Mom to Mom

Hardest age for boys
by ANR1390
December 7, 2012 at 4:17 PM
My boys are 4 and almost 6. So far this age group has been the worst! I loved the newborn to 2 years old. 3 was okay, but 4-6 has been stressful. Please tell y'all's experience. What age does it get at least a little less stressful?


  • ANR1390
    by ANR1390
    December 10, 2012 at 3:53 PM
    Wow that was a lot of good advice. One of my main problems is them fighting with one another. They will hit, pinch, argue, etc. they get time out or poppings. And patience is another. If they are thirsty, they will ask over and over and start whining if I don't get it right then and there. They expect things to be done when they say or ask. I don't hardly ever do things right away so I don't know why they are like that.

    Quoting DarlaHood:

    I aplogize for the length of this post, but I want to give you some strategies that worked for me, and I don't know what you've tried or how you've tried it. I definitely sympathize.  I've been there!  It is something you want to get under control now though, because those issues do worsen as they get to be pre-teens and teens if not nipped in the bud.  I had a very strong-willed daughter.  It's challenging! 

    If I can first encourage you, I will share something a wise mom once told me.  Someday all those traits that aggravate you will serve your sons well.  Because perseverence, confidence, assertiveness, determination, critical thinking, and the ability to go against the norm can be huge assets in life IF they are directed toward the right things.  There were many, many times I thought, I hope that she knew what she was talking about!!  But my dd is 27 now, and it did turn out to be true!!

    I found the most important things in minimizing attitude and defiance were consistency, incentive, and avoidance of power struggles.

    Avoiding power struggles is HUGE.  Try really hard to pick your battles according to what is truly important and to give choices whenever possible.  So they need to take a bath, you might ask them, "Do you want to take your bath right after dinner or do you want to play for a half an hour and then take your bath?"  If they choose to play (which they probably will), then set a timer for 30 minutes and tell them, "When this timer goes off, it will be the time you chose to take your bath. Remember no arguments.  We are going to have a happy bath time." 

    When the timer goes off, tell them. "O.K. time to take your bath, choose a bath toy.  Do you want to undress in your room or the bathroom?"

    I know it seems simple, but giving choices causes them to focus on the options you give them and exercising their own decision making power.  Whereas, if you give commands, they have no power and have nothing to focus on but your command compared to what they are in the middle of.  You can do this with anything.  You can carry a timer in your purse and use it at the playground.  You can give choices about what to wear, etc...

    The 2nd strategy is using positive reinforcement instead of punishments as much as possible.  So instead of saying, you were fighting with your brother all through dinner and you were not speaking nice to mommy, so you are going straight to bed.  Switch it around and say, if you speak nicely to everyone and don't fight with your brother during dinner, mommy or daddy will play a game with you tonight (or you can have an extra half hour to play, watch tv, etc..).  With little kids, it works best if the behavior is expected for a short/defined period of time (while we're in the store, at the park, eating dinner) and the reward is as immediate as possible.  Also the reward has to be something they value.  Along with this goes ignoring negative behaviors as much as possible and catching them doing something right and praising as much as possible.  "Wow Brandon, you are treating your brother so nicely and you have used your indoor voice and stayed with mommy since we've been in the store.  Great job!"

    Honestly, kids do really want to please you, and it feels really good when you are proud of them and they are proud of themselves.  It is extremely motivating.

    The trick to positive reinforcement is consistency!  You must follow through every single time.  If you say, "if you pick up your toys before this timer goes off, we can read an extra story before bed."  Then you cannot read the story if they don't follow through.  Don't yell, argue, or even really acknowledge.  And don't give warnings that the timer is going to go off in 10 minutes or whatever.  Put the timer where they can see it.  If it goes off, and the toys aren't picked up, just let them know.  Darn, we don't get to do a story before bed tonight.  Maybe tomorrow.  If you use a valued reward, they will do it after 1 or 2 times of losing out.  If they whine, argue, complain, tell them Oh, sorry, it's too late to talk about it.  And ignore it.  That could go on for a bit the first few times, but if you don't react, it will stop.

    You can also talk with your boys about what the house rules should be.  If the rule is, talk to me nicely, then that means everyone in the house gets that same courtesy.  Since they may not be reading, they can draw pictures as their version of the house rules to remind them. It makes the rules concrete and gives you a chance to review often.  

    Lastly, I am a believer in explanations for decisions.  If Johnny wants to play outside, and you don't have time to supervise.  It is good to explain and give a choice.  "It won't work for you to play outside right now because I have to finish this task, and it would not be safe for you to be out there by yourself.  Would you like to color or play with your dinosaurs while I finish this job?"  or "would you like to play outside after lunch or before dinner?  I will have time to go out with you then.:  If he says, "I will be safe, i can do it by myself", and argues.  You just say, 'Remember the house rules say we have to help each other.'  Right now, I need your help, and so I can't talk about this anymore."  Then ignore whatever else is said.  Even if the arguing and whining goes on for a bit, after a few times of getting no further response from you about that, they will learn there is no payoff and no point.

    Some people think explanations open the door for argument.  Personally, I think explanations teach your kids that you do think about ways to allow them to do as much as possible, and have solid reasons for your decisions.  When you share your reasoning, you are teaching them to think critically and make good decisions, which will be what you want them to do later.  Even young kids are capable of understanding why. 

    Quoting ANR1390:

    Attitude and defiance.

