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my 4 year old...

ok so my 4 year old son has always been a really good boy, he would always do as he was told etc etc but lately whenever i ask him to do something all he says is "no". That's it, just NO. I hate it, I find it really rude and it REALLY gets on my nerves but I don't know how to handle it with him.
Example, at his pre-school, when picking the kids up all the parents stand outside and the kids sit in hallway until the teacher calls their name to say that their mum is there and they can come out. Today, my younger son was in the buggy shouting my older one's name and because ollie heard him from inside he came running out. Now normally when a child does this the teacher sends them back in until she calls them but she was in a conversation with another mum so i said "Ollie you need to go and sit down until Anna calls you" and, of course, he said "No". I tried to persuade him to go back in but he wouldn't, so Anna said "I'll let you off if you say goodbye to me really nicely" but he wouldn't even do that!! I was so embarressed and by this time he was embarressed too because everyone was looking at him waiting for him to either go in or say goodbye!! He just started hiding behind the buggy so I knelt down to talk to him quietly and I asked him to apologise to his teacher for not waiting but he wouldn't do it! I think that at this point it was because he was too embarressed rather than wanting to disobey me. I managed to get him to say goodbye to her eventually but I just felt like I had no control over him whatsoever and I really didn't know what to do in that situation!!
Bit of a long rant, sorry but any advice would be really appreciated! Thanks


  • hi mumof2 my 4 year old daughter is doing the same for about 1 month now. she also totaly ignores me and oh some times and it is driving me nuts. i ve tryed everything. dont really know what to do and im so scared that she will get really hurt one day coz she is not doing what i ask her or ignoring me. sorry i cant offer any advice. just thought that maybe togther we can come up with a plan to sort this out x.
  • i think its just testing the boundaries - a lot of the children did this at the pre-school i worked at but tbh i think its more with their parents! my 3 year old does this now so dread to think what he'll be like when he's 4!
    I have to say it infuriates me when he is deliberately disobedient - he will always say the opposite to me or do the opposite of wht i ask him. we have had a lot of battles!
    i've tried been really strict, i've tried being really cross, I've tried being really persistent and at the moment the thing that works best for me is to just try and change tact completely. If it is something that is completely uninportant i let it go rather than create a battle. creating an issue out of something just seems to be like a red rag to a bull with my son. if its important i persist but try and remain calm and patient. i try and allow extra times for things that i know are going to cause a problem. so i know when i ask zach to get dressed he will say no so i make sure he's ready to go ahead of time so it doesn't cause a battle.
    if i'm helping him get dressed and he says no i walk away and say that i'm not going to help you - you will have to get dressed yourself. this then drives him mad becuase he's doing it for attention. he then normally begs me to help him and i say no i'm doing such a such you'll have to wait. he then co-operates when i do go and get him dressed. i really have no idea whether his behaviour will get worse because i'm ignoring certain aspects of it but i just found myself getting cross all the time and then he'd get upset so we were both really miserable. now i'm a lot more patient with the important things and it is getting better. also if he's doing something really naughty and i just