Four Year Old Behaviour: The Struggle Is Real

four year old behaviour

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So we’re just into week three of the summer holidays. It’s hard to admit but I have to be honest – I’m struggling a little. Recently I had really been feeling that things were getting easier in terms of parenting. Now I’m not so sure. Dealing with the behaviour of a four year old is no joke. And dealing with the behaviour of two of them at once is, erm, intense to say the least.

I don’t want this post to sound super negative. I don’t like moaning for the sake of it, especially when I have so much to be grateful for (and I am, really!) But I do believe in being honest. It’s so much better to talk. If we don’t talk about how we’re feeling, we end up bottling up those feelings until we explode.

Also, there may well be others out there going through similar, who would like to know they’re not alone. Or they may have advice to help (fingers crossed!) That’s why I’m sharing this – not just because I’m a whingy cow, I promise! 

four year old behaviour

Non-stop whinging

So in terms of C’s behaviour – where do I start?! The constant whinging is probably getting to me the most at the moment. It’s definitely a newish thing for her. She just seems to be pretty miserable a lot of the time!

When we go out, she often whinges non-stop to go home, even if we’re actually having fun. I find giving her some choices (but not too many!) can help as I think a lot of it is about control with her. Basically she wants to be in charge and doesn’t like it when she isn’t! I also calmly say that I’ll answer her when she uses her proper voice and I won’t respond to her if she’s just whining. Sounds a bit harsh when I write it down but she does get it. 

Constant snack demands

This is an issue with both of the twiglets. It’s one that we’ve always had to be fair, but it’s definitely much worse during the holidays when their days are less structured. When they were at nursery, they would accept that there were set mealtimes and snack times and I don’t think they ever questioned it. They certainly didn’t nag the staff constantly for food, like they do with me!

I’m not really sure of the best way to play this one during the holidays. Part of me wonders if I should be really strict with set food times, but I don’t really want to. It is the holidays after all. It’s probably inevitable that they’ll snack more than usual and as long as they’re keeping active, I don’t have a massive problem with that. It’s just the constant asking that does my head in!

I have seen an idea floating around Facebook of having a basket of snacks that the child helps themselves to. But once they’re gone, they’re gone and that’s it for the day. The mum who shared it originally has had a mixed response from other parents about it – see this article. I’m not sure really. I think in some ways it’s a good idea but I highly doubt H would be disciplined enough to spread them out. I’m pretty sure he would eat everything in 5 minutes flat then scream for the rest of the day! 

Meltdowns

This is becoming quite an issue for us with H. I may write a longer post about this sometime – I’m not sure. But suffice to say, H has always had meltdowns. They’re different from tantrums. He just gets completely overwhelmed and can’t cope. He’ll scream and lash out and it’s not very pleasant. It’s also hard to know how to deal with him when it happens, especially when out in public – although I am learning.

They seem to be happening more frequently at the moment which is a bit of a worry given that he’ll be starting school in a matter of weeks. I have to keep reminding myself that he always coped fine at nursery so hopefully it will be ok. 

Biting

I can’t believe I’m even writing this as we’ve never had this issue before. H used to bite when he was much much smaller and it was really just a teething thing.

But in the last week or so, C has bitten H a few times and even, mortifyingly, someone else’s child. Again, I really struggle to know how to deal with this.

On the one hand, I don’t want to give her too much attention over it, as any attention is attention right? Even when it’s negative. But I obviously don’t want to let her get away with it either. We tend to talk about how it would have made the other person feel, how she would feel etc. But I sort of feel it’s a bit in one ear out the other – I’m not sure she really cares! I’ll usually try to give some sort of immediate consequence, like remove her from the activity she was doing or something. Other than that I’m at a bit of a loss so any tips would be gratefully received! 

Silliness at home

Another thing that’s driving me mad at the moment is the twiglets’ behaviour when we’re at home. They just seem to be so off the wall. They used to be really good at playing independently but I feel like now more than ever, they need constant supervision. Otherwise they either go completely hyper and wrestle each other to the point someone gets hurt. Or they get really silly and destructive and end up throwing or breaking their toys.

