4 year old that will not listen

Ashley - posted on 10/09/2010 ( 16 moms have responded )

34

52

4

My son is 4 and he will behave for everyone else but me. he acts fine at school and does great with the sitter but he acts like a fool when he is with me. he doesnt listen, acts out, throws fits, and completely ignores me. i have tried coming to his level, taking things away, time outs, and every other normal response and none of them have worked. HELP i want him to be good and know that i am serious.

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Ashley - posted on 10/17/2010

239

0

20

Andrea, I hear your thoughts on the "only doing the right thing when you might get caught" thing and I actually have thought about this before. So what is your advice to the mom who asked the question? If she is at here wits end and can't get her son to listen, what do you suggest she do? How do you help your children understand what the appropriate way to act is?

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

16 Comments

View replies by

Jessica - posted on 11/05/2010

230

46

0

Our 4 year old is a lot like that as well. For instance, this morning he wouldn't get out of bed, and then once we pulled him out, wouldn't go potty, wouldn't get dressed, etc. We finally had to threaten leaving for daycare without breakfast, shoes or jacket to get him to realize how serious. He is sometimes that way for my husband too, but he is much worse for me. It has gotten better since my husband made it VERY evident with him that he is on my side and won't tolerate him behaving that way for me that his behavior has changed.

The best things that work for us have been early bed time and cold showers.

Cynthia - posted on 11/01/2010

10

6

1

I totally agree!!! Yet what I've become to realize is that Its a phase that shall too soon pass

Jenna - posted on 10/31/2010

6

53

0

My 4 year old is the same, in school he is an angel. Yesterday he was so mean to me at a neighborhood Halloween festival, I almost burst into tears! I asked him if he wanted a slice of pizza, and he screamed "Don't talk to me! You talk to much! Mama is bothering me! I want to go home!" My husband brought him home and I stayed with my 2 year old, but it hurt my feelings so much. When I got home an hour later, he immediately apologized and said "I promise I won't do that again." What I don't get is, if he doesn't do it everywhere, all the time, then he can control it, yes? Why does it come out when we are in public --- could it be stress related? Could the situation be too overwhelming for him? I have to admit, I get so embarrassed also when he acts out.

Alison - posted on 10/29/2010

2,753

20

466

Ashley, I see that you are a mother of three. I would try to shower your son with positive attention before he starts acting out. If you can get some 1:1 time with him, that could have a huge impact.

Also, I noticed that when my second was born, I expected the oldest to comply "because I needed her to be a big girl". I thought this was an unfair expectation to put on her. So I accepted that she did not choose to be a big sister, and I need to continue to give her help and attention instead of just expecting her to comply. I don't know if that has anything to do with your situation.

Jeanetta - posted on 10/22/2010

7

15

0

The good news is that your son is not a bad child. I say this because you stated that he listens well at school. The bad news is that your parenting style is the problem. Please understand lots of good parents have experienced this same issue.
I am guilty of punishing my daughter with a time-out or taking something away and then reversing my decision. This is a terrible habit to practice with children. The reason is because they are little sponges right now and they are learning to behave from their environment. Just like when you son goes to school and his behavior may not be pleasing to his teacher, his teacher disciplines him and follows through with the discipline. Thus your son has learned the punishment from unacceptable behavior at school. He has only learned this from the consistency his teacher shows him.
Now, we spend way more time with our children than their teachers/daycare givers do. So it is hard to stay consistent, but if you want to end this conflict you have with your son, you have to learn to be consistent with discipline all the time. It will not always be easy, and he will not always respond the way he should, but I bet you over time you will see a much better attitude.
This worked for me, good luck!

Ashley - posted on 10/16/2010

239

0

20

Yes - we heve talked about all of that. And also we do think that several of his behaviors (including his picky eating) relate to what his childhood has been like as a whole up until now. He has had a lot of "uncontrol" in his life - different people helping take care of him, me not being able to do things we want. He also does get frustrated in general with the thigns we can and can't do. We are seeking help with specialists at his preschool which is in the school district, and may in the end seek help from some type of counselor.

