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Is this normal 4yo behavior?


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It's 8:30 in the morning, and he's already been in trouble twice. I fully expect at least a dozen more incidents before the day is over.

 

This morning, when he was suppose to be getting his pjs off, I found him standing on the neck of his toy guitar. He's been told countless times to play with it nicely. I took it away, which started a 10 minute screaming/crying tantrum.

 

Then he came downstairs, found a cat, got down into her face, and screamed into her face.

 

While I was typing this, he put his hand into the chute of his little sister's toy to stop it inappropriately. She just got it for Easter, yet he's gotten into trouble many times for putting things in it that don't belong in it. Other toys, sticks, and his hand do not belong in the toy. It seems that he's trying really hard to break it. He's constantly getting into tug o' war battles over it with his sister; it is HER toy. Actually, I've just been informed that he crushed one of the balls that came with it.

 

Finally, he just gave his little sister the end of a string and pulled her through the house, making her get hurt.

 

He's being super loud...yelling, laughing, making noise...yet if anything is even half as loud as he is, it's too loud and he's holding his hands over his ears freaking out. He jumps on/off things he's not suppose to, he runs his cars along the walls despite being told over and over not too, he scares the cats, hurts his sister, talks incessantly, yells constantly, and generally makes himself a nuisance. I know some of this is attention getting behavior, but it's gotten to the point where most of us just want him to go away much of the time.

 

He's currently in the kitchen bugging his older siblings who are trying to play a game. I've heard them tell him "don't touch that", "be quiet", "get off", "no", and "no, we need to put it away".

 

And before I could hit send, he tried giving his sister string again so he could pull her around the house with it.

 

It's never ending.

Edited by joannqn
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I have had a lot of days like this with my 2nd son. The 3s and 4s were horrible, very often, but he will be 5 in May and he seems to be doing better. I'm hoping it is the light at the end of the tunnel. His tantrums lasted for hours sometimes and I had to just hold him until he calmed down or he would break things and pick fights. He complained about being held, but he didn't fight me much, and after he calmed down he would be very snuggly and sweet. I don't have any answers to share, but it has helped me to try to keep him busy, and make sure he eats enough. I think he needed more fatty acids, so I use flaxseeds in food and smoothies. I also think probiotics help a little. Getting audiobooks and Jim Weiss cds for him to listen to while he plays has helped a lot too. I think he got into trouble a lot of times out of boredom, but he doesn't have the attention span yet for much formal schooling. I don't let my kids watch much tv, and it seems to overstimulate him anyway, so the audiobooks have just been wonderful.

 

I think he got into a rut sometimes, when he got off to a bad start in the morning by picking a fight with a sibling, and he needed help to get a fresh start. Standing in the corner didn't help. Sometimes it has worked to create a diversion, by announcing that everyone can have art time, or something else they like that is educational like puzzles or games. Then he gets distracted from acting like a monster and gets busy doing something else.

 

I have gotten better at staying calm, but it can be so draining both physically and emotionally. There are days I just want to beat my head against the wall. It is a good thing I haven't taken up drinking! :tongue_smilie:

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It's normal for some.

 

I would assess his physical activity time, his 1:1 interaction time, and his mental stimulation and make some changes so he is happier. He sounds like he's seeking sensory and mental stimulation. Talking excessively may just be his package...its an overexciteability that some kids have, but on the other hand it could just be that he wants more verbal interaction which is perfectly natural at this age. I'd probably have him out triking with dad before dad went to work...that gives 1:1 time for talking and runs off enough energy that they can be calm in the house and happily play with toys for an hour. Does anyone do deep muscle play with him..if he's happy with tug of war, he'd probably enjoy more opportunities along those lines. Have him move books, grocery cans etc if you don't have a hole that needs digging or wood that needs moved.

 

 

Thanks for this reply- OP's son sounds EXACTLY like my 3.5yo DS some days, and I've found that its usually one of the 3 areas you've mentioned (mental challenge, 1:1 time or physical).

 

Honestly, I need to post this on my fridge as a daily reminded- he's a precious kiddo, but certainly intense. ;)

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It sounds like he has a lot of time on his hands. Can you give him something to do? My DD5 has and will still occasionally have days like that, where given too much free time, she'll just cause trouble repeatedly. I know it's hard with a bunch of kids, and I have no advice for HOW to keep him busy while still doing the other things you need to do. It was just the first thing that came to my mind--he needs to be given something more productive and positive to do, something you can praise him for.

