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There is literally no technique left I can try to get my 4 year old to behave. Please help.

(30 Posts)
MsGillis Sat 27-Apr-13 11:21:37

This morning he SPAT on the carpet and has leathered his older brother with a light sabre. angry

Telling him off doesn't work, as he either laughs or gets aggressive. Sticker charts don't work, confiscating things doesn't work because he doesn't care enough about anything. Time out doesn't work because he won't stay, so we've recently been putting him in the conservatory (which locks) because it's the only way we can make him leave his brother alone for 5 minutes.

Am at a total loss, I just end up ignoring him but I know that's not great either. Feels like he gets away with murder. Is there anything I can do that I've not tried? I sometimes wonder if he's got some sort of behavioural problem but other times he can be so angelic you'd think butter wouldn't melt.

Sirzy Sat 27-Apr-13 11:26:04

With the time out it is normal for them to get up you need to persist with putting them back over and over until they realise your not giving in.

Watching. As my DCs are extremely difficult atm too, also mainly sibling fighting. They don't have pocket money yet, they don't have consoles (that they use regularly) to take away, there isn't anything I can really deprive them off as a punishment. I try to aim for logical/natural consequences but struggle to find something suitable.

MsGillis Sat 27-Apr-13 11:40:09

Thing is I don't really buy into that Supernanny repeatedly putting a child back on the naughty step thing, it's like a game they know they're winning and I don't have the time or patience or belief. It worked for DS1 but DS2 is a different kettle of fish and would physically fight me which would make me very angry as well.

I've just managed to have a chat with him and explained that if he behaves like that I just won't spend time with him, there will be no baking or swimming which may have gone in there, who knows? sad

YY we don't do time out either. I suppose I see it as withdrawal of love/affection, which apparently it isn't, but it's all a matter of opinion.

Plus Time Out/naughty step type stuff just wouldn't work for us on a practical level, as it is often when (shiftworking) DH is trying to sleep so a tantrumming child has to stay with everyone else, IYKWIM - not have a noisy strop that wakes him up.

specialmagiclady Sat 27-Apr-13 12:14:14

Have you read "how to talk so children will listen and listen so children will talk"? I found it really helpful in terms of changing me from thinking "how can I control this child" to "how can i teach my children about appropriate behaviour?" Which is subtly different and really helps.

I read it about once a month! The techniques really work and make me a much more confident and accepting mum.

Freddiemisagreatshag Sat 27-Apr-13 12:18:44

You need to pick something he really cares about and remove it for bad behaviour. Might be a toy, a thing, or an activity. Doesn't matter what it is, but he has to CARE that he's not getting it. And clearly explain why it's being removed and how long for.

estya Sat 27-Apr-13 23:44:06

How about using a completely different starting point and try love bombing. It's worked well for someone I know.


Ineedmorepatience Sun 28-Apr-13 12:44:46

So you struggle with time out but are currently locking your child in the conservatory as a punishment confused

I think you need to decide on a system and stick with it.

Sorting out behaviour is all about being consistent.

Sorry if thats not what you want to hear.

Good luck.

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 28-Apr-13 12:46:42

' I don't have the time or patience '

Then the behaviour won't ever get better. Sorry.

spanky2 Sun 28-Apr-13 13:07:51

Wow, Starlight that isn't helpful. I have a very similar ds2. It is so wearing I am on anti-depressants! I found Raising a Spirited Child useful. I told ds2 I loved him and he slapped me round the face so hard it knocked my glasses off! That was when he was four. Nothing really works as, as far as he is concerned any punishment is worth it for doing what he wants. It does erode your patience and to be quite honest your will to live! Tbh he has been much better since he started school. I have to be very firm. He needs to be watched as you can spot the signs that things are going wrong and nip it in the bud. Don't use too many words as it gives them something to argue with. I do occassionally smack if the behaviour is dangerous. Like when he opened the car door as I was driving down a busy road at 30mph! I just didn't think he would do it! Again he was four. You will have to be on the look out 24/7. We tried loving through the tantrum and I ended up doubling my dose of anti-depressants and had a child who punch, kicked and threw things! This was on the advice of CAMHS. Good Luck!

