...to expect my 4yo DD to do what she is told? Friend said IABU

(118 Posts)
ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 20:26:20

My 4yo DD is a lovely girl, if you ask anyone who knows her they would say she is polite, well mannered and well behaved. But what they don't see is that at home she can be very stubborn, refusing to do what she is told.

It can be anything from 'stop being silly on the stairs, you will fall' to 'stop teasing your little brother' to 'please put your shoes away' or 'come on, into the car please'. She doesn't do it, she looks at me and just carries on whatever she is doing.

I always ask nicely the first time (this is usually enough if we are out or with others), then I ask a second time with a tone that says I am serious, and if I have to ask a third time then I show that I am cross with her (no yelling or anything just a cross face and very firm) and she has to do her 4 minute time out. This always turns into tears and sobbing because she has been told off and in time out, but she just doesn't get that if she had done what she was told then she wouldn't be in trouble.

It drives me mad, why can't she just do what she is told? She used to, then she turned four!

My friend said I am expecting too much, I shouldn't expect a four year old to do what she is told. But I don't think IABU because she used to do what she was told before this attitude arrived and her 3 yo brother mostly does what he is told will cry if he turns difficult on his 4th birthday too


DameFanny Tue 25-Jun-13 20:28:03

Nope. She's old enough to understand, to look at you, and deliberately ignore you - she's old enough to do a she's told.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Tue 25-Jun-13 20:28:46

Not at all. Keep doing what you're doing and you'll have a nice child that grows up into a decent adult. Your daughter knows when her behaviour is naughty and carries on regardless. If you don't teach her, nobody else will. At 4 she's old enough to do as she's told.

Sounds perfectly normal to me.
I would be more worried if she was compliant all the time.

No, she is old enough to do as she is told. However, is there any reason why she has changed? You mention a younger brother. Is he a new addition to the family? Has she just started school? Have there been any other changes in your family? Sometimes, seemingly minor changes can really affect children. Possibly she feels left out for some reason. I'm really not trying to make you feel guilty, as it may well be just a phase she's going through, but try to rule out any logical reason for this change. I would really try to reinforce any good behaviour, so praise (and lots of it) whenever she does what she's told first time round, or pre-empts you asking her to do something. (I'm sure you do this anyway)

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 20:34:48

What do I do then? Is it just a battle of wills and I have to make sure I win?!

Just keep going with the time outs? Is there anything more age appropriate or do people still do time out at 4 years. She is spending a lot of time in time out at the moment!!

It is driving me mad, it is just such wilful disobedience.

My friend made me feel bad because she said I was being too harsh over the little things. But my biggest rule is 'do what you are told', so even if it is over something as small as tidying up her shoes I still think she has to do it. I was asking friend what her 4yo is like, and when I described what my DD does she thought I was expecting too much and being too harsh. Then I felt bad for my DD that I was a mean mummy!

Sorry, just seen that younger brother is 3!

ISolemnlySwearThatIAmUptoNoGoo Tue 25-Jun-13 20:37:18

You have just described perfectly my just turned 4 year old. She is just testing to see how far she can go. No kid likes time out but she knows thats the consequence.

Is hse going to be starting school in September. Lots of children get quite freaked out by that and their behaviour reflects it.

Wolfiefan Tue 25-Jun-13 20:38:34

Pick your battles!
Does it help if you explain why you want a certain behaviour?
Ensure you reward good behaviour.
Keep doing exactly what you do. Clear and consistent. There are consequences to bad behaviour. She will get the message!

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 20:40:11

JustForLaughs No changes recently, younger brother is only a year younger so she has never known family life without him really. She has me at home as a SAHM and she goes to playschool for her free 15 hours early years entitlement.

Things will change in September when she starts school and I go back to work (have been doing freelance whilst they are at playschool up to now) but nothing has changed yet that I can think of having any impact on her.

She has been going to the same playschool since she was 2.5yrs, no house move, no routine change. It started around Easter when she turned 4. No idea what has set it off really.

MerryOnMerlot Tue 25-Jun-13 20:40:40

YANBU at all. You're friend on the other hand most definitely is!

Time out will get a 50/50 vote on MN, but fwiw I used it and it does work.

My only nugget of advice is to pick your battles, but your 4 yr old needs to know who's the boss!

BigBongTheory Tue 25-Jun-13 20:42:28

Thank goodness it's not just us. Mine is driving me crazy and I feel like I've lost all control in the house.

I think that time out can work, but not for every child. Maybe try a different approach. Crying when she gets a time out doesn't mean it's effective.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Tue 25-Jun-13 20:44:35


Though you will be told you are being too harsh and she's just a baby! (you aren't and she isn't!).

I don't like 'time out' myself. I'd go for removal of something she values - screen time, certain toys, playing in the bath, pudding - whatever you know will actually bother her.

FiddleDeeDees Tue 25-Jun-13 20:44:49

Very interested in people's thoughts on this as I have an almost four year old who is similar.

I agree with OP that at that age they should just do as they are told...surely I shouldn't have to "negotiate" with him to put his shoes away - something that I have to tell him to do umpteen times a day, every day...

Aargh! It's driving me mad too!!

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 20:45:25

How are you meant to know which battles to pick though? Ignoring me when I ask her to tidy her shoes is just as disobedient as when she ignores me telling her to stop snatching from her brother.

If I let her get away with the small things then won't that make it harder to enforce the bigger things?

formicadinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 20:48:17

Of course a 4 year old can do what they are told. Mine do. We also do time out etc in a quiet, fair but firm way. All children need regular boundaries.

sparkle12mar08 Tue 25-Jun-13 20:49:18

Sorry to be the harbinger of doom, but I'm still facing these battles with a 7 and 5 yo! But yes I thoroughly agree, she's not to young, and yes, you just have to keep going!

formicadinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 20:49:35

It is worth giving praise and more attention to good behaviour.

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 20:50:23

So what do others do if they don't do time out?

I could limit screen time, but they only have about 30-40 minutes of TV a day after dinner in the evening anyway. Mind you, she loves her Innotab but it wouldn't bother her to have it taken away, she'd just pick up another toy without being too put out. They share it between them so is used to her brother having it and her not having it.

No pudding could be an option, will have a think about what she would really hate to miss out on.

Apileofballyhoo Tue 25-Jun-13 20:51:19

Have you explained to her what you have explained here, that she must do what you say when you say it or else she goes in time out? After time out does she do the appointed task? I was having terrible difficulty with DS (5) until I explained it to him logically (if you do what I ask first time neither of us get upset).

Not sure asking her repeatedly is a help. I do try to explain the logic behind things (if we don't leave now there won't be time later for.../if your things are on the floor someone might walk on them and break them).

matchpoint Tue 25-Jun-13 20:53:19

I can't give any advice that hasn't already been said on this thread, but you have my utmost sympathy. It's called the 'fucking fours' for a reason!

Glittertwins Tue 25-Jun-13 20:54:36

I found the wilful disobedience started about this time last year ie when they were 4. Nursery said they see it every time as its right in the run up to them leaving, being big fish in pond to go to school. I don't think you are being unreasonable as my two are also old enough to understand exactly what they are doing. We get it bad with twins as I can guarantee that the other will do exactly what the first had been told off for. If we ask them why they did it, we get a pitiful "I don't know" answer.

