How do you teach a four year old to listen?(11 Posts)
DS has just turned four. Between being a non verbal toddler and now, he was pretty compliant and if I said not to do/do something, he'd follow my request. Very recently there's been a lot of defiance and literally not listening. As in if he asks to do something / I say not to/ he goes and does it.
I'm a bit taken aback because it's so not like him. We've always used a positive discipline approach - set boundaries with consequences but not punishments. I really need MN's advice because I have a 20 month old, I'm pregnant, and just losing my rag with him every five minutes - and now making threats to punish, which is not how i wanted to be.
When you tell him something (and explain why he needs to comply, and what the consequence will be if he doesn't comply, depending on the situation) can you get him to repeat back to you what you just said? In such a way that he can't continue what he's currently wanting to concentrate on until he has demonstrated that he listened and heard you?
(eg if DS is being too rough in playing with a rocketship toy right next to the baby. You hold the rocketship and say "[ds] I need you to listen to me. You can have your rocket when you have listened. You mustn't swoop the rocket so close to [baby] because it scares her. If you keep doing it I will have to take the rocket away. What did I just say?"
DS: [incoherent mumble as he wasn't listening]
You: [repeats above as many times as needed until he can say what you said]
That's a really great idea!
I suspect the issue is my parenting, less so DS - who is still only four. Yes, should "know" what's acceptable and what's not, but still will continue to need such guidance for a long time yet. But I've just lost my way with that guidance and I'm all out of ideas.
So for example this morning - 20 month old DD was still asleep despite clocks going back. It was five am. DS asked to get in her bed. I said no and explained it would wake her. He went ahead and did it anyway, and woke her
I can't think what a consequence of that would be. DS got what he wanted, which was us up and awake at five am. Granted I know, it was his six am - clocks going back is awkward. But I can't think what I could have explained to him in that moment. I just got super annoyed instead.
When we first realised we needed to do some disciplining I found 1-2-3 magic helpful for ideas. Don't use it much now but downloaded it onto kindle and for a while it worked quite well.
Useful for stop behaviours eg stop bouncing on the bed, less so for doing things like " get dressed" where they suggest you play games/ races / encourage/ reward charts etc.
You can always tell him When he can do it.
So 'no biscuit now as its teatime but you can have one at bedtime'
I try to take the consequences route when I can but it can involve so much talking that DS tunes me out. Using as few words as possible helps, touch him and try to get eye contact. Ultimately, I found some punishments were necessary at this age as he just didn't care enough about consequences. DS is not 6.5 and still struggles to listen - its a lively kid thing!
When dd was 3 she went through a stage like this. I did several things depending on the situation.
2. Using "stop doing x or y will happen (consequence y has to be enforceable and sufficiently bad in their eyes - needs a bit of forethought)
3. Buckets and buckets of praise when being good.
4 . Not being the least bit embarrassed about having to deal with them in full strop mode. I do remember marching out of swimming pool with under my arm with dd's arms and legs flailing because she refused to listen to something that must have been important.
The example you've given looks like wilful disobedience.
I'd give a direct consequence for that. Perhaps attention for younger one snuggled up in bed together (without ds) to help her go back to sleep.
I find withdrawing attention is a great way to get them to understand good behaviour equals attention when accompanied by the masses of praise for being compliant.
Would an award chart work for your ds?
It's not unusual for 4yo to test the boundaries.
What works with my dc of a similar age is getting them to "think through" the concequences themselves. May take a bit of getting use to it and understanding what you mean if you haven't don't it with them before. So in your example, "I know you want to get into dd's bed but what might happen if you do?" Dc-"she'll wake up/cry" "will mummy will happy or sad" etc etc. some sort of prompts to get to the right answer that you want- e.g. Her crying/that will ultimately take time away from him/ you won't be happy. "And then can I play with you? Or will I have to stop dd crying". Slightly clumsily worded above but you get the generally idea hopefully! It takes more time and I sometimes despair hearing my selves have these tedious conversations and admit when I'm knackered/stressed I resort to just shouting to do what I want or bloody stop doing the thing I don't but getting them to work through the concequences definately seems to work better.
The consequences for stuff happening far too early is that you get a grumpy tired mummy who is too tired for xyz fun thing to happen/too tired for there to be any noisy toys/any tv/whatever he would miss most.
Thanks everyone for your suggestions. Some really good stuff here, I've so lost my way! I don't know how to handle things at all and so just resort to losing my temper.
I think it was wilful disobedience but since he's really hardly ever like that, I'm willing to give it a pass this time as not listening IYSWIM. But all of your consequences make sense to me - especially encouraging him to work through the process of what might happen himself.
I've also been pondering on reward charts. Never really had to use them before so it might be a good thing to introduce now. I know there's twos schools of thought on them - positive and negative - but I tend to think they still encourage good behaviour overall. Is it bribery? Does it matter? I think it's better than me threatening to take all his toys away which is not what I wanted to do!
He's very emotional right now, which is also really not like him.
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