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Four years old - the good, the bad and the ugly....

(18 Posts)
Earlybird Thu 28-Jul-05 03:44:27

I love her to pieces, but my 4 year old dd is driving me mad at the moment. Please tell me I'm not the only one going through this! To start us off:

The Good
Lively, curious, clever, eager, affectionate, increasingly articulate, voracious appetite for learning new things, observant, amazingly adaptable as long as she's been prepared for new situations...

The Bad
Demanding, bossy, asks questions endlessly and often doesn't listen to the answers, unable/unwilling to entertain herself for any length of time, thinks she knows how to do everything and will not be shown anything, whinges constantly, attention seeking....

The Ugly
Belligerent and rude when she doesn't get her way, challenges me all the time, increasing signs of spoiled/ungrateful behaviour....

What are your 4 year olds like at the moment? Please tell me I'm not alone!

dejags Thu 28-Jul-05 08:06:08

Earlybird, were our children separated at birth???

My DS1 is exactly the same. I having been tearing my hair out with him.

I finally got sick of constantly shouting at him and started the pasta jar. Basically everytime he is rude, belligerent, uncooperative he gets a piece of pasta in his jar. For each piece of pasta in his jar we take away his playstation for one day. He can earn his pasta back with good behaviour, I have created a checklist as follows:

Did I help mummy/daddy clean my room/toyroom?
Did I brush my teeth and wash my face?
Was I polite to mummy/daddy?
Did I eat my tea nicely?

We go through the list together after tea and make a huge fuss about the things he has done well and he gets a piece of pasta taken out of his jar if he has tried to behave nicely. I also reward him for things he does well on his own, i.e. if he is kind to his brother or helps me out etc I may give him a piece of pasta as a reward.

We also reward him with a DVD of his choice and popcorn on a Friday if is jar is empty at the end of the week.

Sounds convoluted I know, but it seems to be working.

dejags Thu 28-Jul-05 08:07:48

PS: Playstation is only allowed on weekends, so four pieces of pasta would mean he wouldn't be allowed to play games for 2 weeks. Sounds harsh but it's the only thing he gets really worried about. He doesn't care if I put him in the bathroom for a timeout, he just chats to himself and has a fine old time.

throckenholt Thu 28-Jul-05 08:12:55

sounds very similar to mine to - he is just 4. When he is happy is he lovely, when he is not, he is a stroppy little monster .

He is also increasingly loud !

I think I might try and adapt dejags pasta jar idea - just have to think what the ultimate panalty would be.

Earlybird Thu 28-Jul-05 14:25:38

dejags, may try the pasta jar idea. Hasn't been necessary previously as she was a fairly agreeable child who didn't test my patience hugely. However, perhaps it is now her turn!

So far today all is fine, but I put that down to lots of telly!

PrettyCandles Thu 28-Jul-05 14:42:49

If she doesn't want to be shown how to do something, then don't show her. Does it really matter whether she plays 'correctly'? If whatever it is doesn't work, she'll soon come and ask for help.

As for whinging - turn deaf. I frankly don't understand whining or whinging, and if mine persist I tell them 'I can't understand - tell me in your proper voice.' Similarly I don't understand rudeness. If they are worked up over something then I will tell them that I can see they are upset, but that they need to settle themselves down and talk clearly so that I can help with whatever it is that is bothering them.

When they get very challenging I try to stop giving them the opportunity to challenge me. For example, we take our shoes off when we get home, if they refuse (especially if they give me that 'No' with a sideways let's-see-what-happens-now grin...) then I just stop telling or asking, and just do it myself for a few weeks. Invariably they eventually start doing it, or at least trying to do it, themselves, whereupon I praise them for their good behaviour and initiative. It works most of the time - but involves plenty of self-control from me!

And when things get really rough I tell them what will be the consequences of their misbehaviour. Eg, if ds (nearly 5) acts up during bathtime, first 'punishment' is that he will be instantly taken out of the bath and bathtime will be over. Second level is that he will lose his bed-time story. But you really need to grit your teeth and carry out the punishment, even if it means a tantrum. Ds has only missed one bedtime story this year - he knows we mean what we say!

PrettyCandles Thu 28-Jul-05 14:44:15

Yuck, I sound really cold - I'm not, honestly. They get plenty of cuddles and reassurance as well from me.

NotQuiteCockney Thu 28-Jul-05 15:02:50

PC, I do pretty much the same as you with my DS1 (nearly 4). I hate hate hate whinging.

