End of my tether with my moody / defiant almost 4 year old(25 Posts)
I've posted a few times about my almost 4 year old ... He's really really challenging me every single day. I just feel like I need to write what an average day is like for us and if you can let me know your honest opinion of whether I need to seek some kind of help for him with a behavioural disorder or whether this is some kind of 'normal' ( can't see how it can be but he's my 1st so who knows ).
The day usually goes something like this or near abouts .
He sleeps very well and gets about 12 hours a night .
He wakes about 7 am and comes in and stomps as loud as he can to wake his little sister up ... Starts screaming at the top of his lungs doing fake laughing and loud roaring like a lion.
I then ask him to come downstairs with me as his sister is still sleeping he will
Shout 'no I'm not coming with you ' and refuse to move . Then he will scream and scream and wakes his sister
8am : we have breakfast he will refuse anything I offer and tell me he hates breakfast and everything about it . He doesn't like to eat and doesn't like breakfast apparently . After about an hour of insisting on various things other than what he's got for breakfast he reluctantly eats whilst pouting and sulking .
He will annoy his sister and take stuff off of her and generally annoy her on purpose . He then will refuse to stop when I ask nicely regardless of how I try ( I have tried everything time out/ time in/ alone Time just him / even tried ignoring bad behaviour and praising good - nothing works ).
Sister has a nap and he then demands to go on the iPad . He has about an hour on it and then tells me 'go away smelly ' if I tell
Him it's time to come off - he will thn scream and tantrum when I put it away and wakes his sister usually unless I just let him stay on the iPad !
If we have plans for the day I will let him know and he usually tells me he doesn't want to do that or that's boring or that's silly or he 'hates it '. Once we meet with friends somewhere if we have plans he will sulk and pout for no reason what so ever - will refuse to talk to people and is rude if he does... Annoys other kids we meet on purpose and winds them up telling them he's 'the winner ' ' they are the losers ' he will constantly say stuff to get reactions and always initiates arguments such as : if somebody says 'it's sunny today ' he will insist it's not .. And says the opposite of what anybody says .
Home time - he will refuse to leave even though all he has done is complain about being at the 'boring place' that he 'hates ' screams the whole way home throwing stuff spitting calling names etc .
Dinner time - refuses to eat. Shouts if i ask him too and tells me ' I won't eat this I don't like it and I'm not going to eat it at all '
Bed time and bath time etc usually involves various tantrums about everything too
This is obviously a bad day- we sometimes have less severe days but he is so negative and sulky just to get a reaction. He rarely just enjoys an activity or day out he has to gain control of everyone and everything by sulking and screaming and shouting all the time .
I just can't believe this could be 'normal'
He has a good life . Me and his dad try so hard and nothing major has happened in his life at all to make him 'stressed' .
I find it hard to be around children at the moment as all he does is try and start arguments with them . He's genuinely like a moody hormonal teenager .
If he's doing things to get a reaction, don't react. Put his breakfast (or any other meal) in front of him. He either eats it or not. Don't make a fuss or react or offer alternatives. When the meal is finished remove the plate. He'll be hungry by next meal and probably eat it!
My daughter is 9 and behaves like this sometimes.
My DD is almost 4 and whilst she has her challenging moments, I can't really identify with what you've described as day in day out behaviour. I think if you are concerned it wouldn't hurt to speak to GP or a HV?
I have a 4.2 year old and his days are pretty much identical. It frequently brings me to tears and I am finding it very hard to cope with him. Like your DS he seems to seek things out to be cross with.
I am firm but I never shout. Today he has had time out many times, he will return and say sorry but it is only a matter of time until the next outburst.
I have an older DS who couldn't be more opposite in temperament and although they are the best of friends it really affects us as a family. I frequently have to move DS1 into the front of the car because DS2 attacks him when he is in a mood.
He starts school next week and I have been clinging onto this as an outlet - hoping that the structure, routine and stimulation will help. However, I suspect he will be worse as tiredness is a trigger (he too sleeps 12 hours a night) and he is going to be awful when I pick him up.
I don't know whether to seek further help - I am waiting to see what happens at school. His behaviour was just as bad at preschool and I was called in to speak to them frequently.
