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Feeling bullied by my feisty four-year-old DS - would love some tips on handling this

(4 Posts)
Twoddle Fri 19-Dec-08 23:06:16

DS can be - and often is - delightful. He is funny, intelligent, wonderfully gentle with babies and great with his peers most of the time, and I know he adores me. And I know, being four and quite a big, boisterous boy, that there's likely this "testosterone surge" going on for him at the moment, which would explain a lot!

However, sometimes, when DS is feeling angry because I've said a reasonable, non-negotiable "no", he can be quite horrible. It's all in a burst, and the rest of the time he's pretty lovely, but God, how do I handle this:

- DS shouting in my face to "shut up"
- DS calling me a "stupid woman"
- DS today intentionally smashing one of his grandmother's glass Christmas tree decorations when feeling cross
- DS kicking me
- DS spitting in my face
- DS slamming doors/throwing things when cross

Today - which hasn't been a great day, TBH (I'm unusually tired, we have some significant financial worries, and I'm possibly having a drama!) - I actually felt a bit bullied by my four-year-old. shock sad And this of course set alarm bells ringing.

I have tried quite a few things: time out, me walking out of the room, restraining, ignoring, offering lots of alternative things to bash/do when cross, and today, I've gone to town on consequences - but none works consistently. Time in works best of all, of course, but isn't possible for hours a day. So I can see that I'm pretty inconsistent and reactive in how I handle DS's outbursts - and they make my blood boil, so I'm not exactly calm in dealing with them.

I realise that DS's behaviour is partly typical of feisty four-year-old boys - at least IME. But I just don't like the intensity and aggression, and would like to enforce a zero tolerance policy kurb it a fair bit, and minimise any bully potential. Does boundary-enforcing have to be so vigorously challenged?!

Mostly, disciplining DS is down to me (his dad - from whom I am separated - is depressed, so can't do the firm male thing at the moment), so I need practical tips for a somewhat worn-out single mum. TIA.

longlegted Fri 19-Dec-08 23:23:47

I'm sorry you are having such a hard time, it sounds exhausting. we have recently started doing '123 magic' my husband did a course at our local children's ventre and then he explained it to me. It works fairly well. Is there a children's centre near you? The basics of it are. 1) to remember that they are children and they are learning to behave. To choose particular things that you will discipline, i.e hurting people or being disobedient after just being told. Then when the child does the behaviour you don't want you say 'that's one' you must wait a good few seconds before saying 'that's two' and if they get to three the they have time out. It doesn't matter what they do whilst having tiime out, it is just a time to be in a specific place away from you and the family. When they come back in it doesn't have to be discussed, they have a clean slate.

We sat down and explained the new regimemethod with dc before we started.
At the same time it's all the reinforcing of positive behaviour.

I don't know if this helps. If you do give it a go it is definitely worth thinking it through first, being prepared to stick to it, and not getting angry (hard i know) or talking about it, you literally count and don't discuss.

Also do you have a supportive person you could discuss this with who could help you think it through?
sorry for long post. HTH

Twoddle Sat 20-Dec-08 00:08:28

Ah, thanks, longlegted. That's helpful - haven't tried this approach before. I have actually done a parenting course locally - I should know better! blush Must dig out handbook. Anyhow, we didn't cover this method. I think it could be handy with DS lashing out when I enforce boundaries - it would give him a chance to check himself and stop, rather than simply being farmed off to time out straight away. I'm not a big fan of time out anyway, so this could work as we might not get that far! At least sometimes, anyway.

How are you finding this approach - is it working in your family?

Long post was good - more info, so thanks. Besides, mine was longer. wink

yawningmonster Sat 20-Dec-08 00:10:03

hi twoddle, I have had a number of threads regarding my ds lately who is also four. We too are getting lots of aggression and we have been trying the zero tolerance route for quite a while and to be honest things have just got worse for us. DH is around but only just, he works long hours and is only around some weekends as he hunts alot. So like you I am pretty much it for 95% of the time. I am also almost 5 months pregnant which maybe sparking some things off for him as well. Like you time in has been in the past what he has needed but time in for ds means constant attention. I am currently trying to lay off him as much as possible, ignore everything that I can, stick to the basic big rules, heaps of positive attention, trying distraction and a very predictable routine. We are only on day 2 at the moment and things have escalated even further but I am hoping that these more positive methods will be ultimately more successful than time out was for us.

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