DD is 4 years old and we really need some advice please her behaviour is horrible, there is no other way to describe it(55 Posts)
As I have said DD is 4yo and at the moment nothing seems to work.
A bit of background:
I have been separated from her dad since she was 16 months old so she doesn't remember us living with him. We live with my partner, it has been almost two years now. She accepted him very well and loves him to bits. DD sees her father every 8 weeks (although sometimes more) due to distance, we live on the other side of the country (that has been a blessing). Our parenting skills are completely different, we have rules and routines which go out of the window when she is with him (I am not criticising him for that it is his option and we cannot do anything about it)
Now, DD's behaviour has been very difficult lately. She will shout, scream, stamp her feet and everything else at the moment that she doesn't get her own way. When we ask her to do something she will answer "I am not going to do it". We try to reason with her, explain to her how it makes us feel, tell her that we don't like her behaviour, explain to her that when she ask us to do something we do it and we expect the same from her when we ask her to do something (we don't ask anything unreasonable, i.e. set the table, get dressed, tidy up).
We have always used "unconditional parenting techniques" but at the moment we are questioning if it is working. We are not happy about rewards charts or "naughty steps" or things like this, we believe that she should be doing it not because of the reward she gets but because it is the right thing to do.
Today she has told us that she wanted a "Proud Parent Certificate" for the school and we have told her that at the moment given her behaviour we cannot write anything on it. What would we say? That she only shouts and screams at us, that she is treating us badly. We know that she can behave very well, she does it at school and with other people so the problem must be with us. We don't know what to do at the moment, we need some advice please.
Can I ask what are the consequences for her when she misbehaves? I think sometimes trying to reason with a 4 year old (I have one of my own) can be like banging your head against a brick wall and that taking away TV time, for example, as a consequence for bad behaviour is more effective. I don't know what unconditional parenting involves so perhaps you would not be keen to try this but it works for us. Particularly if we do a count to ten first to give DS time to calm down or do whatever it is we are asking him to do.
Also, is she getting enough sleep? DS started school this year and is very tired towards the end of the day. His behaviour is much worse when he's worn out.
The only way we get cooperation with DD (3.10) is to make it into a game or race. So I could ask and ask her to tidy up or go up to bed, and she will shout, scream, refuse, backchat, or just ignore me until I get angry, and that still doesn't work. We did try removing toys but there's nothing she's that attached to, time out also didn't make any difference. But telling her that I'm going to race up the stairs and finish brushing my teeth before her seems to work every time! Same with tidying toys, if I say I will help I get no luck, but saying I'm going to win by doing x first does. If she goes into a tantrum, being silly or tickling her has her giggling and along down, then we can cuddle and talk later. Reasoning with her at the time tends to just inflame things and get her more angry and irrational.
It's hard, especially if things are different with her dad. But they can handle different rules in different settings, as long as you are consistent. How does she get on at school? They may have other techniques that are used. I hope there's something that you feel might work for you, good luck x
I'm not sure you should refuse her the 'Proud Parent certificate', although I can understand why it's tempting.
If this is a thing where families say something nice about the child, and the child then gets to show it off at school - it could be really humiliating, if she is the only kid in class whose family can't think of a single thing they like about her. That's not very unconditional, and seems so harsh, as she's only 4. She sounds unhappy.
Be proud of whatever it is about her that makes you proud. Just because her behaviour is really difficult right now, doesn't mean that all the reasons to be proud of her has suddenly gone.
Saying that, I'm dubious about 'unconditional parenting techniques' though - if someone is behaving in an anti-social manner they need to be told, and experience the consequences their unreasonable actions. There is stuff around 'natural consequences' you could try.
I think adults can spend too much time negotiating with younger children at times, when they just need to know who is in charge. They are children after all, and adults are the ones who provide the boundaries.
We usually ask our 4yo to do something and then give her a time limit to do it. If she's messing about etc and we need her to get dressed, we have given her a countdown "I expect you to have started getting dressed by the time I count to five..." That works quite well.
I agree with verruca that trying to reason with a four year old is sometimes pointless. There need to be consequences for bad behaviour. This doesn't mean you being mean or shouting or anything like that. In our house persistent bad manners at the table means no dessert, untidy rooms on pocket money day means no pocket money, teeth not brushed after asking several times means no time for bedtime story and so on. The child is well warned of the consequences so it's not just a punishment landed on them with no warning.
I can see what you mean about wanting your child to something because it's right, but with moral development very young children sometimes have to be taught the behaviour by us 'from the outside' using rewards and negative consequences before they are actually capable of understanding why it's the 'right thing to do'. Behaviour change purely through reasoning comes later. Moral development is a process just like other forms of development.
As well as putting some consequences in place, also take any tiny opportunity when it presents itself to praise when praise is due and encourage any smidgen of good behaviour.
