My four year old son is rebelling against his parents

[deleted account] ( 2 moms have responded )

He refuses to eat, whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner and we have to make him sit at the table for hours until he eventually does, after screaming/undressing/and making noise. When we ask him why he doesn't eat he simply replies with "because Mummy and Daddy want me to eat", also during his reading and writing time he'll fidget and move and make noise in order to gain our attention. We know he's hungry, and as punishment for not eating his meals properly he doesn't receive snacks, he's not allowed to have any as it is as it makes him hyperactive, and he even refuses to eat his lunch at school, coming home with a full lunch box and explaining that he "didn't want to eat because the dinner lady told him to", he seems to have a problem with authority, and our punishment methods of naughty corner, no tv/play time, don't seem to be working. He also purposefully wets the bed at number amount of times in the night, and again we know it's not a bladder problem as he went several months without doing it, he even at one point pulled his pyjamas off, wet the bed and put them back on, and again when we ask why he behaves like this he explains that it's "because it makes mummy and daddy unhappy". It's stressing me out an obscene amount, especially as I already have an 11 and 8 year old child as well, and a newborn close to it's due date, I know it may possibly be out of jealousy, but I'm scared that his behavior will worsen when the baby is here, when I wont have time to sit there for hours and make him eat, or wake up several times in the night to wash him after he purposefully wets the bed, he even does it when we are scolding him, and I don't think I'll be able to cope when the baby arrives. His grandmother thinks we're starving him as he's losing weight, and ignoring the problem of bed wetting only seems to make him do it more, please help?

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Dove - posted on 11/13/2012




I agree with Kelly entirely.

He sounds like a normal, stubborn 4 year old boy. The more you make this into a power struggle... the harder he will fight. Stop fighting with him and you might start 'winning' more.

Don't punish him for not eating. Food and meals should never be a battleground. That's what eating disorders are made of.... and if he's 4 and losing weight it sounds like he is already on his way to having an eating disorder. Sit with him at meal time for 20-30 minutes. Don't talk about his food at all. Just eat yours and have pleasant conversation with him. When meal time is over.... meal time is over. Take his plate away and let him get down and play.

Personally, for the bed wetting, I'd stick him in pull ups and not say a word about it.

If he's doing these things because he wants to make you unhappy... stop letting him make you unhappy.

Good luck with it all!

[deleted account]

This is a classic power struggle. It sounds to me like he feels he has very little control over his life and is doing these things to prove to you that you cannot control him. Have you asked him why he wants to make you angry? My guess is that it is the only way he knows to assert himself and let you know how he feels--he feels powerless, and it is frustrating, so he is trying to make you feel powerless too so that you will see how frustrated he is. He doesn't have the skills to put those emotions into words yet, and he probably won't for a good while.

My advice is to give him some control.

First off, don't push the eating thing. If he wants to eat, let him. If he says he doesn't want to eat, there is no need to make him sit there for hours on end, just take the food away and inform him that he will have the opportunity to eat again at the next meal, but no snacks. Try your best not to let him see that his refusal to eat bothers you. When you hand him his dinner plate, just say up front, "This is dinner, you don't have to eat it if you don't want to, but I would like it if you ate. If you don't eat, you can eat at breakfast." He'll probably refuse to eat a few nights, but once he feels in control, he will decide to eat on his own.

In other areas of his life, try to give him as much control as possible. If he has control of some things, he will be more open to letting you control the really important things. Let him pick out his own clothes, give him choices for dinner, etc.

As for the bed wetting, as long as you have ruled out a medical issue, it should clear up once he feels more in control of his life.

Sit down with him one on one and have a little talk about control. Don't even bring up the bed wetting, just tell him that you have been thinking about his behavior and that you want to work WITH him on it. Tell him that you think he might feel like he has no choices, or is always being told what to do, and having to do what other people want him to. Try to put what he is feeling into words that he can understand. Tell him that you don't like to be angry, and you don't like to see him angry, so you would like to take steps to make everyone happier. Ask him what are some things you can do to make him feel happier. Listen to his suggestions. Some will be impossible, but listen to them and try to figure out what about that suggestion would make him happy, and try to come up with a substitute instead. Explain why his suggestion is not possible, then explain why yours is similar, and ask him if it would work instead, or if he has another suggestion. He will understand that you are open to listening to him and hearing his input, so he will no longer feel the need to assert himself by peeing in the bed. he won't stop immediately, but it shouldn't take long.

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