Super defiant four year old.

Whatever you like, really, knock yourself out... I'm not the boss of you.

Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby GHJingle » 02 Sep 2016, 16:57

We've had a lot of defiance from A this summer, she's 4 and a quarter. I put it down to lack of her normal routine and surroundings. We've been in the Uk for 9 weeks, DH is only with us a couple of days a week (he's with very sick MIL) and she has 3 adults (my parents and I) telling her what to do and none of her friends around to play with. I feel that her behaviour is a reflection on her feeling unsure of her boundaries in this new environment and so she is testing them to seek reassurance that not everyone in her life has changed. Snacks also help, she has a huge appetite and will eat morning tea at 9.30, usually fruit and a biscuit or little muffin, be hungry again by 11 and be told she has to wait for lunch, eat a huge lunch and need afternoon tea by 3.
A (May 2012), B (Feb 2016)
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby Brigitte » 05 Sep 2016, 03:42

I'm afraid that behaviour just sounds perfectly appropriate for that developmental stage. We've been there too.

Just a little piece of the puzzle, but I have found it helpful to think about the difference between natural consequences, logical consequences, and illogical/punitive consequences. Natural consequences are always best, because they require you to do nothing whatsoever and the lesson is very concrete and easy to learn. (You want to go out in the rain without your coat, you get wet. Parent does nothing. t's just natural consequences.) If natural consequences aren't suitable in a given situation, then try logical consequences. (You are throwing your food, I will put it away now. The consequence is logical in that it relates directly to the issue at hand and does something to solve it. But it's not natural because the parent actually has to *do* something.) Punitive consequences are illogical. (You won't clean up that mess, so no TV for you today. It's illogical because TV has nothing to do with the mess, and it's punitive because you're just trying to punish them for something they did wrong, not actually getting to the heart of the matter.) I know this isn't everyone's style, but in my personal opinion punitive consequences don't really work. Maybe occasionally they do in the short term, but they just don't fit into the bigger picture of how I want to do this parenting thing. They set us up for battles of the will, sneakiness, a spirit of vengefulness, etc.

My other tip is that whenever possible, just "drop the rope". Think about playing tug-of-war: it only works when both parties are actively pulling. If one party just drops the rope and walks away, then there is no tug-of-war to be played. This is something we BLWers are good at when it comes to eating. You don't want to eat dinner? Fine, then don't eat dinner. Rope dropped. Done. Sometimes dropping the rope brings us around to "model graciousness". You don't want to clean up the mess? Okay, I will clean it up for you today. I know you will help me another time. Modelling graciousness can really take the wind out of a defiant child's sails and lets them feel loved and cared for. Obviously dropping the rope and modelling graciousness are not appropriate in every situation, but I like to push myself to apply them in as many situations as possible, and this requires me to reconsider many situations in which I previously would have defiantly stood my ground. It's all up to you of course.
I love my kiddos! Two April girls (2011 and 2013) and a May boy (2016). I guess we have spring babies in this family.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby UnhappyRightFoot » 07 Sep 2016, 11:13

Brigitte wrote: You don't want to clean up the mess? Okay, I will clean it up for you today. I know you will help me another time.


Mmmmmm. Pickle will just enjoy me doing it for her and would never pick up another toy again!
Mummy to my two miracle baby girls - The Thunder Fairies. Munchie born May 2010 and Ickle Pickle born July 2012.

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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby UnhappyRightFoot » 07 Sep 2016, 13:48

Back with a slightly more helpful response! (potentially)!

I would also agree that there are potentially underlying tensions with the move or MrC's health. However well they may appear to be handling things and may be excited, there are still huge changes afoot and that will be a concern.

That said, defiance, stubbornness, whatever you want to call it, is a character trait and should be worked with/addressed.

There are a few things we have issues with - Munchie is generally ok, but an air head so will forget things fairly frequently (except for having an event memory of an elephant).

Pickle is hugely stubborn and I don't have a magic answer with her. If she's not in the mood to do something, she won't do it! She also sulks and can go into one for hours - literally! I'd googled dealing with tantrums/meltdowns etc and it kept saying to ignore the behaviour and carry on. So I did - and didn't really see her for 5 days! She'll just take herself off to bed and have an unhelpful nap instead. So had to change tack on it!

However, we do find that the marble jar is a huge incentive for good behaviour. We started off (and still do sometimes) with rewards for the most mundane things just to get their behaviour back on track. But mostly it's for:

Mealtimes
- Sitting nicely
- Eating well (doesn't have to be all food but have a good go at dinner)
- Trying new food
- Using cutlery
- Nice manners
if they have 3 reminders for any of these, no marble.