can't get him to stop and he just says no then i turn away and say i don't want to see you being naughty. he then knows he's not getting any attention and stops immedialtely. i reward him by giving him positive attention then and say well done for stopping or whtever. if i ask him to do something and he doesn't do it and i know i won't be able to enforce it then i let it go but say something like i'm really disappointed that you didn't do as i asked. then i forget about it and move on. that way my disaproval has been voiced and hopefully the behaviour won't be repeated. i also say things like i'm really proud of you for behaving well or i'm really pleased that you did as you asked. i feel like he is really getting to the stage of understanding comments like this and wants to meet approval all the time.
    Ollie may not have done as you asked him but as you say he realised he'd done wrong and he probably won't do it again!
  • hi just wanted to add that i have a 5 yr old girl and she is exactly the same...when it suits her, the answer to anything i say or ask of her is "no". if i then ask again in a firm voice, she will just inform me that she doesn't like my tone and is not listening anyway or she turns on the tears and cries that i'm making her feel sad. i have been having this problem with her on and off for a couple of years and it got to the stage where it was causing massive rifts between me and hubby, who don't always see eye to eye on how to deal with it, and we were both behaving negatively towards our daughter and felt like we were constantly walking on eggshells in our own home. i took advice from my mum who has raised 3 kids and has degree in child development (she is my lifesaver!!!) and like julesy, i learned to pick my battles with her. she will go under the dining table and refuse to come out at bedtime, and now instead of pleading with her/shouting/getting upset, i simply say "ok you sleep there then, see u in the morning" and every time she comes out after a couple of minutes! i have found that ignoring her completely works quite well, whether she cries or shouts or throws things (she also has a temper problem currently!) i try to completely ignore it. if she won't do as shes asked, she misses out. my hubby however is from the "shout as loud as u can" school of parenting and will physically put her in her bedroom if shes naughty and i personally feel that my approach is far more successful and when ignored, madison will generally forget what it was that she was protesting about fairly quickly!!!
    the trials of kids - all good fun tee hee!!!
  • omg - i was hoping zach was going to grow out of this soon!!! i love that she tells you she doesn't like your tone - thats hilarious - well not for you obviously! i have thought that perhaps i should think of using the naughty step theory but i think you'd need to be really consistent in the use of it. my sons only just 3 now so he seemed to young for it before. does anyone use it and find it effective?
  • thanks for all your replies. ollie's been really good the past couple of days.
    i've tried the whole naughty step thing before (or naughty chair as we don't have stairs) but he seemed to be constantly on it!! how do you guys pick your battles? my mum always goes on about how i have to be consistent and i shouldn't let anything go but when i have done that i've felt like i'm constantly having a go at him!
    i've always given him positive attention, always thank him for helping me and praise him when he says please, thank you etc.
    hopefully it's just a phase they are all going through!
    just to add, i've used the naughty chair on my lo (he's 2 next week) because he hits ollie and it really works with him!! he cries the whole time but when it's over he says sorry to me and ollie and gives us kisses and now the hitting is getting much less frequent!
  • morning ladies,

