Super defiant four year old.

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Super defiant four year old.

Postby mamapup » 30 Aug 2016, 11:16

Anyone else got one? I've never seen anything like this. Throws things, talks back (if we say anything about behaviour he tends to respond with "well, you are xyz"). He refuses to do things we ask. If he throws something on the floor and we ask him to pick it up he just says no and folds his arms stroppily. We then end up counting to five,.which now doesn't work as often as it did so we move on to threats, which really piss him off (removal of treats etc). I actually don't think this method is working at all though. He just gets really upset and retreats further in to bad behaviour. We are talking TV time or ice lollies. Yesterday it was super hot and we'd been at the lake all day so after some horrendous behaviour we took away his sweet drink and gave him water. I can see that removing something he sees as "his" isn't the answer but we haven't figured out anything else.

We are considering removing favourite toys and getting him to earn them back to try and reinforce the need to be helpful and polite.

We.spend a lot of time explaining why his behaviour isn't appropriate and he understands but can't yet control it.

This morning I spent time, after a terrible outburst, writing a list of all the things I love about him, which helped but I can't ignore little Croc every time his gets like this.

One thing I'm wondering about is a.drop in blood sugar. It does seem that he gets worse just before we all realise he's hungry. Because the rest of us don't react badly to a lack of food, it's only just occurred to me though. We're not yet aware enough to prevent this and once he's.stroppy he won't eat anything because he's "only hungry for sugary shit" that we won't give him.

Help. How.do people deal with such defiance?
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby Treeb » 30 Aug 2016, 12:05

Oh yes, we have a lot of this with L coupled with a strong helping of violence. If we ask him to clean up something he doesn't want to a typical response might be something like "If you make me do that I'll just slash you to bits!" :?

I know with L there is a lot of attention seeking and jealously involved, although that part mostly comes out in roughness towards A. He also seems to struggle with transitions, which is where the general defiance and refusal to do things such as cleaning up happens.

Is there something going on in your life that could be upsetting him? He might not know how to express his feelings about it and so it may be manifesting as this defiance. Maybe he is picking up on MrC being unwell, or your stress around the Mexico trip.

Also I know you don't generally do snacks, but if you suspect it is blood sugar related could you set a regular snack time at a time when you know he won't yet be totally hungry and offer a small healthy snack to see if that helps?

Sorry I don't have more help/advice. We're basically slogging through with a combination of threats and bribes which I know is totally not the way but I've been so exhausted/scatterbrainedd recently I haven't managed to come up with anything better or post again for advice. (Side note to ches - I got your message but combination of teething baby and life happening has meant I just haven't found the time and energy to pull together any kind of coherent response...)
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby sabrina fair » 30 Aug 2016, 12:43

OK, this is being prefaced by an admission that I don't have a defiant child so feel free to ignore anything I say.

My first port of call in these situations is aha parenting website and the book playful parenting. Here's a link to an article from the former which may be relavent. http://www.ahaparenting.com/blog/3_Stra ... isbehavior

Like treeb I'd be looking for underlying issues. As someone who gets seriously hangry and whose toddler is the same, I go nowhere without snacks. My life just wouldn't be worth living otherwise. Also, like she suggests, look for ways he might be worried or stressed about something - it sounds like your life is seriously stressful at the moment; it wouldn't be at all surprising if he's picking up on that and expressing it through defiance. Even without Mr MP's health and Mexico uncertainty, the puppy is in full-time nursery, I seem to recall? I'm certain he loves it and it's what works best for you as a family, but you shouldn't underestimate how tiring it must be for a 4 year old to be on best (or at least better!) behaviour in a busy environment 5 days a week. You're his safe place, so he can let out all his exhausted frustrations when he's with you in a way that's utterly exhausting for you.

Finally, consider what you're asking him to do. Can you pare back all requests to absolute necessities and overlook everything else? So, for example, if tidying up is an issue, than just accept that a tidy house is your priority and not his. You could even accept for the time being that kind words towards you is a bonus rather than a necessity so just overlook him talking back to you as long as he's not hitting anyone! This wouldn't be forever, just until you're able to reset your relationship to a positive one where he sees himself as cooperative rather than defiant.

