Thursday, October 02, 2008

Terrible 4s

Mayhem has just been a real pip lately. Whiney, complaining, nothing on offer is what he wants to do, he hates things he was excited about 5 minutes earlier & the least little thing sets him off.  I'm sure it's just a phase but it's a really irritating phase & I am not sure how to respond to it.

We ignore it, we coddle it, we punish it, we reason with it as the mood strikes us. We are consistent with regularly occurring events like the bedtime delaying tactics and check out line demand for candy.  We're consistent about not giving in to the demand itself. But we're not so consistent at our response to the surrounding drama.

Tuesday's drama about claiming to be sad because we were leaving the park but refusing to actually play in the park and instead whining about wanting a gummy lizard was initially ignored but as the noise level increased was punished with a time out until he calmed down. This took a great deal of time because he was making himself cry and then insisting that only a gummy lizard could make him calm down. I ignored him. It went on for almost half an hour, then it was time to leave & he wailed for a bit about not getting to go swimming & how he WANTED to swim & only swimming would make him calm down. We put a movie on in the car & ignored him. He stopped after a few minutes.

Yesterday's drama about not wanting to eat dinner, even though not 5 minutes earlier he was excited about the meatloaf. He wailed about not wanting to go to his room until he calmed down, got him sent to his room, where he made himself cry and wail for the entire meal. You can tell from the tone of his cries when he is actually done crying but feels the need to continue for effect because he hasn't had his way yet. We ignored it for the entire meal but since it had been 20 minutes I then went back there & sat with him, talking to him, getting him to calm & then suggesting he just eat a bite of dinner & then he can go play. "NNOOOO!!!!!  WANT DESSERT!!!" Well, then you have to eat all 8 pieces of meatloaf "NNNOOOO!!!! THAT WILL TAKE FOR EVER!!!" followed by more forced crying and sobbing claims that getting dessert after eating one bite of meatloaf is the only thing that will make him stop crying. Not going to happen. This went on for 10 minutes. Eventually, after 2 false starts down the hall he went back to the table, ate all his meatloaf and had a saltine (they pick their desserts, right now saltines are dessert to them).

I'm assuming this is a new attempt in his on going struggle to get his way, but I can tell he doesn't really know what his 'way' is sometimes. Yesterday's dinner drama actually started with being asked if he wanted mustard, moved on to hating dinner, wanting to watch tv, and then wanting dessert, though initially he was just not happy about his mustard choices. He was trying it on. Seeing what he could get out of it. He is trying to figure out how to manipulate me, he has very clear "You have to do this to make me stop" demands & they change over the course of the tantrum as I refuse to give in. I hope he gets it through his head that this method doesn't work soon because my patience with the forced cries & sobs is wearing thin.

11 comments:

Nikki said...

Mine is almost 5 and doing this. Why are they so stinking stubborn?? The 2's were a breeze compared to this. :(

AndreAnna said...

Super. So what you're saying is that after I get through these 2s without ramming bamboo shoots under my fingernails, I have more to look forward to?

Sigh.

good luck and let me know if you find something that works.

Jay @halftime lessons said...

Ahhh, 4 year olds. Or as I like to call them, "pins in my eyeballs."

Kristen said...

Oh, so glad I am not the only one who'll need therapy before they hit their teens!

Jennifer said...

My 5yo still does this. Drives me nuts. Even though it's all developmental, it makes you want to pull your hair out!

Tracy said...

Oh I so feel your pain. This is a daily occurrence at our house too and L.J. not quite 3-1/2. Just wanted you to know you're not the only one. Some days I ignore him, other days I can't take it and he gets a time out, and some days I just want to whine too.

Chels said...

Hope this is just a phase and passes soon! : )

Monique said...

Wow, my DD's only 3.5 yrs old... so not looking forward to the terrible 4 stage now! Just stay strong and know that you're setting a great example for the rest of us to follow! Hope you have a great day!

Kresta said...

Wow - I'm exhausted just reading that. Good for you for not giving in though. He'll get it soon enough. :)

Kelly said...

stay strong, mom. stay strong!

Jenni Jiggety said...

I am dealing with the terrible 7s right now.