Ineedmorepatience Sun 28-Apr-13 13:14:22

The thing is spanky that you are spending time and obviously have put alot of work into your child.

I think starlight [not that she needs me to speak for her] meant that without effort, graft and sheer determination on the part of the parents, behaviours are not going to change.

Correct me if I am wrong starlight.

spanky2 Sun 28-Apr-13 13:29:35

I have put alot of time and effort into him as there is obviously something that he feels is lacking because he craves attention, good or bad! I must admit I assume that parents would do that because the dc don't ask to be born, parents are the ones who want them. Thankyou for recognising that as it is very demoralising to have a child who poos and wees themself (age 4.2,) to get attention when you are talking to ds1's teacher! Honestly the wee was all over the new play area that was covered in that soft 'outdoor carpet'!

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 28-Apr-13 13:44:29

Some children are very difficult to parent (for a range or reasons). There are no easy solutions but all of them will require time and patience. If you are unwilling to give them that then imo your children are not only to get worse behaviour-wise but also happiness-wise.

You never said you were unwilling to put the effort in spanky. Parenting is HARD work and imo increasingly so in an economy where the cost of living requires for most part two incomes and still means many families are both cash and time poor. But that isn't the child's fault.

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 28-Apr-13 13:45:50

And yes Ineed. That is what I am saying.

The OP asked if there was anything she could do that she hasn't tried. Well I would recommend time and patience.

shoppingbagsundereyes Sun 28-Apr-13 19:44:15

I think you need to tackle one type of difficult behaviour at a time and stop punishing all bad behaviour. I try with ds to think about the behaviour that is least socially acceptable so perhaps you start with the spitting or perhaps the relationship with his brother is the worst thing currently. Focus on trying to improve that and totally ignore ( unless dangerous and then remove the child or sibling with no fuss and no attention). Then praise like mad every time they do anything remotely positive. So take note if he passes his brother the cereal, make a big deal of how kind that was. If he walks down the stairs without bumping into to his brother notice that and praise it etc etc.
It really works for us. I find the 'good' behaviour increases massively the more notice I take of it and the 'bad' behaviour decreases as I ignore it. I almost never punish ds, it just doesn't work.

shoppingbagsundereyes Sun 28-Apr-13 19:45:30

Sorry that should read 'totally ignore all bad behaviour'

MsGillis Sun 28-Apr-13 22:48:29

Wow, Starlight, if you're implying I haven't put time and patience into my child that's a bit of a harsh supposition. I don't have the patience to spend two hours of the day trying to enforce a technique which I'm not sure would ultimately work anyway, but that doesn't mean I've otherwise given up on him. I do praise the positive and try to ignore the negative but there's time's where ignoring doesn't cut it and I'm at my wits end. I'm looking for practical advice, I don't really need to feel any shitter about the situation than I already do.

Spanky, sorry to hear you're struggling too. It's the most challenging thing I've ever had to deal with and I feel horribly guilty about the impact on DS1 who seems to constantly lose out because of it. sad

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 28-Apr-13 23:03:02

Okay. So what specific and concrete thing do you want to tackle?

When trying to deal with challenging behaviour it can often be better to start with something small, instead of letting something small escalate and then having to deal with something big.

Then when the child does the small thing how you would like you heap on the praise.

You say he doesn't care enough about anything. He will do, it's just that you haven't found it yet. As a rule of thumb, the thing he cares most about at any given time, is the thing he is currently doing.

tacal Sun 28-Apr-13 23:28:47

What about speaking to a health visitor? You say you wonder if he has a behavioural problem. Would speaking to someone about this help? It helped me. It made me analyse my ds's behaviour and I noticed a lot of triggers for the difficult behaviour that I had not been aware of. I have found ways of avoiding the triggers or at least I can see the difficult behaviour coming and be prepared for it. I have made lots of changes to our day to day life at the moment and show him lots of love and praise. So far it has made a real difference to us. I hope things get better for you x