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He sounds a lot like my 3 1/2 year old son. I don't remember the older two children being like this. They were much more mellow than this kid. He's a constant ball of energy. He jumps on things. Screams. Meltdown. Breaks toys. Talks constantly. More energy than 3 other kids put together. Lucky for him, he's also insanely cute and loving.

 

I find I have to keep him entertained more than I did with the older two. He can sit for HOURS with play dough and be content. This keeps him out of mischief. I can also set him up in the kitchen sink with some plastic cups and spoons with the same result. When left to his own devices, their is destruction and mayhem.

 

It seems to me that kids like this require us to stay on top of them at all times. Not the easiest thing to do when you have other children and homeschooling to deal with, but somewhat necessary for everyone's sanity.

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We had some of those issues when ds14 was that age, but he has Aspergers. NOT that I'm saying your son does, just introducing the fact that I didn't likely encounter the same situation. However, he saw a therapist and she told me something that has stuck in my mind all these years. She said raising him, and children in general, will be one of the hardest jobs I ever do, but it will be the most rewarding I'll ever do. For some reason, whenever I felt like I was at my wits end, that quote would come back into my head and I'd calm down and try to regroup.

 

:grouphug:

 

Ooh, do you have a trampoline or a rebounder? I've heard that jumping can expend some energy for very active children.

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I agree that he needs more structure and more to do. He is a busy little guy. Get him actively involved in everything. He needs more physical stimulation. Have him carry loads of a laundry up and down the stairs, bags of dirt outside, etc... He sounds like my little guy 9 years ago. Too much energy. He always needed something to do. Plan out his days for physical and mental challenges just as you would plan out your older kids day for school work. and good luck; it is exhausting. If we could only harness the energy of 4 year old boys - we would solve the energy crisis.

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It sounds like he has a lot of time on his hands. Can you give him something to do? My DD5 has and will still occasionally have days like that, where given too much free time, she'll just cause trouble repeatedly. I know it's hard with a bunch of kids, and I have no advice for HOW to keep him busy while still doing the other things you need to do. It was just the first thing that came to my mind--he needs to be given something more productive and positive to do, something you can praise him for.

 

My 4 year old gets like this if I haven't been paying enough attention to her or she hasn't been challenged (mentally or physically) enough for a period of time. My first solution is usually to run around the house. We go outside and I sit on the front steps and time her as she literally runs around the house as fast as she can ten times. It gives her a little physical release plus ten minutes of my attention. (sometimes I repeat this one a few times over the course of the day)

 

The next step is usually to give her a challenging, open ended task. One that she loves is using masking tape to attach paper towel tubes to the wall to carry a ball from the top of the stairs to the bottom (I cut some of the tubes in half lengthwise and leave some whole). I often just think of something for her to build (a house, a car, a bug playground, a robot, etc) and then stick her in front of the recycling bin with a roll of masking tape to work with whatever is in there (we go through a lot of masking tape).

 

The last step is to sit down with her and do whatever she wants me to for 15 minutes. I set a timer so she knows when her time will end and then really try to pay attention to just her and fully engage in whatever she wants to do. Usually once I have done all three she is calmer or it's bedtime. Either way we survive the day.

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My 4 yo boys were both like this (my girl wasn't, but she's rather laid back, anyway). VERY GENTLY... I'm noticing that you're giving him a lot of no's. I get into that habit with my 4 yo... he hears no all day long. Never hears yes, and then that sort of sets him up. I would start by intentionally giving him some messy, fun for the sake of fun activities that he can do, rather than constantly tell him what he can't do. I know for mine, that really does work wonders. 4 is an amazing age, but it's also amazingly hard! They're in an in between phase, and all in between phases are just difficult, as kids begin to figure things out. :grouphug:

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this describes my almost 3 yr old and my 5 yr old...I feel your pain

 

dittoing the others in trying to give 'projects' and spend specific time with him..that may curb things a bit. it generally does here.

