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Unread 03-29-2009, 10:33 AM   #1
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Default My 4 and 5 year olds are mean

I have a 5 year old son, the leader of this operation, and a 4 year old daughter. They're very mean kids. They are especially mean to me. I love and adore my kids, but the good times are over run by the bad. I can't take them no where, because what's intended to be fun ends up being pure hell. I have no control over them. No matter how much I talk, spank, scream, yell, time out....all that jazz, I don't get no respect. My 5 year old throughs huge tantrums, screams and wails...very loudly. He's very mean to other kids and constantly fights and yells with everyone. He's constantly hitting his sister and cousin. Sometimes I think negatively about my own child, which makes me feel even more like a failure. I'm not sure if this behavior is normal, at first I did... but my boyfriend seems to be pointing out that how my children treat me is not good. Does this sound normal, do my children sound angry and corrupt from me leaving their father?
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Unread 03-29-2009, 12:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: My 4 and 5 year olds are mean

If they havn't had tantrums and stuff before the split, that could be what set off the behavior problems now. After a break up kids tend to feel really bad and express that with lashing out at other people and things that you mentioned above.
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Unread 03-29-2009, 06:57 PM   #3
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Default Re: My 4 and 5 year olds are mean

I agree that you should look at when this bad behavior started in comparison to when you and their father split up... if the two go hand in hand then some family counseling may be in order to bring some peace and love back into the home.

... I am thinking of a few ladies I know that have young children the same age as your kids and the one family that stands out is of a lady that failed to put discipline into her children's life at a young age because dad had left them and she over compensated for that by lacking proper discipline they needed.
>>>> is this possibly the case with your kids? (just asking so I can try to help)
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Unread 03-30-2009, 01:03 AM   #4
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Default Re: My 4 and 5 year olds are mean

My daughter was very ummm, spirited when she was younger, and we had some boundary/respect issues as well. We worked with a counsellor to help us deal with the issues at hand, and he had some great suggestions.

What worked best for her (and me) was a Reward system, rather than a disciplinarian one. At the beginning of each week, we sat together to discuss and set a goal, then she got her choice of reward (as long as it was reasonable).

For example, the goal one week might be to use nice words instead of mean/disrespectful words. She would be allowed to make mistakes -- because we all do -- and a limit would be set right off the bat on how many times she could 'forget' the goal. Usually it was somewhere between 2-4 times.

Sometimes the reward she'd choose was as simple as a bus ride to town, or a walk in the park. Sometimes she'd choose a movie, or a few dollars to put toward her savings account so she could get something down the road that she really wanted. That was a real motivator for awhile! :-)

Good luck to you! It's definitely a challenge, but the results are absolutely worth the effort!

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Unread 04-05-2009, 03:06 AM   #5
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Default Re: My 4 and 5 year olds are mean

I'm not a parent, however, the break-up could have set this behavior off. What you can try, is something we learnt in 2nd year university for abnormal psychology. It can work for children, and possibly adults, the Token Economy. Basically, whenever the child does good behavior, you give them a token(s). When they have a certain set amount, they can "cash them in" in order to have more freedom or privilages. This requires you to set up what is good and bad behavior, how many tokens are given and how many can be cashed in for different activities.

In university, and when I go into medicine or research, I do little coursework with children. So, I would assume that you should not make it too difficult to get the tokens or set an outrageously high amount of tokens for an activity or else they won't participate.

I'm not sure what they kick and scream about, however, from what you've posted, it seems like they control you: they make a fuss, you make a fuss over them, they probably get whatever it is. If you don't give in and stay true the Token Economy, then you can gain control: they make a fuss, you don't, they don't get what they want but they make no fuss, you control the tokens and activities.

Also, typically the child whose younger follows the older one or they work in pairs. So, you could try to give tokens if both do good behavior, however, conflicts can come from that. But, the point is, not to favour one over the other.

