help get the hurt child to Mommy as quickly as possible.  But here are the two types of scenarios that just get me regarding my 4 year old.  Help!</p>
<p> </p>
<p>1)  Their loving father is often ignored when he asks the 4 year old nice questions, and almost always when he tells him to do something in a disciplining sense.  How should we deal with this?  Should I step in?  It pains me especially when he just wants to hear how the 4 year old's day was and asks good, specific questions-- often at the dinner table-- and gets not even a glance in response.  And as far as the other types of questions go-- he asks them to go pick a book for story time, or to go get their toothbrushes, or to take off their clothes for jammies... and it's like he isn't even in the room.  He is not a quiet guy.  He speaks with more authority than I do.  He is kind, but firm.  I sometimes fault him for not being more playful, or sort of manipulative ("why don't you show me your bellybutton?" instead of "Take your shirt off") but it's not like he is mean, and it is not like he is a pushover. </p>
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<p>2)  If he is nearby when they need anything-- need their bottoms wiped, their spoon picked up off the floor, their water bottle fetched, they will both positively scream, "NO MOMMY DO IT MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY" when he tries to help.   If he goes ahead and gets the spoon or water bottle, the four year old is likely to throw it back on the ground or refuse it, all the while screaming that Mommy should do it.  I cannot tolerate this anymore.  I hate to stand by when they are disrespecting my partner, but if I take the reigns, aren't I reinforcing the idea that their father is not an equal parent?</p>
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<p><span style="color:rgb(0,0,205);">For points 1 and 2, I might have a unique outlook, because I am on the other side of things. It is "daddy daddy daddy" all the time in this house. And my son has, a few times, been really mean about it. Similar instances to what you describe, what with the spoon and all. But also, he took to saying "I don't love you, I love Daddy." And, after *daddy* and I explained repeatedly how that was 1. ridiculous and 2. terribly mean, DS's improvement was "Well, I like Mama, but I love Daddy. " Ugh. We are on the tail end of this, and it is getting better.</span></p>
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<p>I <span style="color:rgb(0,0,205);">have two suggestions on the preference bit. One, don't cave. Like on the spoon thing, *especially* if your DS throws the spoon Daddy kindly got off the floor for him, then, sorry, the kid is out of luck. I wouldn't walk away, I mean, support your partner. But definitely don't step in. Demonstrate to the kids that you are partners and parents, and PS - If you refuse the help you asked for, you won't get it again. Kids need to learn that and I believe it's a natural consequence. (This is the approach DH and I have taken during this anti-Mama phase, and we are working through it. DS really does seem to understand that he's being unreasonable. But as you noted, any caving, and he'll manipulate the situation. Power is intoxicating, and that is why you are the parent. They have power over many things in the house, but not to hurt people's feelings or make inappropriate requests, ie., only Mama can fill this need).</span></p>
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<p><span style="color:rgb(0,0,205);">Two - indicating in a very NON-EMOTIONAL matter of fact way that out-and-out rejection of Daddy is hurtful, and that Daddy loves you, and being emotionally manipulative of either parent is not to be tolerated. I would show that I was hurt when DS would specifically prefer DH over me, but at the same time, if I made *too* big a deal, that became another power angle. For DS, it's plain cause-and-effect to see that his words make a reaction happen. So he needs to see the reaction is negative, and then move on. In our house, if DS is being emotionally hurtful toward anyone, people don't want to play with him. When he's ready to be kind again, both DH and I are happy to play. (once again, I hope you get helpful advice on the sibling front, just sharing my experience).</span></p>
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<p>And lastly...</p>
<p>My 4 year old has also gotten very, very bad at taking "no" as an answer.  He is really into the full-on tantrum.  I often cave.  I need a refresher course here. </p>
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<p><span style="color:rgb(0,0,205);">DS just had the WORST tantrum of his life (he's 3.5) while we were visiting my BIL and SIL for Thanksgiving. I was able to remain calm only by repeating to myself all the reasons I knew for why he was behaving this way (he missed a nap, is out of his normal atmosphere, had an earache earlier that day, and was just a bad day for him). When I saw the tantrum coming, as I typically do (I can tell it's coming when I am working with him on something, I move one item to the wrong place, and a slippery slope happens where, even if I move it back, he's still upset</span><span style="color:rgb(0,0,205);">)...</span></p>
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<p><span style="color:rgb(0,0,205);">So when I notice it heading into tantrum land, we usually "time in" in his room. I specifically sit in front of the door (no leaving) with lights off while he tantrums. I set up mentally for an amount of time passing by. I understand that I cannot force him to stop tantruming. I know that it will run it's course and he will come around. I offer quiet, helpful words of support or redirection when there are pauses indicating he might be ready to come around. Sometimes I distract as well, but often he sees through that.</span></p>
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<p><span style="color:rgb(0,0,205);">This sounds calm, but in actuality my son is typically screaming NO I WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE! MOVE! and trying to push me away from the door. For this most awful of tantrums, he actually hit/scratched me multiple times, which made me very angry, and I almost lost it. My reaction, once I moved him forcibly away from me, was to place my hand spread over his chest as he came at me, so that I could keep him at arms length so he wouldn't hurt me.</span></p>
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<p><span style="color:rgb(0,0,205);">Once DS calms down, he's usually ready to negotiate. I am too. I never cave on what I had previously said NO for, but I am willing to take (and offer) other amenable suggestions (ex. I know you were hungry when we came in here. I'm sorry you can't have a candy bar, but I would love to share an orange with you! *I don't want an orange* Okay, that's good, because I really wanted an apple anyway. I'm going upstairs for one. Are you ready to apologize for screaming and yelling, and then we could share the apple! Oh, maybe with some peanut butter!) You get the picture. </span></p>
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<p><span style="color:rgb(0,0,205);">Some parents are not okay with this, but I DO make DS apologize for tantruming. He may not feel sorry in the traditional sense, but this teaches him that his behavior can affect others negatively and positively. For example, everyone was late for dinner because of his awful tantrum at BIL's, and he apologized for his behavior.</span></p>
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<p>I have not read much about GD other than what I have encountered here.  I guess I need to get started.</p>
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I really hope my (long-winded) suggestions help, even though I can't really speak to the sibling thing. Good luck! <span><img alt="hug.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/hug.gif"></span></p>
 

