Everyone talks about the Terrible-Two’s and the Trying-Three’s, how about the Frustrating-Four’s?
You don’t hear much about this stage.
I can tell you first hand having a 4 year old that I am FRUSTRATED!
This is my second time going through this stage. Boy had I forgotten how frustrating this stage of development can be.
The whining, crying, hitting, the non existent self regulation. “That’s mine, I want that! etc.”
So, what happens when your child turns four?
Thus far, my son has been more loveable and asking for hugs and kisses which I will take all of.
Then there is the WHINING! OMG, it has to STOP!
The ‘talking back’, he is starting to tell me how to deal with things.
Then if I do not deal with it right away, he will tell my other children what he is going to do about it, as if he is the adult.
While this is funny at times, there are times where I find it frustrating because he is so serious.
So, what do you do to help your child through this stage and keep your sanity.
I know each child is different so what works for one may not work for another.
I have been counting to 5.
I tell my son I am going to count to 5 and then you are going to be calm by taking 3 deep breath. I then do it with him.
Once he is calm I ask him to talk to me in his big superhero voice as I cannot understand his other voice.
We have been practicing this for a few weeks and he know stops himself when he whines and uses his superhero voice, when he does this I make sure to praise him for using his big boy voice to encourage him to continue this.
The hitting, pushing and kicking is also starting, I understand that he is learning to stand up for himself and his older brother has hit him in the past (what siblings don’t fight?).
So, how do you stop this? We have enrolled him in karate to teach him about discipline and when it is acceptable to use your hands to hurt others. We also ensure that we have consequences for when these actions take place.
Additionally, we talk about it.
We talk about when it is okay to hurt someone, if someone hits you first and will not stop.
If someone hits you once you :
W – Walk away
I – Ignore them
T – Tell someone
S – Shout for help
The crying is also driving me crazy. At any moment, he will start to cry over something small (in my opinion).
I have to remember to him these new experiences are huge.
This stage of developing self regulation is huge and a part that we MUST foster with the utmost patience.
We have to teach our children how to deal with their feelings in a positive manner.
We have to talk to them with a calm and even tone of voice, we cannot shout, raise our voice or use an angry tone.
This teaches them to do the same in return.
There is going to be a lot of explaining in this stage too, make sure you have lots of water to drink because you will be thirsty. I have heard many educators and some parents tell their kids to “put your tears away” – where are they supposed to put them?
Not to mention the fact that when we cry as adults, we cry for a reason.
So do children.
They don’t just cry to frustrate you, make you mad, or get your attention.
They are telling us that they need help, so help them.
What can you do?
1. Give your child a hug until they calm down
2. Tell them you are going to help them when they are ready
3. If they are having a full out temper tantrum then let them have it, stay close to ensure they do not hurt themselves. Then tell them that they have some big feelings and you want to help them with their big feelings.
4. Ask questions to understand what is going on
5. STAY CALM
6. HAVE PATIENCE
7. Have them breathe with you
8. I tell my kids to breathe their “fire feelings” into a ball (I make a ball with my hands) then I throw it away for them. This calms them down so we can talk.
Hopefully, some of these tools will work for your family.
The best advice I can give you is to follow number 5, 6 & 7.
Remember this is just a stage, and you & your child will get through it together.
Amy, having earned a Bachelors Degree in Child Development, has been in the field of Early Childhood Education for the past 10 years. First working in an infant classroom, and then moving to JK, preschool and toddlers. Currently Amy works as a Supervisor of a childcare facility in York Region.