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 20:54:52

Apileofballyhoo Yes, I have explained and explained and explained. She is a very verbally able girl, I know she understands me. We discuss it, why mummy was cross, what she needed to do. She understands it I am sure, but it hasn't helped. If anything it just makes it harder to put up with because I know she is choosing to be defiant even though she understands what the consequences are.

thegraduand Tue 25-Jun-13 21:00:54

She sounds exactly like my 4 year old. She is beautifully behaved for other people, but never does a thing I ask. I find myself endlessly bargaining and mild threats, usually to speed things up (sit still while i brush your hair or the telly goes off/ hurry up and brush your teeth or there won't be time for bedtime story etc).

No advice, but wanted to sympathise and say YADNBU

ImperialBlether Tue 25-Jun-13 21:01:40

One thing I used to do with my children (who are now adult) was to sit with them when they were in bed in the evening and we'd talk about one good thing that had happened that day, one bad, one thing they had been excited about and one thing that had disappointed them.

I found that talking things over at night (because you get a turn too!) can make them see things in a different light. Nice sad voice, "Well, the thing that disappointed me today was that X kept messing about on the stairs. After it happened last time, I thought she'd realised how dangerous it was. Wouldn't it be horrible if tomorrow night we were saying "The bad thing that happened today was that X fell down the stairs and broke her ankle so we can't go on holiday"?

NeverBeenToMe Tue 25-Jun-13 21:01:42

I did a positive parenting course - they recommend catching the child being good, lots of praise for good behaviour, star charts if they work, quiet time - same room - then time out - which starts when they're sitting quietly! - and my favourite - one start, two stops (instructions). She gets one chance to start tidying up or whatever, before consequences begin, and two chances to stop whatever. Clear simple instructions of what you expect and the consequence that will follow if it doesn't happen.

Most of the above worked with my dgs(4.7) but I need to revisit it at the mo hmm as he is pushing boundaries yet again.

Good luck!

Smartiepants79 Tue 25-Jun-13 21:02:37

Think what you are already doing sounds just fine.
She is more than old enough to be able to do as you ask.
You are not unreasonable to expect her to do as you ask her but perhaps unreasonable to expect that she wil actually do it, if you get what I mean!
She will test you for the rest of your life!
Pick your battles just means pick the things that are important to you. If its all important to you fight for it. I would.
I agree with you that any form of defiance is defiance. It doesn't matter what it is about.
Crying because she is in trouble is normal.
She will get it, eventually, if you are consistent.
Three repeats of instructions gives her plenty of time to do as she is told.
Have faith in what you believe to be right. You are teaching her lessons for the long haul.

lecce Tue 25-Jun-13 21:12:50

Is it just a battle of wills and I have to make sure I win?!

No, just no. Pick your battles - give the two of you a chance to start enjoying her childhood. Yes, she is old enough to understand that she should do as she is told and that actions have consequences etc, but she is also old enough to know her own mind - she needs space to follow it sometimes.

I have never understood the logic behind enforcing time-outs. It seems to create two 'issues' out of one. And removal of items seems pointless too - how is she going to associate no pudding with the fact that she didn't put her shoes away two hours ago?

Lighten up smile.

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 21:15:09

Imperial We do something along those lines at bedtime, we both say what our favourite and least favourite part of the day was. I often use this to reinforce a point from the day, say discuss why you have to hold mummy's hand when we cross the main road etc. I could probably give it more structure though and it might be a good way to keep up to date with things happening at school once she starts too.

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 21:16:47

Lecce And just let her do what she wants?

The battle I am choosing at the moment is the 'do what your mummy tells you to do' battle!

There's quite a lot of negative talk in there. How about being more positive and telling her what she should do?

pointythings Tue 25-Jun-13 21:24:52

Four is a difficult age, and they do need boundaries. I agree that doing what they are told is important, but I wonder whether you are telling her to do too many things? Does she feel she is constantly being told to do something? That's what I call picking your battles - which behaviour is important and needs to be curbed, what's less crucial. Picking up shoes for instance is not something I would push - I'd make it part of a bigger sweep. When DD1 was 4, we made picking up and putting away part of the bedtime routine - it was pick up stuff, get PJs on, brush teeth (shower already done before dinner) and then story and bed. Because the treat of being read to was there to be had at the end of the sequence, the picking up was less of a battle.

I do think telling her when she is doing things you appreciate is also important - you don't have to gush about it, but saying 'I really like it when you...' reinforces the lesson that good behaviour gets noticed. I do think your approach at the moment is a bit weighted towards the negative. Positive parenting has definitely worked for me.

birdsnotbees Tue 25-Jun-13 21:24:58

She's testing boundaries. DS has just been through a period of it (he's 5), with a lot of not doing as he is told. I found we got into a cycle of negativity - my and DH would snap at him straight away as we were assuming he was being a PITA from the off. We had much less patience and I think he started reacting against that a bit.

So as well as enforcing clear boundaries we also did the positive thing. More one on one time (he has a little sister who gets a lot of attention). Lots of praise. Talking quietly at bedtime about the day. Stressing how grown up he is, taking the time to let him tell me in minute detail things he has done at school (& being interested). It seemed to really help.

The other thing we do is say we will take away whatever toy he is playing with (ie the thing he is at that minute most keen on) and put it on a high shelf for a period of time. We do follow this through if need be but rarely have to - and it's only for when his behaviour is really bad (which thankfully is not too much at the mo).

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 21:27:43

I do try to praise lots, when DH comes home at about 5.30pm I always tell him in front of them something good or clever or whatever that they did today. If they are playing nicely together I tell them how proud I am of them playing and sharing. If she helps her younger DS to do something I tell her what a good big sister she is, that sort of thing. It isn't as if she doesn't have an ongoing system of praise.

On Sundays, if they have done all their jobs for the week (make beds,tidy room, put cutlery on table, help put laundry away) then they get their pocket money and often if she has done something extra helpful (this week it was matching up all the socks from the dryer and folding her playschool uniform) she got an extra 20p. I do try hard to praise and reinforce the positives.

lecce Tue 25-Jun-13 21:30:00

Not let her do what she wants without limit, no, but some things you mention (the shoes) don't sound that important to me, while others could just be enforced by you without recourse to a (by the sounds of it) ineffective time-out.

Stuff like the shoe thing, I find it more effective to just state it as if I expect it to be done, rather than asking:
Good day
Me: Oh, ds, you've left your shoes in the sitting room.
Ds: <moves them>.

Bad day
Me: Oh, ds, you've left your shoes in the sitting room.
Ds: moans and doesn't move them.
Me: They're in the way here. If I need to put them away, that leaves me less time to play/bake/look up stuff you want on google etc. Then I put them away if needed.

I gave up fighting every little battle when he was three and it was becoming draining. Now he is 6 and we have far more good days than bad and, over the last 18 months or so, many tasks like this have just become automatic to him.

Stuff like getting in the car when told, I would put her in myself (cheerfully but firmly) if she refused. Life is too short for four minute-long time-outs for every little thing.

I agree it is infuriating, but I don't agree that the only way to ensure future good behaviour is to enforce it at every turn in very young children.