Andrea - posted on 10/16/2010

26

29

4

Sorry to hear about your Cancer, that is not fun for anyone. I am sure that makes things much more difficult. Just so you know my comment on reward charts is in general, not case specific as there are exceptions to every rule. In general the use of these charts, and "character ed." programs, otherwise known as "catch 'em doing good" programs are teaching our children that the only reason to be good and to do good is if we are rewarded in the end, AND that it only matters that we have done something good if someone catches us doing so, if no one see and we don't get rewarded why bother? I just don't think that is a good lesson for children. Again, I think that your case may be an exception.
Out of curiosity have you tried talking to him about why you can't keep up some days, or why he can't have as much attention some days as others? Is it possible that his meltdowns could be related to the inconsistency in attention? (not that that is something you can control, but perhaps if he understood a little better?)

Ashley - posted on 10/16/2010

239

0

20

Andrea - I agree, and we have many discussions on what is good behaviour - why we act the way we do, being a good friend, not hurting others, listening to mama and papa, why we don't run away in a store, why we hold hands in a parking lot, why we need to do what our teachers ask us to do, (at least at this age), why it is important to tell Mama if someone hurts us, why we don't hit, why we don't throw rocks, why we......

We have all of those discussions on a daily basis. At the same time, I have cancer. I was diagnosed with cancer when my son was 5 days old. I had 4 surgeries in 3 years and have had several other treatments. I have 3 permanent disabilities from these surgeries. I am sometimes not able to run after him, not able to pick him up and carry him out of the store when he is on the floor kicking and screaming and throwing a fit - so I had to find something that works and works fast - and brings him down fast. And for me that has been these reward charts or the computer card. YES - it is important to tell your child WHY we do something - WHAT right and wrong is. It is also important to survive from day to day as a mother. I do not mean this in a snarky way. I am just saying - every child is different, every situation is different. My child has run away from me in public - he throws fits you can't believe. He is just a very energetic and persistent person. I'm sure that will take him far one day. But for today, I have to get through the day some days when I have no energy and have no help.

Andrea - posted on 10/15/2010

26

29

4

Just to play devil's advocate here; I am a teacher, a mother of a very strong willed four year old and a huge Barbara Coloroso follower. I understand why many parents like the whole idea of a reward chart, but have you ever stopped to consider what the deeper message of these charts are?
We are telling our children that the only reason to do some thing "good" or "right" is if there is something in it for themselves. Children need to learn to do good because it alone is the right thing to do, not because if they do it they will get a reward, a check mark, a sticker etc.

Not trying to rock the boat, but just thought I would bring a new perspective on this one

Ashley - posted on 10/15/2010

239

0

20

I basically posted this exact thing on another post, but it has helped me so much, I'm just gonna post it again.
We went through this with my son and I found two things that worked. 1. a reward chart. You can make it personal for her - You could do something like fairies or flowers or whatever she is into - anything she could get excited about. For my son I did a pirate map - just printed one off from a website (supernanny.com) and then instead of using stickers or something I made pockets and used "pirate coins" I found at a party store - he had to earn like 10 and then he got a prize. He earned all 10 the first few days, just to let him understand it, then I started making it real. Like if he threw a fit, I took a coin away. If he listened and did what I said, he got to put a coin on the map. We didn't argue, I didn't say anything except "you lost a coin for not listening." and that was it.
After a while, he stopped responding to that.
NOW we use something else.
He LOVES to play computer. He loves it so much it has become a very effective bargaining chip. He is limited to 20 minutes a day, and only after preschool. BUT, that 20 minutes a day means so much to him (and I don't see it as necessary or really something he should have every day so I don't mind him losing it - I wouldn't do it with say books or music or something that you think she needs in her life every day) so I made a simple sign and laminated it - I printed off a simple clip art of a computer twice and on one I drew a red "NO" sign - like a circle with a line through it - and laminated them back to back so it's just one sign - one side yes computer and one side no computer. We hung it on the wall.
If he starts acting up or doesn't listen or whatever, I say "I will turn over your computer card if you don't listen." and that's all it takes. He seems to do really well with visual cues. And they even started using them at school for him and it has worked too. (he was throwing fits some there) But seriously - just the treat of taking away one of his beloved activities is enough to instantly snap him out of it. But I don't back down either - if it's turned over to NO - he doesn't play that day. And in the morning I turn it back over to YES. He starts fresh every day. He even checks it before asking if he can play.
It's great.
Well, maybe not great that my son is already such a "geek" that his punishment is turning "off" the computer - LOL

