Discipline for a 4 year old...

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  1. Hello All,

    I have another issue with my 4 year old - my DH and I don't know what else to do to discipline him when he misbehaves. Taking away his toys/TV, offering more toys/TV, time-outs, raising our voices, etc don't seem to phase him anymore. And lately, he's started talking back at us, and we just don't know how to teach him that he shouldn't be talking back to us, because he doesn't seem to understand, no matter how many times we explain it to him. He was always a very good baby and toddler...never started to misbehave until he turned 3.5-4 years (around the time he started going to preschool, come to think of it). He's been doing the "opposite" thing for the past several months too...coinciding with the arrival of his little sister. We ask him to be quiet, he gets louder...etc. I know that he could be doing this for attention because of the Baby, but how do we deal with this? It's not that we don't pay attention to him - and we try our best to be patient with him, but it seems he wants to push us until we get mad at him. Why would any child prefer negative attention when he's already getting positive attention?

    He's really good with his sister though...he's not jealous of her, and doesn't make our divided attention to her her problem. But he's definitely making it OUR problem. My DH and I try to spend time with him, playing, talking, etc. But he still acts out. What can we do? Any suggestions on discipline tactics? :confused1::hysteric:
  2. I think consistency is the key...I don't have kids of my own, but I was a nanny for several years.
    Lay down the law....If you say "Please speak quietly or you will have to go into time out" make sure you give him one chance and then you follow thru and put him in time out.
    Also, postive reinforcement is good. When he does something you like say "I like how you waited until we were outside to use your loud voice! Good job!" He may just be "testing limits" since his baby sister's arrival! Just be firm and consistent and maybe he will see that nothing changes and stop the bad behavior.
  3. My son started acting out when my daughter was born and he was always a great baby and toddler, he had a little mental breakdown at first and then things got better but he is definitely not the same. They get older and smarter and find more ways to irritate us. I agree with the above poster about consistency. It is hard to be consistent when you have a new baby. Also I take the approach of addressing issues when the behavior has ended. I will randomly tell him that I want to talk to him and that I didn't appreciate his behavior and could he explain to me why he was acting that way. Sometimes he uses words like "you made me upset when..." etc. That way you are letting them know that you are listening to their concerns. Sometimes they just need validation like anyone else. Time-outs work when it comes to more serious issues like safety issues or doing something to hurt his baby sister. He cries but will stand in the time out area and then we talk about it after. Don't address him while he is in time out. It definitely has worked with my 3 year old. We also reward for great behavior, verball rewards like "It really made me happy when you did xyz" or "I really like the way that you are behaving today, it makes me proud of you" I am sure you do all of these things, it is just frustrating especially with a new baby to take care of, sleep deprivation etc. good luck !
  4. my normally compliant little girl also got in more trouble when my twins were born.
    Looking back, I wish I had made it a bigger priority to spend even more one on one time w/ her than we did.
    We actually were able to spend a lot of alone time w/ her, but I think she needed more.
    I just bought a book called 1-2-3 Miracle! that a bunch of fellow twin parent highly recommend, I'm only on Chapter 3 but it may be something you want to pick up.
  5. Thanks Korilynn & Mrs. MC! You know, before our son was born, DH and I swore we would always reason with our children, talk to our children, and above all else, treat them like people too - not "babies" or "toddlers"...I think when life just happens around us, it's hard to remember that - and we forget that they are people too...who need to vent frustrations, need validation - like Mrs. MC said. That makes a lot of sense - and I feel horrible that I'd forgotten that :Push: - esp. since my little boy is such a mature 4 year old (he's very "adult"). Thank you for reminding me of that, Ladies! :yes: Your advice has been invaluble!
  6. Thank you, Swanky Mama Of Three! We do try to spend more alone time with him - but it's like you said - perhaps it's just not enough. I'll try to do that more often and see what happens. Meanwhile, thanks for the book ref. I'll definitely pick it up. Thanks again! :yes:
