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A very defiant 4yo... how would you cope? (with examples)

(51 Posts)
confusedperson Tue 07-Feb-12 10:19:15

My DS is 4yo and is very, very defiant, argumentative and uncooperative. He always argues (just for arguing sake, not that he means what he says), runs away or changes subject in the middle of conversation, talks nonsense and lies. If I take something away as a punishment (a toy, a film etc), he wouldn’t accept that but rather try to climb and take the taken away. I am running out of means how to make him understand the consequence. I am still hoping that he does not have ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), mainly because we do have some good days and although he is not an angel in nursery, the nursery has not raised a concern (yet).

How do I react to this?

In the park:
DS: who’s are these footprints?
Me: looks like a dog’s
DS: no, it’s not! (he is only telling this to argue with me, not that he knows who’s footprints it is)
Me: Don’t ask me then if you know better…

This morning:
DS closed the stairgate in front of me, just as I was coming from upstairs with DS2.
Our nanny: DS, open the stairgate for mummy
DS: No! (smiles with a silly smile which I hate)
Our nanny: DS, mummy will be late to work.
DS: No! (continues to smile with his silly smile and makes sure the gate is closed)
Me: 1… 2…
DS opens the gate and runs away

This morning:
Daddy: Morning DS, how was your night?
DS: Not so good
Daddy: why?
DS: I got a medal yesterday (he diverts from answering a question many, many times…)
Daddy: I am asking why your night wasn’t good?
DS runs away.

Yesterday:
Our nanny: good morning (she just came in)
Me: good morning. DS, say “good morning”
DS doesn’t say it deliberately
Me: why don’t you say “good morning” to nanny?
DS: good evening (runs through and pushes nanny with no reason)

Yesterday:
A toy broke and a dangerous spiral wire came out. I am taking this to the bin.
DS: I want it, I want it!
Me: too dangerous, you and DS2 might get hurt.
DS: I want it, I want it, I want it (grabs my hand in which I have the wire and tries to take it).
Me: you are not playing with this, it is too dangerous (and putting it on high wardrobe, as if I put in the bin, he will take straight away).
DS gets annoyed and while screaming “I want it”” punches me and runs away.

HipHopOpotomus Tue 07-Feb-12 11:01:56

In the park:
DS: who’s are these footprints?
Me: looks like a butterfly to me
DS: no, it’s not! It's a DOG!
me: Are you sure? etc

I find DD will often ask questions that she knows the answer too - I let her answer them!!!!

This morning:
DS closed the stairgate in front of me, just as I was coming from upstairs with DS2.
Just open the stair gate - IGNORE IGNORE IGNORE!!!!

Toy scenario seems very normal to me.

If you really want to talk to him about stuff, sit down face to face and insist on proper eye contact (ie in the 'not so good night' scenario above). Re the good morning scenario I would make a joke of it - Good morning Nanny, good morning light switch, good morning teddy bear etc.

Sympathy - my 4yo DD flitters between being an intelligent funny delight and an absolute bloody monster nightmare at the moment.

deaconblue Tue 07-Feb-12 14:28:41

All sounds very normal to me. It does seem like you allow him to wind you up. So ignore the tiny annoyances and try to only address major/ dangerous problems . I would read 'how to talk so children listen and how to listen so children talk'. It is packed with ideas of how to defuse situations such as those you mention. Made a massive difference with ds

Chubfuddler Tue 07-Feb-12 14:31:36

My son is exactly like this as well as being extremely loving and kind. He does wind me up tbh and I pray his behaviour is not indicative of ODD or similar. I have no answers only sympathy.

Eyjafjallajokull Tue 07-Feb-12 14:33:16

Should grow out of it.
Lots of cuddles and sympathy for having to disagree with everything.
No tolerance of punching however.

Hullygully Tue 07-Feb-12 14:34:54

Oh your poor child

<unhelpful but honest>

Hullygully Tue 07-Feb-12 14:36:08

HE IS FOUR

Talk to him with fun and love and imaingation and not like he's wearing a suit and tie.

Maybe he doesn't want to open the stairgate. maybe it's his way of saying, "Stay home, Mummy"

You have grossly unfair and unreasonable expectaitons.

Eyjafjallajokull Tue 07-Feb-12 14:38:33

Give her a break, Hully! She's probably ground down and not really enjoying everything she says and does being disagreed with <projects wildly>

Hullygully Tue 07-Feb-12 14:39:34

Oh soz. I didn't mean it horribly...

But really.

Denj33 Tue 07-Feb-12 14:40:18

I would say most 4 y/o can behave like this some of the time, the nursery have no concerns about his behaviour, he isn't always defiant etc. maybe instead of worrying about things like ODD you should try different methods, I agree ignoring or turning a potential argument into a joke are always good with 4 y/0

Please try to not be so quick to label him with a potential mh diagnosis, chances are he is "just being 4"

Sounds just like my almost 4 yr old.... Wonders if I should be worried.....

LoonyRationalist Tue 07-Feb-12 14:43:15

Your DS sounds very normal to me, they are all about testing the boundaries & experimenting at this age. In over 2 years of going to pre-school DD1 never said good morning to her playgroup ladies as they greeted her coming through the door.

Your handling of the broken toy was bad - you put it up high - as I guess you do with things you have confiscated which will have confused him. Why didn't you just put it in the bin outside?

Don't persist with inconsequential conversations in which he has no interest.