Wolfiefan Tue 25-Jun-13 21:31:30

I don't mean she should be allowed to do as she pleases. When I say choose your battles I mean things like what top she wears, choosing her own top to wear, wearing shoes or trainers etc. I try and give my 3 1/2 year old some say on how her day runs. The big stuff. She does as she's told. Hold my hand as we cross the road etc.

iamadoozermum Tue 25-Jun-13 21:32:55

What do you do when she does do what you've asked her to do?

At the moment, we've been using "I can say Thank You to X for doing Y", whenever we catch any of them doing something well behaved so, say I come into e room and the boys are playing nicely together then I say "and I can say Thank You to X, Y and Z for playing beautifully together". This also works as a "I will have a big thank you for the boys that put their shoes away neatly". And it really works as they fall over themselves to do what I say!

The other thing we do is the count down. So, give them an instruction and if they don't do it, I tell them I'll have to start counting. I ask them again if they still don't do it I start counting from 5 downwards. If I get to zero, then there is a consequence relevant to the task, normally don't get much further than 3 though. DS3 usually shouts "No" and then does it anyway.

greeneyed Tue 25-Jun-13 21:33:18

Er feeling like the worst parent in the world reading this thread - my four year old rarely does as asked first time. Any cross words result in absolute sobbing. Time out is a disaster as he has to be force ably closed in a room as will just get up repeatedly, scream, shout cry. I would worry he has behavioral problems except he is angelic at nursery and for other people Thought it was just being four and trying to be separate from mum but seems like your lot are all bloody angels and I am doing something very wrong - sad

lecce Tue 25-Jun-13 21:33:50

I also think the praise has to be really descriptive and of the moment - I did lots of "great, now your shoes are out of the way we've got plenty of room to play and we'll know where they are when we want to go out," type-stuff.

Btw, that bedtime chat in the 'nice sad voice' about disappoinments and slipping on the stairs sounds bloody sinister to me hmm.

What I mean is instead of saying "don't do that", say to her "please can you do x dd". Eg walk down the stairs carefully, come over here and help with this. So you're telling her what to do and setting boundaries but in a positive way. It takes more effort but you get a better reaction.

Your DH thinks you're too harsh? Might be worth heeding him as something isn't working?

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 21:37:04

Wolfie Yes, I see what you mean. She does get some say, she chooses her clothes (as long as they are reasonably weather appropriate) and chooses her own breakfast each morning. She'll often get the choice of what we are doing in a day if go nothing planned, soft play or park, or play doh or baking, that sort of thing.

Maybe I am just too strict and mean sad

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 25-Jun-13 21:37:10


My almost 5 year old is just the same.

I've started trying to let him have a bit more control over things that don't actually matter, while remaining immoveable on the important things. Time will tell whether it works!

greeneyed Tue 25-Jun-13 21:38:13

Cross posts - your 4 and 3 year old, make their beds, tidy their rooms, put away laundry, set the table? crawls away and cries where the fuck have I gone wrong...

greeneyed, it all sounds a bit regimented and scary to me! Where's the fun?!

ImperialBlether Tue 25-Jun-13 21:39:42

lecce, I thought that afterwards, but it wasn't, I promise! It was a way of talking about behaviour when it wasn't actually happening and I found it happened less in the future.

mrsjay Tue 25-Jun-13 21:40:17

nah she is 4 she knows it is winding you up give her a a minute warning of what is going to happen if you are going out then Tell her dont ask her you are asking she doesnt want toowink your friend is a bit feeble to think a 4 yr cant do what she is told, Oh you can tell her to do something with please and thank you I am not suggesting you roar like a sargent major

I will also add I didn't do anywhere near as many chores at that age but did when I was older so didn't harm me not to be vacuuming as a toddler.

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 21:41:20

No, DH doesn't think I am too harsh, my friend I was discussing DDs behaviour with did.

intheshed Tue 25-Jun-13 21:41:25

My 5yo DD1 is like this at the moment - little things suddenly turn into a battle of wills. I got the book "how to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk" and I find some of the techniques do work, if I have the patience!

I also try to pick my battles and I'm trying to make time to do more one on one things with her, and trying to say 'yes' more often (as I am very guilty of constantly saying 'mummy's busy'...)

She knows that if I start counting 1,2,3 then when I get to 3 she will be on the naughty step. It used to be that 90% of the time she would do the thing I asked her to do before I got to 3, but lately she's been spending more and more time on the step. So I might need a new strategy!

Beamur Tue 25-Jun-13 21:42:25

YANBU in expecting a reasonable level of compliance.
Personally I don't like time outs or even punishments - I just expect my reasonable requests to be met fairly promptly. And they are.
Start as you mean to go on - be firm but fair.

MmeLindor Tue 25-Jun-13 21:42:34

I am going against many on this thread.

You can't always get to dictate to your kids that the do EVERYTHING you tell them. Life doesn't work that way. They need to have the feeling that they can 'win' sometimes.

This has to be done by talking to you, not by having a tantrum. They have to learn that if they want something, they have to argue for it in a polite and respectful manner.

eg she doesn't want to put her shoes on, she wants to put her sandals on. She has to explain to you WHY she wants her sandals, and if there is no logical reason why she shouldn't, then let her wear her sandals. Don't back yourself into a corner on principle of 'doing as she is told'.

It is an important lesson in life.

I would also think about how you are phrasing your instruction.

'If you don't put your shoes on, we are not going to the park'.


'Once you have your shoes on, we can go to the park'

Get the book 'How to talk so that kids will listen' - it is really excellent. I don't follow it religiously, but there were a few really great tips in there.

Your kids don't have to obey your every word. My DC are now 11yo and (almost) 9yo and I am often complimented on their lovely manners and good behaviour.

pointythings Tue 25-Jun-13 21:43:24

Mine didn't do very many chores at all when they were 4, we started when they were 6-7. They are now 10 and 12 and do their bits, and have started doing stuff without being asked, like the dishes. <worried>

It's completely normal for a 4yo not to do things the first time of asking some of the time. If it's all of the time then it's time to do some work.

I think the 'sad voice at bedtime' stuff sounds sinister too, like emotional blackmail. Would never resort to that.

MmeLindor Tue 25-Jun-13 21:43:47

oh, and stop with the timeout.

I have never found it effective.

pointythings Tue 25-Jun-13 21:45:01

MmeLindor just put it much, much better than I ever could.

If children only learn to obey, they will never survive in the real world. They have to learn to negotiate to get their own way within the boundaries of politeness, they have to learn to stand up for themselves, otherwise they will end up as the kind of sheeple politicians love.

Beamur Tue 25-Jun-13 21:46:58

Ditto to MmeLindor - spot on.

Sorry misread. However I agree with MmeLindor.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Tue 25-Jun-13 21:47:27

God - don't start the counting thing (sorry I'm a doozer!) but that just ends up with you having kids that don't do anything until the very last minute of it - it's a nightmare.

Also, no, you don't need to pick your battles other than the one you are picking now which is 'do as you are told'. She is small, get it sorted now, it is much harder when they are bigger and wont do as they are told! You enjoy her (them) more when they do as they are told! Stick to your guns but think about the consequences of not doing it and see if you can think of something that will work better for your DD than 'time out'.

