Monday, May 27, 2013

4 Year Old Bad Behavior


We have been dealing with a lot of behavior problems from Z. He is 4 and I just assumed it was because he is trying to assert his independence and is learning new ways to test us. While this may be true, I took a step back and looked at how he was really acting. 

He keeps coming out of his room after bedtime, throwing crazy tantrums, doing whatever the baby just got told not to do, doing exactly what we tell him not to do, yelling, making a lot of noise constantly, and talking back a lot.

I could just say, oh well, he's 4 and kids will be kids. But I can't do that because he has never been bad like this.   



Honestly, since K was born I have gotten away from rewarding Z for being good as much as I used to and haven't given him the individualized attention that he got before K came along.  I never imagined how hard it would be to get into a balanced schedule with 2 kids and be able to give them both the individual attention they need.  

This is my fault and I feel guilty about it. We have had a lot on our plates this past year including moving from Minnesota to Virginia and then purchasing a home and moving again within 6 months. I also am a full time student and take care of another baby all week. I am not making excuses, I am just recapping in case you are new. 

So I decided to go back to basics and start concentrating on how I was reacting to these behaviors and watch how he reacts to me. 

I stopped getting upset with him most of the time.  Yes it is frustrating when you have been waiting all day to have 5 minutes of quiet and he keeps coming out of his room until 10pm, or starts flailing around screaming for no reason, or decides that since the baby just threw his food and got in trouble that it sounds like a good idea for him to do the same thing!  

These things are frustrating and make you want to throw your own tantrum!  I asked him if I could and he told me that would be silly. 

One thing that I've done when he starts throwing a tantrum is record him and ask him on tape why he is throwing it. He still throws his fit but when I show it to him he doesn't like it. I don't do it to shame him, I just want him to see himself throwing his fit.  Then after he watches (usually he only glances at it then asks me to turn it off) I ask him what would have been a better way to handle the situation.

After doing that a few times I now try to talk to him before he gets into a total fit. I ask him how he can better handle the situation and ask him how I can help.  This has gone a long way in getting him to communicate with me and understand that there are other ways to get better responses.

I have noticed that most of his fits have turned from trying to get attention, to frustration because he can't get something to do what he wants it to.  I can handle frustration fits because I just tell him that if he waits a minute and asks for my help, I can help him or at least direct him.

I have to constantly remind myself that he is only 4 and can't communicate like adults do and doesn't understand his emotions.  Sometimes this is hard because he never stops talking, and he says things and does things that make him seem older than 4.

All in all I have realized I need to take a step back when I get frustrated and concentrate on including him more in the things that I do with the babies.

Anybody else have a similar situation?  How do you handle it?


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