Denj33 Tue 07-Feb-12 14:46:08

And loves....pls don't start worrying, they are all perfectly normal

MoChan Tue 07-Feb-12 14:48:11

My daughter is like this (aged 4.5). I'm not surprised, really. She's busy trying to find her place in the world, she wants to have her own opinions (which is why she contradicts me when I'm RIGHT), she is trying to be a big girl now (she is at school), but still needs hugs and doesn't want me to leave her, she has a burgeoning imagination, and gets lost in her games, and doesn't want me to disturb her. And of course she still wants to do things that are dangerous, because she thinks she is indestructible...

It can get wearing, I know. But IMO, shouting and punishments don't work. I get the best results when I do something 'playful' to get her to agree with me, or, if she's in the mood, when I get down on her level and explain as clearly as I can what the problem is. It doesn't always work, and I don't have a perfectly behaved child, but the more I take this approach, the better she gets.

I occasionally lose my rag and get a bit cross. It always makes things worse. I try really hard not to do this. But I am only human. sad

naturalbaby Tue 07-Feb-12 14:55:41

my nearly 4yr old is starting this - with the silly faces as well!

make it a game, tease him, be silly about it and make him laugh.

i don't see the nigh/morning conversations as a big deal.
if my kids push and shove or do something i've told them not to (run across the sofa to sit down) i pick them up and put them back where they were and ask them to go again properly (get on the sofa without running over it/walk out the room without pushing the nanny). try not to use the words to describe what they did wrong - if i say don't run on the sofa then they want to run on the sofa, if i say don't push your brother they want to push...

the broken toy thing - i would have just made is disappear without talking about it. if you don't want him to see it/talk about it/have it then don't draw attention to it!

Iloveautumn Tue 07-Feb-12 14:58:24

Yeah - this sounds normal to me too... (I have a 5yo ds)

4 year-old children can be really annoying but you just can't expect them to be grown-up and sensible, that's why behaviour such as the above is described as childish!!

Alot of these examples could probably be defused by turning them into a joke or a game.

I also find with my ds that the more irritated I get with him then the harder I come down on any transgression and the more likely he is to act up. Children feed off our attitude towards them. If I make a huge effort just to be really loving towards him, not get wound up and make it all more of a game then things are usually better.

I am assuming this is your eldest child? If so then this is just yet another parental learning curve......

crazygracieuk Tue 07-Feb-12 14:59:03

I think that your son sounds normal. The only behaviour that is not acceptable is when he pushed the nanny and was physical with you in the last example.

Example 1: I would have dodged the argument by saying
DS: who’s are these footprints?
Me: looks like a dog’s
DS: no, it’s not! (he is only telling this to argue with me, not that he knows who’s footprints it is)
Me: Who do you think that they belong to?

Example 2: He's enjoying the "power" he has over you and wants you to be at home a bit longer.

Example 3: I wouldn't have persisted in finding out why his night wasn't good. Maybe he said it to attract attention and be melodramatic? If you were worried I'd ask him the same question later and see if the answers match. Maybe he didn't want to lie or admit that his night was ok after he'd said it wasn't.

Example 4: What he said sounds pretty typical. I think I'd be miffed at his rudeness but not unknown for 4 year olds to be like that. The hitting was not ok.

Example 5: He had a tantrum because he's disappointed and angry. He shouldn't hit in anger but was putting it on a high shelf the only solution? If he could see it, he'd be reminded of it where as if you could get it out of sight- (maybe in an outside bin or in the garage or something?) it might have calmed down quicker.

Hullygully Tue 07-Feb-12 15:05:16

This is how four year olds deserve and want it to go:

In the park:
DS: who’s are these footprints?
Me: Ooooo I don't know! Do you think it's a lion? Or an abominable snowman?
DS: It's ...(whatever, something made up)
Me: We'd better be careful! Can you see any other signs? etc etc

It's imagination and PLAYING. Try and enter into his world with him. He can't enter yours, he's too little.

Daddy: Morning DS, how was your night?
DS: Not so good
Daddy: why?
DS: I got a medal yesterday (he diverts from answering a question many, many times…) THEY ALL DO
Daddy: Wow! did you? That is so exciting, what was it for....
DS makes something up

Hullygully Tue 07-Feb-12 15:07:01

Yesterday:
A toy broke and a dangerous spiral wire came out. I am taking this to the bin.
DS: I want it, I want it!
Me: I know. I know you want it. It's really sad. We will have to get another one
DS: I want it, I want it, I want it (grabs my hand in which I have the wire and tries to take it).
Me: I know (repeat as above). Hey, look at this/let's have a biscuit/any distraction.

Chubfuddler Tue 07-Feb-12 15:16:12

You can't be "on" like that every time. You just can't.

Hullygully Tue 07-Feb-12 15:19:47

Is that to me?!

tinierclanger Tue 07-Feb-12 15:20:12

You maybe can't always be 'on' but you can be aware it's normal. I have days when I get irritated by DS being like this but I do know he is just being his age...

Chubfuddler Tue 07-Feb-12 15:20:40

I mean "one" can't be on like that, but it sounds wanky. Perhaps you do manage it. I can't.

Denj33 Tue 07-Feb-12 15:21:48

Sometimes you have to be, otherwise you end up screaming and shouting and not enjoying being a mum at all.

If defusing it by having a laugh works , then everyone wins and it is fun.

Kids will always their parents, and even though I though 4 was bad, 14 is even worse, I have had to learn new tactics lol

LoonyRationalist Tue 07-Feb-12 15:22:04

Listen to Hully - she knows exactly how your son wants to interact (I suspect she may be 4 herself infact hmm )

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