... and no, not getting the 'sinister' thing at all.

greeneyed - you are most certainly and absolutely not the worst parent in the world! (Did you see the 'mother' on the news tonight - now she deserves that title sad ) What happens when he sobs? What happens if you completely ignore the sobbing?

cjel Tue 25-Jun-13 21:48:29

As a mother of two and grannie to 5 who runs a toddler group , I would say back off a bit. if you want to break her spirit and turn her in to a frightened wreck who will do whatever she is told by any one carry on. It may be 'driving you mad' but that is for you to sort out internally only you are making yourself mad!!!!
re assess why you feel the need to have this little person do everything you want when you want it. Are you like it with adults? if not why not? and if you are?
Be more encouraging, loads of praise and positivity, try and do things with her instead of standing away and telling her do xyz. If you think educating your children is a battle of who gets there own way there will come a day when you will lose. Big time.

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 21:49:13

Yes, they both have jobs to do, they love it because they know they will get their pocket money. I don't even have to tell them to do the jobs, they do it without any reminding.

DD at 4 can make a passable attempt at straightening her duvet, DS at 3 needs me to do it with him together but is very chuffed with himself that he has done it.
Tidying their rooms is just straightening up toys, so putting her My Little Ponys in their box and putting his cars in the car garage.
Each night one of them puts the cutlery on the table for dinner. It is hardly slave labour!

We have plenty of fun too. Having some responsibility to help around the house doesn't mean we don't have fun as a family hmm

Smartiepants79 Tue 25-Jun-13 21:49:28

Remember all these are other people's opinions. You're must do what works for you and your family.
It only matters if YOU truly believe you are too strict and mean.
Is this really impacting on your relationship and enjoyment of your time with her? Or is just annoying you a bit at the minute.
I think I'm probably strict BUT I'm comfortable with that!
I believe that I'm laying ground rules that will be the foundations of our relationship for her whole childhood.
I would rather have these battles now, with a 3 year old than in ten years time with a 13 year old.

Fightlikeagirl Tue 25-Jun-13 21:50:19

I'm a childminder and totally agree with what Neverbeentome wrote.

Completely over do the praise when she is good, tell her how proud you are and how happy it makes you when she is nice to her brother/puts her shoes away etc.

In the case of unwanted behaviour, give a couple of chances for her to stop the behaviour, then give a clear consequence of what will happen if the behaviour continues.If needed carry out the consequence (time out or whatever), stay calm and firm and then move on, don't dwell on the incident or re visit.

Is lovely that you talk about your favourite parts of the day together but maybe leave out the least favourite parts. Just keep things positive.
Children crave attention and if you give them loads when they're good then ( normally!) they want to behave well to get that good attention.
Another really important thing is consistency.

They do it to get pocket money? Why not do it because they should? I don't like pocket money conditional on chores - teaches your child that they only do something in exchange for something else as opposed to doing it as part of contributing to the family.
You can teach a child about money without doing it as you are <anticipates response>

mrsjay Tue 25-Jun-13 21:53:13

OH I agree that children shouldnt be little robots and do as they are TOLD all the time but for important things they should learn what mum says goes

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Tue 25-Jun-13 21:53:44

You are not too strict or mean - you really aren't. There is nothing wrong with expecting your children to do as you tell them - it doesn't 'break their spirit' fgs. They have plenty of choices, plenty of praise & plenty of fun...

greeneyed Tue 25-Jun-13 21:54:04

Glad to read some of the other points of view - enlightening thread - book ordered tonight on Amazon, thank you!

MmeLindor Tue 25-Jun-13 21:54:25

I don't think that the chores are a problem. We have never had regular chores for the kids, cause I am too chaotic to sort them out, but they do help with setting table and keeping their rooms tidy.

lecce Tue 25-Jun-13 21:55:23

I totally agree Creature. I also like the fact that ds1 has recently started tidying his room of his own volition, with no monetary incentive. It is nice to see them start to take pride in their belongings, though I am fully prepared for him to go through a 'slobby' phase in the future.

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 21:57:35

I don't do any sort of sad voice at bedtime, it is a lovely bit of the day where we compare our best bits and whether there was anything that we didn't enjoy. Usually she says when she scraped her knee or something like that and usually I'll say when mummy burnt the toast or something lighthearted, though sometimes I use it to reinforce something serious, say why we don't play by the fire or the road or something important like that.

MmeLindor Tue 25-Jun-13 21:58:15

you are absolutely not a bad parent. I did a parenting course and learned loads on MN - including the suggestion to buy the book.

None of us are experts on parenting, but we have all tried various methods. Children are all a bit different. I have to use different tactics with my laidback son than with my worrymouse daughter. Over the years, I have found what works for us.

Painting myself into a corner with 'if you don't do X, we won't do Y' is one of the mistakes that I made, and learned from.

Don't make threats you cannot follow through, and let your kids win the argument once in a while are my rules.

Sparklyboots Tue 25-Jun-13 21:58:16

yy lecce Know that it's an unpopular position, but I'm not so into the obedience-as-a-goal school of parenting. I was a particularly compliant child and it was terrifically convenient and valued for my caregivers but not all of them should have been entrusted with my compliance.

Asheth Tue 25-Jun-13 21:59:38

I think Ya being a tiny bit u to expect her to do as she's told all the time. Yes, she does understand but also she's testing out her own ideas and opinions. And while she might undertand that she should do as she's told, she may not understand the importance of tasks. To a 4 year old the fact that her shoes are in the middle of the room rather than neatly away probably doesn't sound like that big a deal.

I think that's where pick your battles helps. Which ones are entirely up to you. For me the major ones are anything to do with his safety and his health (so holding my hand to cross a road is non negotiable, for example as is brushing his teeth) After that ones that impact on other people. In your example of teasing her brother and picking up shoes I would want to clamp down on the teasing before worrying about the shoes.

I think also be aware of how much attention she gets for not doing as she's told. If she picks the shoes up she gets a quick well done. If she doesn't she gets a 4 minute, temper tantrum - fantastic fun for any 4 year old! grin I find it far more effective with my DS to just shrug my shoulders and say "ok, Mummy will do it" and walk away. This will usually prompt him to run after saying "No I do it!" But even if he doesn't at least he hasn't had any attention for his disobedience.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 25-Jun-13 22:01:24

I completely agree with pick your battles when they're older. Now at age 4 I'd make allowances for their age, tiredness, the kind of day they've had, but if they used to be able to do stuff or follow instructions aged 3 why on earth let them off because they've flat out decided

No, I don't want to do that
I'll do it in my own time (if at all)
If I disregard her, mummy will do it herself or leave me in peace

The sobbing or dismay at being ticked off by a parent won't wash with other adults. They're still little at heart and don't like being in our bad books so turn on the waterworks but they're being called out on something they opted to do.

