powerlessst... asks:

How can I keep my 4 year old from cursing and throwing temper tantrums?

i have a 4 year old stepson with a mouth of a 20 year old, he curses all the time and when he doesn't get his way he will call you a curse word and try to litterally beet the snot out of you.  that is if he doesn't hit himself.  i have tried every tactic except spankings but nothing works.  he wants what he wants right then and does not accept the answer no or wait.  temper tantrums i can handle its just the violent ones i cant.  what do i do?
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago



Boys Town National Hotline
Feb 20, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Dealing with a 4 year old stepson or any 4 year poses many challenges at times. Many parents share in this frustration--out of control behaviors of their children.

When you think of parenting a child, there are many factors to consider when you think of behavior. What time of day does this behavior mostly occur? With whom does this occur? Is he tired, hungry, thirsty or not feeling well? Have there been many recent changes in his environment? How does he act with other children? Are there older children in the home? What are you trying to teach to him? Another thing to consider is--what is worth the battle? If he asks for another cookie or piece of candy is it that bad to give it to him? It would depend on if the cookie was a very large cookie. He can earn the cookies and candy also. So, finding a motivator for him. What you can do is try and gradually change and coach his behavior to a more desirable behaviors. Keep addressing and correcting this behavior while monitoring your own feelings and behaviors. This can be done through consequences. Consistency is the key. Remember to keep these consequences age appropriate. If he has a day of minimal swearing--then what does he earn? Could he earn an extra 30 minutes playing outside, T.V., choose the bed time story, choose a special sweet snack?

You also mention he becomes violent. He needs to understand that this is not acceptable way to deal with his frustrations. Again, you want to try and make these episodes decrease, for your safety and his. You may consider talking with your pediatrician, they are another good resource for you to get help for you and your stepson.

Teach him to deal with his frustrations. This can be done with pre-teaching. Teach him how to accept a no answer. You set it up with him like a game. You can make these silly too! Have him ask you: "mom, can I move all my toys into your bedroom?" And your response will be "no". He will say, "ok". Then you praise him for accepting that no decision. With a smile and a big hug you say to him, "you did a good job just saying ok to me, thank you!!". Then you can gradually move him to 'real' decisions that you give him and he will have to accept no. I would make sure you practice several times a day at first, because he needs to feel and know that he is doing and being good.

If you need any further assistance or just need to talk to someone, call the Boys Town National Hotline 1-800-448-3000. We have crisis counselors available 24/7 and we talk to kids, parents and families. Good luck, and I am glad that you are reaching out!

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