How do I change his attitude?

[deleted account] ( 2 moms have responded )

I'm having a serious problem with my 4 year old. He has such a bad attitude all the time. Problems include:

Never wants to try new things (including food, meeting friends, activites, etc.)
Wakes up whining and arguing about everything from going potty ("I don't have to go" when he does) to getting dressed to cleaning up to eating breakfast/lunch/dinner.
Always tells me he can't, despite us telling him he can, he just needs to try, giving him assistance, trying to teach him, etc.
Demanding things ("Get me this" instead of "Can I please have this")

I have tried so many approaches and I swear up and down that I don't let him walk all over me. I like to think I'm a reasonable parent but some people even tell me I'm strict. I don't EVER get him anything he wants without a Please and Thank You. When he talks back he gets reprimanded, I don't make idle threats, he gets grounded (loses toys for a set period of time), he gets time out, I even went so far as to take away all of his toys this weekend because he refused to clean them up. I told him I would take them away if he didn't clean up and he said to me "It's ok, Mommy. I don't like my toys. You can take them away." So I did. No matter how much I follow through with his punishments, he doesn't change. And now it has resorted to screaming matches. I can't take it anymore, he's making both of our lives miserable.

Please help!!! :(

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Jennifer - posted on 11/21/2011

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I can so sympathize. This sounds exactly like my son from about 3 1/2 to 4. I am not a lenient Mom at all and thought that was good. We began working with a "Supernanny" from a Community group and she actually said I needed a whole lot more positive enforcement in our household. You need to firm, but praise a whole, whole lot more than we were doing. I'll try to convey the "tool" that worked the best for us.

The "Giving of Instructions"
First you have to get them to look you in the eye.
Give them your instruction -- do not ask
They must say "yes"
Then they go do it
Check in with you to tell you it has been done.
You praise the heck out of them once it's been done properly
The "supernanny" had us practice the procedure with fun things like running in a circle first to make sure he got the drill. Then she said to follow this procedure for absolutely EVERYTHING for a while. He got a little sticker for everytime he got it and then he could trade it in at the end of the day for a bedtime snack or extra story. He began to get it and life got a whole lot happier for us. There were a lot of other things we had to work on, but that one made the biggest difference. Things weren't as much of a fight anymore.

Eva - posted on 11/02/2011

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I can understand for my son (same age) in many respects is just like yours (except trying new activicies and meeting kids). Rewards do not work on mine either. Perhaps it is the stage. I am sorry I cannot give you advise I am in trouble with him myself. Now he started preschool and I cannot do his homework with him because he refuses to do things he is asked to do and again no rewards (he will say he doesn;'t care ) or punishments (no tv, no computer time, no friends visitation,,etc) work... This has to be stopped and their stubborness broken otherwise they will never be able to follow school work. I am like you desperate and miserable because of this attitude. Hugs

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