Friday, 7 September 2018


When Jack turned four I remember feeling very proud that we had conquered the terrible two's and threenage years without too much of an issue. I had heard about all the difficulties that parents of two and three year olds faced and although we'd overcome some tantrums and separation issues, overall we had come through it relatively unscathed. I'd got this parenting malarkey down to a tee I thought. That was until Jack hit four and became a fournager. Didn't know that existed? You're not the only one.

When I was pregnant I was warned about a couple of tricky moments that I would face as a parent. I was told about how difficult sleep deprivation would be and how potty training would make even venturing outside impossible. I was also told about the terrible two's and the year of the threenager. The one thing that I was given no warning on was the fournager stage. 

The fournager stage has blew into our house like a tornado and doesn't seem to have quite left yet. Whilst my son is only 4 years old, he is acting like a teenager in many ways. With improving language skills, he knows exactly what he wants and when he wants it. He can be very vocal (usually in a public place) and seems to have absolutely no control over his emotions. To even things out Jack is also fun, kind and relatively shy however the switch from his normal personality to his fournager persona can happen very quickly and for no apparent reason. That is unless you class giving your child the wrong colour cup as a legitimate reason to have a breakdown.

In terms of discipline I'm trying really hard to be consistent with boundaries whilst also giving Jack the freedom to learn. I'm naturally a bit of a helicopter parent so I'm making a real effort to give Jack choice and freedom to learn and make mistakes.  I'm trying not to get into a debate with him as debating with a four year old is pointless and never ending. Something you will know if you are a parent to a child of this age. One thing I am doing however is really praising those times that Jack is behaving well. Jack responds very well to positive praise so the Tots Up Bus is still proving very effective in terms of rewarding Jack. Jack loves transferring people from his bus stop to his bus and is very excited to receive a little treat when his bus has 10 passengers on it. I find positively praising and then ignoring minor infractions works best. Once Jack realises he is getting no attention when being silly, he soon stops what he is doing. There are obviously many occasions where we have to intervene but we try to balance out knowing when to intervene and when to ignore.

Myself and Wayne are also trying to ensure that we are on the same page in terms of discipline. If I say no to something, I have to make sure Wayne is aware of it so he doesn't say yes when Jack tries to get his own way. There's something very intelligent about children of this age as they are very intuitive. I think consistency between parents is key. We always try and discuss issues at night when he has gone to bed. For example if we would have dealt with a scenario differently we will not discuss it in front of Jack. Instead we will in that moment be a 'team' and be consistent and then discuss the scenario later on.

We are still using the time out step but only for serious issues. He generally never hits or throws so he doesn't spend much time on the step anymore. I find the step is more effective when saved for serious misdemeanours. If he were to go on the step for every minor behavioural issue, I think it would be far less effective.

I find that a combination of all of these ways of disciplining works well for our family.  How do you discipline your child? I would love to know.

What's the stage after the era of the fournager stage. I'm sure a fivenager doesn't exist! Let's hope not.


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