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To stop my misbehaving 4yr old from coming to the safari park?

(47 Posts)
britespark1 Thu 02-Jul-15 07:05:24

At my wits end with my 4 yr old DS. His behaviour at home has deteriorated over the last few weeks. Always been an attention seeker (understandable to an extent as we also have 3 and 2 yr old boys) but we have always made the effort to spend quality time with each boy individually too. Nothing is ever good enough for him, starting arguments from 5am each day, the slightest thing will set him off. Rude to me especially but now also to siblings, grandparents, aunties and uncles which they have noticed. Apparently angelic at nursery according to the end of year report they sent home today. Read like they were discussing a different child.

Worn down from living in a battleground and must be doing something wrong as he seems so angry all the time. He actually hit me round the face with his sun hat yesterday which felt like the final straw (not 100% sure it was deliberate as mid-tantrum, arms swinging etc). I try to remove him from the situation by putting him in his room but he bangs on the floor and shouts and screams so loudly I'm surprised NDN haven't called Social Services :-/

My DH has booked the day off next Friday so we can have a family trip to the safari park. Would I BU to tell DS if behaviour doesn't improve he can't come? Feel like he needs a short sharp shock but would also feel very guilty if he missed out as seems like he's always in trouble :-(

FuckitFay Thu 02-Jul-15 07:08:46

It's too far away for a four year old. Punishment needs to be same day I think. No other advice but sounds like you've got your hands full with those age gaps. I would just caution against treating him as because he's oldest having much higher expectations as he's still so young. I know I made this mistake with my own oldest.

britespark1 Thu 02-Jul-15 07:10:23

Fay that's what I thought, next week is possibly too far away to have any impact. I also think you are right about too high expectations just because he is the oldest. Thank you for replying.

paxtecum Thu 02-Jul-15 07:11:57

No, please don't threaten that to him.
I can only imagine how difficult it must be having three boys in three years, but his behaviour will not improve by missing a family day out.

Lovelydiscusfish Thu 02-Jul-15 07:12:32

Very harsh punishment for such a young child, in my opinion, and only likely to make him angrier!
I must be tough for you though. Have you tried reward charts, or anything of that sort?

westcountrywoman Thu 02-Jul-15 07:14:44

I'd say he's too young to understand that behaviour today will have a consequence tomorrow. Also, who'd look after him if he didn't come? If a friend / relative rather than usual childcare arrangement, then he'd probably revel in the individual attention, so not much of a punishment (especially if he's not been to a safari park before so wouldn't know what he's missing).

I'd probably take him but emphasise that bad behaviour there means missing out on a treat (ice-cream, play in the play area or small gift in shop). And don't be afraid to follow through with the threat. Having to watch his siblings enjoying the treat would get the message across.

britespark1 Thu 02-Jul-15 07:17:01

Reward charts work to an extent but just lately he doesn't seem bothered. He's very bright and I think he is ready to start full time school so possibly bored etc at home.

Blu Thu 02-Jul-15 07:17:56

4 year olds can get very bolshy. It's normal.
Can you try changing the dynamic? When he throws his weight around or is rude just speak in a very quiet voice, turn away and say 'I can't hear you unless you speak to me in a happy voice' and walk away and do something else. And keep this up. If he breaks stuff, just say 'oh dear if you break things you can't manage to take care of your Lego can you, so I'm keeping it for a week' .
Take the battle out, stay calm, speak quietly but clearly and firmly, and involve him in as much cheerful chat as possible .

It Will Pass.

Does he know he is going to big school in September? Getting to the top of the pack in nursery and then looking at being the little ones in school is a big transition.

britespark1 Thu 02-Jul-15 07:18:40

Westcountry, my mom would watch him and you are right, he would actually love the individual attention.......good idea about the treat whilst there though. Thank you all for your advice, I have a lot to think about as I lose perspective with it being a daily battle.

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Thu 02-Jul-15 07:18:53

I agree, it's too far away to be effective. Also, once you've taken it away, then he'll have nothing to lose for his behaviour. And you can't spend the week saying "if you don't behave, you won't go" as it will lose meaning to him anyway.

Have you tried some positive reinforcement? I ask only because my ds1 (who has ASD/ADHD - and I'm not for a moment suggesting your ds has these, just explaining for clarification) doesn't react well or respond to consequences very well at all. Positive reinforcement works much better for him. Small rewards built in throughout the day or a chart where a certain number of ticks can add up to a treat of some sort helps him focus on good behaviour. Look for good behaviour and praise it a lot. Set him up for good results to start out - ask him to help you with something and praise him for being so helpful. My ds2 has a diary that he puts his reward stickers in each day, so he likes getting stickers as a reward.

Always worth a try, if you haven't tried it already.

Mehitabel6 Thu 02-Jul-15 07:20:04

He is very little and I think that a lot of the problem is to do with you having your hands full. Could you leave the youngest at home so that the older 2 get one to one at the safari park- or get an extra pair of hands to come with you and give more time to each child? I think a lot of the problems come from having higher expectations of him because he is the eldest when he is only 4 yrs old.
Does he get to see grandparents on his own? He is less likely to be rude to them without you being there.
I wouldn't use the safari park as punishment.

