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To be frustrated at 4 year old DS's behaviour towards his brother?

(8 Posts)
Littleredhouse Sat 02-Jul-16 06:59:47

I was hoping to get some perspective and advice on my 4 year old son.

He can be absolutely lovely to be around, but he's always been hard work in terms of his energy levels (even by 4 year old standards they're high) and his attention seeking. I have realised I really need address this so he can entertain himself for short periods. Unless the TV is on (in which case he doesn't move for the duration of the show) he requires constant entertainment and interaction from me. Obviously this isn't practical, especially now that his brother is 1.5 years old and needing more from me than when he was a baby. DS1 also starts school soon so that's another reason to try and get this sorted.

The problem is when I tell him he needs to play by himself for a bit as I'm cooking/busy/working, he'll start acting up to get my attention. Most of this behaviour I ignore as he wants me to react. But then he moves on to being rough with his brother. Mostly it's rough play where eg he wrestles him onto the floor and squashes him or he'll chase him and push him over, sometimes making him cry. Obviously I can't ignore this so I intervene and will tell him to go sit on the bottom stair (time out but I don't really call it that) or go to his room to calm down for a few minutes, then when he returns I tell him to apologise to DS2. I've told him endless times how it's not kind to DS2, how he's made him cry, to play gently with him...

I start off pretty calm but after say the 5th occurrence I tend to lose my temper and shout at him, which I know I shouldn't but he really pushes me.

AIBU to wonder why he can't entertain himself and why he's so needy? DS2 is only 1.5 but much more self-sufficient. What I'm doing doesn't seem to be working but I can't think of how else to tackle it. He has plenty of exercise to blow off steam as we always go out for a big chunk of the day. I give him lots of attention and one-to-one time at other points in the day - if anything, DS2 is the one who doesn't get a huge amount of attention as most of it goes to DS1. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

SouperSal Sat 02-Jul-16 07:10:50

I only have one child but I'm pretty sure this isn't at all unusual. Children often need help adjusting to having a sibling. Your son has gone from having all the attention to bring told (often?) to go and play on his own.

Do you have quality time just with him? Do you explain why he needs to play and why he shouldn't hurt his brother?

At 4 he's still very little and it sounds like he's struggling to deal with the effects of having a life change he didn't have any say over! Some love bombing may be in order.

BathshebaDarkstone Sat 02-Jul-16 07:15:31

My DS2 is 4.11 and was referred to the occupational therapist for this. We do activities every day to give him sensory stimulation. DD2 is 8 and also seems to have this problem, but they deal with it at school by giving her putty to play with. smile

ApocalypseSlough Sat 02-Jul-16 07:15:38

It's not unusual. Do you chatter inanely all day long talk to him? With dc1 I'd have a running commentary on what I did. 'I'm going to change baby now- do you want to fetch a nappy or stay with Peppa, I'm putting baby down now, shall I cut up a pear for you when I'm back, when you were little you wore this...'
It does at least 3 things. Distracts the older child, reassures him and is fantastic for language development.

NotYoda Sat 02-Jul-16 07:22:46

It's not unusual for children to need entertaining at this age

It does not mean he will always be like this - try not to panic. DS2 was like this. It's personality. Do NOT compare the two of them, however tempting (I have 2 boys, similar age gap)

Even though he is 4 and much much bigger he is still, in part, in his eyes, your baby. Don't worry about neglecting DS2, but do carry on not allowing DS1 to be outright unkind.

If he likes attention, loud or emotional reactions from you will give him, paradoxically the attention he wants, even though it is negative. Try to talk like a bored policeman, low voice.

Distract more than you react.

Praise any bit of kindness. Play games with them that require turn-taking

I'd recommend the book Siblings Without Rivalry

And try not to worry - this was about the hardest time in my parenting life. They used to bite each other regularly and I was in despair that they'd ever get on but mine are now 13 and 15 and get on really well. DS2 still prefers the company of others than doing things alone, but if you don't panic you can foster a good relationship between them. Please remember he never chose this situation, and that he is 4. He will find it hard to change his behaviour, s it's our job to change what we are doing (or learn to see it differently).

Littleredhouse Sat 02-Jul-16 07:51:54

Thanks so much for the replies. I feel reassured that at least it's normal now, even if it's tough when I've been out for hours with them and then come back and straight away DS1 starts acting up, but I'll try and be more empathetic with him.

I guess as DS2 is 1.5 I assumed that the new sibling thing should be over and done with, but really he's a bit more of a 'rival' in some ways now, as he's running about and taking part in things more than a few months ago when he was mainly in his buggy during outings and didn't require as much attention.

I will try the distracting method to cut off any bad behaviour before it properly starts and also keeping my voice quite monotone during these incidents. Thanks again

branofthemist Sat 02-Jul-16 08:03:52

Ds found entertaining himself difficult. But he is the second, so the younger sibling issue wasn't there.

We got past it by delaying him. He would always ask for you to do something he could do himself if you left a room. Even for a wee.

We started saying 'I am busy I will be there in five minutes' in five minutes we went in and he had done whatever he wanted us to do himself. The praise him for doing it. It took a while but worked.

Dd was 7 when ds was born and did struggle a bit. But we made sure she had alone time with us both doing the more grown up things she wanted. Even if it was leaving ds at home with dh while she was at her hobby and I would sit and watch. And the dh would do it the next week.

Now she is coming up to her teen years i take her shopping just us, or the cinema. If her school has an inset day and ds doesn't we do something with her where possible.

They are really close now (12 and 5).

You can get through it. It just takes time and a plan. And sometimes that plan needs changing and tweaking as you go.

SouperSal Sat 02-Jul-16 08:46:11

I'm pushing 40 and my little sister is still a rival from time to time.

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