Finally, I think lots of kids behave worse at home than they do in public. They feel 'safe' to let off steam with us because they know we love them and will put up with an awful lot more than other people will. That's not an excuse for bad behaviour at home but perhaps one reason for it.
I think it's really mean not to give her a Proud Parent certificate. There must be something she does that you're proud of her for - getting dressed by herself, going to the toilet by herself, doind you a nice drawing... or something??
I also have no idea what unconditional parenting is, but it sounds like a recipe for disaster.
And I don't see what's wrong with bribery/reward for good behaviour - we get it in work in the form of annual bonuses, which are linked to personal performance. It's no different really.
I would start with a very small, short term goal such as "I will do xx if you help Mummy tidy your room". At that age the reward must be immediate though, something DD likes, and something you can build on (eg not a whole bar of choc to start with).
I don't have all the answers by any means, but have found that giving choices works pretty well with my dd. Eg she is having a tantrum. I will say 'it's OK to be angry but if you are going to be angry you go to your room, if you want to stop being angry you can stay here, what do you choose? The idea behind this is developing her character so she makes good choices rather than because she does things in order to get x or because she gets a punishment . Sometimes she won't choose so we take her up to her bedroom and make her stay there until she has calmed down although again I would tell her that this is what we are going to do unless she chooses so again you are giving her another choice. It is important to word it as a choice rather than a threat Counting down works well for us too - 5 seconds to make a choice.
Hope this makes sense...
She's 4. She needs boundaries. Not wishy-washy 'we don't like reward charts or naughty steps' nonsense. You're treating her as if she can reason like an adult. She can't.
And yes, very mean not to let her have a Proud Parent Certificate. Poor kid is probably desperate for some sort of reward/treat/certificate/praise.
Thanks to all of you for your replies.
We do give DD "Proud Parents Certificates", just today after the tantrum she had before going to school it felt like she didn't deserve it (probably we were too angry). We are very proud of her. When she is having a good day, she will help with anything. She knows it is her job to set the table in the same way that it is our job to cook for us to have lunch and/or dinner. She has been doing it for the last year and it works.
We do find difficult to find things to use as a consequence to bad behaviour. DD doesn't watch TV so much and although we have use it lately it doesn't seem to modify any behaviour. We have also introduce a smiley face and a sad face with three of her pictures (they use this in school). At the beginning of the day her pictures are in the smiley face. If she behaves badly then she gets a counted warning for her to change her behaviour. If her behaviour doesn't change then a picture goes to the sad face. If at the end of the day the three pictures are in the sad face then she doesn't get a book before going to bed. She knows this and accepts it. The problem we see is that reading a book shouldn't be used as a reward as it is a good habit to have. Although we went down this route because she loves book time and we thought it may make her twice to think about her behaviour. Unfortunately it is not the case.
We do tell her when she does behave well that we like what she has just done and explain her why. So I guess it is kind of a praise.
We also give her choices but the usual answer will be "I don't know" which makes things even worse as the situation gets worse not better.
How do you use consequences? How do you give them immediately? We used to send DD to her room but it makes things worse as she doesn't stay there but bangs down the stairs again. We tried staying in her room with her but the screaming wouldn't stop.
Naughty step. Bit old hat but works, if she strops off the step put her back on. Again and again with no eye contact and after telling her a couple of time why she has to stay on naughty step for a few minutes no furthe explanation. Or let her scream in her room - she'll calm down soon enough!
And agree rethink withdrawing bedtime stories - they shouldn't be regarded as a treat.
Maybe if she behaves well she can stay up an extra 15 mins?
It sounds as if you are talking to her more in the way I would talk to a ten year old. She is 4. At 4 it really is better to just use age appropriate language and set firm, but simple boundaries.
A 4 yr old doesn't have the language, comprehension, reasoning and empathy to respond to your approach to discipline (IMO).
Your comment about the Proud Parent Certificate is really awful.
There is some very good advice on this thread. I hope you will try it and find something that works for you.
My Ds was like this when hungry... he had to eat at least every 2hrs or he was unable to function as a human. At school he almost coped if fed snack at lineup and the moment he walked out, followed by snack at home and tea.
He wouldn't recognise his hunger, but if not fed he became irrational over any thing. And once in meltdown he wouldn't eat, it had to come before... changed child once we cracked that.
I would watch giving her too many choices. This can actually be stressful for a child.
Being given clear and consistent boundaries is reassuring for them.
At 4yo they have control over very little in their life, other than their own behaviour, sleeping, eating and toileting. One or more of these can then flare up into a huge flash point.
Also a gentle approach would be to ignore the bad behaviour and praise the good. Rather than taking something away (reading the book) think of adding something special. I would say clearly "your behaviour is not acceptable because..." and turn my back and physically ignore her. Also 'love bombing' for good behaviour even if it felt over-the-top/unnecessary.
