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Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff
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Author:  bodhi [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

Sorry, this is a bit long, but you guys always have the greatest advice, and I'm hoping you might be able to help!

Recently, Izzy, our four-year-old has gone back to putting things in his mouth like he did as a baby/toddler. Everything. All the time. We've taken away his favourite toys that he put in his mouth/partially destroyed by chewing for a week at a time. Throughout the week, he'd come up to us and say "I'm really sorry, I won't put it in my mouth anymore", and now that his toys have been returned, he really doesn't chew on them. But everything else, he does! Anything from coloured pencils to his hands/fingernails to the complete contents of his bedroom. We have been telling him it's important to take care of our things, and he is normally sent to his room/redirected afterwards.

He's also having trouble listening in general - ie, he hears us, knows what we mean, and proceeds to disobey. Like we've got a bumbo-like chair for the baby, and no matter how many times we've told him not to sit in it, if we walk into the next room, when we come back, he'll be sitting in it. Or he'll kiss the baby, and we've taught him to be very gentle, but he'll still give him like ten kisses and get in close and kind of overwhelm the baby. He also "forgets" to pick up his legos which we keep finding all over the house, which is a pain and also won't be safe once Zeph is up and crawling. Do I need to make a clutter jail? http://imom.com/tools/training-tools/clutter-jail-tool/

So really, what I guess I'm asking is how do you teach a little child to respect his items and to respect the rules we set?

(-We have made a point to give him one-on-one time, since we've got the two of them now, as well as not only buying new things for the baby, but for him as well. Also, we set a pretty good example of listening to each other and taking care of our own things.)

Author:  Larisa [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

Chewing on everything sounds like it could be pica. Have you talked to a doctor about it?

Author:  FootFace [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

I think your expectations might be a little high for a four-year-old.

Four-year-olds are sometimes capable of rational thought, but I don't think it's their default state.

Author:  Kelly [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

I think the Legos and the overwhelming the baby seem like typical behavior that he just needs to work at, but the chewing is different. I wonder if it could be some sort of sensory thing? What's another way he can get that oral sensation? Maybe lots of carrots and celery, etc that he can chew on whenever he needs. Some other sort of physical stimuli that could replace his need to chew?

I'd talk to his dr or ask for an evaluation with an occupational therapist if you think it's serious.

Author:  bodhi [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

Thank you for the quick response! Hmmm, no, pica hadn't occurred to me. h after looking it up, all the articles about it mention actually eating the items. He just chews or sucks on them. Kind of like thumb sucking, actually. I actually have to wonder if it's because he wants extra attention (due to having to share our attention now), so maybe he is trying to act like a baby again? I don't know. If it does continue, I will mention it to our doctor though.

Author:  sofrito [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 6:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

I wish I had something other than sympathies, but I will say that for awhile after Charlie was born, Lucy often pretended to be a baby. She'd try to sit in the swing, the bumbo, pretend to cry, etc., despite the one on one time she got.

Author:  strawberryrock [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 6:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

FootFace wrote:
Four-year-olds are sometimes capable of rational thought, but I don't think it's their default state.


I agree with this.

I've been a nanny for three different four-year olds and their younger siblings now, and four has been a difficult, boundary pushing age for all of them. Regressing when they're dealing with a younger sibling is pretty normal too.

The four-year old I'm currently working with has been acting out like never before, having tantrums, sucking her thumb again, being defiant...her younger siblings (twins) aren't new, they're 18 months old, but I think she is just now becoming jealous of them...her mom keeps asking me, is this normal for her age? What the hell is happening? And I'm like yeah, compared to the other four-year olds I've worked with it totally is.

Author:  bodhi [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 6:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

Phewww, I'm glad this seems like typical four-year-old big brother stuff! I think you are all totally right. I am kind of expecting a lot from him! Sometimes he acts pretty mature for his age, so I forget he's just four. I guess we'll just keep working on these things, and I will be mindful of how much I'm expecting.

Thanks for all the responses! It's always a little harder to see things clearly in your own situation, so I really appreciate your perspectives!

Author:  FootFace [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

One of the hardest lessons I had to learn is that little (and not-so-little) kids just don't think the way adults do. They can't. Expecting them to just makes everyone frustrated.

Author:  bodhi [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

FootFace wrote:
One of the hardest lessons I had to learn is that little (and not-so-little) kids just don't think the way adults do. They can't. Expecting them to just makes everyone frustrated.

Thank you, FootFace. This is probably some of the best advice I've received. Raising kids really has such a crazy learning curve, eh? Just when I thought I had everything together, poof! I don't anymore, haha.

Author:  Ariann [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

Kelly wrote:
I wonder if it could be some sort of sensory thing? What's another way he can get that oral sensation? Maybe lots of carrots and celery, etc that he can chew on whenever he needs. Some other sort of physical stimuli that could replace his need to chew?

I'd talk to his dr or ask for an evaluation with an occupational therapist if you think it's serious.


Everyone had good advice about the older brother/regressing and kids aren't rational stuff, but I think it would be worth following up with what Kelly suggested. Lots of kids have sensory issues that require them to either control their sensory input and require a lot of it or to be overwhelmed by too much sensory input. I have a lot of students who need to be holding something all the time, playing with little handheld toys, rubbing velcro placed under the desk, etc. Also lots of pencil-eaters. Might be worth checking out. It's something that often goes hand-in-hand with learning disorders when you see it in older kids, but it's really common in lots of kids Iz's age without any connection to learning disorders necessarily.