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<p>Kids naturally sometimes prefer one parent over another, and he'll probably switch over and prefer your dh at some point as well.  I would talk to him about treating his dad with respect, but I wouldn't worry about the preference.  Very common and he'll outgrow that.  Also, it's normal for them to prefer you for caretaking issues if you're the main caretaker.  You're where they feel nurtured.  He could do more nurturing and caretaking things when it isn't a forced issue to get them thinking about him more in that way, but you can't force a child to feel nurtured by someone.  I don't think the answer to that is forcing it, as it seems like that could make them feel even less about him that way, so it seems to me like it would backfire.</p>
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<p>The tantrum thing is also normal, but he's learning that sometimes he can't get what he wants no matter how much he wants it, and that it's OK to not always get what you want, and giving in can delay that lesson.  I would try to not think of it as misbehavior as much as him learning something important that will help him become a more mature and happier person in the long run, and then with that mindset be more mindful about whether it's a good idea to give into the tantrums.  I don't think it's bad if a child wants the blue cup to give them the blue cup or something little and easily solved, but like if you're out in the store and he's having a tantrum because he really wanted a toy, you're just going to prolong this tantrum stage by getting a toy.</p>
 

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<p>I agree that you can't let him treat your partner that way.  At the dinner table, I would say either "DSname, your father asked you a question" OR </p>
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<p>"DSname, please answer your father.  It is not nice to ignore people that are speaking to you." </p>
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<p>OR "DSname, do you like it when people ignore you when you speak to them?"</p>
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<p>As for bum wiping, I would say once "Mommy is busy right now.  Daddy is willing to help you.  Would you like Daddy to do it, or would you like to do it yourself?"  Further tantrums, and DH would say "I'm heading downstairs, let me know when you are ready to speak nicely to me and ask for help."  He can tantrum from the potty, or wipe his own bum, or ask Daddy nicely.  But we disengage, and let him own his own drama.</p>
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<p>Good luck mama!</p>
 

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<p><br>
We had the exact same situation at our house. Several suggestions:</p>
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<p>Make sure that Dad is in charge of something and that Dad gets good one-on-one time with the boys. This may involve you going somewhere or dad taking them somewhere to strengthen the bond. But it's hard for dad to develop his bond with his children when they prefer you and you're always there. It's not a criticism, just a fact of life.</p>
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<p>If your 4 year old does not answer his dad when dad asks about his day ,say "Did you hear Daddy ask you a question? It's rude not to answer when someone talks to you." Then let dad take it from there.</p>
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<p>What does your partner do when they don't answer a directive he's given them? I would encourage him to get up, go over to them, get down on their level, touch them gently and say "Please go pick out a book". That way there is no question as to whether he's been heard. He needs to be in charge there, and you need to step back.</p>
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<p>Dh and I trade off nights when we're in charge of the bedtime routine. So, I do 2 nights, dh does 2 nights. That way, they both get me (the preferred parent) some of the time, but I also get a break. And they know (and learned early on -- we started this when ds was about 3) that when it was daddy's turn, it was daddy's turn. Mommy is simply out of the picture. That kind of routine helped them be able to accept things from Dad.</p>
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<p>For the "no, mommy do it!" situations. What we said in our house was "Mommy can't help right now. You can wait 15 minutes (or 30 or whatever it was until I was finished) or you can have Daddy help you right now." If waiting just wasn't an option, then it was "Mommy can't help right now. Daddy can help or you can do without/do it yourself." Daddy was usually OK then. And yes, we did have some doozies of a tantrum over that. The world was not marching according to their plan and they were not happy. However, we weren't abandoning them to the wolves, just letting the other parent care for them. I think if they'd thrown something at dh (they probably did, come to think of it), they would have been sent to their rooms to cool off for a bit. When that happened, I stayed out of it. There was no way that I could help. Dh and the child had to work through it themselves. </p>
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<p>I would highly recommend the book "Playful Parenting" (I believe there's an audiobook version too, if your partner is averse to reading).</p>
 