Being helpful around the house

Good, unprompted manners

Random act of kindness

Anything else that comes up at a particular time.

We have tried to use them for tidying but it's rather hit and miss. So 10 minutes to tidy, 10 marbles available. 1 marble lost for every minute it takes so the faster they are, the more they get to keep.

TBH, I have found no solution to tidying up. We've taken toys away, cancelled trips out (had to becuase they've taken so long over the job we've missed what we were going to do), tried to make them responsible for their stuff etc etc. It is the biggest flashpoint in our house. I don't agree that it's us who want it tidy therefore we should tidy. They have to be responsible for their toys and when I can't even see the floor, let alone get in the room to put their clothes away, then it's not acceptable. I'll help and after every holiday I blitz the room so everything is back where it belongs, but on a day to day basis, they need to put their stuff away. It frustrates me that it is still a problem as we've always been this way, but then, it frustrates me when they don't say please when they ask for something as they sure as sh*t have never once been give the requested item without saying it!

Interesting the point Brigitte made about natural consequences. We are starting to resist telling them over and over about leaving their stuff outside in the garden "as it will get damaged, eaten, soaked etc etc" and now we just leave it. So, 2 very soggy and filthy toys later......!!! We only bring in now if it's something we'd have to replace, such as a coat or shoes. If it's their toys, it's tough. I think it does make a difference as they see the result.

I'm also very interested in the sitting in silence, sitting on hands thing. That will be put to good use!!
Mummy to my two miracle baby girls - The Thunder Fairies. Munchie born May 2010 and Ickle Pickle born July 2012.

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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby Brigitte » 07 Sep 2016, 16:30

UnhappyRightFoot wrote:
Brigitte wrote: You don't want to clean up the mess? Okay, I will clean it up for you today. I know you will help me another time.


Mmmmmm. Pickle will just enjoy me doing it for her and would never pick up another toy again!


That's the rope talking. You're framing it like a battle and you feel like this would be letting her win, and you think she would see it as winning too. Dropping the rope means dropping the agenda in that moment. Don't worry about the long term, think of it as something you're just doing in that moment because you love her and it's kind. You can do something different next time if you want to, or the same, or whatever, this isn't about establishing a pattern. Just think of yourself, even though you could clean up after yourself 100% of the time, sometimes it's just really nice to have someone else do it for you. Just the once, or just every once in awhile. And in the very very long term, you will be modelling graciousness and showing her that it's not always about winning or doing what's legalistically fair. Maybe she will learn to just do things for other people sometimes, especially if they're having a hard time. (Like, when she's 16, not anytime soon.) You're also modelling how to just tidy up when things are messy without anyone asking you to.

Dropping the rope is about kindness and grace in the moment, and a very very long term game of modelling the behaviour you wish to see. You can do something different in the next similar moment, no problem. But it's nice to know you don't always have to win each and every battle, sometimes you can just skip the battle entirely.
I love my kiddos! Two April girls (2011 and 2013) and a May boy (2016). I guess we have spring babies in this family.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby mamapup » 07 Sep 2016, 18:44

I've changed my mind. The hand and silence thing no longer works. He just says no. He'll go on saying no forever if he feels like it and I don't have time forever.

My problem is that actually I don't think it's underlying tensions about MrC's health and the upcoming trip. I think this is a character trait we've always known was there but a stubborn four year old is worse than a stubborn two year old because we can't pretend it's anything other than neat defiance now.

Today he perfect, literally perfect, all day until just before supper (so, yes, he's tired, and yes, he's just watched some tv, which never helps his mood) when he randomly decided to refuse to move when I needed to get to a cupboard. It was pathetic. He refused to move, then was really rude. I asked him to move again calmly. He refused. He then went to a big box and said, 'well then I'm going to rip up this box' and started trying to rip it up. I asked him to sit on the step and not speak for one minute for the threat (he always responds to a consequence by trying to threaten us with something random), he tried again to rip the box so I asked him to put his hands under his bum too. He just said no, very calmly and continued saying no. I didn't have time to deal with this as I was cooking so picked him up and dumped him in his room until supper was ready.

He came down happily enough and he was able to explain to me why he had been taken up there. I know I could have handled it differently but I hate this naked defiance. I've told him he has no tv for two days because his behaviour is always worse after tv.

