A Very 'Active' 4 year old, would appreciate some advice x

(19 Posts)
taffleee Fri 01-Nov-13 17:52:13

Hi, I have a beautiful little boy, just turned 4.

He's super confident, he's 'batman', has everyone in his nursery class following him, his best friend is a little 5 year old girl who lives round the corner, who he has to hold hands with everywhere, she's the same, and they are very close. He can sit lovely, and what is surprising us on a day to day basis is his ability with puzzles, his motor skills have always been fab, but we have now gone to 50+ pieces puzzles, which is no problem.

That's the good stuff, on the down side, he cant seem to calm down, he talks none stop when we are out of the house, can't sit down, shopping is a total nightmare as he screams demanding everything, tries to grab everything from shelves, the tills are terrible, he'll sit on the floor, scream, or run off - I also have a ten year old, who's good as gold, and he's been in tears trying to help whilst we've been out also, which is not fair on him.

Taxis are another nightmare, he tries to talk non stop to the driver, he goes for the door when he sees something outside, then he'll kick off, kick the seats, try to hit out, everything -

Indoors, the naughty step 'time out' thing works, may take a little while, but eventually, we get there, hug, and start again -

I try everything outdoors, getting down to his level, stopping, but i'm not a 'shout at you mum' (which i have been told to be by various strangers outdoors, which has killed me). I do discipline, but I must not be doing right. What worries me more is if he's feeling some frustration that makes him this way, but he's so happy, i'm just a bit stuck -any advice????

MerryMarigold Sat 02-Nov-13 10:04:37

There's 2 possibilities:

1. He has adhd
2. You are not good at having boundaries and he is strong, clever child who is walking all over you.

I have one of those and I need much stronger boundaries than I do with my other 2 kids who are more compliant naturally. He just likes to push (he is very clever) and if he succeeds, he will keep doing it.

In terms of going out, I would talk before you go about what you expect and what will happen if it doesn't happen. Also, get him as involved as he can be in the shopping too, perhaps by the tills he is bored out of his skull. Finding things, checking how much stuff is etc.

It's a fine balance. You do need to make sure he is engaged, but at the same time there will come a time where he needs to sit and listen even when he is not interested so a little training in that and expectation of that is ok. Just not to a ridiculous extent. I think a 30min shopping trip where he is interracting (putting stuff on the belt etc.) and only expected to be quiet during the packing and paying is reasonable. If he can do it, perhaps he can have a bag of buttons or something and if he can't do that, there should be no buttons. (And no, you don't back down on it because he really wants those chocolates and throws a tantrum).

Turquoiseblue Sat 02-Nov-13 10:15:53

I have a very energetic and clever and willful 4 year old girl too.
I struggle like you - she can be a darling or an absolute nightmare.
However she is clever and I have found that having boundaries really works. Stopping a treat/ activity once was enough to stop the supermarket strops. So from my part that involved seeing through my actions and putting boundaries in place.
Also before we go somewhere it s helpful to have a chat to explain what s expected of her - like for example we re going to the supermarket, I need you to help push the trolley, but today I have no money for treats. You can choose the apples and the bread. Etx. I tend not to relive re shame of the last strop but instead focus on when she was well behaved - and remind her well that shopping trip went.
Defiantly follow through though if they don't behave. They are clever enough to take it on board.

ZuleikaD Sat 02-Nov-13 12:33:13

Yes to the boundaries, but I would also add - don't go to the supermarket! It's simultaneously boring and massively overstimulating for children. All this stuff around them, endless things they can't have, your attention focussed elsewhere - it's a nightmare for a four year old. Get it delivered!

estya Sat 02-Nov-13 16:02:31

I wouldn't give chocolate or other sugary things to children who already have lots of energy.

mummyxtwo Sat 02-Nov-13 19:32:47

Our 'naughty mat' is a movable concept - we've been at the zoo or at a national trust home or pretty much anywhere and if ds1 has kicked off and behaved badly then we find an appropriate bit of grass and tell him this is the naughty spot (not a pc term, I realise, but too late to change it to 'time out' now!) and plonk him down. It worked just as well as it did indoors at home. We rarely have to use that method now but the threat of it is still a deterrant from bad behaviour! (Ds1 is now nearly 5yo).

If you have to do a supermarket shop, try telling him that if he behaves nicely and helps you with the shop, putting the items into the trolley etc, then he can choose a magazine at the end. Praise any good behaviour and tell him how helpful he is being - actually harder said than done when you're tempting to spend the whole shop snapping and nagging (said from experience). Do online shops! I do Click and Collect as it is easier for me than having the delivery man banging on the door when the baby is asleep or having a feed.

lljkk Sat 02-Nov-13 19:54:32

Is he generally impulsive, OP, or do you let him get away with murder?
That's what you need to ask yourself.

SteamWisher Sat 02-Nov-13 19:57:55

Well I'd say that the naughty step cannot work if he repeats behaviour.

Perhaps try a different approach. If you're in a taxi, why don't you try talking to him, give him a magazine to look at? Same in the supermarket - if he's bright, can you give him little tasks to do? Basically keep his brain working so he's interested in what's going on?
Also you describe the older one as being better behaved - maybe you've forgotten what 4 year olds are like and your 4 year old acts up to get your attention? Do you compare him to his sibling?

taffleee Sun 03-Nov-13 16:20:59

steam in no way is he compared to his sibling - infact, quite the opposite - I do feel for my oldest because they are 'half brothers', my youngest's dad is with us, his dad isn't - my dd2 is superconfident and has his dads full attention, were as my oldest can feel very left out occasionally, which I try to make up for when we get time on our own - its difficult -

lljkk I'm not a 'shout at you' mum - no I don't let him get away with murder, but my other half would probably disagree with me on that -

I do the 'talk' before we go out all the time, involve my youngest at the checkout by helping put shopping on the belt, get a little something for him on the back of the line that he can give to the lady, have tried alot -
Ive read comments on 'boundaries', would be interested to hear some more about that, because maybe im not doing right??