Sorry not to be of any help thought, but believe me you are not alone.
Stop bending over backwards. Don't engage. Walk away when he eats. Bad behaviour has an immediate consequence. When he is good, praise him and be very happy, smiley and positive. My 4 year old ds is the same and this is what we're doing, for the sake of our own sanity if nothing else. He's always been difficult, but he is maturing nicely so it is balanced out these days.
Just want to join in saying you are not alone. I am also often brought to tears (or close) by my 4 yr olds behaviour. He is very much as you describe, and some things you said struck a particular chord, e.g. the wanting to be the winner, being nasty to other children and always being contrary. I also have no answers I'm afraid!! I had thought he was improving but we've had a terrible few days. Just don't know what to suggest. Like you, we have some days that are better than others but there seems to be no discernible reason why.
I've tried all the usual stuff - clear consequences, ignoring, lots of praise, etc and it hasn't worked. I also have an older child for whom these things do work so I think (!!) my parenting isn't completely terrible
Anyway, sorry I can't offer any advice but you are not alone!! I suppose if it's any consolation I H
... I have seen a gradual improvement I think as he he gets older... So "hang in there" is the only advice I can give.
He sounds rather clever to me!
I don't see anything you describe as out of the ordinary but he doesn't sound like a happy chap right now.
How old is his sister?
Sounds like he is jealous and/or craving attention.
Does he go to nursery? If so, what is his behaviour like there?
That sounds exhausting. The only thing I can suggest is to try and avoid any battles that affect only him. If he hates breakfast, just say 'Oh yeah, you do don't you, OK, you don't have to have any.' And let him go without - it won't hurt him for a day or two until he gets bored of it. Same with any demands and refusals he makes that impact only on him - if he won't wear a coat he can get wet or cold. But keep on being really firm when he mucks other people about or is rude.
I know this is probably going to be very unpopular here but I would suggest you smack him.
Tell him in a very calm way, if you dont stop doing xyz, I will smack you eg in the morning, if he screams and shouts to wake up his sister, tell him if you don't stop that, I am going to smack you.
If he doesn't stop smack him with two fingers on the back of his hand and explain to him that you smacked him because it is naughty to scream and wake his sister.
My 2 cents.
I don't have a four year old (yet!) but I do have about a dozen nephews and nieces. Have you thought about removing the iPad for good? I remember my nephews and nieces behaved worse when they had daily access to it, it seemed to lead to a lot of whinging and complaining. To have it in the first place and then anger when it was taken away after time was up. Seemed to create so much fuss! Anyway that doesn't help wi your tough day but just an idea. Are there times of the day he behaves better and seems happier? As some pp posters said if he complains about breakfast I would cheerfully say, 'that's ok, you get down then.' Etc. Play him at his own game?
Femfemlicious, the second you smack you've lost the moral highground.
We teach by modelling good behaviour- how is smacking in any way modelling this?
Does he get one on one time with you? Sounds like jealousy/attention seeking to me.
i find most 4yr olds to be challenging. How is your son's hearing, speech and motor skills?
I just think there is a place for controlled smacking in bringing ip a child. I'm not talking about smacking in anger.
The being like that around other people does sound more unusual, however I would suggest a couple of things for home.
First at mealtimes the meal gets put in front of him and then you ignore the situation, no swapping what he's asked for or trying to persuade him to eat, he either eats it or he doesn't. After a time, maybe 15 mins, warn there are 5 minutes left of the mealtime and then it's done. Once the 5 mins is up you take the food away without comment, just 'that's the end of breakfast/lunch etc' and then there's no more food till next meal, this stops him ruling the roost. He'll hate it for the first few days and whine that he's hungry a lot but if you stick to it eventually it will work.
Secondly in the mornings or at nap time could you make it less about his sister and more about him? So instead of warning he will wake his sister try 'ds why don't we go downstairs and do (something fun)' or 'why don't we read a book together on your bed' that way he doesn't feel that his sister is taking away his control of his life.
