is it true that 4 year olds can have an increase in behavioural problems?

(16 Posts)
jenduck Tue 19-Feb-13 09:47:01

So glad it's not just me! DS1 is 4.2 & over the past month or so he has developed a proper 'attitude'! He huffs & puffs, stomps around, shouts, answers back, doesn't do as he's told...ugh.

However, we have recently introduced a reward chart where he has 10 happy faces to colour in & 10 sad faces. The sad faces are for really bad behaviour, and we always warn him plenty of times before resorting to this. The happy faces are for not having attitude for a whole eg afternoon & for staying in bed. If he gets more sad faces than happy ones, we take the chart down & start a new one. But if he gets more happy faces, he gets a treat (£2ish toy from charity shop or new game downloaded to his LeapPad)

I think the chart has also helped us to focus & be more patient before telling him off.

With DS1, I can see a couple of things that may have triggered/made worse his behaviour. Firstly, DS2 is at a stage where he is learning to do lots of big things - eating by himself, speaking - so is getting lots of praise & attention. So it could be that DS1 is jealous of this. Secondly, DH has been at home for a couple of weeks as he has been between contracts, so this changes how things are. It has been lovely, but we all notice a difference getting back to our old 'routine'.

Finally, I have been trying to do lots to wear DS1 out - so we go to the park most days & do activities at home such as painting or we have playdates. I just feel he is getting to the stage where he needs more stimulation & he loves to be playing with friends. He is, I feel, more than ready to go to school full-time in September!

JustCallMeFish Tue 19-Feb-13 07:31:11

I found 3/4 the hardest to deal with.

Mega tantrums.
Fighting with friends.
Answering back.
Occasional swearing.
Refusing to do things like put a seatbelt on.

Pushing all boundaries known to mum.

5/6 are much better!

piemashandliquer Tue 19-Feb-13 07:25:52

Thanks everyone, good to know its not just us. I have 'how to talk', i will get the incredible years, thanks zappo. And i will read the threads (cant right now as on crappy phone).

I dont mind difficult stages, if i am equipped to deal with them. This has been the hardest so far.

Mrs M, she gets lots of my attention, and stimulation, so i dont think its that. I think she just wants to control everything and gets really aggressive when she cant. The aggression is new.

SilveryMoon Mon 18-Feb-13 22:59:57

I agree with the books zappo mentioned. All very good.
My 4yo is advance for his years, his nursery teacher said she's not sure what to do with him because he knows everything! So think there is definitely something in what MrsM says too.

LarkinSky Mon 18-Feb-13 22:42:03

Yep sounds just like my 4 year old dd too. She's driving me crazy and I am frequently so angry and frustrated with her I'm really tempted to smack her. I'm very anti-smacking and have never done it, so feeling that urge makes me feel terrible. I'm ashamed to admit that in real life.

I'm on maternity leave with dd2 and trying to make the most of my last few weeks (I got 24 weeks off) but it is such a battle with dd2. She just won't accept my authority and is so contrary and willfull.

I wish I had longer off but part of me feels I'm such a bad mum at the moment ill be better off in the office!

Zappo Mon 18-Feb-13 22:27:37

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/behaviour_development/a1313102-Struggling-With-4-Year-Olds-Behaviour

And another example (with a few books mentioned). Seems it's very common.

Books I would recommend are The Incredible Years, Playful Parenting and How to talk so your children listen and listen so your children talk

Zappo Mon 18-Feb-13 22:14:24

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/parenting/a1484221-4-year-old-defiance-behaviour

This is not the thread I was looking for but there are many similar ones- you are not alone.

Kyrptonite Mon 18-Feb-13 22:11:58

DS is 4 in march and has been utterly horrible for the past 3 weeks. He appears to be triggered by chocolate and other dairy though so I've made an effort to cut it out and he has been more bearable. Weird though as never had problems like this with sweets/food.

Or it may be the age grin

Zappo Mon 18-Feb-13 22:07:43

I think this stage is known as the effing fours on mumsnet. There was a good thread on here a while back I'll see if I can find it.

I read on here somewhere that if you think it's hard having a four year old, it's even harder being a 4 yr old.

They are not babies anymore (they have a certain amount of confidence being the oldest ones in preschool) and yet theystill very dependant. All the talk is about big school- so there's probably an element of uncertainty too.

