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Child Discipline

I need help! I have a four year old son whom is just out of control! HE will not listen to me and I do not know what to do. He is very hyper and just will not sit still. I do not want to put him on any medication for adhd if that is what is wrong because of his age. He is not bad all the time but most of the time. I am a single mother but his father is very involved in his life. His father has a girlfriend and I have a boyfriend so i am taking that into consideration. Whenever he acts out or is doing something that he know's he is not to do, I sit him in timeout. After awhile of that, it is useless. I have tried everything from standing him in the corner for four minutes, to walking him to his room and sitting him down on his bed for four minutes. I have spanked him, taken toys away from him, I have even gone as far as thrown his toys away. After the ordeal is over, I sit him down and talk face-to-face with him on why I have taken the actions I have taken. I have exhausted all of my resources. He will be going to preschool this fall but I am scared that they will not be able to handle him. He has in the past been kicked out of 3 different daycare's because they were unable to get him under control. I love my son very much of course but at times I feel like I want to give custody to his father. I just feel like I am losing in this never ending battle of discipline and that my walls are crumbling in around me. Please, please, if someone out there can give me new discipline actions to take and/or advice, I would really appreciate it!Thank you very much.
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Jodi, it sounds like you have tried everything that anyone here would recommend.  psycologically, you really cant "reason" with a 4 year old and have them actually understand "why" they are getting yelled at and have them actually remember for the next time.  (he may understand at that point) but he wont retain it.  I would recommend having your son be evaluated.  Maybe medication is what he needs!! I know it isnt the answer..  How about instead of punishing him when he does something bad, reward him for doing something good!! Soo.. for example.. if he is normally bad in a restaurant.. tell him before hand that if he is good at the restaurant, you will take him to the park the next day, or whatever are his favorite things to do.. Maybe you can have him help you do "grown up" things like cooking dinner or washing the dishes so that he can feel grown up and important.  The fact that his mommy and daddy arent together might actually be playing a role in this as well. Kids are a lot smarter than you think when it comes to this stuff and maybe he just needs a little attention.  Does his father say the same stuff about his behavior when he is with him??  

Also, if you watch supernanny.. :-) you will know that you have to be consistant and follow through.

Good luck and i hope you dont give up on your son..
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Hi,
I don't have any kids of my own (yet), but I was a nanny for about 6 years while I was in college and now work in the school system. BUT I know it is very different when they are your own!:)
When he is with his father is it consistent to your rules/discipline?  That is very important (one little boy I watched  was a different person at his mom's than at his dad's!).  Maybe try taking everything away and he earns it back with good behavior and with each bad behavior one toy is taken away again.  You can also have a behavior specialist come into your home and work with you. It can usually be covered by insurance.  I too would rec. an evaluation by your doctor.  They usually don't provide meds until a child is 5 anyway so he may just have some ideas/etc. and he can write a perscription for the behavior specialist so it is covered by your insurance.  I would make sure dad is on board with everything you do.  Make decisions together and make sure the little guy knows that you don't live together but you are united in parenting him.
Good Luck!!!
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I have a 4 year old and i understand. I would never consider meds so early, it is nearly impossible to make an ADD/ADHD dx at this age and if a doc did I would find a new one.

Here is what we have done. I sat down and made a rule sheet and next to each rule there is a color coded star. Each star represents a punishment. The ONLY time my son would ever get a spanking is if it his action was dangerous for either for himself, his brother, or the animals. In all honesty, I cannot remember that last spanking he got. But other punishments include loss of a dvd at quiet time, loss of toys, loss of a treat, etc. They range from one day to a week at a time depending on the offense. Now you can't just jump right into a punishment if it has been a while. They do still need a reminder and a warning. We go over the rules at least once a week and I'll be darned if that kid doesn't have the list memorized. I know the triggers for my son, if he is overly tired, he will act out, if he feels that his younger brother is taking alot of attention, he will act out as well. We have a standing routine every day, even weekends when dad is off. From 2-4pm he goes up for quiet time. He can play, watch a movie, read, etc. while I lay his brother down for a nap. We have also instituted an earlier bedtime. they are up and in bed by 8:15 every night. I am very cautious about what they are allowed to watch on television. I despise shows like those seen on Nickelodeon, any fighting, negative verbal exchanges etc. My kids are polite, they say "please" and "thank you" my kids aren't even allowed to say "dumb" or "butt" I spend a lot of time reading with them, playing silly, we have a minimum half hour silly dance time every day, longer if the weather is nasty and we can't go outside. I find by keeping them busy with activities, they have less time to act out ; ) Heck, right now, I have myt 2 year old on my lap drawing me pictures on a magna doodle and my 4 year old is singing along to some music.

