Gransnet forums


Some advice on how to deal with my 4YO behaviour

(28 Posts)
Itsawelshthing Sun 06-Jun-21 20:49:28

I'm awfully ashamed that he has turned out the way he is. I tried my best to give him the best upbringing, I've taught him manners, how to be kind to people, showed him the right and wrong ways but clearly nothing has worked and my parenting is all gone completely wrong.

The biggest change we had was that we moved and he has since gone to a new school but be loves school and doesn't seem to have an issue but he is getting really naughty and stubborn. He has been like this since he was 3 years old and now getting worse. He keeps on hitting and pushing other children as well as myself if I tell him off for doing something he shouldn't, he spits as well and blows raspberries. Every day he is following me around, rather than entertaining himself. I can't let him in the garden because when other children play over the fence he starts being rude, trying to hit them and throw stuff at them. He doesn't go on a smartphone or play any game consoles as I prefer one on one interaction as he does, he watches TV on and off during the day.

I cannot stand his behaviour anymore I am getting more and more depressed and down about it. I've tried reward charts, having a deep chat with him, I've given him treats for being good, I've let him become independent ie pour himself cereal, butter his toast, get his own juice, but absolutely nothing at all is working.

Going out shopping with him is a goddamn nightmare and ruins the entire bloody day, even going to feed the ducks I'm constantly telling him not to go near the water because he can fall in or the ducks can bite but again he doesn't listen at all. He runs around like a maniac, he pulls and touches everything, he doesn't hold my hand when I ask him to, he throws a tantrum when I tell him he cannot have x or y and it is getting embarrassing trying to keep my cool and then I lose my temper when we get in the car which I'm ashamed of.

I am so worried that either he has a behaviour problem or autistic. I will probably have to mention this to my health visitor even though she visited and said he was very well behaved (ha!) and a sweet boy.

Deep down he is loving and a sweet boy but his outbursts, tantrums, hitting children and his parents, not listening and running off is literally getting to me. He pulled down my curtains this morning, he put the bathroom tap on full and flooded the floor, threw sand at the children. I am so tired of dealing with him and night time is awful he is always getting out of bed and doesn't go to sleep at all til at least midnight. sad

I think the fact I am also an introvert means I am probably losing it more because evening times is when I just want to wind down and relax by myself after a long day at work or with him, so I'm just drained.

angelacalvo Thu 12-May-22 14:57:57

Message deleted by Gransnet. Here's a link to our Talk guidelines.

Esspee Mon 07-Jun-21 15:23:50

OP, you must be frantic by now.
Can I reassure you that your child is not necessarily unusual, you are not necessarily poisoning him or being a bad mother.
With my first son between 3 and 4 I remember writing a letter to his paediatrician explaining I was at my wits end and could no longer cope. I didn't mail the letter as I was ashamed my parenting was to blame.
Frankly I can no longer remember just what had driven me to distraction. He was thoroughly disobedient but played OK with others though sometimes fought with his baby brother. By 4 he was at school and probably too tired to act up.
I suggest your son is just testing boundaries. Stay firm, allow him to suffer the result of his poor behaviour, reward cooperation and get him to bed early to give yourself recovery time.
Eventually you will both get through this phase and you too won't remember exactly why you were so distraught.
Best wishes and good luck.

Chestnut Mon 07-Jun-21 11:50:17


Chestnut. I agree with you 100%. Food affects everything, we should really consider what we eat, many foods are actually quite toxic. I wish I had realised this when my children were small. I follow the ketogenic way of eating, it is so good.

See the link I sent. Processed foods actually change the way the brain works and they haven't studied yet how this affects children! We eat so much processed food now. The programme is groundbreaking.

MiniMoon Mon 07-Jun-21 11:47:44

He sounds rather like my grandson when he was 4. Hitting and spitting at his siblings, his parents and me, when I visited. He wouldn't stay in bed either, often not settling to sleep until after midnight. My DDs parenting was called in to question, but she stuck to her guns and eventually he was diagnosed with ADHD and Tourettes. He now has medication for the ADHD, and melatonin to help him get to sleep at a reasonable time.
I hope you manage to get help. It is exhausting having a child with ADHD.

Shropshirelass Mon 07-Jun-21 09:53:02

Chestnut. I agree with you 100%. Food affects everything, we should really consider what we eat, many foods are actually quite toxic. I wish I had realised this when my children were small. I follow the ketogenic way of eating, it is so good.