Author:  TheCrabbyCrafter [ Sat Oct 06, 2012 8:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

I'm with Footie. Sounds like a regular 4 year old kind of thing. Beet is 4 and is going through a 'climb everything' phase like he just can't help himself, even though he knows he isn't supposed to and will get in trouble and when he gets busted, he throws a hand in my direction and shouts, "DON'T SAY ANYFING!!" He also started stuffing this one rubber snake in his mouth at every opportunity. He also likes to get the bumbo seat out and sit in it (I had to lock the closet it was in to stop him) and he doesn't put his things away when I ask him to. I will ask him to put his blocks away and bribe him and he will just forget part-way through or decide that throwing all the crayons into their bin from across the room while standing on a table is the proper way to put them away.

Author:  littlebird [ Sat Oct 06, 2012 8:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

Is there anything going on with his teeth? Getting some molars? I dunno if kids that age are ever still getting teeth in, but Tzipi recently went through a phase of chewing the heck out of anything she could get her hands on ( after being a mostly non-chewing baby) and it turned out she was growing some molars. The gnawing on the hands to the point that her fingers were sore really tipped me off.

Author:  torque [ Sat Oct 06, 2012 8:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

I'm with both sides here- i think 4 year olds can't be expected to have the same thought processes. BUT, that said, the adult gets to step in and present things the kid hasn't thought of. It's a great time to give alternatives (which is a good skill for any age)- "if you really want to chew, we're going to have [something yummy chewy] in the fridge all the time, and whenever you need it you go chew, OK? You're a big boy and I know you can remember to do that. But I need you to chew on something special for chewing." Help him remember when he forgets, and make it a positive, big boy thing.
He may be wanting to be more like a baby, or he may just want to chew on things! Some people have different sensory needs, and there's nothing wrong with that. We all know adults who chew on pens/fingernails/etc. If you can give him something appropriate, that's a skill that will help him his entire life. (but, talk to the doc if you like- an OT will help you find good alternatives for chewing. Maybe even a special tool [i won't say toy, it's a tool to accomplish a purpose, but better to have him chewing one special thing, and have him understand that there's nothing bad about it, just that it needs to happen in the right place, right time] just for chewing.
But I do think that the forgetting, the chewing, the everything needs to be addressed positively, as a "you are a big boy now and I think you're ready to do big boy things." He sounds like a good kid and maybe if you give him a chance to try new things he might shine.

ETA: littlebird, the teething never stops. My 12 year old was complaining about new teeth coming in these days.

Author:  Kiddo [ Sat Oct 06, 2012 10:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

Yeah, I agree with torque on giving him things he can chew on if he wants. My 4-year-old went through a minor version of this and my rule was that if he wanted to chew on somthing, it had to be something of his.

Author:  kimba [ Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

There are chew toys for kids, something like that might help. Usually there is a teething break from 3-5 yrs, though there is wide variation.

Author:  Butternut [ Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

I agree with getting this checked out. I had a student with this issue and an OT gave him a specific object to chew on (after clearance from doctor about pica).

Author:  bekki [ Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

You have good advice on chewing, but for other stuff have you tried positive reinforcement? I recently started a token economy for my five year old because simple tasks were becoming the end of the world. Overall, it's worked wonders and as a general rule everything I've tried to get her to do has been pretty successful. This is going from full-blown tantrums to every morning to being ready twenty minutes early in about two weeks, so pretty significant.

Just for the examples you mentioned, a token for sitting in a 'big boy" chair, one for a single, gentle kiss, and maybe a few for when his legos are put away. Then have some sort of reward system to trade tokens in for. I have a box of random crepe I got on clearance for .50, stickers, erasers, mini-activities, etc. she gets to choose from when she gets to 20.

Author:  bodhi [ Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

All good ideas. Thank you so much, everyone.

Oddly enough, I've only noticed him bringing something up to his mouth maybe twice in the last couple days. I don't know what that's all about, but if he's decided to be done with that, I think I'll let it be. Otherwise, we'll probably assign one of his items to be the designated chewing item.

Bekki, I think I will use your idea! It's been so frustrating to see him doing lots of little things he's not supposed, so my partner and I have definitely started slipping up with more positive reinforcement. As in, only sometimes. Which I don't like to admit at all, because I really prefer to take a more positive approach. Our life is a bit chaotic right now - my partner's back in school for 10 weeks starting today, we're both taking an online course each, we've got our 3 month old to take care of, and just generally busy day-to-day - so we've been a little more easily frustrated, I think. Anyway, Isaiah loves prizes, especially if he can pick, so I think I'll do that token thing. And lots of positivity!

Author:  bekki [ Tue Oct 09, 2012 1:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kids respecting rules/taking care of their stuff

bodhi wrote:
All good ideas. Thank you so much, everyone.

Oddly enough, I've only noticed him bringing something up to his mouth maybe twice in the last couple days. I don't know what that's all about, but if he's decided to be done with that, I think I'll let it be. Otherwise, we'll probably assign one of his items to be the designated chewing item.

Bekki, I think I will use your idea! It's been so frustrating to see him doing lots of little things he's not supposed, so my partner and I have definitely started slipping up with more positive reinforcement. As in, only sometimes. Which I don't like to admit at all, because I really prefer to take a more positive approach. Our life is a bit chaotic right now - my partner's back in school for 10 weeks starting today, we're both taking an online course each, we've got our 3 month old to take care of, and just generally busy day-to-day - so we've been a little more easily frustrated, I think. Anyway, Isaiah loves prizes, especially if he can pick, so I think I'll do that token thing. And lots of positivity!


Let me know how it works! I got some wood circles at the craft store, a 1" circle punch from the craft store, and colored cardstock for mine. If you google "token economy" you can find all sorts of different ideas. When I started doing this, positivity had been escaping us at critical times and for the most part, this got it back. Good luck!

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