I have a 4yo DS who has some similar behaviour to what you describe. For him it was triggered by the birth of a younger sibling. He would refuse to leave the house and only wanted to go on the iPad. So I totally removed the iPad, said it was broken.
Things that have helped are reassuring him that I love him, giving him one to one time as early as I can in the day, and trying to get to the bottom of the feelings behind the bad behaviour. So for example, I will say "I think you are angry because I am cuddling your brother". A while ago he said to me "mummy I don't love you when you are cuddling DS2" I said "you feel left out". since then he has complained a few times about feeling jealous or left out and I feel it is a bit of a breakthrough as it means he can express his feelings without bad behaviour.
How old is his sister? If a baby then I would ignore taking toys. I read that it is better not to keep intervening between siblings and let them develop their own relationship, otherwise when they get older they will fight as a way of getting your attention.
His little sister is 11 months . Not sure what is up but I feel like it's getting worse not better .
I wouldn't ever hit or smack him
That's not something I would ever do . I believe it makes the problems worse . If things aren't precisely his way he is moody and extremely unapproachable and he often shouts things like
'I hate this house' and storm off when things don't happen exactly how he likes them . Feel really drained by it all
I have 3 ds's (20, 19 and 10) and, without exception, I have found 4 to be the hardest year. Hopefully school will help. You will at least get a little break. If things continue to de difficult once he settles in at school then hopefully they will help you to get some support with him. The teenaged years (so far) have been a piece of cake in comparison.
I actually came on the behaviour board to post about my 5 year old. I feel relieved to see that others also have similar problems. Your approach seems good, I am full of admiration that you keep your cool (I lose my temper). Nothing constructive to add - only empathy.
11 months - that's interesting, my youngest is 10 months. Weaning him seemed to trigger a lot of bad behaviour, I think as the baby was suddenly at the table needing lots of attention. Still not crawling but very close, I am expecting things to get a whole lot worse once that happens.
My oldest is 2.8 and displaying some of the same behaviour (extreme grumpiness, defiance, pushing very hard at boundaries etc) after the birth of a sibling who is now 2 months. Her behaviour is worse when tired and when there are triggers for jealousy.
I am trying to tackle the underlying unhappiness in the hope that that will influence and reduce the 'bad' behaviour, while remaining firm on the things that actually matter. I feel like it's really easy to get into a cycle of negativity and criticism of her which leads to her feeling even more rejected and bad about herself.
Too much iPad / screen time doesn't improve things here - while it's tempting to allow her time on it to give us all a break from her (!) it inevitably ends in struggles when time is up. An hour does seem like a long time for him to be using it - he's not getting any positive human interaction during that time, which is probably what he needs (though he's not showing you that very well).
I am reading a book called Calm Parent, Happy Child by Laura ??? which is making a lot of sense to me in terms of trying to break the negative cycles it's so easy to fall into when they are being this challenging. Might be worth a look at her website - Google Aha Parenting.
Thanks guys for everybody who replied . Things are pretty much the same
Here . Struggling to truly understand where it's all stemming from.
I will be honest. DS is 4.5. He goes to school with a class full of similar aged children. This sounds like extreme behaviour- esp the name calling and the persistent unhappiness. Have you any concerns that you might want to take to a GP/HV?
Obviously it sounds as if the birth of the sibling may have unsettled him but this sounds quite extreme. Would having a visual chart of each day help? Then as he completes each task calmly he gets a reward. Otherwise you give him X amount of time to complete something and then either do it for him (getting dressed etc) or put it away, like breakfast. And then heap praise if he does cooperate.
It is the behaviour with other kids that is a bit worrying. After all, they are not his siblings. If he sulks you can tell him before he leaves the house, you don't have to play with anyone but you have to come with me. You cannot be mean to other kids but you don't have to play. And if he sits there and sulks then you just let him. I wonder if his moods and sulks impact you (because you don't want to be the one with the sulky kid) and he does it more to get attention. Just brush it away with 'grumpy are we?' And carry on being cheerful with everyone else. My suspicion is that underneath the sulking he does enjoy his friends and that's why he gets upset when he has to leave. But forcing him to interact will backfire. Just ignore it as long as he isn't behaving badly per se and see what happens.
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