Shropshirelass Mon 07-Jun-21 09:50:07

Have you looked at what he is eating? Sugars and carbohydrates can cause awful behavioural problems. I would suggest that you watch The Magic Pill on YouTube, it is a real eye opener. My son was a real handful and I wish I had known about this when he was small!! Good luck, it is worth exploring all possibilities, but food is a major player in this. Back to basics.

midgey Mon 07-Jun-21 09:43:08

Could it be that you worry too much? If the ducks bite him he will learn, if he falls in the pond he will learn. Does he need to hold your hand all the time? Could you tell him that he must hold your hand near the road or in dangerous places but otherwise if he can stay where you can can see him he may be free. I was a special needs nursery teacher and I think he is growing up and trying to be independent while naturally to you he is still a very little boy. Choose your battles and loosen the reins a little, and remember to praise the good behaviour!

Patsy70 Mon 07-Jun-21 09:42:00

Professional advice is what is required itsawelshthing. Speak to his teacher and then to your GP. If you are a single parent you need the support of a friend or family member, at least to offload your concern and distress.

sodapop Mon 07-Jun-21 08:49:19

Do get some professional help both for your son and yourself Itsawelshthing
Talk to his teacher and your GP. You are getting very stressed and this is compounding things. In the meantime try to relax a bit more and pick your battles with your son, don't try to change all his behaviours at once. It's been a difficult 18 months for us all don't underestimate the impact this has had on both of you.

freedomfromthepast Mon 07-Jun-21 03:59:24

I am sending hugs to you. I have heard the diet theory and it never worked for my children.

I had a friend, back when my kids were that age, that said the Terrible Twos morphed into the Trying Threes and *-ing fours. (sorry, I didnt want to drop THAT word). It is SO true! I found that it gets better when they are at school all day at age 5/6 here in the US. At the very least because we get a break and are better prepared when they are home.

You have moved and COVID has affected our lives, a child aged 3/4 would absolutely be struggling on top of the normal age appropriate behavior of a 4 year old.

Can you schedule yourself some you time? I used to leave the house 15 minutes early when picking my children up at school so I could sit in my car in silence. It was the only time of the day I didn't have someone who NEEDED something from me. Kids, dogs, husband, relatives.

Please give yourself some grace, you will get there.

Chestnut Sun 06-Jun-21 23:44:13

Can his diet be having an effect on his behaviour? There is another thread about a programme on BBC called 'What are we feeding our kids?' which investigates the effect of processed food on the brain. A must see for all parents. Too much to go into here but I would say to see it all the way through because the discoveries they make towards the end of the programme are groundbreaking. See this thread:

Nannagarra Sun 06-Jun-21 23:13:07

I think he is very keen to have your attention and that you’re both exhausted. Imo he’s picking up on your tension.
Personally I’d avoid the outings for a bit. You need to be calm (not easy atm) so he becomes calm. If I were you I’d try giving him lots of cuddles, smiles and praise while playing with him in the house on a 1:1 basis. Spend all the time you’re with him playing with him, without distractions. Avoid cleaning, ironing and cooking from scratch when he’s awake. Basically I think he feels a bit insecure at the moment. (He follows you round and gets your attention by defying you.) Before bedtime - brought forward - I’d let him have a long bath time then a long story time involving cuddles and kisses with you both under his duvet. Tell him you’ve had a lovely day with him (overlook any negatives), that it’s sleep time for him and that you’re going to sleep soon too. He might sleep better with the duvet firmly tucked round him, rather than it being draped over him. Just a thought.
Expect this to take a few weeks at least then try him in the garden. I hope this works for you.

V3ra Sun 06-Jun-21 22:36:34

You haven't mentioned your son's diet, does he eat well? Does he have sugary foods? Fizzy drinks? I'm asking because you say he's up late at night and I wondered if he has trouble settling.

You have my deepest sympathy, you sound like a lovely mum who's at the end of her tether.
Do you have family support?

I'd suggest a good talk to his teacher as well, tell her exactly the problems you're having, see if she has any suggestions for you and ask how his behaviour is at school.

Urmstongran Sun 06-Jun-21 22:29:04

This sounds like more than just ‘challenging behaviour’. It sounds non-stop and extreme. Poor you, you must be utterly exhausted with no respite either in an evening. I’m assuming your a single parent with no support network because you don’t mention any.

I’d visit your GP and discuss him and your concerns while he is in school. That way you can be frank and not have your boy listening (or messing). Write things down before you go. Get the ball rolling to get some help as soon as you can.

Good luck going forward.

Lucca Sun 06-Jun-21 22:28:22

No idea what “one off “ is doing in there.

Lucca Sun 06-Jun-21 22:23:45

I have to say that’s one-off that behaviour sounds a little like my DGS1 who has ADHD, and problems with impulse control. However you need to consult professionals !

