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How do I unruin the 4 yo

(195 Posts)
Imadehimlikethat Thu 11-Apr-19 13:46:26

So DS is just gone 4. He had a hard first two years in and out of hospital and that's left some long term issues. But in trying to compensate for them I've raised a scream tantruming child and I feel like I'm ruining his precious future.

For example he was tune fed for a long time and nil by mouth so when he finally asked for food we literally brought what he asked for so he'd eat. Now if we go into a shop he expects chocolate and a you so ideally a Kinder Egg etc.

I've indulged him quite a bit to make up for when he's had a hard time so now he expects a magazine if we go in the shop, a toy fro mtbe vending machine etc.

The answer to no is a tantrum. Full on jump up and down and scream job.

He knows which shops sell the things he wants so will specifically ask to go in them - tantrum if we don't, tantrum if we do but say no to a toy etc.

The guilt of the hard first two years plus a delay in his communication skills and some learning delay meant he was rewarded for I guess precocious behaviour - wanting to pick where we went, where he sits etc because it WAS cute and proof that he was communicating with us. Not if he doesn't get his own way we just get tantrums.

Nursery never see a tantrum or anger.

He will smack me when he's upset but says he's sad not angry.

Thing is I know this isn't his fault. He's a product of over indulgent parenting and that's mainly on me as a SAHP and def the softer one.

Attempts at reinstating boundaries lead to.... Tantrums!!

I between he's funny and loving and sweet. I just don't know how to stop all the bad parenting in a way that's going to make him into a lite boy who will make friends and do well I nschool and be happy as opposed to someone who cries if someoen else is on the slide at the same time!!

The tantrums have only got this bad over the last month but he's def quite "precious" in terms of getting upset if anything doesn't go totally his own way.

Have I screwed his life up before he's even got to school??

Queenofthestress Thu 11-Apr-19 13:47:54

Nope, spend a week or two ignoring the tantrums, and you'll be surprised at the difference in his behaviour

Wolfiefan Thu 11-Apr-19 13:50:19

Of course you haven’t.
Let him make some decisions.
Ignore the tantrums.
Don’t give in.
Walk away if he hits you.
Hit the wine
Sounds like you’ve had a really hard time. Don’t be hard on yourself.

Imadehimlikethat Thu 11-Apr-19 13:51:04

When he's jumping up and down on the side of a main road, I can't ignore it though? He did walk along in holding my hand between fits and every time he stopped to stamp I just asked him to stand up and keep walking and we giot home alive.

I think the tantrums have started because we've started saying no more. I feel bad because it's me that spoilt him and now me that's trying to fix it so it's all me me me who is hurting him

AmIRightOrAMeringue Thu 11-Apr-19 13:52:45

Hi OP I'm sure it's not too late, hes not too old to change his behaviour and recognising it must be a lot of the battle.

Can you build it up gradually and prepare him? So walk past a local newsagents that hed normally get something and tell him in advance you will be walking past and not taking any money to buy anything. And stick to it. And plenty of praise for behaving nicely

Ijustwanttoretire Thu 11-Apr-19 13:52:46

Nursery never see a tantrum or anger.

This shows that despite being only 4 he knows EXACTLY what he's doing. You have to ride it through 'I want to go to this shop' - 'No, because you behave badly when we do' - tantrum - you ignore. It will be hell but you obviously realise it has to be done. Good luck!

Arachnidplant Thu 11-Apr-19 13:53:23

He's using tantrums to get what he wants. If he learns that when he tantrums you look away, ignore it, and don't give in, then he will stop wasting his energy.

I know it's easier said than done, but it is effective for the great majority of children.

AmIRightOrAMeringue Thu 11-Apr-19 13:55:20

And I'm sure most parents in your position would have acted the same after all your issues!

YouTheCat Thu 11-Apr-19 13:55:24

Be consistent.

DontBuyANewMumCashmere Thu 11-Apr-19 13:55:34

It sounds as though you've had a really hard start. No judgment here.

I would guess at 4 he's able to understand age specific conversations and consequences. I'd talk to him at home when everything is calm and say something along the lines that he can't expect treats and toys every time you go out. Whether he agrees or not, you point out that he often shows bad behaviour when you say No and this has to stop.
Explain there will be consequences to repeated bad behaviour, such as going straight home so not getting the things that you need, removal of toys or not being allowed on screens (whatever he really enjoys).

