My 4 year old's behaviour is exhausting me, help please(11 Posts)
I am really struggling to cope with my 4 year old dad's behaviour. She has become bossy, defiant, moody & argumentative and she shouts & screams constantly. She goes to a childminder/pre-school until early afternoon each day & then home. It's like a switch is flipped when she comes home with me as both her childcarers have said she is very good & a quiet little girl!
She will not do anything I ask her without a struggle, she complains about every meal I try to give her, she orders me around like I'm a servant & generally plays up. She argues constantly with her brother who is 8 and it doesn't help that he winds her up all the time & she reacts.
Yesterday we were having a family tea and she picked up a forkful of rice and threw it at me across the table. DH was really cross and put her in her room where she screamed.
She goes out in the garden now the weather's warmer & shouts about everything she's doing. She doesn't just talk, she shouts. If DS is out there it won't be long before she is screaming at him or crying. I spend my whole time asking her to quieten down but she takes no notice. Our neighbours must hate us as they are constantly out there bickering & screaming.
I have tried the naughty step but she just gets off it. Putting her in her room works but the at this rate she will be spending most of her time in her room.
Please can anyone give me some advice on how to regain some control of her. I am literally fighting with her over everything and it's exhausting me. I actually thought this afternoon I'd be better off working full time as it would be easier!!
That should say 4 year old dd's behaviour not dad's!
At a very basic level, it sounds like she's attention seeking, and is trying to get any kind of reaction from you. At four, she's old enough to understand consequences, so could you try some positive reinforcement stuff for the times she's particularly trying? Explain how negative behaviour takes up a lot more time to resolve and that when there's good behaviour there's time to play a game / read a story together / do some colouring together etc. Are you able to set aside a dedicated half hour with her everyday to do stuff together?
So set a simple list of rules of expected behaviour (for everybody, not just her) at mealtimes, when playing outside, when speaking to people, getting ready for bed etc. If she gets a smiley face everyday, and she gets to go with you to choose a magazine at the weekend / go to the park / go swimming (or whatever would appeal to her).
No idea if this is at all useful or if it's stuff you've already tried. I hope you manage to resolve it soon (I'm no expert, just I have 3 dcs and it's fascinating how they can all have such differing personalities and temperaments isn't it). I really feel for you.
Ps things that stand out in your post are she won't do anything I ask her, and, she orders me around like a servant.
For things that she needs to do, don't ask, tell her, but then give her options and a choice about some element of it.
If she orders you around / throws food etc again, react calmly but tell her the behaviour is totally unacceptable and if it happens again X y z will happen. (But be prepared to follow through - eg with the rice throwing I would probably have done the same as you, but told her if she ever throws food again, her meal would be removed and she would be hungry until the next meal).
If she's complaining about the meals you serve, get her involved in choosing a couple of meals for the week / shopping / helping prepare etc.
Thank you daisy. With your experience of 3 dc's can you suggest any suitable consequences for bad behaviour for this age? That's half my problem as I often say I'm going to count to 3, but then I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I get to 3!! The naughty step has no effect whatsoever.
I honestly think at that age the consequence is knowing that she won't get the treat she would get for good behaviour if that makes sense.
I always try to make it clear what kind of behaviour is good and expected and emphasise the positives. (But what do I know, dc3 is rewriting the book at 21 mo )
How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk is a great book for general parenting advice.
I have a nine year old, a seven year old and a two year old and this book has saved my sanity over the years.
The naughty step is a rubbish technique imo (am a teacher of little kids too) it only works on those who don't really need it anyway.
My dd is going through a similar phase. I am trying to give lots of praise for positive behaviour and letting her overhear me saying positive things about her to dh. i am trying to be more decisive and following through with threats (ie taking away her tea when she was being awful at the table) I am also trying to be less shouty myself and generally calmer. I hope it might rub off on her. I am also setting aside time when we can do things together just me and her. I also think I sometimes expect too much of her as she is the eldest, so I am trying not to mither her about every little thing she does wrong. Hopefully some of that will help, as it can be wearing.
I see you've borrowed my DS. We also have a DD aged 2.
We have been dealing with this for a while and felt at one point like we were constantly shouting at him. It is by no means resolved (he has some SN too) but we find a few things help a lot:
The book Calmer Happier Easier Parenting was a turning point. We use Descriptive Praise till it comes out of our ears. He responds so well, he is delighted to be told things like "I saw how nicely you walked past DD and didn't push her".
DS needs one to one attention - so we try to do something quick when DD is napping (craft, cooking) and I'm also booking some extra mornings in childcare for DD (tomorrow we are climbing a mountain - OK a small hill with a view). This builds him up to be calmer and more in control the rest of the time.
Ignoring is more or less the only consequence that is viable - he tends to go into a rage if we try to do anything like time out our time in. Putting things right sometimes works (you throw it, you clean it up).
And finally 123 only works if 3 is followed by "I'm going to make what I want to happen, happen" So it works for "give that toy back RIGHT NOW" as you can take it off them. It doesn't work for "say sorry"!
Of course none of this lovely parenting stops me shouting at him for snatching DD's toy... And breathe.
DS was similarly exhausting at this age. Two things helped, firstly the book Calmer Happier Easier Parenting had some good techniques in it that actually helped.
Also a sticker chart - but bear with me on this! - the sticker chart had two functions. Firstly it became very clear we weren't giving DS enough praise for doing things right - hard when he's being do bloody difficult! - but that this was enforcing the idea for him that to the way to get our attention was to be naughty. So the sticker chart was partly for us, to remind us to reward even tiny things he did right, to make sure the praise outnumbered the negative remarks.
I read somewhere your praise should outnumber the negative comments at least 10 to 1. That gave me pause for thoight as ours was the opposite of that - probably more like 30 negative remarks for every positive as he was being so challenging.
The other thing the sticker chart was good for was helping DS learn to do specific skills. So as well as getting stickers for anything good he did, he knew he had certain tasks that would get a sticker. We used it to help him get dressed himself. I started offering a sticker for getting dressed by himself but soon realised that was too ambitious and broke it down into two tasks - getting dressed by himself and getting dressed without fuss. So he could earn 1 if he did it himself / didn't create a scene but 2 if he managed both.
And do you know what, it actually worked!
He would also get a sticker if he tries a new food. When he completed a line on the chart he got to choose a toy from our local charity shop which he loved.
This didn't change DS's personality! But it was a positive step for us.
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