Shelflife Sun 06-Jun-21 22:21:26

Make an appointment with your GP, you most certainly need help and support. Your relationship with your little boy is deteriorating , speak to your GP tell him exactly what is happening. Ask for a referral to a specialist , who will assess your situation. You are having a very tough time and my thoughts are with you. Please take the first step to help yourself and your son . Things will then begin to improve , you will feel stronger when you actively address what is happening. I send you virtual hugs and wish you the very best in your endeavour to sort this distressing problem. Good luck and be brave !

trisher Sun 06-Jun-21 22:20:17

I think you need to realise that spending time playing and interacting with him will pay dividends. I know it's hard but try to play with him, cuddle him, and just enjoy him. If you can do that you may find that he becomes able to go off and play on his own and his behaviour improves. Try to let him choose what you play sometimes, this might involve you dressing. up and playing pirates or chasing each otheror playing a game he enjoys. He desperately wants you to pay him more attention and at the moment he's using bad behaviour to get you to do that. If you can ignore the bad behaviour and build up time with him he will realise there are other ways to get your attention and if he gets that and lots of cuddles he will improve.

EllanVannin Sun 06-Jun-21 22:18:26

I have a great granddaughter who'd displayed such behaviour and my GD, her mother, was told that her mothering skills left a lot to be desired, her getting the blame. The child was 4 at the time.

The child will be 13 next month---nobody listened, and she's been in a private therapeutic residential home for over a year, nearly 150 miles away. It took years to get a diagnosis and even now I would say that her condition is more complex than the professionals realise----but then what would I know, I'm only her GGM ? !

I would take your son to the GP to book an assessment for starters to see what's going on then take it from there.

Luckygirl Sun 06-Jun-21 22:13:22

New house and new school (?) - these could be factors in his difficult behaviour at present.

He really does sound hard work - and I believe lots of 4 year old boys are - I only had girls, but 5 of my GC are boys and they have all presented challenges at one time or another.

I am sorry you are feeling overwhelmed by all this.

Just a thought - I used to get my DDs to behave in the supermarket by bribery! - they liked riding on a mechanical donkey that was outside the supermarket and I used to tell them they could have a go on it if they were good and helpful in the shop. It worked!

I hope that you will find a way through this difficult phase - the fact that you say is a sweet boy underneath all this is such a positive factor.

PaperMonster Sun 06-Jun-21 21:59:09

He’s 4, he’s a work in progress. Your parenting is fine. He’s just pushing those boundaries. If you think he’s attention seeking, don’t ignore him- give him the attention he’s craving. This behaviour could be the reaction to the move and hopefully will settle down.

Harris27 Sun 06-Jun-21 21:57:19

I’m a nursery teacher and deal with this type of behaviour with each batch of children. I think it’s attention seeking but also behavioural. He doesn’t sleep till midnight? I would definitely get this checked out speak to his teacher who can make a referral for early help. Good luck and try and stay positive.

Polarbear2 Sun 06-Jun-21 21:48:42

You say he’s at school - and it sounds like he’s been at school a while if you’ve moved as well - but yet he’s only 4? Does his teacher say he’s badly behaved? Can you talk to her about him? Otherwise I’d speak to my GP and ask for a referral to a specialist. Don’t just let it continue. You’ll end up a mess and so will he.

Itsawelshthing Sun 06-Jun-21 21:20:28

That's what I tell myself just attention seeking and I do my best to completely ignore him but the hitting children is just not on and so embarrassing I don't want any complaints from the neighbours it was me worried about children around here when all this time it's my child I should be worried about! Sometimes I feel that maybe he hasn't got enough toys to play with. He does have toys but not an excessive amount. Its like groundhog day every single day, telling him to stop being nasty to other children. I don't want him turning into a bully.

geekesse Sun 06-Jun-21 21:03:48

Sounds to me like attention seeking behaviour, and it’s quite normal for a four-year old. You aren’t doing anything wrong, just trying too hard. He behaves badly, and that gets you to talk to him, try to distract him etc. So he has succeeded.

Try ignoring him instead. Put him in a safe place - his room, the middle of a field, whatever - and tell him you’ll talk to him when he stops being angry/ aggressive/ rude/ unpleasant. Don’t say anything else, and don’t try to stop him. Then very calmly read a book, or do some knitting or some other activity that looks very dull to him. Whatever he does, and however vile he is, don’t even notice it. If he pesters you, just calmly repeat that you are waiting for him to stop being angry/ aggressive/ rude/ unpleasant.

Then when he does calm down, reward good behaviour with attention and praise.