I also have a rewards system as well. He has a sticker book and a bunch of stickers he really likes. When he shares a toy without asking, helps his brother, etc he gets a sticker for his book. Also, if he picks up the toys in the living room, he gets a quarter for his piggy bank. If he offers to help pick up his little brothers room, he also gets a quarter. He loves to help out and I like the idea of allowance, he is saving up for a toy he really wants. It is excellent motivation and he learns that he needs to earn money to buy things. Great lessons in math and responsibility all at once.

I am not a regimented person by nature, but I so have a loose schedule with the boys and a routine established. Most things are free flowing, but bedtime and quiet time are set in stone. We are also very consistent with things. Kids do not ever understand "It's okay just this once" it never is. And lastly, make sure they are eating well. My kids have never tasted a caffeinated beverage and their sugar intake is limited. I don't give them juices and sugary drinks, they have a 1 liter water bottle, they get milk with 1 or 2 meals, they prefer a banana to a cookie. I see how my friend's kids behave and she raises them about the exact opposite as I raise mine and holy cow, I would rather have 20 of mine to the two older ones she has!!

Andi

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Yes! The diet is soo important, I forgot that!  Especially if he would have ADHD, sugar is the worst thing for him!  And video games...violent video games should be taken away.  I have a student I provide therapy for and he is So violent and defiant.  His mom has taken away the video games but his father still allows them...so it doesn't work.  The dad "tells the mom he took them away", but the little boy tells me it's a secret, daddy still lets me play the video games.  He is much more violent on Monday after a weekend with his dad than he is after the week with his mom.  So I agree with Andi to limit the violent cartoons as well.  Reading is the best past time as well as creative play:)
I love the silly dance idea:)
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Energy!!! My kids favorite show is Lazytown, it gets us all up and moving and teaches them about "sportscandy" apples, carrots, etc over junkfood. Anytime the superhero has candy he melts down, but apples and other fruits and veggies give him energy. We don't allow video games with the exception of the v-smile educational ones with us working with him. My kids have never seen a violent show, cartoon or otherwise. Why expose them to it so young? I want them to learn empathy, not anger and violence.

One of the biggest reasons for the rules/consquences sheet is to keep my dh and I on the same page. We have consistent rules and consquences that we both follow. There is no question, we all worked together, even my 4 year old in creating the sheet, it is posted in an easy to see spot, and we work as a team.

Andi
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When I do get my sticky bean I will need some help from you for sure:)  You sound like a wonderful mother.....I could also use you at work (do you want to teach a parenting class to my kiddos parents, it might make my job a lot easier j/k:)
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From 2003 to 2005 I studied Early Childhood Education : ) I had an awful parent growing up, I sort of vowed to be a better parent,lol. My dh thinks I go overboard sometimes, but I see how his attitude is about somethings and knwo I want to help guide my kids a bit better.

Anytime you need anything, let me know. I am a chatter box who likes to help : )

Andi
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I have tried almost all of these things and I have also rewarded him for everything good that he does. I really appreciate all the advice and the response to my thread. He loves to do the dishes with me and set the table.As far as sugar goes,  I do not let him have anything that has a lot of sugar in it or straight out candy. I think that he is just hyper by nature. I will definatly try the stickers but I have tried that once before when I was potty training him but it was a little different. We are always busy doing activities with him so I know he can't possibly be bored. His father and I are also on the same page with disciplining him. Actually, his father will be coming over tonight to go over it all again. It is just so hard especially for a four year old who has 2 different homes. We try to make it as comfortable as we can. I just feel like I am a bad mother at times and that i will never be able to get this under control. It breaks my heart when I do punish him but I know that I can not give in. It also hurts me that when he gets punished, he says that he wants his father. I am so glad that there are other mother's out there that I can get advice from and whom understand my issues. All the ideas that have been given to me here today are all great one's and I will definatly take them and use them! thank you all so much for everything! God bless you all!
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JodiH: I just want to encourage you. my dh was a very very very hyper kid. I've heard more than enough horror stories from my mom-in-law to scare me to death of having little boys. I think more boys are hyper than girls (I know thats a generalization, but it does seem that way) but most boys do grow out of it for the most part. My dh has been diagnosed with ADHD and had lots of trouble in school growing up because of trouble focusing and hyperactivity. There is hope though. My MIL said those were very trying years for her too, but my dh grew up to be a fine gentleman. And now my dh is actually in a Ph.D. program...I'm sure some of his elementary teachers would never believe it, but as kids grow up they gain more control of things like hyperness and learn how to focus better etc.