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<p>My younger two are 5 and 3, so they're close in age to your boys.</p>
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<p>1) If dh asked one of them a question and they didn't answer, I would say something like "Ds, Daddy is talking to you."</p>
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<p>As for picking a book for storytime, if your dh is close to them and you're sure that ds heard him ask him to go pick a book and he really isn't doing it because Daddy asked him, then at my house, there would be no storytime that day. And not saying that there's no storytime, then talking about it, then letting the kid have the story after all, but really skipping it for ignoring Daddy's request.</p>
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<p>My 4 year old has also gotten very, very bad at taking "no" as an answer.  He is really into the full-on tantrum.  I often cave.  I need a refresher course here. <span style="display:none;"> </span></p>
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<p>I would either move the child into another room or remove myself to another part of the house. They can throw a tantrum at our house if they want to, but they're going to do it alone.</p>
 

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<p>A side note....</p>
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<p>4 is an especially difficult age (my doula called it the "f-you fours").  At least in my experience and those of pretty much all my friends.  It will get better mama! </p>
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Aletheia</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282468/a-few-wwyd-scenarios-for-you#post_16081211"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif"></a><br><br>
1)  Their loving father is often ignored when he asks the 4 year old nice questions, and almost always when he tells him to do something in a disciplining sense.  How should we deal with this?  Should I step in?</div>
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Do you mention to your 4yo that it's polite to respond when someone talks to you, and that it could hurt someone's feelings if you don't? I'd focus on explaining that- over and over. If it were me, I'd prompt ds to respond to dp every time. I wouldn't force it- if it becomes such an issue that your prompting doesn't do the trick, then I'd focus more on explaining why it's important to answer. (A lot of my discipline with ds1 is based on telling him how his actions affect other people)<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">And as far as the other types of questions go-- he asks them to go pick a book for story time, or to go get their toothbrushes, or to take off their clothes for jammies... and it's like he isn't even in the room. </div>
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Would he be open to reading Secrets of Parenting?<br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">2)  If he is nearby when they need anything-- need their bottoms wiped, their spoon picked up off the floor, their water bottle fetched, they will both positively scream, "NO MOMMY DO IT MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY" when he tries to help.   If he goes ahead and gets the spoon or water bottle, the four year old is likely to throw it back on the ground or refuse it, all the while screaming that Mommy should do it</div>
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Anything that involves touching them, I would do myself. I have strong feelings about respecting a child's personal boundaries whenever possible.<br>
For the other things...hmmm...I think I would let dp do it, despite the objections, and "discipline" dc for the throwing/yelling/being rude. By discipline, I mean I would tell him it is unacceptable to throw things/talk that way. Knowing me, I'd pretty much be "tough luck- either Dad gets it or no one gets it" (but in a nicer way, hopefully).<br><br>
I'd probably also have a brief discussion prior to changing anything, and explain what will change and the new expectations. Obviously, it's not going to change overnight. It's probably something that you'll have to work on a little bit at a time. Good luck!
 

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<p> </p>
<p>That sounds so stressful, and I can relate to many of the points you are making.  Our children do switch off between who the preferred parent is, and I've found that one way we help the less-favored parent along is to have alone time with that child.  So DH takes DD1 to most of her sports things, he takes DS on errands.  DD2 currently favors him, but she and I do get 2hrs of alone time a day since I'm the primary care-giver.  DH is also in charge some mornings and some bedtimes, again giving them all the chance to work it out without me feeling tempted to run interference.</p>
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<p>As for tantrums, specifically in the 4yo set, there was a very helpful discussion of that several weeks (months?) ago.  The plan that we ended up using was to gently remove DS from the situation, usually I carried him to the couch saying something like "I love you a lot, and we're going to use our words.  When you are ready, you will use your words to find a solution."  Then I'd engage in a purposeful activity of my own nearby, such as reading the paper, folding laundry, or picking up.  It vastly reduced his tantrums, we noticed an almost immediate difference.  The big key was to also talk a lot about these things when he was not tantruming.  Specifically the concept that I love him even when he/I is angry, and that he can still love me even when he's angry.  He also receives a lot of reminders about using words, which can sometimes ward off the tantrum.  In cases where it doesn't, he will now often scream, as part of the tantrum, what his need is.  We can fill that (for example: he's really hungry, or wants a hug) or we can empathize (he wants to play with his sister's toy or to eat dinner without washing hands).  It really is huge progress for him.  For a bit more about our super tough time when we implemented that, see this blog entry: <a href="http://fltngmoments.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/phases/" target="_blank">http://fltngmoments.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/phases/</a></p>
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<p>Best of luck!</p>
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