 

(sorry, babe in arms)

 

I have noticed, as someone else said, an increase in behavior when there has been a decrease in attention. Remedied as mentioned above, with time with just them. 15 minutes can generally go a long way, thankfully!

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I'm trying to give him more attention and find him things to do. Part of the problem is that he is often in trouble from dad several times before I'm even awake, and I need time to shower, dress, and wake up before I can even think about focusing on him.

 

So far today, I put his coat on him and sent him outside in the backyard. There is nothing about there but grass and a broken hammock so he wasn't very happy about that. I joined him as soon as I could get my shoes on. I got a container and told him to pick up rocks (there is an 18 inch wide rock border around a small patio) and put them in the container. That lasted about 5 seconds.

 

Then I got six 4x4's that the owners left outside and made a balance beam out of them. I put two on the ground opposite of each other. Then I placed two on either side to make a square. These were on top, so higher, than the first two. Then I put two in the middle of those, higher still. It got his attention for about 5 minutes.

 

Then I started pulling grass and weeds out of a large (maybe 8x8) overgrown planter box the owners left behind. We were thinking about making it into a dirt pit for the kids (per suggestions here because our sand box is a tiny plastic one). He wasn't interested in helping but did talk to me constantly and held a couple of worms.

 

Then we went inside and I did lesson 2 of MEP Reception with him, lesson 2 from the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, and read him two library books.

 

Finally, I let him watch a show on Netflix but he came in here to bug the older kids who are trying to play Backgammon. I offered to play Sequence for Kids (just bought it yesterday) with him, but he didn't want to. He only wants to play Backgammon. He couldn't keep his hands off their pieces, so he was sent back to the living room.

 

Looking forward to nap so I can get stuff done.

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We go through phases like this. One thing is growth spurts. 3's and 4's have a lot of growth spurts, mental growth spurts I am talking about. When my dd gets like this, I try and get back to some basics. I asses where nutrition is. This is a good time to start the day with oatmeal. I make sure she is getting plenty of protein.

 

I also look at sleep. Maybe he needs to go to bed earlier, change the time of his nap if he still has one.

 

Then I remember that although it is hard, consistency is my friend in the long run. She is testing the boundaries and I need to calmly make sure that they are still there. During a time when she is being good I sit with her on the bed and remind her of what the consequences for her actions are. Then I bribe her. Some of what I have done is this.

 

At the beginning I try and set her up for success. She starts trying to be good, but it is hard to do overnight. I get 4 different types of chocolate chips at the grocery store and a box of brownie mix. I line them up on the table in her sight. I tell her that we are going to make brownies before dinner if she is good. That we can put all the different chips into the brownies. Each time she does something wrong and has to go into time out, she also has to put a bag of chips away in the pantry.

 

Another bribe is that if she goes all day with no time out, she can go grocery shopping, to the bank, whatever errand I am doing with me when daddy comes home, just me and her.

 

One thing that helps me keep my patience during this time is that dh takes care of the evenings. After dinner I tell the kids good night and go upstairs to my room, shut the door and read a book or take a nice bath. Take some time for yourself and it is easier to face the next day. Kids pick up on stress, so try and relax.

 

Good luck, I hope something in there might help.:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

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It sounds like you need to read http://www.amazon.com/Out---Sync-Child-Recognizing-Processing/dp/0399531653/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1303847384&sr=8-1 and http://www.amazon.com/Out-Sync-Child-Has-Revised/dp/0399532714/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b

 

He sounds like my 2, but both have some special needs. Asperger's, severe sensory issues (especially with being over loud, but dislikes other loud noises), ADHD, and of course being a boy!

 

When he's doing something he shouldn't be, you need to replace it with a comparable activity. If he's jumping on furniture, stick him on a trampoline. If he's pulling his sister around the house, give him heavy work. If he's shoving stuff in her toy, cut a small hole in a box and let him fill it up. Basically, you need to step back and really watch him. Figure out what activity his body is craving. It could be as simple as you leaning againt him and reading a story.

 

The 2 books I linked have been amazing resources for us.

Edited by amo_mea_filiis
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I wanted to show you a few things that have been helpful here. This doesn't cover nearly as much as we've added to our collection, but it's a good start.