MerryMarigold Mon 04-Nov-13 10:15:30

Boundaries are basically where you explain what you expect and what is not acceptable (and why at this age). If the child crosses into what is not acceptable there is a consequence for that which is then carried through, without any caving in.

chocolatebourbon Mon 04-Nov-13 14:10:09

I have an almost-four-year-old boy who sounds extremely similar. He needs very firm boundaries - ie an explanation of what the rules are. eg "When we go shopping today you must not run off when we are at the checkout and you must not scream. You can help me put things on the conveyor belt if you want. If you scream or run off you will go straight on the naughty step when we get home. If you are very good I might just let you go on the coin-in-a-slot-ride-on car or buy you a magazine on the way home." Reiterate before you set off, once you are in the car and once you are in the shop. Then follow through with the consequences. It is SOOO boring but otherwise my son just will not behave. We also have a star chart with three things to work on every day for the week and a present at the end if he gets all the stars in (at the moment the three things are going to school without kicking up a screaming fuss, coming to the table without kicking up a screaming fuss and going to bed without kicking up a screaming fuss)!! I do my big shop when the children are at school/nursery so that if we do go all together it is just to pop in and get a few things - so it is reasonable to expect them to stay well behaved. Good luck - I feel your pain!

chocolatebourbon Mon 04-Nov-13 14:18:05

SteamWisher, I have tried the whole magazine/constant entertainment thing as you suggested but the more attention I give the more seems to be demanded. You have to draw the line somewhere, especially where there is another sibling. It's a parent's job to teach their children that sometimes they will not be able to have 100% of their attention or a constant supply of entertainment. (It's particularly important for my son as he is at pre-school in France and the cultural expectations are very much on children behaving themselves properly from a very young age, regardless of whether somebody is dedicating themselves to their entertainment of not.)

SteamWisher Mon 04-Nov-13 14:50:28

Yes I understand - I have two dc and my 4 year old can be a handful. Ds certainly knows he has to wait but if you're in a situation eg in a taxi then you have to try and distract because 4 year olds aren't always known for their patience. I actually avoid some things with ds like big supermarket shops as not worth the headache. As he gets older he is better at understanding he has to wait, about knowing what's dangerous as I'm always telling him so he learns.

Noteveryday Mon 04-Nov-13 15:00:14

An average four year old is old enough to be able to control his behaviour 9 times out of 10 at a supermarket.

Give him some jobs e.g. weighing some stuff, putting stuff in the trolley, remembering a short list of items. If he is naughty make sure there are consequences which he knows about beforehand- the same consequences every time. I used to let them sit on the ride on car at the end (with no money in!) if they followed the rules, if not, straight home afterwards. There were 3 simple rules - 1. Don't touch anything unless I have asked you to. 2. Don't ask for anything. 3. Hold onto the trolley / stay in the trolley unless I have asked you to get something.

Mummyx2 glad I'm not the only one that has made their kid sit on the floor! Looks bad to passers by but works really well and I never have to use it now.

Also at 4 either squash him in the trolley seat or say he has to hold the trolley on the way round - there should be no opportunities for him to run off.

TBH it sounds like you don't like/are almost scared of his screaming/tantrumming and he knows it. Try to zone it outI used to stand there and look bored and sometimes look at a magazine/book. If you don't nip it in the bud now, he'll recognise its power over you and he'll still be doing it in later years. You do not need to be embarrassed - every person in that supermarket has had a tantrum at some point in their life.

lljkk Mon 04-Nov-13 20:13:15

OP doesn't sound weak to me.
I have 4 (by same dad) &they are so different with the types of challenging behaviour they can present. If I only had DC2 & DC4 I could consider myself a smug super-parent & take ridiculous credit for what is actually just hard-wire personality. The Gods sent me DC1 & DC3 to save me from hubris (I like to think).

chocolatebourbon Tue 05-Nov-13 12:56:07

Holding onto the trolley rule is a great idea. I did holding onto his sister's pushchair rule when at a busy airport on my own with them last weekend and he was AMAZINGLY well behaved. Even just the job of having to stay in contact with the buggy seemed to be enough to keep him focussed instead of just running off crazily.

taffleee Wed 06-Nov-13 19:56:32

llikk Thank you so much, i'm not a 'weak' mum, and am certainly not scared of any tantrums as notevery would have suggested, just needed some advice x

chocolate i loved your suggestions, and i do do the 'hold on to the trolly' senario, I certainly wouldnt 'squash into the trolly', as notevery suggested

Noteveryday Wed 06-Nov-13 20:46:58

I certainly didn't call you weak. There is nothing wrong with putting a four year old into a trolley when they are slightly too big for it if it is not painful to them.

This is what you said about his tantrums :"*on the down side, he cant seem to calm down, he talks none stop when we are out of the house, can't sit down, shopping is a total nightmare as he screams demanding everything, tries to grab everything from shelves, the tills are terrible, he'll sit on the floor, scream, or run off* "

This is what I tentatively suggested you might be feeling based on what you said: "*it sounds like you don't like/are almost scared of his screaming/tantrumming and he knows it*"...ending the paragraph with "*You do not need to be embarrassed - every person in that supermarket has had a tantrum at some point in their life*".

But feel free to think I'm an unhelpful parent-hating child-beating bastard.

taffleee Wed 06-Nov-13 22:13:58

Notevery - lol, not at all!! Any comment is helpful and thanks for your comment!! xx

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