  7. You are definitely welcome ! I know what you mean, we are usually in "survival mode" around here so it is hard even getting basic needs met with a toddler and an infant dominating our lives. Writing about these issues and reading your post and other people's posts have been helpful for me too ! Another thing that has helped when your infant is a little more manageable and you are feeling better from the birth is to set aside a date night or afternoon with your son. If your husband can stay home with the baby for a few hours every few weeks or so and just take him to a play area like Bonkers or Mcdonalds (I know but kids love this place) or to a movie I think this may help too. This has helped my son because it was just him for so long !
  8. That's a really good idea, Mrs. MC! I really do feel guilty for not giving my son enough time...and realizing it now is almost too little, too late, as my maternity leave is almost over (I go back to work full time on May 5th) :sad:. Hopefully, we can get in some extra special time together before I have to go back to work. Thanks again for all the support and advice! I really appreciated it! :flowers:
  9. Your welcome, Nothing to be guilty about. You are doing things the way they need to be done right now in the best interest of your family, you will still find time I am sure on the weekends or here and there. Sometimes when my daughter is sleeping I make muffins with my son. I felt so guilty, my daughter was colicky and cried for the first few months of her life and she really rules the house so he went from being the center of our universe to that role being taken by someone else in his eyes. We do the best that we can for our kids and things get easier that is for sure. Soon they will be playing together sooner than you think and you will see how happy he is to have a little built in playmate. Anyway about the muffins we make the muffin mix together then I have him put the liner cups in the holes and then fill them with him. It is just little things here and there. I also made a "special box" for him. It is really filled with all of the toys I had to weed out of his collection that had small parts that the baby could choke on but it is something only he can play with and we keep it on top of the fridge and he asks to take it down and he plays with it in the kitchen by himself. Good luck !
  10. Yes, I too bought 1-2-3 Magic! for our daughter around the same age and she is now 6 and we still "count her down" consistency with discipline of any method is KEY. Be rest assured that this is probably a phase he will grow out of. Especially if he was a fairly compliant toddler.
  11. well, i am a mom of 2 and a preschool teacher and i have seen plenty of this! like the others have said, give lots of positive attention, positive reinforcement~~make a big deal out of his GOOD behavior and lots of love!
    is he a younger 4? at some point if what you are doing isn't working, i would suggest time-outs. sort of like super nanny. she has the misbehaving child sit on the "naughty mat" or spot or stair. and explain WHY they are sitting out. when time out is over ask him WHY he thinks he was in TO and talk to him about why his behavior was unacceptable and how to correct it.
    good luck!
  12. Thanks for the advice, posk51 & nolarice! My son is a mature 4 year old - he goes to Montessori preschool 5 days a week, 7 hours a day - and his teachers say, academically, he's achieving the level of most 6 year olds. He understands reason and we rarely need to use TOs - even when we do, he's so resourceful, that he actually finds a way to entertain himself in TO, so that TOs really aren't a punishment to him! My DH likes to say he's a little too smart for his own good. :sad: When asked why he misbehaved, his favourite answer is "I don't know". So what do you say to that?
  13. I'm also caring (full time) for a 4 year old who will be 5 in two weeks and I have to say that consistency is really key. I'm pretty tough with her, and I don't consider myself a pushover. She knows my rules, how to be have, etc and she knows exactly what her punishment will be if she crosses that line.

    The forms out punishment we use are:
    - time outs
    - no riding the bike
    - toys taken away
    - no going to the playground

    After the time out, we usually talk about what happened and then go on with our normal business. She usually always says that she is sorry (by herself, I don't force her to) and then gives me a hug afterwards.
  14. Oh lord--that sounds like my new 3 year old. Is your son perhaps tired or bored or hungry when he acting out? Have you tried a polite ignore then re-direct. It's like one smooth move...

  15. I guess the point is to ignore some of that negative behavior.