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To expect a 4 year old to know right from wrong?

226 replies

Bubbaloo · 01/09/2007 22:02

I went over to a friend the other week with both my ds's,who are 26 months and 4 months old.She also has 2 boys-a nearly 2 year old and a nearly 4 year old and both her boys drove me mad from the moment we arrived.Ds2 was asleep in his car seat but they wouldn't leave him alone and were prodding and poking him so much that they scratched his face.After a few minutes they woke him up and we had screaming for about 40 minutes.I explained he was trying to sleep,but they took no notice and were even climbing over me to get to ds2 when I took him out of his carrier.Anyway,the boys eventually went and played in the garden and ds2 went to sleep again.After an hour or so my friend did us some lunch.Beforehand her eldest boy must've asked me 5 times if ds2 was going to have lunch with them and I explained that he had no teeth,was still a baby at 4 months old and that he only drank milk.He seemed to understand.While the boys were eating their lunch and ds2 was asleep I went into the kitchen to get my coffee and within about 2 minutes he was screaming.I went back into the living room to find her eldest son bent over ds2's car seat and I couldn't believe what I saw-ds2 had 2 large chunks of cheese and bread shoved in his mouth and bread all over his top.I was absolutely livid and told my friends boy off,telling him that it was naughty aswell as dangerous and that the baby could've choked.I was even more annoyed due to the fact I had explained to him earlier that he only has milk.After about another 20 mins ds1 was getting tired so I made my excuses and left...pronto.
My friend has since emailed me but I haven't replied yet as I'm still really wound up.
AIBU to expect her son to know right from wrong,when it's already been explained to him?

OP posts:

constancereader · 01/09/2007 22:04

Sounds like a nightmare visit for you.
What did your friend say in her email?


gemmiegoatlegs · 01/09/2007 22:05

well yes, but kids are curious. i'm not excusing but don't blow your friend out over this. it's not her fault

how did she react to the situation?


Howdydoody · 01/09/2007 22:06

My ds is 3.7 and would understand not to wake a sleeping baby if told and not to shove food at it. But what was your friend doing while this was going on?


Pollyanna · 01/09/2007 22:09

so the boys were only 1 and 3?? I think they are quite young to know what they were doing was wrong tbh. and to keep asking about whether the baby eats is not unreasonable. (my 2 youngest dds aged 2.7 and 4.6 are fascinated by this in relation to their new cousin and ask all the time whether he is going to have some food).

However, whether your friend should have seen that they were annoying you and kept them under better control is another question.


constancereader · 01/09/2007 22:10

I would have been extremely annoyed about the prodding, poking and waking up, even before the food thing. I think that four years is old enough to follow instructions like that. Bet you were glad to leave.


12lbnaturally · 01/09/2007 22:10

What was your friend doing? Was she not watching her children at the time. I would definitely expect a 4 year old to know not to stuff food into a small baby's mouth. Especially if he has been told not to do it. It sounds as if he was playing up a bit because you were there.


Doodledootoo · 01/09/2007 22:12

Message withdrawn


Desiderata · 01/09/2007 22:12

I think your expectations of a three year old are too high. He is not old enough to understand your adult concept of right from wrong, and I'm sorry, but I think blowing your friend out over this is way over the top.

The little boy was just trying to feed your baby. A lot of babies are weened at that age, so it's hardly out of the way for a three year to think he might want solid food.



gess · 01/09/2007 22:12

Gosh yes I think you are being unreasonable tbh. Sorry. Don't leave babies alone with 3 year olds and 1 year olds. You can't really expect them to understand about danger.


Nemo2007 · 01/09/2007 22:12

mmmm the older one I would expect to understand. My DC would understand and they are 3.10yrs and 20months but then we also have a 8mth old so it is a regular occurance in our house of dont touch the baby etc.

They were obviously just intrigued by the baby which is also normal at that age so can see both sides.


Bubbaloo · 01/09/2007 22:13

It really was a nightmare.I haven't actually known her that long and it was the first time we'd been to her house but I was "on edge" from the moment we got there.
She did tell him off,but I think that was only because she knew how annoyed I was.She was in the kitchen and only came running in when I shouted at him.
Her email didn't mention the incident either.

OP posts:

gess · 01/09/2007 22:14

He's not 4 though, he's 3. Big difference between a 4 year old at school and 3 year old rising 4. I wouldn't trust a 4 or 5 year old not to try and feed a baby either tbh.


Pollyanna · 01/09/2007 22:14

sorry I think you overreacted to shout at him. I would be angry if anyone shouted at my dcs for that.