 

First is this toy. It does not have a purpose, yet kids can find a billion things to do with it.

http://www.amazon.com/ActivePeople-4102550-Kid-O-Bilibo-Blue/dp/B000UEQI1G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1303848590&sr=8-1

 

Love this!

http://www.amazon.com/Ball-Bounce-Sport-Fun-Hopper/dp/B00004SU7V/ref=pd_sim_t_14

 

These are great for rolling on, or just playing with.

http://www.amazon.com/Edushape-See-Me-Sensory-Balls-Translucent/dp/B001AMK6G0/ref=sr_1_34?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1303848830&sr=1-34

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I would take him for an OT evaluation based on everything you have written. Plus you mention in your blog about fine motor issues. These things are so much easier to deal with at 4 then at 8 or 9.

 

I don't know if he has any fine motor issues. My memory seems to be that his current coloring/drawing ability is about what my daughter did at the age of 2. I can't compare to my older son because he was in special ed preschool from 3-5; he wasn't normal at that age.

 

I did take him to the birth-3 evaluation last spring and he didn't qualify for any services; everything was considered developmental.

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I'm thinking he sounds like a very active (but not abnormal) 4yo boy, coupled with some middle-child syndrome. My oldest has the very active thing and dominant sort of personality as well; it's a challenge. I'm thinking your son may be thinking, "I'm too little for the big kids' games, and they think I'm too big for the toddler's toys -- I can't do anything fun, and I have nobody to play with!" Your older two have each other, and the youngest is your baby -- maybe the 4yo needs some focused one-on-one time? Maybe he needs to be your buddy in the morning -- have him help you with breakfast, help him get dressed, have one of the big kids watch the toddler so that you can spend a bit of time reading to the 4yo or something? Getting him outside for some serious energy expenditure sounds like a great idea too.

 

I do recall that 4 was way more challenging than 2! 2 and 3 -- that's a riot and a half! 4 and 5 -- they're not quite babies any more but not quite big kids either, and they feel that frustration, and they can be very stubborn.

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Even though he didn't qualify for early intervention, you should still seek an OT eval.

 

According to your blog, you prefer more structured activites, and that could very well work with him, just different types of activities.

 

It's possible he has too much space. If he were in a room that had only rocks and a box, it could have proved to be a great activity.

 

When my ds first started OT, he was brought into one of the sleep study rooms. The rooms have murphy beds, so with the bed folded there was nothing for him to get into. The OT would leave the toys outside the door and set a timer. He had to work on each activity for a set time, then she would let him switch the toys.

 

I carried this over by making our living room at the time a toy room, so his bedroom had nothing but a bed and a platform swing. The swing is how we did most of our activities. I started with puzzles. I would dump the pieces on one side of the swing and put the puzzle board on the other side. He had to lay on his belly and use his hands to "walk" around and get pieces. As time went on I would spread the pieces all around so he really had to work to finish it. His reward was getting me to spin him on the swing.

 

Another idea is to use a pressure or weighted vest. I prefer pressure because they don't get used to them and it can be left on. We need a new one, but for school next year he'll be wearing a pressure vest and sitting on an exercise ball during seat work. For free play, I'll let him take off the vest. This also makes a world of difference. When ds was doing physical therapy, she could not get him to stop jumping off things, or to do things safely. She met with his OT and they decided to use a vest and set up a sensory diet to work into his PT. With the vest on he was able to focus and pedal a trike at 4.5 years old for the first time, he was able to walk on a balance beam, and he was able to do specific jumping activities safely.

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I have a 7 yr old GIRL like this :glare:. When she's gone and I only have the younger 3 (all under age 4) it feels like I am laying by the pool sipping margaritas.

 

She's better than she used to be, though. She used to smear pooh :D:tongue_smilie:

 

Lots of outside time, runs around the block, physical activity work for my girl as well.

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It seemed to me that 4 was the most trying age with both my kids. Way worse than the terrible twos!

:grouphug:

THIS! THIS! THIS! My dd is my third child to be a 4 y/o and I've been saying quite a bit lately that ALL of my kids had a lot of problems when they were the 4/5 age. It's just HARD. I personally think it has something to do with their brains growing very quickly at this age and a mix of not being a *toddler/preschooler* anymore and wanting to be their *own* person but still needing a lot of guidance.

 

Just my personal thoughts. But, NO way are you alone in this venture mama!