You're not a tyrant OP.

cjel Tue 25-Jun-13 22:05:17

Yes it can break spirits. where does it stop (Not suggesting this for you OP or anyone on this thread) but if they learn they have to do anything they are told even if its not what they want eg wear red top not blue. How far would it go -all the way to abuse!!
It is suprising how little not having the choice of becoming the best they can will definately damage a person, 20,000 choices wouldn't be enough if they are denied the choice of tops etc that is the very person they want to be. YOu are teaching them that they can't trust their own judgement. This is proven to be a huge cause of mental health issues in later life, I AM NOT SUGGESTING THAT I HAVE READ ANYTHING HERE TO SUGGEST THAT!! but just don't 'fgs it won't break spirits' it will. best parenting is encouraging dcs to be the best version of themselves they can - not your dream of who they should be. I have dicsiplined mine they know what is right and wrong and are told off but they have also had the freedom to explore themselves.

greeneyed Tue 25-Jun-13 22:07:32

Thank you for the reassurance lovely people I don't think I could ever parent like the OP (not judging but not my style) but I do need to invest in having some strategies I think - look forward to reading the book

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 22:08:44

YY to this "but if they used to be able to do stuff or follow instructions aged 3 why on earth let them off because they've flat out decided

No, I don't want to do that
I'll do it in my own time (if at all)
If I disregard her, mummy will do it herself or leave me in peace"

I feel like a tyrant now after some of these responses! Serves me right for asking others opinions I suppose.

MmeLindor Tue 25-Jun-13 22:18:47

With regard to 'breaking spirits' --

I don't think that this is in danger of happening in this case, as CJ said. Thatsnotmydino, you sound like lovely, fun and caring parents who want the best for their DC.

I do think that it is not ideal though, to have children too eager to please their parents. Or feeling that they disappoint their parents if they don't do what they are told. That is borrowing trouble for later.

thepixiefrog Tue 25-Jun-13 22:20:16

I think it's normal behaviour tbh. but I also think you are dealing with it really well. My DC are the same, and it is usually because my agenda is at odds with theirs.

"I am busy building the tallest Lego tower yet, and bloody mum has come and told me I need to brush my teeth! Can't she see I'm doing some really important work?!"

I try to give them 3 minute warnings about what is going to happen next and what I want them to do.

Sounds like you manage it really well, keep doing what you're doing.

MmeLindor Tue 25-Jun-13 22:20:48

The reason she has changed, is that she is maturing.

She is getting older. And she is developing normally, which means questioning WHY she has to do what you tell her to do.

Don't see it as misbehaving, see it as her finding her own voice, her own opinions.

Just as we all have different viewpoints, our kids have different viewpoints and opinions.

You need to welcome it, not reject it, as it shows that she is growing up.

SoftlySoftly Tue 25-Jun-13 22:22:07

Have you stolen my daughter? ?

At 3.5 dd1 is exactly as you describe sweet loving hwlpful polite then she adamantly Refuses to do the silliest things resulting in tears.

I just do natural consequences (if you dont do x we wont make it to y) or removal of stuff and if I have the energy making it funny always works "silly x you haven't done y giggle, Let's see if you can do it in 10 second countdown". Or if I have no time I just pick her up and make her. Life is too short for timeouts!

I do discuss everything afterwards and she understands she just gets stubborn.

Thinking of it though I was a pita but because I was taught right from wrong I'm generally a good person I how that's what persistance with her will bring.

On the flipside just think of the positives, woe betide any controlling fuckwit bloke trying it on with my wilful daughter in 20 years grin.

plantsitter Tue 25-Jun-13 22:27:02

We have recently started a marble jar with DD who's also 4 and sounds similar. She gets a certain number of marbles for various things like getting herself dressed, and then I will randomly give her one or two if she does as she's told first time. Ignoring me would result in some being taken away. She gets a treat when it's full, but she seems to focus more on the marbles themselves and even does extra tasks to earn them! Obviously you have to be careful not to say 'if you do whatever you can have a marble' about things she ought to be doing anyway!

We've also been playing a game where I give her instructions for an obstacle course - like 'run to the end of the garden, turn round three times, then come back' and it has had the unexpected effect of getting her to do as she's told much more quickly - I think it's exercising her listening skills!

babybythesea Tue 25-Jun-13 23:11:07

I'm going to go and check DD is in her bed - I think you may have my daughter. She is also 4 and is also stubborn and can be very willful.

I do things in a very similar way to you. I do explain why we need to do things but it's not always a good strategy. She is likely to say "It's ok Mummy, I can just play here then." If I say "Put your shoes on so we can get to the park", she is quite capable of saying "I don't want to go to the park". I can offer choices but it's not always appropriate to do that, so she needs to know that when I tell her to do something she has to get on with it.

I do 'relevant consequences' if I can. Messing about when I've asked her to go up to bed means we can't do some part of the bedtime routine - maybe she can't have her cup of milk as now there isn't time, for example. I sometimes do 'time out' but not all that often - I'm more likely to withdraw treats - no ice cream after tea. It doesn't matter whether or not I was going to give her ice cream - it works as a threat (some of the time. Other times, she's likely to say "Well I don't like ice cream anyway".) I also do 'positive outcomes' (if you do this then we will have enough time to play snakes and ladders). This sometimes works. Other times she'll say "I don't want to play that". The same thing doesn't work without fail every time, so I have to judge the mood she's in and try and figure out what might work on that day - my only rule is that once I've said something, it happens. Whether it's a good or bad thing - so if \i've said she's not getting a treat, she doesn't. If I've promised we'll play a game, we do. Which means I am very careful in what I 'threaten' - nothing that I can't do (getting involved in a long game of ludo just when I need to get dinner ready, or saying she can't go to a party when I've no intention of stopping her).

Sometimes I might ask her why she's refusing to do something and we can talk about it but I can usually tell if she's doing something just to be difficult - can't tell you how but there's a way she looks at me. And ultimately, she does have to do what i ask as I am the one charged with getting her to things on time, keeping her clean and healthy etc.

I have no real advice but it sounds as though there's a lot of us going through it!

And I also wanted to add having read some of the posts that posting about an argument you have had/are having with your child doesn't mean that every second of every day is like that, or that you are not enjoying them. You want help with a particular problem, so that's what you write about, not all the times that they are perfect and funny and great company - that's not the bit you need help with! I don't think there's anything wrong with having a child who does what they're told - in fact, they tend to be the nicer ones to be around. Doesn't mean they have to be terrified of you.

sameoldIggi Tue 25-Jun-13 23:21:47

I have noticed that when my 5 year old doesn't do what I've said, he often wasn't even listening at the time - so I do a lot of "what is it mummy wants you to do?" type checking to see if he actually heard. Also, processing can be an issue. What does "being silly on the stairs" mean and how do they stop it? It's easier to undertand direct instructions like "come down from the stairs". I sometimes say too many things to ds "put you coat on, and your shoes - they're in the living room - and get your snack from the kitchen" and then am surprised when he doesn't do it all - I am learning, slowly, how to speak to him so he really understands!
I think you are expecting a little too much, imho.

babybythesea Tue 25-Jun-13 23:25:24

Mmelindor : Just as we all have different viewpoints, our kids have different viewpoints and opinions.