NappiesGalore · 01/09/2007 22:15

i thinkYABU
they are only 1 and 3. just wait till yours are that age.
they sound like they were curious and a bit boisterous about it. big deal. they are kids afterall

and "After about another 20 mins ds1 was getting tired so I made my excuses and left...pronto. "
errr, so you stayed all morning, getting more and more wound up, then stayed another 20 minutes after shouting at her kids... and leave coz your own is tired, and call that 'leaving pronto'? if you had left pronto, oerhaps you wuldnt be so wound up.

personally, i think oyu should apologise to your friend.


gess · 01/09/2007 22:16

Your baby- your responsibility- you wouldnt leave a bunch of 3 year olds alone with him at toddler groups so you can't really do it elsewhere. It's a pain but its part of mixing with oher young kids whilst their still tiny. You can't expect your friend whose attention will be taken up with a 1 and 3 year old to be looking out for your baby as well.


TheQueenOfQuotes · 01/09/2007 22:17

I think your expations are too high. DS1 was 3.3 when DS2 was born, and DS3 3.6 when DS3 was born. They were both generally pretty well behaved boys, but they neither of them understood fully about letting their little brother sleep/food etc. Infact DS2 (who'll be 4 in November) is still totally bemused by the fact that his baby brother "only" drinks milk (DS3 now 14 weeks old), and he's quite a bright little boy.


LadyVictoriaOfCake · 01/09/2007 22:18

yes you are. and tbh i would be mortified if my child did that, and be at you for telling my child off.

quite simply, dont leave very young babies with young children unsupervised. i learnt this when a 3yr old shoved a bottle of coke into dd2 mouth in the few seconds i left the room to get her a bottle of milk.


Desiderata · 01/09/2007 22:19

I'm sorry bub ... but you did start the thread, and you did ask if you were being unreasonable.

'and bread all over his top '

I wouldn't go back there again. I suspect her dc's aren't that fond of you, either, tbh.


Bubbaloo · 01/09/2007 22:20

He is 4 at the end of next month,so it's not like he has just turned 3.
Pollyanna-I do not make a habit at shouting at anyone(not even my own ds),but when you walk into a room and someone is shoving chunks of food into your babys mouth when he is only 4 months old,I'm not going to keep quiet and say nothing.

OP posts:

Reallytired · 01/09/2007 22:20

Your turn will come... your children are very young. Don't critise the parenting of a four year old when you have never parented a nearly four year old. If you had had a problem with the behaviour of your friend's children it would have been better to have spoken to her rather than tell off someone else's kid.

A nearly four year old child has a mental age of four. They don't always listen or understand what is said to them. A six month old baby might eat bread and cheese. It is hard for a four year old to understand his younger brother might have eaten bread and cheese at 6 months and four months is considered too young. In the past many families weaned their children at 3 or 4 months on health visitor advice.

It is also harder to cope with two mobile children than a baby and a two year old.

I think it was partly your fault for leaving your baby unattended.


TheQueenOfQuotes · 01/09/2007 22:21

Lady - how's Peter (sorry thread hi-jack) - been away for a few days and don't know where lastest thread is.

DS2 is now TOTALLY banned from touching DS3's bouncy chair as he's been caught on one or two occasions pulling the chair so far down to the ground it looks like he's trying to catapult (sp) him across the room !


LadyVictoriaOfCake · 01/09/2007 22:23

just updated ion the 'pink' thread QofQ.

lol the bouncey chair was rarely used once i had more than one child. afterall baby is the right height to be sat on by older siblings as well as being catapaulted across the room. baby swing so much better, but still they tried to push each other higher and higher lol.


gess · 01/09/2007 22:23

I found my friend's dd with learning difficulties walking round with my 4 month old (my fault- I was standing next to her/him, but I had turend my back to deall with ds2). I didn't shout at her- she didn't know she was doing wrong, just asked her (with a slightly panicked tone) to giive him to me. Keep your babies close to you if you are around children who don't understand for whatever reaosn. 3 is way too young to understand, so is 4.


gess · 01/09/2007 22:24

PMSL QoQ- ds1 (aged 5 so quite large) used to try and sit in ds3's amby hammock when he was in it! And climb in the cot, and the pram. God it was a nightmare. I took to slinging ds3 and walking round with him


constancereader · 01/09/2007 22:24

it does sound like a stressful visit though, doesn't it?

I know my ds is tiny, but I have worked with lots of 3 to 4 year olds and I would have expected the older boy to be able to understand not to touch a baby if asked.

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