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Is it reasonable to expect 3.9 year old to grasp concept of gratitude and appreciation?

(7 Posts)
Rebecca41 Sat 06-Jun-09 20:48:54

I'm having a nightmare with DS (3.9) at the moment, no doubt a result of the arrival of DS2 (age 5 weeks). I'm a single parent which doesn't help.

Anyway, in an attempt to minimise sibling rivalry and DS1 suffering, I've been running myself ragged trying to keep him happy. We've always gone on lots of trips out, and he enjoys them, so I've kept it up, despite it being bloody hard work dragging poor DS2 in baby-carrier here there and everywhere!

For example, this week we went on steam train on Sunday, canal boat trip on Monday, had friend of his round on Tuesday, farm park on Wednesday, nursery Thursday (for my sanity!), model village on Friday, and train trip today (he loves trains). These trips are only for part of the day, he gets to spend plenty of time at home too, and he always asks where we're going when he wakes in morning.

Anyway, this evening he said "I'm cross with you because you take me to the wrong places". Apparently he wanted to go to the park today, despite the fact that it's been raining all day. I asked, incredulously, if he'd really have preferred the park to the train, and he said yes. Apparently all the trips I take him on are the wrong thing. Well I'm afraid I lost it - told him he could put himself to bed tonight, and left the room. He started calling me soon after, and after about 5 minutes (during which time I was changing DS2's nappy anyway) I went back in. I told him that he was old enough to appreciate that I'm doing my best to do nice things with him, that it's hurtful to be ungrateful, and that he should say thankyou rather than complaining. (It's a recurring theme - he complained yesterday that a toy Grandad gave him was the wrong colour).

I'm sure this is all very textbook behaviour for a first child when 2nd child born, but I just don't know if I'm handling it right. Is it reasonable to expect him to be grateful and not complain about my efforts? Or should I just put up with the criticism without reacting to it? He's a bright kid, very verbal.

Any thoughts?

Hassled Sat 06-Jun-09 20:55:05

I think you're doing everything right now (re your response etc) but you have maybe created a self-fulfilling prophesy - you anticipated jealousy, ran around in circles giving him lots of attention, thus alerting him to the fact he maybe had something to feel aggrieved about. Not that he would have the sophistication to articulate all that, but by making everything "special" and exciting, you've raised all his expectations.

Just relax a bit - have a couple lazy, unambitious days and get the 3 of you into some sort of settled routine. He'll soon calm down.

FabulousBakerGirl Sat 06-Jun-09 20:58:27

I think it is great you are trying to do everything as before so DC1 doesn't feel too upset by the change that the new baby has brought but I think you are doing yourself no favours. Your eldest has to accept that things have changed and it is a positive thing.

Maybe he has been spoilt in the past? Complaining that a present is the wrong colour is something that should be pointed out as rude. He is old enough to know that but not old enough to understand fully gratitude and appreciation.

it sounds like you are doing a great job, don't worry so much.

Rebecca41 Sat 06-Jun-09 21:05:08

Thank you.

I think the problem is that the first couple of weeks (when we were more-or-less housebound anyway because I'd had a Caesarean and couldn't drive) were so awful. He wandered around the house looking so mournful, I was tormented with guilt. I vowed that as soon as I could I'd make things better for him. Maybe I've gone too far. Mind you, I sometimes find it easier to go out too, because otherwise we're both a bit stir-crazy by mid afternoon.

Hassled Sat 06-Jun-09 21:12:59

Does he not go to any sort of pre-school?

Sycamoretreeisvile Sat 06-Jun-09 22:10:10

YEs, i was wondering that. My DD is also 3.9 and starts school this sept - she's in pre-school at the moment and LOVES it.

Could you consider something like that?

I have found the more I give in terms of treats and gifts, the more blase and ungrateful she is about them. Takes them as the norm etc.

Yes, you can expect him to be grateful for treats and have manners, but if they are every day things then they are no longer treats, but normal life.

So sorry, you must be utterly exhausted post section with a toddler and a new born on your own - just give yourself a break - invest in some new dvds for DS and hopefully the weather will turn nice again. Do you have a garden? We abuse it massively with a paddling pool and a cheapo 2nd hand bouncy castle we bought! You can have great days at home with fun painting etc whilst you newborn is sleeping.

Try not to create a situation by fearing the worst smile

Imoverhere Sat 06-Jun-09 22:19:05

My DD is 3.7 and DS is 15 weeks. Everyone was very careful to make sure DD wasn't left out when presents came for DS when born and we did the same. Turns out we made a real rod for our backs and I've had to ask people to stop giving her gifts for a little while (in particular Granny). DD just started expecting it and would just ask where her present was whenever anyone arrived (and who can blame her) and having v embarrassing sulks and tantrums.

As everyone else said, try and relax a bit, don't do quite so much. It's hard enough work for me and I didn't have a section and have a partner to help out (ish, but that's another story). You sound like you are doing really well, I was a bloody wreck when DS was 5 wks old.

smile

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