    i have tried naughty stairs/chairs/corners in the past and it did work when she was younger (she was around 2 or 3 yo when we first did that) but now she is older, she just doesn't stay where i put her and she's too heavy for me to lift back onto the stairs like i used to (doesn't help that i am due second baby in 10 days and am like an elephant lol).

    julesy - i would say it is def worth trying with zach, the key is to give 3 warnings first, say "if you cannot do as i have asked, you will need to sit on the naughty step" then again, and if he still doesn't do as he has been told or repeats his behaviour, sit him on step, say "you need to sit here until i come and speak to you again, please think about why you are here" and then leave the room for 3 minutes. when you go back, have a really calm conversation about why he needed to be on naughty step and ask him to apologise, then have a cuddle and tell him how happy you are when he is a good boy. this approach worked really well when madison was younger but she has now learned that i physically can't make her do anything and just runs away so i have had to find other ways of dealing with it!
    it is really important to be totally consistent - when we were out of the house, i would find the nearest step or chair to use as a naughty step, used to get some funny looks from people in tesco!!! i would say that zach is at a really good age to start this approach and as long as you give warnings and then always follow it up, he will quickly learn that you mean business!!!

    mumof2 - sounds like you have it sorted with positive attention and the good old naughty chair!!! it is quite hard i find to pick the battles but here is an example of how i do it with my daughter:
    everytime we go out or its nearly bedtime, i give her several warnings of how long she has ie "10 more minutes, then we have to go home" then "5 more minutes" etc. she always gets cross and says "but i want 20 more minutes!". my hubby will say "no, 10 more minutes and if your naughty you will go straight to bed when we get home". this leads to them arguing, her screaming and having tantrums and all of us getting stressed. I will say "ok 20 more minutes" - she has no idea how long 20 or 10 minutes actually is so why cause fights? i then countdown from 20 for her (speeding it all up considerably) and i have found that this really works and she feels like she has been given extra time (which she hasn't at all) and she is prepared to go.
    i find that this works for all sorts of things - every night she goes in her bed and then asks if she can get into our bed when we go to bed. again my hubby says no, she shouts and so on. i say "if you go straight to sleep, i will come and fetch you into our bed when we are ready" she then goes to sleep and of course i don't bring her into our bed. every morning, she asks why i didn't get her and i just say "i'm sorry i was so sleepy i forgot, if you go to straight to sleep tonight, i will remember and you can come into our bed" madison has actually never slept in our bed!!!
    sorry i am totally rambling on but the point is that my hubby goes on at her about everything and is just as stubborn as her so they end up arguing about silly things. i tend to think that there are better ways to get what we all want that don't involve tantrums if you are just that little bit cleverer than them! i also use compromise ("you can bring that toy out with us but you will need to leave it in the car"), we have written down all the rules she has at school and we discuss how they apply at home as well ("can you tell me what the rules say about speaking nicely to people?") and if she is really naughty, i will punish her with the things i know she really cares about (no pudding after dinner or no TV etc) and ensure that no matter how much she shouts and screams, i follow up and do what i have said.

    we also use distraction techniques ie if she starts to get angry, we count to ten and she chooses what we count (usually its kittens!) and i find that by the time we have counted 10 kittens together, she has forgotten what she was going to throw a tantrum about in the firstplace!

    we have a way to go and at times i am at my wits end with her, especially as she breaks my things, gets very aggressive and angry, and has even run out the front door and down the road declaring that she was moving out (since when did 5 yr olds become teenagers!!!) but i find that whatever i decide to do, if i do it with conviction and put my foot down, it does eventually work.

    I find like you julesy that if i know that there may be trouble and things have to be done (like getting dressed for school etc), i allow extra time so i'm not worrying about being late. I sometimes turn things into a game like i will say "lets see who can get dressed the quickest!" or "who can tidy away their things the quickest?". sometimes this works with her, it does depend on what mood she is in.

    just realised that this is a bit of an essay - sorry!!! sounds like we all have similar problems and going through the same trials of being parents!!!!
  • hmmm....mumof2 not sure how to pick battles just try to be more relaxed about somethings than others but then be consistent about those things that you are strict about. so we are pretty slack with zach about his dinner. he has a good breakfast and good lunch but often by dinner he's not particularly hungry and he is too tired. We used to try and make him sit and eat, have major battles he would get uspset and then wouldn't eat anything and we'd all be stressed. now if he says he won't eat it we offer him a sandwich instead. he's happy and we're happy and he's eaten something. we choose not to battle over it because we like to be consisitent in that if we say no you must sit down and you must eat your tea and then he refuses we don't want to back down or relent in the face of tears or tantrums so its easier to just not fight over it at all. However if we are walking in town zach has to hold on to the pushchair and walk with me. that is non negotiable and we insist in him abiding by that rule. that is for his saferty so we pick our fights. i don't know if that helps you but thats the kind of thing i mean when i say we pick our fights. whats absolutley essential at this stage in my sons life and what can be taught at a later stage?
  • Hi, I'm a bit late in responding to this, but just had to give anyone this idea - coz it's worked really well with my 4-year-old. If she's being stubborn, I think it starts with just a careless no, almost a mistake because she tried to get away with it, but then it's her ego and she's too consious to retract, so here's what I do. I play a game with her where in the middle of a tantrum, I suddenly tell her 'oh my God, you're my daughter's naughty friend who looks like her - where have you hidden my daughter?' It confused her for a few seconds the first time, but I jsut went on - 'My daughter would never do this. She's so good, I'm going to look for her.' And, 'She'll be really angry / upset that you were so naughty with her parents.' Then I give her a few seconds and she'll always come running behind me saying it's me, and that was my naughty friend but I told her off! don't know if this is the right way?!? But it has saved us many an awkward moment!