We used the naughty step, it may be out of favour now but by 4yo I think 'inclusive' time out is a load of crap. We call the behaviour naughty and not the child. Once the 'time' is done it is over, not referred to again and finished with. They have to stay on the step and if they get off they will be directed straight back and time starts again.
TBH I think taking bedtime story away is a bit mean, that is an important part of a calm, winding down evening routine.
We got a book called 1-2-3 magic for trying to get DS to behave. If we stick to it then it works. One of the things it says is never reason with a child as if they are a 'little adult' as they simply don't think the same way as an adult and it will be counter-productive. You just count to 3 and on 3 it's automatic timeout on naughty step. Sadly I tend to do little adult rather too often and then wonder why he's still playing up!
If you see it as 'she is treating you badly' then you perhaps need to remind yourselves and her that you are in charge here not her. Easy mistake to make! I get tempted every time I have to say no more books, lights out, because I want him to read and love reading, but him being tired means ghastly behaviour next day. Children need a good firm 'no'. <wanders off telling self this...>
Is this relatively new behaviour and was she good before?
My angelic, impeccably behaved, if slightly mardy at times DD went through a similar phase just before her fourth birthday. Proper mini-teen, pmt type behaviour. It lasted about 6 weeks.
With DD it was definitely hormonal as it co-incided with her being dry at night.
It passed, but while we were in the middle of it we just kept firm boundaries - warning and punishment such as tv off or going to room or no sweets etc. We kept the consequences quite immediate and completely ignored tamtrums. We've never used the naughty step either.
My 4 year old was the same since starting school and it was tiredness. She started taking naps again almost every day.
Things have levelled out now though as she is getting used to it more. She still has her moments, but they are less often.
Perhaps you could try reintroducing naps?
Our DD1 was truly vile at times at 4, tantrums, yelling, foot stamping, refusing to do as asked, answering back.
Our strategies for this were:
Ignoring, and refusing to engage when in full flight
Being very clear about unacceptable behaviour and very consistent
Not negotiating, always ended up in a disaster
Gave choices, but kept it very simple
It was very tempting to threaten taking away bed time story, but I took the view that this was so important to DD and it was a lovely calm time we could share after the whirlwind. Was also a good time to talk about how much we loved her but didn't like her behaviour.
There were of course times when I shouted and forgot to remain calm and collected, but actually sometimes it actually worked because she wasn't used to it.
I had a dd who was very similar to yours, except perhaps rather more violent.
What I found helpful was to focus on the Job being Done, not how it was done.
So if dd refused to put her coat on and I ended up putting her arms into the sleeves with mild force, that counted as Job Done- one-nil to me. If she refused to get out of the house and I walked her out of the house, that was Job Done- one-nil to me. (I still find this attitude helpful with teenagers, actually: if ds does the washing up whilst muttering about unfair parenting, that counts as Job Done. And as time goes on, he mutters less and less...)
Another thing that helped was the mantra Parenting Is Work In Progress.
I think many of us make ourselves feel less good about ourselves because we set up impossible timescales: we expect a piece of parenting to work straightaway so that the dc never behave that way again. And if this doesn't work we think we've failed. Sometimes we just need to hang in there. Dd is now 17. She has perfectly reasonable table manners, never bites or punches, and doesn't write on the carpet in marker pen. We got there in the end! But it wasn't the first 10 times that did it! Nor perhaps the first 100.
And finally, Detaching Emotionally. If you get too emotionally involved when things to wrong I find that detracts from your disciplinary effectiveness: partly because you seem less in control, partly because dc try to disengage to get away from emotional overload. I always found it helpful to try to imagine myself as a very experienced Headteacher, the kind who simply can't be thrown by any 4yo behaviour because she's seen it all. Twinset and pearls and sensible shoes.
just today after the tantrum she had before going to school it felt like she didn't deserve it (probably we were too angry).
The things that occur to me here, is it's so early in the morning for tantrums - even in my dc's tantrumiest phases, they usually started off the day in OK moods - unless they were ill. Is she definitely getting enough sleep (about 11.5hrs for average 4yo)? Not coming down with a cold/cough?
Otherwise, if you're already quickly angered, at the beginning of the day too, it sounds like a bit of a rut that you all may have fallen into. What happened in the lead up to the tantrum? A specific incident?
Not sure I agree with the smiley/sad faces being equated with 'good' and 'bad' behaviour. Are they also 'learning', that it's only acceptable to be 'happy', and it's not OK to be 'sad'? However, as the school use it, I see why you might want to carry on the consistency at home.
