NadiaB20 asks:

My 4 and a half year old wants to be first in everything and when he doesn't get his way he resorts to either whining or hitting his fellow mates.

We are living in a community where all of us get along pretty well. My son gets to interact with kids from different age groups. His best friend is a 7 year old who used to get bullied   and is also my front door neighbor. We resolved the problem with the 7 year old but he constantly competes with my son in simple things like i enter the door first or i came first to the party and you are a loser. To a certain level i have restricted my son from meeting his friend with out my supervision. I also told him he is older than you so there is no competition there. My son has learned lots of good things from his friend like riding a bike and talking fluently. But due to constant competition with his friend he is not grasping that winning and losing go together, he hits other kids or whines when looses or he is not the first in taking turns. My son is quite routine oriented if he sat in a blue chair on the first day he will sit on the blue chair every day. If he was the first to enter the door he will always want to be the first to enter the door. He is unwilling to accept the concept of taking turns. He is really good at sharing, specially with his 23 month old brother even with his friends. But taking turns and losing is unacceptable for him.
Just day before yesterday he went to a birthday party he hit a girl because she won and he didn't.
I just don't know what to do. I talk to him about this issue he says he understood but when ever its time to practice what i told him he fail
In Topics: Self esteem and identity, Friendships and peer relationships, Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago



Mar 28, 2013
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What the Expert Says:

Does your son go to preK school? The reason I'm asking is that it sounds like he would greatly benefit from some socialization with kids his own age. A preK environment where the teachers are tuned in to the behavior challenges of 4-5 year olds would give your son the opportunities he needs to learn about sharing, taking turns, and healthy ways to deal with disappointment.
It's important for him to learn to manage his emotions in responsible ways. That's a long-term process, for sure. The whining and hitting you describe indicates that he hasn't yet learned other ways to deal with not coming in "first." He needs more "coping strategies" in his "toolkit." You don't mention how you respond to his whining, etc. It's really important that you let him know that you understand his disappointment and frustration at not winning. It's equally important that you help him by showing him other, more appropriate ways, to deal with frustration. For example, when he whines or hits, you need to stop it immediately (but not using anger.) Instead, come from a patient, compassionate place. You get down on his eye level and say, for example, "You're feeling really frustrated right now because it's not your turn and it's hard to wait. I get it!" Then let that acknowledgement sink in for a moment. Then go on and say, "But even when we're super frustrated, it's never ok to hit. Never." (Let that sink in. And please, make sure that even in your own most frustrated moments that YOU never strike out at your child or use demeaning language. You see, we are best at our job of teaching kids to be good managers of their emotions when WE are good managers of our own emotions.

You might also be interested in taking a look at my book, Teaching Kids to Be Good People. In it I guide parents in practical ways of helping kids manage destructive emotions, and to have empathy and respect of others.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,
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