The behaviour that's getting me now, is the constant demands. "Can I have a magazine today?" "Can I watch Star Wars today?" He will ask for something over and over, reasonably politely, but without understanding why he can't have it. It's particularly galling when he's asking for magazines, as I don't think he enjoys them that much, it's more the idea of a magazine, getting to choose one, etc, that pleases him.

oliveoil Thu 28-Jul-05 15:08:54

I have heard them referred to as F**king Fours on here before (as in Terrible Twos).

PrettyCandles Thu 28-Jul-05 15:09:17

I know you're not supposed to threaten, but sometimes (OK, often ) when that sort of polite nagging gets too much I do tell ds that if he asks one more time for xxx then he will lose YYY, or something similar. And I'm usually quite cross when I say it, so it's usually SNAPPED. It's all very well trying to be the perfect mum, but we're only human after all!

NotQuiteCockney Thu 28-Jul-05 19:58:15

I've not heard that threatening is wrong - why are we not meant to be doing that?

I go in for threats, although my rule is, the threat has to be one I'm willing to carry through on. And I have to actually do it if he does whatever it is.

basketcase Thu 28-Jul-05 20:03:22

Nice to see that it isn’t only me pulling my hair out with a four year old.
When she is good she is just wonderful - fuuny, cute, smart, magical way with words and turns of phrase, loving with her little sister etc. etc.
When she is bad she is a monster - argumentative, stroppy, demanding, stubborn, attention seeking etcetc
We have recently gone down the strict healthy diet and IQ dosing, avoiding as many additiives as possible. Not sure if it helping but can’t be making it any worse
We have also made a star chart again in a bid to sort out her main behavioural annoying habits

Hard work trying to get it right all the time isn’t it?

Earlybird Thu 28-Jul-05 20:05:54

Had a perfect example today of how asking over and over (after being told no) worked for dd. We went to a birthday party that featured a children's entertainer. After the "show", the entertainer gave away personalised signed copies of a colouring book. She also had DVDs of her show available for sale. DD was desperate for a dvd, and I told her no as they were quite expensive at 15 pounds each. DD then turned her attention to the entertainer. I was vaguely aware of dd asking/pleading for the dvd, but heard the entertainer say that she couldn't give them away. I was absolutely floored when dd marched up a few minutes later with a dvd in hand. Seems that the entertainer's husband/manager decided to give a dvd to dd. She was chuffed with herself, needless to say. That was one instance where dd's refusal to take no for an answer paid off....

Magscat Thu 28-Jul-05 20:11:14

My ds (just 4) is the same. I don't think we ever give in to pester power but it doesn't seem to stop him trying.
He also has the attention span of a gnat in terms of remembering what he's supposed to do/not do. Typical example is the bedtime rouine:
Me: Time for bed & remember to be quiet because your sister's asleep
DS: Yes I know (in cross indignant voice)
Followed by stomp stomp shout shout all the way to the bathroom & then even more indignant voice when he gets told off!

NQC - my ds is really into magazines too - some he reads some he doesn't - but definately likes the idea of it more than the thing itself

PrettyCandles Thu 28-Jul-05 23:45:06

Magscat, I think 43yo really aren't self-aware enough to control their noisiness without help. How often has an only slightly excited child shrieked a question or statement at you when you were right in front of him? But also, you asked him to keep quiet because his sister was asleep - what an invitation! Have you tried something like: "Which is quieter, a mouse or a frog?" and then "Let's see if you can get to (wherever it is) as quietly as a (whatever he's chosen)?"

PrettyCandles Thu 28-Jul-05 23:46:16

Ah, no, not a 43yo - though some dp/dh may well be like preschoolers themselves - I meant a 4yo of course.

Magscat Fri 29-Jul-05 08:49:57

Thanks PrettyCandles. Yes we do try the 'quiet as a mouse' type thing. (Sometimes he makes it a joke & shrieks 'eek eek!). He understands perfectly well that he needs to be quiet and sometimes he does try, he just can't remember to do it for more than a nanosecond!
He doesn't get yelled at for doing it, I promise ! It's just exasperating repeating the request over and over

Earlybird Mon 01-Aug-05 16:57:47

Help!! Had another rough weekend with dd. We drove 4 hours to see my mum, who was admitted into hospital as we arrived within the city limits. Needless to say, it was not the weekend we had anticipated.

DD responded by being demanding, obstinate, defiant and insulting. She even said "mummy, I want someone else to look after me, you're boring", and "I want auntie to look after me because she's kinder than you".

I know she's only 4, but I felt quite teary. Am completely exhausted and drained at the moment. I've got a sitter booked for this afternoon so that we can have a little distance from one another....

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