I would also resort to bribery (eg there's a lolly in the freezer and when we get home from this trip you can have it if you have good behaviour - if he kicks off you remind him there'll be no lolly...) but maybe this would reinforce the eating/behaviour link?

I think you'll only have to lift him kicking and screaming from a shop once or twice and not give him the lolly, or remove a toy etc until he gets it?
Good luck.

BettySwollocksandaCrustyRack Thu 11-Apr-19 13:55:48

To be honest, I think some kids are more prone to tantrums than others. Of course, if they're getting their own wal all the time is fuels the situation but he probably would have been a tantrumer anyway. My DS had some corkers when he was little, I just used to ignore him until he had calmed down enough to reason with. If anyone tried to pacify or pander to him mid tantrum I used to tell them to ignore him and in the end even he used to say "Just ignore me"...I can laugh about it now he's a gorgeous 16 year old but my god, no fun at the time.

My friend has 2 kids, one was an angel, one was a tantrum nightmare, both brought up the same, there's no rhyme or reason to it.

But no, you have not ruined him and it's totally understandable you've gone a bit OTT to try and compensate for his difficult start in life. He will grow out of the eventually.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 11-Apr-19 13:56:28

I think you should try to reframe this: I feel bad because it's me that spoilt him and now me that's trying to fix it so it's all me me me who is hurting him

I managed the circumstances I was given in the best way possible. Now those circumstances have changed and I have the opportunity to help my child learn to manage his emotions while learning the world doesn't revolve around him.

Stop blaming yourself (because he can sense it and will play on it!). Ride it out and you'll soon see an improvement.

The main road thing - yep, you just have to deal with that as best you can, but with anything else, make sure he's safe, stay in eyeshot so he doesn't feel abandoned, then ignore, ignore, ignore.

Cantthinkofausername1990 Thu 11-Apr-19 13:57:00

It's not too late to change things now.
If he's used to getting a treat every day, I would start by changing that to every second day.. when you're going to the shop tell him there will be no treat today but he'll get one tomorrow. Let him have his tantrum and leave the shop, but the next day follow through on what you said and get him the treat. When he does get the treat tell him he's getting one today but can't have one tomorrow... it will help to increase his understanding that he can have treats, but not every day.
From there you can build it up, I'm down to prob once a week for a kinder egg and once a month for a cheap toy.

Wolfiefan Thu 11-Apr-19 13:57:26

You should only feel bad if you don’t deal with the tantrums.
I once dragged my tantruming child along by her arm. (Going to school). Can’t remember what she was kicking off about but she hasn’t done it since. (I didn’t hurt her at all but I refused to acknowledge the tantrum and just carried on walking to school.)
Talking and engaging with a tantrum just prolongs it.
He’s not upset really. He’s cross at not getting his own way. Tough. This is great practice for when he’s a teen that wants his phone overnight or another hour on the x box or...

Wheresmyvagina Thu 11-Apr-19 13:58:46

Don't take him to shops if you can help it. Tell him before you leave what will happen, that he won't be getting a new toy or chocolate, but X nice thing will happen later (something free that isn't food)
Try to head them off by not being in the situation in the first place

Pigpogtastic Thu 11-Apr-19 13:59:07

You can ignore them even in public, but it takes a nerve of steel and you have to do it in a way that keeps him safe.

I have an autistic 5 year old who both tantrums and meltdowns. Which makes knowing how to approach things tricky as sometimes he is just being a brat, and sometimes he is honestly not in control for whatever reason.

First thing I would recommend is preparation. Explain what is going to happen. We are going to X, Y and Z. We are buying this, this and that. We are not buying chocolate/a toy/anything else.

Stand firm in the face of tantrums. You can acknowledge his anger. "I know you are really cross that you can't have X, you must feel really upset". But don't give in to it.

Keep your communication short and to the point. No big long winded explanations of why he can't have/do something. Use as few words as possible in a nice low and slow voice.

Develop a hide like a rhino to deflect any attention you get from other people. If you have to stand calmly on the pavement while he stamps and shouts and screams, do it. When he stops praise him for calming down and continue.

DianaPrincessOfThemyscira Thu 11-Apr-19 13:59:22

Bless you OP. Sounds like hard work!