And, as an aside, we don't really have tidying up arguments here. My kids aren't of the 'chuck every toy out the basket' ilk so that's not a problem.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby GHJingle » 08 Sep 2016, 20:28

Brigitte wrote:
Just a little piece of the puzzle, but I have found it helpful to think about the difference between natural consequences, logical consequences, and illogical/punitive consequences. Natural consequences are always best, because they require you to do nothing whatsoever and the lesson is very concrete and easy to learn. (You want to go out in the rain without your coat, you get wet. Parent does nothing. t's just natural consequences.) If natural consequences aren't suitable in a given situation, then try logical consequences. (You are throwing your food, I will put it away now. The consequence is logical in that it relates directly to the issue at hand and does something to solve it. But it's not natural because the parent actually has to *do* something.) Punitive consequences are illogical. (You won't clean up that mess, so no TV for you today. It's illogical because TV has nothing to do with the mess, and it's punitive because you're just trying to punish them for something they did wrong, not actually getting to the heart of the matter.) I know this isn't everyone's style, but in my personal opinion punitive consequences don't really work. Maybe occasionally they do in the short term, but they just don't fit into the bigger picture of how I want to do this parenting thing. They set us up for battles of the will, sneakiness, a spirit of vengefulness, etc.


This makes so much sense, I've been trying to get out of the habit of bribery and punitive consequences... Thank you!
A (May 2012), B (Feb 2016)
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby StJuniper » 08 Sep 2016, 22:30

Is there a reason dumping him in his room isn't a good response to him saying no? That's certainly the route I'd go with Scout Kid-- "Ok, if you're not ready to use your words well and you're not willing to practice self-control, then you aren't able to be around people." (Or, more likely, just his name in a stern voice as I whisked him away, there's ideals and then there's practice...)
Mama to two boys, the Scout Kid P, 02/26/12 and the Feral Kid R 12/15/13, and one little Tumbleweed girl, 05/27/16.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby StJuniper » 08 Sep 2016, 22:31

Is there a reason dumping him in his room isn't a good response to him saying no? That's certainly the route I'd go with Scout Kid-- "Ok, if you're not ready to use your words well and you're not willing to practice self-control, then you aren't able to be around people." (Or, more likely, just his name in a stern voice as I whisked him away, there's ideals and then there's practice...)
Mama to two boys, the Scout Kid P, 02/26/12 and the Feral Kid R 12/15/13, and one little Tumbleweed girl, 05/27/16.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby sabrina fair » 13 Sep 2016, 13:55

I've been thinking about this. Was there an option to ask him to get the thing from the cupboard for you? Could you have managed without the thing, at least until he moved of his own accord. Was the box that he tried to rip up important? Could you have let him?

My general approach, like Brigitte, is to let go of the rope. You're not going to raise a monster by letting him get away with something when he's tired and hungry. He clearly knows how to behave kindly and cooperatively because he'd done it all day. He's run out of energy to do it. On the up side, hopefully the same defiant character trait might protect him when his peers are doing something stupid- maybe he'll be practised in saying no and digging his heels in and will therefore be less likely to follow them? But that manifestation of his defiant streak is more likely if he sees his parents as his allies rather than as the people to defy? God knows if I'm right, it's a whole load of unknowns, but I can only say how I'd approach it. How can you take away the battle? How can you create the situation where he wants to be cooperative again? Do a silly dance while you pretend to find what you need under the table? Actually, making it fun would probably just encourage my kid to do if more so not a great option, but it provides an alternative to getting annoyed and trying to control him, which you can't ultimately do because he's a human being and will one day live away from you and will need to trust his own judgement.

Mainly thinking out loud - don't know if any of it makes sense.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby sabrina fair » 13 Sep 2016, 15:21

Sorry, thinking about this more. If he wouldn't move after I suggest some other options (like helping me) and I really needed the thing, I'd have moved him. Just far enough to get to the cupboard, not in order to punish him for saying no. If he then threatened to rip up the box, I'd decide if I really cared about it. If I really did, I'd explain why, remove him from it and I'd get him something else he could rip up if he's feeling rippy. If he still refuses to cooperate (by breaking important stuff for example - something you can't ignore), I'd use a time-in - keeping him by me, probably with a cracker or something, until dinner is ready or whatever. Ideally, it wouldn't have got to that point. I might even have been able to head off the original 'no' by giving him a healthy snack (an apple or something that won't ruin his appetite) if I think he's heading towards defiance.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby Treeb » 14 Sep 2016, 02:05

I like your ideas Sabrina fair, and might put some into practice myself. Threatening to tear up a box is exactly like something L would say, along with other very random threats. Basically whatever he can think of that is violent and that he thinks will get a reaction out of me.