Mine certainly tested the boundaries big time between 3 and 4.

MrsMushroom Mon 18-Feb-13 21:58:52

Oh right! Could she be bored? Need more to do....more challenges? My DD2 is 4 and needs a ridiculous amount of stimulation....she's not happy unless she's trying something new, working on phonics or playing some game which she scripts....is your DD getting enough entertainment and stimulation? Also....how is her diet? My DD1 is very sensitive to additives and is horrible if she has things like red jelly...certain sweets....fizzy drinks etc.

piemashandliquer Mon 18-Feb-13 21:50:21

Thank you for your reassurance and sharing your tips silvery, i will try a sticker chart and 3 strikes thing.

Mrs M, her language is beyond her years, always has been, and settled into preschool well, but thanks for suggesting these.

Any other advice or good books gratefully received.

MrsMushroom Mon 18-Feb-13 19:24:29

Is she doing ok at school/preschool? Are they happy with her progress? Hows her language? Just asking because sometimes if a DC has language difficulties it can cause frustration...

SilveryMoon Mon 18-Feb-13 19:06:19

My just 4yo ds2 has suddenly turned into a bit of a monster!
I don't think that this kid of behaviour would warrant a trip to the GP or the thought that there is something wrong.
For me, I think it's the confidence that comes with starting school?

I loosely follow lots of parenting techniques, but nothing exclusive or 'proper' iykwim.
I have always counted down from 5, just to give them those extra seconds to comply. I want them to comply so give them the most time I think I can. My Dad said he used to count down from 10 because that's how long it took me to do as I was told!

The rule here is, I'll tell you twice, then I count down from 5, if they've still not done it, it's a time out.
Very rarely do I get to 1.

I've tweaked it a bot lately, because like you, I found I was saying no and telling them off all the time, so I have introduced a sticker chart.
I sat my boys (4 and 5) down and spoke them through it. I wrote 1-5 in big numbers across the top of the page and told them everytime I saw them do something really nice, they'd get a sticker and once they got 5 stickers, they'd get a reward, but we had to decide then what the reward would be.
I have a special bag that's filled with bubbles, whistles, bouncy balls, balloons, wind up toy, basically all the crap for a party bag and they said they wanted to choose something from there.
They did this, got 5 stickers and chose.
Then I wrote another 1-5 and they wanted this reward to be a small glass of pepsi. Done. Right now they are heading for a magazine from the shop.
At the bottom of the page, I drew a section off and this section is for strikes. If they get 3 strikes, they get a time out. If they argue about time out, they lose tv time, computer, football practice etc.
At the end of each day, I scrub the strikes out so we start a-fresh each day.
It seems to work (for now)
Just remember the mummy mantra, this is a phase, it too shall pass wink

piemashandliquer Mon 18-Feb-13 18:53:09

Thanks for your reply MrsM, I have just come down from bathtime, which I've had to let DH do as she's being so difficult. I feel like crying, and that we are crap parents. She is an only child, but not spoilt (we hope!). Nothing has changed recently. Just the last few weeks she has been oppositional to absolutely everything we ask/tell her to do and she never seems to do anything we ask without the mother of all battles. I've tried time out, 1-2-3 and follow through on consequences, and taking priveleges away, and ignoring unwanted behaviour. One of the main things is shouting at us when she cant get her own way - telling us we're not listening to her. I've explained that we have listened but she cant have XYZ whatever right now. Other things include making loads of mess at mealtimes (Im talking weaning-level, using hands for soup etc, etc), and generally just pushing boundries to the max. I feel like all we do is say - dont, no, etc etc all day long. We both praise good behaviour, but there just isnt much to praise at the mo.

Im at the end of my tether and wonder if I need to make an appt at the GP, or is this an over-reaction?

MrsMushroom Mon 18-Feb-13 17:08:31

Well I don't know about that...it should get a little easier if anything but it depends on her situation. Has anything changed recently? Any new routines or losses of old ones?

piemashandliquer Mon 18-Feb-13 15:48:58

My 3.11 year old is driving me nuts. She's always been a handful, but just recently she's been completely oppositional. Its horrible. I dont know if it is normal or if she does have behavioural problems and we need to seek help. A colleague told me that it is normal for 4 year olds to have a surge or increase in behavioural problems but I've never heard of it and cant find anything on the internet about it.

Can anyone advise please?

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