I’m trying hard to be patient and to see things from their point of view a bit more. Ie maybe they’re just experimenting – they’re not actually trying to be destructive etc. But there are some things I just feel they really should know better than to do at their age, so it’s hard not to get frustrated with them. 

It also makes it really tricky for me to get any housework done. Not that it’s the be all and end all, and I know things are going to slip a bit during the holidays, and that’s fine. But it is annoying to nip out of the room for just five minutes to hang up washing or whatever, and come back to absolute carnage. 

Bedtimes

Bedtimes have always been an issue for us. And they are still a total nightmare – sooo much silliness and winding each other up! I’m sure some of it is the twin thing. They have each other to egg them on and there’s always someone else to share the blame with. That or they’re just feral and will be juvenile delinquents by the time they’re like seven!

The only thing I’m finding so far which is helping slightly is to try to keep quite strict with their bedtime being at 7pm. It seems any later, even just a little bit, results in full-on feral monsters coming out to play. 

Why is their behaviour worse?

I’m not entirely sure why their behaviour seems so much worse at the moment. I think it’s probably a combination of a few things. 

Lack of routine

I’m pretty certain the lack of routine due to the summer holidays is a big factor. They’ve become very accustomed to attending nursery for three days a week. Even though the environment is pretty relaxed there as their nursery is quite small and informal, their days still did have a fair amount of structure. 

Changes are coming

I also think they are aware to an extent that big changes are coming. Obviously they know they’re starting big school in September. But they probably can’t visualise that much about what it will actually be like. They know they’re going to have new staff to get to know, as well as new children. They also know that they won’t be together all the time which is huge for them.

I don’t think they’re actually nervous as such. They’re still so young (only just four) and so far neither seem to be the overthinking type. But even still, it must feel strange for them. Feeling unsettled is probably another big contributing factor in them playing up. 

If you too have a four year old and are finding their behaviour tricky, I’d love to hear from you! Or if you have any tips for me, do get in touch. 

Thanks for reading!

Til next time, 

Hannah xx 

four year old behaviour

Twin Mummy and Daddy

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7 Comments

  1. Thank you for your honesty and sharing this. Lily does love to whine but I put it down to being a girl thing and I know other girl mums have similar!! Lily has started testing her strength though that I’m trying to curb like suddenly doing something really strange like pulling your arm really hard or squeezing your face! I know it sounds weird but I’m not sure if it is an attention thing as it is particularly if I’m talking to someone, or just trying to push her boundaries, but she does like to say “now I’m 4…xyz” so I don’t know if it is a mixture of that boundary pushing or what. Parenting – just as you think you’ve nailed it, they come and smack you in the face with something new… literally I know that’s no help but wanted to send you some love!!

    1. Haha that’s reassuring, thanks love Though I’m not sure I ever get to a point of thinking I’ve nailed parenting

  2. I’ve witnessed some of the silliness and meltdowns myself with my 2 over the last 3 weeks. I’m putting it down to being out of a routine and missing Daddy as we’re at my mums. I think 2 weeks would have been ok but this last week has been a bit much for H. As for E well she’s turned into the girl that wants to have the last word, always!! She’s an answer for everything and some of her reasoning / counter arguments for my challenges are way beyond her 4 years and I wonder where she’s getting them from? So, you’re not alone. I’ve no advice but happy to join you for some wine when I get home

  3. OMG, thank you for this post! This is totally us right now. I have 4 and half year old identical boys and this sounds like I could’ve written it. The other issue I have, is one is a runner. He ran off in a shopping centre today and we live in a country where we don’t speak the language, sooooo… that was fun! But we’ve had so many changes over the last few months (moving house, stopping crèche because of the move, COVID-19 etc) so I think this has something to do with it all.

    1. Ah thanks for stopping by and for your comment – I’m glad the post was helpful. My boy used to be a runner (I wrote posts about it before) but thankfully he has grown out of it now, so hang in there! I remember the anxiety of it so well though – you saying about the running off in the shopping centre gave me shivers, especially not speaking the language – god you must have been terrified! So glad all was ok. It must be so hard for you as they’re not at the age you can easily shove them back in a buggy I guess. Can you use reins? It will get better though! And definitely, everything going on is most likely playing a part – things are so weird aren’t they! Sending love x

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