We are a family of four, my wife currently attends teacher education which in relatively time consuming. Our two sons of 6 and 4-1/2 years are at the kindergarten in the morning and I care for them about two thirds of the rest of the time. My older son is quite normal-behaved for his age. This question is about the 4-1/2-year old:
In short: He cries loudly and tauntingly for minutes several times a day at every possible occasion. This is most likely at times when he claims not to be able to do something (that he is able to do).
For example: This morning I brought my sons to the kindergarten. My older son went in and I stood there with my younger one. He cried that his hands were cold. I told him to go inside (what he is able to do) as I was just locking their bikes. He claimed he was not able to go alone. When I was ready we both went in, him holding my hands and constantly (and loudly) complaining that he could not walk as fast (while he could).
Inside I took his bag, undid his helmet and pulled his gloves and cap off and then told him to undo his shoes and to take off his jacket. As he did not comply he repeated my request calmly two or three times. He replied (loudly again) that he would do that only if I had only said it once. (We play that game often, it typically results in him screaming.) I told him, I would start counting till 10 and then go in without him. He screamed that he wasn't able to undo his shoes and that it was my fault and that I should also do something that he requests. When I reached 10 I walked in, followed by a crying 4-1/2-year-old.
Later that day I collected the both of them. The older one usually gets picked p first and rides up home (that's about half a mile). When I collected the younger one everything seemed calm. He got dressed with minor discussions. (He wanted the other gloves than those he had brought and when presented with the alternative of taking the available ones or none he screamed he wanted the other ones. Eventually he got none.) Outside, when I had unlocked his bike, he would not ride it home. He simply didn't seem to hear it when I told him to get on his bicycle. After several attempts at higher volume I told him that I now would ride home without him. He followed me, screaming again.
When we got home (2mins later) he rode his bike straight into the wall of our house, at a speed slightly too slow to make it painful. (He tried that stunt some days ago but hit the wall too fast and it hurt. This time the show was more on point.) Then he put his feet on the ground, tilting the bike in slow motion until he and his bike fell over. (He did not hurt himself as he learned from last time ...) He then claimed not to be able to stand up. (That is a classic, he is not able to stand up around once or twice a day.) Nevertheless he managed to crawl two floors up, screaming high pitched, then kicking in the apartment door (still lying on the ground), declared to my wife that he was not able to stand up and that it was all my fault. He than crawled into the living room, kicked some piece of furniture which almost fell on him, all the time still screaming he was not able to stand up and that it was all my fault.
What I tried
Leaving: He comes after me and screams directly at me.
Putting him into his room: He shares a room with his older brother who is, let's say, annoyed. This is recipe for drama and I do not want to punish my older son for his younger brother's screaming.
Staying: He screams until my nerves wreck. Once or twice he had me sobbing on the floor. I just cannot take his screaming any more.
Talk to him: He claims that it is all my fault. That I was the first who screamed, or that I never do what he wants.
Give him to others: He is by far more bearable with others. His grandparents always tell us how nice boys we have. As soon as they are out of sight, everything starts anew. Additionally, when I let my wife care for the boys she has to postpone her work to the evening and night when I would otherwise need her to comfort me.
Taking treats away: He screams even louder until everything I could take from him is gone. He then claims that I am bound to give it back to him because it was all my fault in the first place.
My Question: How can I handle this situation. (1) How do I make him calm down and to tell him that he is in fact able to stand up or take his shoes off. (2) How do I keep myself from getting insane? His screaming has until now degraded me from a happy, intelligent, creative thinker to a part-time depressive part-time aggressive person.
UPDATE: About 2 weeks ago I got two answers that could be condensed into: He needs attention, give it to him when times are good. (With slightly varying details). We did that extensively over the past 2 weeks. I helped my son putting on his shoes when he could not, took time to read to him and play games, lend him a hand when he could not walk and so on. These are the results:
1) The screaming got worse. Last week there was no single day that did not end in someone being angry at either him for screaming or me for being unable to cope any more.
2) Our older son acted out more as well. The pedagogues at the kindergarten said he needed more attention.