I agree that you should stop making the book at bedtime, only depending on the smileys earned. It should be a foundation, part of the routine regardless - because the benefits of having quiet time with her parents, learning to read while having a snuggle, far outweigh the 'message' of denying it because she missed getting enough smileys.
It's great that you tell her when you see she does something you like, and why - keep doing that!
With the choices, I don't give my 4yo that many - limited choice at her age works best, not a whole vista of overwhelming decisions. So, it's A, B or (at a push) C. Not the whole alphabet! For instance, stuff like: "You can wear this skirt, or those trousers. Which do you prefer?", NOT [throws open wardrobe] "What would you like to wear today?" Then if she doesn't answer, or says "I don't know", tell her that you don't want her to be late for school, so if she doesn't choose by the time you've counted to five...you will have to make the decision for her.
Or, you can even circumvent all that by sorting it out ready the night before - no faffing around in the morning if she only has one set laid out ready.
With the getting dressed - "Great, now let's see if you can get yourself dressed like, a big girl!" Set another time limit - "by the time the big hand on your clock moves to [x]" Or maybe something she can relate to "by the time it takes me to get myself dressed"
Make sure you praise her to the skies as soon as she meets any of your requests, because it all builds up into a feeling of independance, and increased confidence, and wanting to do things to please you because they like it.
If you are in a pattern of offering choices and the answer is always 'I don't know', then YOU make the choice immediately and it is done.
If they then jump back in with the other option and reopen the negotiations do not accept this, this is controlling and manipulative behaviour.
(A genuine I don't know where you can see they are weighing up options and considering is different)
me and DP have been doing UP for about 6 years - ds17 ds2 3 1/2 - I'm just putting them to sleep now so don't have time to comment.....
but wanted to comment to say that when i have time I will come back and put ahaparenting link about worrying about UP not working - it is working - you are bringing up an emotionally healthy child and will also put in a link about why punishments and rewards don't work even when they seem to "work" in about 60% of children.
Well a lot of it sounds like she is a tired 4 year old.
My ds gets like this and can be crabby in the morning because he's tired/hungry/thirsty and we're trying to hurry him along.
Also he doesn't want me to go to work or to go to preschool because he wants to be at home with me. He's getting better at telling me he wants to be with me, but sometimes it comes out as a tantrum - he doesn't always know how to articulate his feelings.
Give her some boundaries - unconditional parenting isn't about saying yes all the time and letting her decide everything. You need to guide her and help her in her choices because she is only 4 and won't always know the answer. If she doesn't want to do something and kicks off, then just stay calm and say ok, how do you say it nicely? Remind her how to act. And don't over egg it, just say it a couple of times then if she carries on then so be it. She will get it quickly.
Also help her with her emotions - if she's angry then say "I know you're angry but you just need to tell me" etc etc. ds now tells me when he's exhausted or annoyed etc etc.
I don't use star charts and rarely use time out or sanctions but generally he's actually pretty well behaved if a bit spirited.
Hi thanks again for your replies, DD has just been 75 minutes screaming!!!! after getting in a dispute with her dad on the computer. This seems to be the main reason why we are having this problem at the moment. The day that she doesn't see him on the computer everything goes well and she is the lovely girl that we know.
SESAMECHOC: I look forward to your link. I also have his book about rewards and punishments. We are just not sure what is going wrong at the moment or what else to do. We know very well rewards or punishments don't work with DD but which other options do we have?
DD sleeps from 7:30pm to 7:15am so she is getting the 11 and a half hours that she needs. We know if she gets any less sleep she gets grumpy. Unconditional Parenting isn't about saying yes to everything. She has boundaries which she knows perfectly as well as behaviour rules which all of us have to follow. We have a big poster with the house rules that we made the three of us (we decided the rules together). Even though she doesn't know how to read, they have pictures explaining every rule so knows them by heart.
Telling DD that if she doesn't choose I will choose makes things even worse. We don't have such a problem with clothes as she is in school and she has to wear uniform, so not choice in this. But it is more about not wanting to do things when she is asked. We have tried to give her notice about when things are going to happen and it doesn't work, she shouts anyway.
I think there is a lot to be said for picking your battles. You say you don't ask anything unreasonable of her but I wouldn't be getting into a battle with a 4yr old over 'setting the table' or tidying up. By all means, praise her if she does but don't view not setting the table at 4 as bad behaviour.
Star charts are fab for this age group. They can really help break the cycle of misbehaviour & you getting annoyed.
I strongly believe that praise & positivity encourages good behaviour. So really go over the top & find anything to praise her over. If she brushes her teeth, gets dressed, eats her breakfast, sleeps well etc etc, point it out & say how wonderful she is at doing so.
Concentrate on stopping bad behaviour that is serious. You could use a traffic light system, reward chart, you could ask what the school use, it will be something along these lines & it will work.
Hmm, we have four year old twins, and really do try to parent unconditionally.