Lisa - posted on 10/15/2010

12

3

1

My son does that too. I think they test boundries at that age. Mine seems torn. He wants to be independent, yet he doesn't want to grow up. I will punish my child for disrespecting me or any other adult in the same ways as everyone else, and after the punishment is over and he is on his way to forgetting about it, I will ask him if he is in a better mood. He will say yes and we will talk about what happened calmly. I think it is due to the talks that he now will come to me on his own, apologize, and tell me he is in a better mood and can talk now.

Lindsey - posted on 10/12/2010

10

12

0

My son does the same thing but he only does it in phases and sometimes it is when his dad leaves for business since he travels alot and I think sometimes he thinks I am the reason since I take him to the airport. I also notice these phases when he is upset so I will ask him when I can't find the obvious answer. I ask him if he is mad or sad or mad at me and usually he will end up telling me about a dream that he had or that he is sad and misses daddy. Me and my husband are both disciplinary so it has nothing to do with not punishing them sometimes. Try talking to him and see if that works. You would be surprised at how much a 4 year old can tell you about what he's feeling but sometimes you have to do some reading between the lines and translating. I also use a chart and check mark system. He has chores to do like help mommy with babies, put away toys, take bath, etc. and when he isn't listening then he gets a check mark but if he does well that week then on Sunday we do whatever he wants whether it is go to the park or go buy a transformer and he gets some quarters for his piggy bank. If he gets 5 or more check marks then he doesn't get any of those and it does work. When I threaten check mark he will do anything to not get one. I also turned it into learning and when he does a chore instead of marking it off, he has the choice of sticker or writing a letter to his name and he already has learned how to write his name because of the chart.

Deborah - posted on 10/12/2010

11

6

0

i use the naughty spot, its portable! look for somewhere away from people and things he/she can fiddle with. At home i use the hallway and close the doors(you shouldn't use their bedroom as a punishment room it can affect them sleeping in there. When we go some where i tell him what i expect from him and remind him what is naughty and what i will put him on the naughty spot for. He can go straight on for things he knows are naughty, if he does something naughty you should give him a calm warning say "this is your warning if you continue to do that i will put you on the naughty spot" only give one warning and ensure they heard you, if they continue they must go on the naughty spot,they will try to say sorry and avoid going on but do not give in! .When you put them on you have to be strong because they will keep getting off, you need to stay calm(very important) and just keep sitting him back on, he should sit there for 4minutes, then go down to his level and ask him why he is on the naughty spot,then get him to say sorry, then you should have a kiss and cuddle and make up. my little boy can be very naughty and very active and this works for us! just recently we have been on holiday so he has been eating in restaurants etc this method has really worked! also lots of praise when he is well behaved. The secret is to stay calm throughout hope this helps :-)

Debbie - posted on 10/11/2010

7

2

0

hi there i had the same problem with my 4yr old so we made him a listening chart. it covered the whole week and when he listened he got lots of praise and a sticker. when he got two days of stickers he got a treat and so on. it worked wonders and now we dnt have to use the chart. it worth a try.
cheer
debbie

Rachael - posted on 10/10/2010

2

28

1

My advice would be to make sure u are being consistant, never let him get away with anything! It will be very hard especialy at first but "usaly" when a child is misbehaving for jus the mother.. its because of inconsistancy. He knows that he can get away with it from you, but not others. Hope this helps this is jus my ges. Sry bout the spelling too.. i kno mine is horrible.. :/ lol

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms