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bmatte
bmatte asks:
Q:

My soon to be 4 year old boy driving me crazy!!!!!

I don't want to sound like a bad mom, but my son is driving me mental. He is constantly on my butt, follows me everywhere even when I give him something to do like coloring, movie, book or legos. I never have my space. Everytime I ask him to do something he says No, and does something else. I ask him to help me clean his room, he says No and continues to play and make more of a mess. He ignores me, yells at me and talks back. I believe he has adhd because he can't sit still at all. (Having that looked at now) he is constantly putting DVDs into the player and take it out, grab another put it in, and take it out. It drives me nuts! He is constantly whining or crying, I feel like ripping my hair out.

Now for me, I am a single mother. I go to school from 1-4. I have a test every Fri! I have to clean everyday because he makes a mess every day. I make dinner, give him baths, and read him books before bed. I'm trying my hardest for a single mom. YES, I do have a lot of stress in my life. Which I feel is mainly from him ( hate to say) I feel like crying a lot. Or spanking him to get my way.

I just don't know what to do anymore, pleasseee help, or I may loose it soon. :(
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Feb 18, 2014
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What the Expert Says:

Thank you for reaching out.  You are a good mom for asking for help when you need it.  It's great that you want to get a handle on this now, because "not listening" and whining when you don’t get your way can become a habit if your son keeps it up.  Kids his age can be very headstrong because they are at that developmental age in which they realize they are independent little beings.  They are able to do so many more tasks on their own like get their own cereal or dress themselves, yet they still need supervision, instruction, and sometimes re-direction.

They don't want to be interrupted during play or a TV show when it's time for dinner, the bathroom, or time to simply follow a direction from a parent, because they don't want to miss out on something. They are only just beginning to realize that they might be able to come back to this activity. Perhaps times like these are when you are finding that he is either ignoring you or failing to follow a direction from you and instead begins to whine. You are with him most often, and if he knows he has been able to slip by without listening a few times because you are not consistent with him, get outwardly frustrated with him or even raise your voice, he will continue on.  In his mind he won and got to you.  It is just like when a parent counts to 10 when the child is not listening.  If the child knows he won't be in trouble until mom gets to #10, most likely he'll keep ignoring until about #9.

You might try doing some "listening role playing" with him.  Tell him you are going to practice with him.  Start by teaching him how you want him to respond when you talk to him or give him an instruction.  Have him practice:
 
1) stopping what he is doing
2) look directly at you
3) answer with "OK" or "Yes MOMMY" (something like that)
4) complete the task
 
When he does this, praise him for it.  Praise him with either verbal praise, a hug, encouragement. (positive consequences) If he does not do it, offer a negative consequence.  Let him know ahead of time what the negative consequence might be.  It could be a 10 minute earlier bedtime or 5 minutes in his bed with no activities after he does finish what you asked him to do.  Whatever consequence delivered, be sure to use that as a teaching moment after the consequence is delivered.  "You did not listen to Mommy when I asked you to turn off the TV, next time I ask you, I want you to look at me and say 'OK Mommy', and turn off the TV"
 
Be very matter of fact throughout these exercises.  There is no need to raise your voice even.  If you remain calm and just focus on reacting to his behavior whether it is a positive or negative consequence, hopefully he will too.  The best thing you could do is be very consistent practicing this.  Kids actually like to know what is expected of them.  There are no surprises this way.  Another thing you could try is listening games such as Simon Says or Operator.  Games in which he has to listen to play.  
 
A great book that includes many different scenarios like this is Common Sense Parenting which you can find at boystownpress.org.  You could see if your local library carries it as well.  It is such an easy read, and truly the model can be used for any age of child.  (the consequences are what changes as the child gets older).  

Laura - Crisis Counselor

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Additional Answers (2)

Boys Town National Hotline
Thank you for reaching out.  You are a good mom for asking for help when you need it.  It's great that you want to get a handle on this now, because "not listening" and whining when you donât get your way can become a habit if your son keeps it up.  Kids his age can be very headstrong because they are at that developmental age in which they realize they are independent little beings.  They are able to do so many more tasks on their own like get their own cereal or dress themselves, yet they still need supervision, instruction, and sometimes re-direction.

They don't want to be interrupted during play or a TV show when it's time for dinner, the bathroom, or time to simply follow a direction from a parent, because they don't want to miss out on something. They are only just beginning to realize that they might be able to come back to this activity. Perhaps times like these are when you are finding that he is either ignoring you or failing to follow a direction from you and instead begins to whine. You are with him most often, and if he knows he has been able to slip by without listening a few times because you are not consistent with him, get outwardly frustrated with him or even raise your voice, he will continue on.  In his mind he won and got to you.  It is just like when a parent counts to 10 when the child is not listening.  If the child knows he won't be in trouble until mom gets to #10, most likely he'll keep ignoring until about #9.

You might try doing some "listening role playing" with him.  Tell him you are going to practice with him.  Start by teaching him how you want him to respond when you talk to him or give him an instruction.  Have him practice:
 
1) stopping what he is doing
2) look directly at you
3) answer with "OK" or "Yes MOMMY" (something like that)
4) complete the task
 
When he does this, praise him for it.  Praise him with either verbal praise, a hug, encouragement. (positive consequences) If he does not do it, offer a negative consequence.  Let him know ahead of time what the negative consequence might be.  It could be a 10 minute earlier bedtime or 5 minutes in his bed with no activities after he does finish what you asked him to do.  Whatever consequence delivered, be sure to use that as a teaching moment after the consequence is delivered.  "You did not listen to Mommy when I asked you to turn off the TV, next time I ask you, I want you to look at me and say 'OK Mommy', and turn off the TV"
 
Be very matter of fact throughout these exercises.  There is no need to raise your voice even.  If you remain calm and just focus on reacting to his behavior whether it is a positive or negative consequence, hopefully he will too.  The best thing you could do is be very consistent practicing this.  Kids actually like to know what is expected of them.  There are no surprises this way.  Another thing you could try is listening games such as Simon Says or Operator.  Games in which he has to listen to play.  
 
A great book that includes many different scenarios like this is Common Sense Parenting which you can find at boystownpress.org.  You could see if your local library carries it as well.  It is such an easy read, and truly the model can be used for any age of child.  (the consequences are what changes as the child gets older).  

Laura - Crisis Counselor

> 60 days ago

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TeacherandParent
TeacherandP... writes:
You sound like a wonderful mother - and your son sounds like a very high energy boy. Some children just can't play on their own and always seem to need someone to play with them. Will he sit and watch a movie if you sit with him even though you might use that time to study?
It certainly sounds like the DVDs need to put away and he can be told they were put away because they break and scratch when they get loaded into the DVD machine just to be taken out again. Another thought might be - is there a nursery school or HeadStart program in your neighborhood that he could go to?
Children these days do talk back - it's more like they're debating with you - but I wouldn't let him yell. Try making a game of cleaning up his room - or get a huge box from the supermarket and throw all his toys in it - it's the easiest way to clean up. If they are toys that can't break, it could be a game like 'toy basketball' to see who can get the toys one at a time into the box.

Having him checked out for ADD isn't a bad idea - it's real- some children really do have it and there is medication that can help with it.

You can also put his toys away - leave him one or two - and tell him that you go to school and cook and clean and you need some help cleaning up. Tell him that he's got so many toys out that it's too hard for him to clean them up so just one or two can come out at a time.
> 60 days ago

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