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powerlessstepmom
powerlessst... asks:
Q:

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

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Expert

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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Additional Answers (2)

miranova
miranova writes:
My son started exhibiting similar behaviors at around the same age. He is high functioning Asperger's Syndrome and Sensory Integration Disorder. My son started picking up bad words (I will never forget the first time - school telling me he called the teacher an a**hole...that's not one I ever slip up and say, so not sure where he got that at 4!).  It took me a long time to understand that he cannot communicate "normally", the frustration he experiences leads to physical outbursts. The language he would pick up as something to use when upset.

I was told he was choosing to misbehave, and the whole "discipline, discipline, discipline" thing. That only makes it worse with my son. He would just get more frustrated and miserable. He didn't want to "misbehave" and it started affecting his self esteem by the time he was 6 or so.

Keep in mind a 4 year old doesn't know what he is doing, and to me, this is a sign he needs some help. Sounds like he is experiencing a lot of frustration and does not know how to handle it. I would take him to a developmental pediatrician just in case. They won't have all the answers, if any, you need, but it is important before he starts school and all. Early detection and understanding are crucial in handling most kids with special needs. I also started him in counseling at a mental health place, but they were not the best at "diagnosing" him and they stuck him on a bunch of medications that never really helped. And, I've learned the hard way, a proper "label" (although it's just a label) is important in our society.

What I have learned for my son:
Try to stay calm and positive, try not to argue, in fact just say calming things (I do know how hard this is when your child is in "rage" mode, trust me!)...but its the only thing you can do. My son has always been very stubborn and rigid and impatient. Structure is important, and knowing what to expect in very clear terms. There may be a stage before your child "loses" it. It is important that my son be left alone to calm down, not threatened with consequences or anything. That needs to be done later, when he is completely calm.

Of course, these are just my opinions from my experience. Hope it gets better!
> 60 days ago

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sonofmine2
sonofmine2 writes:
Tell him If he uses the ugly words or acts ugly he will have to sit on the time out chair or naughty chair. Only use time outs and set the timer for four minutes.  He will try to get up put him back and reset the clock. Explain why he is being put in time out.  Those words are ugly.  Your behavior the way you are acting is ugly.  You will sit here because you used those words or acted that way.  Spanking only teaches them to hit, then they will hit other kids thinking this behavior is ok.  We are teachers.  When he does sit for the 4 minutes ask him why did you have to sit in the time out chair or naughty chair. Remind him if you need to.  Then Tell him he is a good boy for not using those ugly words or acting that way hug and kiss him.  Positive reinforcement.  Give him special time when he is acting appropriately and Lots of Hugs and kisses.. let me know how this works for you.
> 60 days ago

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