He’s only 4, his brain is still plastic, you can still mould him. I agree with @LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett

Tawdrylocalbrouhaha Thu 11-Apr-19 14:02:44

I ruined my 4 year old when he started nursery - because I felt guilty I would bring a small treat when I collected him after work. At first just a sticker or balloon, but over time and with inflationary pressures, this escalated to Kinder eggs, books etc, and eventually he would come running to me, say "what did you bring me? Hmm. I'm not really into a Paw Patrol. I wish I had a Lightning McQueen".

Like you, I realised I had created a monster. So I said no more presents, and after a week of moaning, he accepted it. And he has become very careful and meticulous about thanking me for anything I get him these days.

Isadora2007 Thu 11-Apr-19 14:04:55

He sounds like a smart wee boy so well
Done for raising one! Now... ditch the guilt as you did what was best at the time and now it’s best you do this. Be confident and not apologetic as you’re doing nothing wrong now in helping him be a nicer child who knows boundaries and manners. I would sit down with him and explain that because he is getting bigger he is going to be able to earn pocket money to choose his own treats, and this can be linked to some little pom-poms or tokens in a jar and some money to start him off. Like £2/3... each day he starts with 10 pom-poms worth 25-50p depending on how much pocket money you think reasonable per week. If he does all the good things you ask like brushing teeth and helping out and getting dressed etc he keeps them all, if he throws a tantrum he loses one. And so on. He can then learn to link his behaviour with consequences and also to save up for treats himself- so still get nice things but when he is nice too he will gain.

Happyspud Thu 11-Apr-19 14:08:43

There’s no way around difficulty to make boundaries. You actually do have to go through the difficulty.

Get stuck in. Be consistent and clear about expectations, don’t let him sway you.

Kaddm Thu 11-Apr-19 14:18:03

You haven’t ruined him at all, everything you’ve done is in his best interests.
He’s only 4. This stuff is hard regardless and it’s hard for a child to understand. I’d try to avoid shops by doing some online shopping in order to break the habit. Kids ask for things a lot, it’s pretty normal stuff.

Imadehimlikethat Thu 11-Apr-19 14:20:25

I would guess at 4 he's able to understand age specific conversations and consequences. He's barely 4 and due to his language delay and some learning delay he's very young for his age. I do try and explain it all though as sometimes I'm surprised how much he understands.

I did the "were not going in there" today Re shop and when he had his little tantrum we did it whilst walking. Then he asked to go on the park at the pub so decided to treat us to lunch. Then there were kids on the slide so he tantrummed so I made him sit with me. He wanted to go inside, fine we can eat better in there. But then he wanted a toy. So I thought well it'll entertain him whilst we eat but of course it wasn't the right one so he wanted another and tantrummed when I said no. Then I let him play with my phone but it rang and he had a tantrum. So we left and he begged to go on the slide. Was now empty so I said yes and he tried to go back inside because he wanted a toy so we left with no slide and he intermittently jumped up and down and screamed as we walked home and I talked calmly to him about what to do when we got home. But I just feel like I give in too much but then when I don't and he's sad I'm aware how many times he nearly died. I was talking to someoen today about how close we came to us never even meeting him and then I think how hard life is 9smetimes for him and I convince myself one treat will be fine...

turbototty Thu 11-Apr-19 14:24:31

I’ve had a kind of similar thing with my 3.5 yr old Ds. We adopted him just before he was 2 and have spent the last nearly two years helping him to settle, but also trying to unlearn some tricky habits. The good news is with consistency, he has become better at listening and more reasonable. As someone else said, the brain is still very ‘plastic’ at this stage and there is plenty of time to learn new ways of reacting and to form new habits. Hard work at times though!

kittens876 Thu 11-Apr-19 14:24:37

Ignore the tantrums as best you can. Also Ignore any tutting from old folks who pass you lol. I had a tantrummer and used to get tutted at while ignoring. Drove me mad. Anyway, personally I would make a new rule. No buying him anything in shops while he’s there. Keep a stash at home and give him a treat when he’s home and calm to reinforce that behaviour. Good luck. You can do this And it’s Not too late xx

Sunshine1235 Thu 11-Apr-19 14:26:36

You haven’t ruined him, it may take some adapting from both of you but you need to be consistent. It’ll be confusing for him for the boundaries to suddenly have changed, he’s not used to that and so it’s completely normal for him to tantrum and find the change difficult. Try to remain calm, firm and consistent. If possible avoid some of the scenarios where he’s likely to be triggered so that he’s not having too many difficult situations at once.

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