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Shouting too much at my 4yo

(3 Posts)
masterbaker Tue 06-Sep-11 20:47:48

I have one of those very demanding 4 year old boys some others have posted about recently. His behaviour is similar - naughty, shouty, sometimes aggressive, but within normal bounds. I would say he is bright and behaves fairly well at pre-school (he's about to start big school).

My problem is that I am not happy with how I am dealing with our constant power battles. He drives me up the wall and I shout far too often and too easily. He is naturally fairly grumpy and disinclined to be moved by distraction or tactics like "let's have a race to clear up". He can see trough manipulation pretty easily. Our daily battles are about things like dressing, eating, getting ready to go out - literally anything where he has to do what I ask.

I have managed to tackle some behaviour by strong discipline and focus - he was headbutting when angry until recently. That phase lasted about 2 months. He often hits or kicks me and his dad when angry. He often ends up shouting and screams when told to do something he doesn't want to and I haven't managed to stop that. I have tackled some daily battles with a reward chart, e.g. getting dressed and undressed and get temporary good results.

What happens typically is, he does something naughty, e.g. throwing something. I tell him to stop. He does it again. I say if he does it again he will go to the naughty step for 4 mins. He does it again. I send him to the ns. He shouts and screams and wants to argue. I listen briefly to his argument and say no, he has to go. I count to 3 and take him if he doesn't go. He stays there but shouts and screams. I go and tell him he will stay there for twice as long if he doesn't stop (usually he does stop at this point). If he continues after that he is sent to the naughty chair in his room. He stops shouting but is practically hysterical by this stage. OR he kicks and hits as I take him to the ns or nc, I escalate, shout, still ends in hysteria.

OR other typical example, he has to put his shoes on to go out. He runs away. I get him to come back but he jumps around or hits or something. Repeat. I shout. I end up taking him to car with no shoes on, furious.

He is starting school soon and I know that tiredness will make his behaviour worse. I get to the end of the day stressed out, fed up and angry. I want to get the balance right between easing up because he will be tired and stressed from school and trying to keep the discipline going. And, as I said, I need to stop shouting but I don't know how.


Fiolondon Tue 06-Sep-11 21:46:29

Oh poor you. That sounds hideous. Must be very upsetting and frustrating. I don't have much help to offer, other than do you think you've both got into a cycle that this is his only way of getting attention? can you make time to do nice things together to give positive attention? It's probably not the same league but I have a determined 3 year old who generally will not cooperate. I have to say shall we go and find teddy in bed and read some books now, rather than say it's bedtime. Carrot definitely works better than stick in our house. Basically making it fun for them, or finding an incentive that they will want to put their shoes on for etc to avoid a conflict. Also giving them 5 mins notice before you ask them to do anything do they can get used to the idea. Lastly I read about some children up to 5 still needing a nap or quiet time in the middle of the day - is that s possibility if you think tiredness might make him worse? I'm sure you've tried all that sort of stuff before. Good luck

Trouble100 Wed 07-Sep-11 14:18:42

Sounds like a nightmare.

I can't really help with the child aggression thing as it's not something I've had to deal with, but I do suffer from the tendency to get very annoyed about disobedience/ignoring instructions and have shouty phases. I find I have to periodically re-think my approach. Things that help me are:

- When they are ignoring me and I feel the anger building up: walk away and go do something else you need to do. Even if only for a minute and even if trying to get out of the door ie go and get your own shoes on, drinks and snacks etc. Often just the few secs/mins away can diffuse the situation and kids either follow me (ie away from toys) or when I return they do it without question
- When anger builds up, breathe deeply and count to 10 in your head before responding (just the small gap gives me the distance not to shout)
- Adjust your expectations about what child should do (ie they are never going to jump up and respond to your requests) and remember that their behaviour is normal. When I consciously do this, i find I am less annoyed about the behaviour and am able to respond to it in a more positive way, which usually gets a more positive response from the kids
- Look at what you are asking them to do and consider whether you really care if they don't do it. ie do I care if you don't put your shoes on? no, you are the one who will get cold feet, find it difficult to walk etc leave with no shoes on (this usually results in screaming to put shoes on!). Do I really care if you don't get in the bath? no, you can go to bed without a bath. Do I really care if you won't get dressed? no you can go out in your pj's. I find when I adopt this approach the 'fight' is instantly diffused as I don't care either way and see a way to get where I need to get (ie out the door, or kids in bed) whether they comply of not.

I've read a few books on the subject, but the one that I constantly refer back to is: kid co-operation, how to stop yelling, nagging and pleading and get kids to cooperate by Elizabeth Pantley. It's american but has a good balance of firm but fair with lots of practical advice on what to do. Also has a good chapter on why do i get so angry and how can i stop it.

Hope this helps. Goodluck

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