The problem with the discipline is to them, you are being hypocritical. You tell them don't hit/yell yet you do it to them. Kids tend to learn via observational learning, so if they see/have you hit and yell, then to them, it must be a norm to get what you want. Also, when they do it, it works. So, why stop doing something that works? You have to come in, don't encourage their behavior but rather put the foot down and show you are the boss, not them.

There are other ways aside from the Token Economy, however, I remember this one from my lectures and textbook as being pretty effective. For the tokens, you can use whatever, but, not real money. First, it'll drain your wallet, second, you have no control over what they do, as you become more or less an "ATM mommy".

I cant be of much more use. Next year (3rd year university), I will take abnormal psychology for children, among other courses, but as of yet, all the biology and psychology courses have focused on adults.
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Unread 04-09-2009, 12:57 PM   #6
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Default Re: My 4 and 5 year olds are mean

Are you afraid to upset your children? Frequently, parents who don't have control of their children have a reason why. Children really need to have a parent in control. If a parent is not in control their lives are chaos. This is scary to a child. If the parent isn't in control that means that they are on their own - scary! Children learn self control by a parent being in control. If a parent doesn't control them they never learn self control. Once again, this is scary for a child.

Screaming and spanking do not work (it just adds to the chaos and the children don't learn anything and learning is really what discipline is about. Discipline is not about punishment but learning and shaping behavior). A routine helps because then the children know what to expect and it becomes habit. When you are disciplining a behavior you have to be consistent and do it EVERY time. Never give in to a tantrum. Sit down quietly and ignore the tantrum. It will stop. Interfering with it will make it worse.

If you are in the pattern now where there is only negative interaction going on you can start immediately with spending positive time together. This really flips things around and kids behave better when they spend positive time with their parents.
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Unread 05-21-2009, 05:14 PM   #7
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Default Re: My 4 and 5 year olds are mean

Their behavior is probably a combination of things. After a divorce kids commonly feel confused, insecure, angry and sometimes guilty. They're very young and verbalizing that may be difficult for them and acting out is their only relief. Another reason may be that they grew up seeing their father treat you like crap and Lord knows what dad is saying when he has them. Does he still have custody? If so the kids may feel abandoned and negative attention is attention none the less.

Whatever the reason you have to let them know that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. This is not a short term easy fix. If the child is throwing a fit, put him in his room and let him throw away. If he's screaming at you, very calmly put him in his room and tell him you'll speak to him when he can speak to you properly. When you discuss this with him when it's finished, don't forget to say "I love you very much, but I will not be treated this way." He WILL get the picture once he sees that you're doing it every time. Make sure you praise him when he's behaving well.
I've been married for 24 years and have four wonderful children.
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Unread 06-27-2009, 05:33 PM   #8
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Default Re: My 4 and 5 year olds are mean

Originally Posted by youOme View Post
No matter how much I talk, spank, scream, yell, time out....all that jazz, I don't get no respect. My 5 year old throughs huge tantrums, screams and wails... He's constantly hitting his sister and cousin
Re-read what you wrote: you scream and yell .. 5yr old screams and wails... you spank... he hits ...

Child is simply doing what parent is doing. If you want child to act right, then you have to act right. No matter how frustrated you get with child remember this- negative action causes another negative action. Instead of so much hitting, screaming and yelling how about trying calm voices and lots of hugging. Children learn by example. All of you are probably angry over the divorce and splitting up of family this is probably fueling everyone's actions. Did you get counseling during or after the divorce? Everyone needs counseling going through breakups. Might also help the kids. It also helps kids when you explain exactly why they should do a certain thing or not do it. Explaining why and leading by example are positive ways of parenting.
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Unread 06-27-2009, 06:34 PM   #9
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Default Re: My 4 and 5 year olds are mean

Kids are only modeling your behavior towards them. (kids that young learn to be mean by observing others being mean) Maybe some positive parenting classes would help your family.
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Unread 06-28-2009, 03:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: My 4 and 5 year olds are mean

I would say to get some professional help now because if you wait until they are older consequences could be alot worse not only for you but for them as well. I wish you good luck with this and stay strong!
I'm here to deal with my "issues".
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