With refusal of consequences, I've just been adding an extra minute for every refusal.
Me: Go sit down and calm your hands down, I'm going to turn on the timer for one minute.
L: No!
Me: Two minutes.
L: *ignores me and picks up a toy*
Me: Three minutes.
Continues on until he goes to sit. We haven't gotten past four minutes I don't think, so if puppy is really super stubborn it may not work.

In the box tearing instance, if I remember, I try to stop and use "sportscasting" which I think is from the Janet Lansbury site. Basically you just matter-of-factly label what you are seeing. "You really didn't want to move out of the way. I needed to get something, but you wanted to still stand there. You were upset that I asked you to move. You want to tear up that box to show me how upset you were." Etc. I pause in between each statement to give him a chance to respond if he wants, though he usually doesn't at first. It seems to break the tension for us and give us a bit of a reset and also just force me to slow down and see things from his perspective for a minute. And usually once he sees that I'm understanding him he is then more willing to do whatever I was asking to begin with.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby sabrina fair » 14 Sep 2016, 16:56

Treeb - YES!, The sportscasting technique is really good when I remember to use it! What I hadn't said in my ramblings above is that one of my first reactions when things get tough (and I remember) is to sit down with them. Try to understand and articulate what's going on with them. You don't want to move right now, hey? Are you really comfy in that chair? Were you looking at/thinking about something really good? Are you feeling too tired to move? Once they feel understood and heard, firstly I feel much calmer and more able to empathise with them and secondly they feel more ready to empathise with me. Chances are, they'll do the thing I wanted without me saying anything more. Or burst into tears because they're so tired and hungry they don't know what to do with themselves. You become a team - trying to figure out the best way to get dinner on the table, rather than two opposing factions.
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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby mamapup » 14 Sep 2016, 18:46

I wrote a long reply yesterday but the whole logging out thing stole it.

We had a horrendous episode yesterday afternoon. He was being defiant and trying to run away while out because he didn't like a decision that was made (I'd explained to him why we had to go to a specific park - visiting little croc's new pre school - and promised him we'd go to the park he wanted to go to the following day. He then wanted to take little croc's bike to the park because he can stand on the back of it. I said no because little croc wanted to walk. Offered him his bike, scooter or walking. He threw a massive wobbly and wouldn't stop). I handled it badly because we had a meeting to get to and therefore had no option but to leave immediately so I ended up dragging him down the road being super pissed with him. I'd tried a calming moment but that didn't work as he just tried to run away again so I gave up and carried on marching and holding his hand. Not my finest parenting moment but it was 30 degrees, I had little croc in my arms so she wasn't stuffed by his behaviour and we were slippery with suntan lotion! I know I could have handled it better in a less fraught manner had time not been an issue.

The box thing: it's a packing box so yes, it did matter. Generally I do the whole asking them to move and then say, 'if you can't move or do x, then I'll have to help you do y' and it usually works but it wasn't working that specific time hence me removing him to his room.

Sportscasting sounds good. We do a lot of 'i hear you are upset because x, I understand that you feel y but this is the reason/we can change what we're doing'. We really don't ask much of our kids, we are happy to listen to their points of view and alter our requests if they have good reasoning for us doing so. That's probably what grates so much, we're so super reasonable generally that we expect them to listen and react when we actually need them to do something.

Sigh.
In my heart I am Rascalpup, a name awarded during battle with one persistent spammer. I like to think ironside but with sarcasm rather than an axe.

Slightly horrified by my huge number of posts.


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Re: Super defiant four year old.

Postby StJuniper » 15 Sep 2016, 09:16

I know it doesn't help in the moment, but I think being reasonable and flexible is one of those things that takes a while to pay dividends. Empathy doesn't really develop until age... I want to say six? So he's still going to find his own needs and wishes pretty all-absorbing for a while before he's developmentally able to put himself in your shoes and see why another perspective can trump his own. Eventually, he'll have the emotional maturity to appreciate and reciprocate that give-and-take, but at four, not being there yet is totally normal.

Also, parenting would be so much easier if we never had to be somewhere it a specific time. In our house, so much short-temperedness and less-than-ideal parenting comes from the fact that we need to be in a certain place at a certain time and my kids choose that time to transform into useless masses of inertia... ((((((())))))))
Mama to two boys, the Scout Kid P, 02/26/12 and the Feral Kid R 12/15/13, and one little Tumbleweed girl, 05/27/16.
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