No idea if any of this is helpful - as I said before, feel free to ignore. Either way have some serious hugs and virtual gin because it sounds horrendous.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby Ali70 » 30 Aug 2016, 12:58

No advice on how to deal with the behaviour I'm afraid, but I suspect you're on to something with the blood sugar thing. My first question when Sproglet starts playing up is "are you hungry?". It often seems to be a blood sugar issue, a few hours after a meal. I find spotting it early/pre-empting it really helps and a quick snack (fruit, bread sticks, crackers) soon sorts things out.

I'm diabetic so its second nature to me to keep an eye out for low blood sugar, and I know I can't control my own behaviour when my blood sugar is low, so while a non-diabetic's blood sugar wouldn't drop as low as mine can, I have a lot of sympathy for Sproglet when I see the signs of it.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby LucyLastic » 30 Aug 2016, 13:21

I don't have a defiant child, I have a lazy one.
'Please pick that up'
'I can't, I'm too tired' or 'I will, I'm just [insert avoidance activity here] first'.

So annoying, but I don't have to look very far to see where she has picked that up.

As for the Puppy, I have no helpful suggestions, because I'm too tired and I just have to go and do something first :-D
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby StJuniper » 30 Aug 2016, 13:53

P isn't generally defiant, but when he does get in a mood, it seems almost impossible to reset him, no matter how patient, positive, and helpful I am. Annoyingly, it seems to happen most often at the grocery store with a cart full of groceries and a baby strapped to my chest.

At home, a consequence I use a lot it sitting with self-control. If P is using words in an inappropriate way or refusing to use an indoor voice or otherwise transgressing vocally, he has to sit in silence while a timer runs for 1 minute. If he refuses or speaks during that time, I add a minute. It's a good consequence because I'll happily escalate it as much as he needs-- I'll gladly take 15 minutes of silence if that's the way he wants to go-- so my follow-through level is 100%. If his infraction is physical-- hitting, throwing, etc-- he has to sit with his hands folded for one minute, or as long as it takes him to do it.

It's a lot harder out and about, though. Would it be helpful to provide him with a snack you're happy to give him unlimited access to for a while, trail mix or something that he could help himself to whenever he needed it? Is it possible he needs more sleep? Whenever Scout Kid has a run of being particularly hideous, a daytime nap resets him.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby ches » 30 Aug 2016, 14:52

Deep in the depths of Faith's Corner are some pretty real descriptions of what we were dealing with 5 years ago and how we dug out of it. Here's a summary I wrote last year of things that help with oppositional/defiant behavior:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=56055&p=631453&hilit=things+I+did+well#p631453

Here's a summary of T, who is 90% delightful and 10% awful (often when hungry): viewtopic.php?f=21&t=55694&p=628507&hilit=things+I+did+well#p628507

Having learned with J, T just gets plonked in his room and told he can come out when he's ready to do what was asked.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby EnigmaFish » 31 Aug 2016, 17:02

Oh my, yes, we are in the same boat. I don't have anything useful pq I'm just as lost as you are, but I'm really interested in everyone's answers. I'll try some things, and report back to you on how it goes, and you do the same?
"Hangry" might be the issue here, too. I've noticed that her voice goes up at least another octave when she's hangry. But what's to be done at bedtime? She often acts up at bedtime, and she's already had her dinner, and saying she's hungry is a tested, classic way to delay going to bed.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby emzit » 01 Sep 2016, 09:43

I can't really remember how defiant he was, but muncher definitely stepped up a level of awful behaviour at 4 - 4 days before his 4th birthday to be precise! He was just so cross all the time. We reset expectations, carried on with ignoring negative behaviour, he spent a lot of time in his room after being violent towards us (mostly me) and over the last few months he's been displaying some pretty nature behaviour. The crossness wound down gradually and he was back to more of his usual self, and now he's really growing up. So probably not much helpful there but I think it is a phase!

I was told about testosterone surges at 4 which make them crazy but apparently that's bs.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby mamapup » 01 Sep 2016, 11:20

Thanks everyone. Well, now we're home he seems to be a bit better. We were in Spain and it was very hot, bedtimes were all over the place and meals were at varying times. I assume it's a phase but it's an awful one to be sure. I really do understand that he's testing boundaries and that he has realised he can control his own life and that he doesn't always have to obey. We've talked about that with him a lot. We also tell him that he' s entitled to question our decisions and ask for discussion but he has to do it in a reasonable voice. We aren't authoritarian in style and can be persuaded to change our minds if we realise we're wrong so he really has no need to behave like a little shit!