    Quoting DarlaHood:

    I agree that it depends upon many factors, but I think teens are the hardest.  What are you finding particulary hard at this stage?  Maybe there are some strategies all the moms could share to help you smooth things out a bit.

  • Metteba
    by Metteba
    December 10, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    For me, it is was age 3-4 years old.  He had tantrums, that were unreal .... Now he has wised up and a good kid..:P

  • judybant
    December 10, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    I have a 9 year old, and a 23 year old... both boys... and I can honestly tell you that from 8 to 23 were by FAR the most difficult years. Mood swings, hyper-sensitivity, all of the pandemonium that comes along with girls, but absolutely NO way to "track" the moods, etc... Plus, there's the fact that society says it's okay to be promiscuous if you're a boy, even that it's NECESSARY, so trying to teach them to be respectful of women and girls, without being a ball buster... OY!  I am told that guys' frontal cortex finally matures about age 25 or so. I pray that this is true. Then I'll have one out of the "difficult years" at least!  I'm too old for this crap! banging head into wall

  • Eve-marie
    December 10, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    I like 8 - 9. He's helpful and thoughtful. My 9 yr old is almost ten, still helpful but he is starting to fret about everything. He says he's changing. I can't wait for his voice to be changing, so he would stop whining so much, lol.

  • DarlaHood
    December 10, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    Hope it wasn't overload, but I swear it works.  I'm guessing poppings is a swat on the butt or something similar.  If your main problem is fighting, I don't recommend that.  And any kind of spanking tends to increase defiance and model the behavior you don't want them to do (cuz you don't want them popping each other). 

    Siblings are gonna fight, especially when they're close in age.  So giving them incentive to work out their differences with words and not fight (by saying, if you don't fight while mommy's on the phone and you play nice, then (insert positive reward).  If they can't resolve their differences, then you can make them play separate in their own spaces and not talk to each other.  Then they have a choice, do you want to learn to play nice and talk it out instead of fight?  or do you want to play alone?  Honestly though, this one does take time and practice.  And so just focus on teaching them what the boundaries are.  If it gets loud or physical, then you're gonna intervene.  If not, then don't.  Getting them to think about and learn that they want to play together and can resolve arguments without having a problem is your goal.  You can make a little area with pillows for each of them (if it's a make-shift tent of some kind, even better).  And you can have them take quiet time in those places if they are really not able to get along.  But they could read, draw, have small toys or action figures, or anything they can do quietly.  That way if they are having a bad day, you don't have to discuss whose fault it is.  You can just say, you guys need a break.  I think some alone-time will be good for you. 

    You can also explain that whining is never going to get them anything.  Calmly say, As long as you're whining, I'm not going to be able to do that for you." 

    BUT - your kids are at an age where time means little, and they believe their needs are urgent.  So you have to keep that in mind.  If thirst is a frequent issue, you might buy each one of them a large water bottle and put their names on theirs.  Fill it up with ice and water, and have them keep them in a certain place.  That way they can get a drink during the day when they want to.  You can make a habit of refilling at meal times.  Most 3 to 6 year olds are not going to be particularly patient, so you all have to think how you might solve the problem without setting them up to fail.  Expectations have to be age-appropriate, and a thirsty 4 or 6 year old is gonna think 5 minutes is a loooong time!

    Quoting ANR1390:

    Wow that was a lot of good advice. One of my main problems is them fighting with one another. They will hit, pinch, argue, etc. they get time out or poppings. And patience is another. If they are thirsty, they will ask over and over and start whining if I don't get it right then and there. They expect things to be done when they say or ask. I don't hardly ever do things right away so I don't know why they are like that

  • chunkyhoney78
    December 10, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    I have a 16, 15 and 2 yr old. I would say that when my 2 older boys was around 3-5 I had the hardest times with them, mainly listening. I will tell you I had a game I use to play with them  called it the be quite and be good game which ever one listened the best they got a prize whether it be they got to pick out what was dinner (if I didn't have any money to buy them a prize) or they got a cheap dollar store prize it helped most days and some days boys will just be boys. My 2 yr old is going through the terrible 2 stage but he is not as bad as my oldest child was. My 16 yr old is starting to rebel a little which I understand at this age because I did it as well but nothing too bad just yet.

  • Shelley927
    December 10, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    my boys are 15 and 17 and the hardest point for me was puberty......when they were younger I had them both in Cub Scouts and took part in that with them.......Being a mom never gets easier because once they steal your heart at birth you are screwed (in a good way)........

  • jett286
    by jett286
    December 10, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    I have 2 boys 16 and 18...The most difficult time for us was the middle school years 12-14...Once they hit high school (they both have fall birthdays so they were almost 15 when they started their freshman year) it has been much easier.  They are good boys, and for us it was mostly attittude, they still give it a good try once in a while but we call them on their attitude and they usually check it! We feel very fortunate...

  • Jenn_A
    by Jenn_A
    December 10, 2012 at 11:25 PM

    It wasn't an age for me. It was when my boys were tall enough to look me in the eye. One was 12, one was 15. It was like a switch! My sweet, loving little baby boys were sassy and sullen! One got over it quick, about a year, but the other is STILL doing it 4 years later, although it is getting better. Hoping it is completly gone soon!!

  • BelleVernonGirl
    December 11, 2012 at 1:25 AM

    The older they get the harder it gets!  Good luck!!!

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