We’ve all heard of the Terrible Twos and the Threenager, but what about 4?
Now, I don’t want to scare you but 4, well 4 is tough. Like really REALLY tough.
And here I am thinking I had escaped the ugliness of two and three because I LOVED those ages.
4 is basically the evil step sister of 2 and 3.
It’s repeating yourself until you just about explode.
It’s NOT my favorite.
And here’s the thing, I don’t have a bad kid. I don’t have a child who knowingly and willing and mischievously is bad. And I know every parent says this about their kid – but the truth is, I have a good kid. Neighbors have watched him and raved about his behavior. Family has watched him and said how well behaved he was. His teachers at school mention to us how he’s kind and generous and helpful.
So cue in crazy-eyed “what the hell am I doing wrong then” look because I have a child that is far from angelic when he’s at home. Nope, not an angel at all – something much worse. I have a 4 year old.
So what is a mother to do?
Well I have made a goal to be more present with my kids since I’m doing the whole staying at home gig. I want this to be a fun time. Sure there are rules and expectations for behavior, but I don’t want to waste away this time.
I’ve also realized that when I yell and raise my voice….
It doesn’t change Brother I’s behavior. And I feel like a shmuck.
Actually, less than a shmuck. I’m the food that schmucks eat.
So we are both feeling, well shitty.
Something had to change and this is where I realized that sometimes a hug is better than a raised voice.
Cue epiphany lighting and music.
So, the other night bedtime wasn’t going well. Not well at all. And it was late. And I was tired. And I’m hormonal and basically Brother I and myself had a terrible horrible no good very bad day.
Brother I cried and continued his antics.
Baby C was cluster feeding.
My first born, crying in bed and not going to sleep. He needed me. I needed him.
I passed Baby C off to FFD (how FFD can get Baby C calmed and asleep in a split second is beyond me. I mean, I’m the one with the boobs!) and I went to my first born.
My Little Man. My Bugaboo. My precious sweet child, and I crawled into his bed and we talked.
My voice was calm and caring. And I reminded him that he mad a bad choice and decided to throw a fit, and that’s why he didn’t have any milk (he got water instead). I explained to him that using his words is a better choice.
I went on to explain that using his “feeling words” is a much better choice than having a fit and screaming and yelling.
So I asked him what he was feeling and he broke down into a warm 4 year old sobbing noodle and between sobs he said he was feeling sad.
I asked him what he needed.
He needed snuggles. So I scooped up my big boy, put him in my lap and we snuggled.
When he settled down, I decided to get to the root of some of our challenges. I asked him how he felt about school.
He’s happy at school but sad.
Now I’m confused. So I ask more questions.
He’s happy at school but sad because I’m far away.
This explains drop off – the crying, the pleading for one more hug, and the screaming “mommy” as I walk out the door.
He’s happy at school, but sad that I’m at home and far away from him.
Wow. How eye opening. Learning has taken place and this time it was me who learned something so valuable.
we continued our chat and within 15 minutes, I had a much better understanding of my 4 year old.
When you’re 4, you feel all the feels.
And sometimes, these feels run into other feels, and often times they are the opposite feels.
He’s happy AND sad.
He’s frustrated AND sad.
He’s mad AND happy.
For a 4 year old, it isn’t just one feeling. A situation is just never that black and white.
And now I know.
So there’s lots of work going on in our house to change our ways. Mine and Brother I’s.
There’s more understanding, more patience, and more talk of feeling words and what Brother I needs when he feels a certain way about something.
It’s a work in progress, but I have a feeling this will make 4 that much better.