I agree with an earlier poster as to whether tiredness/sickness etc might be an issue. Particularly if getting up is a problem.
Do you think it is possible that she wants you to join in with her. So could you be with her/ help her a bit to get dressed.
Same with setting table: could you find ways to let her know you are doing it together? "Shall I hand you the forks, and you put them at each persons place?"
Have you read Playful Parenting- it is a brilliant book to go with UP.
I agree that Reward Charts/ Naughty Step are an unnecessary escalation.
I already help her to get dress every morning. I am with her in her room and help her when she asks for help.
I have read Playful parenting too and found it to be an excellent book with very good solutions. I may have to re-read it again and see if I can find something new.
Last Tuesday the tantrum started when she said that she wanted to do a Christmas Star to take it to her dad's house (I don't know what the conversation with her dad was as she is on her own when talking to him). I told her that it was a good idea but as it was 6:50pm we would have to do it another time. The simple answer to NO now but another time is what started the tantrum. Of course her dad didn't support our answer to her and he ended saying that he would do it in his house.
Today the tantrum started because she wanted to play with her Playmobil while her dad watch her on the computer. She asked me to remove the legs of the chicken because it was going to lay eggs. I tried to remove the legs but I couldn't, my partner tried also and she tried herself and non of us couldn't she got very angry because the chicken had to sit to lay eggs (which she is right) but wouldn't accept that it was not possible.
What are we doing wrong? We are at lost at the moment and not sure what else to try.
She can reason, can explain things but she won't accept that something it may not be possible even if she wants. We know that with her dad she gets whatever she wants whenever she wants it but to say that it is all his fault would not be truth.
She has been asking lately to go to bed late and we have told her that during the week she can't because she needs to have a rest to go to school. Her answer was that at her dad's she goes to bed late. We explained to her that when she is at her dad's she is on holidays and that is different but she doesn't want to accept that in here she cannot do it when is school night. She spent last half term with him.
Talking with her dad doesn't work, we have tried and it is not an option. He doesn't even support what we tell her when he is on the computer.
She gets up in the morning very happily but anything what is not the answer she wants can set a big tantrum even more after returning from being with her dad.
Some help would be great
Can I ask is she your only child? Also, my dd is also 4 years old, and has major tantrums, real horrendous ones, often. But I put it down to her lack of communication skills; she has mild speech problems. That and the fact she is terribly stubborn, and always seeking her own independence, which in turn causes her major frustration. Your dd sounds a lot more forward than mine, in the way that she comes home from school and asked for a proud parent certificate. My dd simply does not relay information to us from class like that! Sorry I can't offer you any practical advice as I too could do with some myself!
Having a big chart of rules sounds a bit, I don't know, too much for her age? In fact I'm getting the sense that you're treating her as much older than she is. She's only 4. All the talking, explaining, writing rules out etc - she's not an equal, she's 4 and sometimes needs to be told what to do directly. But I think the biggest issue as you've identified is the father not enforcing boundaries so this creates confusion to her.
I would rethink how you do contact with her father, what times etc.
When they just start school it can be tough in them. The energy it must require for them to follow instructions all through the school day, while learning and making friends in a new environment can zap them.
I found that there were explosive tantrums and dodgy be behaviour most days in the first term and these decreased over the year. I saw it as a release after the constraints if school at such a young age.
Sorry for mistakes. I'm shagged, kids up at 5 for a week.
4 is very little. If she is good at school then she def does know what is good and bad behavior. Maybe this is a reaction to the lack of boundaries from her DF and for a 4 year old must be confusing. She takes it out on you because where else can she safely let rip, and you will always love her.
Thanks again for your replies.
We only have 6 rules but decided to make it in a nice poster with different stickers to engage DD on it and to be honest it worked as she was very happy telling which rules to put. We even had to stop her
Pansy2013: DD can communicate very well. However I think she may be finding difficult putting onto words her feelings when her dad lets her down. Which lately has been plenty of times.
What any of you would have done different in the examples we have been above? Would you have allowed to do the Christmas Star as to stop the tantrum? What would you have done with the playmobil?
Well I think she had every right to feel angry and frustrated that there wasn't time to do the project that day and that the toy wouldn't do what she wanted it to do. DD would have been the same at 4 and she wasn't also having to cope with a distant Dad letting her down.
I think you need to focus on teaching her how to express her anger in a more civilised way and also when she her anger is justified, do you empathise with her.
With the Christmas star, "that's a brilliant idea, what a shame there isn't time to get started right away, what do we need to make a Christmas star? I know, I'll write the list while you put your pyjamas on then I'll have everything ready after school tomorrow" and if she still tantrums, be ready to make the list with her when she's calmed down.