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Thu 02-Jul-15 07:21:00

I think sometimes when there is repeated bad behaviour, it's easy for us as parents to get into that vibe of constantly picking up the bad behaviour and not noticing the good as much (because at that point we're just relieved it's not bad behaviour) IYSWIM.

mortalfools Thu 02-Jul-15 07:21:36

I wouldn't use the safari park as punishment either, but I do think some sort of sanction or consequence is needed.

britespark1 Thu 02-Jul-15 07:22:06

Blu, glad to hear all 4 yr olds can be bolshy. As he's the oldest obviously his behaviour/stages is new to us. Yes he knows about school. Very excited but possibly underlying issues there too as very happy at nursery eg doesn't want to leave his teacher.

Your advice about taking the battle out of it is spot on. I am also angry all the time now because of his behaviour and need to deal with things a lot more calmly. Thank you for taking the time to reply.

britespark1 Thu 02-Jul-15 07:25:21

Sorry, my typing isn't as quick as I'd like so I'm not ignoring anyone. Will definitely try and focus on the positive - of which there is a lot- and no, I won't threaten him about the safari park I had my doubts hence the AIBU but it really helps seeing sensible and honest advice. The 3 of them obviously are hard work at times and sometimes despite the help I get its a bit much every now and then.

Snowberry86 Thu 02-Jul-15 07:26:31

How about a reward chart for all the boys to earn their day out? They have to get so many stars etc for everyone to be able to go. Make it a team effort so that they start to work together, chores round the house can be worth stars and they get bonus stars for being kind to each other.

Get them researching the safari park and printing out some pictures to go on the chart so that they can visualise what they are working towards.

DXBMermaid Thu 02-Jul-15 07:26:49

Not an expert my any means, but can you somehow give him room to be angry? Maybe create a corner with pillows he can take his anger out on? Explain to him that feeling angry is okay, but that behaving badly is not. Ask him what makes him angry and maybe there is something you can do about it? thanks

mommy2ash Thu 02-Jul-15 07:28:25

I think you are all stuck in a cycle now of bad behaviour and punishments. Could you try ignoring the bad and really praising the good. If he is attention seeking it's better for him to see the benefits to positive attention rather than any at all

Nameforsexboard Thu 02-Jul-15 07:29:41

I'm not sure he'd understand you taking away a treat when there to be honest. Unless he played up while there.

They have far less understanding of their behaviour than we think. He's only 4, he's little. Their acting out is just them trying to communicate with you and failing at it, rather than intently trying to irritate you. (So hard to remember.)

I think we can place so much expectation in the oldest child, especially with younger siblings they then look so much older. Do you enjoy 1 on 1 time with him, does he?

The best book I've read (and need to reread) is, "how to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk." I'm so not an expert, but it has helped me to see things more from the child's perspective.

They need help learning desirable behaviour rather than constantly being told off and punished. They sometimes need what you want them to do spelled out very simply. For example I realised "tidy your room " wasn't clear enough, or even "tidy up". I knew what that meant, but my 5 yr old still needed to be told in stages to put x there, now put paper in the bin etc.

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Thu 02-Jul-15 07:30:46

Completely normal for them to get bolshy before starting big school. I think you're stuck in a cycle too and agree with ignoring bad behaviour and only concentrating on good.

britespark1 Thu 02-Jul-15 07:33:01

Some really sensible and useful suggestions. I need to print this all out! Thank you! Love the angry corner/pillow idea too. So much to think about instead of being stuck in this ridiculous cycle

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Thu 02-Jul-15 07:33:23

The problem with using the park trip as the reward is that if they don't earn it, then in order to be consistent, she has to cancel the trip after her DH has taken the day off. Otherwise she has to manipulate it so they do earn it, which is kind of defeating the point.

If you want to tie something in to the trip, it might be good to allow them to earn some spending money between now and then towards either a treat at the park or something at the gift shop. Maybe put marbles in a jar whenever they are being very well behaved and following rules, and then the day before the trip, count how many marbles each has, and let them have a certain amount of money for each marble - you can decide how much you want to let them have, like 20p each or something. If not marbles in a jar, then maybe stickers on a chart or similar.

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Thu 02-Jul-15 07:35:37

Also if you're not sure what's setting him off regularly, it might be helpful to jot down time and brief note each time he goes off, in case there's a pattern. Seems silly, but it might point out something that you're not noticing in the usual chaos of day to day life.

Nameforsexboard Thu 02-Jul-15 07:38:15

He could be tired /exhausted too? You say his day starts at 5 am?

Mine get worse towards the end of term in that they get more easily upset over small things etc.

YouMakeMyDreams Thu 02-Jul-15 07:39:32

I have a newly turned 5 year old and am finally coming out of this stage and went through it with ds1 as well. I felt at the end of my tether at times. Can honestly recommend calm and ignore. It is absolutely true that they often do it for an audience.
I do the suggested can't understand you unless you ask in a nice voice I have also totally ignored ds1 kicking and screaming in his room as long as he can't hurt himself I didn't get involved just let him have his tantrum. I try and remind myself I must be doing something right as he behaves at nursery and everywhere else.
It has been a frustrating time but we are coming put the other side now. With ds1 I probably got too strung out and into battles. Second time around I had learnt not to sweat the small stuff and ignore.

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