StJ, your consequence has already been put in to play both for mouth and hands and it worked reallly well, thanks! We explained to him yesterday that we would try that instead of removing toys so he wasn't surprised when we pulled it out. He had to restart his minute three times for voice and only once for hands! And, MrC approves of it, which is rare as we don't always agree on a consequence.

Treeb, it could be that he's bothered by what's going on but I'm not sure. We do talk about daddy going to the doctor but we're really matter of fact about it and quite open to what we think is an appropriate level so he does ask questions and will sometimes enquire as to how MrC is feeling. Mexico is really exciting him and we've included them in all discussions and he's super keen (post Spain he is clear that hot weather and late bedtimes are way more fun than stupid cold London!). Still, he could be worried. When I asked him though he said he didn't want to leave his special toys for the kids coming to our house but that otherwise he's excited. So we've agreed to lock away his special toys.

SF, he's not at nursery at all at the moment so I don't think it's that things are super busy. He's had a really relaxed summer with me. And, I rarely ask much of him. The requests he was refusing were things like, 'now pick up the paper you just hurled on the floor', or 'please pick up the headphones you just threw on the floor'. See a pattern here? He's actually ok about helping tidy up his toys and my kids aren't those ones who empty toy boxes regularly so that's not an issue.

Thanks Ches, good to read through. Need to reread now I have access to a full screen again.

Emzit, glad to hear it's a phase!

Ali, interesting, we'll try to watch. What sort of snacks? And how on earth to I preempt his hunger without ruining meals?

LL and EF, we need a new support club!

Ok, longest post ever. Thanks all.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby Ali70 » 01 Sep 2016, 14:17

I'm not sure Sproglet's snacks have much impact on her meals. If she has breakfast at 7, she might have a banana at 10, then she eats a good portion at lunch at 12.30. If she didn't have the banana and was hungry nearer to lunch, I'd normally give her a bit of what we were going to eat for lunch anyway eg if we were planning sandwich and salad followed by fruit, I'd give her the fruit. I find she eats and behaves better overall if she eats smaller volumes more frequently rather than a massive meal and then a big gap until the next one.

For snacks to keep up blood sugar we like fruit, bread sticks, small crumpet, savoury pancake, savoury muffin, crackers with cheese.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby Kanga » 01 Sep 2016, 14:20

Wonders if stj 's hands and silence approach would work on a very testing 8 year old?!
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby StJuniper » 01 Sep 2016, 17:04

I'd think so. My mum, who I got it from, used it on us till we were quite old, with longer increments. I think our starting dose was 15 minutes...
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby ches » 02 Sep 2016, 03:24

I am glad that the silence/hands folded consequence is working. It means things aren't too dire! With J in the worst of it, that kind of ultimatum would have led to a battle of wills (he'd learned to escalate confrontation to maintain attention), and he'd have kept going all day until we snapped. So just FYI, it is good for kids who are just testing boundaries or being obnoxious, but for kids who are doing a lot of attention-seeking behavior, it might not work. What we were dealing with was a very anxious kid who needed more than just good boundaries and discipline, he needed reprogramming, and that meant avoiding any potential source of conflict.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby Kitcameron » 02 Sep 2016, 07:57

Could it be a result of less routine over the summer holidays. Sounds like you've had a lovely time on holiday and everything but maybe he's ready for a bit of normality now, I know I am lol. I'm guessing at nursery they work to a strict timetable, in terms if when meals and snacks are anyway, that's something I'm planning on implementing more once my girls go back as CM has started refusing proper meals then complaining she's hungry all the time. It's like we can't fill her cos she won't eat a real meal. My plan is to say breakfast is from getting up time to 8.30 ish as that's when we have to be getting ready for nursery/leaving the house so is a natural cut off point, snack at 10.30, lunch at 12 when we're at home, they have lunch at 11 at nursery but that's way to early for me lol and we'd usually be out then anyway, snack at 3.30 when CM gets up from her nap and tea at 5pm. These times are a bit flexible depending what we're doing but I want CM to get used to the idea she can't snack throughout the day on crap and then refuse meals. Snacks are also having a shake up in terms of healthiness, we may have counted ice cream and chocolate as a snack whilst on holiday lol.
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