DD is 8 now and still flies off the handle suddenly but she doesn't get out of control any more. Not using a screechy voice is still a work in progress!
BTW, I don't think the smiley chart sounds very UP. It sounds a bit like manipulating behaviour with praise.
Also she's four, if she doesn't want to do her chore, you could ask 'Why?' It might be that she wants to finish her picture first or that she's tired. In which case you can wait or do it for her. She'll learn by example that you help people when they are tired.
Honestly? I think your whole organised structured regime with it's rules and charts and day long structures is asking a lot of a 4 year old. A day is a huge long time for a very small child, and to have lost 3 smiley faces at the beginning of the day and then be able to do nothing about it, while facing the loss of close intimate bedtime reading may make her feel helpless, hopeless and abandoned. It is quite a cold, calculated regime, if you ask me.
Also, how can a 4 year old, who can barely take control of her own feelings (4 year olds have passion way beyond their ability for self control or cognitive understanding) be expected to take responsibility for the feelings of adults? "you make us feel sad' is guilt tripping an overwhelming.
Is she tantrumming out of frustration and confusion? 4 year olds DO kick off, you know! It is fairly normal.
I would drop the whole structured thing so that she doesn't feel so overwhelmed, pick your battles, work on empathy and closeness, praise her and thank her when she does even tiny things that are good, build her confidence and dissipate her frustration.
But that is how I would do it. I never had punishments or rewards, just working alongside my children, doing jobs through having fun, and a sharp word at the exact moment something that shouldn't have been done was done, and then move on.
A punishment at the end of a long day hangs over a 4 year old and gives them nowhere to go. A whole day ahead during which they must control themselves every minute is a tall order. No wonder she rebels.
IMO. Though I know other people parent very successfully with a completely different approach. I offer my way as a different perspective.
X posted with clearsomespace.
I think clearsomespace offers excellent strategies.
As previous posters have said, enough sleep, good diet and eating frequently ( and water) and naughty step or similar as consequence for actions. There is no point trying to reason with a 4 year old.
Sorry, I may be misunderstanding this, but is her bio dad on Skype or similar when all this goes on? The star and the chicken? In which case I think that is adding to her confusion as well as giving her an audience and a potential divide and rule option. If she spends time communicating with her bio dad just let her talk to him one to one, chatting about her day and showing things she has made or whatever. Trying to be interactive and having conversations about making a star between the 4 of you is problematic!
It is normal, you know, not horrible, for 4 year olds to tantrum.
The star thing and playmobil just sound like she was expressing her anger in a very "loud" way.
You don't necessarily have to stop her being angry - anger is a normal emotion - its how she does it. My ds is a very emotional child - I think he gets that from me as I do get stroppy (I try not to and am better). We (DH and I) tell him every time that's he's angry, and when he's angry, he should tell us and "use his words" <cringe>
With the star - you say we'll do it in the morning as opposed to not now (all she hears is no). The playmobil - you say, oh no it's stuck in a comedy voice. Your job is to teach her how to deal with things not always going her way - that sounds like the source of her tantrum in that case. She doesn't know how to handle disappointment.
I also agree with Caro about the contact with dad. Leave her to it, within earshot of course, make it a set time so it doesn't prolong.
The chicken and the star tantrums happened while she was with her dad on Skype. We are not in the same room than them while on Skype as it is their time and when DD comes to us to tell us something we listen and then tell her that dad is waiting for her on the computer.
However when a tantrum happens, he never participates on what is going on or reinforce that something isn't possible, he just ends the conversation on Skype which infuriates DD even more.
We will get rid of the smilie face as we agree that it isn't working.
We don't tell her that she makes us feel sad. We tell her that HER BEHAVIOUR makes us feel sad which it is completely different and which teaches her to express how things makes us feel so she can do the same.
Contact with DD cannot be rearrange unfortunately, although I think that at the moment is not working. I may try to propose to change Skype contact to the morning when DD is bright awake and she is not tired and see if it makes any difference.
I wonder if you are possibly overthinking the tantrums in the sense of wanting quick fixes and wondering what you are doing wrong. A lot of the things you are doing sound perfectly sensible- but that doesn't mean they are going to work straightaway.
I would cut down on trying to convey your emotions at the moment, don't concentrate on teaching her that her behaviour is making you feel sad just at the moment, she will learn empathy in her own good time. Just show her that you can and will stop unacceptable behaviour, not because you feel a certain way but because this is your job.
And concentrate on controlling her behaviour, not expressing her emotions. Stop her from hitting, but don't set yourself the target of stopping her actual shouting just atm. Just show her that you will engage with her when she has calmed down. Look slightly bored.
And very much what Steam said: teach her to deal with emotions by showing it. If you get very upset and sad every time things don't go the way you want (e.g. re her behaviour), you aren't really teaching her to brush off disappointment.