Kind of. But equally, if I tell her she must hold my hand crossing a road, she has to do it. If she's used to arguing the toss, then it becomes harder when there's a situation where I am not prepared to 'compromise'. I have discussed why she needs to - we talked about being hurt. However, she thinks being hit by a car means she'd just need a bigger plaster (and is more interested in whether the bigger plaster would have one big Peppa picture on it, or lots more of the same small pictures that her normal plasters have). She's got no experience of serious hurt, or hospital, so the discussion means nothing to her.
She does not always have the maturity to understand where she can argue the toss, and where she really can't, so the default position is "Do as I say". This will gradually change as her understanding of the world grows.
I can, and do, sometimes, ask her why she's saying or doing something, but she also needs to know that even if I've asked her why, it won't stop me insisting she do what she's told. If I know her reason I may be able to explain why something is happening more clearly, or correct a wrong impression she's got or similar, but "Why don't you want to hold my hand?" followed by "Because I don't want to and you're silly" is not going to stop me holding her hand.

WorraLiberty Tue 25-Jun-13 23:28:04

OP you sound like you're picking your battles perfectly to me.

You're her parent and what you say goes. The sooner she realises that the better.

Come September, the school will be giving her clear instructions and rules to follow and she won't be able to pick and choose which ones she likes.

Keep up what you're doing and don't doubt yourself.

I think starting school may make things easier in the sense that she'll understand that there are consequences, when she ignores you/her teachers.

MmeLindor Tue 25-Jun-13 23:35:16

Oh, yes. Obviously I do have some 'No discussion' topics.

Anything safety related such as crossing roads or wearing seatbelts, being polite and respectful to others, school and bullying...

That is what I mean when I say that parents should choose their battle carefully.

If you are battling with the DC over which socks to wear, and putting their shoes away, or finishing their peas... it is simply very tiring. For you and the DC.

So you decide on the non-negotiable issues, and give yourself some leeway on some of the other stuff.

There is sometimes this idea that if you give in on the little stuff, they will run away on the big stuff. I haven't found that to be true.

'Giving in' on the little stuff shows your DC that you are willing to compromise and work with them.

iamadoozermum Tue 25-Jun-13 23:37:57

Chipping it's funny you said "God - don't start the counting thing (sorry I'm a doozer!) but that just ends up with you having kids that don't do anything until the very last minute of it - it's a nightmare." - cos that's what happens with DS2, he waits til the last count, but it really works with DS1 and DS3 who jump up and start doing it pretty much as soon as I start counting. I have to say, I don't mind waiting the 5 seconds for me to get to the end of the count if it still means DS2 will get it done!

fairylightsinthespring Wed 26-Jun-13 07:33:17

sounds about right OP. DS is nearly 4 and when I ask him to do things (often having given a minute or two warning), if he doesn't do it the first time, I'll urge him on a little, offer a choice where possible or say he'll not get x,y z but if all else fails then I'll say, "I'm going to count to 3 and then if you don't come, stop kicking, whatever I will shout and then you'll cry and do it anyway, so lets just do it shall we"? The shout is not really shouting, just a slightly louder, firmer tone, but it works. I don't like it but he does have to just learn to do what he's asked to do. Life is pretty busy, we have to be out the door at 7.20am and I'm sorry, but even get up before 6 it can be a rush if he and his 2 year old sister don't get on with it and comply. When time is not a factor, or its something entirely for them, like a park visit, they can take as long as they like but I have one rule and that is "do as you are asked". I get the idea of growing up and developing independence which is why I exercise patience and restraint and don't just yell at him, but ultimately he does have to "get it". He starts school in Sept, as a very young four and I don't want him to be the one who can't learn because he can't follow instructions.

TokenGirl1 Wed 26-Jun-13 08:21:16

I am so glad it's nother just me either. I seem to be having a constant battle with my 3 and 4 year old.

I was so worried I did a parenting course at a Children's Centre which really helped with different techniques. That said, I've forgotten it all now and so I need to go back to the booklet and remind myself of them.

Good luck. It sounds like normal behaviour for thus age, growing up a bit and firming their own opinions and no longer relatively compliant toddlers.

MumnGran Wed 26-Jun-13 08:43:52

Age & stage, but actually OP I do not think YABU because part pof this "stage" is testing limits, and as a mother you know where you want the limits to be set.........everyone has differing boundaries, and differing strategies/responses.

I used to 'psych' mine into the right response before it became an argument i.e "please put your socks on" offered opportunity for argument or refusal to comply whereas "which socks would you like to wear" offered a choice ..... "Put your coat on" allowed for refusal, "would you like to put on the red coat or the blue coat" was a choice .....Its not always going to work, but it reduces some of the battles. realises I probably was a very choices based parent, and bets it is now probably an officially named strategy !!

Despite the endless exhaustion of dealing with the argument, and handling the tearful timeouts, IMHO it is worth continuing the strong stand simply because this is a stage where they are defining the boundaries, and your levels of tolerance. It is a finite process, and they do stop challenging.

Picking your battles? each to his own smile ..... I held back that strategy for the teen years ..... when they were offering me serious and well reasoned arguments why it ought to be 'their way' grin

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Wed 26-Jun-13 09:05:15

imadoozer I'm glad it works for 2/3 without hassle and 1/3 eventually grin. I've been around a lot of kids and frankly, it drives me batshit when the only way they'll do anything is when you start the 'countdown' - so I would never encourage someone to start doing it - but hey - each to their own grin

sparklekitty Wed 26-Jun-13 09:22:59

Does she have a count down for things like shoes? 'You need to have your shoes on in 5-4-3-2-1 or xyz will happen', alternatively 'I bet I can get ready quicker than you, if you can beat me you can have xyz treat (possibly a star on chart etc)'.

Does she have reminders, as in 'thats your first warning, if I get to 3 it will be time out', 'thats your second warning, what will happen if I have to tell you again?' Get her to verbalise before time out that she knows that is the next step.

I don't have a 4yo but I teach 4/5 and 6 yo and this usually works, alongside good positive rewards and lots of praise.

Graceparkhill Wed 26-Jun-13 09:23:30

I am from the Mme Lindor school of parenting and my two are now 21 and 14 and well mannered/ considerate / genuinely helpful.

I have very low standards when it comes to tidiness/ what clothes to wear and apart from the health and safety stuff didn't see that my will should always prevail in the early years.

Funnily enough both are very tidy and punctual but I think this is borne out of consideration and desire to get along as a family unit.

They also have many faults but that is another thread.

mrsjay Wed 26-Jun-13 09:24:11

Does she have a count down for things like shoes? 'You need to have your shoes on in 5-4-3-2-1 or xyz will happen', alternatively 'I bet I can get ready quicker than you, if you can beat me you can have xyz treat (possibly a star on chart etc)'.

^ ^ this is what I used to do it worked great with the DDS tis like a 5 second warning

Onetwo34 Wed 26-Jun-13 09:32:56

Useful thread to read - it has definitely given me some things to think about regarding my parenting of my four year old.

mrsjay Wed 26-Jun-13 09:34:53

t has definitely given me some things to think about regarding my parenting of my four year old.

I think threads like this gives little tips that you can pick and chose to try, no mumsnet when mine were 4 we just had to wing it I would have loved this when they were small

MmeLindor Wed 26-Jun-13 09:45:16

My mum just demonstrated this very well this morning.

She was taking DS to school - only across the busy road and they walk the rest of the way. I looked out of the window at 8.53 to see him sitting on his football, crying. Mum was at top of road, DD had already crossed and was dithering about carrying on.