To everyone: I totally agree with no videogames. I used to work in schools too and it is a huge problem in Americas youth. There are so many parents that buy their kids these video games that are so violent and show things like prostitution, murder, etc (for kids in kindergarten even) and say that they will see or hear it at school or at their friends houses anyway. Wow, I get so disturbed by that attitude. The home should be the one place that they don't see or hear those things, even if they do see or hear them at school or in public. You can't control what other kids say to your kids while they're at school, but you can control what they hear at home.
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I think above all you need to arm your children with the confidence to make good decisions outside the home. When I take my boys to watch my dh play softball they often play with kids who don't have that kind of guidance, but when my son hears them says things he isn't allowed to say, he always gives me a look "is that okay" I shake my head and he knows its not. If the guys on the team swear, he reminds them they are saying naughty words and they all make an effort to watch what they say around the kids.

He knows what is acceptable and what is not. Parenting takes a lot of work, you have to be aware of the influence in your childrens lives, whether it be from television, family, or other outside sources. Teach them well, sounds cheesy but its true.

Andi
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The book (How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Faber and Mazlish) is excellent when you are at your wits end with traditional methods. I've been implementing their practices, which are much more humane than traditional punishment and spanking, with my daughter. She just turned 5 and nothing was working!! Give it a peak and keep an open mind - it wasn't a fix all but it taught me new lessons about children and communication in general. That says alot since I have a degree in early childhood and teach college classes for future teachers.
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I am not anti-tv, but they are limited to noggin (love that channel!!) and kids cbc out of canada. I don't even like regular PBS as some of those shows are a bit too negative (cyberchase is awful, I watched in one day while the kids were napping, stupid this, stupid that, etc) My oldest loves just about anything dinosaur, steve irwin (croc hunter) and jeff corwin.

I have a friend who lets her kids watch powerangers, scary movies, etc and it freaks me out.

Andi
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I also believe in no video games. Some of my friends' kids are so addicted to them that is is sad. The kids don't want to go out and play. But my son is not into playing video games. I do not attribute to buying the games because I spend my money on more important things. I agree to an extent that it may help on their hand and eye coordination but there are other things that can help children with that. I do see alot of postive things that I have taught my son that he is doing. He says please, thank you, no thanks, your welcome, excuse me and bless you, so I guess I have shown him and taught him some good things. Maybe I am being too hard on myself. He is not bad all the time but when he is, oh boy watch out!
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I would just suggest structure and predictibility if he is hyper by nature. Also time to just "be a boy".  Lots of studies now show that the education system is "failing" boys b/c they naturally need to be more active than girls and learn with their hands on activities and not the other way.  I think it is too much of a generalization to say boys but perhaps it is true for some boys.  
Sounds like you and his father are working together to make this work, so I wouldn't beat yourself up about him having 2 different homes.  
Related to school....if you start giving him the structure now he will be more used to it once he starts school. Lots of our kinders the biggest problem is they are used to "running wild" all day. Then they start school and can't handle the constraints so they act out.  Regular bed times, regular meal times, regular play times, etc. will all help prepare him for this.
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The hand eye coordination is something parents always try to use to support video games. The funny thing is.....most kiddos that play video games are boys and they are actually naturally good with hand/eye coordination.  Girls develop this more slowly than boys and sometimes it is more difficult for them to obtain, but they are not usually the ones that want to play the vg.  But you are right, there are many other ways to foster development of hand/eye coordination (i.e., hitting a ball with a bat, etc.)
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You all do not know how much I appreciate all of the advice and comments that you all have made! I feel so much better now that I have gotten all the good advice that I have recieved today. My son is really a good boy to other people but I guess that sometimes I am a little too hard on him. As far as his schedule goes, it is pretty routine. But since it has stayed light out longer, his bedtime has changed from 8 to about 8:30 or 9. He goes to a babysitter, my aunt, right now but next week he will be going to a regular daycare. I am so nervous! Wish me luck women! Maybe he is acting out because my aunt does not show him enough attention? But when he gets home,it is all about him! I love this site and I am so glad that I found it! I am in such a great mood and usually before I go home, I get in sort-of a blah mood if you know what I mean because I just know what to expect when I get home. But now that I have gotten such good advice and tips, that is all about to change! Don't get me wrong, I spend tons of time with him, but when I get frustrated, I have to walk away sometimes.
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One thing I started really paying attention to with my kids after the ECE schooling was their learning styles. I have one who is definitely a kinestetic learner, he is very hands on. Actually, both possess some of that learning style. Having only boys, I have no means to compare, but my boys need that activity to burn off their energy. I watch when they partake in some higher energy activities, as too close to bedtime spells trouble for sleeping enough. Mid morning we have crazy dance time and after naps/quiet time we usually go outside and run a bit if it is nice. If it is crummy and rainy (face it, in Seattle area it often is,lol) they get crazy with daddy for a half hour to an hour.