Of course, sometimes we have to show dc that their behaviour hurts. But not too often imho. A certain teflon coating is invaluable in parenting.
Hi hereagain99 she sounds very similar to how my DS aged four to was not so long ago. I could never ever reason with him, he would shout, scream, show me up, just a general nightmare really. He still has the odd tantrum but he is a changed boy, do you mind me asking what kind of diet she has? When my DS was misbehaving and screaming non stop i wondered if it was something I was putting in him that was making him this way. I'd read bits about aspartame and artificial things so decided to radically change the diet. He used to drink robinsons squash in the day (packed with the stuff) and things like haribo as treats, i defintely think this was what was causing the bad behaviour and the attitude he had and the sulking/whining/never respecting us.
Anyway he still gets treats but treats are now things like homemade cakes, raisins, only plain chocolate or biscuits, no haribos or anything chewy like randoms. He never drinks squash, only the occasional ribena or rocks organic squash (both have no aspartame) water and milk. An ideal treat to him now is a slice of fruit loaf, a bit of cheese or ham and honestly, since I did this he is such a different boy. He isn't moody anymore, he says sorry when he has been naughty, he doesn't have the aggresive screaming at us when we tell him what to do.
Anyway i am waffling on but it might be worth a try (unless she already has cut these things then this was a waste!)
Good advice from Steam. It sounds really exhausting for all of you. Having read more I think you are expecting too much of your DD and yourself. I think you need to cut everybody a bit of slack.
How come DF on Skype could score points by telling her he would make star with her when you wouldn't - much better to not get involved when she is talking to him. Though I understand it was probably not under your control. Sounds to me as if she is trying to please/win over DF, does she speak to him every day?
It all sounds intense, my DCs total conversation with their DF in an evening would be something like, him -eat up your dinner and him - get ready for bed, and nothing much from them (unless something special had happened). One to one on Skype is a lot.
"We tell her that HER BEHAVIOUR makes us feel sad which it is completely different and which teaches her to express how things makes us feel so she can do the same."
The point is that it is for you, as adults, to have responsibility for your feelings, not her as a 4 year old. As a 4 year old she is struggling, really struggling, to manage her feelings and behaviour. That is what life is like for 4 year olds - they feel things so strongly and have a very crude ability to control themselves. Whether it is her or her behaviour - it is too much responsibility for her to feel that her behaviour makes you feel sad or expect her to modify her behaviour on behalf of your feelings. This strategy is more suitable for a much older child, IMO.
You can indicate that her behaviour is wrong - she can see from that that you don't like that behaviour. But to tell her it makes you sad - well, that's your responsibility. And too much for her to take on.
Cory talks a whole lot of sense, my dd is particular hater of the word "no" and I used to try pretty hard to avoid it.
So, "I want to make a star", " that would be great, let's plan it all out while we get ready for bed then we can make sure we have everything we need to make it tomorrow when we have lots of time, what would we need, cardboard, foil, glitter etc etc".
I think that you should concentrate on being as positive as possible - this works for my dd when I can keep it up. So the chicken, "this one doesn't sit, I wonder if there is one that does, maybe you could have a trip to the shop as a reward for 5 smiley faces" (btw I didn't know that chickens have to sit to lay eggs, how does it come out?)
Focus on love bombing and staying kind and smiley even when you feel the rage, our children are like mirrors, when we get cross they do too, but you can rise above it.
DD doesn't eat sweets when she is with us. We buy instead "Bear Yo Yo" which is 100% fruit with nothing else. She does drink squash but not daily, just as a treat. But yesterday she had water not squash. Her diet is balance, I am veggie so she doesn't eat a lot of meat at home, mainly vegetables and soya, but sometimes she chooses the meat menu in school. She has fruit for snack or cheese/slice of ham, yogurt so I am not sure if it can be diet related. We don't have biscuits in the house but we like baking our own things which in turn is good fun.
She loves magazines so our treat to her are mainly magazines that we can then do together. Although the reality is that she likes them just for the toys that come with them.
DD's dad doesn't call every day and if he tells her that he will call he doesn't always do it. On Monday he called her on the phone and DD asked him to see him on the computer and he said that he couldn't so DD told him that she didn't want to talk to him on the phone. However in this occasion DD dealt with the situation very well and it didn't escalated to any tantrum.
I agree with Caro about the emotions thing. For this age group I think keeping it simple works best. "Hitting is not allowed" is a more useful message that a long explanation of how hitting makes you feel.
And don't forget: young children are horribly logical. If I had told dd that hitting made me feel sad, her reply would have been: "good, that's what I wanted". She has not grown into a juveline delinquent or even a nasty, uncaring person. But at 4, her levels of empathy were still undeveloped. She either did not feel it at all or she would feel it far too strongly and get anxious.
