Difficult 4 year old - growth spurt or just what they do?(3 Posts)
Our 4 year old DS has always been quite stubborn by nature. Quite difficult with food (small appetite, little interest), you have to ask a few times before he'll do what you say, that kind of thing. But a very happy boy otherwise and a joy to be with. His speech took a while to get going, closer to age 3. But recently with his speech improving a lot he's becoming really difficult. Lots of 'no Mummy', things like 'Mummy go away' or just refusing to come to the table or wash his teeth. I know a lot of it is him trying to be more independent and his confidence is growing/he's trying to work out how to use it (won't hold hands for instance), so I'm allowing him some leeway while not allowing him to be rude, nasty and it's just so tiring. I think he's due a big growth spurt as we haven't had one for almost a year and his cheeks have become very round.
Bedtime is becoming such a battle. He slept in the day until very recently so I know he's quite likely over-tired which isn't helping (he's always been worse when over-tired). I'm trying so hard to be patient as I know the poor little thing is going through such huge changes in his body, lots of changes to come with school that he's aware of (though does 3 full days at nursery) but its so tough. He gets 3 stories a night but screams for another and then calms down if he gets one more and is asleep within a minute or two.
How can I help him? What more can I do to help him through this stage?
Sounds normal to me but don't be fooled into giving him too much leeway - he's testing the boundaries and will feel more secure if you stand firm. Definitely choose your battles (does it really matter if he wears wellies in 25 degree heat?) and set expectations early - "ds, we're going to go upstairs, have a lovely bath and one/ two stories tonight". I think if he's tired then three or four stories is too many - tiredness after they drop their nap is a huge problem, so i might even bring his bedtime forward a little. Warnings and clear reprimands if he doesn't listen for the third time. Playful parenting can also really help to get them to do what you need - lots of races to clean up mess, get dressed etc. If he's stubborn he may well respond to challenges "Ds i bet you can't do x, y or z!" My ds goes out of his way to prove me wrong! Lots of one to one time - find out what he's struggling with (ds suffers with frustration when he thinks he should be able to do something and can't) and spend time explaining how doing something calmly can get better results. Give him options when he says no. "Ds, would you like a bath or a shower tonight? Which of these 2 t-shirts would you prefer to wear?"
Ds has always been like this, on and off. An absolute angel for weeks on end and then he hits a 'phase' and gives us a rough ride. He's done it since he turned 3 - the 'terrible' twos were a breeze!
This is similar to my ds (4) who has problems with being told to tidy up, stop playing etc at nursery at it's not what he wants to do. He often has to have some thinking time to deal with these things.
At home I do a lot of counting to 3 and he responds well to that.
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