He didn't want to walk, wanted taken in the car. Mum decided 'my way or the highway' and walked off with DD.

My son is VERY stubborn when dealt with in this way. Mum had backed herself into a corner. I went out and gave him a good telling off for being disrespectful to his granny and took him to school (he would have been late otherwise).

We will be having a chat tonight about this, but there was no point in sticking to my mum's guns and him being 15mins late for school.

He is very very logical, and I have found using geometrical analogy works well. I explain that the family has 4 corners, like a square, with a person at each corner. If one person gets what they want all the time, the square gets lopsided and falls over.

Graceparkhill Wed 26-Jun-13 09:52:48

I think the square thing is brilliant. Will use that. I do a team approach- we are all on the same side with the same objective so we don't need to "battle "each other.

choceyes Wed 26-Jun-13 10:27:06

Very interesting thread!
My 4.7yrs old DS is very challenging at the moment. Not listening, annoying his little sister, speaking in an annoying silly voice all the time, trying to get DD nearly 3, to disobey me, crying and tantrumming etc etc. I really feel like I have lost my way with him. I have very little patience with him now, and I seem to go from calm to screaming in a few seconds at any hint of him doing something I disaprove of. I feel so awful about my parenting. I'm definitely not doing the right thing. DH thinks that we have to be tougher with him and is always giving him time outs. They never work ofcourse.
He has been behaving badly at nurseyr too recently, although well behaved this week so far.
I tell him the consequences of him being naughty at nursery, like his friends wouldn't want to play with him if he hits them or grabs their toys, they wouldn't want him to go on the nursery trip etc etc and I also dont engage him in conversation for awhile afterwards, to show my dissapointment at his behavious. I'm not sure if I am doing the right thing.
But when we get home I do cuddle and hug him, but DH says I shouldn't be doing that if he's been naughty at nursery. Is this right?
I don't know what I am doing anymore, parenting is just so hard sad

whatsthatcomingoverthehill Wed 26-Jun-13 11:06:03

I don't think withdrawal of affection is ever a good response.

My 4yo DD is very similar to what a lot of people have described. It is bloody difficult sometimes, but I think it is telling that the outcome often depends on my frame of mind. If I’m tired from work, or rushing to leave to get somewhere then I don’t have much patience and things quickly seem to escalate. When I am more patient and show steady resolve rather than leaping to threatening punishments and time out it works out much better, and probably quicker than otherwise.

My concern with the OP is that you say the main thing you won’t budge on is “Do as I say”. Doesn’t that end up meaning pretty much everything then? If they are being too noisy, not eating their food properly, arguing over what clothes to wear and you tell them what you want them to do, doesn’t it then become a “Do as I say” situation? If so then that would be incredibly wearing if you did time outs etc each time.

MmeLindor Wed 26-Jun-13 11:16:06

yes, taking time to take a deeeeep breathe before getting shouty definitely helps.

For all those who are struggling - I could have written all this (and probably did) 4 or 5 years ago.

It does get better. It doesn't help that if you have a younger child too, then you are probably just exhausted by the full-on-ness of parenting.

I find that now that the DC are more independent and able to do stuff themselves, I have much more patience and am able to cope with the odd strop better.

cjel Wed 26-Jun-13 12:19:39

Choceyes. that sounds so difficult. I will probably get flamed for saying this but i think that the bad behaviour of a child usually stems from something they are not happy with and that I agree with loving your child to death!! punishing a child like this all the time is confirming that life is horrid and they are so tiny they can't express or even recognised what they are unhappy about.


I think you know that your dc needs more affection that is why you are questioning what your husband is saying.
The shouting is making you very sad and it will be doing the same for your DS.
punishing him for something that happened hours ago is ridiculous, he won't understand that he will just think you don't like him and ve more confused and hurt.
Again i say that this isn't meant to say you are wrong just to say how these situations can escalate if you think parenting is a battle you have to win,
If things can be changed and ds gets only positive attention for the tiniest little good thing i think an improvement will happen. ignore bad behaviour and praise good is a great way to think. I don't mean safety things like hand holding over roads etc but a lot of things if it is possible to stop and breath for a minute you will realise they aren't that important and you can start to enjoy the child you have.
I have spent the morning with my 18month old dgs( and will have him and the 3yr old tomorrow) and have had fun trying to encourage him away from the landscaper building my new patio!!!!

If I could say one thing it would be relax, go with your gut and enjoy your ds!!

working9while5 Wed 26-Jun-13 12:31:24

I haven't read all the thread but yanbu and to an extent neither is your friend.

There's nothing wrong with your discipline routine, but it is ALSO true that the expectation that your child will "learn" from these routines and respond first time to every instruction at four isn't reasonable (though I am totally with you on the frustration).

My eldest is 3 and a half and like your girl, he is a good mannered and polite sociable little boy mostly. At home he is both sweet beyond belief to his little brother (1) and also the most violent little thug to him. I spend a good proportion of each day trying to stop him from tumbling him over or doing other stupid things like jumping near his head or snatching things off him so roughly that he falls over.

I've recently had a lightbulb moment where I've realised that this tends to coincide with my 3-4pm energy slump when I often go on the computer so have copped (finally!) that this is about getting attention. This week has been calmer as I have either tried to be more present or got them involved in something at the table or if I'm really knackered I put on a bit of television for the worst part of that slump.

Children learn through multiple exemplars so the reason that you have to do things over and over and over and over and then over again before doing it again and then a few more times for good measure (you get my drift) is that this is basically their version of a French verb drill. They can understand the language but to make the transfer to longer term rule-governed behaviour it really is a case of lather, rinse, repeat. They will still forget sometimes and you will have to teach that same old lesson from scratch while wishing you could tear your hair out.

This book is amazing because in the end of the day, the hardest part of being a parent is sometimes the frustration and helplessness you feel when you're in that neverending loop of behavioural guidance and discipline (or whatever the current challenge is). The key to feeling better about this is not getting your girl to behave perfectly, it's in realising that this IS the process... you have to just do it over and over and over and the grace often lies in letting go of your expectations that things should be different or that she "should" know how to listen first time etc. She doesn't. She's showing you that by the fact she's not doing it. So you just got to keep on plodding onwards, doing what works and not what's easy, and trying not to tell yourself stories about you or her or why this is happening but just accept that this is where she's at and this is the dance. Until it changes up and you have to start all over again. The good news is that children's brains are pretty erratic up until they are about 20 so there will be these repeat lessons even when you think you are done with them.

Make any sense? I hope so!

MadeOfStarDust Wed 26-Jun-13 13:07:43

One good thing to try is the element of surprise... sometimes just give in to something ridiculous..... Once or twice I was harried, trying to get the 2 of them dressed ready for the park -
" come on or we won't be going to the park" ....
"We don't want to go to the park - we wants ice-cream instead"

So we sat on the floor and ate ice cream in our pyjamas...

I could have done the whole - "we'll get ice cream in the park, will you get ready" followed by screaming match/time out whatever - but it diffused the situation, we got to go out later, had a relaxed day and they always remember the time we ate ice-cream in our PJs

pick the battles is good advice..

The shoes, just ignore what she says til the shoes get put away - "you want to do what?", "ok after the shoes are away", no need for a battle - calm plain speaking - a lot of things don't have to be done there and then.

