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Posted by: Racoon | 2010/04/08

I understand why some animals eat their young...

I have a 4.5 year old and 1 year old sons who are driving me up the wall at he moment. I am also 4 months pregnant with our 3rd son! The main problem is the older one (younger one is just acting his age) - we are really struggling with discipline. He speaks to us rudely, complains and moans about everything and has screaming fits. Threats to take things away from him are not working anymore as he does the same to us, time-outs have limited success as he refuses to stay in the time-out area and screams as though he is being murdered. He is very eloquent for his age and sometimes comes up with arguments that have my mouth hanging open. I know displaying anger towards him only makes his own tantrums worse. Where do we start with appropriate discipline? Its an absolute wonder that I haven''t strangled him yet - thats why I can understand why some species eat their young! To round off the picture...little one is sleeping very poorly due to post-nasal drip and I am VERY tired, also because I work fullday and drop and fetch the kids from creche. My patience is just about gone, and I am tearful a lot of the time (pregnancy hormones not helping). Where do I start with my lovely monster?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Interesting how kids apparently need no driving lessons or driver's license before expertly driving mom up the wall !
Try to watch the Supernanny and similar shows on BBC channels on DSTV ( I wish there were good DVD's containing such material or a SA equivalent of the show ). As you seem to be at least trying some of the methods which usually work, see a child psychologist to review what is happening and to support you in a more rigorous, consistent and efecive combination of these methods to teach the boy discipline. Mabe a good GP or paediatrician could help the little one's sleep problems, and a more rested you would cope with the older one far better.
And you sound like a single mother, in that, though you refer in passing to "our 3rd son", you don't mention your husband, who needs to be part of the solution

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Our users say:
Posted by: Purple | 2010/04/09

Hi Racoon,

Wow, great to be in touch again! Good luck, persevere and things will come right.

As Happiness says, when we are consistent and use the big guns only seldomly, then the children know its serious and they listen.
I also find that having a few broad rules (in this house we are kind to others, we take pride in our appearance etc) is far easier on the parents and the children than having hundreds of little rules (like no hair pulling, no pinching, no sloppy dressing, no cheekiness etc).

This too will pass... (and then we just get new dramas to deal with).

Reply to Purple
Posted by: Happiness | 2010/04/08

What works for me is the change in my tones. My son is 5 and girl 3. I don''t smack because its a quick fix which solves nothing also I don''t do time outs because I''m lazy to follow up. I seldom use my " I mean business tone"  so that they understand mommy is not playing. Its the same with my hubby, he only has to say it once and children respond and behave as required.

Reply to Happiness
Posted by: Racoon | 2010/04/08

Purple, you''ve made my day! We used to chat on the Gynae forum years ago - good to talk again.

I''m off to get a star chart RIGHT NOW! thanks for you advice, I feel more positive now.

Reply to Racoon
Posted by: Purple | 2010/04/08

Hi,
My son is 6 now, so I''ve been through what you are going through. Both your children are acting their age - your four year olds behaviour is quite normal.

We did what you do, and eventually things did come right, though even now we still have bouts of cheekiness and so on, but thankfully the tantrums have stopped.

What I did for time out when he wouldn''t stay there was to get a kitchen timer with a loud sound which I would set.
If he came out, we set it back to the full time again. I would put him back in his room and we would start again.
The first time he came out, the door would get closed when he returned.
If he came out again I used to lock the door. I still feel guilt but we only had to do it twice and he got the message.
As your son is eloquent and if he can come up with logical arguments it means he can reason well and beyond the norm for his age (my son was the same), after everyone has cooled down after time out, sit him on your lap and talk through everything with him. You will think it isn''t sinking in but one day he will surprise you by saying he feels quite cross but he''s not going to be mean to you because he''s told you he is upset. You will nearly fall over, but then you know things have worked.

At his age, taking toys away has limited effect because we take them away for too long. What I found worked best was to take a toy away for a time out of its own. I put it on top of the bookshelf for an allotted time (with the timer set). he would sit in front of hte bookshelf and cry but one day he seemed to get the message and when I would say " do that again and XLR8 goes for time out"  he''d stop.

I also first introduced our star chart at four. We prepared a list of things that got stars added and things that got stars removed.
Once he reached five stars he got a sticker and once he reached 5 stickers he got a treat (it took him a long time to grasp the 5 stickers thing but I just kept at it).
After the first star got removed, he believed me when I warned him about star removal and would stop his behaviour.
when he got the first treat (we went for milkshakes at a play place he liked), he started actively doing things to earn stars and stickers. He would show the chart off to visitors.

There is a lovely extramural programme called manners4minors. look it up on google. We have found it a sanity saver.

Good luck. Things do get better slowly but surely.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010/04/08

Interesting how kids apparently need no driving lessons or driver's license before expertly driving mom up the wall !
Try to watch the Supernanny and similar shows on BBC channels on DSTV ( I wish there were good DVD's containing such material or a SA equivalent of the show ). As you seem to be at least trying some of the methods which usually work, see a child psychologist to review what is happening and to support you in a more rigorous, consistent and efecive combination of these methods to teach the boy discipline. Mabe a good GP or paediatrician could help the little one's sleep problems, and a more rested you would cope with the older one far better.
And you sound like a single mother, in that, though you refer in passing to "our 3rd son", you don't mention your husband, who needs to be part of the solution

Reply to cybershrink

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