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Honestly? Not really. The first thing I thought of after reading your post was that he is a sensory-seeker. My youngest has sensory issues, except in the opposite sense in that she's a sensory avoider. I would read The Out-of-Sync Child as your OP mirrors a lot of the criteria/situations that occur with those with sensory seeking tendencies. I don't know your child, and hate to say anything is 'wrong' with anyone's child but as a mom of a sensory kiddo I wish someone had been honest and upfront with me that not all toddlers cry until they barf because you drove down a hilly road, or screaming cry-barf that their clothes/car seat/eating etc "hurts" them.

 

I hope I'm wrong, as dealing with an SPD kiddo is hard, but I just felt I should give you my honest opinion based on what you posted. I think the book would really help.

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Yeh, I have a 5 year old daughter who is about 3 years old developmentally. She's a sensory seeker AND a sensory avoider (for different things).

 

She's a lot like that. She goes to preK and we pick her up at 2pm (my ohter three children ages 9, 6, 13 months are home all day). The whole evironment changes when she's home. My other kids aren't unusually easy or anything - she's just "more" everything. She takes more of my energy physically and mentally than my other three children combined.

 

He sounds both seeking and avoiding (not wanting to get dirty, giving up early on picking up the rocks, etc.) to me.

 

One thing that helps my daughter (oh, she's also highly ADHD so attending to anything for more than 30 seconds is hard for her) is to set a timer for 3 or 4 minutes and insist that she stick to task for those few minutes. I set the timer on my iPhone and it has kind of a happy song when it goes off. She likes that.

 

She rips books. So I give her junk mail to rip. Of course she doesn't like that, she'd rather rip books on her terms. Too bad. She wants to rip, she gets to rip. :tongue_smilie: I set the timer for 3 minutes and encourage her to rip.

 

We move on to bouncing on a bouncy horse. Set the timer for 4 minutes and she must bounce.

 

I'm sorry - I know it's exhausting. Truly exhausting.

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Being able to send him to preschool every day was one of the reasons I took him to a birth to three evaluation. I really was hoping he'd qualify. Plus, if he did, I would have insisted he be in the same class with the same teacher my older son had; she was awesome. It seemed like a win-win situation; he'd get some fun time in class and we'd get a break.

 

He'd love a trampoline. Unfortunately, it's not an option.

 

I'm trying to remember if I looked at that book before. I may have, but, honestly, I've read so many books trying to figure out my older son that I can't remember what I've read or not read. I'll see if I can get it from the library.

 

The other maybe relevant thing I know is that he did have some lead exposure. However, there's no way of knowing how much because the blood tests we did only shows recent exposure. He wasn't tested until well after peak exposure usually occurs.

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I'm saving ideas from this thread because my 19-month-old seems more intense than his peers and I struggle with keeping him out of mischief.

 

One thing that his been a huge hit with him and the 3-year-old boys we play with at the park is a toy T-ball set. He will spend a long time playing with this all by himself. I got this one http://www.amazon.com/Little-Tikes-TotSports-T-Ball-Set/dp/B001EB9F3C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1303883048&sr=8-1- I believe it's about $15 at Walmart.

 

This might be a good addition to your backyard. You could use frisbees or pieces of cardboard or something to make bases and have him hit the ball then do various silly things as he rounds the bases like skip, crawl, walk backwards, crab walk, hop, etc.

 

Another cheap fun idea for outside is can stilts. You could start with really short cans like tuna fish until he gets the hang of it.

 

Do you have a tree or a pole? Could you rig up a pulley and bucket and have him see how many rocks he can lift?

Edited by AndyJoy
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Maybe you should make a "if then" kinda chart.. something like:

 

If you stick your hand in sister's toy you will then be using your hands to wash the floor boards/potty/whatever you feel needs scrubbing {but be specific}

 

List every circumstance you normally have trouble with.. be specific. If you want you could add Bible verses to pack up the consequences.

 

Print the charts out, laminate them and hang them on your bedroom wall where visitors are less likely to see them. Explain every rule/consequence with your child and then let him know henceforth this is how it is.. When he does act out take him to your room and read out the offence and consequence and carry it through.

 

 

Personally, I found 4 much tougher then 2. I mean really lots tougher!

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