So concentrating on behaviour was far better. Not "You have to love your little brother or he will be sad" but "You must not hit your little brother. Nobody is allowed to hit anyone in this house".
An unreliable DF must be v difficult for her to handle. Poor DD. This is possibly enough to cause tantrums in my nonexpert opinion. But she will learn to cope or find it easier when she is older. Best of luck.
Reading through all your posts, OP,this might be the best link for you and then you can choose between them
As there seems to be a sort of escalation of behaviour with your daughter , I wonder whether it might be worth you investing in a coaching session with laura markham - she's based in the US but does Skying...
( To keep me going! I get her regular emails and use her site and refer to my 3 fave parenting books - UP alfie kohn, how to talk, and peaceful parent, laura markham)
Have done a long postings to give you some of our real life examples....to your question what else can we do instead of punishments and rewards? there really are lots of things.
The reason I would encourage you not to give up is that me and DP are really in quite a minority in the way we parent -and DS1's primary school is full of liberals! - so we're encouraging anyone else who's trying as well cos it's tougher in the beginning.... It hasn't been plain sailing for us , especially when DS1 had the dreaded testosterone increase age 4 when DS2 was 4 months old.
I use a lot of stuff from laura markham's book. E.g. we have weekly family meetings ( v quick of course about 20 mins max ! - we started them when DS1 was 6 1/2 and as DS2 was just under 3, we used to say we're just having a family meeting - join in if you want to but we understand if you just want to play. But he did join in!
Both boys give their choices for the weekly food shop and really feel that their opinions are taken into account just from this small step of getting chicken legs instead of chicken breasts, and about 2 months ago, when we got to the end with AOB, DS2 age 3 said "oh yes daddy, we need a new light for the upstairs loo!"
Because neither of us were brought up this way, a lot of the stuff seemed unnatural and I have been on quite a journey and continue on this journey.....
We have kept going through the sort of difficult times that you're experiencing now by keeping the long term relationship with our children in mind.
It is an amazing experience to see our 2 children learning to emotionally regulate themselves ( DS1 stopping himself thumping DS 2 by saying, when you snatched my toy away, I was really irritated, lets think about what the options are) be thoughtful ( when our washing machine broke a few weeks ago, and I was getting stressed about it DS2 came and gave me a hug and said" you seem frustrated, but don't worry i'll help you calm yourself down, let's call someone to fix it!!!!) ,to hear things about DS1 at his parents' evening like - he gets on with everyone, his problem solving abilities are extremely well developed for his age etc etc.
Wishing you lots of luck - I would really like to hear how you're going in a few months so please think about PMing me in a few months time...
I don't know what Unconditional Parenting is but I don't agree with the idea that simple ideas of reward and punishment are damaging to small children so instead what is put in place is a much more manipulative (in my opinion) form of emotional control. I have three kids ages 7, 10 and 13. They are all the typical intelligent, expressive, affectionate kids. They are able to talk about and show their feelings and also understand what their dad and I do and don't approve of. However when they were little, I didn't go through lots of weighty discussions and rigamarole. They want to know who they are, who you are and what the boundaries are. OK! I'm the mum and I'm in charge and here are the boundaries and within those firm boundaries here are choices and freedoms you get.
I saw some friends (especially when we were living in the USA) what appeared to me overwhelming their small kids with choice such as pointing at a huge drinks cooler in a cafe with literally tons of choices and saying "What do you want sweetie?" while I would just say do you want water or milk? I don't mean to be a pretentious super-mum as I am quite the opposite. I just found some parents making everything way, way more complicated than it need be. They would also have all these charts and what I would consider emotionally manipulative happy faces and sad faces "Use your words" and "Are you being PRINCIPALED?" i.e. are you "choosing" to do what I want you to do when we all know it's not a true choice.
Keep it simple. Kids thinking is very black and white when they're so young, the age of reason has always been considered to be around 7 and you are expecting the critical thinking and reasoning abilities of a child way above the age of 4. It's very overwhelming as other posters have stated for a child to think they have this much power over the significant adults in their lives. I had struggles with my kids behaviors like everyone else, but I saw it usually as my problem - what should I do differently. With very young kids it often comes down to simple bodily needs, they are tired, hungry - feeling overemotional and need some quiet time or a nice warm bath. In fact at that age if I had a child that couldn't get a grip emotionally I usually ran a bath and let them play in there while I sat and chatted to them. They are not experiencing the world as we are!
Help your dd with simple comfort and simple consequences.
I get overwhelmed by the choices in restaurants/cafés in the USA!
I had to keep checking her age.. she's 4? Poor little bugger. Is she just allowed to be a little kid with no responsibilities sometimes?
You seem dead set on blaming her dad for her behaviour. You are treating her far older than what she is IMO.
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