I wish I could competently title this post “Fiery Fours and 10 tips to tame them” but unfortunately David and I are wading in a swamp of tantrums and defiance with our four year old (well almost four) and the light seems very very dim right now.
While I can’t, with any confidence, tell you what to do to deal with toddler, I can tell you what not to do.
Do not give in. If you do you will find your four year old running around the lounge wielding a steak knife wearing only 3 day only underpants in freezing temperatures. Stand strong! Do not allow them t skip bath time every night or jump like a bunny rabbit on the back seat of the car or run Flash Gordon like across the parking lot. However tempting it is, do not do it. Drink if you must, inhale chocolate if need be but do not give in.
Do not suggest anything! Even if the child does want the suggestion, he will let out a shriek of resistance that will break the windows of the glass and rouse your deaf neighbour from their daily slumber! Rather wait for them to ask for something. Even if it means they don’t eat for a few days, the aftermath from suggesting the wrong meal/drink really can leave lasting psychological effects on you.
Do not underestimate the strength of a four year old. Do not feel like a failure because it takes two of you to dress the child. One to hold him down and one to force clothes on. You are not. They have super human strength when they are determined.
Do not shout. Your four year old has a set of vocal chords that really are second to none and when he feels hard done by he can shout louder than you ever dreamed and the fear that sound instills in you causes you to consider giving in (see no 1). So do not shout, do not let the beast out of your child’s mouth.
Do not negotiate. You will loose if you try. Trust me! Really you will, so avoid all negotiations unless they are in the form of bribery (Go bath and I will give you a chocolate or a car for your 16th just please for the love of all things special GO AND BATH). Four year olds may not be able to wipe their own bums yet but they have mad negotiating skills and before you know it you agreed to let your child watch another movie while the rest of the house goes to sleep.
I don’t know what your four year old was like but mine is like a walking, talking ball of tears, determination and defiance. He fights us every single step of the way. We are exhausted. He is exhausted. It feels like a battle field of wills over here in our world!