Terrible Fours?!

I knew about terrible twos. I was prepared for terrible twos. Meghan and I read books, blogs and articles all designed to get you through the terrible twos. And you know what, we rocked our first round of terrible twos. We mastered the skills of;

The strong assertive voice

The lean in close whisper

The 1-2-3 count

The time out chair

And we never, ever, ever gave in to a temper tantrum.

I am not here to brag but we conquered Simeon’s terrible twos. Then came three. We sharped our skills, pulled up our socks and really worked on teaching appropriate behavior.And again our hard work really seemed to pay off. Simeon’s behavior 9.9/10 was exemplary.

So I walked smugly by the struggling parent in a grocery store with a child raging for a treat.

I smirked at the park when I saw a parent demanding their child come down the slide to go home for lunch only to be ignored.

I quietly basked in our obvious super parent skills when I watched a parent pick up their child kicking and screaming because they refused to listen.

We worked hard so we wouldn’t have to deal with those kind of behaviors, and it had paid off. Simeon was a great listener who never went into a full blown temper tantrum. As three came to a close and our toddler was transformed into a four year old preschooler I was ready to do a victory lap.

We did! Mission Accomplished!

It was now time to settle in to the sweet spot. That golden time between the toddler years and the teen years. The time where you have a kid that sleeps through the night, can wipe their own bum and doesn’t think you are the dumbest person on the entire planet.

The problem is, this is not what happened. Things didn’t continue to get easier they  got worse. Simeon whom I bragged about said was tempter tantrum free starting having rages when he didn’t get what he wanted. He would cry, yell, and stomp around if I dared tell him ‘no’ when he wanted ‘yes’. He had time outs, he lost toys, we had talks about behavior but nothing seemed to slow this new behavior.

I’ve stopped smirking, walking around smugly, and I have relinquished my ‘super parent’ badge.

No one told me that four could also be terrible. But I’m learning that terrible really doesn’t stop at two. I would dare say there is a streak of ‘terrible’ that runs through every age. I am discovering that it is even in me at age 30.

Sometimes I wonder if we don’t allow kids to be people. Upon reflection a lot of what I was trying to do was like programming a robot, or training an animal. Behaviors I like were programmed in via rewards and praise. While behaviors I didn’t like were removed via corrections.

Where was the room for having a poor nights sleep? Or just a day of feeling grumpy? I know I have had some days where for no reason I can point to I am cranky, and a little mean and kind of short tempered. When that happens I try to put on my smile and power through the day. Or I find things to do away from other people.

In my rush to adjust his behavior I didn’t give Simeon the same space to be a human being. Maybe we can get so busy listening to experts, and competing with other parents that we treat our kids as collections of impulses to manage instead of people with just as many quirks and oddities as their parents.

What do you think?

Terrible Four!

10 thoughts on “Terrible Fours?!

  1. My experience – the terrible 2 last til they are at least 6, maybe the socialization and rules of school make a difference. I am completely with you on the whole concept of they might be little, but they’re still people, and keeping that in mind makes for a balance I think.

  2. Pingback: This thing about training a child | Fairy Godsister's Blog

  3. I’ve heard that threes are worse than two. That two should be misnamed because it isn’t as bad as what comes next. Sorry Simeon has been rough. But I think you’re right. I especially wonder if we are letting our kids be human when an outcry from them elicits an outcry from Dan or I. They lose it so we lose it. And we, the parents, are allowed to because we’re adults?

    I am trying harder and harder to realize that Cameron needs to learn that 1. He is heard. 2. He needs to listen to us regardless. and 3. How to manage those emotions. I am trying to yell less and listen and guide his emotions more. Not always easy. Kids never are.

    • There are days for sure Simeon gives us a run for our money, but that almost always comes after a night of poor rest or doing a handful of activities that he doesn’t like to do.

      Which when I am totally honest makes me cranky too. Kids have the same emotional range as adults, they just haven’t learned how to manage them yet.

      Maybe getting frustrated at them isn’t fair.

  4. I completely agree. I have to remind myself that my children are not meant to be miniature adults, they are children and need to behave as children. Their “terrible” is just part of their learning this complicated world we live in. Although, I could definitely do without the food throwing.

    • I hear you. I sometimes forget that my otherwise very mature four year old is in fact a four year old and with that comes meltdowns and other such things.

      That being said I am getting pretty tired of picking food off the flour.

  5. Christopher, I absolutely agree.
    We have to give children the grace to be human sometimes. There is no magical age. Every age is magical. And difficult. Yes, even me at 36 🙂

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