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4.5 yr old boy hitting, tantrumming.

(11 Posts)
eastwest Tue 03-Jan-17 19:39:17

My 4.5 yr old (only child) has started screaming, tantrumming and hitting me when he is asked to tidy up at the end of the day or to leave his grandparents' house. I am really upset and do not know what to do about it. Especially so because we have DV in the family (grandparents on father's side) whihc for a long time made me nervous about having children (because the violent grandparent is someone I really despise, I did not want him as part of my family). His father and I ahve a totally loving, respectful relationship - of course we occasionally get cross with each other, but we always make up and he knows it and sees it. We have tried saying ' we don't hit in this family', we have tried explaining that it is wrong to hit, we have tried sanctioning (for example, I have told him no more Lego for a week because his tantrum and hitting this evening came from being asked to tidy it up). We do not respond by shouting/hitting back.
We live in a rented flat that is far too small for us really (this also upsets him - unfortunately every child he's made friends with so far lives in v big houses as do his grandparents, and he is aware of the difference) and I am really anxious that the neighbours will complain to the landlord about the noise. Most of all though the hitting is simply unacceptable to me. I cannot imagine living with this for the next several years. Any advice? Am completely at the end of my tether.

eastwest Tue 03-Jan-17 19:45:27

He has now run in and says 'sorry' and seems in a perfectly good mood now he has had his tantrum. But he will do it again tomorrow (it was the same behaviour yesterday). I am supposed to go and do some creative work now (I work from home) and am feeling so upset it is hard to get in the right mindset. I really don't know what to do to show him that hitting is unacceptable.

HalfwayToFifty Tue 03-Jan-17 23:13:39

I feel for you. I have no advice but intersted as to what other say as I'm having similar issues with my 4 year old. Today i have received a few smacks. He's given me a Chinese burn and kicked me. I have tried removing toys, time out, sending him to bed (as it usually starts around 5pm when he gets tired) stopping privileges and treats. He has never seen any violence so I don't know where he has got it from. His attitude and demands are terrible! It's happened everyday for a good few months and getting to the point where I dread the day ahead.

minipie Wed 04-Jan-17 14:52:19

DD age 4 does this sometimes and it's definitely tiredness related.

My current approach is that I try to demand less of her towards the end of the day so eg in your case I would ask him to tidy up earlier so there are only a few bits to tidy later on. If she does tantrum or hit I tell her I don't want to be near her when she does that and leave her alone till she's back in control of herself and ready to behave nicely. She tends to care more about losing my company than about losing toys etc and if she's in a tired state then taking a toy away will spark another tatntrum.

I notice you say he's just run in at 7.45pm, perhaps he's not getting enough sleep? Lots of DC are very tired at this time of year, especially if he's recently started school.

Having said all that, my DD is extra tired due to a medical condition so maybe my comments are not appropriate for a child without that issue.

HalfwayToFifty Wed 04-Jan-17 20:09:15

I don't know about op but I am certainly going to give your approach a try.

eastwest Wed 04-Jan-17 20:33:26

Thanks very much for your replies. I suspect he is indeed overtired. But he just won't go to bed earlier. For example, last night he was awake and getting out of bed until 11.30 pm (we put him in bed about 7.30/ 8pm). Today it was the first day of term and he had to get up early, so I thought he would be tired. Instead he came out of school full of energy, so I took him to the park where he did loads of running around. We came back about 4.30/5 pm, had supper, then as soon as it was time to go to bed he became violent and tantrummy again. It didn't last as long this time, but he is still awake at 8.30 pm, and keeps getting out of bed. I'm sure he needs more sleep but I just don't know how to make him have it. It feels as if he's too keyed up to sleep.

eastwest Wed 04-Jan-17 20:35:21

We do make him go into his room/ straight to bed with no stories if he starts hitting. Maybe it works because the hitting/tantrumming wasn't as bad this evening.

eastwest Wed 04-Jan-17 20:53:06

But he is still awake, getting up every 5 mins and getting upset and crying when we firmly make him go back to bed... How can he not be tired?! I am.

minipie Wed 04-Jan-17 21:05:01

Try a 6.30 bedtime - by 7.30 he may be in hyper mode due to tiredness and so can't wind down (that's what happens to DD anyway) 6.30 sounds stupidly early but if your DS is tantrummy post dinner then it is probably about right.

Halfway I have to admit it's an approach I've only adopted recently so we'll see. My previous approach of getting crosser and crosser and then shouting/taking stuff away definitely wasn't working! (Though I still would apply a more tough approach if she ever behaves that way when not tired).

FlorisApple Wed 04-Jan-17 22:11:13

Just to reassure you, I don't think this is that unusual and it will pass. When my DD was four she was having many tantrums, to the point that I was considering getting her assessed for developmental issues, as I thought she was too old to be completely losing it like that, but after talking to friends, they assured me it was pretty typical. Now she is 5, and still very occasionally has a meltdown, but they have gotten much rarer. I would focus on the basic needs: sleep, food, comfort and control. In my DDs case, I learnt to read the triggers and preempt it, and in her case, it was definitely related to constipation, but was especially bad when she was tired and hungry and over-stimulated as well.

In the throes of a tantrum, it is my belief that only she can calm herself down, she just has to learn how to do that. So, I focus on the issue at hand (don't get into lengthy conversations or negotiations about what she will or will not do), just keep repeating my mantra: "I don't do things when I'm being shouted at" and as long as she is safe and not at risk of hurting herself, let her get on with it. I keep telling her: we'll do that when you're calm....or something similar.

Another thing to consider is: how much control over his life does your DS have? If every moment of his day is over-scheduled and controlled and he has no say in decisions, it is bound to come out as frustration and anger eventually. My motto is: try to grant any reasonable and safe requests. Children (as we all do) need some autonomy in their lives. Having said that; too many decisions to make can also be a trigger for my daughter, so if she is tired and overwhelmed, I stop asking her to make decisions about things.

Finally, in terms of bedtime; you don't want to make going to bed a punishment, or a horrible experience. Can you try playing him stories to listen to (try Sparkle Stories)?

Try not to project your own issues (family history or the size of the flat) onto your DS and just focus on practical improvements: what's he eating at his GPs, for instance?

HalfwayToFifty Wed 04-Jan-17 23:05:00

minipie I find the more cross I get the worse he gets. I am going to try a firm but calm approach. I do think he would benefit from an earlier bedtime. I have heard an overtired child becomes a hyperactive child. Maybe some nice calm activities for winding down after school eastwest colouring, reading etc dinner, bath, bed?

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