cloudhands Mon 29-Apr-13 06:41:18

good for you to realise what your doing isn't working, and look for something else. I find that Hand in Hand parenting has some very powerful ways to set limits, that are also loving and kind, and kind of work with the nature of children, rather than working against them which I think some kind of parenting methods do.
For instance, laughter -- Hand in Hand parenting, explains how we can use laughter to connect with our children, and that can actually make them feel more willing to behave in an acceptable way, so the fact that he laughs when he gets told off is something you can tap into.
there's a great article here on using laughter to get through power struggles.
Power struggles dissolve with laughter
I do this often with my daughter, she's much younger, but for instance if she doesn't want her teeth cleaned I will turn the toothbrush into an aeroplane, and make her laugh for a couple minutes. After a couple minutes of laughter and connection she's much more willing to do what I want.

they just brought out a video explaining more about their techniques
Setting limits video

thesecretmusicteacher Mon 29-Apr-13 11:46:57

techniques are great but if you've tried several already I can understand you being unwilling to commit 100% to yet another. And defiant laughter is hard to deal with.

I think what might save your sanity is detailed records (do you keep a diary?) and an acceptance that you need to "drill deeper" and observe and think about it even more deeply than you already do. Right now sticker charts don't work - can you think calmly about why not? Does he detect a false note in the praise? Is he really good at pretending not to care? Has the sticker chart thing sometimes ended badly so that you are both aware it might do so again?

What I have seen friends do often is adopt a technique that has been recommended to them but then lose patience. So they are looking like they are being consistent for 15 minutes and then they snap and shout/smack/etc. It's only when you're on the outside looking in that it's obvious that they would have been better off if they hadn't tried the technique in the first place. And techniques aren't always portable - they are easiest if you are a live-in nanny.

It can help to think about one thing - however tiny - where you are 100% consistent. For instance, seatbelts. Because of the law, you probably always insist on the seatbelt being on and you pull in and stop the car if the seatbelt comes off. If you aren't consistent here, think of another area. Once you find this area where you are 100% consistent, can you identify another? The hardest areas are ones where other people are involved. You can't go into a detailed technique in front of other people without feeling like a pantomime act and they may launch in with their own ideas/excuses/mock-blaming of their own child.

Also, is there any way of making the first few minutes of the morning peaceful, making a record about that, and concentrating on those first 15/20 minutes a day being enjoyable? He might then want to extend the peaceful period and/or start to feel regret when it ends. This is obviously easier on a weekend morning with no scheduled activites.

thesecretmusicteacher Mon 29-Apr-13 11:50:33

by the way, as well as "How to Listen so your kids will talk" have you read "Siblings without rivalry?"

It sounds as though there is a lot of sibling stuff going on and that it's hard not to feel protective of the other child and force them both into good boy/bad boy roles.

mummytime Mon 29-Apr-13 12:02:40

Sticker charts - totally useless if you use it to encourage them to be good!

BUT very good if you use it to make sure you catch them being good. So the aim is 10 stickers a day, you the parent have to spot them doing 10 things right each day, and when you do you stick on a sticker and praise them.

The theory is: you are re-enforcing the good behaviour, so they don't have to be bad to get attention (which is a trap which is very easy to fall into, especially if you have more than one child).
This is also one of the keys underlying a lot of good parenting books (such as "How to talk.....").

The other tip I would give you, is read Horrid Henry, as an awful warning of what can happen if you label one child good and one bad. I especially love the story where Henry is good for a day.

steppemum Mon 29-Apr-13 21:34:08

I have just read ''how to talk so your children listen and how to listen so they will talk'' by Adele Foster

It is not actually about listening and talking but about you relationship with your kids and the dynamics of it. Behaviour comes out of that relationship, and I have found the book really helpful.

I do think as some one else said that you may need to turn this on its head and say why is he needing to demand attention so much? When one of my dds was a nightmare getting ready for school, the thing that really worked was to stop and give her a hug, even when she was being really naughty, the hug worked when no discipline did.

I read the book because we struggle with our ds aged 10, and I am tired of trying sticker chart and discipline, and the book has made me have a rethink.

I also read her book ''siblings without rivalry'', which is also really helpful and has already cut down some of the murderous incidents arguments between ds and dd1 and between dd1 and dd2.

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