And I agree, it sounds like you and your ex are working well together and oftentimes our perception can be a little off. when I think my kids are being rotten, everyone else around me thinks I am nuts and that my boys are the best behaved kids they have ever seen. I have pretty high standards for my kids, especially in public or while visiting others homes. I never want my kids to be unwelcome anywhere. But boys will be boys, they aren't robots ; )

Andi

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You may have found the answer with regards to your aunt. It is something to explore. As I mentioned above, if my youngest happens to have a particularly demanding day, my oldest will act out as a result. I also notice that if my kids spend some time with my in-laws, who are the onlky people to have ever watched them, they tend to take a little reeling back in for a few days after their time together. I try not to make too big of a deal out of it, with a few exceptions.

Andi
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I think all of these comments are so great that I'm printing a copy for my own future use. :)

I have only one thing to add, and I hesitate to add it because it seems like all the other posters are correct and my suggestion is such a worst-case scenario.  I'll put it in only because it sometimes is out there and the mom just doesn't expect it, and I know other moms of acting-out kids will be reading this post too. Rage in a child is one of the ways of reacting to molestation. A friend had a child whose nanny was hitting him behind the parent's back, and the only way they finally figured it out was by the kid's behavior.  He never said anything, and I don't think he (the kid) even had the context in which to understand that what was happening to him was very wrong and that his parents would make it stop if they knew.  As I said, it doesn't stand to reason that your child, or any acting-out child, is going to automatically have that be his story, but it is always worth keeping alert to such a possibility for the protection of your child.  If you don't already have a way to communicate with him about the issue in a way that won't frighten him to death, I know there are books and materials about age-appropriate ways to talk to your kids and keep tabs on this.

As I said, I hope you don't think I'm saying this is what is happening.  But in this world, one has to have one's antennae up all the time.  Good luck with all the other posters' great ideas!

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I havn't read all the posts yet cause there are so many, I just wanted to say no matter what do not give up your custody. Your son needs you! My mom gave up custody when I was 6 because she "wanted to start over" and thought my dad could do a better job, yeah right! I did not see her again until I was 10, and that was only a few weeks every summer or Christmas. My sisters and I were extremely insecure growing up and still struggle with feeling unworthy of love. Though we now understand it's still just engraved into our minds and takes time to trust love when we have it. My mother beat herself up about it for a long long time, we have forgiven her so that helps.
     Divorce is very hard on a child, maybe your son is acting out becuase his enviroment is off cilter, it's good that you are taking that into consideration. But don't give in for little things if you are ever feeling guilty about the situation. He needs to know his enviroment is secure, you need to be secure for him. It's an awsome task but somebodies got to do it! This is something I found on a websight called focusonyourchild.com, awsome resourse!! It encouraged me.
       "When a child bahaves in ways that are disrespectful or harmful to himself or others, his hidden purpose is often to verify the stability of the bounderies. This testing is much the same functions of a policeman who turns doornobs at places of business after dark. Though he tries to open the doors, he hopes they are locked and secure. Likewise, a child who assaults the loving athority of his parents is greatly reassured when their leadership holds firm and confident. He finds his greatest security in a structured enviroment where the rights of other people (and his own) are protected by definate bounderies."
That helps me see the big picture when it's a hectic moment and I need to stand firm. He will also see you as someone to trust and respect. It is hard to be a parent of a toddler and I know it is even more so hard to be the parent in these situations and I give you props for searching for guidence. I love everything Andij said, we must have had the same mind set w/ our growing ups, I vowed to give my kids better than I had! My first born didn't have sugar outside of fresh fruit until she was two when my mother-in-law snuck a cookie, I was mad! But I've laxed a bit on that, cookies were made for kids!! Also, I just bought a book called "The Strong-Willed Child" By Dr. James Dobson. I havn't even read it yet so don't even know if I want to refer it, but it might be something to look into. I love Dobson, he was the one who wrote that policeman thing above. Let us know how your doing:) If you go to that websight clic on "The Big Picture" and then clic on "Single parents" Might be helpful.
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I gave the wrong websight. Thats probably a good one, but this is the one I got my qoute from:  http://troubledwith.com/
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