  • thats an ingenious way to snap your child out of an argument and give her the opportunity to end and argument without her having to back down. it's wierd how they are soooo stubborn at this age!
  • Yes, it is - the only catch being that you have to be patient and in a jovial mood to bring yourself to do this in the middle of a tantrum! But well worth it...
  • Hi every1,
    I'm in need of help please, for the past few weeks my 4yr old son has been really naughty and i mean REALLY naughty!! hes been headbutting his dad punching, smacking and answering back really bad but the worst part is hes been like it in school hitting, pushing and even kicking other kids iv been called in so many times i may as well live there, nothing we do makes him stop, we'v tried the naughty step, taking his toys off him, leaving him in his room and loads more, nothing works and its getting me down, with a new baby its the last thing i need, he goes into mad rages sometimes and just attacks! is there any1 who cud give any advice please im at the end of my teather with him. please help xx:\(
  • how old is your baby? my son went through this when his brother was born and to some extent still does. for him i think its a combination of wanting attention and not knowing how to get it but also frustration. he is getting angry and he is confused - his whole world has changed as there's a new baby taking up everyones attention. he doesn't know how to address his issues because he probably doesn't understand them himself.
    with zach we were probably way too lenient and tried not to tell him off too much as this seemed to alienate him more. he would lash out at his dad because before he was his daddy's boy and they were really close.
    could you and your husband take it in turns to give him some one to one attention? i know this is probably tricky for you if you are still breastfeeding (sorry don't know how old your baby is)
    but how about after feeding the baby taking the 4 year old for a walk to the park for half an hour, maybe buy him an icecream while your oh looks after the baby. he gets a bit of one to one attention and this might help him feel more settled and secure and ultimately his behaviour will settle down again. if he has never been like this before then you can hope it is just a phase and lots of love and praise for good behaviour will mean he is less likely to lash out or behave badly.
    does he mean to hurt or does he just lash out without necessarily realising the consequences?
    i'm not sure what to suggest about his behaviour at school as zach wasn't at school but hopefully with the support of the school he will settle again.
    its the summer holidays soon so he will have more time at home with the family and maybe not feel left out. the first year at school and having a new baby in the family must be a huge change for your little boy and he's obviously finding it very traumatic. it is so hard because there were many times when i found myself yelling at my son when really he just was playing up for attention. in the end i started ignoring behaviour when it started getting bad and just tried to distract him. i would offer to read him a story while i breast fed the baby or try and make sure he had juice and a snack before so he would n't start demanding and feeling ignored while i was too busy to deal with it. i also really went OTT with the good praise so if he was doing something naughty and i asked him to stop and he stopped i would say what a good boy you are for stopping when i asked you - so i was focusing on the good rather than the bad.
    on the other hand if he is having disturbed sleep because of the baby that might not be helping or has he been poorly? or is there something at school that has triggered this off?
  • Hi, seems like the classic case of a new baby in the family. Of course your situation seems to be a little harder, but here's the good news - a 4-year-old is not a baby. They are surprisingly smart, and I guess you may have tried this, but I'm going to suggest it anyway - try talking to him. Not about his tantrums and bad behaviour, but about his feelings.

    Ask him what he's happy about and what he's sad about. Spend alone time with him - the ice cream idea sounds good - and just casually chat. Sometimes it could be you referring to the new baby as something you usually would call your 4-year-old, like 'my darling' that is upsetting him.

    I feel that when all esle fails, it's important to get to the bottom of the situation. Figure out where his anger is coming from..

    Hope this helps!
  • hi all my son is he same especially since his baby sister come along, he has to have the last word, or ill ask him to do something and he'll ask why, n say i dont want to, im struggling with his 3 week old sister and trying to bf and now he wants to be a terror,even like it at schol, tred bribery, getting angry and he just smiles or says go on then, its a nightmare!! His stepdad is trying to have more one 2 one time with him and thats not working, he just doest seem bothered about ho much he upsets me x
  • Can you try and get alone time with him? How old is he? Is he old enough to talk a little bit about what he's feeling? That really could help...
  • my son started doing the same thing about a year ago when he was 5 and a half, and it is still going on now. thankfully he listens to his teachers all they do is praise how good a child he is and always dose as he is told, after listening to them i swear they are talking about another child lol x
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