For things that have to be done there and then, we used the reverse psychology tricks - "oh I thought you were old enough now to get in the car - hey ho" and lift up and in etc... didn't have to do that often before getting the "I AM old enough, I'll do it"

oh - and forget time outs - if they end in tears or shouting - then they are not working.

I have 2 lovely girls aged 10 and 12 who understand the importance of doing as they are told ... most of the time.... but we still sometimes have ice-cream moments.... smile

Edendance Wed 26-Jun-13 13:30:31

I'd stick to what you're doing- removal of things can be too ambiguous- time out is immediate and obvious and avoids empty threats being thrown around when you can't think of what to punish with.

You are not being unreasonable, keep doing what you're doing, consistency is key!

TVTonight Wed 26-Jun-13 13:33:18

Perfectly normal 4yr ol behaviour to me.

I think that you are just trying to achieve compliance, and her spending a lot of time in Time Out demonstrates that your need to be punitive if she doesn't JFDI.

Time out is a very overtly rejecting punishment and seems to be creating a very negative cycle and before you know it you won't be able to enforce it.
Have a think about why instant compliance is so important to you? Is achieving it through this method important too (do it now, or else there is something bad waiting for you).p

Squitten Wed 26-Jun-13 13:48:32

Sounds like a normal 4yr old to me. Mine is nearly 5 now and we get a lot of the same nonsense.

The naughty corner doesn't work on him anymore but threatening to send him to his room certainly does (not toys or anything interesting in there). If he has been mean to his little brother, he is made to sit on the sofa and do nothing while his brother gets all the toys to himself. If he is refusing to do something, e.g. the shoes in your case, tidying up in mine, I don't shout but he isn't allowed to do anything else until he does it so if dinner is imminent, he is told that he's not eating until it's done. That way, it's him that's missing out and there's no battle of wills.

I also find playing on the "you are the big one" works well with my DS. He likes being praised for acting like a big boy, particularly when DS2 (in full toddler swing) is being bratty. He seems more aware now that he is expected to do things that his brother can't because he is the big one, and he seems pleased with that. He's also taken to helping DS2 do stuff he can't, like getting toys out, opening fruit, etc, so that's good too.

working9while5 Wed 26-Jun-13 16:28:42

Time out shouldn't necessarily a negative consequence. Sometimes little kids really do need a bit of time out you know. Actually, sometimes we all do. They feel huge emotions at this age. There are lots of ways of doing time out that are not aversive, it doesn't all have to be roaring and wait til I tell your father types of tones.

Mine goes in a time out each and every time he does something violent. Being violent with his brother is usually a consequence of him being irritated with a one year old snatching or destroying his stuff or else roughness because he has been too hyper for a while OR I am not being exciting enough and he is looking for attention.

It's not about "compliance", it's about realising that when you have big and strong feelings sometimes you need to walk away because you can't at that very moment of intense arousal regulate your own emotions as a young child. As a parent, it's your job to teach children how to modulate their strong feelings and cuddles and words are not always the right thing when there are intense feelings about. It's about bringing them down from the high point of the curve - there is a point they can't listen and respond and they need some TIME OUT to get to a state where they can manage.

However, I agree that time out for literally "not doing what you are told" isn't necessarily a great idea. Praise the good, let most of the negative stuff go unless it's dangerous or antisocial, lead by example, reserve time outs for situations where it has all gone too far.

MmeLindor Wed 26-Jun-13 16:35:47

You can use the benefits of TimeOut without the shouty angry bits by wording it differently.



'You are very cross, aren't you? Do you want to go and sit in your room for a few minutes and calm down a bit? Your bunny is on the bed. Why don't you have a cuddle with bunny and tell her what is wrong?'

I know that makes me sound like a really ineffective, useless parent who always has to explain everything to her little darling - and I promise you that sometimes I have used version 1, cause I have lost my rag.

The idea with time out is really to give the child a moment to calm down, get a grip of his emotions and be ready to come back and apologise. Not to punish them.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Wed 26-Jun-13 16:44:31

Things to try:

Read Playful Parenting - there are some idea for how to avoid butting heads over something. Taking the anger out

Make a challenge - I bet you can't/I'll race you up the stairs

Counting down from 5 to 0

Positive requests - put you coat on the peg, NOT don't throw your coat on the floor

Take the heat out, the anxiety about the future and the feeling that the behaviour is an attack on you - slightly bored policeman voice , not heated fishwife. Children sense fear and loss of control in us, and sometimes it doesn't make them want to please us more.

Avoidance of problems - tiredness, hunger, over-excitement have a lot to answer for. I know my DS2 is 'orrible when I pick him up from school because he is a different child when hungry

Expectations - She's still really little, even though she is verbal. I think articulate children lull us into thinking they have more self-control than they actually have

I have to say, them not doing what they are told, first time, was a big shock to me.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Wed 26-Jun-13 16:47:07


I agree with what you say. It is a drip, drip approach

JamieandtheMagicTorch Wed 26-Jun-13 16:53:05

I had a revelation when mine were little. If I was feeling slightly ill, the DCs were better-behaved. It could have been that they were worried about me and being good, BUT I think it's because I adopted a slightly more laissez faire attitude and less "heat" in my tellings off.

I do what MmeMindor does with timeout. Sometimes I put the two dc into timeout together and they sit calmly then it all calms down. Works well.

VerlaineChasedRimbauds Wed 26-Jun-13 16:59:12

I always had to do as I was told as a child. It took me a while to be brave enough to adopt a different approach with mine. Well, I had to really, to stay sane, because I had a biddable child first and an extremely self-willed child second. I found that I was happiest (and so were they) with the approach already mentioned on the thread (Mme Lindor? - not certain...) that negotiation, charm and reasonable argument were allowed to win the day - regardless of who was using them. In other words: I wasn't always right and they didn't always have to do what I said. They're both very considerate adults now - the self-willed one even more so than the biddable one!

Apileofballyhoo Wed 26-Jun-13 20:58:21

choceyes you sound at the end of your tether. Your DH is NOT being helpful. Your DS probably needs more attention of a positive nature. My DS is 5 and went through a horrible phase in recent months of whining and whinging and not doing anything unless I shouted at him. Tbh this was directly related to a very stressful upsetting time in our lives...but it took DS more time and a lot of positive individual attention to get back to normal (mildly irritating but mostly lovely). It's awful but when my tolerance was low, he was hard to handle, and now that I am less stressed he is much easier.

I am rambling on about myself and I am not sure how relevant it is to you - it's just you seem so stressed and unhappy.

Apileofballyhoo Wed 26-Jun-13 21:14:09

Posted too soon (phone). Just wanted to say definitely keep cuddling him and also I would say don't stop talking to him when he has been naughty at nursery to show your disappointment, he probably doesn't understand this. I'm not sure what else to say except he does seem to be seeking attention. Has his behaviour changed? I read a bit on peaceful parenting which basically says if child's emotional needs are met they will be happier and less likely to throw tantrums, act aggressively etc. It also deals with negative behaviour without punishment or consequences (other than natural ones). This approach worked with DS.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Thu 27-Jun-13 15:58:56


I agree with Apileofballyhoo and cjel

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