It seems we've spoilt our littlest one, and we're paying the price for it now.
We have a combination of the four-year-old testosterone rush, a crazy nurtured sense of entitlement and a (probably genetic) pig-headed stubbornness (ahem).
We honestly felt we should have a handle on this child-rearing thing by now, but here is further evidence that each child is a brand new challenge in himself.
Pushing boundaries. Defying requests. Asking questions then telling me why my answers are wrong. Negotiating every single thing. He is so verbal and will try to talk his way out of or into or around anything.
It's been quite depressing because I've been worrying about making the most of my time with him before he starts school, but in recent weeks our times together have deteriorated into massive battles of one sort or another.
I tell you he's nearly broken me but the four year old is not going to win!
Well actually, the plan is we all win by helping him become a more agreeable person.
I borrowed a book from kindy. Sounded like just the ticket:
Some of the important ideas I have found in here:
- Choose consequences carefully, make sure you're comfortable in following through on them and then do so, unflinchingly. (Therefore I won't threaten to take his Miffy toy away for a week again because, simply, I can't bear his constant pain and begging that long.)
- 'Assisted compliance' can work as well or better than a stand-off over requests, e.g. ask him to get dressed once, then if he won't, say "I see you need my help" and start dressing him.
- 'Positive reinforcement' of desirable actions... this is complex and full of traps so requires careful reading and thought.
Anyhow, I've had the book less than a week and I can see some of the ideas working already. He's (admirably? hideously?) persistent though so I realise there will be no overnight transformation.
Oh, I've also found that giving him 'constructive' jobs is helping, and I probably should have picked up on this earlier.
I'd be interested to know if anyone reading has any great strategies for stubborn little boys.
I have been doing a little sewing and I adopted another old sewing machine (thanks for the tip Harriet!), and have my good camera back now, so will be back soon with reports on those happier things!
- Jane x